Tampa Tuesdays: Food and Wine Festival at Busch Gardens

It’s officially spring, and that means it’s time for the Food and Wine festival at Busch Gardens! I was invited to a media event a couple of weeks ago to check out some of the amazing food offerings, and wanted to share them with you for Tampa Tuesdays.

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When we arrived at Busch Gardens, we were immediately greeted by an adorable topiary, and of course some wine!

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There was food, music, drinks, and some friendly faces.

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Servers passed around some of the offerings, while others were found at the food booths just as you would find them in the parks during the festival. The bacon macaroni and cheese was my favorite, hands down! This was just one of the many offerings at the 13 food cabins, 65+ fine wines and 70+ craft beers!

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However the duck fat truffle fries were a close second.

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Each cabin had a menu board with the food and drinks available as well as prices. Some even had pictures which I found very helpful.

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The president of Busch Gardens, Stewart Clark, spoke a few words, and it was fun to see the excitement he had for the event.

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Megan and I had to try out more wine, of course.

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Bobby tried the lobster tart.

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Then I found the frozen sangria and the mango margarita. Both were amazing, and I may have had more than one! (pictured here with shrimp and grits.)

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One of the new pavilions is called “cooking with Coke”, and I really enjoyed the pulled pork sliders with Coca-Cola® Cherry BBQ sauce.

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Mango margarita pictured below.

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No lie, after I took the below photo, a bird swooped down and stole my Key Lime Berry Parfait Mousse with churro. How rude! Also pictured are scallops and lamb chops with tabouleh. The scallops were Bobby’s favorite of the evening.

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I may have had another plate of the bacon mac and cheese. It’s THAT good.

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Something else we got to do that you can also do if you come to Busch Gardens (for a fee) is pet and feed kangaroos. It was so cool! They ate out of these little cups and were super friendly. It made my night!

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At the end of the night, we were sufficiently stuffed, and couldn’t wait to try more food at the Food and Wine Festival when it opened the next day! We haven’t been back yet, but we plan to do so soon.

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Don’t forget that in addition to the amazing food offerings, there is an awesome concert line up including names like the Band Perry, Newsboys, and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are also plenty of upgrades you can purchase to make your visit even sweeter. There are festival samplers starting at $29.99, and VIP packages starting at $24.99.

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A huge thank you to Busch Gardens for the invite. This is such a fun festival that’s great for the whole family! You can experience the festival for yourself on weekends through April 30th. Concerts start at 7:00 pm. For more info be sure to check out the event FAQ page.

QOTD: Have you ever attended the Food and Wine Festival at Busch Gardens? What dish looks the best to you?

*Disclosure: I was provided free entrance into this special event as media, however all opinions are my own.

The winner of my Cabot giveaway is Susan Smith! Susan, be sure to email me at heatherslookingglass@gmail.com. You can check out the rafflecoptor widget in the original post to see the winner into.

Tampa Tuesdays: Cooking With Cabot + A Giveaway

It’s time for another Tampa Tuesday post! As stated when I started these, not all posts would be specifically about Tampa, but would include things I do and experience in the surrounding areas. Today is one of those days, as I talk to you about a special Cabot Cheese event I attended in Orlando a couple of weeks ago. When I arrived at the beautiful East End Market in Orlando and headed upstairs to the APEX room, I was greeted and immediately pointed towards a delicious looking create your own parfait bar, Olde Hearth Bread Company muffins, Lineage Coffee Roasting coffee, Divine Chocolate,  Florida Milk, and all the Cabot cheese I could eat. Yes please!

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We ate breakfast, got to know each other, and just had a nice relaxing few minutes to hang out before we were introduced to some of the Cabot team.

One of my favorite things we discussed was the department of gratitude. Did you know that Cabot uses reward programs to thank those that do goof. You can log your volunteer time for different events . It’s pretty cool!

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We then got to meet our awesome demo chef for the day, Jimmy. I particularly liked him because he grew up in Mississippi. We all huddled into the kitchen and watched him make some delicious food! First up was cornbread. Now we are speaking my language! This southern girl was fascinated by the fact he put sweet potatoes in the cornbread! Of course we all got to taste before moving on to the next thing.

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Anyone who knows me well knows that mac and cheese is one of my favorite things ever. This one definitely did not disappoint. You can check out the recipe here.

