Happy New Years! 2013 a year in review

Tuesday, December 31, 2013
WOW what a year. I can honestly say, I do not want 2013 to end at the strike of midnight tonight. 2013 has been a magical year to say the least. It's been a year full of accomplishments, celebrations, tons of engagements and a lot of travel.

Thank you to all of my loyal readers who have helped make my blog what it is today. I wouldn't be here if it weren't for you all.

So here is my year in review!

I ran the 2013 runDisney Half Marathon with my Best Friend Keri and former roomate, Tara.
Two days after running the Disney Half, Keri and I went on a 5 day cruise.
Gabe and I ran the 2013 Rock n Roll St. Pete Half Marathon
Two weeks later, we went on vacation to New Orleans, where both sets of our parents jointed us. Engagement rumors were in full force but did not take place. We did run our second half marathon that month, the Rock n Roll New Orleans Half Marathon.
We took a weekend trip over to Sarasota and ran the Sarasota Half Marathon. Due to an injury, I had to back down to a relay but still enjoyed every moment.
I met Taylor Swift thanks to Darlynn :)
And we went to Savannah to celebrate Darlynn at her Bacherlorette Party

Speaking of Darlynn, she got married!
I was accepted into the ING NYC Marathon via lottery

I got engaged, on my Birthday!
I bought two wedding dresses, yes two. We decided to say I Do in New Orleans and I didn't want to wear a long gown afterwords on Bourbon St. I cannot show you my long gown, but here is the short one.
Back to New Orleans we go! Wedding dress shown above was worn during our engagement shoot at Oak Alley Plantation outside of New Orleans. While there, we signed a contract for our reception venue at Hotel Mazarin.
My former roomate Tara became engaged to her longtime boyfriend Brandon.

Thanks to Bethenny Frankel, Darlynn and I were able to go to NYC to see her show filmed live. It was a huge surprise which we are both very grateful for.
A few days after I returned home from NY, I boarded another plane to head out west for the 2013 IFBC (International Food Bloggers Conference) with a group of friends. My highlight of that trip was catching a flying fish at the World Famous Pike Place Fish Market.
We had a second engagement shoot at Busch Gardens at one of their haunted houses for Howl-o-Scream. Zombies, Voodoo Queens and all.
Our friends Lauren and Joe announced they are expecting a baby!

I became a Marathoner!
Less than a week later, I ran the 2013 runDisney Wine and Dine Half Marathon.
And two weeks after that, I ran the Women's Running Series Half Marathon with Keri.
We went back to New Orleans with Gabe's parents which I have not blogged a bit about. We found someone to marry us and went wedding cake tasting. We selected a cake from Haydel's Bakery which I will be sharing in the next few weeks on Wedding Wednesday. In the meantime, here is a new friend I met on a swamp tour.
While I was in NOLA, our friends Leslie and Chris became engaged!
So yes, it was one heck of a year. Three trips to NOLA, two trips to NYC, one trip to Savannah, one trip to Seattle and multiple trips to Disney. Here's to hoping 2014 will be half this great!

New Years Champagne and Food Pairings

Sunday, December 29, 2013
New Years Eve is one of my favorite days of the year. It's a day to reflect on the past year and look forward to a prosperous and healthy New Year. I will be sad to say good bye to 2013, which was my most accomplished year of my adult life. This year, we are welcoming 2014 with my soon to be sister and brother in law in South Florida and there will be plenty of eating and champagne drinking. Another great thing about New Years is that you can get nice champagne and sparkling wines on major sale.

One of my favorite affordable sparkling wine is Mumm Napa Brut Prestige. I am also a huge fan of their rose. You can easily find these for under $25 and make an impressive gift to a party host.Prestige is a medium bodied sparkling wine consisting of primarily Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. It pairs excellent with food.
A quick and easy appetizer to serve with Mumm Napa Brut Presitge is salmon, either smoked or cured. We made our own gravalax for Christmas morning and had the leftovers as an appetizer the following day. We used sliced salmon, candied lemon slices and a drop of cream cheese (cream fresh works well too). You can do multiple things with this paring, caviar, boiled eggs, capers, etc and it always makes for an easy delicious pairing.

