Friday, October 28, 2016

Restaurant De Kas, dining in a Greenhouse in Amsterdam - Europe Post 7

When planning our trip to Amsterdam, I did quite a bit of research on restaurants in the area. I wanted an amazing meal with a unique experience and we got just that at Restaurant De Kas in East Amsterdam, easily accessed from the city center by bike.
I am always one to study menu's and plan out my meal prior to arriving. Being Restaurant De Kas changes their menu on a weekly basis with seasonal ingredients from their nursery, the menu is not posted online. All I could do is drool over their food photos on facebook until the day arrived.
I always love unexpected starter dishes and when we were brought a little plate of Brussels Sprouts, I was all about it. With Brussels in one hand a glass of Champagne in the other, I gladly welcomed more green to the table with a dish of imported Olives and bread (the only imported item from our meal).

There are a few options for dining at Restaurant De Kas:
Three small dishes €18.50
Main course €20.50
Dessert €9.50
Two-course menu €39.00

Three-course dinner €49.50
This fixed menu always consists of a selection of three small starters (€18.50) followed by a main course (€21.50) and a dessert (€9.50) - Do the math and it is well worth the price.
We started off with the Baked Red Beetroot and Cucumber soup with a Greveling oyster. Now, you may think Beets and Oysters don't mix - but the DO. This soup was absolutely delicious, refreshing and I nearly licked the bowl clean. May have something to do with my Beet obsession.
Our second dish was a Potato gratin with eggplant, rocket salsa with rosemary and a roasted eggplant compote. It had edible flowers and you could taste the freshness in this dish. My husband isn't big on eggplant but devoured this dish in a few minutes. At this point, I knew we were in for an amazing meal.
Up next was a dish that nearly knocked my socks off. Barbecued zucchini with a basil pesto with smoked almonds and baked endive. It was beautiful, delicious and I need to learn how to make this so my husband will eat Zucchini at home.
Our last item was a pan roasted white fish with savoy cabbage and a bean puree. It was a light dish and the perfect ending to our meal. When they asked if we wanted the dessert special of the week (Pumpkin cake with raisins, pumpkin caramel, pumpkin seed crumble and a pumpkin sorbet) we sadly said no. I didn't want to eat myself sick, however pumpkin sorbet!! Willpower isn't always a good thing as I regret not trying it now.
I wasn't joking when I said we ate inside of a greenhouse! It was a rainy day but that didn't take away from the beauty of this restaurant.
Following our incredible meal, we had a tour of the nursery. A harvest had happened right before we arrived but it even half full, the space was incredible. For those that have been to Epcot in Florida, it reminded me of going through Living with the Land.
We got up close and personal with some heirloom tomatoes (gorgeous!).
And some cute squash blossoms!
The herbs and edible flowers inside of the nursery were quite stunning.
This hanging plant is incredible! I better not show this to my Mom or she will want one for Christmas.
Along with dining in the green house, there are multiple dining spaces in Restaurant De Kas, all equally impressive as the next.
This was the best meal we had in Amsterdam and I would go back in a heartbeat next time we find ourselves there. There will be a next! If you find yourself in Amsterdam, please do me a favor and make a reservation. You will not regret it!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

John O’Hurley to host Ye Mystic Krewe Gasparilla Charity Dinner at Seminole Hard Rock Tampa

My husband has a "Seinfeld laugh". It's a distinct laugh that only comes out when he is watching his favorite syndicated show (on a nightly basis). It's safe to say he has seen every episode at least 25 times and he still get's that silly laugh every time he watches it. When I hear it, I never have to ask him what he is watching.

Seinfeld was a hit while we were in High School and I actually walked out of a restaurant job when I was 18 because they scheduled me to work the night of the series finale (I had requested to be off prior to it starting). Yep....I quit a job to watch the end of Seinfeld.
What does Seinfeld have to do with Seminole Hard Rock Tampa? Actor John O’Hurley AKA J. Peterman (Elaine's boss) is hosting one of my favorite dinners of the year - the annual Ye Mystic Krewe Gasparilla Charity Dinner at Council Oak Steaks and Seafood in Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tampa on Wednesday, November 2.

