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?

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

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?

Add Color with SUBWAY

This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of SUBWAY. All opinions are my own.

I’m a pretty busy person. I juggle my job and my blog as well as my house and my family. Cooking isn’t my absolute favorite, nor do I have a ton of time to do it. I know I need to get my fruit and vegetables in, especially to set a good example for my daughter. We have long relied on green smoothies, quick meals, and places like SUBWAY® to feed our family in a healthy way, and the new +color initiative makes us love it even more!

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Last September, the American Heart Association (AHA) along with SUBWAY launched an initiative called +color, focusing on the positive health impact of fruits and vegetables. Did you know that approximately 39,000 deaths could be prevented from stroke, diabetes and the like, AND $7.6 BILLION dollars in medical costs would be saved if Americans ate the appropriate amount of daily fruits and vegetables? Wow! Not to mention, certain cancers can be prevented by eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables.

If you don’t eat the amount you are supposed to eat, it’s ok! There is no time like the present, so why not start now? I always talk about taking baby steps and making small changes to live a healthier lifestyle, and this would be a great one to start with. The AHA and Subway also want you to make this change, and add an extra cup of color to your diet.

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For someone busy like me, a fresh sandwich from SUBWAY makes it easy. There are so many different combinations of  yummy sandwiches to create, you can bet everyone in your family can find something they will like. SUBWAY offers 10 varieties of vegetables to its guests, and creating your own flavorful custom meal can add at least two extra servings of vegetables to your diet. Also, I don’t want to hear any excuses. With over 44,000 franchised locations, there is bound to be a SUBWAY near you!

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QOTD: What is your favorite sandwich to order from SUBWAY? What other ways do you sneak in vegetables during the day?

Tampa Tuesdays

Hello friends! Now that I am living in Tampa, I am slowly learning my way around (with and without Google maps) and trying to immerse myself in all things Florida and Tampa. Because Tampa is a MUCH bigger city than the one I came from in Mississippi, there is so much more to explore and to share with you all, so I decided to start a new series called “Tampa Tuesdays”. I probably won’t do this every Tuesday, but whenever I have something fun and new to share with you about Tampa, I will try to do it on a Tuesday. It’s actually a little deceiving because I will also share things from surrounding cities as well, but mostly focus on Tampa restaurants, stores, and experiences. I hope you will follow along as I explore my new area!

Today I wanted to share with you about an amazing restaurant called Pelagia. This restaurant can be found at the Renaissance Tampa International Plaza Hotel.

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Bobby and I were invited for a special tasting of their Christmas and New Year’s Prix Fixe menus , which were created by Chef Brett Gardiner.You aren’t going to want to miss this if you are local! How it works is you get to create your own menu by selecting one starter, entrée, and dessert from the prix fixe menu. We didn’t experience all of both menus (that would have been way too much food!) but we got to sample items from each.

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We started with an appetizer plate which had smaller portions of four appetizers you can find on the special holiday menus.

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What I loved about the menu is that it paired ingredients together that I would never have thought to put in the same recipe, but they came out amazing! Bobby’s favorite was the duck confit with sunchokes, frisee, pomegranate, and port vinaigrette. (top of the photo). My favorite (which totally surprised me!) was the grilled pear, watercress, maple bacon, and walnut dressing. (Far right in the photo). The pear wasn’t mushy, and the bacon paired with it had the most amazing flavor. I must try tor recreate!

Next we were given four samples of the main course to try as you can see from the above menu. Bobby and I both agreed that the rack of lamb with the blackberry sage demi was our favorite. So tender and juicy.

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Lastly, we were treated with samples of four of the sweet desserts on the prixe fixe menus. Anyone who knows me knows I have a sweet tooth, so I was most excited about this part, and it did not disappoint.

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My two favorites were the apple crumble dessert at the top left, and the eggnog panna cotta at the bottom right. It’s always fun to have festive holiday desserts, and these hit it out of the park. (The other two were wonderful too with great rich flavoring, but if I had to pick…) As a chocolate lover, I was surprised my two favorites were non chocolate, but that just goes to show how amazing they were.

The restaurant was beautiful and easy to get to from the front of the hotel, and the staff was warm and friendly. Even the private dining room had a unique flair, and a fun and funky chandelier.

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Reservations are available for seatings from noon to 8 p.m. on Christmas day, and throughout the day for New Year’s eve. The cost for Christmas day is $45 for adults and $18 for children 13 and under. For the New Year’s meal, the cost is $70 for adults and includes a glass of Prosecco (which I can attest, is delicious as well!). Prices exclude tax and gratuity. Please call 913-313-3235 for reservations, or you can make them online here.