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Jimmy also showed us how to make taco shells out of cheese. I will for sure be trying this out. They were so easy to do and delicious. I may have eaten a shell by itself. Don’t judge me.

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After all the cooking (well, Jimmy cooking!) we did a little self care with Candace. She talked to us about stretching, and taking time for ourselves. She knows we are on the computer a lot as bloggers, and we need to MOVE! So we did just that with these fun drumsticks. Candace is so passionate about healthy living, it was fun to hear a like minded fitness lover talk to us!

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Soon it was time for lunch, which was such a treat. As if we hadn’t eaten enough already, we were brought outside to enjoy the courtyard and beautifully decorated tables.

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I may have found a new favorite thing: Lemonade with lavender. It was so light and refreshing, I may have had two glasses.

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The rest of the food did not disappoint either, and hit the spot! We had grilled cheese sandwiches by La Femme du Fromage made with Cabot cheese of course, Houndstooth Sauce Company’s tomato basil soup, salad with apple slices, and the Skyebird lavender lemonade.

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We even were “treated” to an adorable and rich dessert from Gideon’s Bakehouse: Pistachio Toffee Dark Chocolate cookies. So amazing. Then we headed back inside for our competition.

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My friends know I am one of the most competitive people alive, and so of course this was no exception. We were divided into teams (my team was called “seriously sharp”,) and given a basket full of goodies and told to create a cheeseboard. The best board would win a prize, so we went straight to work. (We only had 30 minutes!) We decided on a Valentine’s Day theme and just kind of went with it. I may or may not have used my fingernails to cut out hearts from cheese. It was totally worth it, because…we won! Isn’t our board beautiful?!?

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The winning team with Candace.

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We all said our goodbyes and were given a great goody bag (as well as one to pass on to someone else). It was overall a great day, and I am so glad I had the opportunity to learn more about Cabot, meet amazing bloggers, and just generally connect with more people in my new state. A huge thank you to Cabot, Isabel and Sunday Supper, and everyone else who helped with the event!

Cabot, being so generous, offered to host a giveaway on my blog! One lucky reader will receive this box as seen below. This is their legacy gift box, and it’s amazing! To enter, please follow the instructions below. Winner will be selected Monday March 20th and announced on the blog next Tuesday. Good luck!

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

runDisney Princess Half Marathon Race Recap 2017

A couple of weeks ago I have the privilege of running in my 6th runDisney Princess half marathon. I ran the Glass Slipper Challenge last year and in 2014, but this year my friend Jen and I decided to save some money (and some sleep!) and just run the half marathon. (Pssst. There is a video at the end of the post so hang tight to watch a recap from my Instagram Stories!)

Every year we dress up, and this year was a bit crazy for both of us and we didn’t have time to create elaborate matching costumes like we have done in the past. However, we still dressed up and per usual kept our costumes a secret until the night before the race. We went to bed early, and my 2:45 am alarm came way too soon.

We got dressed, put on our traditional fake eyelashes like we do every year (you would THINK we would be better at this by now!) and headed to the bus.

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(Coming soon: A tutorial on how I created my costume, the easy/I’m terrible at sewing kind of tutorial!)

We got to the bus stop in front of the Yacht Club, and were the last people loaded before we left. What was interesting was we were on a park bus, not a regular greyhound which was a first for me with runDisney. There was a lot of traffic, but we made it to EPCOT by about 4:15 and walked to the family reunion area where we met up with a friend before checking Jen’s bag. It was chillier than I expected, and I was thankful for my throw away sweatshirt I remembered to bring.

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We had never gotten to the corrals this early before, and they were pretty empty! runDisney got smart and put a row of port-o-potties close to the front corrals so we were able to go to the bathroom with no line and then jump in D corral. Karen was also in our corral, so she hung out with us and started the race with us, too. Our plan was to just have fun and take walk breaks. I was super undertrained and this was just a “for fun” race.

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The race started a few minutes late because the traffic was so bad, but finally we made it up to the start line with the rest of our corral.

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After a quick hi to Rudy and Carissa, we were off on our 13.1 mile journey!

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The first couple of miles are always so uneventful. It’s dark, there is nothing to look at, and you start thinking about all the miles ahead! Thankfully we just all chatted together until around mile 2 when Karen decided to stop for a character photo that we decided to skip (lines were already so long! I can’t imagine how bad they were for the corrals behind us.) We made it to the Magic Kingdom gates and I was excited we were getting closer to the more exciting parts of the course.

