Friday, February 20, 2015

Friday Love

{ONE}

Snowcation. So here is what my week looked like: Monday: President's Day holiday, Tuesday: Snow Day, Wednesday: Snow Day, Thursday: Two Hour Delay/School, Friday: Too Cold for School Day. I worked like seven hours this week. Thank you February.

{TWO}

Every Kid in a Park. While watching the news last night I heard about this 'Every Kid in a Park' thing. I think it's great. Apparently every 4th grader and their family gets free admission to all national parks. So awesome. I would start with Rocky Mountain National Park, 4th graders.

{THREE}




THON. It's Dance Marathon Weekend at PSU!!! This weekend is hands down the BEST thing that goes on in Happy Valley, and you know how many good things I think happen there. Tune into the live feed sometime this weekend {HERE}. Can't wait to see this year's total! Also, I just came to the realization I danced 10 YEARS AGO! TEN YEARS!!!

{FOUR}

Friends on Netflix. I have been reliving the 90's recently while watching the first season of Friends on Netflix. It's been fun reminiscing with Rachel's haircut and all the fashion trends of the time. Watch a few...it will take you back :)

{FIVE}

Dole Whip. It's like a pineapple float. I had my first on last month in Florida. Incase you didn't see the recipe I posted last night, make sure you take a look. So delicious and so simple.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Recipe of the Week!

Dole Whip
You might remember in one of my Disney posts that I vowed to make a homemade Dole Whip. Well friends, I did. And it was just delicious. I wouldn't say it tastes identical to the real thing, but it was just as good! I will definitely use this recipe again. You could even make it a lot easier by just kind of making a pineapple float...vanilla ice cream with pineapple juice. That would still be delicious! Take the time to make this recipe and you won't be disappointed. Or just take a trip to Florida, that would be better :)

I made this for just two of us, but you could easily double it, or triple it, if you want!

Ingredients: 
8 oz. frozen pineapple chunks
2 cups vanilla ice cream
12 oz. pineapple juice

Directions: 
Thaw frozen pineapple about half way. Puree frozen pineapple in a blender. Add the ice cream to the pineapple puree along with about half of the pineapple juice. Blend together until it is well mixed. Freeze the mixture for about 2 hours to harden. Scoop into glasses or bowls and pour the remaining pineapple juice over each serving.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Friday Love

It's been some time since I posted on a Friday. January was just so busy. And I haven't done a good job getting back on track in February. I'm hoping to get back on track with this post. I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend. Stay warm, valentines <3

{ONE}

Better Call Saul. Breaking Bad's prequel/spin off premiered this week. I was skeptical, but I think this has potential. I am really looking forward the the rest of season one to see how things progress. After binging on Breaking Bad on Netflix this summer, it's so hard to only watch one episode at a time. Not to mention the commercial breaks.

{TWO}

Brian Williams. Ok, so I really like Brian Williams. He is part of my evening routine. I start prepping dinner and listen to BW. Now don't get mad...I just think NBC might be overreacting a little bit. I really wish he could come back, or that he does eventually come back.

{THREE}

President's Day Long Weekend! I have Monday off! I have no real plans, but I'm happy to have a little break. We have had almost NO SNOW this entire winter, a major contrast to last year's 13 days off. Everyone is tired.

{FOUR}

My Valentine. Matthew T. Keough <3


{FIVE}


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Recipe of the Week!

Chicken Tikka Masala
I have very little confidence when it comes to making Asian cuisine. I just feel like it's so complicated. Really, I've never tried that hard. I came across this recipe and it looked so easy I was excited to try it. I'm so glad I did because it's so simple and it's so good. You can also cut out some steps to make things easier on yourself. This recipe also makes a lot, so we have a ton of leftovers, or you can make it for a bunch of people. Also...I have tried this with chickpeas instead of chicken and it's good, but not as good. It is a good vegetarian option.  Really, you must try this if you like Indian food!

