Monday, March 2, 2015

2015 Epcot Flower and Garden Festival Food and Drink Menus

My favorite annual event at Epcot is returning in two days - The Epcot Flower and Garden Festival. Many are often surprised when they find out that I prefer this event over the Wine and Food Festival but there is a reason for this - the Flower and Garden Festival has "Outdoor Kitchens" which offer a similar experience to the Food and Wine Festival! So not only will you be surrounded by beautiful topiary's, you can also experience seasonal dishes and beverages at every stop!

A lot of my favorite dishes from last year are returning, along with a few new items that I cannot wait to get my hands on. One thing is for certain, between March 4th - May 17th, expect to see my instagram flooded with amazing eats, drinks and beautiful scenes from Epcot!

One piece of advice that I have for those going to festivals at Epcot is to decide ahead of time what you want to try and set a limit on how much you want to spend. Also, splitting the small bites two ways have always worked for us - we get to try more this way! Another thing we always do is buy a Disney Gift Card when we enter the park, using this as our form of money. This way we will not spend too much money or leaving so full you have to use a wheelbarrow to exit the park.

The Outdoor Kitchens menu is posted on the Flower and Garden page and you can download the entire Festival Guide by clicking here. All of the outdoor kitchens are located around the World Showcase and have the diamond orange fork and spoon symbol.

Jardin de Fiestas (Mexico)


  • Tacos al pastor – Corn tortilla filled with achiote-marinated pork, garnished with grilled diced pineapple, onions and cilantro and salsa verde
  • Veggie Quesadilla – Flour tortilla filled with Monterey Jack Cheese and mixed veggies
  • Flan de queso con chocolate Abuelita – Mexican chocolate custard with whipped cream and cinnamon
  • NEW! Tecate Draft Beer with Patrón Citrónge
  • Mexican sangria
  • NEW! Blueberry Pomegranate Margarita on the Rocks
  • NEW! Tequila Liqueur Flight (flavored tequilas)


  • Lotus House (China)
    The top right pancake from 2014 is not returning - however the Candied Strawberries & Peach Bubble Tea are

  • NEW! Kung Pao Chicken Bun
  • Beijing-style candied strawberries
  • Vegetable Spring Roll
  • Oolong Peach Bubble Tea
  • Kung Fu Punch – Vodka and triple sec with mango and orange juice
  • South Sea Storm – Guava juice with light and dark rum
  • Plum wine
  • Tsing-Tao beer
  • Honey Mango Wine Cooler


  • Florida Fresh (Germany)
    Shrimp and Stone Ground Grits with Andouille Sausage

  • Watermelon salad with pickled onions, B&W Gourmet Farms baby arugula, feta cheese and balsamic reduction
  • Shrimp and stone ground grits with andouille sausage, sweet corn, tomatoes and cilantro
  • NEW! Florida Blueberry and Lemon Curd Tart
  • Watermelon passion fruit slush featuring Simply Lemonade®
  • Key Lime Sparkling Wine
  • Blonde Ale
  • Channel Marker Red Ale
  • Feast of Flowers Farmhouse Ale (Festival exclusive)
  • Jai Alai
  • Beer Flight: Blonde Ale, Channel Marker Red Ale, Jai Alai, Feast of Flowers Farmhouse Ale


  • Primavera Kitchen (Italy)

  • NEW! Fior di Latte, Prosciutto e Pane di Casa — Pinwheel of Mozzarella, Prosciutto, Ciabatta Bread
  • Cheese manicotti – Egg pasta stuffed with ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, tomato sauce and béchamel
  • NEW! Limoncello Panna Cotta — Lemon custard, limoncello liqueur, raspberries
  • Placido Pinot Grigio
  • Placido Chianti
  • Bosco del Merlo Prosecco
  • Corbinello
  • White peach bellini – Prosecco and white peach puree
  • Strawberry rossini – Prosecco and marinated strawberries
  • Frozen Italian primavera – Assorted fruit slushy with limoncello and vodka
  • Moretti Lager
  • Moretti La Rossa


  • The Smokehouse: Barbecues and Brews (The American Adventure)
    Piggylicious Bacon Cupcake

  • NEW! Beef Brisket Burnt Ends Hash with White Cheddar Fondue and Pickled Jalapeños
  • NEW! Smoked Debreziner Sausage with House Made Kraut and Mustard
  • Pulled pig slider with cole slaw
  • “Piggylicious” bacon cupcake with maple frosting and pretzel crunch featuring Nueske’s® Applewood Smoked Bacon
  • Billy’s Chilies, Twisted Pine Brewing Company (Boulder, Colorado)
  • Floridian Hefeweizen
  • Category 3 IPA
  • NEW! Maple Bacon Stout
  • Beer Flight
  • The Original Rib Shack Red Wine
  • NEW! Frozen Lemonade (with Palm Ridge Reserve Whiskey Optional)
  • NEW! R.C. Sweet Tea made with Twinings Cold-Brewed English Classic Tea


