Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Review of Grand Hyatt Washington DC

We had a wonderful experience in DC last week and it all started at the Grand Hyatt Washington. There are a lot of amenities I look for when booking a hotel but convenience is the most important feature for me. If staying in DC, you will not find a location more convenient than the Grand Hyatt.
Rendering of the remodeled lobby
My husband and I were in town for the Rock and Roll DC Half Marathon. We took the Metro directly from the airport into DC. I assumed we would have to navigate to the hotel once we got off the train, however my GPS told me that the Hyatt was only a few hundred feet away. That's when I saw a sign for a walkway from the Metro to the Hyatt. The Metro Center has direct access to Grand Hyatt Washington's lobby.You don't even have to walk outside to get to your hotel.
Spacious King Room
Grand Hyatt Washington is in the process of getting a huge makeover and the progress was amazing. The rooms were very comfortable and spacious. Plus we received an amazing treat of homemade granola and wine from Vermont, which made for an excellent pre-race breakfast (the granola, not the wine!!). Oh - and FREE WIFI for all guests staying at the hotel!
Our hotel was located a little over a half mile from the race start, which was at The National Mall. On race day, we walked straight to the start with no lag time, which was great being it was freezing and wet. After the race was over and I warmed up, I quickly headed down to Cure Bar and Bistro for my celebratory glass of champagne.
Along with a great wine list, Cure also has a craft cocktail menu that will make any cocktail aficionado swoon with a rotating monthly special. Cure Bar and Bistro has a great bar menu and I had the chance to enjoy their local charcuterie & a bistro jar of pimento cheese (not pictured). They also offer dinner and a speedy lunch in DC with a share-able style lunch menu that is great for groups (pick 3 items for $13, 4 items for $17 and 5 items for $20).
Along with Cure Bar and Bistro, Grand Hyatt also has a breakfast restaurant called Cabinet that was recently remodeled. Due to lack of time, we weren't able to check it out - however, their menu is pretty incredible with unique healthy options. Another great accomodation included in the remodel is that Grand Hyatt is getting a full serviced Starbucks this May!
I mentioned above that Grand Hyatt Washington was close to everything. We were able to walk to the Staples Center, The White House, The National Mall, Ford's Theatre, The Smithsonian's, Holocaust Museum and the National Archives. Overall, we were very impressed with Grand Hyatt Washington and this will be our "go to" hotel else when we come back to DC for our next visit.  You can follow Grand Hyatt Washington on Social Media to keep in the loop with their upcoming specials and events. Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Monday, March 23, 2015

2015 Rock n Roll Las Vegas Kickoff Virtual Run! #LVKICKOFFNIGHT

WHEN: March 23 – April 1, 2015

WHAT: Run 5K (3.1 miles) anytime between today and April 1.

WHERE: Anywhere you can run or walk 5K (3.1 miles) in one go on a road, trail, track, treadmill — anywhere!

Submit proof of your run by filling out the form (click here) and upload a photo of your watch, phone app, or treadmill clock for your proof of time. Must submit proof no later than 11:59pm on April 2nd.

 Receive this exclusive Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Kickoff Virtual Run tee or tank in the mail (please allow up to 3 weeks of April 2 for shipping).**

Share on social media you are participating with #LVKICKOFFNIGHT

November 13-15, 2015 
$125 for the full and half marathon. Other distances to be announced

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Marathon Weekends are back for Wine and Dine Half Marathon with a special introductory rate!

Marathon Weekends at Hilton Bonnet Creek is back for those who were lucky enough to get into the 2015 Wine and Dine Half Marathon!. If you book your hotel by March 31st, room rates start at only $119 a night! Hilton Bonnet Creek is the only place I will stay during runDisney weekends. It's on property, giving the same convenience as a Disney Resort but for a fraction of the price and they sure know how to pamper runners.

