Eating For A Cause {Taste Of The Nation Orlando 2014}

As you may or may not remember, last year I was Paula’s date to Taste of the Nation Orlando.

Well, this year – I signed on to be a Media Ambassador for Taste — and I brought a date of my own.

Ready to Taste the Nation!! #OrlTaste

I have to say, I have yet to be disappointed by this event. So much food. So many drinks. So little time. This year was no different.



Dan and I arrived at the World Marriott around 5:30 to check in early and take a media tour of the event. I have to say, I’m glad we did this because we were able to scope out the booths that we KNEW we wanted food from and ones we wanted to pass on. We also had the chance to meet Melissa d’Arabian (she was judging a taste off and repping for Food Network!). Unfortunately, she was running late and well – food called. I did get a picture from afar…


She seemed nice.

Speaking of food… I agree with Paula’s assessment – the food was just plain BETTER this year. The restaurants in attendance (many were repeats from last year) really brought their “A” game. I was truly SAD when I got full (and I mean FULL). The best part of this ENTIRE event?? The $$$ spent on the tickets go charity. All of the food and drinks are donated by the restaurants. So while the $150 is a little steep — it’s NOT being pocketed for profit. In fact, a record breaking $301,317 was raised that night. Yay!

Another perk of the night? I got to hangout with Paula, Cheyanne, and Katy.

Love these ladies! #orltaste #sofull



I did not drive home.

I think Dan had fun too.


He loves being adored.

As far as favorites go — I have to say Darden really BROUGHT IT (which surprises me slightly). Capital Grille was by far the best food and Bahama Breeze had the best drinks (fruit infused mojitos — Dan had a jalapeño pineapple mojito that was AMAZING) – although Tito’s was a pretty good second. Other favorites included K Wine Bar, Marlow’s Tavern, Calla Bella, and Disney’s Yacht Club (the last two were neck-to-neck with their scallops!).




This is what happens when you too busy making out with your food to take pictures.


There were also pirates.

I was a little (like teeny tiny) disappointed in the wine selection – except for the wine at the Longhorn booth (again – Darden spared no expense!). Most of the pours were tiny in comparison. Maybe it was me though? Maybe I looked like I didn’t NEED anymore wine? (it’s becoming abundantly clear that was probably the case as I look through my pictures ;)).

As for dessert… one word: DONUTS. Marriott whipped up some fresh and melt in your mouth cinnamon-sugar donut holes with dipping sauces. I’m not one for sweets, but I could definitely go for a few of those right about now!


I tried some of these too, but nothing compared to the donuts.

So in summary – I ate A LOT and I had so much fun being a Social Ambassador for Taste of the Nation OrlandoI’m beyond thrilled it was yet another great event that just keeps getting bigger and better every year. The best part (besides the amazing food – which by the way – was perfect after running a 15-miler!),was meeting some really great people doing amazing things for Orlando.


Especially Second Harvest! We’re looking forward to Family Night next week.

I’m looking forward to being involved with these organizations for a long time. Thanks to Share Our Strength and TOTN Orlando for the wonderful opportunity!

Things Lately

Hey, remember me? Is this thing on?


As you can probably tell, things have been…busy lately. Maybe busy isn’t the right word, because I swear I’m always busy. Hectic? Beyond busy? Chaotic? Yeah, that’s it. Needless to say, my life has been blowing up in front of my face — and for some reason I feel compelled to document it.

1. Rhode Island is GLORIOUS in the summer.




Today we got a little lost and ended climbing over rocks (cue anxiety!) before hitting the Cliff Walk. Still ended up chasing the sunrise with this amazing view. #seeonmyrun #newport #wooendorphins #sunrise




I could probably post 25 more images that look vaguely similar, but different than this. I was in Newport last week for work and while it sucked being away from my family – the rest of it really did not suck. Although, I think I said “I wish I was on vacation…” about 100 times a day.

While I was in Newport, I squeezed in some awesome runs with my coworker.




What’s funny is that this was taken at 5:30am — those are some EARLY sunrises!