*Bobby and I were provided a free meal from Pelagia, however all our thoughts and opinions are our own as we explore our new city! 

Farmer’s Market Date Night

Last night, Bobby and I had a date night. We decided to eat at a restaurant called County Seat at the town of Livingston, and it just so happened it was also opening week for their farmer’s market! You may remember me posting about Livingston before when we went there for Santa pictures with Emma Kate. We hadn’t tried this other restaurant so thought it would be a great opportunity.

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The décor was adorable, and we had a super cute booth. I love the tables!

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I ordered one of the drink specials. It was really good, but all I remember is it had prosecco and hibiscus in it.

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I ordered a burger on a pretzel bun and brie mac and cheese. The mac and cheese was delicious, and the burger was good but had a little too much pepper on it. Bobby got a tuna melt and sweet potato soufflé. It liked the sweet potato’s but we were disappointed in the portion size for the sandwich.

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I know I’m dorky, but check out how cute the bathroom is!

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After we ate, we walked over to the farmer’s market. It has been yucky and rainy all day so the turnout was small, but it was fun and we walked away with some lettuce, sweet potatoes, and a tomato.

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They had music playing and Home Depot was there doing crafts with the kids.

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The rain held off while we were there, which I’m sure the vendors were happy about!

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After that we drove around and looked at some open houses of new construction homes in the area. I may be in the minority, but I LOVE touring new homes. There is just something so fun and exciting about it to me, talking about what you love and what you would do differently. I rally enjoyed myself and am glad we were able to get away for a couple of hours. We will for sure be back at the farmers market this summer. If you are ever in the area, you should stop by!

QOTD: Do you ever go to a farmer’s market? Do you like looking at new homes?

Live KIND

Kindness makes the world a better place, and I think we could all agree on that. I am currently partnering with KIND Snacks and want to encourage you all (and myself) to Live KIND. every day™. How can we do this? Doing things for your taste buds, your body, and your world is a great start!Live KIND

As an athlete, I am KIND to my body by exercising, eating nutritious (and delicious) foods, taking rest days for my body, and my mind. I have been working really hard better myself physically by going to boot camp four days a week and running twice a week since the beginning of January. I don’t always feel like I am being KIND to myself in the middle of a tough workout (haha) but I know in the end that it will be worth it!

One thing I am always careful to do though is to take a rest day each week. Too many people think they need to push hard seven days a week, and for me personally that is not being KIND to my body. I need to recover and rest to get even stronger. I typically do my longest workout (my long run) on Saturday, so Sunday makes for a great rest day for me. I think it is also important to take a mental health break, whether it be going for a walk with your dog or taking a quick nap, sometimes we just need to think about nothing!

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A part of being KIND to my body is also what I am fueling it with. I have to eat healthy foods or my workouts aren’t as effective, I feel sluggish, and get really tired. I eat KIND snacks after a tough workout to refuel me and tide me over until my next meal. They are really easy to just throw into my gym bag or purse to eat on the go, which fits in well with my busy life. They are a solution for every day! My favorites are Almond and Coconut, and anything with chocolate.

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I also think it’s important to be KIND to your taste buds. I love to eat delicious food, and sometimes for this southern girl that means home cooked comfort food! But, those are treats, and for the most part we try to eat healthy, especially to teach my toddler good healthy eating habits. Anyone with a toddler can tell you that sometimes trying to get them to eat healthy foods is like trying to bathe a cat. We continually give her lots of greens (she loves green beans), protein like turkey and chicken, and healthy fats like avocados but sometimes she turns them away. I know it’s just a phase, but it can be frustrating at times! Mixing veggies in with foods she already likes helps as well. Also, she LOVES my KIND snacks! Anytime she hears me rip open a package from the pantry she comes running and holds her little hand out for a bite. It’s so cute, but I usually end up having to open a second bar so I get enough to eat!

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As much as I think it is important to be kind to yourself, it’s also important to be KIND to those around you. I grew up doing volunteer work though my church and was raised to always keep others and their needs in mind. We can always do more to help others, and I think doing first hand work with those less fortunate is something that is very eye opening. One such experience happened to me this time last year, and has still stuck with me. I had the opportunity to help out with a Feed the Children charity event in New Orleans in conjunction with the Run Rock n Roll Series. We spent the afternoon giving food and toiletries to needy families in the area, and it was such a blessing to me to get to chat with some of these people, hear their stories, and do a little something to brighten their day. I truly believe we need more KINDness in the world, and that if we can all do a little more, things could be amazing.

