EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival

Last week, Amanda and I visited Walt Disney World to wander around at EPCOT’S International Flower and Garden Festival. This yearly festival runs from March 1st until May 29th, and has food, fun, and of course…flowers!

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A few years ago, the festival introduced “outdoor kitchens” taking advantage of the popularity of vacationers loving to try snack sized portions of food, which is a genius idea. There are 15 kitchens spread around the world showcase, two of them being newcomers this spring for the 24th year of the festival. You can use snack credits for many items as part of the Disney dining plan, and you can even pre purchase an adorable gift card that can be used as you eat around the world.

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Don’t forget about the Garden Rocks concert series. These mini concerts will get you movin’ and shakin’ along with the music at the America Gardens Theatre. You can check out the full concert lineup here, as well as information on dining packages.

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There are also tons of adorable topiaries, exhibits, and gardens to see during your visit to EPCOT. With 13 topiaries sprinkled around the park, you are bound to get a few great photos with some of your favorite Disney characters in plant and flower form.

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A favorite of mine were the kid play areas. I know my daughter is going to flip when she sees these when we go back in April.

Be sure you don’t miss the bonsai and butterfly exhibits either, they are great for learning and teaching your kids, as well as just plain cool.

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The festival center also has special weekend events for you to check out, and you can also sign up for special tours and events going on during this time, like the like the Royal tea garden tour. It looks super fun! Of course there is also tons of fun merchandise to purchase as well to commemorate this special occasion. You can find several booths selling everything from t-shirts to  mugs to garden essentials.

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Spring time is a great time to visit the Walt Disney World Resort, so be sure when you do, that you block off plenty of time to spend in beautiful EPCOT at the International Flower and Garden Festival.

QOTD: Have you ever visited Walt Disney World during this time? What is your favorite thing about the festival?

runDisney Snow White Costume Tutorial

Every year, I dress up for the runDisney Princess half marathon. For the past couple of years, my friend Jen and I have been super creative with matching costumes, but this year we both had a lot going on, and February snuck up on us. We still wanted to dress up and “sort of” match, so we decided to go with clothing we already owned so that we just had to add a couple of accessories to our princess costumes.

Snow White Costume

I already had a yellow running skirt and blue top, so I thought Snow White would be “easy”, except I totally forgot I am the least artistic person on earth and nothing related to costume creation is ever easy for me.

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I had seen a few similar costumes on Pinterest, and thought I could figure out a way to create the sleeves on my own, but still look just as good as people with sewing machine today (and sewing skills). Yall, I tried really hard. If you didn’t get too close to me at the race you never would have known, but the photos below clearly show off my skills. But if you want an easy(er) way to create these sleeves and don’t have a sewing matching but own a needle and thread (or can buy one), then my tutorial is for you. remember, if I can do this, you can do this.

SUPPLIES:

-blue tank (mine is cotton from Target, I got it on clearance for $3. I know cotton is a running no no, but I wasn’t spending any more money on this costume than I had to.

-yellow running skirt from runningskirts.com. My favorite brand. They have POCKETS which is a great help during a race. (affiliate link)

-red headband or ribbon (I got mine at Mouse Gears inside EPCOT for $12.95. I love it so much I wore it around the parks, too!) You could always use leftover ribbon from your sleeves to create a bow or headband, too.

-needle

-white and blue thread

– 1 yard of knit elastic

– 2 yard of 1 inch thick blue ribbon

-2 yards of 1 inch thick red ribbon

– push pins

WARNING: Do not get ribbon with wire. It will poke you the whole race. The only thinner red ribbon at my craft store had wire so I bought it. Don’t make my mistake!

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The first thing you need to do for your sleeves is cut two pieces of elastic and sew them together for the bottoms of the sleeves.

WARNING: Make the fit snug, but don’t cut off circulation. I made the mistake of making mine too loose, and it started pulling down the straps of my tank b/c the elastic was sliding down my arms. If I were to do this again (haha) I would have done the elastic a little tighter.

All I did was used white thread and literally sewed the two ends together at the ends. That’s it. Nothing fancy or pretty. I figured no one would be close enough to see that it didn’t all line up perfectly.

