Airboatin’ Through the Everglades

IMAG1281When I first moved to Florida from Chicago, I had a hard time finding activities to do outside of going to the beach. It’s not that there wasn’t anything to do, it was more that it wasn’t right at my fingertips. In Chicago, I was surrounded by architecture, museums, and tours galore. There never was a lack of places to go and things to see, especially when I had visitors.

Moving to Florida, I figured I would spend every weekend sitting by the ocean and reading novels. Well, it only takes one major sunburn to scare a girl away from the beach. After a few months of sitting by the window, peeking out between the blinds, waiting for something to happen, I vowed to explore what Florida has to offer.

This past weekend, I went on my very first Airboat ride through the Everglades. Thanks to Living Social, I found an awesome deal that basically made 4 tickets for the price of 1. My intentions were to use it while my family was visiting back in early March, but due to frigid Florida temps, we opted not to use it then. Since this was the last weekend to use it before it expired, it was now or never.

Danny and I grabbed our friends Jon and Michele and headed out to the Everglades. It was THE PERFECT weather; sunny with a nice breeze and not too humid. We signed in and while waiting for our tour, checked out the wildlife animal exhibit. They had huge turtles, iguanas, snakes, boars, alligators and some other crazy wildlife.

Thank goodness for the fence!

Thank goodness for the fence!

They had a baby alligator that you could hold. After watching tiny children hold the little guy, I worked up the courage to get in line.  The moment that he was passed to me, I felt the fear pass over me, resulting in the very awkward picture below. There also was a snake that you could take a picture with, a la Britney Spears, but for anyone who knows me and my extreme fear of snakes, this would have only resulted in something awful.

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The airboat ride portion was just as exciting. 30 seconds after leaving the dock, we spotted a gator before he ducked under water. Did you know that alligators can hold their breath for 2 hours? AND in cold water, they can hold their breath for up to 8 HOURS! Needless to say, after her went under water, we moved on.

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We glided through the sawgrass and made our way towards a 12 foot alligator. I could not believe how close we were able to get without the gator moving! Our captain said that he was probably just waiting for a “hand out” from our boat, but really? We were like two feet away! It felt like he could board our boat at any minute.

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All in all, the airboat ride was very entertaining.  I would highly recommend it to ANYONE looking to try something new. It would make a great family day/couples date/business outing or whatever you want to make it.

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Weekly Goals April 28- May 4

Last week, my running/workout goals came to a screeching halt, or should I say scratching halt.

Two weeks ago while helping out at an outside wedding, I was unexpectedly assaulted by mosquitoes. I could feel them feasting on my legs but did not see the results until the following day. It started with just one (doesn’t it always?!?!) little itch, but before I knew it, my legs and arms were just burning, begging me to scratch them.  Many sleepless nights were to follow.

By the time Monday rolled around, I was in so much pain that I decided to forego my Body Pump class that I am incredibly dedicated to. I felt really guilty about that and vowed that I would go running Tuesday, no excuses. Two seconds into my run, I wanted to quit. I pushed myself to finish what might have been the post painful 5k ever, but was very proud that I did so. After I stepped off the treadmill to survey the damage, I could see what was behind the discomfort.

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So here we are, a new week, leading into a new month. I’m excited to push myself to new limit and make the most of any spare time I may have.

Sunday- Run 5k (Completed!)
Monday- Body Pump
Tuesday- Run 5k
Wednesday- Rest
Thursday- Run 5k
Friday-Rest
Saturday- Body Pump

New Glass Slipper Challenge Revealed!

It’s no secret that I love runDisney races. Back in February, I completed my first half marathon by running the Disney Princess Half Marathon. Earlier this month, I signed up for ANOTHER half marathon at Walt Disney World’s Marathon Weekend. This race weekend was recently revamped with the addition of the Dumbo 10k and the Dopey Challenge on top of the other FOUR races/challenges that go on during that weekend. How cool, right? I mean, imagine walking around with six medals clanking together!?! You might feel like this guy:

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Just today, it was announced that the 2014 Disney Princess weekend will be getting a little facelift. There now will be a chance to earn TWO MORE shiny, beautiful metals in ONE WEEKEND! Are you as excited as I am?

