Saturday, January 31, 2015

Epcot, Then & Now

When I was little, before even Sissy was born, my awesome parents took me to Disney World to meet up with some friends.  I found photos from the visit in my computer files.

So when we decided that Epcot would be the park we visit while at Disney for the marathon, we decided we had to pose for another photo, just the three of us!

We rode Soarin', walked through the entire World Showcase, and ate lunch at Chefs de France.  My Mom made me speak in French to the waiter (which embarrassed me at first) but in the end turned out to be a really pleasant chat!  Thanks to our server Etienne for a great meal (I had the Croque Monsieur) and testing my language skills.

It was really kind of fun to go to Disney World with my parents as an adult, because I know I'll remember it even better than I did as a kid.  They've taken me to Disney World and Disneyland more times than I can honestly remember.  I'm a pretty lucky "kid" if you hadn't guessed.

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Friday, January 30, 2015

Friday Favorites, v.10

Hellooooooooooooooooo, and happy Friday!  I'm back with some of my favorite things on this internet this week.

This book has help me sooooo much.  It gave me an epiphany that I apply to everyday everything.  Seriously.  Read it.  Learn about Givers, Takers, and Matchers.  (I read it because my boss told me I was a Giver, and that I needed to read this and learn how to translate that to greater success.)

I need to make this creamy cauliflower sauce, because my friend made it for her family and let them believe it was alfredo, and THEY BELIEVED HER

My friend Anna's hilarious post on getting back into the dating game, and how men suck at internet/social media dating, or rather are grossly inappropriate and not normal.

+  The 15 Best Portlandia Sketches, according to Rolling Stone.  I mean, just put a bird on it!
+  Really random facts about each state.  Some are better than others.
+  This editorial called "Why I'm Done Being A "Nice Girl"" is inspiring to me.  People often mistake kindness for weakness, and I think we need to be better about not getting the two confused!  Or rather, I need to prevent people from treating me like a doormat because I'm a Giver.
+  Flashback Friday:  In January 2013, I went to my first NHL game, here in Nashville!
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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Budgeting Bloggers: January 2015

Maybe it was my December haul of Christmas presents, or maybe it was my attempt to be more frugal in the new year, but I did not spend a ton or get a lot of pieces this month.  I bought two sweaters on sale, received two skirts I ordered via Etsy last year, and got a dress as a belated gift.   I also had quite a good month in sales on Poshmark.  This month was a light one for shopping!

  1. H&R London Fall for Me Dress (gift):  Christmas gift from Dan's brother, which came after last month's blogger wrap-up.
  2. Limited Gem Embellished Fair Isle Sweater in Grey (originally $70, paid $28):  My office is always cold, and I love fair isle sweaters... so this was a perfect match that is office-appropriate and very cute.
  3. Limited Intarsia Bow Sweater in Black (originally $60, paid $24):  This sweater was too cute to resist!  I think it will be great with jeans and pencil skirts.
(not pictured)
  • Custom Etsy Circle Skirt in Black (paid $44):  Cost includes shipping.  My custom skirts were once again made by Jade, an Etsy seller!  I had an A-line black skirt from Heart of Haute, but it wasn't giving me the fullness of a circle skirt.  Had to get this basic one on the books.
  • Custom Etsy Circle Skirt in Macaron Print (paid $54):  I wanted a circle skirt in a fun print because all of mine are solids... and macarons are one of my favorite things!  I also like that the variety in macaron color meant I could mix up what tops/sweaters/etc. I choose to wear with it.
$150 spent - $80 sold = $70 total
$78 savings

I'm glad I discovered H&R London; I do like their retro-inspired dresses.  Also, while hosting my first-ever Poshmark Party on the 1st, I added a bunch more items to my listings!  Feel free to shop my closet over there for some great deals on pre-loved items.

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Friday, January 23, 2015

Friday Favorites, v.9

Today's Friday Favorites are short and sweet, because I'm packing to fly out to New York for my goddaughter's christening!  Enjoy my internet favorites this week.

This is one of my all-time favorite internet videos.  Oh my ovaries!

These wooden bark chargers are rustic and really pretty!  I'd love to put some plates on those.

Nikon I Am Generation Image: Kordale & Kaleb:  I remember when the image of this couple doing their daughters' hair went viral.  I love this example of a true "modern family" as living example of how love is love is love.