  • Hanami (Japan)

  • NEW! Teriyaki Curry Bun — Steamed bun filled with chicken, vegetables, curry and sweet sauce
  • NEW! Osaka Salmon Sushi – “Hako-sushi” Box style Sushi with Salmon and Rice, topped with Dynamite, Volcano and Eel sauce
  • Frushi – Fresh pineapple, strawberries and melon, rolled with coconut rice, topped with raspberry sauce, sprinkled with toasted coconut and served with whipped cream on the side
  • Kirin Draft Beer
  • NEW! Strawberry Nigori
  • NEW! Daishichi Kimoto Sake


  • Botanas Botánico (Morocco)

  • NEW! Seafood Ceviche — Shrimp, Scallops, and Grouper with mango and avocado
  • NEW! Cachapas with Farmer’s Cheese
  • NEW! White Corn Arepa with Braised Beef and Chayote Slaw
  • NEW! Coconut Tres Leches
  • NEW! Polar Beer, Caracas Venezuela
  • NEW! La Tizana
  • NEW! Classic Venezuelan Fruit Drink
  • NEW! Monte Paschoal Reserve Tannat
  • NEW! Monte Paschoal Natural Brut White Sparkling Wine


  • Taste of Marrakesh (Morocco)

  • NEW! Falafel Pocket with Cucumber Tomato Salad and Tahini Sauce
  • Harissa Chicken Kebab with Couscous Salad
  • NEW! Pistachio Baklava
  • Mint iced tea
  • White sangria
  • Guerrouane red
  • Casa Beer
  • Desert Rose — Sparkling Wine with Pomegranate Liqueur


  • Fleur de Lys (France)

  • Gnocchi Parisien à la Provençal – Parisian-style Dumplings with Vegetables and Mushrooms
  • Confit de Canard, Pommes de Terre Sarladaise – Pulled Duck Confit with Garlic and Parsley Potatoes
  • NEW! Macaron Guimauve à la Fraise, a Strawberry Marshmallow Macaron
  • NEW! Ice Pop Combination of French Peach Iced Tea, Grand Marnier Peach Raspberry Liqueur, and Vodka
  • La Vie en Rose Frozen Slush – Vodka, Grey Goose Orange, St. Germain Liquor, and White and Red Cranberry Juice
  • Kir Imperial – Sparkling wine, Chambord and Black Raspberry Liquor
  • Kronenbourg Blanc 1664 – Fruity White Beer with Citrus Notes


  • Pineapple Promenade (Showcase Plaza)

  • NEW! Pineapple Dog – Spicy Hot Dog with Pineapple Chutney and Sriracha Mayo
  • Pineapple Soft Serve (Dole Whip)
  • NEW! Pineapple Soft Serve with Sammy’s Beach Bar Red Head Macadamia Nut Flavored Rum
  • Pineapple Soft Serve with Parrot Bay Coconut Rum
  • Frozen desert violet lemonade (non-alcoholic)
  • NEW! Ace Pineapple Hard Cider
  • Sparkling Pineapple Wine, Florida Orange Groves Winery, St, Petersburg,FL
  • Berry Tea Cocktail with Twinings Cold-Brewed Mixed Berry Tea


  • Urban Farm Eats (Future World West)

  • NEW! Kale Salad with Dried Cherries, Almonds, and Goat Cheese with White Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • NEW! Quinoa Vegetable “Naanwich” with Arugula Pesto and Oven-Dried Tomatoes
  • Ghost pepper-dusted tilapia with crisp winter melon slaw and mint oil featuring The Original Sauce Man’s Kick It Up Rub
  • NEW! Urban Mary: Spicy Tomato Juice, Lime Juice, and Worcestershire, with shot of Vodka (optional)
  • Cucumber lemon spa water, finished with a sprig of fresh mint
  • Hess Shirtail Creek Vineyard, Chardonnay
  • King Estate Acrobat Pinot Noir
  • Crispin Blackberry Pear Cider

  • I'm super excited for the return of the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival. A few new items I am looking forward to, along with a few return items I cannot live without are:

