Archives for April 2017

Blog to Business at Food and Wine Conference

Good morning! I have some fun news to share today. I will be speaking on a panel at the amazing Food and Wine conference next month in Orlando, Florida!

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I am super excited, as it has been awhile since I have attended and spoken at a blog conference. I love that I live in a place now where I don’t have to travel far to attend fun things like this!

My session will be on Sunday, and you can check out my speaker bio here. The panel I am speaking on will be discussing turning your blog into a business, and how to handle/balance it all with everything else going on in life. I will be speaking with three other great influencers, and I can’t wait to share my journey!

If you are looking to attend the conference, you can still sign up.

Why would you want to sign up? Well, first of all, because it is being hosted at the gorgeous Rosen Shingle Creek resort in sunny Orlando, Florida.

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I mean how gorgeous is this place?

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There are going to be some GREAT sessions with awesome speakers, I am already planning out who and what I want to see. Also of course, don’t forget about the amazing FOOD that will be there! I can’t wait to share my experience with you through social media, but I do hope some of you will sign up and join me at the conference!

QOTD: Have you ever attended a conference like this?

Tampa Tuesdays: Valspar Championship 2017

A few weeks ago, I was invited to attend the Valspar championship and a media event at Innisbrook here in Florida. Being new to the area, I had not yet had a chance to visit here, and was excited to go. A few bloggers were selected to attend a foodie event during the tournament, and I wanted to share my experience with you from that, as well as the Toby Keith concert we attended the next night on the driving range!

When the bloggers all arrived at the event, we were lead through the tournament towards the Grape and Grain. I had not been to a PGA tournament in many years, so it was fun to see everything as we walked through.

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At Grape and Grain, celebrity chef Ming Tsai was doing a cooking demonstration. After the demonstration, he chatted with us bloggers, answered questions, and we got to taste some of his food. He was super personable and easy to talk with, and took photos with all the bloggers. What a special treat to have him at the tournament!

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Afterwards, we got to walk around a little bit. Valspar had some really cool decorations scattered about. I especially loved the chandelier and flower centerpieces!

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We were then treated to a special lunch outside. Did you know that you do NOT have to be a member at Innisbrook to eat at the restaurant? I HIGHLY recommend you check it out. All of the food was SO amazing. We even got to chat with the chef!

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We had flatbread, lamb, chicken wings, shrimp, as well as many other things to sample.

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Everything tasted so fresh. I can’t wait to bring my husband back here I know he will love it!

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After lunch, we relaxed for a few minutes out on the gorgeous deck overlooking the course while sipping on watermelon drinks. So light and refreshing on a warm day!

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The next afternoon, my husband and I headed back to Innisbrook to see the end of the day’s play of the tournament and attend the Toby Keith concert. We really enjoyed the concert but were bummed it started much alter than anticipated. We didn’t get to stay for the whole thing because we had to go back to pick up our toddler.

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All in all a great weekend with great weather. They really know how to do a golf tournament! Everything was very well done from the food to the course to the entertainment and volunteers. I’m sure we will be back!

QOTD: Have you ever attended a PGA golf tournament?

Disclosure: I was provided tickets to the tournament as well as a day as media in exchange for my honest thoughts. However, all opinions are my own.

My Disney Experience and Magic Bands FREE E-Course

In the past few years, Walt Disney World has grown leaps and bounds as far as technology goes. What once was a card used to swipe into your room, turned into what we now know as “Magic Bands.” Some called it big brother-ish, some called it amazing, but what we do know about these bands and it’s other component called My Disney Experience, is that they are here to stay.

 

As someone who dislikes change, I understand not wanting to try something different or take the time to learn the new technology, but trust me when I say it will be WORTH IT when it comes to time (and sanity) saved on your Disney vacation if you know how to efficiently use My Disney experience and understand how the Magic bands work!T1CjCNKhhvIS8VNw0MpiMB6ClWHNTiRO07xTUBRFIJYpX92IB

This is exactly why I created a FREE E-course for you. I want you to have a stress free vacation. There is no need to be overwhelmed by the technology and the process if you just have someone to explain it to you, piece by piece…and that is precisely what I do in my free course.