I think my time living near Savannah really influenced my home style towards cottage-y type stuff.  I'm really love this coffee table as a replacement for the very modern one we have.

The rescue where we got Bear & Bourbon posted this photo of soon-to-be adoptable kitties...  Can you believe no one wanted these babies?  (They quickly found a home together, obviously because SQUEE.)  Check out the link for more kitties who need homes!

This looks like a humble brag, but I really love the custom medal display I bought on Etsy from Running on the Wall.  The quote is from an Into the Woods song, which I felt was appropriate given my goal of finishing a marathon certainly did not come free.  I left room in case I decided to do any more half marathons or something.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Wizarding World of Harry Potter

I'm a big Harry Potter fan; I actually visited the Wizarding World of Harry Potter's Hogsmeade the same month it opened!  Once I knew I would be returning to Orlando for the Disney marathon, I had to return to check out Diagon Alley, which opened last summer.  I had about 5 hours to kill before my parents would arrive, so I headed to the parks straight from the airport.

The first thing I will mention is that it isn't cheap to visit the Wizarding World.  Parking is $17, and to visit both parks (Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley are split) with the park-to-park ticket is $136 for an adult, for a day.  You really get the most bang for your buck at Universal in planning ahead and spending multiple days at the park.  That said, because I knew I wanted to focus on the Harry Potter pieces, I knew it was worth the investment to be able to linger and wander.
As you approach the entrance to Diagon Alley, you get to walk by 12 Grimmauld Place and the Knight Bus.  Tons of people stop to take photos.  It's fantastic just how much attention to detail they put into everything!  It's like a movie set.

The entrance into Diagon Alley is fantastic.  It's tight, so the crowds can get crazy, but it's tight for a reason... you really feel like you walked into the real deal.  You can see Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes and Gringotts Bank, complete with dragon!

There are stores and things to wander through, including a creepy and excellently executed Knockturn Alley!  There were so many Harry Potter fans decked out and dressed up to be there, including some adult couples in school robes that looked adorable.

My favorite part of Diagon Alley was the Escape from Gringotts ride.  I get motion sick pretty easily, but this ride didn't bug me at all!   My only complaint it that it was too short... it was really fun.  I will mention that I didn't get to see the full inside of Gringotts because I chose to do the Single Rider line... you have a much shorter wait, but you don't get to see all the rooms and whatnot as you linger in the queue for an hour.

After enjoying Diagon Alley, I took the Hogwarts Express to and from Hogsmeade.   The video on the train ride is a different experience each way, so I recommend taking advantage and going both ways!  There is often a wait for the train, just like any other ride.

I enjoyed my return to Hogsmeade.  I had lunch at the Three Broomsticks and a warm butterbeer to boot.  It was a chilly day!  I also got to ride the Forbidden Journey again.  I recommend first-timers not to use the Single Rider line, because you miss Dumbledore's office and more.  I was fine skipping it since I'd been before.  I also noticed so many spots in both parks where you could start, wave your wand, and make something "magical" happen.  Again, the attention to detail is phenomenal!  I bought a cute little storage jar at Honeydukes as a souvenir, using my "Muggle currency" for the purchase.  (The employees are all in character!)

If you're a self-admitted Harry Potter fan like me (or a closet fan) you HAVE to visit this place.  There are only two places I feel I would have a more awesome movie magic experience: the Harry Potter studio tour in London, and Hobbiton in New Zealand.  And this is much more affordable, and loads of fun even while you're waiting in lines.

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P.S.  Dan is a huge Simpsons fan, so I had to get him some Duff beer gear on my walk to Diagon Alley!  There's a whole Simpsons area in Universal that he would have loved seeing.

Monday, January 19, 2015

HAPPY (belated) NEW YEAR!

Our Christmas cards quickly became tardy New Year's cards... but here's what they look like, now that I've mailed them out.  For the third year in a row, we used Minted to create our cards.

Happy New Year!

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Saturday, January 17, 2015

Walt Disney World Marathon

Perhaps I should call this, "How I survived my first marathon in spite of myself" or something like that. You see, last spring I registered for the Walt Disney World Marathon, because I'd gotten this wild hair at some point that told me I needed to run a full marathon before I turned 30... and this race would take place just a couple of months before my self-imposed deadline.  WOOF.  Thankfully, my parents jumped on board right away and committed to going with me.  Here's how it all went down.