Oh - and I met John O'Hurley many moons ago. He was the MC at a work function for my former job. This photo has to be more than 10 years old which is crazy!
The event will feature delectable creations from Seminole Hard Rock Tampa Chefs Bill Gideon, Dave Puatu, Michael Balles and Stephan Schubert. Seating will commence at 7:30 p.m. with a four-course dinner immediately following at 8 p.m. Once the menu has been announced, I will add it to this post but I can tell you, it will be delicious.

Tickets are $250 per person and seats are limited. To purchase, please call EventFest at (813) 251-4330.
A portion of the proceeds raised from the dinner will benefit the Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla Community Fund, which was established to benefit the community in times of need. We take both our community and our pirates seriously here in Tampa.
Seminole Hard Rock Tampa is in the midst of a three-year run as title sponsor of the Gasparilla Pirate Fest, which is scheduled for January 28, 2017. The event will feature the Gasparilla Invasion and Parade of the Pirates, presented by Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla, as well as the Gasparilla Pirate Fest Street Festival. The photo above was their float in 2016.

Go the #ExtraMile for Girls on the Run with ASICS

It's time for you to go the Extra Mile. Are you on Runkeeper®? If not, you need to sign up for it.....

To commemorate the New York Marathon, ASICS and Runkeeper® have partnered with a fantastic non-profit organization, Girls on the Run, to promote self confidence and healthy lifestyles for young girls through running. Since the average Runkeeper® workout is about 3 miles, ASICS wants you to go the #ExtraMile and run 4! Complete this anytime between October 17 and November 30, and ASICS will donate a pair of running shoes to Girls on the Run in your honor.
Each person that completes the 4 mile #ExtraMile promotion will be entered for a chance to win a pair of limited edition New York City-inspired running shoes from ASICS.
Additionally, ASICS will donate a pair of shoes to Girls on the Run for every $100 spent on ASICS products from October 24 through November 7 within select New York City run specialty stores, and at participating ASICS retail locations nationwide.
How awesome is that?! Here are a few details on this promotion:

ASICS will donate up to 50,000 pairs of shoes to Girls on the Run
Running and Walking activities are eligible towards completion
GPS and Stopwatch Mode activities are eligible towards completion
Limited edition New York City-inspired ASICS shoes are subject to availability. Winner responsible for taxes and shipping.

Click here to sign up (or to register) for the Girls on the Run #ExtraMile promotion on Runkeeper.

Girls on the Run is a non-profit organization dedicated to creating a world where every girl knows and activates her limitless potential and is free to boldly pursue her dreams. Running is used to inspire and motivate girls, encourage lifelong health and fitness, and build confidence through accomplishment.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

All about Halloween and Red Diamond Mysterious Red Blend #RedDiamondWine

We are a few short days away from my favorite Holiday - Halloween. I have been Halloween obsessed as far back as one can remember. As a child, I would help Mom make my handmade costumes. Yes...that is a dog bone in my hair below.
Halloween - Circa a million years ago
As an adult, I always looked forward to throwing Halloween parties. I threw a popular party for many years while I was still in Daytona. When we moved to Tampa, I did not have the space to throw a party so we started going to Guavaween, Tampa's Halloween party in Ybor City where we lived for 5 years. Throughout the years, we have been many things but we always stayed in theme. My favorite was the year we got married - a month after the wedding, we went as a ghost bride and groom.
Halloween 2014
Halloween 2011
Halloween 2013
Speaking of themes, when I threw Halloween parties, they always had a theme. One of my favorite parties was my Big Hair Ball. It made people think outside the box. I took advantage of going as Amy Winehouse and my friend Darlynn went as a Blonde 70's sexpot - or is she Magda from Something About Mary??
Halloween 2008
We love Halloween so much that we had one of our engagement shoots at Busch Gardens Howl-O-Scream - Zombies, Voodoo Queens and all!
Busch Gardens Howl o Scream Halloween Themed Engagement Shoot
So you can see we take Halloween pretty seriously around here. Now that we have a house, we are looking forward to having trick-or-treaters for the first time since living in Tampa. I have heard it is quite a big deal in our Neighborhood the point that people drive here for the event. I honestly have no idea what to expect and the current debate of our household is if we get full size candy bars (my choice) or miniatures (cheap husbands choice) to give to the kids..

