Wednesday, August 30, 2017

2018 Key West Half Marathon Discount Code

I haven't talked much about running on the blog for a while. There are many factors on this but the main reason being I lost my drive. I needed something new, something fun, something different to bring me back to the running game. Well I found it!


Friends, I have wanted to run this race from the day I ran my first Half Marathon. Timing hasn't worked out until now since I was always on a cruise the weekend of this event. For the first time in 6 years, I am sitting out WDW Marathon Weekend and not going on my annual January girls cruise. Instead, I am headed down to Key West to run this beautiful race.

Want to join me? Use this 2018 Key West Half Marathon Discount Code to save 15% LOVEWINE

Here are five reasons why you should run the 20th running of the Key West Half Marathon

The Course:
The 20th anniversary of the Key West Half Marathon will take you through historic Old Town and the waterfront. I couldn't think of a better place to run a flat 13.1 miles! The race begins at 7 a.m. and will be very scenic. The location of the 2018 Key West Half Marathon is the Key West Historic Seaport at the foot of Margaret Street.

Racecation: 
Key West Half Marathon
I've traveled to a lot of races, even twice internationally (Paris & Ireland). I love finding new locations to visit and scheduling the trip around races. It gives me a lot to look forward to while training. This trip will be a girls trip!! I will be running this race with my best friend Keri and my former roommate Tara and we're turning it into a girls trip. The three of us spent mine and Keri's 30th birthday in Key West and we cannot wait to get back. There are so many things to do in Key West. Stay tuned over the next few months with recommendations

Participant Perks:
2017 Key West Half Marathon Medals
Being this is the 20th Anniversary of the Key West Half Marathon, there will be an big celebration for all runners. A 20th anniversary post party and concert, 20th Anniversary Finisher Medals, free beer, unique fully sublimated gender specific race shirts, race bags, lots of free giveaways, great raffle prizes and winner's awards. In the years past, the medals have been wine corks. You know I am all about that!

Nightlife: 
photo from keywest.com
Key West is home to dozens of bars and restaurants. You can create your own pub crawl or join an organized one. From nightlife to people watching, you are sure to have a great time in Key West. My favorite martini resides in Key West - the Key Lime Martini at White Tarpon. I've tried many and none have compared to this bad boy - be careful, it's sneaky strong!

5K & Padleboard Option!


For those not wanting to run 13.1 miles in Key West, there are options to either do the 5K or padleboard race (or even a combo!). That sounds like a ton of fun to me.

I also must ad, as a lifelong Floridian, Key West was never a destination I would say was easy to travel to - until now. 8 hours in the car, 4 of which are spent on a bridge and tons of traffic is not my idea of an escape! We were very pleased to learn that Silver Airways flies direct from both Tampa and Orlando. For less than $200, we will be to Key West in 45 minutes. So worth it!

Have you ever ran this race before? I would love to hear all about it!

Friday, August 4, 2017

We're Cruising Carnival Conquest - Anniversary Cruise 2017

I cannot believe it has almost been three years since my husband Gabe and I got married in New Orleans. A peek back to that perfect September day.....
To celebrate our anniversary, we are going on a 6 night Caribbean Cruise on the Carnival Conquest! This will be our first time out of Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale!!
A few of the specialty dining options on the Conquest are  Guys Burger Joint, SteakhouseBlue Iguana Cantina and Seafood Shack, home of the best Lobster Roll at sea.
The Carnival Conquest also has my favorite watering hole, The Alchemy Bar. Other bars I'm sure we will frequent are BlueIguana Tequila Bar and RedFrog Rum Bar. I know without a doubt we will be spending most of Sunday at  SkyBox Sports Bar as it will be Football Season (luckily the Tampa Bay Bucs have an away game that week and we won't be missing a home game)!
The 6 night Caribbean Cruise will take us to 3 ports with 2 days at sea. All three ports are new to us and I cannot wait to explore each of the locations. We are still deciding on which excursions we will do but wanted to share our top selections below.

Stop 1: Ocho Rios Jamaica
photo from Margaritaville Caribbean 
I was supposed to visit Ocho Rios on my cruise in January while on board the Carnival Vista. Weather had other plans for us that day and we got an extra day at sea (discounted bingo and drinks). I happened to win a Ship on a Stick that day so all was not lost. However, I was very bummed we missed out on going to a new location. I look forward to finally seeing Jamaica! Here is what we are considering (although we will be enjoying at least one drink at Margaritaville before we get back on the ship):
Adrenaline Tubing and Blue Hole
Horseback Ride and Swim with Dunns Rivers Falls

Stop 2: Amber Cove, Dominican Republic
photo from Carnival.com
We will spend our Wedding Anniversary at Amber Cove, Dominican Republic. There are so many different excursions to choose from and I am at a loss. The adventurist side of me wants to go zip lining over the ocean yet the I'm in dire need of a vacation side of me wants to spend 8 hours in the above pictured beach bungalows. This decision is one that we need to make but for now, the top four are:
Wild Ride, Zip Challenge and Beach
Lifestyle Serenity VIP Resort Getaway
Ocean Cabana
RIU Resort Pass

Stop 3: Grand Turk
photo from Carnival.com

Grand Turk is a place I have wanted to visit for a very long time. However, when it comes to figuring out what we do while visiting has me at a complete loss. Grand Turk is one of the worlds top dive destinations. I am unable to dive but love to snorkel. The waters are pristine - mix that with Coral Reef, snorkeling is a top choice of activities.
photo from Jack's Shack

Whatever we do, we will not leave the island until we visit Jack's Shack, a popular bar with an famous Dog named Topher
Reef and Rays Beach Getaway
Catamaran Sailaway, Beach and Snorkel
Rays, Conch and Reef Snorkel
Stand Up Paddleboarding, Snorkel and Beach
Gibbs Cay, Stingray Encounter and Beach