    • Kung Pao Chicken Bun (Lotus House China)
    • Beijing-style candied strawberries (Lotus House China)
    • Shrimp and stone ground grits with andouille sausage, sweet corn, tomatoes and cilantro (Florida Fresh Germany)
    • Beer Flight: Blonde Ale, Channel Marker Red Ale, Jai Alai, Feast of Flowers Farmhouse Ale  (Florida Fresh Germany)
    • White peach bellini – Prosecco and white peach puree (Primavera Kitchen Italy)
    • Beef Brisket Burnt Ends Hash with White Cheddar Fondue and Pickled Jalapeños (The Smokehouse: Barbecues and Brews - The American Adventure)
    • Teriyaki Curry Bun — Steamed bun filled with chicken, vegetables, curry and sweet sauce (Hanami Japan)
    • White Corn Arepa with Braised Beef and Chayote Slaw Botanas (Botánico Morocco)
    • Confit de Canard, Pommes de Terre Sarladaise – Pulled Duck Confit with Garlic and Parsley Potatoes  (Fleur de Lys France) 
    • Macaron Guimauve à la Fraise, a Strawberry Marshmallow Macaron (Fleur de Lys France)
    • Ice Pop Combination of French Peach Iced Tea, Grand Marnier Peach Raspberry Liqueur, and Vodka (Fleur de Lys France)
    • Pineapple Dog – Spicy Hot Dog with Pineapple Chutney and Sriracha Mayo (Pineapple Promenade Showcase Plaza)

    Saturday, February 28, 2015

    PGA Valspar Championship presented by BB&T Ticket Giveaway


    A little unknown fact about me - I LOVE to watch golf. I grew up watching golf with my Dad and have many great memories of him taking me to PGA tournaments. In fact, Arnold Palmer kissed me on my head when I was a little one.

     The Valspar Championship at Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor will take place from Thursday March 12th - Sunday May 15. This is a family friendly tournament, which allows kids 15 years and under in for free when accompanied by a ticketed adult!

    Along with the golf tournament, there are a lot of fun actives during the week including million dollar hole in one challenge. You can check all of the activities by clicking here.

    The tournament begins on Thursday March 12th and I have a pack of 4 tickets to give away to one lucky reader! These tickets are good for the ground on any day, Thursday through Sunday (valued at $40 each). If you go on Saturday, you are able to enjoy a free concert by The Band Perry.
    a Rafflecopter giveaway
    Thursday, March 12, 2015 | Gates Open at 7 a.m.
    Valspar Championship Round 1
    Enjoy beautiful greens and red-hot golf action, only at the 2015 Valspar Championship. Visit ValsparChampionship.com for more information and to purchase tickets.

    Friday, March 13, 2015 | Gates Open at 7 a.m.
    Valspar Championship Round 2
    Enjoy beautiful greens and red-hot golf action, only at the 2015 Valspar Championship. Visit ValsparChampionship.com for more information and to purchase tickets.

    Saturday, March 14, 2015 | Gates Open at 7 a.m.
    Valspar Championship Round 3
    Enjoy beautiful greens and red-hot golf action, only at the 2015 Valspar Championship. Visit ValsparChampionship.com for more information and to purchase tickets.
    Saturday, March 14, 2015 | 7 p.m.
    Valspar® LIVE! Concert featuring The Band Perry
    Saturday tournament ticketholders are invited to the Osprey driving range for a complimentary concert by country music stars The Band Perry.

    Sunday, March 15, 2015 | Gates Open at 7 a.m.
    Valspar Championship Final Round
    Enjoy beautiful greens and red-hot golf action, only at the 2015 Valspar Championship. Visit ValsparChampionship.com for more information and to purchase tickets.

    A few other fun things happening during the tournament

    If you are attending, make sure you dress in your brightest gear. Valspar Color Scouts will be roaming the course looking for the most colorfully dressed fans, who will be awarded prizes. Valspar "Shot Spots" will encourage attendees to get snap happy and social; these four designated Shot Spots around the course will provide a lively backdrop for fun family photos. Photos at these locations tagged with #valsparchampionship will be eligible for the chance to win prizes.

    Valspar Color Experience 2015, located behind the 18th green, will feature lawn games plus a menu of indoor activities. Surprise autograph sessions with PGA TOUR players will be announced periodically in this space, as well.

    An expanded Jabil Family Fun Zone presented by Publix is going up in the area near the 8th green with a 16-foot climbing wall and 9-hole putting course among other activities.

    The Valspar Championship also has a special policy for military admission, thanks to Pinch A Penny and other sponsors. Active and retired military are admitted free of charge each day and are welcome to partake of special hospitality at the Pinch A Penny Birdies for the Brave Patriot’s Outpost on the 16th hole. Other veterans are eligible for special discounted admission. Click here for more information (including how to verify service).