This Halloween, Gabe and I are going as Day of the Dead. I'm not going to reveal too much about our costumes (especially because I cannot decide between the two I have). We came up with our theme the night we learned we'd be attending Seminole Hard Rock's Monster Ball. After two margaritas and a trip to a Costume store for inspiration, Gabe came across the cane shown in this photo and everything started from there. The next day, Red Diamond asked me to try their Mysterious Red Blend as part of a Day of the Red party - what are the chances!
On Saturday night, we will have a small gathering at our house prior to Hard Rock's Monster Ball, where we will be drinking Red Diamond Mysterious Red Blend for Day of the Red.

This 2014 Washington State Limited Edition Red Blend has sultry aromas of cherry and dark stone fruit, the palate delivers captivating flavors of dark red berries and a hint of spice. Medium-bodied tannins give way to a riveting, long finish. And it will go perfect with our costumes.

For a fun wine pairing, Red Diamond Mysterious Red Blend is fantastic with chocolate peanut butter cups or milk chocolate with English toffee. Of course it also goes perfect with juicy steaks, spooky stews and stinky cheese.

You can find Red Diamond Mysterious Red Blend nationwide for $10. The blend consists of 56% Syrah, 40% Merlot, 3% Viognier and 1% other red varieties.

This is the wine you want to bring to your friends Halloween party!

Visiting the Paris Catacombs - Europe Post 6

What says romance like visiting the worlds largest grave which consists of 6 million sets of bones? Well that's exactly how my husband Gabe and I started off our 2 year wedding anniversary. We visited the Catacombs of Paris, otherwise known as Les Catacombes on our trip to Europe a few weeks ago and it was one of the coolest things we have ever seen.
If you are planning on visiting the Catacombs while in Paris (I strongly encourage you to do so), buy your tickets in advance. There are multiple websites which offer front of the line access - upwards of $100 a person. No need to spend that - we found ours on Get Your Guide for $31 a person - click here for the link. Be sure to get these far in advance. The line when we left was wrapped around the entire building. They only allow a small amount of people in at a time so if you don't have priority tickets, you will be waiting for hours.
Upon entering, you receive a audio guide, which explains the Catacombs history. while walking down the 130 steps to get to the Catacombs, there is a feeling of anticipation and a bit of anxiety. Then you go through a fairly long tunnel to get to the bones.
You may be asking yourself why there are 6 million sets of bones in the Catacombs. In the 18th Century, the cemeteries of Paris were becoming overpopulated which resulted in improper burials, open graves and diseases. Gross!
In 1763 Louis XV banned all burials from the capital but the Church opted not to disturb the cemeteries. Nothing was done and in 1780 Paris got a long span of rain which caused the walls around the cemetery to collapse. Imagine what happened to all those bodies - doubly gross.
The Catacombs were blessed in 1786 (it was the former Tombe-Issoire quarries). Two years later, all of the bones from Les Innocents were transferred and it took decardes to remove and rebury the bones from surrounding cemetery's.
The practice of burying the newly dead directly in the catacombs began after the French Revolution. In 1859 the final transfer of bones took place and the Catacombs were complete as of 1860.
In 1867, the catacombs were open to the public. The Catacombs stretch underground for over 300 kilometers (186 miles). Think about that next time you are eating Macarons while walking down the streets of Paris.
A few things you should know:
Distance covered on the tour: 1.5 km
Duration of the tour: 45 minutes
No toilet or cloakroom facilities available
130 steps to go down and 83 steps back up to street level
Temperature: 14°C (so dress appropriately and wear closed toe shoes)
Following the tour of Catacombs, we stumbled upon an open air food market which was equivalent to every foodies dream. Fresh truffles, Foie Gras, Sea Urchins, Fresh Pasta, Cheese galore - I could have seriously spent a pretty penny there.

