Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Marathon Training with Kohl's and a Sports Watch Giveaway #TrainWithKohls

If you have followed this blog for sometime, you know I do not have a great relationship with sport watches. I would always feel pressured wearing them. In fact, I have never worn a sport watch during any of my 4 marathons. However, times are changing.

I am not one to freak out about my finishing time - I always just want to finish. When I learned I would be running the Dublin Marathon with ASICS America this Fall, I made a goal to myself to become a faster, stronger runner. This means intervals and speed work - and you cannot do either of those without a timing device.
"Interval's are my best friend" said no one ever. Luckily for me, Kohl's sent me a watch to assist me with my marathon training. This summer, I am training with the Casio Watch Illuminator Tough Solar Digital watch. My favorite feature about this watch is that it is solar powered. For the very short period of time I wore a sports watch, it would be dead when I went to use it. Upon receiving my watch, I placed it on my home offices windowsill and the next day, it was ready for use! The Casio Illuminator Tough Solar watch has many wonderful features which is perfect for both the beginner and avid runner including a 120-lap chronograph, world time, five daily alarms and more features make it a multifunctional sports watch that's sure to keep you on track.
Along with the large line of Casio sports watches, I was shocked to see the variety of watches Kohl's carries. I always saw them as an apparel and home store, yet they carry multiple active and wellness brands - everything from Fitbit, Jawbone, Casio, Garmin, Nike, Asics, Pro-Form, and more.

GIVEAWAY!
Kohl's provided me with an red Casio Illuminator Tough Solar Watch to giveaway to one of my readers. Let me know in the comment below what race you are training for. Be sure to log your entry in the Rafflecopter widget below to open up additional chances to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
FEATURES
Calendar: day & date
5 daily alarms
12/24-hour formats
World time: 29 time zones (48 cities)
Dual time
Chronograph: 120-lap
2 countdown timers
Stopwatch
Water resistance: 100 meters
CASE & DISPLAY
Digital display with LED light
Face cover: mineral crystal
Case: resin
Caseback: stainless steel
50-mm diameter
BAND
Resin
Strap buckle clasp
DETAILS
Solar power
Manufacturer's 1-year limited warranty

This post is sponsored by Kohl's as part of their #TrainWithKohls campaign and I was compensated for this blog post. As always, all opinions are my opinion.

Monday, June 29, 2015

The Boathouse at Disney Springs

Last Sunday for Father's Day, we took Gabe's Dad to see Jurassic World at Downtown Disney, followed by an early dinner at The Boathouse inside of the new Disney Springs expansion. This was our first time experiencing Disney Springs and were very impressed. Downtown Disney suffered for many years after the fall of pleasure island. If The Boathouse is any indication of the future of Disney Springs, it will quickly  be the new "it" destination in Central Florida. It's slated to be completed by 2016 and offer 150 shopping, dining and entertainment venues.
The Boathouse is a family friendly waterfront dining experience whose menu is served daily until 2am. They feature steaks, fresh seafood, a raw bar and the best Maine Lobster roll you will find in Florida - more on that later. There is also a dockside bar which offers the best view in all of Walt Disney World.
The Boathouse also offers various water adventures from a Wooden Italian Water Taxi, Lady Rose Antique Steamboat Tour for two, and the below shown Amphicar Tour, a car that drives on land and floats in the water!
You could spend your entire evening walking around the dock checking out their rare ship collection. There are 19 rare and beautiful boats gathered from museums, private collections and boat shows. Here is a sample of what you will find at The Boathouse Disney Springs.