At the Race Expo, and a photo of my race bib!

  • Training:  I didn't train like I should have.  I'd planned to follow the Disney Marathon "finish upright" training plan, and I completed three half marathons during my training months.  But I never built up to a distance beyond 13.1 miles, truthfully because ain't nobody (okay, ain't many people) got the time/motivation to run 3-5 hours straight on a weekend.  Yikes.  I effed up training.  And it made me a nervous wreck going into the holidays and Disney.
  • Diet:  I let myself off the hook diet-wise the week leading up to the marathon, taking the online reco to carb-load and reduce fiber and protein.  I really think this helped a lot.  Seriously.  I didn't eat like a 3rd grader, but I did eat a good deal of pasta and baked potatoes.  I also focused on hydration, reasonable.  It helped me stay fueled during the race.
  • Gear:  I am used to running with a Fitletic Ultimate II running belt, with whatever hydration and sunglass pouches attached that I choose.  I need something to keep my phone and inhaler, and this fits the bill.  For the marathon, I stocked my belt with Clif/Gu to eat about every hour (I only eat vanilla, Gu has caffeine but Clif tastes better to me), one hydration pouch, a pouch for sunglasses/chafing gel/chapstick, and my phone/headphones.  I wore my Garmin Forerunner 10 to keep pace, and the battery actually lasted up until my final mile.  I also wore Swiftwick Aspire Twelve compression socks.  All of this gear I was used to wearing during my long runs and half marathons, so I knew that I would be fine with them.  I chose to wear a Sweatyband I bought at the Expo in my hair for the race, similar to ones I wore before too.
  • PANIC:  The number one best thing I did was digest this 6 1/2 Hour Marathon Survivor Race Strategy.  Because I was using a run/walk strategy to prevent injury (again, because I effed up training) I knew this would work for me.  I even made a little piece of paper with the times to hit and "laminated" it between some clear tape.  This little guideline became my security blanket, which I felt I needed to avoid being swept off the course for not meeting cutoff times.

Course Map, through all four parks at WDW!

I woke up at 3 am (blergh!) in order to get to the gear check and starting corrals on time.  There were literally 20,000 people running, so they had start corrals A through P.  Since the race started at 5:30, they wanted you in corrals by 5 am.  I wore a garbage bag over my clothes to stay warm, and many people wore "throw away" clothes that they tossed off at the start; Disney donates these to Goodwill or something.  There were portapotties, many with super long lines.   I was in Corral M, so I actually didn't start until almost an hour after the first runners!  They move you up like cattle as each group begins.

These are some Start photos Disney gave me when I purchased my marathon pictures. :)

MILES 0-5:
By the time we started (every corral got fireworks!), I had to pee within the first couple of miles; I felt funny joining portapotty lines so early on, but I am glad I did it.  I kept to a 14-minute per mile pace (4 minutes running, 1 minute walking) consistently to start, knowing I'd need my energy later.  I felt like I had to hold myself back in those first miles, because the energy is so high.  Every mile marker has a display with different Disney character images, which is cool.  There are also bands, cheerleaders, and ALL THE DISNEY CHARACTERS along the way.  For real, people queue up to take photos with characters.  I was too nervous to wait in lines, but I did run by the characters to sneak a peek when I saw them.  So cool!

MILES 6-11:
This was probably my favorite part of the race.  Much like in the Disney Princess Marathon, we run up Main Street in the Magic Kingdom, then through Tomorrowland and through the back of the castle.  It's super magical! You don't even realize you're running!  I knew that my parents were waiting for me in the Magic Kingdom, and I searched the crowd for Dad's bright orange hat.  I was honestly so happy and emotional to see them; Mom gave me a clementine and I left on my way.  I was bummed it wasn't still dark (they'd done up the castle in a Frozen lighting scheme at night) but I did get to see Elsa and Anna as I entered the castle!

I saw my parents once more coming out of the castle and heading to the Speedway.  We actually got to run around the race track, and there were race cars and the Florida Corvette Club displaying cars.  Then we had to hit a long road with not much going on for a while.