Hilton Bonnet Creek provides one of the best pre-race festivities I have ever seen. I am not a morning person but did enjoy being cheered onto a bus at 3:30am during Princess Half Marathon a few weeks ago. Not only did Hilton provide us with transportation to the race, they also provided us with a runners breakfast. For 2015, they will also give runners a 2pm checkout (WOO-HOO!!!!) and a 10% off savings card. Why wouldn't you stay here?
The Marathon Weekend Rate includes these exclusive offers:

  • Special rate on accommodations exclusive to marathon runners (see rates below)
  • A 2 pm late check-out time
  • 10% food & beverage savings card to be used during your stay

Book by March 31 for a rate starting at $119/NIGHT*
Book by May 31 for a rate starting at $139/NIGHT*
Book by August 31 for a rate starting at $149/NIGHT*
Rates after August 31 start at $159/NIGHT*


Friday, March 20, 2015

Shakshuka Recipe with Eggland's Best #ebeggsfit

I was recently introduced to a egg and veggie dish called Shakshuka. Not only is this meal nutritious and delicious, it is easy to prepare and can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch or dinner! This is a very versatile one pot dish, best made with a cast iron skillet.
Since March is National Nutrition Month, I wanted to to touch on a few changes you can make to your everyday diet starting with eggs. Eggland’s Best eggs are only 60 calories and stay fresher than ordinary eggs. Making a simple switch to the egg with the EB stamp will give you more nutrition:
10 times MORE vitamin E
4 times MORE vitamin D
3 times MORE vitamin B12
More than DOUBLE the Omega 3
35% MORE Lutein
25% LESS saturated fat
60 Calories per large egg
The first time I made Shakshuka, I knew it would be something I would be making again and again. It's a one pot dish, which you can easily personalize to your cravings, or more importantly, what is in your fridge/pantry. I went the simple route for this recipe. I have also made Shakshuka with chorizo, which turned out delicious.

1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 vidalia onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cans petite diced tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
5 Eggsland's Best eggs
1/2 tbsp fresh cilantro

In a large cast iron skillet, sautee the onion and garlic until translucent (about 5 minutes)
Add peppers and saute 5 minutes
Add tomatoes, paste and spices. Simmer for 5 minutes
Crack your eggs, one by one, starting on the outside rim.
Cook for 10-15 minutes depending on how done you want the eggs. I preferred mine over easy, so 10 minutes was perfect.
Top with Cilantro and enjoy!

This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of Eggland's Best.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

2015 Rock n Roll DC Recap

One week only: $50 for Half Marathon and Full Marathon, $25 for 5K
No other coupons or discounts can be applied to this rate. 

My husband and I were in the Nations Capitol this past weekend for the Rock n Roll DC Half Marathon. This was my first trip to DC since I was one years old, so to say I was an excited tourist the entire time is an understatement. Unfortunately it rained the entire race so I have very limited course photos. Plus, I wore a jacket over my bib, resulting in zero marathonfoto of me and having to go through thousands of unidentified pics to find one!
The night before the race, we had dinner at Mike Isabella's Graffiato. I'm a huge fan of Top Chef and was so excited to carb load here. My favorite item that we ordered was by far the Piquillo Pepper Risotto with quail egg and pork belly. It was off the chain. Following dinner, we headed back to our hotel to get a good nights sleep. 
When we woke up on Saturday, the forecast looked better. Upon going to bed, the rain was at 100% - however, it changed to 40%. Both Gabe and I decided against wearing our rain jackets and this was a HUGE mistake. While my jacket kept rain off of me, it wasn't the best for wind resistance. Gabe, wearing a short sleeve shirt, shorts and CEP sleeves, was freezing the entire time. I was head to toe in ASICS, my outfit shown here.
The first few miles flew by. We ran through the National Mall area. We saw the Capitol Building, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, and Arlington National Cemetery. Due to the rain, I couldn't take any photos.  We have one marathonfoto of us running towards Arlington.
Rain aside, we LOVED this race. I will say that it is my top three favorite races, ever. Somewhere between mile 5 and six along the Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway, we encountered a very steep hill, which I quickly renamed to a mountain. This was the beginning of the elevation. We stopped intervals and began walking up the hills and running down the hills.
I will say this was the first time I have ever ran a half marathon without complaining. Maybe I was so focused on the rain that nothing else bothered me. My ankle and knee were pretty much pain free. I would say I probably had a smile on for the entire race - shame we didn't get any marathonfotos!!!!
I had VIP access at the finish but both Gabe and I were soaking wet and freezing. All I wanted to do was get out of these clothes and eat a giant bowl of Ramen. I skipped out on my VIP experience (when I have ever been known to turn down champagne) and we headed to the metro. This was the start to many mistakes over the next hour. We headed to the metro with thousands of other runners and were stuck waiting. Gabe was shaking from being cold and I was super concerned he was getting hypothermia. We decided to walk and find another metro station, only to find ourselves walking an additional 2 miles. By the luck of god, we found an available taxi and 5 minutes later were in our hotel.
Since I am not one to break traditions, after I showered and changed, I found myself at Cure Bar and Bistro located inside of the Grand Hyatt Washington. To my bliss, they had Moet, which I promptly got a glass of.
After I finished my delicious glass of Moet, we headed to Toki Underground for a giant bowl of Ramen. This was by far the best Ramen either of us had ever tried. I ordered the Kimchi Ramen with extra noodles. The flavor was incredible and exactly what my body needed after a cold/wet 13.1.
Finally, we couldn't go to DC without going to Georgetown Cupcake.
Overall, this was a fantastic racecation, one that we will probably do on an annual basis. I cannot wait to get back to DC for another trip. Three days was not near enough time. Fortunately, we did see a lot of sites while there, which I will cover in a different post.