 

In this course, you will learn all about Magic Bands, making Fastpass+ reservations, dining reservations, and how to use Memory maker. I also show you how to set up an account, manage your family and friends list, and research different resort and dining options. This is in a video format, so you don’t have to sit and read for endless hours to get it done. The course is broken down into sections, so you can go through as much or as little as you want to at a time. All in all it should take you no more than two hours to get through this free course. I’m so excited for you to feel confident about your knowledge in this area, and have a great vacation because of it!

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So what are you waiting for? Stop wondering what Magic Bands and My Disney Experience are all about, and get to dreaming up the perfect vacation for you and your family. (PS: When you click the link to go to the course page, it mentions a coming soon course not yet available, but if you click the button, you will be taken to sign up for my FREE e-course, so don’t let it confuse you!)

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QOTD: Thoughts on Disney’s new technologies? Love it or loathe it?

Trattoria al Forno Bon Voyage Character Breakfast

Last weekend, we had the opportunity to snag a reservation for the new Bon Voyage character breakfast at Trattoria al Forno. The reservation was early, 7:30, but I was not going to pass up the chance to check out a new dining experience that just opened a few days prior!

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This breakfast location is on the Boardwalk. I have eaten dinner at Trattoria al Forno before (which is NOT a character meal), but it has been awhile since  have been there. I was very happy to see another character meal that had some male characters. The characters you have the opportunity to meet are: Rapunzel, Ariel, Flynn Rider, and Prince Eric. There is also a song that plays and kids are encouraged to wave their napkins and dance/follow along with Ariel, which is super cute. My toddler is REALLY into the Tangled characters right now, so I couldn’t wait to see how she responded in particular to Rapunzel and Flynn.

We arrived late to our reservation because there was a mix up at our hotel with our bill, but there was not a problem and we were able to check in easily. We were told to park our stroller outside, and we waited to be seated. Music from Tangled was playing, and there was a cart selling Rapunzel and Ariel dresses and merchandise.

Very quickly, our name was called and we were led to our table. There was an autograph card, cute brochure, and our silverware and napkins as well as some small plates in the center of the table.

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Our server greeted us promptly, orange juice in hand, but we were told we could have something different to drink. Bobby opted for the OJ and I got a coke since I was in serious need of caffeine but dislike Disney coffee. Emma Kate got some milk, and then we were given pastries for the table to share.

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I love that the pastries told a “story”. Of course we have the sun from Tangled, the “braided” bread for Rapunzel’s hair, the clam shell cherry pastry from the Little mermaid, and then vanilla and blueberry muffins. They were of course, all served in a frying pan. My take on the pastries: They were VERY sweet. A little too sweet for 7:30 in the morning. I was going to get the pancakes, but changed my mind after eating all that bread and sugar.

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Emma Kate and I got the yogurt parfait, and Bobby got the fruit salad. They are pretty small portions, but I had to remind myself more food was coming. Bobby then decided to get the “Shipwreck al Forno”, which was a calzone with scrambled eggs, soppressata, bacon, sausage, and a blend of cheeses and Sunday gravy. I opted for the  “Tangled Eggs” which was tomato & basil scrambled eggs, fresh mozzarella, Sunday gravy and roasted Potatoes. Emma Kate loves eggs, so my thought was she would eat most of that, I would eat the bacon and potatoes and her waffles.

We ordered the “Mickey Waffle” with fruit and bacon for Emma Kate. The timing was great, because once we ordered and were snacking on our pastries, the characters started to come around, and we also got to dance to the song with Ariel.

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Flynn Rider was up first, and Emma Kate LOVED him. He spent a ton of time with us, talking about Maximus and apples, and even offered to do “the smolder” for us for a photo. Emma Kate just stared at him and he gave her a big hug and looked right at her when he spoke to her.

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Next up was Rapunzel. She spent the least time with us out of all the characters, but it was still a good interaction. I even asked where Pascal was.

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Soon after our appetizers arrived, as did Prince Eric. He was so good with Emma Kate, and she was in heaven. We asked him where Max was, and he said out for a walk.