Now it's time to talk food! I am a born and raised Floridian who grew up on the beach. It goes without saying that fresh Seafood has always been a huge part of my life. My family has property in Maine and whenever we visit, I find myself eating nothing but Maine Lobster (specifically Lobster Rolls) the entire time. I also don't fit into my shorts by the team we head back to FL. While I am not a New Englander, I do consider myself a Lobster Roll connoisseur. We did not have reservations for Boat House and it was 6:00 on Fathers Day - but we took a chance and scored seats in the lounge area right at sunset - so I apologize for my photos. The sun was not agreeing with me.
Up first - the above mentioned Maine Lobster Roll. If I closed my eyes, I would have believed we were in Maine. A whole Maine Lobster was diced up in a buttery grilled split top bun. There was just enough Mayo to keep it together without taking over - and no celery! So many restaurants make the mistake of using too much mayo and too much seasoning. This was PERFECT. The Lobster Roll was $30 but well worth the price tag. Gabe's Dad and I both ordered the lobster roll and Gabe and I decided to split it along with a bucket of fried shrimp....
I told you the sun was not cooperating with me. Don't let the photo fool you - this was the best friend shrimp I have had in a very long time. The Fried Baja Shrimp were coated in Panko and fried. They were literally the size of prawns and we devoured them.
Gabe's Mom ordered the Surf Clam Strips. I am not much of a fried clam strip kinda girl - until this day. I have no idea what The Boathouse did to these clam strips, but they changed my "I hate clam strips" to "I want more right now".
There's also a great wine and cocktail list at The Boathouse. We were all very impressed with this restaurant and will be coming back soon. They do not yet take Tables of Wonderland or Annual Passholder discounts but hopefully that will be changing soon. You can now make reservations for The Boathouse on Open Table and find them on Facebook to keep up with current events!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

First Anniversary Cruise Booked - #CruisingCarnival on the Carnival Sunshine

September 27th 2015 seems so far away but it really isn't. In 4 months, my husband and I will be celebrating our one year wedding anniversary. Not that I am counting down or anything. Well maybe I am and here is why.....
We will be spending our one year anniversary on board the Carnival Sunshine. This will be my 11th and his FIRST cruise!



Our 5 day Bahamas Cruise leaves Port Canaveral on our actual anniversary. There is only one day at sea, followed by 3 stops in the Bahamas - Half Moon Cay, Nassau and Freeport. Since I have been to the Bahamas what feels like a billion times (seriously, you should see my passport) and Gabe has never gone, I will have to be sure to plan activities he would like vs. me thinking "been there done that".
We are super excited for all the dining options available on board the Carnival Sunshine. This will be the largest and most modern ship I have set sail on.

Excursions 

Half Moon Cay
Since this will be our first destination on the cruise after a day at sea, I really want us to do something special. From the excursions available at Half Moon Cay, I am leaning towards:
Horse Back Riding on the Beach - $99
Island Adventure, Sightseeing & Snorkel Tour - $59.99
Eco Bike & Hike Tour - $37.99

Nassau
This cruise will mark my 10th visit to Nassau. I sit back and reflect on my favorite experience on the island and the Atlantis Dolphin Swim or the  Paradise Island Dolphin Experience stand out. Yet I am not sure Gabe would want to sit around in a wet suit to hug and kiss on a sea mammal. I do think visiting Paradise Island is a must for any first time visitors to Nassau. Plus my husband is a kid at heart and loves water parks.

Atlantis Aquaventure Full Day with Lunch - $189.99. I am not sure if we want to spend nearly $400 for two people.
Atlantis Aquaventure Half Day - $139.99. This may be the route to go if we decide on the Aquaventure, and get lunch on our own.
OR we could do a Self Guided tour of Atlantis, grab lunch and visit the public beach we went to on my Bachelorette Cruise.

Freeport
On my last two trips to Freeport, my best friend and I went to Grand Lucayan. It's not an official excursion but it's the perfect way to spend a relaxing day at the beach with resort amenities. You can read about our 2015 trip here including instructions on how to get to the property.
OR
My Bahamian House: A Select Retreat - $99. This sounds amazing - chef, bartender and a private house? I may have to skip Grand Lucayan this year and book an excursion.