Monday, March 16, 2015

REESE'S Brownie Cupcakes Recipe #snacktalk Challenge

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #snacktalk #CollectiveBias

March is one of my favorite months of the year - between St. Patricks Day and College Basketball, I feel as if there is always a reason to celebrate. While in Walmart the other day, I noticed a display from REESE'S for their #SnackTalk Challenge. REESE'S wants to nationally recognize your best gameday recipe! The winner will be recognized on www.reesessnacktalk.com, CBS and walmart.com!
A few years ago, I attended a basketball party where the host made these amazing basketball cupcakes stuffed with a REESE'S Peanut Butter Cup. I went home and recreated them for a party I hosted and they were a hit. It's a very simple recipe - I use boxed brownie mix (if your store has REESE'S brownie mix, double score), full sized REESE'S peanut butter cups and peanut butter icing. You can either make your own (recipe below) or use store bought.
I made my brownies according to the cake like recipe on the box (usually 2 or 3 eggs vs. 1). Using jumbo cupcake liners, I placed one tablespoon of brownie mix in the bottom of each, topped with a peanut butter cup, then another tablespoon to cover the cup. I baked them at 350 for 25 minutes and took out of the oven for an hour to cool.
While the brownie cupcakes were cooling, I made my frosting. This was a simple yet messy task. I used a cake icing knife to smooth out the icing on the cupcakes and finally decorated with gel coloring and if you want even more peanut butter - top the basketball lines with brown REESE'S Pieces!

REESE'S Brownie Cupcake Recipe
Box of brownie mix (prepare according to box, using cake-like recipe)
12 REESE'S Peanut Butter Cups
12 Jumbo Cupcake liners

Place 1 tablespoon of the brownie mix in each liner, then place a peanut butter cup on each. Top the peanut butter cup with another tablespoon of brownie mix, or until covered. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes. Let cool for an hour.

Peanut Butter Frosting
1/2 cup room temperature butter
1 cup smooth peanut butter
2 cups powdered sugar
3 (or more if needed) tablespoons milk

In a stand mixer, beat the butter and peanut butter until smooth. Gradually add the sugar. Add milk as needed to make into a smooth frosting.

Decorate each like a basketball. I attempted to use food coloring to turn my frosting orange - but it didn't work and after 4 tires, I was happy with standard peanut butter coloring! As mentioned above, I smoothed the frosting using a cake icing knife, then drew the basketball lines on them with gel coloring.