Added to the lineup are the Enchanted 10K and the Glass Slipper Challenge. For the Glass Slipper Challenge, you sign up for both the Enchanted 10K on Saturday AND the Princess Half Marathon on Sunday. There also will be an additional day added to the Expo (yay! This year was too crazy…). The race weekend for 2014 is February 20-23.

Photo Credit:Run Disney

Photo Credit: runDisney

As if that wasn’t big enough, for those who participate in the Coast-to-Coast Challenge by completing the 2014 Tinker bell Half Marathon and the 2014 Princess Half Marathon will receive an oh-so-girly pink Coast-to-Coast metal.

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With my upcoming nuptials being the focus of my funds, I might have to miss out on this inaugural challenge, but let it be known: Glass Slipper Challenge, I’m coming for you!

Can I count you in?

DIY: Cleaning Stove Drip Pans

This past weekend I had an extreme cleaning session. One of the areas in our house that needed a little extra attention was our prehistoric stove and the drip pans. After removing the burners and inspecting the pans, two things occurred to me.

1.)     I’m not sure that the pans had ever been cleaned beyond the assembly line it came from.

2.)    Our stove has seen its fair share of messy cooks.

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Ewwww!

I was so happy to find this easy tip from The V Spot for cleaning drip pans.

To clean your drip pans, remove them from stove top. Place the pans in ziplock bags. Add a splash of ammonia. Seal and let sit for 24 hours.

THAT IS IT! I was an eager beaver and took out my pans a little sooner than recommended, but I still found great results. I will say that there still is residue on the pans, but they are LEAPS and BOUNDS cleaner. Plus they look so shiny! You actually can tell they are silver….

Check out the before and after:

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Now my stove is looking soooo much better. Check that off the Spring Cleaning checklist! I hope this works for you!

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My Heart Bleeds for Boston

I still am in shock to the bombings that took place yesterday at the Boston Marathon.  My heart goes out to the victims and their families who were affected by the bombings. The person or group behind this heinous act is composed of an evil beyond my scope of imagination.

Thank you so much to the heroes of yesterday. Thank you to all the first responders, volunteers, and bystanders who jumped in and helped where they could. Thank you to the runners who finished the race and went to the hospital to donate blood. I know that I’m not saying anything that hasn’t already been said a million times, but I can only hope that after such a tragic event, our nation will reunite and only be stronger.

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Disney Princess Half Marathon

Growing up, I constantly watched the Disney classics like Beauty and the Beast or The Little Mermaid and always fantasized about being a princess. Fast forward to this year, I finally had my chance; I was running the Disney Princess Half Marathon.  And what was even better? I was doing it with my prince by my side.

The weekend started with the packet pickup. Due to a scheduling conflict with ESPN Wide World of Sports, the packet pickup was to be held at Disney’s Coronado Springs. Guests were to park at Downtown Disney to take a shuttle to Coronado Springs. While it was fun to see another side of Disney, this location was not big enough to hold the number of people coming through. Since we were driving in from Southern Florida, we were not able to make it until 6:00, which in turn made a long wait for the bus. As soon as I picked up my bib and crossed on to the vendor side, there was an announcement that the expo was closing for the day (that was seriously disappointing as I just had spotted the cutest running tank from Raw Threads).

Packet Pickup

After a fun filled Saturday spent at Magic Kingdom, Sunday had finally arrived. The alarm went off at 3:00 a.m., alerting Danny and me that it was time to go. I threw on my awesome running outfit (thanks Mom!) and I was ready to race! The entire weekend I had been checking the weather forecast and which told me it was supposed to rain right around the time of the race. Not that I was going to let that dampen my spirits, but in true princess fashion, I was just worried about my hair! So I decided to wear my hat in case I would need it.