For this recipe:
Sliced Gravlax
Candied Lemon Slices
Cream Cheese

If you are looking for something a little more elegant to ring in the New year but don't want to break the bank, G.H Mumm Cordon Rouge Champagne is an excellent option. This is a mid-ranged price point champagne and you can find it around $45 a bottle. G.H. Mumm Cordon Rouge is a dry Champagne, but still elegant and light-weight. The rich, toasty note lingers on the vibrant finish.
This is one of my favorite champagnes to bring to New Years brunch. I paired G.H. Mumm with miniature Croque Madame's. It was the perfect bite to go along with the bubbly.

Click here for the recipe (you will need):
Good Quality Ham
Sour Dough Bread
Gruyere cheese
Milk & Flour

If you want to spend a little more to truly celebrate the New Year in Style, Perrier-Jouet Grand Brut Champagne is the one I would suggest. You can find Perrier-Jouet around $50. It's not the most expensive champagne on the market but one that is a true crowd-pleaser.
This is one of my favorite celebratory drinks and chocolate covered strawberries are always a great pairing with champagne. Instead of traditional chocolate covered strawberries, I decided to make homemade strawberry ice cream using my BlendTec Blender which I received for Christmas. 45 seconds later, I had thick and creamy homemade ice cream. I found adorable tuxedo candy cups which made for the perfect presentation.

For this recipe you will need:
Strawberry Ice Cream (click here for the recipe I used)
Tuxedo Candy Cups
Sliced Strawberries

My runDisney Dopey Challenge Outfits Revealed

Friday, December 27, 2013
When I signed up for my first runDisney event, the 2012 Family 5K during Princess weekend - I had one thing on my mind. My outfit. Amazingly, this has still been the one thing I stress most about for runDisney events. When I signed up for the Dopey Challenge, other than the craziness of what I was signing up for, I instantly thought about which four outfits I would be wearing during this insane weekend. I have officially decided on the four day excursion and here they are:

I am participating in this event with my Mom and she wants to go as Cinderella. I look at this as a win-win...I can make her happy by being Cinderella w/ her at the 5K and wear this outfit during the Glass Slipper Challenge the following month.  This outfit will include a skirt from Rock City Skirts, a Halo II Headband , Mission Athletecare Enduracool Arm Sleeves.

I already have a Minnie Mouse Outfit thanks to an impromptu fashion emergency during Wine and Dine Half weekend a few months ago. This outfit includes a Minnie Mouse Bow headband and shirt from Raw Threads and a Diva Pink skirt from Sparkle Skirts

I was Mickey Mouse at  my very first runDisney event and again the following year at the 2013 Walt Disney World Half Marathon. I want to keep the tradition going during this 4 day weekend. I am happily repeating last years 1/2 Marathon outfit. A Sparkle Skirt in Royalty Red, a Nike Shirt with a Mickey Mouse rhinestone iron on I found on eBay, and Minnie ear barrettes found at Downtown Disney. 
Dopey Dopey Dopey - it is your fault that I will be running 48.6 miles over 4 days. So I must dress as Dopey. Under Armour Women's UA Fly-By Stretch Mesh Tank, Sparkle Skirts SparkleLight in Green, Halo II Headband, Purple and Running Skirts Brown Arm Sleeves.
QOD: Do you dress up for races and if so, what was your favorite outfit?

Merry Christmas!!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Hi :) I wanted to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas from our family to yours. May the spirit of Christmas bring you peace. The gladness of Christmas give you hope. The warmth of Christmas grant you love.

This is the last Christmas as Megan Wood!

The Gulf Coast’s premier beachside food and wine event returns for its third year - CLEARWATER BEACH UNCORKED

Monday, December 23, 2013
I was very excited to hear that Clearwater Beach Uncorked released it's date for their third annual food and wine event. I was fortunate to attend the 2012 Clearwater Beach Uncorked with my best friend Keri and we absolutely loved it. She still talks about our beautiful day at the Nations Most Beautiful Beach, sipping wine and eating food from multiple vendors. It was the perfect FL November day.