Dining Options on Board

As I mentioned above, the dining available on Carnival Sunshine is unlike any cruise I have sailed on.  Just to name a few:
Cucina Del Capitano - 3 courses for a $15 fee. Menu here
Bonsai Sushi - For a fee (varies). Menu here
Steakhouse - For a $35 fee. Menu here
Ji Ji Asian Kitchen - For a $15 fee. Menu here

There are so many activities on board the Carnival Sensation. Here are a few things we will be checking out!
Jogging Track - We will be spending plenty of time here as I will be marathon training during the cruise.  
Punchliner Comedy Club - Gabe loves comedy shows
Casino - We both love Roulette 
EA Sports Bar - The EA Sports bar has drinks, snacks, sports and video games. 
Skycourse - A rope course on top of a cruise ship while sailing at sea? Sign me up! 
RedFrog Pub - Key West style with Caribbean Fare.
Waterworks Onboard Waterpark & Twister Waterslide. What can I say, my husband is a kid at heart. 
Havana Bar - Hello Cafe con Leche!!! 
Mixologist Competitions - Little known fun fact: Both Gabe and I are former Bartenders. This will be FUN and competitive! 



Friday, June 26, 2015

Cupcake Lovers Weekend at Hilton Bonnet Creek

As part of my birthday weekend "extravaganza", my husband Gabe and I stayed at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek to take part of their annual Cupcake Lovers Weekend. I have heard many wonderful things about this weekend full of cupcakes but still left wowed (and on a sugar coma). 
We stayed in a Deluxe King room with views of Disney. This marks my 6th stay at Bonnet Creek in the past 6 months. I love the convenience to Disney and Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek is attached to
Waldorf Astoria Orlando so you have multiple accommodation options. Since we had a 6 month long reservation at Le Cellier in Epcot for my Birthday Dinner, we did not get a chance to dine on site this time around. Although we ate enough cupcakes for a small army. 
After an early check-in, we headed down to the pool for an hour before the lightning set in. We watched the cupcake walk, the Ducktona 500 and various other activities that are part of Hilton's Summer Blast.
The Big Reveal is when all of Hilton Bonnet Creek's talented Pastry Chef's come out and present a giant cupcake filled with 2,000 amazingly decorated cupcakes. 
Servers from Harvest Bistro came around with tray after tray of cupcakes. I found myself with 4 at one time, they were all too cute that I couldn't pick just one. A few of my favorites were Cookie Monster, Minions, Mike Wazowski, Ice Cream Sundae, Doughnut and a pig in mud:
Following the big reveal, Gabe and I went to check out all the cakes on display, created by team members at Hilton & Waldorf Bonnet Creek. Guests voted on their favorite design. The cake I voted , Minions created by The Hilton & Waldorf Valet Team ended up winning!
Other fun cakes we saw:
Breakfast cake! Your eyes are not fooling you, this is cake. It was the most intricate of all of the cakes on display.
Candy Land! Loved loved loved this one. 
A giant cupcake and ice cream cones.
One of the many Jurassic World cakes on display.

We finally headed back to our room so we could get ready for the night. We had all intentions on enjoying a cupcake martini at Myth Bar. Within minutes of being in the room, room service stopped by. My friends at Hilton Bonnet Creek gave me a nice birthday surprise - build your own cupcakes, chocolate covered strawberries and champagne. Talk about knowing my favorite things!
Cupcake Lovers Weekend will be on our calendar of events for years to come. This was such a fun time and who could turn down 2,000 cupcakes?

Click here to see the rest of Hilton Bonnet Creeks Summer Blast programs. You can also follow them on FacebookTwitter and Instagram to stay in the loop with upcoming events. 

Sunny side Egg Avocado Toast #ebeggsfit

Things no food lover ever wants to hear: "You are on a soft food diet for 7 days". This my friends was what I heard Wednesday post dental surgery. Here I sit with 20 or so stitches in my mouth trying to find delicious recipes to get me through the week.
On my counter laid an Avocado which needed to be consumed. I then opened my refrigerator and saw a dozen of Eggland's Best eggs. It hit me - Avocado Egg toast! Except toast is not soft, so I got creative. This may be my go to breakfast moving forward. Except next time, with crunchy buttery toast vs. semi-toasted toast.
The easiest, quickest thing you can ever make:
Avocado Egg Toast
1 slice of whole grain bread
1 sunny side up egg
1/2 mashed Avocado
Salt & Pepper to taste

Lightly toast your bread. Top with mashed avocado, followed by the sunny side up egg and season with salt and pepper.