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Ariel was last, and she got down on the floor with Emma Kate and they talked about hair bows and the fact that Ariel was on Emma Kate’s shirt. It was super sweet and EK was just fascinated.

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Here are some shots of our appetizers. Previous review posts showed glitter on the crab and crown, but that was not the case with our meal. The fruit was good, the yogurt was just ok, and I wasn’t a huge fan of the granola.

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After all four characters came by, our food came out. Poor Emma Kate wanted to see them again and had no interest in eating. She did eat her strawberries, but I had her waffles. I was a little confused because the menu says “mickey waffle” but these definitely were not Mickey. Don’t get me wrong they were super cute, but the menu was just misleading.

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Bobby’s Calzone came with King Tritons spear (which he apparently cut out of the photo). They take the triton away after they set your food down though.

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The calzone was really filling and basically tasted just like pizza.  I had the tangled eggs, which I KNOW I took a photo of, but it seems to have gotten deleted. This was just ok, and the potatoes were a little peppery. I will say the bacon was very good. If you have eaten at Disney restaurants before, you typically get this really thin as we like to call it “Disney bacon” that isn’t very good, however mine and EK’s meals both came with “real” bacon and it was thick and juicy!

Here are my pros and cons for the meal:

PROS:

Great character interactions with hard to see characters (in some instances). They spent a lot of time with us and posed for several photos. It was nice to do something different and also not have to have a park ticket. Having a plated meal was something different as opposed to the typical character buffet, but I’m not a huge breakfast person so I was underwhelmed with the options. Bobby’s calzone was good and filling. I loved the fun touches like Tangled music playing and the frying pan of themed pastries, even though they were a bit too sugary. The service was great, it felt very relaxed, and everyone was very friendly. The restaurant was only about 3/4 full despite me having a hard time getting a reservation. I’m guessing it was since it was the first week of operation and they wanted to ease everyone in. I imagine it will be a bit more of a madhouse when they fill all those tables.

CONS:

This restaurant is very dark and has dark wood furnishings. I felt like I needed a flashlight! (I brightened up my photos/edited them so they look way brighter than they originally came out.) This of course made it really hard to get good photos, too. Brightening up the place for the meal wouldn’t be the worst thing. Also, the tables are really close together. When the characters came by, there wasn’t really anywhere to “go” to get photos/have an interaction, so for most I ended up standing Emma Kate up in her booster seat, because there were servers constantly going behind our tables and there was no other option of a place to stand. My food was just “eh” as were the appetizers. One of the reasons we like the buffets is because Bobby can eat a ton with a  lot of variety and we feel like we got our money’s worth. With a plated meal, it made us feel the price was even more steep. We have a tables in wonderland car d(which is a 20% discount but also ads in 18% gratuity) and our bill was just under $71, which is hard to stomach for two people.  It was definitely an “experience” and I am glad we did it,  but not something we will be doing again for the price (especially after EK turns 3 and we have to pay for it!)

Final verdict: If your child loves these characters, definitely DO IT one time for the character experience. If you are going “just for the food”, I would skip out on this one due to the price.The price for this meal is $34 for adults and $20 for kids. They also accept Tables in Wonderland and the Disney Dining plan.

*RELATED: Confused by My Disney Experience, fastpass+ and Magic Bands?  Sign up for my FREE My Disney Experience and Magic Bands E-Course!

QOTD: Thoughts on the Bon Voyage character breakfast? Would you go? Do you love these characters?

Quad and Knee Running Injury Update and Info

Hola friends! If you have been following along, you may have noticed a lack of running social media posts. Or maybe you watch my Instagram stories talking about how I have been injured since the runDisney Princess half. I wanted to share an update with you on my progress in case anyone is going through the same or similar thing.

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Honestly, I’m still not 100% sure what happened. I was running really well leading up to Princess, and getting faster over short distances due to Orange Theory Fitness. I had run up to a 10 mile training run, which is not out of the ordinary for me leading up to a half marathon, especially one I am not running all out/am running for fun like Princess.

