Saturday, October 25, 2014

Our favorite day in Italy, Fiat 500 drive through Tuscany

We had a lot of amazing experiences in Europe. Memories we will cherish the rest of our lives. One day stood out above all others; a Self-Drive Vintage Fiat 500 Tour from Florence.  This was one of the first adventures we purchased in advance and got a free upgrade from the wine tasting to a wine making with a picnic lunch.
Gabe asked for two things when we planned the honeymoon and driving a Fiat in Italy was one of them. While in Italy, I really wanted to go visit Wine Country so this was a win win situation for the both of us.
We arrived at our destination and was introduced to our car. After Gabe received a tutorial on how to drive a double clutch, we headed out to the Tuscan Hills, following 8 other Mini Fiats. Friends, this was hilarious and breathtaking at the same time.
With our sunroof open, blaring Italian music from the 60's on a perfect day, what more can you ask for?
I loved that we were on a tour, yet on our own for a duration of the trip. We laughed so much, watching multiple people stall their cars. Luckily, we didn't have this issue towards the end of the trip.
We passed through multiple villages and saw the true beauty of the Tuscan countryside. We even saw a few castles!
After driving for two hours, we headed towards the Villa where we all met. Before we headed to lunch, we picked some grapes for harvest. We timed this adventure perfect, as the following day was harvest day and there were grapes everywhere. One day later, this photo would not have happened.
I was excited to learn we would be harvesting Cabernet. We even tried a few grapes right off the vine.
After we collected two huge buckets of grapes, it was time to head towards the villa. A picnic lunch and wine were in our near future!! The villa was breathtaking. Exactly what I imagined. Next time we go to Florence (there will be a next), I insist we stay some time in the countryside.
We had an Italian picnic consisting o pasta, meats, cheeses, salad and pate. We tried 5 different kinds of wine.
After lunch, it was time to go to work! Actually, we learned how wine was made and a few of us got to stomp grapes.
Wrapping up, I noticed that the wine bottle matched the villa and I had to take one last photo.
As we were leaving, we were told that the cars needed to be brought back too the front. We consumed a lot of wine.....and driving a double clutch car on hills? SURE THING, Gabe's got this! Our faces explain our every thought.........
As mentioned above, this was the best day of our honeymoon. It was fun and super relaxing. After days of go go go go go, this was much needed. If you find yourself in Florence, I strongly suggest doing a Fiat 500 driving tour.

Friday, October 24, 2014

ASICS NYC Marathon running outfits and announcing the winner of Gel Kayanos

Congratulations to Linda Allen on winning the ASICS Gel Kayano 21, 2014 NYC Marathon Limited Edition shoes from my contest!

I need a little help picking out my NYC Marathon outfits. Here's the problem - I am a FL girl and I have FL blood. If it is below 60, I freeze. However, I also know first hand, thanks to the 2013 NYC Marathon that layering is the best option because you will get hot and you will feel like you are going into hypothermia.

Currently, the 10 Day Forecast shows NYC with a high of 56 and low of 44 on race day. Sunny with 10mph wind.

Selecting my outfit feels like going to first day of school. One of the many wonderful parts about being part of the ASICS blogger challenge is that they provided me with many options to wear on race day. I never run in jackets or tights. In FL, arm sleeves and capri's are what we wear in the winter.

What outfit do you like best? Yes, everything is pink!

NYC Marathon Option 1
NYC Marathon option 2

NYC Marathon option 2

Recreating our honeymoon meals and a Target gift card #giveaway

Content and/or other value provided by our partner, Target. All opinions are my own. #TargetWedding #Sponsored


Deciding where you are going to register for your wedding can be very nerve racking. Target Wedding registry has in my opinion the best options for those looking for a traditional gift registry. We would have registered at Target but my husband and I took the non-conventional route by registering for our honeymoon in Europe.
On top of Duomo, Firenze (Florence) Italy

The reason did the honeymoon registry was due to the fact that we own everything a couple would typically register for. We have everything from a Dyson, itchenAid, BlendTec, Crock-Pot® Programmable Slow Cooker and more. On the flip side, Target has everything a couple needs to start their life together.
Shaved Truffle over Homemade Pasta and Olive Oil

One of the first gifts Gabe bought me when we moved in together was my beloved KitchenAid Ultra Power 4.5 Qt Stand Mixer. He frequently jokes around that he created a monster by enabling my small appliance addiction (however, that addiction has been around since I was a teenager). The KitchenAid is one of the few items in the house that gets him to help  me in the kitchen. In fact, we recently purchased the pasta attachment this week with leftover honeymoon money! So technically, it's a registry purchase :)
Ponte Vecchio Bridge, Firenze (Florence) Italy

I am looking forward to recreating many of homemade pasta dishes we ate in Italy. It will be the perfect way to relive our honeymoon (although I cannot guarantee the quality of pasta will be the same). Since getting back from the honeymoon, we have done a lot of date nights in. We truly enjoyed our time in Europe but the trip was very rushed and we didn't have any downtime to relax. We are getting that time in now.