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After a quick stop at the med tent for body glide, we were on our way towards the TTC. I have to admit, I was a little bummed at the low crows at this spot. Traditionally this is my second favorite spot in the race because of all the energy from wall to wall people screaming and cheering, but this year there was hardly anyone and it made me sad. Did anyone else notice this? It wasn’t very cold outside so I’m not sure what the deal was. We passed my favorite drummers and kept going towards the big hill.

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When we made the turn to get to the Magic Kingdom, we thought it was odd that the 5 mile marker wasn’t in it’s usual place. (The things you notice when you have run this course over a dozen times!) We would later find out the course through the Magic Kingdom was slightly altered which is why the markers were in a different place.

We made the turn onto Main Street, my favorite part, and again it just didn’t have the same crowd and energy I am used to seeing, but it’s still my favorite part.

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We stopped and found a girl by herself trying to take a photo and we took turns getting pics for each other. I love runners!

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Next stop was the bathroom in Tomorrowland. We used to stop at the ones at the TTC, but a couple years ago they started locking those for us for some reason, which means even more princesses waiting in line in Tomorrowland. We had a several minute delay, and then were on our way again.

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We made it out of the Magic Kingdom (sad times) and made another bathroom stop at the next water station (too much coffee!) We arrived at the long stretch of single lane road, and Jen and I can’t figure out why its always so COLD on this part of the course! Any ideas? Before long we were at mile seven by the Grand Floridian. I took a picture with Snow White, since the line for her in the Magic Kingdom was dozens of people long. This is as close as I was going to get.

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The next few miles were uneventful again, just running out on the road. We saw the race going the other way towards the Magic Kingdom around mile 2.5 I guess, and I saw the balloon ladies! I yelled for the princesses to run faster! We grabbed a CLIF shot at the free station around mile nine, and took a walk break to eat those (I am not coordinated enough to run and eat at the same time). Next we were making the turn on the loop of death at mile 10 (it KILLS my IT bands) and had a 5k to go. At this point we had gotten to the length of my longest and one and only really long run from this training cycle of 10 miles, and I was getting tight even though we weren’t running fast at all. My right thigh/quad up near my hip flexor started to hurt, but we only had a couple miles to go so I just pushed through.

Soon we hit mile 11, and looped around and up the overpass and down into EPCOT and mile 12. A photographer caught me doing an Insta story on my phone. Oops. But seriously, if this doesn’t sum up my life I don’t know what does.

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We looped around the small part of the course that goes through the park, and then I could hear the gospel choir singing! Miles 13 came and went, and we were in the home stretch of the finish line.

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Can I just say that I love getting race pictures free as an annual passholder?!?

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We made it! After crossing the finish line in 2:32, we had to get pixie dusted of course.

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We got our medals, and headed over to the Media/VIP tent for some much deserved food and of course, mimosas.

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Now I was able to do my favorite thing, cheer other runners on as they came through the finish. I LOVE seeing runners tearing up, holding hands with loved ones, and just getting to experience the looks on their faces as they are mere steps from the finish line. There is just nothing like it, and it makes me so happy.

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Mimosas make me happy, too.

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So does this guy. Always takes time to talk to runners and makes us all feel so special. Jeff Galloway is the best!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carissa came into the tent for some food and we were able to say hello for a minute and grab a picture.

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We hung out and ate some more, met with a couple of people, and then headed back to the resort. I am so thankful to have a friend like Jen who gifted me with the opportunity to run in another Princess half marathon. I also love our little tradition of running the Princess half!

If you want to see a video I took during the race as a recap, and also see what Jen and I did for the rest of the day after the race, be sure to check out the video below. Please note this video is my Instagram story from the day, and apparently it doesn’t like when you have still shots mixed in with your videos, so there are about 5 times during the video where you will see it “Freeze up” for a couple of seconds. These are the places where I had still shots that won’t come up, so just ignore it, it will keep playing!

 

For more race recaps and general runDisney information, photos, and posts, check out my runDisney page!

Valspar Championship 2017 – TICKET GIVEAWAY

Welcome to another edition of Tampa Tuesday! I love learning about new events, places, and things to see here in my new home state, and today I have an exciting giveaway** for the locals, two tickets to any day of play! The Valspar Championship, Tampa Bay’s PGA Tournament event, started yesterday and runs through March 12 at Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor, and will be televised nationally! This tournament has something for the entire family, not just the golf lover, so bring everyone with you (kids 15 and under get in FREE!) What do I mean by something for everyone? Check it out: fun outdoor activities, entertainment, food, music and world-renowned professional golf (more details and giveaway below).