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QOTD: What are you doing to Live KIND. every day™ for your body, the world, and your taste buds?   Check out how we “Live KIND” on our blog, http://www.kindsnacks.com/blog/, and follow KIND snacks on  Twitter/Instagram/Facebook – @kindsnacks and chat with them using #LiveKIND.

This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of KIND.

5 Things Friday

1.) September 11th. Where were you? I was a junior in high school and I still remember sitting in class, and another teacher came in and whispered something into my teachers ear. I will never forget the look on his face, it still makes me stomach turn. Let’s continue to pray for the families of the victims, and for our country as a whole.

2.) Fall decorations. What is the “rule” in your house on when you decorate? typically I decorate labor day weekend/beginning of September, but I haven’t yet. Emma Kate’s birthday party is the 19th and I don’t want the house to look cluttered with fall décor + her party decorations, so I may just wait until after that.

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3.) The treadmill boost. I ran on the treadmill yesterday, and my time was way better than it has been outside (air conditioning plus running on a belt changes many things!) What are your thoughts on this? I know running outside is totally different, but I really needed the confidence boost of running in the non 100+ degree heat to see what I could do.

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4.) Recipe help. I need some new, EASY and QUICK chicken recipes. Help a sister out. I’m getting tired of the same old stuff. I have a great enchilada soup recipe I will start once it gets cooler!

5.) Gorgeous clothes. Check out my new Fabletics outfit. Isn’t it gorgeous? I am loving the romantic print and deep purple. I will post a pic soon of me wearing it. We are supposed to have cooler weather this weekend so maybe I will run in it!

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QOTD: Where were you September 11? Any links to easy chicken recipes? When do you decorate for fall?

Disclosure: I was provided with this outfit by Fabletics, however all opinions are my own.

Easy Honey Broth Chicken and Roasted Potatoes

Please enjoy this yummy recipe/guest post by my friend Lesley!

Before I get started on the recipe I want to say a huge hello to all of Heather’s readers, and a big thank you to Heather for the opportunity to share a guest post with y’all!

Heather and I have been “blogger friends” for a couple of years. We finally got to meet at runDisney’s 2013 Tower of Terror 10 Miler.

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I blog about weight loss and running (among other things) at greaterfitness.wordpress.com Stop by the blog or say hello to me on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter! My username is @greaterfitness

An old friend of mine actually shared this recipe with me a few years ago. I cook it pretty frequently because it is now a favorite of mine, and it is super easy and not too bad for you. Because of its simplicity, this recipe is definitely one you can get your kids involved with. The leftovers are great as well! I suggest using any leftover chicken to toss in a salad or thinly slice the chicken and put it on a sandwich. The best part about this recipe is that it only requires two ingredients that you probably always have in your kitchen:

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Yep, that’s all you need! You’ll need 1 cup of honey and 2 cups of chicken broth.

In a saucepan, combine 1 cup of the broth and ½ cup of honey. In an oven-safe dish, combine the remaining ½ cup of honey and 1 cup of broth. Stir both.

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Set the saucepan aside. This will later become a sauce. Place chicken breasts or tenders in the oven-safe dish with the honey and broth mixture. This will cook in a 375 degree oven for about 35 minutes. You’ll know it is done when the chicken has a tender, white center. Once the chicken is done cooking, let it cool. While it is cooling, put the saucepan containing the remaining honey and broth mixture on medium heat. Cook until it just begins to boil and then back the heat down to simmer. Once you are ready to serve the chicken, spoon the sauce over the chicken. This keeps the chicken very moist and gives additional flavor.

I actually prepared the side of roasted potatoes before the chicken. They will cook at the same temperature, but will need an additional 15 minutes. I will usually get them ready and in the oven then start to prepare the chicken. Once the chicken is ready to go in the oven the potatoes have already been cooking for the extra time they require. This way both foods are done at the exact same time. You can use any type of potato that you like.

Simply clean the potatoes, cut into small bite-size pieces (I leave the skin on for extra flavor) and spread onto a baking/roasting pan. Liberally coat them with olive oil and a generous sprinkle of salt, pepper and Italian seasoning. Put them in the oven and you are all set!

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Usually I serve the chicken and potatoes with a salad. Unfortunately, we didn’t have any lettuce when I made this recipe last week so I steamed some green beans as a substitute.

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This meal is so yummy yet so simple to make. I hope that you give it a try and like it just as much as my family does!

QOTD: What is your favorite way to cook chicken?