The date for Clearwater Beach Uncorked has been moved from fall to late winter and will take place February 8 and 9, 2014, from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., beachside in front of Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort and Spa. The new event date will be the perfect timing for a pre-Valentine’s Day beach weekend filled. The Grand Tasting Village will include delicious samplings from the area’s top restaurants, wine from more than 100 wineries and an exciting array of micro-brews and craft beers.

From the Press Release: 
Guests will also have the opportunity to experience the Uncorked Spirits Beach Club, capturing a breathtaking view of Clearwater Beach. This year a decadent dessert tent will showcase Bubbles on the Beach, featuring bubbles, sweets, pastries and all things rich and gooey just in time for Valentine’s Day. Clearwater Beach Uncorked will be a weekend-long epicurean experience allowing guests to explore the relaxed and delicious facets of Clearwater Beach.

Guests will have the option of purchasing general admission tickets for $85 or opt for a premium VIP experience, available on Saturday, for $125. VIP access will grant epicureans and influencers an exceptional VIP area with exclusive restaurants and reserve wines, single malt whiskeys and rare scotches. They will also receive an extravagant Clearwater Beach Uncorked swag bag with the latest in food, fashion and beauty. Tickets are currently on sale at www.clearwaterbeachuncorked.com.

Clearwater Beach Uncorked will donate a portion of the proceeds from ticket sales to the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee College of Hospitality and Technology Leadership.Click here for more details and to purchase your tickets. Hope to see you there!

t-minus 3 weeks until Walt Disney Marathon Weekend #runDisney

Friday, December 20, 2013
Hello :) I wanted to say hi now that my 12 Days of Christmas has come to an end. Thank you to all who participated and I hope many of you won those amazing 12 gifts (some of which are still going on). I am home for Christmas and look forward to spending a week with my family. It's supposed to be 83 on Sunday and I am hoping for a beach day, YAY!

So the runDisney Walt Disney World Marathon is quickly approaching. How, I mean, HOW did this happen? I feel like we were sitting on a plane just yesterday on our way to NYC for my first full, the ING NYC Marathon. Now I sit here, less than three weeks away from the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend - where I will be participating in the Dopey Challenge. For those who are not familiar with what I am about to put myself through, it is 48.6 miles over 4 days. A 5K, 10K, Half Marathon and Full Marathon.
Most people look at me like I should be committed when I mention the Dopey Challenge which starts January 9th. The only answer I have is the number six. Six medals over 4 days that is. In April, that sounded like a fantastic idea. To be honest, I am currently shaking in my running shoes.

Am I prepared? NO. Absolutely not, but I do not want to discuss this matter. My goal is to do the best I can possibly do and cross 4 finish lines. I am most looking forward to the 5K, not because of the short distance (well kinda), but because of the beautiful lady below, my Mommy who will be participating in her first runDisney event with me. I bought Mommy her 5K entry for Mothers Day gift last year :)
Not only am I unprepared physically, I also have no idea what I am going to wear. In non runDisney races, this wouldn't be an issue. Going to a runDisney event without an outfit plan is like going to prom without a dress, just saying. I do not have any outfits selected for the 4 events. Double rats. Over the next week, you will see me scrambling trying to figure out what to wear for FOUR CONSECUTIVE RACES. Minnie and Mickey can be recycled as those are completed outfits.
Here's what I am thinking so far.
Thursday: Letting Mom pick out our outfits (she wants to go as Cinderella)
Friday: Minnie Mouse (on the right above)
Saturday: Donald Duck? or do I pull out the old faithful Mickey Mouse costume (on the left above)?
Friday: Dopey - problem here is getting greens to match or do I do Snow White?

Help me in more ways than one!

Speaking of all things runDisney:

Expedition Everest opened up this week for registration. This is one of my favorite runDisney events through the year and I am on the verge of signing up. My only hesitation is the price. When we did this amazing race two years ago, the cost was much lower and I wasn't on a wedding budget at the time. Shelling out $230 for a team entry is a little rough at present time. With that said, while the cost may seem high for a 5K, it is much more than 3.1 with a shiny medal - it's a true exhilaration rush, the 5K obstacle course followed by a scavenger brain challenge. Anyone who loves competitive challenges would love this. I have until 1/14/2014 to decide before prices increase.