I haven’t had a running injury in a LONG time, so you can imagine my frustration when leg pain I had at the very end of the half and then the few days after….never fully went away. Let me back up. I noticed the last mile or two of the Princess half that my upper middle portion of my quad was hurting as I lifted that leg to pull it forward for a stride. I chalked it up to a tweak and sore muscles from running 13.1 miles and went on my way. I had a hard time walking that night, but thought after a good night’s sleep I would feel better the next day.

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Interestingly enough, the next day my quad pain had subsided by about half, but the pain had shifted down to the inside of my kneecap. So strange I know. I took some Motrin, stretched a bit, and continued on walking around the parks for two days. The pain would get progressively worse during the day, then feel much better (but still there) by morning. I got home on Wednesday, and took two full days off before going back to Orange Theory on Friday. It felt like someone was stabbing me in the inside of my knee, and my quad hurt when I rowed. I was dumb and ran through it. I took the whole weekend off, stretching and foam rolling and tried again Monday. The pain continued, but this time I was (a bit ) smarter about it and did the elliptical instead of the treadmill in class. After that class I was still having issues and knew I needed to make a decision.

Fortunately, OTF allows you to freeze your account for a month for $15 instead of paying the monthly fee and not using it. I started foam rolling and stretching every day, and did zero cardio. After another week of this, I started slowly adding in some strengthing exercises I found online. After 3.5 weeks, I decided to try going for a walk/run with some KT Tape on. while my leg definitely felt better than it had been, I was still having tightness and pain. After talking to a couple of doctor friends, the consensus was as long as it was getting better and not staying at the same pain level, it was probably a tear that needed more time to heal. Apparently 3.5 weeks is not enough. They told me to try walking but STOP if it hurts, and then eventually move to running, but never running through pain. Also to keep stretching etc.

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I followed their advice, and after another week tried walking a mile, then slowly went up to 1.5 miles throwing in a few short runs, and now I am up to 2 miles run walking with no pain. I am also still foam rolling and stretching daily like it’s my job, and wearing KT tape. so my timeline was as follows:

Sunday February  26: Injury occurs.

Monday-Tuesday 27/28: Walking all day at Disney parks

Wednesday/Thursday 1/2: rest completely and stretch/foam roll

Friday 3: OTF…lots of knee pain, some quad pain

Saturday and Sunday 4/5: complete rest, with stretching/rolling

Monday 6: OTF, still pain even on elliptical

Tuesday 7: Freeze OTF account, stretch and roll rest of this week and the next plus a few days.

Thursday 23rd: Tried to go for a run, got frustrated because I still had pain and tightness. Talked to doctor friends.

Friday 24-April 5: Walk while slowly building up to adding in runs, now up to 2 miles run/walking. Still foam rolling and stretching daily. Doing PT exercises 3/4 times a week.

Of course, every injury is different, so if you have the same one as me it may take you more or less time to heal, or you may have done some sort of damage that requires surgery. I think the key for me was that the more I stayed off of it, it slowly got better. If it had stayed at the same pain level for a month, I for sure would have gone to get an MRI. This is the same leg that I have had IT band issues with in the past, so I’m not surprised that it’s giving me fits again. I know if I had incorporated daily stretching and rolling into my routine to begin with, I could have potentially saved myself 6 weeks of frustration.

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I know I am not totally out of the woods yet, but I do plan to run/walk the Star Wars half at the end of this month. Fingers crossed I can do it pain free!

QOTD: Have you had a running injury before? What did you do?

Tampa Tuesdays: Busch Gardens Tampa

On Saturday, Bobby and I took Emma Kate to Busch Gardens Tampa. It was our first experience in the park aside from seeing a small portion when we went for a media event a few weeks ago. I did a little bit of research to at least know what we did and didn’t want to do, and we arrived at the park when it opened at 10:00 (which I thought was late!)

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Getting on the tram at the parking lot was a little hectic as there was no one there to keep people in order, and there were no true “lines”. We had a family try and push us out of the way to get on the tram (I was holding EK in my arms!) and I had to yell at a guy to let Bobby get on the tram with us b/c he had the stroller and people were pushing in front of him. However, I tried to shake it off and not let it ruin the day. The park can’t control what other people do, and it wasn’t their fault. We made it to the front, and bag check was smooth and quick.