MILES 12-17:
As we got closer to Animal Kingdom, there were actually some animals there to see us, plus cast members.  I have to say, it's awesome how many cast members come out to cheer on the race.  Your race number has your name on it, so people call to you by name.  The water and fuel point volunteers were amazing too!  By the time we got to Animal Kingdom, the park was open, so a lot of runners detour to ride the Expedition Everest roller coaster.  I get motion sick, so I didn't go, but it was fun to see people do that.  At some point we ran by a stinky water treatment facility (I think before reaching AK) and that was my least favorite part.  It also started a lightly rain around mile 17 for me, but it wasn't too bad as it had warmed up a little.

MILES 18-22:
These miles were the most boring.  Once we left Animal Kingdom, we headed for Wide World of Sports (where the Expo had been) and had to weave in and out of a track, soccer/baseball fields, etc.  We even ran around inside a baseball stadium.  The plus side to this chunk of the race is based on my strategy, I slowed down just slightly for each mile, and at mile 20 I switched to survival mode.  The best part of WWoS was that my Mom was there waiting for me!  She had orange juice and more clementines for me to eat.  I also grabbed an acetaminophen from a medical tent during this time.  I remember that this is where it all started to hurt.  The bottom of my feet hurt the most, from pounding pavement.  An experienced marathoner later told me she thinks Florida/Disney puts a lot of shells in their pavement or something that makes it feel even harder.  Well, I felt it.  Tons of people around me were walking a lot at this point, but I knew I was safely ahead of the sweepers by almost an hour.

MILES 23-26.2:
This is where we went through Hollywood Studios (the hat was still there, though fenced off for removal) to the Boardwalk resort to Epcot for the finish.  Hollywood Studios is where I burst into tears.  I just felt so emotional, and even though I had such a relatively little distance to go, I was just so distraught for some reason.  A gal from Texas named Misty (wearing a Team RWB shirt like me) stopped to pat me on the shoulder and tell me I was going to be just fine and finish strong.  Tons of other Team RWB people came up to me during and after the race, so I was happy I'd worn the Eagle shirt (instead of my original plan to wear a costume) for the extra encouragement!

With a few Team RWB shoutouts in that last chunk, I braced myself and could see the Eiffel Tower in the World Showcase in the distance.  Once I got into the showcase, I powered through as much as possible.  They had all kinds of princesses (Jasmine, Mulan, etc.) out but I just wanted to be done.  I pushed until we ran past Spaceship Earth and towards the finish.  Some people stopped for beer in Germany and margaritas in Mexico, which they ran with to the end!

I heard (and saw) my parents cheering, and I knew I was almost done.  As I ran across the finish line, I raised my arms up because everyone else was doing it.  I did it!  I finished in 6 hours, 6 minutes, right where I'd planned to be.  I'm not as fast as I once was as a college runner, but I was incredibly proud and felt so accomplished when I earned that Mickey Mouse medal.

I don't know that I'll ever do a full marathon again.  It was a significant emotional event.  It hurt for days afterward.  It takes a lot of freaking time.  It makes me almost start to cry thinking about how it made me feel, good and bad.  But I sure picked the right one to do...  the Walt Disney World Marathon says that "every mile is magic", and I think they're right.  You're never alone, you're taken care of, and you feel like thousands of people want you to succeed.  It was definitely a magical day, one I won't soon forget.

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Friday, January 16, 2015

Friday Favorites, v.8

Okay y'all, I KNOW I owe some posts on my trip to Orlando (including Harry Potter, EPCOT, and the marathon!) but I'm catching up on work and homework this week.  So instead, here are my latest Friday Favorites on the internet this week.

Wait a minute, you know these people (and cats), right?  This is the portrait that Michelle of Creature Type did for us, and here is the post she did about it.

I love the "This Girl Can" campaign, because I'm a curvy girl who just did a freaking marathon, baby!  It was born out of research that showed the women do less fitness activity than men in the UK, and that one of the primary reasons they didn't was fear of being judged, including for how they looked.  Guess what?  You can do it, no matter your shape/size.

This library in France is too cool for school...

Three of the ladies of Downton Abbey play Cards Against Humanity.  YES.

I want this dining room set.

Kittens, moving their little heads to the tune of "Turn Down For What"

+  You can now ship your enemies glitter.  This is genius and evil and awesome at the same time!