Enter your #snacktalk recipe at https://www.reesessnacktalk.com/. Follow REESE'S on Twitter @ReesesPBCups2Make your best REESE'S recipe. Be sure to hashtag #ChallengeEntry!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Two course Mexican Fiesta under 30 minutes with Campbell's Soup for Easy Cooking

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #weeknighthero #CollectiveBias

Since the start of 2015, my life has been a complete whirlwind. For the next few months, I am on a bunch of projects at work and find myself working across the state of Florida during the week. On the rare occasions I find myself home on a work night, the last thing I want to do is slave over dinner. I went from someone who enjoyed spending an hour plus cooking a meal to becoming someone who truly enjoys shortcuts and convenience.

I drive to and from Tampa to Orlando once a week and a few times a month, back and forth between Tampa and Jacksonville. While many would cave in and get fast food on the road, I refuse to go there. My work life balance has been a learning process over the past 3 months and one thing that has helped me greatly is meal prep. I am not the type of person who preps meals for a week in advance, but instead I like to make things easy for those late nights I get home from work.

I pre-cook items to turn into main entrees, such as shredded chicken or pork, which I can use for multiple entrees during the week. There was no question a Mexican night was in store after coming across Campbell's Soup for Easy Cooking, Mexican Style Tomato. While I love an easy Taco night, my favorite at home Mexican meal is enchiladas and they are time consuming when made right. I also love cooking a giant pot of soup that I can eat off during the week. When I decided to use Mexican Style Tomato for shredded chicken, Chicken Tortilla Soup was also on the menu.

On my day off, I shredded the chicken, along with meal prepping other items for dinners through the night. Normally, I would prepare this in a crockpot with double the amount of chicken but being we had a short week due to being in DC, I cooked half a portion. I used a half container of Campbell's Soup for Easy Cooking and poured it over my defrosted chicken breasts (3). I topped this with sliced jalapenos (seeds removed, I am a baby). I baked the chicken at 400 for 25 minutes, let it cool, shredded it and saved it for the following night.
The next day, I used the shredded chicken along with other ingredients and made two meals in under thirty minutes. Both came out absolutely delicious and I have a feeling Campbell's Soup for Easy Cooking will become a staple in my house.
Shredded Chicken
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 box of Campbell's Soup for Easy Cooking, Mexican Style Tomato
1 sliced jalapeno (optional)
Bake for 25 minutes at 400
Shred and save until you are ready to use

Chicken Tortilla Soup
While that may seem like a lot of ingredients for a quick meal, most of the items are canned or only need to be cut. This soup was prepared and in the pot in less than 5 minutes.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 small vidalia onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 jalapeno, diced
1/2 box of Campbell's Soup for Easy Cooking, Mexican Style Tomato
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 can petite diced tomatoes
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 shredded chicken from above
Juice of 1 lime
Salt and ground black pepper
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 avocado, cubed
Shredded Mexican cheese

Saute your onions in olive oil over medium heat until translucent. Add garlic and jalapeno, cook for 3 minutes then add tomatoes and beans. Cook on low, stirring often for 5 minutes. Add your broth, chicken, lime juice and salt / pepper and cook for 15 minutes. Place into a bowl and top with cilantro, avocado and shredded cheese.

Chicken Enchiladas 
1 box of Campbell's Soup for Easy Cooking, Mexican Style Tomato
Corn tortillas
Shredded Mexican cheese
1/2 shredded chicken from above

This was ridiculously easy to make. I took two heaping tablespoons of the chicken mixture, placed on a corn tortilla, topped with a bit of cheese and rolled. The enchiladas worked in the same 8x8 baking pan I used to cook the chicken in. I topped it with the box of Campbell's Soup for Easy Cooking, Mexican Style Tomato. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes, then top with 1/2 cup of cheese and bake for an additional 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Top with cilantro and sour cream if you want.

