Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wedding Wednesday - Do your research

When Gabe and I first decided to get married in New Orleans, there was one detail I demanded. We will be doing a second line parade after the ceremony, leading us and our wedding guests to the reception.

Second line is a tradition in New Orleans - a brass band parade; the "main line" or "first line" is the main section of the parade - in our case, the bride & groom in front followed by the band - and the "second line" is us everyone one else following and dancing behind. We will both have a feathered parasol and our guests will have handkerchiefs, dancing and twirling around. The parade typically is also the walk from the church to the wedding reception venue.



After doing a little research, I found the permit for the parade is $50.25 and the fee for a police escort is $100 per officer. I was initially working with a company, who shall remain nameless, to assist with parts of the wedding I didn't want to stress over. After having an initial conversation with this group, they mentioned that they would coordinate the second line for us. Sounds like a plan! Then I received a price quote: "The second line starts at $1800.00"

Wait just one second.....$1800 for a parade that is less than 30 minutes? That is more than the band we were looking at for the entire night. So I took it upon myself to find some brass bands who specialize in second lines, to receive multiple price quotes under $700 for the parade.

Basically the lesson I learned last week is to do your research. Five minutes of looking online saved us nearly $1,000. If I didn't know it was only $50 to get the permit, I would have probably decided against the second line, one of the key components of our wedding.

Here are some photos of a second line parade I found on pinterest! How much fun is this going to be!!





Tuesday, July 30, 2013

William Dean Events - Macaron Class

This weekend, I had the opportunity to learn the techniques behind making French Macarons. Macarons are my favorite dessert. There is nothing more perfect than two meringue biscuits with a ganache or butter cream filling. I was first introduced to Macarons at Datz in Tampa who sells William Dean's famous chocolates and cookies. When I found out that William Dean was hosting cooking classes and a macaron class was on the lineup, I instantly signed up.

We were introduced to Chef Tim Brown, a culinary instructor at Johnson and Wales. He instantly started whipping up the meringue mixture, egg whites, granulated sugar and egg white powder on full blast until it has a medium glossy peak. Your meringue should be able to stand up and lean over, as shown below. Chef Brown said that a top 3 kitchen investment is a Kitchenaid mixer and I agree with him on this - I love my Kitchenaid!
Next is mixing the meringue mixture to the dry mix - fold the meringue mixture into a bowl with your powdered sugar and almond flower. Chief Chocolate Officer Bill Brown is showing us how to do this technique below. Your mixture is supposed to flow like lava. Be careful not to over mix! Take your rubber spatula and run it through the middle during the mixing and if it runs like lava, it is ready.
Now it's time for piping the cookies - I learned a trick from Chef Tim - get a vase or a large container to set your piping bag in. Then you can easy spoon the mixture into the bag, without having someone hold it for you. If you are going to make these at home, I suggest spending $12 on a Silicone Macaron Baking Sheet You pipe inside of the circles on the sheet. Use your back hand to control the piping. If you are right handed, you will have all pressure in that hand. See the video below as Bill Brown shows us how to pipe macarons.
Now it's our turn to pipe. I am impatient and wanted to go too fast. Isn't my hairnet hot?
Rachel (runnerstales.com) did a very good job piping, especially as this was her first time piping anything.
After you are finished piping the cookies, you let them sit out for 30 minutes or until dry to the touch.
While the cookies are drying, you can make your filling. We watched as Chef Tim Brown made caramel sauce. In a deep pot (or if you want to be fancy, you can buy a Caramel Pot) combine your water, sugar and glucose. Bring to a boil, allowing your water to evaporate, which will cause the sugar to caramelize. Meanwhile, boil your cream in another pot. Once it is brought to a boil, add the cream to the carmalized mixture 3 shots at a time. This will prevent overflowing. Finally let the sauce cool (to about 95 degrees) and add the butter. You now have caramel!

Here is my classes final product. Thank you Rachel for letting me borrow your photo :)
We were sent home with a 12 pack box of William Dean Macarons. I keep them in the refrigerator, allowing whichever flavor I am going to eat that night come to room temperature. It's like playing roulette with macarons.