I love that I work with people crazy enough to meet me at 5am for a good run! Both times we managed to hit the Cliff Walk at sunrise and both times is freaking amazing. The second day, however, we got a little lost and I ended up climbing over rocks with a very apparent look of terror on my face.


I’m a wuss. 

The last night we were there we took a group trip to the Cliff Walk and it turns out that Woody Allen was shooting a movie.


All of that lighting was for the movie.

We didn’t see him (nor did we really care to), but we did see Emma Stone. Truthfully, it was more exciting to hang out in the beautiful weather, with my coworkers. You can tell we were having a horrible time. The weather was just terrible.




Oh, I ate a eat gigantic lobster along with some mussels and clams. Give me alllll of the New England food, please.


Newport, why must you be so fantastic? *sigh*

2. Girl’s Night Out happened. Again.


For the 3rd year in a row, a bunch of us got together, got silly, and drank waaaay too much.

This year we went to a super secret speakeasy (which, I loved – maybe I’m a hipster?), a rooftop bar where I managed to tweak my knee dancing (don’t ask), a bar where one of my friends almost won a twerking content (technically she did win because we got free shots), and a club/tattoo parlor (?) with stripper poles.






I don’t even recall taking half of these pictures. For more fun check out Paula’s post...

3. The Girls’ Night Out plague is REAL.

The first year we went out, I ended up with an ear infection and a horrible summer cold. Last year,was just NOT a good year for a bunch of us. I was in a postpartum/baby haze, so I don’t really remember details. This year was GREAT, until we got home. One person has pink eye, another ended up with a stomach virus. While I didn’t get sick – B came home with stomach issues and E ended up with Coxsackie virus (OMG THIS VIRUS IS SO HORRIBLE).

What sucks? Coxsackie virus What doesn't suck? Hanging out with this guy. Just wish it was for a happier reason.

Poor baby.


It does not keep him from being adorable though.

This week was exhausting. But it was worth it. Well, the hanging out with my ladies was worth it. The kids being sick though? Totally sucks.

Oh and one side effect of this whole ordeal is that E refuses to nurse (can’t blame him) — so we might be done. I’m still pumping (barely any milk) in the morning and at night – just in case this is a strike (he still loves the milk), but it’s not looking good. I never thought I’d wean this early (it’s early for me!) and without any kind of warning. My Dr. wasn’t kidding when he said “third kids tend to be a bit of a wild card.” The saddest/possibly most ironic part is that it’s during World Breastfeeding Week. Sigh. Bad timing.

4. I found myself a long-run running buddy!

Cut back week! 10 miles with Tyler. Running buddies are the best.

It’s funny because even though Tyler and have raced together — I never thought to harass him to come run with me. Although I think we are very similar in that we don’t necessarily NEED to run with anyone, but the company is always nice. He’s also training for Space Coast (you know that OTHER marathon I am running this year?).



I actually had to change this writing my post because I received a donation from my aunt that tipped me over. Wooooo-hoo! One less thing to worry about. Now I just have to worry about running that race. #cuepanic

But in all seriousness — THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU to all of you who have donated! I can’t wait to share my Chicago Marathon experience with all of you.

6. I finally FINALLY cut my damn hair.

Suddenly, I feel 5 yrs younger and 10lbs lighter. I also feel kinda like a douche taking a selfie in these sunglasses.

I’ve been procrastinating – but the last time I had my hair done was in JANUARY. I love it though and I love my stylist. She is seriously the best.

I’ve gotten a little wiser and scheduled my next appointment already. It’s 2 days before I leave for Chicago. I might have to go a little crazy… hmmmm.

7. If you need a good dystopian book to read, I’m currently reading/rereading the MaddAddam trilogy. I’m pretty sure I read Oryx and Crake years ago — but I have book amnesia.


Apparently, it’s going to be a series on HBO, so you should read it now and throw in your friends faces when they get addicted to the series and want to know what happens. Not that I would do that.

And with that… it’s 9pm and time for bed. I have 14 miles in the morning, Taste of the Nation Orlando tomorrow night, and a whole bunch of other stuff in between.

What’s the last book you read? Where’s your favorite place to vacation? 