I truly enjoyed the convenience of using Campbell's Soup for Easy Cooking. There are four variations on the market right now and it is easy to replace condensed soup with this flavorful cooking soup. Right now, you can save $.75 on a box of Campbell's Soup for Easy Cooking at Walmart with this coupon (launched on 3/13 and valid for one month).
  • Recipe calls for Condensed Tomato Soup, use Mexican Style Tomato
  • Recipe calls for Cream of Mushroom, use Savory Portobello Mushroom
  • Recipe calls for Cream of Chicken, use Creamy Herb & Garlic with Chicken Stock
  • Recipe calls for Condensed French Onion Soup, use Sweet Onion
Be sure to check out more delicious, easy homemade recipes using Campbell's Soups for Easy Cooking at by clicking here! I'd love to hear your favorite! You can also follow Campbell's online for more easy, homemade, everyday meal solutions, made in 30 minutes: Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Prepping for rainy weather conditions at Rock n Roll DC

I HATE running in the rain. If it is sprinkling out, I will make every excuse in the book not to go outside for a run. When I started stalking tracking the weather for Rock n Roll DC Half Marathon this weekend, I instantly freaked out. Little did I know when I signed up for this race that DC deals with more rain than Seattle. On a lighter note, did you know DC residents drink more wine per capita than the 50 states? Another thing I learned while researching DC rain.
As of today, Saturday's weather is foretasted to be 100% rain with 77% humidity and 64 degrees during the race. I cannot even fathom this. When ASICS sent me items for NYC Marathon training, they included some rain gear, a 2-N-1 Jacket (which still has tags on it) which will keep me dry and I can pull the arms off if it gets too hot. My original plan for this race was to wear red white and blue since we are running in the Nations Capitol. This has changed due to the weather and luckily, I own a pair of Gel Nimbus 16 that match my jacket!

ASICS RNR DC Rain Outfit

I'm not too thrilled about the weather and fear 64 will be too warm to wear capri's (especially with the humidity). My other option is to wear my ASICS PR Skort instead of the capris and wear a pair of compression sleeves. I will bring both with me and make my decision on race morning.

ASICS rain gear

PR Skort / Rally Leg SleevesEmma Racerback  /  2-N-1 jacket / 2-N-1 jacket / Hat / GEL-Nimbus 16

Tips for running in the rain:

As I mentioned above, I do not run in the rain. It is why my training slacks during the hot, humid and rainy FL summers. I found 10 tips for running in the rain from running.com and most of these will apply for us this weekend.

1. Wear a hat with a brim - the hat will keep the rain out of your face.
2. Dress in layers if it's cold - if it is cold and rainy, you need to layer with the layer closest to your body being a technical fabric which will wick water away from your skin.
3. Don't overdress - Dress for the temperature (this is why I am thankful for my 2-N-1 jacket)
4. Use a garbage bag -We are packing garbage bags to wear to the start line. I know many people who ran Wine and Dine Half last year who wore garbage bags for the entire race.
5. Be visible - bright colors with reflective strips are very important for running in the rain
6. Wear old running shoes at the race start - This is a hard one for many of the races I have done. We will just wear bags over our shoes until the start.
7. Prevent chafing - this goes for all weather conditions, but more important when your skin is wet from the rain.
8. Protect your electronics - Keep your electronics in a zip lock bag. Our arm band is 100% waterproof so I am good here!
9. Just run!
10. Dry out your shoes - After you are done, stuff your wet shoes with newspaper, it will draw out the moisture and help keep your shoe shape intact.

 It isn't my planned Red White and Blue outfit but at least I will match, stay dry and be cute :) Speaking of cute, if it wasn't going to monsoon on us, I would have so worn my brand new Gel Nimbus 17, which I am madly in love with and will be reviewing shortly (best Nimbus to date).

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Photo Tour of Epcot Flower and Garden Festival Part 1

My favorite Epcot event of the year started last week - the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival. The weather in FL has been gloomy, so when we woke up on Sunday to an absolutely beautiful day, I decided it was time for a quick visit to Epcot. I love going to the Flower and Garden multiple times over the course of the festival, it is awesome watching all of the different topiary's and displays flourish over the two month span. The festival will last through May 17th. There are too many displays to put in one post so here is part 1 of many!