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Then came the more complicated part. I knew I wanted 3 red pieces and 2 blue pieces of ribbon on each arm. So I did the longest 2 pieces in the middle then shorter pieces after that with one of the pieces more in the front than back. Confusing? Maybe this helps. For each arm I cut:

-1 red 10” and one blue 10”

-1 red 9” and one blue 9”

-1 red 8”  <—-to be closer to the front. I didn’t care about having ribbon more towards the back. Check it out below. I then took each piece and pinned it to my elastic. I personally did it so that the seam of the elastic was on the back of my arm and not underneath so it wouldn’t rub me when I ran. Then I kind of “pleated” each piece of ribbon (best I could, it’s hard yall), and pinned them all on so that the ribbon reached about halfway down the width of the elastic (don’t worry, this is the underside that no one will see!)

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Then I got to sewing. Well, what resembled sewing. Don’t laugh. This is the final product. I used white thread and just started on one side and literally just sewed over and under all the way across. It looked AWFUL, but again, would be on the underside.

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I then did the same exact thing to the other side, so I had two detached sleeves.

I then switched to my blue thread, and again just literally sewed a line down the inside of the sleeve of the tank, attaching each piece of ribbon with about 3-4 stitches as I went. It wasn’t the best hold ever, but would do for one race. I did the other sleeve (make sure you sew underneath and not on top of the tank!) and I was done!

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I didn’t try it on b/c I was afraid I would rip/mess something up, but thankfully all went well on race day and it held together just fine! I got tons and tons of compliments, but really all I did was sew together some ribbon and buy a headband. Everything else I already had. Some people choose to do a cape and collar or hold an apple, but I knew a cape and collar would bug me, and I already hold my phone when I run so I didn’t want to bother with another prop. So there you have it! My Snow White runDisney costume!

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QOTD: Have you ever dressed up for a race?

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!

Top 5 Overlooked Disney World Restaurants

Disney dining is a hot topic among vacationers. Sought after reservations are planned months in advance, menus are scoured, and pictures are researched. In a lot of searches, you will see the same restaurants mentioned over and over. Not only are (some) of these Disney World restaurants over rated, but a lot are near impossible to get into, especially for a last minute trip.

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In my experience, resort dining is often overlooked, but is some of the best food on Disney property. Also, these places have been known to take last minute reservations and walk ups. Check out my list below of five of my favorite hidden gem restaurants at Walt Disney World:

Name: Trails End Buffet

Location: Fort Wilderness Campground

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This buffet truly is “hidden” in the woods on Disney property. You cannot park directly at the restaurant, and instead must either park at check in and take an internal bus, or take a boat. The best way to describe this place is “comfort food”. As a born and raised southerner, I consider myself an expert on sweet tea. So far, Trail’s End has hands down, the best sweet tea, on Disney property. Also, since it’s not a character buffet, the price is very reasonable for an all you can eat. It’s usually pretty quiet, and we love sitting on the porch in the rocking chairs before or after our meal just soaking in vacation. If you want to relax, this is a great place to go!

Name: Kona Cafe

Location: Polynesian Village Resort

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Kona Café is right next door to the ever popular Ohana. On several occasions, I have been able to walk up without a reservation to Kona, even at prime dinner time. On the second floor of the lobby, Kona has a fun colorful open atmosphere, with a great menu. Since it’s on the monorail loop, you could even leave the Magic Kingdom, go eat, then go back to the part without wasting a lot of time.

Name: Grand Floridian Café

Location: Grand Floridian Resort and Spa

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This is another place I consider quiet and relaxing. We love getting a table by the window for breakfast or lunch, and enjoy the bright light that comes in through the tall windows of the restaurant. Off by itself in the back of the lobby, it’s away from the hustle and bustle of check in, and 1900 Park Fare. You can easily hop on the monorail or a boat to the Magic Kingdom, so it’s prime location is a huge draw in my opinion.

Name: Splitsville

Location: Disney Springs

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There are several reasons I love Splitsville, one being the birthday cake martini. Another great plus to this place is that it has a HUGE menu, so I’m certain you will find something for everyone here. Also, you can eat WHILE you bowl, which is pretty awesome and unique. My favorite is to ask to eat outside on the upstairs balcony. It has great views of Disney Springs, especially at sunset. Not to mention, since there is no admission to get into Disney Springs, you don’t have to have a park ticket to eat here. I have also walked up and been seated immediately many times.