Our cruise fare is being covered by Carnival, however all thoughts, posts, and opinions are my own.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Looking Back - Homeowners for a year

Over the weekend, my timehop alerted me that I didn't want to miss a certain memory. When I opened it up, I saw that we closed on our house a year ago Saturday. How on earth has a year passed already? I sit back and think of the emotional roller coaster we went through during the closing process and look at the progress we've made to date (and everything we have left to do).
The biggest adjustment has been the location change. We lived in Ybor City for 5 years and loved being able to walk everywhere while enjoying the culture of  historic Tampa. We were 10 minutes from the airport, Bayshore Blvd and South Tampa. I loved the foodie scene and exploring new restaurants. We now live in New Tampa, which is complete opposite of where we were. 100% Suburbia. At first, I hated it and regretted buying this house. For a few months, I wished everyday that we purchased in Seminole Heights instead. However, as every month goes by, I become more adjusted to this new lifestyle. Then my friend Heather and her family moved in the neighborhood. We absolutely take advantage of the resort pool!!

I wanted to look back and share what we've accomplished over the past year!

Kitchen
When we bought the house, aside from flooring, we knew our first project would be updating the kitchen. Our house was built in 2006 and had the same oak cabinets and white appliances as every other house in the neighborhood. I hated them. Luckily our kitchen had black granite in it already. Although not a color I would personally pick, we decided to go with a grey theme.
We purchased our appliances before moving into the house so there was no backing out of this one. We decided to keep our cabinets since they were solid oak. We bought Rust-Oleum Cabinet Transformation (light kit) and painted them "Winter Fog" which is a light grey. Read here about how we repainted the kitchen cabinets! We have two things left to do in the kitchen, one will happen rather quickly and the other will be on hold for a while. Our next project is the backsplash! We've decided on subway tile and this will happen over the next month. Farther down the line is replacing the tile in the kitchen. 
The kitchen before we updated it!
Kitchen progress to date:
  • Updated appliances
  • Painted the kitchen cabinets grey
  • Replaced sink 
  • Installed light fixture
  • Removed awkward wall between living room and dining nook (which you can see in the original living room photo below)
Floors
Before moving in we updated our flooring on the bottom floor. From the day this house was built, it was a rental until the day we became it's owner. It had really cheap carpet that was in horrid condition. I'm not a neat freak but germs freak me out and just thinking that 10 years of rentals had that carpet made my spine crawl.
Our bedroom was the first to get the flooring and we didn't move in until both the living room and bedroom were complete. My husband and father in law did the flooring and over time (as in last month), they completed the upstairs. This transformation was necessary and made such a difference.
Living Room before we updated it
I will tell anyone going through this process that selecting the floor is the biggest headache. We had over 50 samples at one given time and it made my head hurt. We eventually settled on our flooring, sight unseen from an online store called Floors to your Home. It was the best thing we did. We didn't pay shipping, sales tax and it came with the underlay. Out the door, our flooring was less than $1500. 

Stairs
Stairs before and after
This was my favorite transformation of all. We actually purchased enough wood for the stairs without doing research on it. Well it turns out it wasn't that easy. After visiting Lowes and Home Depot what feels like 20 times, we ended up purchasing unfinished Oak Treads from Lumber Liquidators and stained them to match our other flooring. It took 2 weekends to complete and we had a few hiccups along the way. However, the finished product was worth all the stress and frustration. 

Loft
After we finally installed the wood upstairs, we decided to do a brick wall. From the beginning, we agreed to do a brick wall up there and turn it into a library/cafe/bar sitting area. We looked at doing brick veneer which goes on your wall like tile. When we visited Sanibel Island in May, we dined at a place that had the best Lobster Rolls in FL. When I inquired about the walls, the owner told us about brick paneling, which we had no idea existed. 
A trip to Lowes and $120 later, we had our brick wall. It only took a day to install (using a nail gun). We still need to decide on furniture and light fixtures.

Kitchen Table

Our old table did not fit in the breakfast nook. As each day went on, I hated that table more and more. It's been in my life for 12 years and it was time to go. My in-laws purchased me a solid oak antique lion claw table for my birthday. We found it on one of the swap sites for $40! It was in great condition and we re-purposed the leftover Rust-Oleum Cabinet Transformation paint and the stain we used on the stairs. This project cost less than $50!! We purchased the tufted chairs and the checkered rug from Overstock.com and my Mom purchased my beloved MacKenzie Childs plates for my birthday. We are going to stain the legs of the chairs but want the Kitten to get through his clawing stage first. 

Home Gym
Two of our guest rooms were painted purple and pink. Using the leftover grey paint from our bedroom, we got rid of the pink room and turned it into an home gym. We have an elliptical, rower, stationary bike, bench and weights. The only thing I wished we had in there was a treadmill. One day! We still need to replace the carpet in the three upstairs bedrooms. Sadly we cannot use the same flooring as the rest of the house. That's the one downfall about buying flooring on sale. It has since been closed out.
A few things I learned over the past year of home renovations.

Patience is key. Although things should only take a day or two, expect for the unexpected and prepare yourself to wait weeks, sometimes a month for a small project. It happened to us across the board on everything we did.

Things take time. I laugh at myself over this one. When we bought the house I told everyone, we will remodel both bathrooms before the end of the year. HA. We haven't even touched those.

Shop around. While this sounds like a no-brainer, it astounds me how many people that I know didn't do this. The luxury of the internet is that it is possible to find the best deals. We saved so much on our flooring that we were able to invest instantly in other projects. We bought our appliances on a holiday weekend, which saved us more than we spent.