DUBLIN, OHIO - OCTOBER 04: Fans cheer as U.S. Team captain Fred Couples walks by during the Day Two Four-Ball Matches of The Presidents Cup at the Muirfield Village Golf Club on October 4, 2013 in Dublin, Ohio. (Photo by Chris Condon/PGA TOUR)

FOOD:

The Grape & Grain — an upscale wine, beer and spirits emporium is available, as well as the Valspar Food Truck Rally, several new concession areas and a celebrity chef cooking demonstration by Ming Tsai (Friday and Saturday) who is the host and executive producer of the cooking show SIMPLY MING,

MUSIC:

Valspar LIVE! — a free concert by Toby Keith, (heck YES!) superstar singer-songwriter, for ticketed attendees on Saturday (concert will begin after the tournament concludes Saturday, approximately 6:30)  I’m a huge fan of his music, especially “Made in America” and of course, “Red Solo Cup”.

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ACTIVITIES:

NEW! Valspar Chameleon Cove is a beach and relaxation zone, featuring a 50-ton, 20-foot tall Chameleon sand sculpture, colorful fan seating, concessions and a Maui Wowie Smoothie Stand. <—-yes please!

Valspar COLOR EXPERIENCE 18th green Expo featuring 2017 Colors of the Year, DIY projects, Ask Val (which is a new digital tool to assist guests in choosing colors), putting and fan photo booth.

McDonald’s Family Fun Zone: Featuring a 16-foot-tall rock climbing wall, monster putting green, free popsicles, Imagination Playground and plenty of arts and crafts and games — this area is located by the 8th green. Fun for even the little ones!

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If you don’t win my giveaway, you can still purchase tickets HERE. I hope to see some of you out there! I will for sure be there Friday, and hopefully Saturday as well. Please check out the Rafflecoptor giveaway below and good luck!

**Parking passes must be pre-purchased for Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday! Patrons may purchase Tuesday& Wednesday parking when arrive on-site.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

March 2017 Goals

Whew! I know February is a short month, but I can’t believe we are already getting so far in to 2017! Once again, it’s goal check time. Don’t forget about them until December and then try to cram everything in. No, no no, stay on top of things, take action steps, and you can do great things! Lets take a peek at how I did in February and then jump into March.

1.) Track my food intake 1-2 days a week: D- Yall, I did this for about a week and then life happened. It’s totally my own fault, as I had vacation and other events to attend, and it is showing on the scale. That was the biggest reality check for me coming home from my Disney trip. I am adding this one to next month because it’s important to me.

2.) Take Emma Kate to Disney: A+ Yes! Not only did Bobby and I take her to Disney, but then I took her back again with my parents for the day. So much fun! We went to the Magic Kingdom and ate at Crystal Palace. We rode rides, sang Let it Go at the Frozen Sing Along, and then she fell asleep on the way home. The sign of a good Disney day I tell you!

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3.) Time Block My days: C- While I do a good job of using my planner for special events and things to remember, I didn’t time block as well as I wanted because some days I didn’t know what I was going to do, and some days included random things happening outside of my control that threw me off of my timing/lists. I think what works better for me is making a weekly list and scratching things off that HAVE to be done, then have another list of “would be nice to get done but not the end of the world if it doesn’t”. We will see what happens in March.

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March 2017 Goals: Yall, February was wild for a few unexpected reasons, so I’m really hoping for a calm and quiet March. I feel like I was totally out of whack all month and had a hard time staying on task. This month is going to be all about FOCUS and not getting side tracked.

1.) Track my food 1-2 days a week on My Fitness Pal: I have gained back a few pounds that I lost in the summer and this frustrates me since I worked so hard to lose them. This month it’s back in the saddle with counting calories a couple of days a week to keep myself in check. This is NOT something I obsess over daily, but needs to be done some in order to stay on task (for me, personally).

2.) Orange Theory twice a week: Last month, I skipped Orange theory three times due to different reasons, and I CANNOT let that start becoming a habit. Back to my twice a week workouts with them to get back in the swing of things for March.