Ingredients: 
1 to 1 1/2 pounds chicken breasts cut into bite size pieces
1/2 cup plain, Greek yogurt (optional)
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-inch piece whole ginger, peeled and grated
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons garam masala
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 cup heavy cream
Fresh cilantro, chopped
Cooked rice

Directions: 
Marinate the chicken in the 1/2 cup yogurt for a few hours (this step is optional, I have made it both with and without this step and each turned out fine). Transfer the chicken to your crock pot. If you have the time: Sauté the onions and garlic in a little olive oil over medium-high heat in a skillet until softened, then stir in the ginger, tomato paste, and spices until fragrant. Transfer to the slow cooker with the chicken and diced tomatoes. If you dont have time, you can just evenly cover the chicken with the onions, garlic, tomato paste, and spices. Next, stir in the crushed tomatoes.

Cover the crock pot and cook for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low. Fifteen minutes before the end of cooking, stir in the heavy cream. Taste and add more garam masala or salt to taste.

Serve over rice with fresh cilantro sprinkled over the top of each serving.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Walt Disney World, Part Two

I have written about the first half of my Disney trip {HERE} and you can also read about my 10k and Half Marathon on the blog as well. Today I am going to finish up with my time in Florida.

Spectating outside Animal Kingdom
Sunday was marathon day! My races were over and we were going out to watch people run a marathon. I was also excited to sleep in a few extra hours! We made a plan to go to mile 14ish right outside Animal Kingdom in time to see our friends. It was so fun to watch all the people go by and see their costumes, or just see what they looked like. It was kind of tiring just thinking about running a marathon and standing there watching it. Maybe someday. After all our friends passed, we took a bus to Hollywood Studios so that we could see them again at mile 23. 

Bryan & Sam at mile 14 looking happy! 
Brian at mile 14
After a very long and annoying bus ride to Hollywood Studios, we found Kathy's husband, Mike, who had finished his marathon very quickly! We were hanging out at our post for awhile, watching people go by, and guess who we saw?!!? PETER PAN and HIS SHADOW! And yes, the shadow was behind him! Still my favorite costume! After Peter Pan we got to see our friends again! All of whom were still looking great! We stayed until we saw the balloon ladies at the end of the pack. We then followed the end of the marathon back to the Boardwalk. FYI...one of my new goals is to be a balloon lady. These ladies have balloons tied to them, you have to stay in front of them to not be swept. 

Peter Pan and His Shadow
Back at the BoardWalk we had some time to relax and get ready to go to dinner back at Animal Kingdom Lodge. Before dinner we went out to the savanna to look at the animals. During the time we stayed there it was dark, so we weren't able to see anything :) We were able to easily see gazelles, zebras, and a couple giraffes. Very cool. We went to dinner at Boma which features African inspired food. The restaurant is decorated with African animals, thatched huts, and rustic wood. The amount of food, and the choices, were enormous. Perfect for a dinner after many days of races. 

After dinner we went to Jellyrolls. Jellyrolls is a dueling piano bar on the boardwalk. We arrived early so we could get good seats. The piano players take requests from the audience and provide some comedic entertainment as well. Most of the requests were 80's songs! My favorite! They also threw in some Disney songs, and they did Shake It Off, which was really exciting because it reminded me of it playing during the half marathon the day before! Probably the BEST part of the night was walking home. Julie and I were disappointed they never played Let It Go, so we decided to sing it our whole way home, loudly and shamelessly. 

Monday, Kathy, Mike, Julie, and I got up to get to Epcot when it opened. We started off by using our Fast Pass for Soarin' (another ride I had never been on) and then went on Living with the Land. Soarin' was pretty cool, it's like hang gliding through California, complete with a breeze and scents. I also enjoyed seeing all the growing vegetables in Living with the Land. Next we visited Test Track...another ride that tops my list of Disney favorites. After meeting up with Sam and Bryan and tasting all the different flavors of pop in Club Cool we headed over to the World Showcase to drink around the world. 