Ready to Go

Ready to Go

 

Once we reached the Epcot parking lot, we had about a twenty minute walk to our corral. I was in Corral A, but since the Disney Princess Half is a woman focused race, the Princesses have the first two corrals all to themselves. This put Danny in Corral C, so I dropped back to be with him (You are allowed to drop back, but not move up a corral). The excitement (and tutus) filled the air. At 5:30, the Fairy Godmother waived her magic wand, and the first corral was off!  Now, Disney knows how to spend off runners in style. With each corral sendoff, there was a beautiful burst of fireworks. We had weaseled our way to the front of Corral C so right about 5:47, my glass slippers hit the ground running.

Photo Credit: Preston Mack, Disney Sports

Photo Credit: Preston Mack, Disney Sports

The first miles flew by. At the 5k marker, I actually turned to Danny and asked if we had really already run three miles. The course was just so fun, there were marching bands and characters galore! Before I knew it, we had reached the Magic Kingdom parking entrance. It was a great trick by the course directors as there were about 2 ½ miles before we actually would reach the castle. My anticipation carried me to the backstage entrance of Magic Kingdom and on to Main Street. The feeling of running through Magic Kingdom was amazing. The crowds were cheering us on with every step. The only downside? It went by way too fast.

Around mile 8, I hit my wall, my legs were starting to feel like jelly but I still had 5 miles to go. I wasn’t going to quit, though. I powered through as the miles kept ticking by. My second challenge hit me with the infamous Disney hills. There is about a two mile stretch of running up and down these hills, a reality check compared to the otherwise flat course. Just as I was about to start my hills run up an exit ramp, my ipod started blasting my “YOU CAN DO IT” song, Anything Can Happen by Ellie Goulding. These hills were going to be a thing of the past.

At mile 12, we had reached the entrance of Epcot. At this point, Danny wanted to start sprinting, but I wasn’t having that. I wanted to save that for the last ½ mile. With one quick lap past Spaceship Earth up to World Showcase Lagoon, and we were well on our way to the finish line. This is where I gained my burst of energy and where Danny felt like he was going to die. We split the difference and ran our way to the finish line, hand in hand.

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Photo Credit: Marathon Foto

We crossed the finish line at 2:09, a very respectable time for our first half marathon. A fairy sprinkled waived her wand of glitter over me and it was official, I was a Princess. I even have the hardware to prove it!

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Without hesitation, I can say that Disney races are such an incredible experience that I would recommend to anyone. I can’t imagine running a race without the on-course entertainment that Disney provides. They are just so much fun! And everyone is so supportive and encouraging, the feeling is contagious.

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Hopefully, we will be running the Disney Half Marathon during the Disney Marathon weekend in January. This time, the costumes are coming back! Danny and I have set a goal of under 2:00 hours (closer to 1:50!) for the next half, so let the training continue!

Running Down a Dream

Is there something that you have always wanted to do, but seem to come up with a million excuses not to? Today is the day to change your way of thinking. Take 5 minutes out of your day and figure out how to get it done. You may be asking, “Where is this coming from?”.  Well, this past weekend, I crossed off one of those “In my dreams” items, I completed a half marathon. And not only did I complete it, I ran the entire thing without stopping in 2 hours and 9 minutes.

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About four years ago, I causally mentioned to someone that it was my goal to complete a half marathon. Their response was less than encouraging. They shot a doubting look my way and said “A half marathon? Are you kidding me? Do you know how far that is?” (No, Mom, this wasn’t you).

Although this was not the response I expected, I understand where they were coming from. Growing up, I was by no means athletic. I have tried just about every sport and was somewhere between horrible and laughable in each and every one. In high school, I accepted the fact that I would never be going to the Olympics and joined the girly girls on the Pom Pon squad. I finally was able to put 15 years of dance class to good use.