Volunteer spots are available for Marathon weekend! Volunteers rock my socks off and make the adventure a wonderful experience. If you have the time, I would love to see you out there!

SHOES SHOES SHOES!  New Balance will introduce the 2014 runDisney sneakers in a few weeks at Marathon Weekend. Sorcerer Mickey and Pink Princess Minnie will be joined by friends! Goofy and Cinderella. Click here fore more details.

Why do you runDisney? runDisney is looking for a 15-second Instagram video tagged w/ #WhyIRunDisney and the race you will be running in 2014. They will select one winner per race, from 5K's through the race weekend Challenges, to be featured in a fully produced runDisney video. This is pretty awesome friends! If you are the chosen runner, runDisney will send a crew to your hometown to see what motivates you and capture the magical moments during your race weekend.

Minnie Mouse Marathon Bra by Champion. Hello ladies! Champion Athleticwear designed a sleek, stylish, ultra-lightweight version of the Marathon Bra specifically for runDisney! They created a Minnie Marathon Bra which delivers all the support you need for your longest, most magical runs.

Easy Canvas Prints #giveaway - 12 Days of Christmas day 12

Thursday, December 19, 2013
On my final day of giving, I wanted to give you one of my favorite gifts I give to those I love.  I always give gifts that have personal meaning and there is no better way to do that than a photo canvas.

I have given canvas prints as wedding gifts to many friends and family showcasing their big day. Easy Canvas Prints also makes wonderful Christmas and Birthday gifts through the year. Seeing that special someone open a gift that brings back special memories is a wonderful moment to witness. You can use photos of weddings, children, pets, vacations, landscapes, vintage photos, expressions and more for a canvas print. The options are endless..
We have started a collage in our house using 11x14 Canvas prints (my favorite size, not too big, not too small) with photos from our New Orleans engagement shoot along with a photo in front of where we will say "I Do" in September. We will add on to this canvas wall display over time, hoping it will resemble the one below. I keep joking that I have become addicted to collecting canvas photos.
Today, I am offering one reader an 11x14 Easy Canvas Print  valued at $60+ with free shipping (located in the continental US)!  Let me know in a comment below what memory you would turn into a canvas print. Don't forget to log your entries in the rafflecopter widget below and come back until Sunday for more chances to win!

Week 3 of the 12 Days of Christmas includes:
Easy Canvas 11x14 Print
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Rock n Roll Marathon Series #giveaway - The 11th Day of Christmas

Wednesday, December 18, 2013
I'm giving away one free entry to a Rock n Roll Marathon North America Race!

One of my favorite race organizations is the Rock n Roll Marathon series. A little over a year ago, Gabe and I decided we would sign up for our first racecation - the Rock n Roll Half Marathon in New Orleans. During registration, we ended up signing up for the Rock n Roll Half in St. Pete so we could get a RNR Heavy Medal, the Rock Encore medal for completing two RNR series in one year. You can read my RNR NOLA recap here and my RNR St Pete recap here.

We had a wonderful time at both Rock n Roll Marathon series events. The RNR series is extremely well organized and I tell everyone I know who runs that they must do one of their events. In 2014, we are talking about running RNR Las Vegas!

One of the great things Rock n Roll series does is offer a Tour Pass, where you pay $200 for a package of any three races in the US or $400 to run however many races you wanted to run in the US. Thinking about how much I spend annually on races for Gabe & I makes my head hurt and this I can tell you is an excellent deal! We are considering getting the pass in 2015, after the wedding!

Here is some great new of the day. I am giving away ONE entry to ANY Rock n Roll series in the USA! Weather you want to run a Full Marathon, Half Marathon or 5K, I have one lucky winner covered. Here are the locations and dates of the 2014 Rock n Roll Marathon Series in the USA. Many of these races are on my race bucket list :)
To enter, leave me a comment below letting me know which of the above listed races you would want to participate in. I strongly suggest NOLA :) Make sure register your entries through the rafflecopter widget below and come back daily for more chances to win. Good luck!

Week 3 of the 12 Days of Christmas includes:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Koss Headphones #giveaway - The 10th Day of Christmas

Tuesday, December 17, 2013
This post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of Koss.