Speaking of egg's and being the first week of summer, did you know Eggland's Best eggs have four times more vitamin D than ordinary eggs? Sunlight is important for our bodies to produce Vitamin D, but sunscreen will also block that absorption while protecting our skin from the sun’s harmful rays. Below is an article from Eggland's Best website that talks about the importance of Vitamin D.
From Eggland's Best:
Choosing the right foods will help us get the vitamins we need each day. Did you know that one Eggland’s Best egg has four times as much Vitamin D as ordinary eggs? Each EB egg contains 120 IU (international units) of Vitamin D, compared to just 28 IU in an ordinary egg.* The National Institutes of Health recommend that children and adults, both male and female, receive 600 IU of Vitamin D daily.* *

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps our bodies absorb calcium. Calcium is important in forming and maintaining strong, healthy bones and may protect older adults from osteoporosis and other bone-related diseases, as well as certain types of cancers. Vitamin D is also known as “The Sunshine Vitamin”, because when the UV rays from the sun hit our skin, this triggers the production of Vitamin D in our bodies.

Our bodies don’t naturally produce Vitamin D, so getting it through all-natural food sources, such as salmon, milk and eggs will help us get the Vitamin D we need throughout the winter months.

Swapping out your ordinary eggs with EBs for your morning omelet with a glass of cold milk, and adding a tasty EB hard-cooked egg as an afternoon snack will put you on the right track to getting your daily dose of Vitamin D.

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

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Inaugural runDisney Paris Half Marathon Info

More information has been released regarding next years inaugural and much anticipated runDisney Paris Half Marathon Weekend. This weekend happens to fall on what will be our two year wedding anniversary weekend and being we honeymooned in Paris, I can't think of a better way to celebrate!
It looks as if they will open travel package registration first - on October 6, 2015 through one of  runDisney Travel Provider Programs. Tour and Travel Partners list will be communicated at time of sales opening. Following the travel package registration, limited individual race registrations are scheduled to start on January 12, 2016* for individual registrations. For more information about the race weekend, visit www.run.disneylandparis.com.
runDisney Paris Schedule of Events

September 24, 2016
Disneyland Paris 5K

September 25, 2016
Inaugural Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

September 23-24, 2016
runDisney Health and Fitness Expo

September 24, 2016
runDisney Kids Races

September 24, 2016
Pasta in the Park Party

From the official press release:

MARNE LA VALLEE, France (June 25, 2015) – The new Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Weekend will be a three-day race weekend that includes a variety of events for runners and fans to experience the theme parks like never before when it debuts in the City of Light on Sept. 23-25, 2016.

The inaugural race weekend in Paris will include fun kids’ races for children of all ages, a 5K course through Disneyland Paris and a scenic half-marathon course through two Disneyland Paris theme parks and the countryside villages that surround the Disney Parks.

In addition to the races, the Paris event, runDisney’s first at a Disney Park outside of the United States, will also offer several family-friendly events, including a pre-race Pasta Party the night before the half marathon where runners can “carb up’’ for the race. There will also be a runDisney Health and Fitness Expo throughout the weekend where runners pick up race packets, shop for the latest running apparel and technology and attend a speaker series involving leading industry experts.

While running through the theme parks and the countryside villages, runners will have the opportunity to meet beloved Disney characters and experience legendary Disney entertainment along the course. And commemorative medals await runners at the finish line.

Race packages go on sale on October 6, 2015.

“We could not be more excited about the upcoming runDisney event,’’ said Tom Wolber, President of Euro Disney S.A.S. “It will make Disneyland Paris the world’s third Disney destination to host this successful sporting series that offers a whole new running experience for the young and young-at-heart.’’