Be sure to check out the other classes at William Dean this summer. They are offering the following classes: French Style Chocolates, Truffles, Bon Bon, French Tarts, Confections, French Cakes, Cookies & Cupcakes and no fear, they have more macaron classes!

Below are the ingredients used to make Macarons. Each batch makes 144 shells. You will notice that everything below is measured by weight - It is best to make macarons this way. Pick up a Digital Kitchen Scale for precise measurements.


French Macaron Ingredients:
Almond Flour 250g
Powdered Sugar 300g
Sugar 220g
Egg Whites 220g
Powdered Egg Whites 1/2 tsp

Basic Caramel Sauce Ingredients
Water 120g
Sugar 435g
Flucose or Corn Syrup 90g
Butter 4oz
Cream 370g

Monday, July 29, 2013

A non-sponsored unhealthy post and I LOVE IT...Gino's Pizza is coming to Tampa

I had a pizza moment tonight.

Last month, I went to the NKOTB/B2M concert in Orlando with some girlfriends. Don't judge. After a few cocktails, all I wanted was a slice of pizza from Gino's, a popular pizza spot that was introduced to me by my brother Aaron. He claimed this was "the best pizza on earth". I can concur by saying it's one of the best late night pizzas I have ever encountered. After hanging tough to some motown philly at the concert, we arrived at Gino's and I saw they were closed. WHAAAAAT? Hearts were broken.........I was sad, I was lost.....and ended up with a giant kielbasa on a potato roll.

Fast forward to an unexpected month later. Gabe and I got stuck in a rainstorm after an impromptu Monday date night in Ybor City. We live in Ybor and are in walking distance of  all the fabulous restaurants in our city. While we have plenty of date night restaurants, one thing Ybor doesn't lack is pizza joints. I would generally roll my eyes at the opening of a new one. From the day we first moved to Ybor 2+ years ago, we were loyal customers of Demi's Market on 7th..  With that said, I am slightly broken hearted while very excited to write this post. I am very sorry Demi's BUT...........This just happened:
Megan: "Gino's Pizza?! Like Gino's in Orlando???? The sign says it has garlic rolls with each pizza? Gino's in Orlando did that. It looks like their logo??"
Gabe:  Possibly, the sign has a 407 area code....
Megan: sign? What sign? Oh...My.....God.......it really is Gino's! It's Gino's....in Ybor!!!!! I gotta text Aaron"
Ginos Tampa - photo from Ginos Facebook
Hello Lover! This my Tampa friends is the exact sign that I have stumbled upon multiple times on Orange Ave in Orlando.
Gino's Orlando
EEEEEEE!!!! I am doing the Happy Pizza dance

SERIOUSLY....I am a Ybor resident who happens to be a future bride on a diet. I have an obsession with pizza and a have a future groom who does not help my pizza habit. Gino's arrival to Ybor City is the best and worst news one could get in a night. I cannot wait until Ginos is open. In fact, Gabe was singing "Gino's Gino's Gino's around the house tonight. I fear I will use every excuse not to cook. "let's just order Gino's" God help me.......

All of my Gino's moments have happened after a few adult beverages, meaning I forgot to take out my phone for photos. Below are a few I have kindly borrowed from fellow foodspotting members. Garlic knots included.
foodspotting.com
foodspotting.com
orlandosentinel.com
foodspotting.com

Sunday, July 28, 2013

July Kona Kase Review and discount code

It's time for another Kona Kase review! I received this Kona Kase complimentary for a review. I also didn't get to it before the subscription box monster got his hands on it, so I apologize for a few of the items being shown as opened. 

Kona Kase is a monthly subscription box that focuses on healthy snacks and fitness supplements. You will receive a mix of pre and post workout items. Kona Kase is $15 a month, including shipping

Now that you've seen what is inside the box, let's explore each item.
Caveman Cookies - Value $2
Garuka Bars Original - Value $3.50

The Caveman cookies shocked me a bit. I tried it without reading the description. I assumed it was a shortbread cookie -it was far from that. Caveman cookies are made with just honey nuts and berries. Once I read the description and took another bite, I decided I liked them.

The Garuka bar was a little on the tart side. Not my favorite item in the box.

The Granola was amazing. I was introduced to pumpkin seed granola last year and was ecstatic to find this small bag in my Kona Kase.
  