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3.) Put Together my Bar Stools: I know this one sounds silly, but we finally bought bar stools for the kitchen and they are currently in boxes in the foyer. I just keep pretending they are not there. I am so behind from being out of town, I just don’t have the time at this moment to put them together, but they WILL get done this month!

Remember that the best way to reach your goals is to have action steps so you have a path way to success. Also I believe in printing or writing out your goals so you SEE THEM all month. You can download my goal and fitness tracking printables for free HERE. Good luck!

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QOTD: What are your goals for March? Did you complete your February goals?

Tampa Tuesdays: The Nutrition Factory

Last week, I was invited to a pre grand opening event at a new restaurant concept called The Nutrition Factory. It was built next to/kind of inside Powerhouse Gym in Tampa. I wasn’t sure what to expect, as I had heard about possible smoothies? Protein powders? Meals? Once we arrived and were shown around, it all became clear…clear that I loved this place!

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As someone who has been blogging about health and fitness for seven years, I was particularly excited, and equally skeptical of this place. Let me tell you something. The heart and the thought that went into each and every single thing truly shows in the product. We walked in and loved the hip and fun vibe right away. There was a long table to sit at as well as outdoor seating.

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The menu is broken down into proteins, grains, veggies, and toppings. You can customize a bowl, salad or wrap based on this, or choose one of their pre-created concepts. They even have a bowl named “the boring bowl”. HA!

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Knowing I wanted to sample several things, I went with a Junior bowl. I got chicken for my protein, brown rice for my grain, and the loaded it down with toppings like edamame, avocado, cheese, and almonds. I also had a delicious dressing on the side.

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You watch your food as it is prepared, and can customize as you go.

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There is NO LIMIT on the toppings which was the best part!

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There is also a smoothie station where you can get a protein shake, or a cold pressed juice smoothie. I had a birthday cake shake, and Bobby had a S’mores flavored one and one called the Hawaiian Pie. All were amazing! We also got to sample the cold pressed juice smoothies and they are packed with fruits, veggies, and vitamins. There are so many options!

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This is one of Bobby’s bowls. he may or may not have had two. It was just so good!

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The Nutrition Factory also sells lots of product in their store, at great prices. The walls were lined with pre workout, protein powder, and the like. One of the owners, Michael, took a lot of time with us explaining the different products, and even helped my husband figure out what would be the best pre workout for him to start taking.

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Michael also told me of a really exciting concept they are bringing in the near future. He knows a lot of gym goers like to meal prep, but keeping food fresh all week is difficult, and some people just don’t have the time. He plans to offer a grab and go meal prep area, where you can come in and just grab your grains, or proteins, or the whole meals, WITHOUT having to join a subscription service where you have to purchase so many meals a week or month. I love it.

You could tell that Michael is truly passionate about The Nutrition Factory, and has big plans for it. Expansion may be in the future as well, but he and his partner want to focus on getting everything right with this store before expanding. I really hope they do expand, as this location is a bit far from my house, but it is definitely worth the drive. I’m already thinking up custom ideas for my next bowl.

QOTD: Thoughts on this concept attached to a gym? What is your favorite protein powder?

The Best Blogging Resource Tools To Make You Money

I have been blogging for a long time now, but am a perpetual student. I literally learn new things every day, and that is what I find so fun and fascinating about blogging and social media. I have been lucky enough to make money from my blog over the years, but have recently stepped up my game to make my blog even more profitable. I feel like there is plenty of space for everyone in the blogging world, and didn’t want to keep my methods to myself.

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So, I decided to create a Resources page for my blog, giving you the best blogging resource tools, and pin it up in my menu bar for easy access. When you click that link, you will be taken to a page that lists out (and links to) many of the tools, programs, and websites I use to keep my blog running smoothly. I will constantly be updating it I’m sure, but it’s a great start for someone not sure what they could do to take their blog or social media accounts to the next level.

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While I won’t go through every single one here as the descriptions on my resources page are pretty straightforward, I did want to gush a little about my new favorite. If you subscribe to my email list then you already heard about this (and are hopefully using it!)

I have recently been loving using Link in Profile for my Instagram account. (<—Affiliate link) For years, whenever I had a blog post I wanted my Instagram followers to know about, I would post a relevant photo, tell everyone to go to my profile and click the link to be taken to my blog post. That’s definitely a great thing to do and a way to boost traffic, but I got frustrated with having to go in and change that link every single time I wanted to redirect it to a new post. With Link in Profile, you don’t ever have to do that again (Halleluiah!)