I started running during college, when I was too cheap to buy a gym membership. At first, I would run a mile or two. As the years passed, I worked my way to three miles, which I have been comfortably running for about three years. Then this year, Danny and I decided to run the Disney Tower of Terror Ten Miler, so the long distance training began. After completing that race, I was determined to run the additional 3.1 miles and signed up for the Disney Princess Half Marathon.

Now, Back to that naysayer… At the moment that those discouraging words left her mouth, two things happened. First, I was overcome with doubt. Maybe she was right, 13.1 miles is a heck of a long way to run. Maybe I wasn’t strong enough and I would be left as roadkill on the course. But then, my determination kicked those thoughts to the side. I decided then and there that I would do whatever it takes to run that marathon. I was going to prove to myself and to any doubters that I COULD.

I promise I’ll break the race down more in another post, but let’s just say it was amazing. I teared up at three times during the race. During the first mile, I realized that my dream was coming true, I was running a half marathon (and qualified for the fastest corral!). At the fifth mile, the tears were there again when I saw a sign that said “It’s hard to beat someone who never gives up”. It was like someone put that sign there for me! Then, about five minutes after I crossed the finish line and was able to breathe without seeing the light at the end of the tunnel,  I realized how proud I was of myself.

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If there is one thing you take from this post, let it be this: There will always be someone or something that tries to get in the way of your dreams.  It was Walt Disney who said it best when he said “If you can dream it, you can do it”.

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Go Get It.

He Put A Ring On It!

As I mentioned in my last post, I have been extremely busy. While a majority of my time went to the holidays, I also was pre-occupied with something else. On December 16th, my boyfriend and I made plans to go on a beach walk before meeting for brunch on the beach with friends. Little did I know, this event was a master plan of something BIG.

Since we live in Florida, we try and take advantage of the ocean whenever we can. Since it had been a long time since we went to the beach, this morning walk seemed like a great idea to me. That morning, after we parked and started to make our way to the ocean, my boyfriend started to ask me some of my favorite memories with him. I’ve answered this question many times, so I didn’t have to think too hard. After I had listed off a few, he dropped down to one knee and asked me to marry him.

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That’s right, I’m engaged! It took me a good five minutes to calm myself down and stop saying “Oh my goodness, oh my goodness!” and finally gain a grasp on what had just happened. The proposal was so very special and perfect to me in every way.

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From there, little details of the day started to fall into place. The brunch with friends? My boyfriend (now fiancé!) had arranged that with our friends to announce our engagement to friends! He even had our friend, who is a photographer; capture the engagement from behind the bushes. This was revealed to me later in the day once our friend had sent over the pictures.

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Prepare yourself for some wedding themed posts. I am in full wedding-planning mode and have 18 months until the big date. I can’t wait!

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My Marvelous Mantle

Happy 2013! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season.

First off, my apologies for my total lack in dabbling. There has been a whole lot going on in the past month, but I will get to that later. Today, I wanted to share my holiday decorations. Never mind the fact that they are already packed away in boxes, they still need to be highlighted.

My pride and joy of my apartment this year turned out to be my mantle. I wanted something clean and different, yet traditional. Since I opted to wait for those after Christmas sales to buy a Christmas tree (have you seen the prices of those babies?), I made sure to make use of some pretty rad ornaments by hanging them above my mantle. With the help of my boyfriend, we decorated our homemade chalkboard to say “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas”, perfect for Florida. I also spray painted paper mache letters with red spray paint and the Glitter Blast paint to form my “JOY”. It is difficult to see in the picture, but on top of the mantel, we have mason jars with Christmas lights in them, creating a beautiful glow. I topped this all off with a glittery Christmas tree cone. I.loved. this.

PhotoGrid_1357670532659And now, here is the rest of my Christmas décor. You will see that I love Pinterest for my decorating ideas!

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While this post may be a month plus late, I hope you were able to find some inspiration for Christmas next year.