Wine Flight in France
After much debate, some lumberjacks, and closed tequila bar, we decided to start our journey in the United Kingdom. I was really excited about my UK drink! I got a Black Velvet...Strongbow Cider with Guinness on top. I love those, but they are somewhat hard to come by. In the picture above you can see my drinks in France...a red wine flight. Not good at all. Bad move. I skipped Morocco and tasted just a little bit of someone's sake in Japan. Back in America I had some beer followed by a shot of limoncello in Italy. Once we got to Germany I decided I better have something to eat before things got ugly. All I know is that I ordered something called a Currywurst after having a debate with the German person taking my order about Currywurst actually being German. Once my food was given to me I don't think it was what I ordered. I was tricked, confused, or both. I still ate it. I also had a grapefruit beer which was really good, better than I thought it would be.

I skipped a lot of countries after that. I don't think I had anything in China or Norway, but somewhere around there I got very insistent on doing a car bomb back in the UK. Also around this time, Julie, Sam, and Bryan were supposed to be leaving for the airport. But who can go to the airport without a car bomb, especially when you have been deprived of a car bomb your whole life?!?! We raced (really raced, like we would have beat the balloon ladies if it was a marathon) back to the UK and some people had their very first car bomb. In my case, this was the car bomb that made me feel 31, not 21.
Car Bombs in the UK
Now people really needed to get to the airport. Like really. So we were back to trying to beat the balloon ladies back to the BoardWalk. We really went so fast...it was like we were training for next year's 10k :) I'm happy to report we made it back with time to spare. This is also when it started pouring down rain. It was perfect timing. After our friends boarded the Magical Express we took an intermission from Epcot and just hung out and waited for the rain to pass.

Sadly the rain never passed, but we put on some ponchos and decided to go to Beaches and Cream to get some ice cream. I ordered the No Way Jose. I love ice cream. Really. This No Way Jose, though, was humongous. There was just no way I could finish it. Now I wish I could have it. It was was so good! After our ice cream we went back to Epcot because the rain had passed. We went to the formerly closed tequila bar and I did a shot of tequila. I do not do shots of tequila. It's almost like tea. But when in Mexico... Thankfully I didn't gag and it wasn't so bad. Meanwhile, at the airport there were also shots of tequila being done since our friends never made it to Mexico.

When in Mexico...
After Mexico we went back to Italy with just a few moments to spare and ordered champagne. We drank our champagne and watched the IllumiNations fireworks show before heading back to the BoardWalk for the night. 

Tuesday was our last day in Florida :( After packing up and saying goodbye to the BoardWalk we drove over to Magic Kingdom. We used our Fast Passes for Space Mountain and Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, with a ride on the People Mover and a visit to Monster's Inc. Laugh Floor in between! Before heading to lunch we went to see Mickey's PhilharMagic. We had a reservation at Be Our Guest inside Belle's castle for lunch, but we were a little bit early so we walked over to visit Gaston for a few minutes. Gaston is hilarious. I could have watched that ridiculousness all day. If you haven't seen the YouTube videos of Gaston, you should take a look. 

Lunch at Be Our Guest was great. They have a few different rooms that you can sit in. We chose the portrait room. After enjoying our meal we did a little shopping. I wanted a Christmas tree ornament to commemorate my trip. I am very happy with my choice. I can't wait to put it on our tree next year. Lots of happy memories. Next we went to ride Big Thunder Mountain and Pirates of the Carribean. Pirates of the Carribean is one of my biggest memories from going to Disney when I was 5, so it was fun to be able to ride it again. After Pirates, we got in line for my first Dole Whip. A Dole Whip is pineapple soft serve (your flavor of ice cream can vary, I got a pineapple vanilla twist) and pineapple juice. Sort of like a float. SO YUM! My next recipe goal is to try to create a Dole Whip at home. Stay tuned. 