    Friday, February 27, 2015

    2015 runDisney Princess Half Marathon Recap

    I spent last Sunday running the runDisney Princess Half Marathon, my 12th half marathon! I ran this epic race with my best running buddy Nicole, who I ran my very first 5K with three years ago. I couldn't think of a better way to spend our three year running anniversary than going back to where it all started.
    photo from runDisney facebook
    I woke up earlier than normal so I could take advantage of the runner concierge and transportation provided Marathon Weekends at Hilton Bonnet Creek. I grabbed a cup of coffee, a bagel with peanut butter and made my way onto the bus.  We left Bonnet Creek at 3:30 and got to Epcot shortly before 4:00am.
    Nicole and I decided to dress up as Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum instead of going the traditional Princess route. I will tell you, we received more compliments on this last minute thrown together costume than any other we have ran in. (Sparkle Skirts, Tweedle Dee and Dum Bows from EtsyASICS Gel Nimbus 16 Lite Show, ASICS Rally leg sleeves, Champion Tech Shirt, Halo Headband, Hat made by Nicole)
    We then made our way to find Heather and Jenn who were dressed up as Anastasia and Drizella (AKA the Evil Stepsisters). Both of these girls just had babies - seriously how great do they look! This is one of the things I love most about runDisney - we have friends from all over the country, who we don't get to see that often but when we do, we are always dressed up in our finest outfits :)
    We then made our way to the start line. Although I was exhausted from no sleep the night before, I was feeling pretty good. Nicole forgot to put in her proof of time, so we started in Coral L. More on that in a minute. While we were waiting for the race to start, an official announcement was made by runDisney. In 2016, runDisney is having their first ever international race - at Disneyland Paris. Oh but wait for it.....this epic race will fall on our two year wedding anniversary weekend (September 23-25, 2016)!!! I didn't even have to beg....Gabe told me when registration opens, I can register and we will go back to Paris!
    Back to present day.....the not so great thing about starting in Coral L is that you will find yourself weaving in and out of people the entire time. It was pretty rough. Also, lines for photos were the worst I have ever seen. We ran when we could (which was almost never) and walked when we we had to (which was nearly the whole time). We took our obligatory photo at the park entrance and weaved our way into Magic Kingdom.
    No matter how many times I run through Main Street U.S.A., I will always cry. There's just something so magical about this moment. You can also see by this photo what I meant by the comment above of not being able to run :)
    As I mentioned above, the lines for photos were ridiculous. Prior to getting into the park, the lines for Captain Jack, the Princes and the Evil Queens had to be about 20 minutes each. We agreed not to wait in long lines for any photos other than Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, if they were out. However, this castle shot is always a must and luckily, there were only 5 people in front of us.
    Nicole and I know the character spots by heart at runDisney races. When we got to the front of the tea cups, none of the Alice characters were to be found. Bummed out, we turned the corner and I saw a sea of red and yellow. We were so happy but not as happy as these two were when they saw us! The cast member taking the photos literally took 100 of this, and the Tweedles were making quite the scene!
    Just like during the Marathon last month, Anna, Elsa and Hans were on the top of the castle. On the other side of the castle, there was a photographer for the Disney blog, where they had you jump and take an action shot. I am not sure if they will post every photo but I hope we get to see ours.
    We are suckers for the castle photo and I was very pleased with how this one turned out. This was the last photo we took inside of the Magic Kingdom.
    One photo I have always wanted to get was at the Golf Courses. In the past, I have seen Golfer Goofey, Golfer Mickey and Golfer Donald. I have never seen Vacation Genie and the line wasn't too long so we went ahead and got this pic. Right after this pic is when I convinced Nicole to do a 30/30 run walk ratio. Since we couldn't run for long due to the crowds, this actually worked very well for our situation.
    When we got into Epcot, the line for the Fairy Godmother was pretty short and we decided to grab a pic with her! Even at this point with less than a mile to go, we were both feeling pretty good. I may try this 30/30 thing at DC in 2 weeks!
    We got to the finish line and there were very short lines to see Princess Minnie and Prince Mickey. I love that the last two races we have done, they were at the finish line taking photos. We stood in the short line to see both....
    This photo with Mickey Mouse is pretty epic if I do say so myself. Note - in the photo with Minnie, Nicole's mouth was open and the one w/ Mickey, my mouth was open.
    We crossed the finish line, got a glass of Moet and at that very moment, it got hot outside. We had perfect weather for our race. If we crossed that finish line a few minutes later, it would have been brutally hot.

    I am blessed that Nicole and I have been there to push each other over the past three years. If it weren't for that holiday party in 2011, none of this would have ever been possible. Funny to even think that only three years ago, you could buy an entry to a runDisney race, one month prior to the event. That would NEVER happen this day in age!