+  Cute story about how a flower girl and ring bearer ended up getting married later on down the road.

+  Want to cry?  Watch this Navy sailor surprise his 7-year-old daughter with his return home.  Seriously, not safe for work because mascara.

+  Amy Poehler and Tina Fey's joke about George Clooney at the Golden Globes KILLED, calling out his wife's incredible resume and the fact that *he* was the one getting a lifetime achievement award that night.  I love irony!

+  Millennials don't care much about owning cars, and old people at car companies are scratching their heads about it.  Um, Uber much?

+  Flashback:  My very first half marathon, at Disney, the Princess Half!

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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

My Latest GoodReads

I used to post the books I've been reading about every 6 months, but I've forgotten to do a post on this since February!  Oops...  So keep in mind that this is about 10 months worth of reading for me.  Because there are so many, I'm not going to give a summary of them all, but if you have any questions please ask me! :)  I've put a * next to the ones I recommend you check out.

*Changing Course by Aly Martinez  (Okay, note here: I actually know Aly, and if you like romance novels you NEED to check out her books!)
The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom
The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. by Adelle Waldman
Living Reed: A Novel of Korea by Pearl S. Buck
The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass, by Philip Pullman
*Of Metal and Wishes by Sarah Fine
Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos
The One (The Selection, #3) by Keira Cass

Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup
*L.A. Son by Roy Choi
*Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls
*A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn
*Yes Please by Amy Poehler

Sparkle: The Girl's Guide to Living a Deliciously Dazzling, Wildly Effervescent, Kick-Ass Life by Cara Alwill Leyba
Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community by Robert D. Putnam
*Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
Love is the Killer App by Tim Sanders
Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure by Tim Harford

Have you read any of these books?  Got any I should read?

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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

My Life in GIFs (and pics): The Proposal

When you get engaged, everyone wants to know the proposal story.  The first problem with this, in my opinion, is that a proposal is a very intimate moment.  It's not all flash mobs and Jumbotrons, some of them are simple and quiet and, well, private.  Some of them don't make for great stories.  But at the end of the day, I believe they're all special.

That said, mine makes me giggle.  Not because it wasn't beautiful and special, but because it was absolutely, perfectly reminiscent of the kind of people we are... So here it is, not in sappy lovebird style, but in GIFs.

It starts with champagne.  We'd been apart for the holidays, so we decided to stay home on New Year's Eve and just be comfortable with the kitties.  So I splurged on a bottle of champagne, with every intent to get tipsy.

Y'all, I was in sweatpants.  Because that's just the kind of people we are.

Dan was in charge of bringing food home, and he went out to grab some Five Guys burgers... and he even managed a pit stop at Cheesecake Factory for my fav Dulce de Leche cheesecake.  I mean, it was the last day before New Year's resolutions, so we figured TREAT YO' SELF.  Settling into my slippers and New Year's headband, we watched TV and enjoyed a bit of gluttony.  And I was tipping back the champs, natch.

We spent time reflecting on 2014, what with it being the end of year, and it was truly nice to just enjoy celebrating all we'd accomplished and how great our time together has continued to be.  We even talked about the "someday" future stuff, in a sweet way.  And Dan, who normally isn't super talkative, was really opening up.  I was so happy, feeling like it was such a perfect way to spend New Year's.  Perfect!

Then as we continued to talk, Dan reached into his pocket and pulled out the ring box, which I recognized because (spoiler alert) I was involved in the ring design.  But I had no idea he was going to propose that night.  So I was very much like...

Because that's exactly how it was.  He's the Ben to my Leslie, the Jim to my Pam, the Nick Offerman to my Megan Mullally, the WALL-E to my EVE.  It's just the way of the world, you guys.  Oh, and of course I was all like...

KIDDING.  I was more like...

I was so excited, I shared the news with my parents and sister that very night.  In the morning, I shared via text with a number of friends and family, then posted it a little bit later on Facebook and let the rest of the world know.

As it turns out, the reason Dan did not wait until midnight to propose, as he had planned, was because I was consuming champagne at such a rate that he was worried I'd end up like this before he could ask:

And he's pretty much right.  I WOULDN'T CHANGE A SINGLE THING.  He nailed it, we're super happy, and I'll probably omit the part about my champagne consumption from the story when most people ask.  But because we're friends, you got it in GIFs.

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