After enjoying our treat, and doing some people watching, we strolled over to It's a Small World for our last ride of the day. Small World was my very favorite ride when I was little, so I thought it was a nice ending to our trip. We followed the parade out of the park and went on our way to the Orlando Airport, sad to be ending our vacation. 

I'm sure you can tell I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Disney. I am so happy I decided to go, and I'm even happier I participated in both races. We never wasted a minute while we are there. We did so many things and had a lot of fun. I hope to go back one day for another race. Until then I will have to settle for a homemade Dole Whip :) 



Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Walt Disney World, Part One

It seems like so long ago I took my trip to Florida, but I wanted to make sure that I cover more than just my races! We were in Florida for six days, we went to all four Disney parks, and had lots of adventures in between. I am going to do my best at trying to recall all those things, but I probably should have wrote these posts as they were happening, not weeks later. I also wish I had more pictures to share!

My friend, and running partner, Kathy and I flew down to Orlando very early Thursday morning. After picking out the perfect rental car, we were on our way. We soon discovered that my perfect pick was not so perfect. I was thinking maybe she was having problems adjusting to driving our new ride. Turns out, the rental car had a mind of it's own. It accelerated on it's own and did the same with it's brakes. After a little looping around the Orlando airport we safely made it back and exchanged the car for one that wanted to do things Kathy's way. After that fiasco we headed over to POP to pick up her husband who was already in Florida to start the Dopey Challenge. We drove over to Animal Kingdom Lodge to try to check in, but we were too early. We did have a quick lunch there. On a side note...I really liked Animal Kingdom Lodge! The lobby is big and open and overlooks the savanna with giraffes, zebras, and lots of other animals. It also has very relaxing African music playing. I was also a little obsessed with the animal tiles, especially the elephant, in the room and the the Lion King picture in the giant bathtub. 

Animal Kingdom Lodge lobby
Next, we decided to head over to the Expo so Kathy and I could pick up our race packets. We did not spend a ton of time at the Race Expo. After we picked up our race bibs and shirts we did walk around just a little bit to look at different vendors. I'm sure that if you had serious running shopping to do, or Disney shopping, or Disney running shopping to do, this would have been the place to do it. There was a lot of stuff, and I didn't even go to half of it. 

After the Expo, we headed over to the Grand Floridian. The purpose of going to the Grand Floridian was for Afternoon Tea in the Garden View Room. I do not like tea. I wanted nothing to do with tea. Tea tastes like the Earth. I went anyway. It was part of a deal...I would go to tea, Kathy would ride Rock 'n' Roller Coaster. We were early for tea so we walked around the hotel which is very pretty and we also took a ride on the monorail. At tea, I ordered water in a tea pot with lemons :) 

We ended Thursday at Target collecting things for breakfast and snacks. After setting up my stuff for my race the next morning, I was beyond ready to go to sleep. A few hours later we were up for the 10k buses. You can read my recap of my 10k race {HERE}. 


After our race we headed back to Animal Kingdom Lodge to shower and check out. We decided to go to Animal Kingdom for a few hours in the afternoon. My favorite part of the park was the Kilimanjaro Safari ride. Our safari ride was awesome. We saw a ton of animals and a lot of them were SO close. We even saw lots of elephants! My favorite!


This giraffe walked right in front of our safari car and then right next to me. 
After our afternoon at Animal Kingdom, we drove to the Boardwalk. This is where we stayed for the remainder of our Disney trip. After checking in and exploring the hotel we had an easy dinner at the Boardwalk Bakery. Like Animal Kingdom Lodge, the BoardWalk Inn was awesome. I liked how you kind of felt like you were at the beach since it's on the water, and of course there is a boardwalk. After staying at Animal Kingdom which has a dark and woodsy theme, the BoardWalk also seemed really light and airy. I also loved how you could walk to both Epcot and Hollywood Studios. 


Saturday's main event was, of course, the half marathon. You can read about it {HERE}. After the half marathon we made our way back to the Boardwalk with plans to go to Hollywood Studios for the afternoon. Our time at Hollywood Studios has a lot of highlights for me. 