Hooked On A Feeling {Guardians Of The Galaxy Movie Review}

Alternative Post Title: The Time My 8-Year Learned How To Use Inappropriate Words, Appropriately

Last week I was invited to see a preview screening of Guardians of the Galaxy.


© Marvel 2014

This movie has been on my radar for a while because B is SUPER into comics and he was given a GOTG Comic last year at the screening of Iron Man. He read that thing until it fell apart and it has been SO excited about seeing it play out in the theater. We watched all of the trailers together and he gave me the back story to every single one of the characters.

Let it be said that my expectations going into this thing were low. I mean, a talking raccoon and a tree? Really? I do love Chris Pratt, but… A TALKING RACCOON AND A TREE?


© Marvel 2014

I’m going to get a little ahead of myself here and say that I was 100% WRONG about the talking raccoon and tree — and in the meantime, I fell in love with this little ($175 million dollar) movie.

I found the set up a little more complex than other Marvel movies — and since a large part of movie is about how the Guardians get together I won’t go into it. All you really need to know is that it’s about a band of misfits, in space, who are on a mission – of sorts. Sound like a few other movies you know?? While I’ve seen it compared to Star Wars (and Avengers), I feel like there’s more of a Firefly/Serenity vibe. Also, while it’s Marvel and it DOES tie to The Avengers storyline, this is free-standing movie that has nothing to do with any of the other Marvel movies out there.

So, let’s get to that whole talking animal tree thing… Is it just me, or did the commercials/trailers make them seem lame and like a distraction?? Maybe they didn’t want to ruin it, but I actually thought Rocket and Groot (and their relationship) got some of the best laughs and emotional moments. No, really. I completely attribute this to Bradley Cooper doing some stellar voice work, as well as being easily amused by a tree that only says three words.


As for the others — I thought Zoe Saldana did a fantastic job as Gamora. She doesn’t put up with any BS (yay – more strong female characters) and her fight scenes are legit. Dave Bautista surprised me as Drax. I mean, he’s a WWE wrestler and he pulled off a performance I didn’t expect. Lee Pace (the main dude from Pushing Daisies) plays Ronan (aka – the big bad) and I have to say I didn’t even REALIZE it was Lee Pace until after I got home – mostly because he’s in blue makeup, but also because he is so sinister.

© Marvel 2014

© Marvel 2014

Why so blue?

The real star of this show though is without a doubt Chris Pratt as Star Lord/Peter Quill.


 Hello ladies…

I might have had a soft spot for Chris since his days on Everwood (watch it… cry…laugh….fall in love with Bright Abbott) and of course he’s one of my favorite parts about Parks and Rec — but this movie is his show and he is FANTASTIC to watch. I’m actually a little mad that now I’m going to have to share him with the WORLD (and I suppose galaxy).

Another aspect of the movie that I loved (and don’t typically pay attention to) was the soundtrack. A big plot point in the movie is Peter’s 1980′s Walkman and mixed tape from his mom – and they did a great job of streamlining it in. Ever thought you’d watch a prison-break scene to the tune of the Piña Colada Song? Yeah, me either.

As far as B’s review… Yeah, he loved it. Was it a little violent? Sure. But no more violent than Star Wars or the Avengers. Were there several jokes that went over his head? Yep. I will warn you that he learned a few new choice words that were not previously in his vocabulary.


And that’s not the worst of it…

This movie had more profanity in it than the last four Marvel movies combined (I defend my parenting choices here by saying that we did talk about how their is a time and a place for profanity — and at this age, it’s never). There was also a scene in the beginning of the movie that made him (and me) a little sad – regarding Peter’s mom. So parents, be prepared for a few questions.

I did think there are a few weird quirky parts that I just couldn’t get into (I found all of the “Collector” scenes bizarre – perhaps I am not a big enough Marvel fangirl?), but overall it was a highly enjoyable 2-hour summer movie.

So bottom line – Get really to cheer on a bunch of oddballs for movies to come. And Chris Pratt? Welcome to “Top 5 List.”

Chicago Marathon Training – Month 1

I’ve been training for the Chicago Marathon for a month now. So far, I’m hitting my training schedule.