    Thursday, February 26, 2015

    New treatments at Spa Oceana - Loews Don CeSar

    I am burnt out. Being slammed at work and constant travel has finally caught up to me. I have only been home for one weekend over the past 3 months and am on the road during the work week. So when my friends at Loews Don CeSar in St Pete invited me to come out and try two of Spa Oceana's new offerings - OSEA & HydraFacial™, I found myself clearing out my calender to make some "me time" and head over to my perfect paradise, the Pink Palace.
    Following a very dreary and cold weekend, I found myself sitting on the rooftop at Spa Oceana on what was one of the most beautiful days we have had in a while. With a glass of champagne in hand, I finally started relaxing for the first time in months.
    Prior to my services, I had the chance to enjoy a Spa lunch and catch up with my friend Jeff. He ordered the most spectacular fruit plate while I ordered a grouper sandwich. I couldn't help myself when I saw the sandwich had roasted tomatoes and arugula on it. I ate every bite.
    With a satisfied belly, it was time to enjoy my half spa day. I started off with the OSEA Healing Sea Cocoon. OSEA is a brand new line that Loews Don CeSar brought to Spa Oceana. This natural skincare line is made in America using eco-responsible USDA certified organic seaweed from Patagonia.
    The Sea Cocoon treatment started with a Salt of the Earth scrub. After all the dead skin was removed with the salt, it was then nourished and softened with the combined healing properties of Undaria Algae Oil and Gigartina Algae Gel. Finally, I was wrapped in a warm cocoon of calcium-rich white algae mask, followed by an application of an antioxidant-rich organic body balm. This treatment took 90 minutes and I felt as if I was in pure bliss. My skin never felt that soft and refreshed.
    Following my body treatment, it was time to head off for a HydraFacial™. I was super excited for this treatment as it was explained to me as a non-invasive micro-derm. My skin is super sensitive so I could never handle anything that was super abrasive without having a bad reaction. Luckily for me, the HydraFacial™ was gentle on the skin but while restoring youthful, healthy skin. I had the 60 minute treatment which began with a Lymphatic Drainage therapy to initiate the detoxification process.
    Then, the HydraFacial™ deeply cleanses, exfoliates, extracts and hydrates the skin. There were multiple steps to this process;
    1. Cleansing and Exfoliation - Dead skin cells are removed to reveal healthy new skin
    2. Acid Peel - A gentle peel helps loosen dirt and debris from pores without irritation
    3. Extractions - Painless, automated extractions use vortex suction to clean out pores
    4. Hydration - Antioxidants and Hyaluronic Acid are Vortex-Fused to nourish and protect
    5. Protection - The HydraFacial™ Daily Essentials help maintain and protect your results.
    I absolutely love spending time at Loews Don CeSar and try to visit as much as possible. You can check out Spa Oceana online to view their full spa menu and call 727-363-5029 to schedule your spa experience.

    Treatments were provided in exchange for this review. As always, all opinions are my own.

    Wednesday, February 25, 2015

    Campbell's Chicken Tortilla Casserole Recipe

    This post is sponsored by Campbell Soup Company 

    Today is my three year anniversary of running! My families history of heart disease was one of the reasons I decided to pick up the sport. Growing up, I was involved in many sports including Softball and Soccer but in my twenties, other than yoga here and there, I was not concerned. When I hit my thirties, my I became more aware of my health and the issues that Women face with Heart Disease. 


    One thing I am very conscientious of is eating heart healthy foods. The American Heart Association (AHA) puts their heart check mark on products that meet their heart healthy criteria. You will find these items throughout the supermarket and Campbell Soup Company has large selection of AHA heart check items.
    While visiting my family last week, I made a easy weeknight meal that they could put into the oven. I've been so busy at work over the last few months that I have not found much time in the kitchen, so healthy and easy are my two best friends. I found a delicious AHA Certified recipe for Chicken Tortilla  Casserole on Campbell’s Pinterest page and had to give it a try. I had a table full of satisfied people!

    Ingredients 
    2 cups diced cooked boneless, skinless chicken breasts
    1 can (about 15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
    1 can (15 ounces) no added salt corn, drained
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    4 green onions, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
    2 tablespoons chili powder
    1 can (10 3/4 ounces) Campbell’s® Healthy Request® Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup
    2 tablespoons lime juice
    4 corn tortillas (6-inch), cut in half
    1/3 cup shredded reduced fat Cheddar cheese

    Directions
    1 Set the oven to 350˚F. Stir the chicken, beans, corn, garlic, three-fourths of the green onions, the chili powder, soup and lime juice in a large bowl.
    2 Spread about 1/4 cup chicken mixture the bottom of an 8x8x2-inch baking dish. Arrange 4 tortilla halves on the chicken mixture, straight edges facing out against the edges of the dish. Top with half the remaining chicken mixture. Repeat with the remaining tortilla halves and the remaining chicken mixture. Cover the baking dish.
    3 Bake for 30 minutes or until hot. Uncover the baking dish. Sprinkle with the cheese.
    4 Bake, uncovered, for 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Sprinkle with the remaining green onions.