We had fast passes for Toy Story Mania, which I had never been on, and Tower of Terror, one of my favorite rides at Disney. We had also had a reservation for a late lunch at the Brown Derby. We had some time in between our rides and our lunch reservation so we sat down on a bench. This turned out to be a great choice! After a few minutes I heard some really loud and obnoxious people down the street. They were Disney people dressed as old time movie stars carrying a bottle of 'vodka' and some martini glasses. They sat down on a bench in our view and continued their loud and obnoxious act. These people were so funny. They made fun of people who walked by while acting drunk and sliding off the bench. I could have watched them all day. As that was happening another duo (another movie star person and a police officer) drove up to us and started their own act. They were asking us all kinds of questions and telling us stories. Seriously, so funny!


After a great lunch, it was time for Kathy to hold up her end of our deal. Rock 'n' Roller Coaster! This is another one of my favorite rides at Disney. We had no fast pass for this and the wait was 70 minutes. My Disney expert friend was not pleased, apparently she has NEVER waited that long for something at Disney, but a deal is a deal :) I'm glad to report everyone survived! And maybe even had fun! 

Another great part about Saturday was that our friend Julie came! We met Julie, Sam and Bryan (more Dopey challenge friends) for dinner back at the Boardwalk. I wasn't the hungriest after our late lunch, but I did get a snack from what I fondly referred to as "the drunk food cart" on the Boardwalk. Basically they just have a lot of fried junk food. I was excited to eat it! 

After dinner we made a spectating plan for the marathon the next morning and just hung out. I was so excited to not have a race to worry about the next morning, and to be able to sleep in a few extra hours. In my next post you will read all about our spectating and the second half of my trip! 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Walt Disney World Half Marathon

Starting line with fireworks
Next up in my series of Florida recaps is my Walt Disney World Half Marathon experience. This was most definitely one of the highlights of the weekend. So was my 10k race that I blogged about earlier this week, but overall the half marathon was even more exciting! The non-exciting part...the middle of the night wake up call that comes along with Disney races. I believe this day I work up at 2:53 in the morning, making it the third day in a row I was up by three. After throwing on my race clothes, along with some throw away clothes, and making some breakfast we boarded the bus to the starting corrals. 

After checking our bags and finding some additional Virginia friends we made the long walk to the start. I'm not really sure why they make you walk miles to your corral before they have you start a half marathon, but they do. On our way to our corral this day we spotted the BEST costume EVER. A lot of people come dressed as Disney characters. There are some really dedicated friends that put some work into these costumes too. My absolute favorite was this guy dressed as Peter Pan and then there was a guy with him completely covered in black. HIS SHADOW! So funny! As my friend and I were walking to our corral we wondered if the shadow would run behind him the whole time. 

Peter Pan and his shadow
Once we made it to our corral we still had waiting to do since there were a bunch on corrals in front of us. With every corral that started there were fireworks that went off. I was thankful when we started approaching the start. I was ready to start so that I could warm up. As our corral's fireworks went off we started running. Like the 10k, the half marathon starts off on highways outside the Disney parks. There is some entertainment the first few miles, but not much. There were some marching bands and volunteers cheering, and big screen playing some disney cartoons. Somewhere around mile two or three we were on an off ramp of the highway. This was terrible. Your legs are uneven and everyone is cramped together. I was not a happy person. Thankfully it felt like it ended quickly. Once we were back on normal ground we saw the pirates and their pirate ship and passed the Walt Disney World Speedway around mile four. 
Mile Four-ish!

I was excited about making it to mile four because we knew our friend Julie would be cheering around there. Races are so much more fun with spectators, especially ones you know. I was so excited to see her face when we found her! So exciting! She quickly snapped our picture and we were off again. 