Name: The Wave

Location: Contemporary Resort

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Another restaurant I picked in part to it’s great location. Just one stop after leaving the Magic Kingdom, this cool place off the lobby of the Contemporary has a very chill vibe. The drink menu is fun, and the options are plentiful. After you eat, simply walk the path back to the Magic Kingdom, or hop on the monorail to the TTC and go to EPCOT or back to the Magic Kingdom. So many options!

RELATED: Sign Up for my FREE My Disney Experience and Magic Bands E-Course!

QOTD: What is your favorite often overlooked Disney restaurant?

Emma Kate Does Disney: Part 5

Today is my last installment of our trip, check it out:

This was our last full day at Walt Disney World (see what we did in part 4 here), and we were headed to EPCOT. Emma Kate had been saying she wanted to meet Ana and Elsa for WEEKS, so our plan was to arrive early, do the standby line for the meet and greet, and then do our fastpass for the Frozen Ever After ride later that afternoon.

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Emma Kate just so happened to wake up REALLY early, so we played on the playground at Saratoga Springs for a bit and then just decided to go ahead and drive over to EPCOT. We had NO idea they were letting people in early, so we got lucky with a short standby line for Ana and Elsa.

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We got closer and closer in line, and I started to hype Emma Kate up and get her ready to meet her favorite princesses. She said she was going to give them big hugs and smile pretty. Aaaannnddd this is what we got:

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She was TERRIFIED of Elsa and would not hug her. EK’s face just cracks me up! We moved on to Ana, and she warmed up enough to hug her, but she made it clear she was NOT happy about it.

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Bless it. Look at the side eye poor Ana is getting.

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I die. Of course when we left she said she wanted to go hug Elsa…too late kid. We will try again when we go back in April and see if it’s any different. I think Emma Kate was just a bit overwhelmed.

After the princess photos, we headed over to ride the Nemo ride, and then check out the aquarium.

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EK was going through a hardcore Nemo phase so she loved this ride.

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After this, we rode Living with the Land. This is always a favorite of mine. I’m a total nerd and love seeing how they grow their fruit and veggies.

We walked around the world showcase and got some food and wine offerings. My dad tried sushi in Japan, and we all got food in Italy, and I had a glass of alcohol. Emma Kate was starting to get tired from her early wakeup, but it was time for our Frozen Ever After fastpasses. Our plan was to ride the ride, then let her nap in the stroller while we ate some more food and walked around.

We got in the fastpass line, and right as we got up to the front to get on a boat (we were literally the next ones to get on)…the ride broke down. I kid you not. We were in the loading area, so we just stood there for awhile, me holding Emma Kate. They turned all the lights on, evacuated people off the ride, and people began leaving. About this time, poor EK started to fall asleep in my arms. I decided to sit down against the wall with my dad and just let her sleep. We had nothing else to do, so may as well hold our front of the line spot and wait.

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Because we were right where you board and no longer in the actual que, we had plenty of space and started talking to a cast member from Norway who had been here for a few months. He was a super nice guy with zero accent, and he said he had worked very hard on his English. We talked about the differences in our countries, etc. all while waiting for the ride to come back up. Finally, about 45 minutes later, they started letting people board. Emma Kate woke up and was very confused, but she got to see the ride.

We were all pretty tired by this point, but we had to make one more stop for my favorite drink.

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I couldn’t hold my huge toddler and drink my drink, so I put her in the stroller and she was NOT happy about it. She cried the whole way to the parking lot, which was super fun for everyone. Poor thing needed a longer nap.

We watched some football, took Emma Kate to the playground, and got ready to have friends over. A few years ago when we were staying club level at the Grand Floridian, my parents struck up a conversation with a nice couple and they have kept in touch. When we stayed at Saratoga four years ago, they come over one night and we BBQ’ed out by the playground and had a great time, so we did it again this trip!

Saratoga has a really nice covered pavilion with fans and picnic tables right next to the playground, we we all hung out while my dad cooked and Emma Kate could play. After dinner, they went home and Emma Kate went to bed. my mom watched her while my dad and I walked to Disney Springs (have I mentioned I LOVE the proximity of this resort to Disney Springs?)