We had a nice picnic at Le Jardin des Tuilerie then headed to Climb Notre Dame.

We ended our anniversary with a gorgeous sunset which we enjoyed on the balcony of our Air BnB rental with a bottle of Mumm and Macarons.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

An amazing runners Giveaway - How do you #owntherun

How do you own the run? What obstacles do you have to get over so you own it and it doesn't own you? Mine is rain (and every other excuse known to mankind). I am a Florida runner who is cursed by rain at every race I've ran in the past two years. Multiple half marathons, marathons and 10K's have been cursed by a storm. Since the majority of my races are on racecation, I find myself stuffing socks or newspaper in my shoes so they will dry quicker without getting moldy and stinky.
Enter - Waterproof shoes. I recently tried out the Brooks Ghost 9 GTX® and was pleasantly surprised by these neutral waterproof, breathable shoes. I only thought it was appropriate to take a spooky photo of them being they're called the Ghost and it is Halloween week. More about these shoes in a minute - first let's talk about owning the run.

So How do I own the run.....Aside from be being a FL runner and the obvious answer is owning the rain, I have many other obstacles aka excuses to get over while running. I will not lie, this year has been very tough for me when it comes to training. I had good intentions throughout the year, but came up with so many excuses why I couldn't lace up. Here are a few (and I am rolling my eyes at myself while typing this). Buying a house. Moving. Packing / Unpacking. DIY house remodel. Traveling for work. Traveling for pleasure. Late night conference calls and meetings. Early morning conference calls and meetings. Heat. Humidity. Rain. Cramps.

I've got a pretty busy running schedule over the next few months. Next weekend is runDisney Wine and Dine Half Marathon, followed by a racecation to California with runDisney Super Heroes Half Marathon. In December, my office put together a team to run OUC Half in Orlando. Then in January, I have runDisney Half Marathon. After my breakdown at runDisney Paris Half Marathon (review still to come on that one), I learned the hard way that I can no longer improperly train if I am going to get out there and run 13.1 miles. Enough's enough. I am going to own the run by owning my schedule. No more excuses.
Back to the Brooks Ghost 9 GTX®. I had a preconceived notion that the GORE-TEX® membrane, would cause the shoes to be stiff - but they weren't!  They have great cushion while being a smooth ride. I have done two runs in these, nothing more than 5 miles so I can't attest to long distance with them yet - but I can say that they are very comfortable.

  • GORE-TEX® waterproof uppers remain breathable for all-weather comfort
  • BIOMOGO DNA MIDSOLE CUSHIONING dynamically adapts to every step and stride
  • FULL-LENGTH SEGMENTED CRASH PAD accommodates any foot landing and delivers smooth transitions
  • OMEGA FLEX GROOVES optimize flexibility
  • ENGINEERED MESH provides structure or stretch where needed and enhances breath-ability

GORE-TEX® is hosting multiple giveaways through November 8, 2016. Go to and let them know how you are going to own the run and overcome excuses and obstacles. You will have a chance to win a weekly giveaway of the following running shoes with GORE-TEX® liner (you can see the liner in the photo above):

Brooks Ghost 9 GTX®
Asics Cumulus 18 GTX®
Saucony Ride 9 GTX®

One grand prize of head-to-toe running gear including new shoes with GORE-TEX® liner, running shorts, running pants, jackets, headphones, a watch and more!