    The only modification I made to this recipe was leaving the green onions out (I am not a fan) and seasoning my chicken breast with chili powder and cumin prior to cooking.

    Campbell Soup Company is dedicated to helping women care for their hearts by providing delicious, heart-healthy foods and recipes as part of their continued support of the American Heart Association. They recently launched the Address Your Heart with Campbell’s Pinterest Sweepstakes to encourage small steps towards making heart-healthy lifestyle choices. It will take place throughout American Heart Month (February) and offers the chance to win a variety of daily prizes totaling more than $100 each. These items include heart-healthy products, bakeware, kitchen utensils and a grand prize trip for two to the luxurious Miraval Resort and Spa in Tucson, AZ.

    Tuesday, February 24, 2015

    Marathon Weekends at Hilton Bonnet Creek - Disney Princess Half Marathon

    photo from hiltonbonnetcreek.com
    We had the opportunity to stay at Hilton Bonnet Creek once again this weekend during the Disney Princess Half Marathon. This marks my 4th stay in Bonnet Creek since December! If you aren't familiar with the property, Bonnet Creek is located inside the Disney property, right down the street from Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Downtown Disney.  During this stay, I took part of the Hilton Bonnet Creek Marathon Weekends package and I left being spoiled, unsure of how I will be able to run another runDisney race again without staying at this property.
    My husband had a late arrival to the hotel so I met up with my friend Amanda for a cocktail at the new Myth Bar inside of Hilton Bonnet Creek. This place is a craft cocktail mecca. Drinks with gn powder, caviar stuffed olives and tobacco!? You should check out Amanda's review of all their craft cocktails! For my cocktail of choice, I went with the "Innocence" Gold-flaked Cointreau pearls topped with champagne. The pearls were made using molecular gastronomy and were fun to watch dance around in my drink!
    I was able to score a last minute reservation at the acclaimed Bull and Bear Steakhouse located in Hilton's neighboring sister property, Waldorf Bonnet Creek. I was instantly impressed with the atmosphere of the restaurant and their menu. I saw a $28 Ceasar Salad for two on the menu and had to try it out. I am probably one of the biggest Ceasar salad snobs you will come across. There has only bee one other that blew my socks off the way this salad did. A Salad chef came to our table and created the dressing in front of us. He used roasted garlic as his base and it was a delicious salad which resulted in two empty plates.
    For our entree's, we went with the Chateaubriand for two. I really wanted the Tomahawk for two but it was too much food that late at night however, I couldn't have been more pleased with our choice. The Chateaubriand was one of the most delicious perfectly cooked steaks we have ever had. This says a lot coming from a couple who frequently visits some of the nations best steakhouses in Tampa.
    After we got back to our room, I received a really nice welcome basket and a Marathon Weekends branded bondi band! We headed to bed early since we had a day full at Hollywood Studios the next day. 
    When we woke up on Saturday, we had the breakfast buffet at Hilton's Harvest Bistro. We enjoyed made to order omelets, waffles, pancakes, grits, oatmeal, cereal, bacon, turkey....you name it! My phone died while snapping pics and I only got the ones below. The bottom left photo is a yogurt parfait bar and it was pretty amazing. 
    At day's end, I was exhausted. I don't recall being that tired in a very long time and was hoping for a good nights sleep. Wishful thinking. I fell asleep instantly and about thirty minutes later, I woke up and couldn't fall asleep. My alarm was set to go off at 2:30am so I could take advantage of Marathon Weekends breakfast and transportation. Although this is much earlier than I am used to waking up, I wasn't stressed about getting to the start line on time. I cannot tell you how many times I have rushed to get to my corral, freaking out I would miss it - just to get an extra hour of sleep. 
    Hilton Bonnet Creek Marathon Weekends is truly a special experience for runners. The next set of runDisney dates will be posted on their website soon, so make sure you check back. I for one will never stay at another property again during runDisney events. You receive top notch attention during your race stay, including:

    • Complimentary bus transportation to and from the race venue
    • Carb-Load Pasta Dinner options
    • Personalized assistance from Runner’s Concierge
    • Complimentary snacks and beverages before the races (as seen above)!
    • Encouragement & recognition from our Marathon cheerleaders (as seen above)!
    • A Special Marathon Rate For Runners
    • 10% food & beverage savings card to be used during your stay

    Monday, February 23, 2015

    Gasparilla Music Festival - March 7th & 8th 2015 Ticket Giveaway

    The Gasparilla Music Festival in Downtown Tampa is approaching! The 2015 festival will take place in Curtis Hixon Riverfront Park and Kiley Garden Park on March 7th & 8th and will feature musical acts from a wide variety of genres on several stages including Modest Mouse, Gogel Bordello, The Gaslight Anthem, Trampled by Turtles and many more.