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We walked through some of the shops and watched a show up on the stage. Then we decided to get ice cream from Ghirardelli and not tell my mom. However, my dad made a huge mistake and paid with his credit card, and my mom saw the bill when it came in so we were busted! Anyway, it was delicious, and a nice relaxing way to end out trip.

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The next morning, I got up early and went for a quick run before we left.  I had not had the chance to run the whole trip since I was with Emma Kate 95% of the time, but I didn’t want to pass up a chance to run somewhere different. I went out while it was still dark, and it was so nice and peaceful.

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After I got back and showered, we loaded up the car and started our long (long long) drive home. With it being my first time to take a toddler to Disney, I learned a lot.

It was Halloween, and we decided to stop and spend the night in Destin to break up the trip. We went to the beach that afternoon and Emma Kate was not a fan of the sand.

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I found out that there was trick or treating at the outlet mall, so that’s exactly what we did!

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The next morning we went back to the beach and Emma Kate hated it even more than the day before and wouldn’t step foot on it and wanted to go “bye bye”.

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We stayed out all of 15 minutes and then I took her to the pool while my mom and dad stayed at the beach. Confession: I will admit I was a little frustrated. I had so been looking forward to spending the morning on the beautiful Destin beach, and here I was, finally there, and I got to see it for ten minutes. Then I was stuck at the freezing pool (the hotel building cast a shadow on the pool) by myself just me and Emma Kate, cold and pretty miserable for over an hour, just being frustrated I wasn’t in the sun on the sand and had no idea when I would be back. I had my little pity party then got over it and we played until my parents came. We stayed for a bit longer, then headed up to the room to pack up and drive home.

We made a bunch of mistakes, and will know better for next time. While Bobby and I have only taken her on day trips to Disney since we’ve moved to Tampa, we have made adjustments and Emma Kate has done a lot better overall than she did in October. We will be taking her back in April for a few nights and I know we will have a great time!

QOTD: Have you been to Destin? Have you ever trick or treated at a mall?

Emma Kate Does Disney: Part 4

We left off part 3 with the family heading to the Contemporary to eat brunch at Chef Mickeys. Since we had a little bit of a typical two year old behavioral issue at Crystal Palace, I was really hoping Chef Mickeys would be better, and not as new or overwhelming as her first character meal.

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Donald was the first to come around and she was pretty shy. She didn’t want to sit in a high chair or regular chair, so she was in our laps for most of the meal. She let Donald take a picture with her, but she wouldn’t hug him or stand by him.

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She did however get to watch the characters get closer and closer so I think that helped her to “warm up” a little bit. She LOVED Minnie mouse and got down on the floor to hug her. Minnie did a great job getting down to Emma Kate’s level which was appreciated.

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She really loved Pluto and his nose and “big tongue” the best though. She got antsy towards the end of the meal and wanted to run around, but overall she did way better than the Crystal Palace meal.

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After the meal, we walked around the back of the Contemporary out by the pool. I love that there is a little selfie station so everyone could get in the picture.

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When we got back to the resort, Emma Kate wanted to go to the pool (shocker), so my dad and I took her while my mom went shopping, since my mom had her the whole day before while I was house hunting with my dad. We may or may not have brought wine to the pool in Styrofoam cups. Hey, it’s 5:00 somewhere, right?

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I couldn’t believe the amazing weather we were having. It wasn’t hot at all for October in central Florida.

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We eventually moved over to the big pool.

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I honestly can’t remember what we did for dinner that night it’s been so long now, but I know we didn’t go anywhere. Brunch was so late we were probably too full! It was early to bed again, because we were going to Epcot the next day to finally meet Ana and Elsa, the one thing Emma Kate had been talking about for weeks. Stay tuned to see how that went!

QOTD: Have you ever been to Chef Mickey’s? Do you usually do character meals in Disney?

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?

Top 10 runDisney Princess Half Marathon Tips

The runDisney princess half marathon is one of my favorite races. It’s a fun girls weekend where you get some new bling at the end. What could be better? That being said, being prepared can make or break your experience, so I am here to offer some of my best tips for running this race. Good luck!