What will you conquer to #owntherun?
Instagram: @goretexna
Twitter: @GORETEXna

Disclosure - I received a pair of Ghost 3 GORE-TEX®  and will be compensated for this post. As always, all opinions are my own. 

California here we come! Spots still open for runDisney Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend

I have been sitting on some pretty exciting news for the past few weeks. My husband and I are taking an unexpected trip to LA in two weeks so I can run the runDisney Super Heroes Half Marathon in Disneyland California!
This will be our first trip to Disneyland - to say we're excited is an understatement. Not to mention, I grew up as a huge Marvel fan and this is one race that has been on my runDisney bucket list ever since it was announced in 2014. Growing up, my Mom did not watch Princess movies with me - we read Comic books. As an adult, I do not complain about going to see movies with Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans. Tom Hiddleston and Robert Downey Jr.
Both the Super Heroes Half Marathon and the Infinity Gauntlet Challenge have spots available if you want to join the Mightiest Heroes on the most extraordinary course on Earth!
Details on the Super Heroes Half Marathon:
13.1-mile course through Disneyland® Resort and the surrounding areas
Entertainment on-course
Family Reunion Area with live entertainment and characters at the Finish Line
Race within walking distance when you stay at a Disneyland® Resort Hotel
Event transportation included when you stay at select Anaheim Area Hotels
Super Heroes Half Marathon Registration: $199

Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon Race Participants Receive
Commemorative Finisher Medal*
Champion® Long-Sleeved Tech Shirt in Women's or Men's Cut*
Official Digital Event Guide*
Virtual Goody Bag
Personalized bib (Must register before August 2, 2016 for name to appear on bib)*
On-course and post-race refreshments
ChronoTrack B-tag timed race with live runner tracking signup for friends and family
Details on the Infinity Gauntlet Challege:
13.1-mile Half Marathon plus 6.2–mile 10K course through Disneyland® Resort and the surrounding areas
Entertainment on-course
Family Reunion Area with live entertainment and characters at the Finish Line
Race within walking distance when you stay at a Disneyland® Resort Hotel
Event transportation included when you stay at select Anaheim Area Hotels
Infinity Gauntlet Challege Registration: $340

Infinity Gauntlet Challenge Race Participants Receive:
Infinity Gauntlet Challenge Medal** in addition to your Avenger Super Heroes Half Marathon and Doctor Strange 10K Finisher Medals*
Champion® Long-Sleeved Tech Shirt in Women's or Men's Cut*
Official Digital Event Guide*
Virtual Goody Bag
Personalized bib (Must register before August 2, 2016 for name to appear on bib)*
On-course and post-race refreshments
ChronoTrack B-tag timed race with live runner tracking signup for friends and family
Pasta Party and a Movie
The recent announcement of Pasta Party and a Movie during Disneyland Half Marathon weekend has to be one of the coolest pre-race parties runDisney has done to date (read here for my recap on Pasta in the Park at Princess Half Marathon). Following theme of the Doctor Strange 10K (which is sold out unless you do the Gauntlet Challenge), those who chose to partake in the Pasta Party will get to attend a private film screening of Doctor Strange followed by a buffet dinner with entertainment during the Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend Pasta Party!

Doctor Strange Private Screening Movie Details:
Saturday, November 12, 2016
"Doctor Strange" film screening AMC Theatres® at Downtown Disney® District
2:00 p.m. - 4:45 p.m. (Film begins at 2:30 p.m.)
Pasta Party and a Movie Fee: $119

Pasta Party
5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Location: Magic Kingdom Ballroom at Disneyland® Hotel
Buffet Pasta Dinner & Dessert (with cash bar available)
Music and Entertainment
Commemorative photo opportunities
Special gifts from Marvel Studios "Doctor Strange" and the Coca-Cola Company

The question of the day is - what on earth am I going to dress up as during this race? I usually have months to figure this out.

Click here for more information and to register for Super Heroes Half Marathon Race Weekend

All Photos used in this post belong to Disney