    Along with tons of great acts, there is also an amazing lineup of restaurants making an appearance. You can check all food offerings at Gasparilla Music Festival by clicking here but I wanted to highlight on some of my favorites not to be missed.

    Anise Global Gastrobar – Stinky Bunz
    Dough - Sweet Treats & Popcorn
    Ellas Folk Art Cafe - Chicken & Waffle Cone and Asian Smoked Pork Tostada
    Holy Hog BBQ - Bar-B-Que
    Independent - Indie Grilled Cheese(s)
    Malio's Prime Steakhouse - Prime Rib Sandwiches
    The Refinery / Fodder & Shine - Pork Bahn Mi Styled Tacos & Tofu Bahn Mi Styled Tacos

    GIVEAWAY
    I have two Sunday General Admission Tickets to giveaway. Comment below letting me know what you are most looking forward to seeing at the 2015 Gasparilla Music Festival. Make sure you enter through the Rafflecopter Widget below.
    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Tickets are still available for the weekend (click here to purchase)
    2 DAY General Admission Pass:$60.00*
    SATURDAY ONLY General Admission Ticket:$40.00
    SUNDAY ONLY General Admission Ticket:$30.00

    2015 GASPARILLA MUSIC FESTIVAL LINEUP

    SATURDAY MARCH 7 

    Soulshine Stage - Curtis Hixon Park
    11:00am MT. ZION GOSPEL CHOIR
    11:50am THOMAS WYNN & THE BELIEVERS
    1:00pm THE HIP ABDUCTION
    2:30pm HISS GOLDEN MESSENGER
    4:00pm THE BUDOS BAND
    5:30pm MUTEMATH
    7:15pm THE GASLIGHT ANTHEM
    9:00pm MODEST MOUSE

    Channelside Bay Plaza Stage - Kiley Garden 
    11:15am MR. RICHARD & THE POUND HOUNDS
    2:00pm MIGGS 12:30pm FAMILY & FRIENDS
    3:15pm PACKWAY HANDLE BAND
    4:45pm ROADKILL GHOST CHOIR
    6:15pm DUMPSTAPHUNK
    8:00pm DALE EARNHARDT JR. JR.

    Sanford Brown Stage - Amphitheater 
    12:00pm SMALL FISH
    1:30pm THE PORCH SESSIONS
    2:45pm DEAN JOHANESEN
    5:45pm WAX WINGS 4:15pm FISTFUL (ACOUSTIC)
    7:30pm DISPLACE (ACOUSTIC)

    Shea Barclay Stage - Tibbett's Corner 
    11:30am KIDDO DISCO
    1:30pm GUTHRIE BROWN & THE FAMILY TREE
    2:45pm UNRB
    4:15pm AMBER LYNN NICOL
    5:45pm REDFEATHER
    7:30pm SUPROS

    SUNDAY MARCH 8

    Soulshine Stage - Curtis Hixon Park 
    11:30am LA LUCHA
    12:45pm SELWYN BIRCHWOOD
    2:15pm THE ABYSSINIANS
    3:45pm TRAMPLED BY TURTLES
    5:30pm GOGOL BORDELLO

    Channelside Bay Plaza Stage - Kiley Garden 
    10:15am YOGA RHYTHM LOUNGE
    11:30am DISNEY’S CHOO-CHOO SOUL WITH GENEVIEVE!
    12:30pm MARGO & THE PRICETAGS
    1:45pm SUENALO
    3:15pm HOT 8 BRASS BAND
    4:45pm LARITZA BACALLAO Y SU GRUPO

    Sanford Brown Stage - Amphitheater 
    12:15pm SILLY SAM
    1:15pm GYPSY WIND
    2:45pm SHAE KRISPINSKY
    4:15pm DYNASTY

    Shea Barclay Stage - Tibbett's Corner 
    12:15pm LITTLE KIDS ROCK BAND
    1:45pm THE REAL CLASH
    2:45pm PEOPLE’S BLUES OF RICHMOND
    4:15pm GERI X