I loved the Pro Bar Bolt chews. I prefer chews to gel and these tasted wonderful and did the job!

I had a flashback of the early 90's when I saw Body Glove Surge. Body Glove was one of my favorite brands back in the day. Now they are making energy shots! I was pretty impressed overall with the product.
Perky Jerky Turkey Jerky - Value $1.50
Enjoy Life Seed and Fruit Mix - Value $2.40

As you can see, this was the part of the box that the subscription box monster got a hold of. 

I loved the Chia seed bar. I consume chia in one form or another on a daily basis so this was a nice treat.

The Perky Jerky was consumed very quickly and got a stamp of approval. It was delicious.

The Seed and fruit mix was one of my favorite items in the box, once I retrieved it from the box monster. 

Overall, I was very impressed with this months Kona Kase. I am not sure what the price of the Granola was since but all of the items added up excluding the Granola comes to $15, the cost of the case. It introduced me to a few new items that I will look for next time I am at the store!

You can save $5 on your purchase of Kona Kase with the discount code "GIFTSUMMER". The August and September boxes are being brought to us by two expert athlete curators. August will be by Adam Bornstein and September will be by Nicole Branagh! Click here to sign up today!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Our favorite places to eat, restaurant blog hop

I recently participated in a national restaurant blog hop. Myself along with multiple other bloggers across the US featured local restaurants in our area, showcasing our favorite 8-12 dining spots. It took me nearly 4 days to pick my favorite restaurants. You can find my top 10 restaurants in Tampa by clicking here.

Below are what the other bloggers selected. This would be a great page to bookmark and come back to for travel!

Eastern US Tampa, Florida - I Run for Wine Annapolis, Maryland - Maryland Momma's Rambles Framingham, Massachusetts - 3 Garnets & 2 Sapphires Orleans County, New York - Living Off Love and Coffee Charlotte, North Carolina - MommyB Knows Best Eastern North Carolina - Rebecca Lately Raleigh, North Carolina - The Dirty Floor Diaries East Greenwich, Rhode Island - Mama Luvs Books Richmond, Virginia - Close to Home
Western US Phoenix, Arizona - Brie Brie Blooms Aliso Viejo, California - Una Colombiana en California Oceanside, California - Adventures of Valley Writer San Diego, California - Toot Sweet 4 Two Wildomar, California - Simple Sojourns Las Vegas, Nevada - Growing Up Gabel Las Vegas, Nevada - Home Cooking Memories Reno, Nevada - Saving in Nevada NE Oklahoma (Route 66) - The Creative Princess Tulsa, Oklahoma - Masterpiece Austin, Texas - Texas Type A Mom Dallas, Texas - The Effortless Mom Dallas/Denton County, Texas - Coffee & Giggles Houston, Texas - A Day in Motherhood Palestine, Texas - Going Crazy! Wanna Go? Provo, Utah - Clarks Condensed Salina/Sevier, Utah - Home Maid Simple Salt Lake City, Utah - Summer Scraps Bainbridge Island, Washington - Popcorn and Pearls Seattle, Washington - Faith Filled Food for Moms
Northern US Chicago, Illinois - East 9th Street Lake County, Illinois - THE ROCK FATHER Long Grove (NW Chicago Suburbs), Illinois- Make Dinner Easy Naperville, Illinois - Making Time for Mommy Cincinnati, Ohio/Northern Kentucky - {enjoy the view} Detroit, Michigan - Roasted Beanz West Michigan - Eat Local, West Michigan! Rochester, Minnesota - The Mama Report St. Charles, Missouri - Robyn's Online World St. Louis, Missouri - inRandom Omaha, Nebraska - Midwest Mammas Seward, Nebraska - Busy-at-Home Dayton, Ohio - Mudpies and Tiaras Miami County, Ohio - The Home and Garden Cafe Greenville, South Carolina - The Destiny Manifest Milwaukee, Wisconsin - Outnumbered 3 to 1 Norwalk, Wisconsin - The Mommy Bunch
Southern US Northwest Arkansas - Jamie's Thots Northwest Arkansas - MamaBuzz Atlanta, Georgia - The Jort Report Cumming, Georgia - In the Kitchen with KP
Canada Quispamsis/Saint John, New Brunswick - Older Mommy Still Yummy London, Ontario - Creative Cynchronicity
UK Banbury, UK - Bubbablue and Me Bristol, UK - Slummy Single Mummy London, England - The 21st Century Housewife Portishead, UK - Practically Perfect Mums