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1. Know the course. If you plan properly, you will know where the hilly overpasses are, where you can use a “real” bathroom on the course, and where the aid stations and med tents are located. Knowing this information can help you plan your fueling and pace for the event, and make you feel more at ease on race morning. I always try to wait to use the bathroom in the Magic Kingdom, and time my fuel around the free gel station that is on the back half of the course. Know what flavors are offered (I always opt for the vanilla, it tastes like frosting!) and make sure ahead of time that it won’t upset your stomach. The overpasses that will hurt are on the back half, once being a big loop around that can be killer on your IT bands, so take it slow. There are also a couple of hills as you come into EPCOT so make sure you have enough steam left to get up them!

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2. Arrive early. Not only will you have to wait for a bus or wait in traffic in your own car, but you will have to walk a long ways to get to the starting line, and then wait some more to use the bathroom before the race. I know as it is you have to wake up at an ungodly hour just to be there on time, but plan for some extra cushion just in case. No one wants to be stressed out and rushing! Buses stop running at 4:00 am (ugh I know right?) But I always plan to be on a bus somewhere around 3:45. Sometimes there will be long lines depending on if one just left your resort or not, so don’t expect to just walk right on. When you are dropped off, you will have to walk a ways to get to the family reunion area, then you may have to stand in line to check your bag. Tip on the bathrooms: If there are long lines at the family reunions area, wait until you walk to your corral. There will be more of them outside of the corral area, and the lines usually aren’t as long. (Also better to go at the last minute instead of an hour before the start if you ask me!)

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3. Wear a costume, and wear it on a practice run. I have worn tutu’s and running skirts for all of the Princess weekend races I have participated in, and it was a BLAST. Other people recognizing your costume or cheering for your “character” is a lot of fun. However, I was careful to run around the house beforehand to see if there were any chafing issues, rubbing spots or uncomfortable things about my costume. (Fun mental picture eh?) You don’t want to be miserable for 13.1 miles in a costume that isn’t agreeing with you. TIP for tutus: Wear a running skirt underneath as opposed to shorts. that way, strands from the tutu won’t get caught in between your legs for 13.1 miles. TIP for tiaras: Get the kind with a comb attached and wear a running headband over the top of the comb to “secure” it to your head. Works like a charm!

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Tip: Did you know you can buy a runDisney magic band? I love this pink one!

 

4. Bring your camera or cell phone for pictures. There are a ton of photo opportunities before, during, and after the race, so don’t miss out! Some people put their phone in an armband or fuel belt, but I just carry mine the whole race so I can quickly snap a photo whenever I want. I have even been known to tweet and Instagram mid race! TIP: If you purchase Disney’s memory maker or are an annual passholder, you can get photos taken by photopass photographers for FREE when you download them from your My Disney experience app. Keep in mind not all characters have a professional photographer at them though, which is when your phone/camera can come in handy.

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5. Enter the correct proof of time. runDisney is cracking down on proof of time. You won’t be able to change it at the expo, and it will be checked against your race results to ensure you are in the correct corral. This is for everyone’s safety and enjoyment, and to help with overcrowding. If your time is found to be incorrect on your proof, you may be put in a back corral. Don’t risk it and lie about your time! Sign up fro a race in enough time before the cutoff for submission to get your time down to what you want. Also don’t think you will be able to just jump into another corral. Disney had volunteers at the front of every corral checking bibs and they will turn you away. I have seen people try to jump over the gates and injure themselves just to get into a better corral (For reals. Like blood and everything). Not worth it!

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6. Plan for the finish. If you have family waiting for you, tell them not to crowd the finish line area where runners exit, (it’s really hard for an exhausted runner to move through crowds of people. We just want to sit down, so please give us some space and we will love you for it!) but to meet you in the family reunion area at one of the signs with a letter on it. There are a LOT of people in a small area after the race and sometimes cell phones won’t work due to the hoards of people, so have a meeting spot planned ahead of time.

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7.) Be careful with your packing: I always pack my complete race outfit in my carry on bag, and organize things with labeled ziploc bags if needed. I never check my race day outfit on the plane, and just wear my running shoes so I know I at least have those. I also lay out everything the night before including breakfast, room key, gels, etc. so I am not fumbling around looking for a tiara or socks at 3 AM on race day. That wake up time is early, so every minute is precious! (TIP: download my FREE Princess packing list printable to make sure you don’t forget anything important!)