$25 TARGET GIFT CARD #GIVEAWAY!


Let me know in a comment below what the number one thing you want (or wanted) from your wedding registry. Even if you aren't engaged, what would the top item be?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, October 23, 2014

ASICS, We are Marathoners

I received an email a week ago from ASICS, asking me to complete the following sentence:
You know you're a marathoner when...

I happened to be on the phone with my best friend Keri and she repeated a joke between the two of us "when you say your done running anything more than a 10K and find yourself registering for a race the following week". While running the runDisney Princess Glass Slipper Challenge earlier in the year, I exclaimed "I'M DONE!!!" halfway though the 19.3 mile adventure. Keri thought I was dropping out of the race, but I looked at her and swore off any distance further than a 10K from that point forward. A mere week later, I signed up for another half marathon. As of today, I have two full marathons and a half marathon on my calendar.

Did you know that less than 1% of the population completes marathons every year? 43% are women, 57% are men and the median age is 36. The New York City Marathon is the largest marathon of all time coming in at >50,000. To put that number into prospective for my runDisney readers, the Disney Marathon has 20,000 runners.


A few bonus Marathoner traits from the ASICS bloggers, including the quote I sent in. You know you’re a Marathoner when…

“You swear you’re done with full marathons and you find yourself signing up for more a week later.” – Megan of iRunForWine.net
“Your day consists of running, sleep and pizza.” – Gregg of NYCSweat.com
“You get called ‘crazy’ and it no longer phases you.” – Brian of PavementRunner.com
“You hear the word ‘bling’ and you think of medals, not diamonds.” – Grace of LeanGirlsClub.com
“You know that crossing that finish line is worth every minute of training, because there is simply nothing else in the world that compares to running 26.2.” – Megan of RunLikeAGirl.com

My new healthy addiction, Harvest Snaps and a #giveaway

This post was created in partnership with Harvest Snaps. I have been compensated for this post. However, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

This Spring, while visiting my parents, my Step-Father introduced me to Snapea Crisps by Harvest Snaps. He warned me before I took a bite that they were addicting and he could easily eat a whole bag to himself in one sitting. A day later, we were arguing over the last bag - I wanted to bring it to the beach and he wanted to take it golfing. We compromised and split it. Ever since, he hides the Harvest Snaps from me when I visit.
Over Memorial Day weekend, we took a trip to North Carolina for my husbands family reunion. While at the grocery store, I saw two new flavors of Harvest Snaps, black pepper and Wasabi. I called Hank and bragged to him that I hit the gold mine.

What does a Harvest Snaps addict do? Buy two of every flavor and live off of them.  I already had my love affair going with the lightly salted and combined both the salted and pepper flavors, to find the perfect combo. The wasabi ranch weren't for me.


So when I was asked to try out new flavors of Harvest Snaps, along with hosting a giveaway, it was a no-brainer. Promoting a product I am already in love with? Sign me up please. I tore open my box and found LENTIL SNAPS!!!!

I tore open the Tomato Basil and didn't talk for an hour. I was obsessed. I didn't think anything could top my SnapPea addiction - the Lentil Snaps took charge. Then I saw the Ceser Snapeas....oh no.


Lentil had won my heart for a quick hour, only to be replaced by Cesar. Nothing and I mean, nothing, can come between me and my Cesar Snapeas. That is until another flavor comes out (although topping this will be highly unlikely).

Let's talk about nutrition. Snapea Crisps are made with 70% all-natural peas while Lentil Snaps are made with 65% authentic lentils. Each handful contains Vitamin B, calcium, iron, folate, potassium, protein and fiber. Oh, and they are gluten-free! 

Harvest Snaps has a series of Pod Squad YouTube webisodes like the Party Crashers one below.