Friday, July 26, 2013

Sundried Tomato Caprese Grilled Chicken Recipe

One of my favorite summertime activities is grilling out. Unfortunately, we live in a condo and are not allowed to have grills. I recently spent 7 days in Daytona with my parents while Gabe was on his Nicaragua surfing trip. I took this time to get my grill  on.

About 7 years ago, I came up with a recipe, merging a traditional caprese salad with grilled chicken. If you are watching your diet or eating paleo, you can make this without the cheese. It's super easy and I love making my own sun-dried tomato vinaigrette.

Ingredients
1 cup sundried tomato vinaigrette (see recipe below)
4 boneless skinless chicken breast
4 large basil leaves
1 can fire roasted tomatoes, drained with juice set aside
sliced mozzarella
4 sheets of aluminum foil

Directions
Combine 3/4 cup of vinaigrette along with the juice from the tomatoes and marinade your chicken for 30 minutes to 2 hours.
Preheat your grill to med-hi and prepare your aluminum foil into "boats" as shown above. Set the boats aside. Place each chicken breast on the grill and sear for 6 minutes.
Take each chicken breast and place into it's boat. Top with the tomatoes and grill for 4 minutes.
Place your slice of cheese on top of the tomatoes, then top with your basil leaf during the last minute.
Top each finished breast with the tomatoes optional balsamic drizzle.



Sundried Tomato Vinaigrette:
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, drained or rehydrated if dry
2 tbsp fresh basil
2 tsp capers
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp Pompeian balsamic vinegar
2/3 cup  Pompeian OlivExtra Mediterranean Blend

Directions:  Process all ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth, adding the olive oil last to emulsify. Add a bit more liquid if needed.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

#BeAmazing 100 Days until my Marathon Season begins

Have you ever asked yourself what amazing really is? One persons amazing accomplishments could be moronic to the stranger sitting next to them. A few months ago, I was selected to represent the St. Petersburg Womens Half Marathon Series from my partnership with FitFluential. It's amazing how much has changed from the moment I signed on to that marathon. Let's just say, November 2013 is going to be a life changer and a major test.

I am 100 days away from running my very first full marathon - the New York Marathon. I will be honest, when I signed up for the lottery, I never thought I would get in. I was already signed up for 2 half marathons in November and now I am adding a full to the mix. I will be the first to admit, I bit off way more than I can chew but I am going to stay positive throughout the next few months and kick the doubt monsters butt every time he enters my thoughts.

Now let's talk November - we've got a race scheduled every weekend except Thanksgiving, two of which are out of state. I have 6 days between my first full marathon and my 6th half marathon. Although my race schedule is pretty insane starting 100 days from today, I am very excited to be part of each one of these events.

Don't let me be cray cray all by myself, come run with me! All of the below races with the exception of NY are still open for registration and I have discount codes for Rock n Roll Savannah, Run For Your Lives 5K (nationwide) & Womens Running Series, St. Pete!

New York City Marathon
November 3rd, 2013

Rock n Roll Marathon and Half Marathon, Savannah
November 9th, 2013
Save $10 with Rock n Roll Savannah discount code WINESAV

Run for your Lives 5K Zombie Run, Central Florida
Save 15% with Run For Your Lives Discount code ZPTD2

Womens Running Series, St. Petersburg
Save $10 with Women's Running Series St. Pete Discount code FITFLMEG
 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Wedding Wednesday - One dress bought and a Bride Box #giveaway

I said yes to a dress!! Not the dress you are thinking of but you're in the right direction. This weekend, I purchased my dress for our engagement shoot at Oak Alley Plantation. This dress will also be my post reception dress, which is a must with a New Orleans wedding - I don't want to get my gown ruined partying on Bourbon Street!