8.) Get some sleep: As mentioned before, that wake up time is brutal. Start preparing your body a few days in advance by trying to go to bed 15-30 minutes early every night for a few nights prior to race day. I try to be in bed by 7:00 the night before at least winding down, and asleep by 8. I know that’s tough because you want to do all the Disney things, but your body will thank you for it the next day! Not just for the early wake up, but for hanging out in the parks after the race. It’s so much fun to wear your medal around, and you don’t want to miss it because you had to take a four hour nap!

9.) Enjoy the Epxo: The expo can get a little wild and crazy, but it’s a lot of fun so be sure to stick around! Make sure you bring a copy of your signed waiver (yes they have printers there where you can get one printed out, but to save time just go ahead and bring it) and a photo ID so you can get your bib. REMINDER: you must pick up your own bib. Go get your bib first, then your shirt, then spend some time enjoying the expo. There are some great vendors, freebies, photo ops, and merchandise. runDisney merchandise will sell out, so if you have your heart set on something in particular, get there early. If you don’t care to buy anything, I suggest NOT going first thing in the morning. If you let the initial rush/crowds die down, you won’t have to fight through as many people.

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10: Have fun! I know this seems like a given, but be sure to not let the logistics of the race, any fear of the unknown, or stress about your time stop you from having fun. Remember that by even toeing the starting line, you are doing something the vast majority of the population will never do, so celebrate and enjoy! You deserve it! Congrats on getting to the runDisney Princess half weekend!

If you are interested in tracking your fitness or any health goals, be sure to get check out my free printable to help you achieve your goals!

QOTD: Did you or will you be signing up for the runDisney Princess half? What princess would you run as if you were to participate?

RELATED: Sign up for my FREE My Disney Experience and Magic Bands E-Course

*More info on the runDisney Princess half on rundisney.com

Emma Kate Does Disney: Part 3

I left off part 2 with us going to bed Thursday night. Friday morning, my dad and I drove to Tampa to look at homes with the realtor while my mom stayed behind with Emma Kate. They went to Disney Springs for the morning while we were gone, and then the playground after nap.

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Dad and I also looked at a couple daycares and found one I loved. I found a house that we ended up putting in an offer on that evening, and after stopping at the grocery store in Celebration and then picking up pizza, we headed to the pool and met up with my mom and EK.. Eating pizza at the splash pad area while EK played was a nice relaxing time, especially after a crazy day house hunting. (there may have been wine involved, too. Ssshhh)

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On Saturday we got up early and headed to Animal Kingdom. EK loves animals, so I was excited to take her on the safari ride in particular. We had fastpasses and headed there first thing. It was a cool morning so the animals were all out and about and active. We even got to hear the male lion roar which I had never heard before.

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After that we walked through some of the zoo like areas, and then headed to the boneyard playground where we stayed for over an hour. I loved that it was closed in so I didn’t have to worry about Emma Kate running off.

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Girlfriend must have gone down the slides 100 times.

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We waited for lunch at Flame Tree BBQ and ate down by the water. We also rode triceratop spin and I really can’t remember what else.

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Emma Kate was getting super tired and so we decided to head back to the resort after lunch so she could get in a good nap.

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During nap my dad and I walked around the resort and even went to the hot tub for a little while.

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We had chef Mickey’s brunch reservations at 2:30, so we loaded up and headed to the contemporary for a late lunch/early dinner. I was so curious to see how Emma Kate would do with the fab five after doing just so-so with the Winnie the Pooh characters.

Stay tuned for next time to see how brunch went with Mickey and the gang!

QOTD: Favorite thing to do at Animal Kingdom?

Emma Kate Does Disney: Part 2

I left off with us going to bed after a bit of stressful arrival day. The next day, we woke up ready to go to the Magic Kingdom. I couldn’t wait to show Emma Kate the castle and my favorite park. We decided to take things slow and let Emma Kate lead the way. I had a couple of fastpasses scheduled, but other than that there was nothing we just “had” to do.

We got to the park right after it opened, and after showing her the castle, headed to Fantasyland.