WIN A BOX OF ALL 6 HARVEST CRISPS FLAVORS

Let me know in a comment below what flavor Harvest Snaps you would like to try! The winner will receive a box containing all 6 flavors shown above.
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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella comes to Straz Center Tampa

Cinderella has come to Tampa Bay! Last night, my husband and I went to the opening night of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, the Tony Award®-winning Broadway musical! Growing up, the story of Cinderella was my ABSOLUTE favorite so I have been waiting months for this show to come to Staz Center in Tampa.
Rodgers + Hammerstein, the creators of The Sound of Music and South Pacific, took the classic story and gave it a contemporary twist. It's not the exact story you and I grew up with but kept some of the key story lines. For instance, there were mice who were turned into horses for the pumpkin carriage, however, those mice lived in a cage and were not Cinderella's friends. Cinderella's shoes were glass, but came from Murano, Venice Italy. The fairy godmother was a crazy homeless person before Cinderella was kind to her and her identity was unveiled.
The dancing and music in Cinderella on Broadway was amazing. Plus, you will find your hysterically laughing more than once. Overall, we really enjoyed the show and suggest it to those of all ages.


SHOW DATES & TIMES
Straz Center 
Oct. 21-26, 2014
Tues. 7:30 p.m.
Wed. 7:30 p.m.
Thurs. 7:30 p.m. (ASL interpreted)
Fri. 8 p.m.
Sat. 2 and 8 p.m.
Sun. 2 and 7 p.m.
Please note: The Oct. 23 performance will be American Sign Language interpreted.

BE A FAIRY GODMOTHER!
Bring your gently used prom dresses, cocktail party dresses, evening gowns, shoes and accessories to any performance of Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella for donation to Belle of the Ball Project, a nonprofit organization that provides homecoming and prom dresses to young women in need.

BROADWAY FAMILY NIGHT!
For the Wednesday, Oct. 22, performance, kids 12 and under can get 50% OFF their ticket with the purchase of a full-price adult ticket. Come before the show for fun activities and then stay after for a talk-back with company members. Broadway Family Nights are recommended for ages 5+.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

NYC Marathon ASICS Pace Band and a chance to win 2015 entry

Time is flying by. I feel like it was just yesterday when I announced my partnership with Team ASICS for their NYC Marathon blogger challenge.  The past few months have been a dream and I am honored to be part of #teamasics. In 12 days, I will run my second consecutive NYC Marathon.

If you are running as well, be sure to sign up for your personalized NYC Marathon pace band. I registered for mine yesterday. I am not someone who stresses out over my finishing time but I also want to finish this race while it's still daylight outside. I set my target to finish in 5:30. It took all of a minute and will be available for pickup Thursday through Saturday at one of these locations. On a side note, the 42nd St. location is ASICS new flagship store. This is where I will be picking up my band!

Thursday, October 30 - Saturday, November 1:
ASICS Expo Booth:
The Javitz Center
655 W 34th St,
New York, NY 10001
ASICS 42nd St Store (ASICS new Flagship Store!):
120 West 42nd Street
New York, NY 10036
ASICS Meatpacking Store:
420 W. 14th St.
New York, NY 10014

ENTER FOR A CHANCE TO WIN 
2015 NYC Marathon Entry (non-complimentary)

You have the chance to win a non-complimentary guaranteed entry for the 2015 TCS New York City Marathon! 60 lucky people will bypass the lottery selection next year. Click here for your chance to win.  See Official Rules for details.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Honeymoon in Venice Italy with a side of temper tantrum

If you spoke to be prior to our honeymoon and were to ask "What are you most looking forward to", my response would have been Venice. I have always wanted to go to Venice, the magical city in the water. Ride in a gondola and stroll the romantic streets. I can sadly tell you first hand, while it is beautiful, the city did not live up to my expectations.
Our trip started out rough with a 6am flight out of ORLY, Paris. We were told we needed to be there 2 hours ahead of time. Wrong. We got up at 3am, after only going to bed at 12:30am following our fabulous Eiffel Tower dinner. I figured we could sleep on the plane. Wrong.  After landing and being extremely tired at 8am, we waited in line for an hour to get our travel figured out into Venice. Finally learning the correct bus number and taxi boat number, we were on our way.
We finally arrived in Venice and headed towards our bed and breakfast, to learn VERY quickly that there are not street names in Venice. It was a maze trying to find our location and Siri was very confused. We got lost with multiple pieces of luggage. Guess what Venice has - bridges with stairs....a lot of them, everywhere you go. 
We had to ask for directions, realizing we were exactly where we needed to be - our B&B was unmarked. We threw our bags in the room and headed off. While this photo from Ritalo Bridge is stunning, what you don't see is the thousands of people standing in my exact location, taking photos. It was a zoo and I was losing patience fast.