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You have ONE link that is forever in your Insta profile, and when people click it, they are taken to a page with all of your photos that have links associated with them. From there they can choose what blog post to go to. (Below you will see my most recent Instagram photo that has a blog link attached to it. On this page you can scroll down and see more photos and click more links!)

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It’s awesome, super easy to use, and a great value for the price. During the free trial, I saw a huge uptick in traffic being referred from Instagram to my blog. (YES I said free trial! What are you waiting for?) It’s definitely been a game changer and time saver for me.

You will find links such as this on my resources page that can be a game changer for you, too. As always, feel free to email me at heather@heatherslookingglass.com if you have any questions. I love hearing from you!

 

PS- Can you take 10 seconds and fill out a poll for me? THANK YOU!

QOTD: What tools would you add to my resources page?

February 2017 Goals

I was determined to be on time with this month’s goals, so I think publishing on February 2nd is a win! It’s hard to believe the first month of 2017 is already in the books. How are you doing with your monthly/yearly goals? Still dreaming big? Keeping track? Let’s take a look at my January goals first and see how I did:

1.) Organize my closet: A+ I’m super happy about this one. My goal was to figure out a system that worked well for us while we budget for me to turn an extra room into a big closet. Bobby generously offered to give me the whole master closet! His hanging clothes now live in the extra room closet. he doesn’t have many so they all fit, and now I have the master all to myself! I still need to buy a few more hangers, but I pretty much have everything how I want it, and now I can actually see all of my clothes and  not wear the same thing over and over.

2.) Fix my workout routine: B- This is still a work in progress, but getting better! The past two Saturdays I have been able to go on long runs. Also, in addition to my two Orangetheory workouts every week, I did a day of cross training. I still need to figure out how to fit one more workout in, but I am happy with my progress so far.

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3.) Eat better: C- If you will remember, I kind of wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted this to look like. Because of that, my goal wasn’t measurable, and I set myself up for failure. I had little “spurts” where I would pay more attention to what I ate, but I don’t feel like I got a handle on it. I need to be more specific with my plan. Learn from my mistake!

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February goals:

1.) Track my food intake 1-2 days a week: As a measurable goal, I feel like this will work better for me. I use the My Fitness Pal app to track food, and it is a good reality check for me. However, I hate being a slave to calorie counting, so I will not do it every day. I think if I check in on myself and my habits one or two times a week it will help me out.

2.) Take Emma Kate to Disney: She has been asking to go see the big castle again, and she hasn’t been since before Christmas. It’s time to take her back since we live so close.

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3.) Time Block My days: I have been having a hard time staying focused the past couple of weeks. I end up on rabbit trails on social media, or wandering from thing to thing in the house not really getting anywhere. I am going to start using my journal to (loosely) time block and see if that helps me stay on track this month.

QOTD: Did you meet your January goals? Have any February ones?

Tampa Tuesdays: SeaWorld with a Toddler

*As I mentioned before, my Tampa Tuesday blog posts won’t include just Tampa, but others places nearby/in Florida, so please don’t be confused and think SeaWorld is now in Tampa, it’s definitely still in Orlando.

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1.) Bring your own stroller: While SeaWorld Orlando does have stroller rentals, they are of the plastic variety. While this works just find for a little bit older kids, if you have a toddler that will nap in a stroller, plan to bring your own for more comfort. We tied a bright ribbon around the handle of our stroller so it was easy to find when exiting shows.

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2.) Save the Shamu Happy Harbor playground for the afternoon: There is a huge, fun play area just for kids at the back of the park called Shamu Happy Harbour. I knew I wanted Emma Kate to experience this, but I also knew if we did it first thing, I would NEVER get her out of there! This is a large area that was never very crowded when we were there, so I suggest doing some things first that may have long lines early in the day, then head over to the kids area right before or right after nap (we went after). Keep in mind they DO have a splash pad area which is great for hot summer days, but bring extra clothes if you want your child to be able to play in the water.

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3.) There are “sleeping baby” areas at the shows, use them!: I LOVED this idea and we ended up using it ourselves! When you walk to the top of the stadium up the path at most of the shows, you then get to a walkway that goes across the whole top row that overlooks all the seating. If you have a sleeping baby/toddler you don’t want to take out of your stroller, you can wheel them right up to the stadium and park them behind the back row and stand to watch the show while your child sleeps. Emma Kate fell asleep in her stroller at one point and we didn’t want to miss the last sea lion show of the day, so we used the sleeping baby area and it worked beautifully. It also made it easy for us to be the first ones out after the show was over and avoid the crowds of people exiting the theater.