    SINGLE AND 2-DAY GA & VIP TICKETS AVAILABLE HERE.
    ALL TIMES SUBJECT TO CHANGE

    PARKING
    Hourly parking is available in various city-owned and private lots. A limited amount of on-street parking is available throughout downtown. On-street parking meters north of Kennedy Blvd. are free on weekends.
    Parking Lots and Garages:
    Poe Parking Garage: Corner of Ashley Drive & Cass Street (Closest to Curtis Hixon Park)
    Madison Lot: Corner of Florida Ave & Twiggs Street
    Kennedy Lot: Corner of Kennedy Blvd & Marion Street
    Park Tower Garage: Corner of Kennedy Blvd & Tampa Street

    TECO STREETLINE CAR
    It's very convenient to park in Ybor City or Channelside and hop on the streetcar. A one-day unlimited ride card is just $5 and includes city buses. The streetcar begins Saturday service at 11 a.m. Get off at the Whiting Street Station and you’ll be just Three blocks from Curtis Hixon Park. Click here for the Streetline Car Map.

    As part of its mission to support and promote music and education, the organization is involved throughout the year in several initiatives including providing scholarships to music students.

    Follow along with the weekends activity, #GMF2015 on Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

    Thursday, February 19, 2015

    Outfit Reveal for Disney Princess Half Marathon

    It's hard to believe Princess Half Marathon weekend is here. This weekend marks my third anniversary of my first 5K, the Royal Family 5K! I will be running this weekend with my friend Nicole who I started running with in 2012!! What the two of us have accomplished since that magical day in 2012 is hard to believe.


    Tweedle Base Running Outfit

    Above is our base outfit. You are probably looking at it thinking Mickey or Minnie Mouse. Not the case! We decided to honor our crazed three years of running by being.......
    THE TWEEDLES!!!
    Nicole and I thought it would be funny to dress up as Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. Finding a solid yellow shirt that wasn't florecent was our hardest part. We had the base of the outfit already and bought a large Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum bow's off of Etsy.
    Luckily for me, Nicole is super crafty. She has made many items for our outfits over the years and took the job of making our hats. I'm so excited to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon with Nicole this weekend! Stay tuned for lots of updates from this amazing weekend.

    Wednesday, February 18, 2015

    A new look in 2015 thanks to Rock Spa and Salon at Seminole Hard Rock

    From the moment I got engaged in June 2013, I started growing my hair out. Fast Forward a year and a half later, boredom with my style was an understatement. While I wanted change, the fear of something new was preventing me from making a change. Back in the mid 2000's, I had a short bob and truth be told, it looked great on me. However, that was 10 years ago and I feared I couldn't pull it off now that I am in my mid-thirties. That was until I saw Jenny McCarthy at the grand opening of the Rock Spa and Salon at Seminole Hard Rock Tampa. She looked incredible and I fell in love with her hair style.
    Jenny McCarthy at the Grand re-Opening of Rock Spa and Salon inside of Seminole Hard Rock, Tampa
    I bit the bullet and made an appointment to get a new look. Prior to getting 9" taken off my head, I booked a Rhythm and Motion Wrap Remix to help calm my nerves. The Wrap Remix was all of the Rhythm and Motion services mixed into one - a detox wrap, cleansing facial and a detox massage, with a performance of techniques, pressure and rhythm. all to the beat of music. It was a spa service unlike any I have ever experienced. A different stage of tranquil, almost like an out of body experience. While you would never fall asleep during this experience, it left me feeling more calm than any other spa treatment I have had. The treatment began with a cleansing shot of ginger tea to jumpstart the detox process, and at the end, a shot of Rock Spa® Detox Tea.  The morning following the procedure, I felt like a million bucks and I strongly suggest trying one of the Rhythm and Motion services.
    Following my Rhythm and Motion Wrap Remix, I found my way to the salon chair. I showed my stylist a few photos I pinned and it was time to start the transformation.  We intended on donating my hair to Locks of Love but it was slightly too short. Plus I have damaged it over the years by constantly putting my hair up in a ponytail. Next thing I knew, I had a lot of red hair on the floor.
    I learned new ways to style my hair, both straight and curly. My hair was naturally curly growing up but took on a new identity over the years thanks to hair straighteners and Brazilian blowouts. Now that my hair is short, it will hold a curl once again! One thing I must state for those looking to cut their hair - it takes twice the time getting ready in the morning. Short hair is far more time consuming than long. 
    My hair looks fuller and that is the one reason I really wanted to get it cut. One thing people don't tell you is that when you get older, your hair gets thinner. I started noticing in pictures that my hair looked scraggly (is that even a word?). Now that is not a problem anymore!
    First selfie with the new hair-do! Many thanks to Seminole Hard Rock and Casino for my new look. I absolutely love it! Let's see what I look like on Sunday for during the Disney Princess Half Marathon. Should be interesting being I cannot put it up in a ponytail!

    What is the most amount of hair you have cut off at one time?