To say I am obsessed with this dress is putting it lightly. I found a girl named Megan who purchased an Allure Bridal 940 gown at a Sample Sale and ended up not wearing it and needed to sell it. She lives near New Orleans, is my size and has a great name. It was meant to be.

I was also introduced to The Bride Box, a monthly subscription box for brides to be. July's box was themed last fling before the ring. Upon opening the box, I was brought down memory lane. The Bacherlorette Party "Dare Cards" happened to be the same exact cards we used for my Best Friend Keri's bacherlorette in 2006. Pair that with the shot glass and I went back in time 7 years ago.
Pretty much everything in the box could be customized to for the bride. The Love glasses are from Promovizion, you can select from their current designs or create your own. These are FUN and until I received this box, I would have never known custom printed glasses even existed. 

My favorite item in this box was my Bride wine glass (there's a shocker) from Sticker Shop Unlimited.  customizes everything from wine glasses to koozies to cell phone cases. 

I also received a sash from The Crafty Vixen who creates high end sashes at low price points. The work with budgets and create custom designs for any occasion. 

You can subscribe to the Bride Box monthly for $35 or purchase discounted rates for a 6 month ot 12 month membership. Also, if you know someone getting married, this would be a very cool gift to send to the bride to be. You can send the Bride Box as a gift by clicking here

Here is your chance to win a Bride Box. Even if you are married or single, you can still enter to win this box for an engaged friend. Tell me in a comment below what your favorite bacherlorette party moment was.  
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Listening to audio books while running - Alex Cross, Run by James Patterson

While training for my first Half Marathon, I grew bored with music. My mother suggested that I listen to Audio Books while running and I signed up for 30 days free trial from Audible. After my preview was over, I got an Audible Gold monthly plan and  for $15 a month, I get one book credit a month (some of the audio books are in the $20 range). After downloading, I can send the books to my kindle and can switch back and forth between the devices. 

I just finished Alex Cross, Run by James Patterson. This was the first book I did not sync to my kindle or iPad. I found by doing this, I had more ambition to get out there and run and not cut my distance short. Towards the end of the book, I ran multiple days in a row since I needed to know what was happening next. 

Although I've had an Audible account since December, I have only downloaded 4 books. That meant I had 5 book credits in my Audible bank when I checked my account this week! I went ahead and spent my credits, ordering 4 James Patterson novels (one pre-order) and 1 Nicholas Sparks novel. I accidentally ordered The Christmas Wedding by Patterson and luckily, Audible allowed me to exchange it for Second Honeymoon with no questions asked. 


If you are a running bookworm, give this a try. You will be very surprised to see how fast the miles go by. I've loved all three James Patterson books I have listened to so far. All three have had two different voices which breaks things up a bit. Some have been two males and others have been one male, one female. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Zombies! Run For Your Lives 5K Discount Code

Save 15% off any Run For Your Lives 5k with dicount code ZPTD2

One of my first memories as a running couple is when we got Gabe fitted for shoes. We were at Fit2Run in Tampa and the guy helping us out mentioned a race where Zombies chased you and tried to "take your lives". As we are both huge fans of The Walking Dead, we instantly went home and researched this so race and found ourselves on a website for the zombie run called Run For Your Lives.

Gabe is a good sport and will run pretty much any race I ask him to do (although he drew the line at Princess). He only asked one thing in return, that we do Run For Your Lives. In 2012, I agreed to do this with him but we ended up having family in town that weekend and couldn't make it.  
Fast forward to today - Run For Your Lives, the original zombie 5K, has invited me to be a brand ambassador on their Zombie Preparedness Team. You can take full advantage of my relationship with Run For Your Lives and receive 15% registration with the code ZPTD2 (nearly $15 off!) which can be used for any Run For Your Lives races throughout the US! If you are in Tampa or Central Florida and use the Run For Your Lives discount code, you can run the race as part of my team on November 16th! We will be in the 10:30am Central Florida Run For Your Lives wave and hope to see you there!

As part of the Zombie Protection Team, I will share tips on training for a zombie attack, how to dress for the race (blending in with Zombies is a good thing!) and how protect yourselves from zombies while on the course. I will use my partnership with Run For Your Lives to figure out where the zombie clowns are so I can keep far away as humanly possible from that area. There will also be a few giveaways in the future! Make sure you subscribe to my RSS so you wont miss out on that!