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4.) Make a plan around show times, but space them out: Each show only happens a certain number of times a day, so pick the ones you want to see, and rank them in order of most important to least important. Keeping in mind as the day goes on your toddler will get more cranky and restless, you may end of having to skip one of two shows, and you don’t want it to be your favorite one! Also, try not to go straight from one show to another without giving your toddler a chance to run around and get out the wiggles. We tried to avoid the stroller when we knew she needed to get some energy out and it worked well for us.

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5.) Split up if necessary: Remember that sometimes it’s ok for the whole family to not stick together. Some space can even be good on a hot day. Bobby wanted to ride one of the roller coasters, so Emma Kate and I went for a walk to find some food while Bobby went on the ride. He later went on it again when Emma Kate was napping and I took the opportunity to sit down, check my phone, and do some people watching. Be sure to pick a spot to meet up afterwards though so no one gets lost!

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Disclosure: I was given two free one day tickets to visit SeaWorld, however all opinions are mine.

Affordable Home Gym

This post is sponsored by Kohl’s. I was paid for this post and received the included fitness equipment as compensation.

It’s January, the month of the year when people decide to get fit (which I love!) The thing I do not love however, its how packed a gym can get at the beginning of the year. I like my space, and sometimes that can be hard to find!

As a work from home mom who has a child only in daycare part time, I also struggle to find time to get to the gym, and always wanted to have my very own “home gym.” I knew it could come in handy for those times when my toddler is napping, or I need to stretch my legs from sitting at my laptop all day. After doing some searching, I realized that having a home gym was more affordable than I thought, and is incredibly convenient for someone with my schedule.

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When I began research, I knew I wanted a mix of cardio and strength equipment, and needed room to move around. Thankfully, our new house has a huge bonus room upstairs that fits the bill. I have plenty of room to move, and work up a sweat! Here is a list of what I have, followed by some explanations:

-Pro Form Easy Strider

-Resistance bands

-Free weights

-Workout DVD’s

-Pro Form Bike Desk

-Yoga Mat

-Foam Roller

The Pro Form Easy Strider was something I wanted because I had a similar one a few years ago but we got rid of it when we moved awhile back. It’s great for cross training days, and is situated in front of my TV so I can catch up on my favorite shows while I burn some calories. This model has EKG grip pulse that monitors your heart rate, an easy to read LED display, a built in fan (yes!) and it even has wheels to be easily moved around. It supports up to 250 pounds, and has big, oversized pedals that fit even my husbands big feet. Never did I think I would be able to have my own cardio equipment again, but I do!

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As someone who has IT band problems, resistance bands and a foam roller were a must. I have a lot of body weighted exercises I do with the bands to strengthen my glutes and hips which keeps that nagging pain away. I try to foam roll several times a week as well to help with tight muscles. I was able to get a set of bands and a foam roller all for under $20, and they are invaluable to me!

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I admit, I need to do more yoga. I have a mat, as well as some yoga and Cardio DVD’s, I just need to put them to good use. Maybe now that I have my own gym space at home I will follow through.

The Pro Form bike desk is something I have ALWAYS wanted. I sit at my laptop working all. day. long. I frequently have to get up to stretch my legs because I get so stiff. How awesome to multi task like this?!? I can get all of my work done while burning calories and keeping my blood circulating. I can pedal for hours! No more excuses for not having time to workout.

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As someone who loves boot camp classes, free weights were also a must. I don’t have many, but plan to build up a supply as my budget allows. My boot camp classes taught me so much, and I can do dozens of workouts and moves with just a few weights and get in an awesome burn.

With just a few pieces of equipment, I have been able to cover cardio, strength training, injury prevention, and stretching/maintenance in my home gym. It was definitely more affordable than I thought it would be, and is something I can enjoy for many years to come. After all, you can’t put a price tag on your health.

Be sure to check out all of the other fitness equipment Kohl’s has to offer at great prices. They also have a great Fitness page with workout gear, health products, as well as tips from top health and fitness experts.

QOTD: What is your favorite “must have” home gym equipment?

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