Ultimate Holiday Movie List

As I said before, I have a personal rule that I will not listen to any Christmas music until after Thanksgiving (if I can help it). Well my friends, Thanksgiving has come and gone and I am jamming out to “Sleigh Ride” this very moment. Along with the Christmas music, I will not watch any Christmas movies until after Thanksgiving. My main reason for refraining from watching them is that they are so special to me and I don’t ever want to be sick of them!

Today, I have gathered a list of my top ten favorite Christmas movies. Hopefully your favorite is on the list!

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10. Polar Express: As my boyfriend will tell you, I love anything with Tom Hanks in it. Beyond my irrational love for a 56 year-old man, this booked turned movie always brings a tear to my eye (okay, it leaves me bawling).

 

dr-seusss-how-the-grinch-stole-christmas-mobile-wallpaper9. The Grinch: I am going to put both the animated version and the Jim Carrey version together on this one. The first time I saw the animated movie, I was in high school. After hearing that I had never seen this movie, my friend planned an intervention and sat me down to watch it. I instantly loved it. The animated movie is bursting with Dr. Seuss’s genius and has THE BEST music. While the Jim Carrey version may not be as iconic, it has sentimental value to me as my sister and I quote many lines from this movie (Jury duty, jury duty,                                 blackmail…).  I could not leave it off my list.

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8. Prep and Landing: This is a relatively new kid on my Christmas movie block. It is a short and clever Disney film about the behind-the-scenes team who helps Santa get the job done on Christmas Eve. If you haven’t seen this, I would highly recommend it. Not only will adults and children like this just the same, it also has a phenomenal message behind it.

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7. Muppet’s Christmas Carol: Like many children of the 80s, I adore the Muppets. This movie tells the story of Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol, but with the Muppet spin. It is a little dark at times, but with the Grim Reaper as a character in any movie, that might be hard to avoid.

 

MV5BMTYyODQzNDk1OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwOTM3MTU1MQ@@._V1._SY317_CR5,0,214,317_6. Home Alone 2: Can a sequel really make it if it is the same movie as the first in a new setting? I would say so! When I was younger I could often relate to Kevin when he shoves Buzz in the beginning. Getting in trouble acting on something one of my sisters started was my life story. This movie may not be as amazing as the first, but still holds a special place in my heart.

 

51QMi5zCK1L5. Elf: Will Ferrell might have been my favorite SNL cast member ever. I went into this movie expecting it to be good, but didn’t know I would be laughing the entire time.  As if the hilarity of this movie was not enough, the soundtrack is rockin’.

 

MV5BMTI1OTExNTU4NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMzIwMzQyMQ@@._V1._SY317_CR5,0,214,317_4. Christmas Vacation:  This Christmas classic is special to me as it is uniquely relatable to my family. The scene where the family is walking through two feet of snow to get their Christmas tree? Been there, done that. The scene where Clark under estimate how large the tree is and it consumes his living room? Happened pretty much every year for my family.  This movie makes me feel at home, even when I’m a thousand miles away.

SantaClause1MoviePoster3. The Santa Clause: Even though I spend half of this movie being so mad at how bratty Charlie is, this movie makes my top three. It may be directed more towards children, but I love this movie. It is so fun to see Tim Allen transform into Santa and what the job really entails.

 

 

MOV_192f8ebe_b2. Love Actually: If you haven’t seen this movie before, go rent it now! It has almost every British actor you have ever seen.  I can promise that you might spend the first half hour being confused, but hang in there. It is one of those movies that have 10 different stories going on, but they all tie together at the end in a very special way.

 

images1. Home Alone: What an amazing movie, pure cinematic genius. One of the saddest moments ever caught on film would be when Kevin doesn’t have the chance to eat his macaroni and cheese dinner before kicking some bandit butt. With all the one-liners and creative traps, it would take a lot to knock this movie off of #1 for me.

 

I have yet to watch any of these movies, I better get started!