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Why I have been MIA for two weeks - Universal Studios and St Augustine

I started this blog a little over 3 years ago and have never gone more than 5 days without posting, let alone 2 weeks (unless you count a quick sponsored post within that time frame). Since the beginning of 2015, I knew June was going to be the busiest week of my professional and personal life. I don't talk much about my real life job on here but one of the many things I am responsible for is project management of large events. Think corporate event planning with far more attention to detail.

I absolutely love what I do - everyday is a new challenge and adventure. Since 2015 started, I have gone from event to event without a break in between. Months full of planning and execution, weekly conference calls going over every little detail, ending in successful events. The week of June 15th marked my biggest event of the year. It was also the week of my birthday. We hosted a summit for CEO's and VP's from consulting firms across the world. People came in from Japan, China, The Netherlands, Spain, France, Italy and more.
We started the summit off at Universal Studios, staying at Hard Rock Hotel. I was VERY impressed with both Universal Orlando and Hard Rock Orlando's event departments. Both of my coordinators, Tom (Universal) and Austin (Hard Rock) were above and beyond the entire duration of our planning. I really hope I am able to work with them again. The rooms at Hard Rock were a ton of fun. Music quotes and memorabilia everywhere you looked.
I think Dexter may have found his way into my room.
The main reason we selected staying at Hard Rock Hotel was the proximity to Universal Studios entrance. The majority of my group flew in, mostly from overseas. Also, we did a day at the park and you are able to enter Harry Potter an hour before the rest of the park opens. Your room key is an unlimited express pass. We were there on a Tuesday and the only time we spent in line was when we were waiting for an attraction to be reopened. I loved spending time at Universal Studios and seeing both Diagon Alley and Simpsons World come to life. I also received a Harry Potter wand as a birthday gift from Universal :) I cannot wait to go back!!
Following their experience at the park, we did a team building for a few hours then hopped on a bus for St. Augustine. I drove separate and received a phone call that our groups bus broke down on I4 during 5:00 traffic. Talk about event planner nightmare 101. I always have backups for emergencies and always expect the craziest stuff to happen - but never in a million years did I plan on this. Luckily, they sent out a replacement bus and the group made it to the historic Casa Monica Hotel only an hour behind schedule.
We spent the next 2 nights at Casa Monica for the summit. It was non-stop. My birthday also fell during this and I got a proper celebratory minion slide during the mornings presentation, along with being sang to at dinner.
We had dinner at Michael's Tasting Room in St. Augustine. If you ever find yourself in St. Aug, run, don't walk, to Michaels. It was the best meal I have had on the east coast of Florida. When I got back to my room, I found an amazing birthday present from Casa Monica - a St. Augustine themed Moscow Mule kit. How did they know?! I was also very impressed with Casa Monica's event group - both Tessa and Chris made our events perfect and stress free.
We also hosted a ghost pub crawl in St. Augustine following our dinner. I drank too much wine, mixed with exhaustion. Let's just say I didn't feel 100% on Thursday morning. The drive back to Tampa from St. Augustine was a difficult one. I found myself falling asleep multiple times. I guess that is what happens when you work 64 hours in one week.

This Saturday is my last corporate event until September and I am looking forward to getting my life back to normal for a few months. Famous last words.....

Friday, June 19, 2015

Finding the perfect wine for Fathers Day with Vivino App

I often find myself unsure of what to buy my Step-Dad for a gift. My go to item for those hard to buy for people in my life is a nice bottle of wine or their favorite liquor. Hank has been one to receive those items multiple times over the past years. When it comes to buying wine as a gift, I tend to find myself purchasing others what I like to drink vs. their preferences. The Vivino wine app has created a fathers day quiz that will help you find the wine that perfectly matches your Dad just in time for Sunday June 21st.
I had fun with the app, through all the questions about Hank. It asked 9 questions, anything from favorite footwear to signature dance moves.