We were now headed toward the Magic Kingdom. I was excited to get to this part because it would actually feel like we were running at Disney instead of just on highways. We ran down Main Street where there were tons of people cheering. That was a pretty fun part. From Main Street we went into Tomorrowland. We ran past Space Mountain, Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor, Buzz Lightyear, and the Tomorrowland Speedway. Next we got to run through Cinderella's castle. I think Elsa was there and I think she was making snow. It was very crowded and hard to look to really see. After coming through the castle we stopped to take our picture in front of the castle. After our quick picture we ran through Frontierland. This is where my friend and I separated for a little bit. I went ahead of her until I saw the 10k split mat and a water stop. After I ran through those, and was about to exit the Magic Kingdom by Splash Mountain, I waited for a quick minute for her to catch up. People were very concerned about my stopping, but I reassured everyone I was going to make it. 


After exiting the Magic Kingdom things get a little crowded. There are a lot of people in a little space. This was annoying, but also one of the highlights of my race. They were playing some music over big speakers. The song that was playing was Taylor Swift's Shake It Off. I sing all the time in my car, sometimes I sing to my running partner. That day I sang to all my crowded friends. Some people even joined me, and some other people danced while running. It made a more annoying part of the race much more enjoyable for me. Miles eight and nine are back on the highway and you pass The Grand Floridian and The Polynesian resorts. There was also a wedding singer on the side of the road. This part of the course had some people cheering as well. 


Everything was going just great during the race. The weather was pretty perfect, I felt mostly good physically, I was having fun, Kathy was great. Then came mile 10. I got mental. Really. My hip was hurting and there was this ramp. Similar to the early slanted ramp from around mile two, but this was also uphill. I was starting to lose it. I remember being mad at myself for not being able to get my mental game back together. On this ramp there is also a green army guy from Toy Story yelling at people, and making them do push ups. Not humane. Seriously. We finally made it to the top of the incline and ran the downhill, but I was upset with myself still. I struggled through mile eleven too. I knew I must have been looking pretty mental when Kathy started singing to me. Not something that would normally happen. I was grateful to have such a fabulous running partner. Mile 11 also included our last uphill which was also that stupid slanted ramp business. After reaching the top and being able to run down it, I felt SO MUCH BETTER. That might have also had something to do with the fact we were now at mile twelve. Only a little over one mile left. 

Mile 12
Kathy's husband was waiting for her at mile twelve. He had already completed his own half marathon much earlier. Mile twelve also leads you into Epcot. This is another exciting section since you are actually feeling like you are in Disney. This time entering Epcot we were right by Spaceship Earth which was a little confusing for me since that's also where you finish. I decided not too think to hard about it and just keep moving. I had a goal for this race. Well really I had like a multi-level goal for this race. I really wanted to beat my Pittsburgh half time, which was very possible but I was worried about crowds. I knew the whole race that we were doing OK and would beat it. As a second part of that goal, I also wanted to be under a certain time and knew pretty much the whole race we would be, but I was also getting mental about that during my break from reality a mile earlier. So once we were nearing the end I just wanted to keep running. That, plus there was a lot of professional photographers and I always like to look like I'm having the time of my life when they are around. 

Just before the finish line we saw the Gospel Choir singing. That was fun! After we turned the corner we could see the finish just like the day before. It was definitely a better feeling this day, though. I was very excited that I beat my Pittsburgh time by almost 15 minutes and had met my goal for the race. After crossing the finish line and collecting my medal we went to get ice. I needed some for my hip. This was quite the adventure. When they wrap ice on your hip, things get interesting. I looked like I had a saran wrap thong. 

Post race complete with beverages, medal, and saran wrap thong
Just like the 10k, I thought this race was awesome. Obviously I had a rough two miles, but they really weren't totally terrible. I was a little disappointed in the lack of entertainment along the course, but at the same time that's not really what completing a half marathon is about (to me at least). Mostly I am sad that my half marathon is over, and that I am not going to Florida for the Princess race in February. I need to win the lottery and just run fun races all the time. That would be the life.

Half Marathon medals