I truly believe it is just as important to invest in a great pair of sports headphones as it is to invest in a great pair of running shoes. Many workout in headphones that are not meant for sports, cannot handle sweat causing shorting out and ear devices that are too big or too small for your ears, causing headaches.

I have had issues with my ears before I took my first step and headphones have always given me headaches. When we first started running, I couldn't listen to music for more than 2 miles without my ears pounding from the pressure. I got my first pair of Koss headphones shortly thereafter.

Koss went a step further had had their female designers team-up with Gold Medalist and Florida Gator Dara Torres to create the world’s first headphones designed specifically for women, by women. 

I was very excited to hear this news and try out their new FitBuds which are 33% smaller than any other earbud Koss has created, only six millimeters in diameter! For those with really small ears like myself, Koss included 3 different size ear cushions to make sure you had a perfect fit. Plus these EarBuds are sweat resistant. As I expected, I needed the smallest of the three sizes of cushions to fit snugly into my ear. They were very comfortable, I did not realize they were there and no headaches to report!
Koss has another product out that is unique to women - the Koss FitClips. The FitClips have three sizes of ear cushions, just like the EarBuds. The flexible clips around the ears are soft and do not press into your head. The thing I love about FitClips is that they will not fall out so you never have to worry about positioning your buds due to them slipping out of place.
Koss has a Holiday Sale going on right now, offering the FitClips and EarBuds for only $19.99 which is a steal! You can find them at Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Walgreens, Kmart and Sears.

Since I am in a giving mood, I want to give away the pair of Koss FitClips shown above to a lucky reader! Do not worry, they are still new in box. I got to check out the FitClips first hand thanks to a friend who owns a pair. Since I am craving chocolate, which never ever happens, leave a comment below letting me know what your favorite Christmas cookie is! Make sure log your entires through the rafflecopter widget below and come back each day for more chances to win!

Week 3 of the 12 Days of Christmas includes:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Halo Headband - 12 Days of Christmas Day 9 #giveaway

Monday, December 16, 2013
A few weeks after I started running, I had Lasik surgery done. I was 9 years old when I started wearing glasses and 12 years old when I popped in my first pair of contact lenses. Deciding to get Lasik was the best decision I made. Everything was perfect until the first time I went running post surgery. I learned very quick that contacts shielded my eyes from the sweat stinging them.

To be honest, that first run without contacts was a total nightmare. I never experienced this sensation before and thought my eyes were going to burn out of my head. A bit dramatic but the truth. I expressed this concern to my best friend, who laughed and told me to order a Halo Headband. That's where the love affair began.

What makes Halo so special? They are made with Dryline fabric, a high performance material that quickly evaporates moisture so you stay dry and comfortable. The haeadband has a Sweat Block seal, which prevents sweat from getting into your eyes. It is lightweight, durable and abrasion resistant and will not lose it's shape or form. It controls odor, wicks away prespiration from the body and dries quickly.
I have worn a Halo Headband product nearly everytime I have gone out for a run. I own multiple colors and versions from the brand and my new favorite product is my Pink Halo Sport Visor which I recently wore for 13.1 without having to adjust it once.
Even at the ING NYC Marathon, my halo visor trecked 26.2 miles with me. I did not wear the visor during the marathon but had it secured to my water belt.
I attached Minnie ears to my black Halo Pullover headband, which helped the Minnie Ears stay secure for 13.1 miles, they did not bother me at all.
I also wore my Halo Pullover headband under my Jesse costume which prevented sweat coming into my eyes from the very hot hat. Thank goodness as this hat found it's way to a trash can around mile 3, Halo saved me from a potential bad hair day.
I attached reindeer antlers to my Red Halo Pullover headband for my first half marathon, once again - the decorative attachments stayed secure thanks to my headband.
Halo Headbands have been with me through my entire running journey with me and I am very happy to be giving away a product of the winners choice as part of my 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway!

Let me know in a comment below what Halo product you would choose if you won this contest! Make sure you enter through the rafflecopter widget after you comment for more entries. You come back each day this week for more chances to win.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Week 3 of the 12 Days of Christmas includes:
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