Here's a tip if you are traveling abroad, while connected to WIFI, put your location in your GPS. Then go back into airplane mode. The GPS will still pick up where you are without using your data. However, this didn't work well in a city with no street names. 
I read on trip advisor of this place called Dal Moro's Pasta to Go. It's ranked #1 on TA, was cheap and fresh homemade pasta. We spent an hour looking for the place since we got lost again but finally found it hidden in an alley. Luckily I recalled what the outside looked like thanks to Trip Advisor. We each ordered the Spicy Red Sauce with Chicken Sausage and Basil. This was honestly the freshest pasta I have ever tried. Our lunch cost 19 Euro (a little less than $25 USD) for two orders of pasta with meat, prosecco, a soda, and a bottle of water. We joked at the time that this would be the cheapest meal of our trip. Little did we know that eating and drinking in Italy would be so affordable.
Following lunch, we headed out to St. Marks Square. We also learned there were 2 cruise ships in port, which meant thousands upon thousands of people everywhere you turned. Plus, everywhere you walked, a street vendor was trying to push their product on you. It was like a giant Italian Flea Market and I did not like this experience whatsoever.

We had pre-paid timed reservations to go into St. Marks Basilica but couldn't figure out where to use them at. So we waited in line like everyone else, to learn we couldn't bring any large bags in. Off we went to find a storage locker. Guess what was inside our bag? Our Euro's.....so after we got back into the Basilica, we were unable to climb up since there was a 5 Euro fee per person. At that point, we were both over it but snagged a few photos of the church itself and headed out.


We were both exhausted at this point and it was only 2:00. Our pre-paid gondola ride was scheduled at 4:00.  I instantly regretted buying the gondola ride in advance. There were gondoliers everywhere yet we had to wait around for hours, instead of being able to go take a much needed nap. Neither of us wanted to venture out this way again (which would have led to us getting lost). So we found a precious garden bar on the water and drank some wine (me) and mojitos (Gabe). It was perfect.
After we relaxed a bit at the bar, we headed in the general direction of the gondola, only to get lost!!! If you are keeping track, this is now the 4th time we got lost and the day wasn't halfway over. On our way to the gondola which we thought didn't exist after not finding it for over an hour, we were hassled by about 25 times by people asking if we wanted to buy everything from selfie sticks, to fake Louis Vuittons. Things started going downhill fast and I knew my temper was not long for this world.
We finally found the area where we needed to be, only to find ourselves with close to 100 other people. It was a zoo. We sat down and waited for our gondola to start. Our 4:00 reservations turned to 4:15, Finally our name was called and within a few minutes, I launched into a full blown temper tantrum. We were placed in a gondola with 2 other couples and Gabe and I got separated. We knew going in that we would share the gondola with others....but they literally had us sitting in different areas of the boat. THIS WAS NOT OK. I said way too loudly, "THIS is BS, we are on our honeymoon and you are separating us?!" I caused a scene.....and because of this, Gabe didn't want to go in a different boat since he was already embarrassed. The photo below is from another Gondola. See the person in green? That was my seat. See the person he is talking to? That was Gabe's seat.
What I should've done was kindly ask if we could sit together because it was our honeymoon. However, the stress from the day and lack of sleep got to me. $100 USD later, my new husband and I didn't get to sit together on a Gondola ride I bought 3+ months ago. Not to mention, our gondola driver was awful. He rode side by side with another gondolier, where they talked to each other the whole time.  The only good thing that came out of this experience is that I crossed something off my bucket list.
We had to walk back through the square on the way home and I took the opportunity to get a picture with a ton of pigeons. Gabe and I were both very exhausted at this point. We headed back to the hotel so we could take a nap and then go out for a nice dinner. EXCEPT we got lost.....for THREE HOURS. When we finally got back to the hotel, I passed out at 8pm and slept for 12 hours. So much for a romantic night out in Venice.
Just to be funny, I put a photo of us in the real Venice (left) and Epcot's Venice (right).

Although we got lost and I became very frustrated with multiple portions of Venice, I will say it is a must see. I wouldn't want our experience to deter anyone else from going.  If we were to do Venice again, here is what we would do different:

  • Not stay in Venice. Take a 2 hour train in from Florence instead and spend a day in the city vs. overnight. Getting lost with luggage in Venice is something I will never forget and never experience again.
  • Find a way to get a navigation system off of wifi, this way you wont get lost for hours
  • Do not pre-pay for your Gondola. Or if you do, pay the extra money to be solo
  • Check the cruise schedules and plan your day in Venice according to days multiple ships are not in town
  • Get more than 2 1/2 hours of sleep the night before. You will need your patience