Would you run a Zombie infested race? Let me know why or why not!
You can follow the Run For Your Lives fun online: Facebook | Twitter | Youtube | Instagram

Today, Rolling stones made a celebrity out of a terrorist. What happened to #bostonstrong

Sorry.

This is a first in my blog - I am being honest and I am sorry if I defend some. I try to steer away from politics and opinions on the blog. Yet this is something that has me beyond bothered.

As a Central Floridian, our lives have been consumed with George Zimmerman and Treyvon Martin. I am not going to state how I feel on that matter other than it is unfortunate a young life was lost. After weeks and weeks of nothing but Zimmerman/Martin coverage, I saw something equally as heartbreaking tonight.
I refuse to call him by name but what the F is this guy doing on the cover of Rolling Stones? Are you kidding me right now? Rolling Stones, I do not see why or how you would ever put this individual on the cover of your magazine. Did you want to sell magazines? Did you want national attention? Well you got one of the two. At the end of the day, you turned a terrorist into a fake celebrity and you lost a lot of subscribers.

Believe it or not, I made a statement about this on my personal facebook page last night and people actually took up for the rolling stones...........He's innocent until proven guilty? Really? Does anyone actually feel this way???

From the Mayor of Boston:


This IS NOT OK

Rolling Stones made me enraged by putting him on the cover. I have cancelled our subscription and I will never for the life of me read their magazine again with the exception of next month where I want to see if any of my endorsers are paying for advertising. If so, I will have to consider my relationship with them.

#bostonstrong always

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Wedding Wednesday - New Orleans trip 1 booked

It's been exactly a month since Gabe asked me to marry him! How on earth? People said time would fly but really??
We have officially booked our first venue tour trip to New Orleans and boy do I love priceline today. The negotiator hooked us up big time. We used priceline for our last 2 trips to NOLA and have had luck bidding $85 for a 4 star French Quarter hotel during mid week into weekend trips. The first time, we were approved at the French Quarter Marriott. Last time, we were approved for The Saint, New Orleans. This time around, I got a little gutsier, especially since it is off season in NOLA. I bid $65 for a 4 star hotel in the French Quarter (on a Friday & Saturday night nonetheless) and got approved! I was not expecting that - or the fun automated letter shown above from pricelines iPad app. Would you like to know where we are staying at for this ridiculously low price? The French Quarter Marriott! I am very excited to stay at this hotel again. We really loved the convenience to everything and the staff was super nice. Also, the fact that there is a Starbucks located inside of the hotel doesn't hurt. The Saint was a very trendy and hip hotel but this was more our style.

While in New Orleans, we will do a walk through and finalizing our contract for the reception at Hotel Mazarin. Here is a shot of the fountain inside of where the reception will be taking place! I think we will be using lanterns instead of flowers around the fountain, as shown in the second photo but we have plenty of time to figure out those details :)
Photo from: Hotel Mazarin
PhotographyCarla Ten Eyck
We will head over to Oak Alley Plantation for the first of our two engagement photo sessions during this trip. Our two engagement sessions are taking place in Louisiana and in Tampa, FL. With both sets of our parents in tow, we visited Oak Alley last February and had a magical time, you can read about our plantation and grounds tour here and the dining experience here. From the moment we decided to get married in NOLA, I knew we had to incorporate Oak Alley's beauty into our big day somehow. Since the plantation is an hour outside of the French Quarter, it seemed ideal to do our Louisiana engagement session there.

I cannot wait to recreate these images into our engagement session!


Our custom stamp from Love to Create Stamps came in the mail! It exceeded all expectations and we were very impressed with the final product. I was introduced to this line of stamps through Etsy and was pleased to hear they are located in St. Pete! Love going local! Upon checking out their website, I probably found 10 additional stamps I would purchase right now but Gabe said one stamp is all I need. He's no fun. At least I know who I am ordering our monogram stamp from once we are married! Here is what the stamp looks like on paper!

My question of the day is what type of outfit should I wear to the engagement shoot at Oak Alley Plantation? I live in sundresses and maxi-dresses so I want something different, yet not too fancy and I cannot wear heels or I will be taller than Gabe.