I wanted Bobby to get to ride at least one roller coaster, so he jumped in line for Cheetah Hunt because it said there was only a ten minute wait. I took Emma Kate to go visit some animals while we waited.

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After about 30 minutes I texted Bobby and he was still in line. I was not thrilled because Emma Kate was getting bored and wanted to go ride the train. We visited the giraffes which there was SO many of, very cool, and then waited some more.

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All in all he was gone a total of 45 minutes for a ten minute wait, so I’m not sure what happened there. Maybe it temporarily broke down and we didn’t realize. Either way, nothing we could do to change it so we moved along and got in line for the train.

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It was fun seeing the animals along the route. A very nice touch. We decided to get off at the next stop and go see the monkeys and the tigers. This guy was just sitting up at the glass staring at all the kids. Emma Kate kept saying she wanted to hold him, of course.

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We also saw a couple of sleepy tigers. I loved all the lush landscaping in their habitats with multiple vantage points to view them from.

By this time it was after noon, and we were getting  hungry. We tried to get Emma Kate to nap in her stroller as we walked down towards the Food and Wine festival area.

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I love how the booths are mainly contained to two areas so you don’t have to walk all that far to get from one to another. Also, there were no long lines to wait in which was a plus.

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We each had an 8 pack sampler card courtesy of Busch Gardens, and were ready to enjoy the festival. (These can be purchased at the booths, and also you can find festival guides at each booth with a map and list of all the food and drink offerings.)

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First up, Bobby got the lamb chops and a mango margarita, which got two thumbs up.

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We then headed over towards the two Coke booths, which are next door to an inside air conditioned area with tables. We were happy to find this spot, as it was getting HOT outside. Bobby got a couple more things to eat and I got a pulled pork slider. After a brief rest, we headed over towards the concert area where there were a lot of other booths.

Bobby tried some ribs, and I got my favorite: the bacon mac and cheese, which was just as delicious as I remembered it. Emma Kate loved it, too and kept stealing my bacon.

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We both also had watermelon margaritas, which would become our favorite drink of the festival. (I may have had three.) I may have also had a regular margarita on the rocks at the margarita bar while we were in this area.

Emma Kate had been dying to “see Elmo” in the kids area, so we went there next. This area was great. TONS to do for kids all confined to one very large space. She was so overwhelmed we weren’t sure what to do first. She rode several rides, and even did a small “water ride” by herself!

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We put her in the bounce house because she LOVES those things, but there were a lot of big kids in there and she got upset and wanted to get out. We also did the carousel, and she climbed up in a large tree house area with Bobby.

Seriously we could have stayed in this area all day and Emma Kate would have been jjuussttt fine. There was also a huge really cool looking splash pad area, but we decided to skip that one for the day because it was already getting late in the day and we were all tired. We did however have one more stop to make, the show with Elmo and the gang! EK clapped and waved, and even got to touch Grover which I think made her whole day. This area was covered and had fans which was a very nice touch on such a sunny afternoon. There were also plenty of benches and other seating around the whole kids area for moms and dads to take a rest as the kids played.

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We still had a couple of punches left on our food and wine cards, so Bobby got some steak and said it was his favorite dish of the day.

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We met up with Megan and Gabe for a few minutes and chatted at a table and people watched before calling it a day. Check out the cool topiary in the background!

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The park is really big, and there was no way we could have done everything in a day, which just means we will have to go back!

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Not five minutes after leaving the park, this one fell asleep in the car. I think that’s a sign of a good day!

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A huge thanks to Busch Gardens for inviting us back to experience the park and the food and wine festival. Don’t forget, you can experience it for yourself every weekend through the end of this month, and there is a free concert every night of the festival with your park admission! Check out BuschGardens.com for the lineup and information.

Disclosure: I was provided free park admission for two as well as lanyards to try out the food at the festival. However, I was not asked to write a blog post about it, but we had a great time and I wanted too! Also, all opinions are my own.

**I would love it if you would take a quick second to fill out a 6 question survey about how you plan Disney vacations. Thanks in advance!**