After doing the quiz on Hank, I wanted to do a quiz on my Dad as well, who passed away in 2003. My Dad was named a hippie - and that he 110% was.
It's funny because a lot of the answers for my Dad and Hank were the same, such as sneakers for the shoes and Austin Powers for the espionage style.
The trademark dance move at weddings made me laugh. I didn't even look at the options once I saw the Double Fist Pump. Here is why:
At the end of the quiz, Vivino selects a wine for your Dad. Hank got selected as an Adventure Dad with the Lodi Old Vine Zinfandel and Kanokop Pinotage. Along with suggested wines, it also gave me wines to avoid. Although I am not sure Hank avoids any wines :)

Be sure to download the Vivino app - it is great for any wine lover. You can follow Vivino online at:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/vivino
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vivino

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Marathon Weekends Return to Hilton Bonnet Creek

2016 will mark my 4th year running at Disney. Since January 2012, I have ran every runDisney event and challenge that is offered in FL (with the exception of the Jingle Jungle 5K) and have stayed all over the city of Orlando for runDisney races, including on Disney property. While Disney property is amazing, it can tend to be pricey at the non-value resorts. When I was introduced to Hilton Bonnet Creek Marathon Weekends earlier this year, I knew this was my new home for runDisney events.
Hilton Bonnet Creek caters to runners. They offer amazing discounts, transportation to the start, complimentary runners breakfast and even cheerleaders - yes cheerleaders, at 3am. The breakfast is every runners dream - bagels with peanut butter, fruit, muffins, protein bars, juice, coffee. All of this is included with the Marathon Weekends package.
With the proximity of Hilton Bonnet Creek to Epcot, it is a no-brainer to stay here. They are just as close as the Disney races, with first class amenities for less than $140 a night.

During Marathon Weekends at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek, you'll receive the following:

  • Complimentary bus transportation to and from Half/Full Marathons
  • Carb-Load Pasta Dinner options
  • Personalized assistance from our Runner’s Concierge
  • Complimentary snacks and beverages before the races!
  • Encouragement & recognition from our Marathon cheerleaders...even at 3 am!
  • A Welcome Runner's Amenity
  • Special rate on accommodations exclusive to marathon runners
  • A 2 pm late check-out time
  • 10% food & beverage savings card to be used during your stay

Rates are currently available for the Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend along with Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. I am quite certain 2016 Princess Half Marathon Weekend will be added to this lineup within the next two weeks.
Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend
November 6-7, 2015
Disney Wine & Dine - Book by August 31 for a rate starting at $149/NIGHT*
Rates after August 31 start at $159/NIGHT*

Complimentary Transportation will be provided to/from the race on Saturday, November 7.

Celebrate the perfect runner's night out! Here's your chance to run a nighttime half marathon in the most magical place on earth, the Walt Disney World® Resort. Your half marathon will take you through three breathtakingly beautiful, night-lit Disney theme parks with Disney entertainment on hand to delight and entertain you on your star-lit run. Then top your evening run off at our exclusive Finish Line Party at the Epcot® International Food & Wine Festival where you'll enjoy mouthwatering food and fabulous wines.
Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend
January 6-10, 2016
Disney Marathon Weekend - Book by July 31 for a rate starting at $139/NIGHT*
Book by October 31 for a rate starting at $159/NIGHT*
Rates after October 31 start at $179/NIGHT*

Complimentary Transportation will be provided to/from the Half & Full Marathon races on Saturday, January 9 and Sunday, January 10.

Imagine an entire weekend of runs where every mile is jam-packed with Disney fun. The Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend presented by Cigna® brings a range of events and races, each pacing through an assortment of exciting locations—including all 4 theme parks. It’s a perfect chance to see a different side of Walt Disney World Resort as you and fellow Guests walk, jog or sprint along. Winners even receive medals of Mickey Mouse and his friends!

RUNNERS GROUPS
If you are part of a running group who is participating in the next Disney race, Hilton Bonnet Creek has special group rates for 10 or more guest rooms per night. Please click here to fill out the form, and you will be contacted promptly to set up your exclusive group rate.