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We walked right on to Winnie the Pooh (she was so fascinated and slightly overwhelmed!) Then we did the little Mermaid, Dumbo, and Peter Pan.

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Then we had a fastpass for Enchanted Tales with Belle. My mom and I had done it before, but my dad (and of course EK) had not so I was excited for them to see.

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We sat on the front row and watched the little play, and Emma Kate got to get up and meet Belle and get a bookmark. She was really hesitant and didn’t smile, but she also didn’t cry. I call it a win!

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I was so happy Emma Kate’s first princess meeting was with my personal favorite!

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After seeing Belle, we decided to take a little break and get a snack. Emma Kate and I sat down and hung out in the grassy area in front of the castle while my mom and dad went to Starbucks to get us coffee and and a snack. Emma Kate enjoyed running around this little area that was away from the hustle and bustle.

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We sat in the grass and all took a little breather and ate (Emma Kate was again wanting to walk and not hold my hand or sit in the stroller so we had a few meltdowns all before 11:00.)

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After our little break, we decided to ride the train and see if Emma Kate would take a nap. She loves Thomas the train and enjoyed being on it, but it stops so much and for such long periods of time we quickly realized this was not going to work. We got off after a couple of stops, and decided to ride the people mover. After this, she was getting super cranky so I told mom and dad to go take a break and I would walk her around in the stroller and see if she would take a nap (she was so tired but fighting it at this point). I headed off from tomorrowland towards fantasyland by way of the walkway near space mountain, and Emma Kate pretty much fell asleep instantly, so I just kept walking. I made it all the way around the park, then stopped at a quiet corner in Liberty square behind the Christmas shop. I sat down on the ground while she slept. aaahhh.

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After awhile, my mom texted and said she would come meet me and we could switch spots, that dad was getting a snack in Tomorrowland and I could meet up with him there. So I walked back across the park after she arrived and had some fries with my dad. Soon after I got there, EK was awake so we met with my mom and did Buzz Lightyear. We got stuck on the ride for about ten minutes though! After that we decided to take another break in the grass until the 3:00 parade. This time we sat on the other side of the castle.

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Check out Emma Kate putting sunscreen on my dads knees Smile Bless it.

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We made it across the street for the parade and my parents ran into friends from high school! How crazy is that! They ended up chatting during the whole parade and I held Emma Kate up to see. Thankfully I lift weights because holding up a 31 pound child for the whole parade was pretty difficult! But she loved the parade and loved waving to the characters, especially when they waved back!

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We had a 3:30 reservation at Crystal Palace, so as soon as the parade was over we checked in. I was so curious to see how EK would do with the characters. To sum it up, it took her a little while to warm up to them but then she did really well. Tigger was her favorite.

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The issue here was that my super active child was over sitting still in her high chair after about seven minutes and wanted to run around the restaurant, which I wouldn’t allow. She ended up on the floor of Crystal Palace throwing a complete fit and I immediately picked her up and took her outside. I was really frustrated but tried to remind myself she is two, and is really overwhelmed and probably still wasn’t feeling great. I was just tired from chasing her around all day and dealing with the terrible twos. My mom finished eating and came outside to swap with me so I could go eat, but I still didn’t get as much as I wanted because I knew she was being difficult outside for my mom and I wanted to hurry up.

After we finished eating, we decided to leave, which Emma Kate did not want to do, so I apologize to anyone who was on Main street when I strapped my child in the stroller and power walked to the front of the park as she screamed. It was super fun for everyone I’m sure.

When we got back, we took EK to the playground right outside out building. We were on the first floor so it was nice to just walk right outside.

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The playground is near the water and has a great view of Disney Springs.

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I can’t remember exactly what we did that evening but I’m guessing just hung out in the room. Our original plan was to go to Hollywood Studios the next day, but since we got a contract on our house the day we left for Disney, we decided it would be best of my dad and I drove to Tampa to meet with my realtor and look at homes because we needed to make on offer on one quickly for all the closing dates to line up. My poor mom would be left with EK by herself, but I am thankful she volunteered so that I could get this handled since we were so close to Tampa!

More on that adventure in the next installment. Smile

QOTD: Did your/do your kids like the characters at Disney?