I actually can’t believe I’ve already hit 18 miles. I still have 14 miles to run the rest of this week – and 10 on Saturday (since I’m not running on Sunday), but I should be able to hit them without a problem. I have to say, I’m pretty impressed about the mileage I did this month – and the consistency of my pace.

18 miles - Done! It wouldn't have been so bad if the heat index wasn't at 95 degrees the last 5-6 miles. It's going to make me stronger, right? #chimarathon #teamrmhc #crazy

Latest Garmin Selfie. That Garmin is just so photogenic.

I have a few rambling thoughts that I’m going to put into somewhat coherent bullets.

**Base training was worth it – adding an extra run each week and longer distances hasn’t been too bad. The longest I ran during base training was 12 miles (once), but for the 3 months I was in base-training mode it was mostly 7 to 8 milers, hitting 20-25 miles a week. I actually felt more aches and pains during this base training than I have since I’ve upped my mileage. Go figure.

**It’s f*cking hot. Ok, so that’s a given because a) it’s the summer and b) I live in Florida, but I don’t think I realized HOW hot it would be. I did this training 3 years ago and mostly avoided the sun because I had people to met at 4:30 in the morning. This time I’m running it on my own (I’m open to running with other though!) and it’s hard to leave the house. I actually get up pretty early (like 4 or 5) but then procrastinate.

**3/1 Long runs are hard (but probably worth it). For my long runs I’ve been running the first 3/4 of the run at a pace between 10-10:15 minute/mile — and then the last 1/4 at race pace – 9:30 (or a little slower if the heat index is 100 degrees). I feel like it serves two purposes – teaches me to reserve my energy AND gets me to run faster on tired feet/legs.

**Running 4 days a week isn’t bad. When training for Savannah, I ran 3 days a week – but ALL of those runs were intense. I did a long run, a tempo run, and speedwork. I did not enjoy a single run. This time around, the runs are less intense, but I’m hitting my tempo run and hitting my mileage. I’m also just enjoying the miles. Some might call them junk miles, but I consider it time on my feet and a great way to get rid of stress.

**Ducks are really the cutest birds ever. Every morning I see ducks, ducks, and more ducks. I would be lying if I said they didn’t make my day. There was one day where I witness the world’s longest duck crossing. Sadly, a car came and broke it up (no ducks were injured – turns out, ducks are pretty smart about cars) – and a few of the ducks left behind were so angry/confused. I’m considering starting duck blog I love these damn ducks so much (not really).

Just out for a jog. #seeonmyrun #ducksofinstagram #hopetheyarentoffendedisaidjog #wooendorphins

Today's run was meh, but at least I felt like the duck posse was cheering me on. #seeonmyrun

**Ice baths hurt a lot less when you’re already sitting IN the bath and then you get “iced.” Yes, it’s taken me 36 years to learn this trick.


Don’t get me wrong, ice baths are still pure torture, but they are a good kind of torture because I can walk (even run!) the next without issue.

**The best part of running in the middle of the summer in Florida (which is kind of like an oxymoron, right?) is the gorgeous sunrises and sunsets.

So pretty. So f*cking hot. #seeonmyrun #wooendorphins #pardonmyfrench


Happy Friday! What a peaceful sunrise... balancing out the crappy humidity. #seeonmyrun #wooendorphins #teamrmhc #whyamimarathontraininginthemiddleofthesummer

It never gets old.

**Falling still sucks. I fell during my 2nd long run (at mile 2.75). I managed to shake it off and keep going, but it really sucked and I felt the after effects for a few weeks (the bruising on left hip was pretty bad – as was the scrape on the inner pad of my right hand – I have NO idea how that happened).

Long run #2 and I had a meet up with the pavemen at mile 2.75. I'm banged up pretty bad, but at least I didn't have to get stitches! #chimarathon #teamrmhc #klutz

I also now really paranoid about sidewalks, so I try to run on the road as much as possible. Turns out that not a bad idea because I run faster and more efficiently on the road. Who knew?

**Bring on the carbs! Actually, my appetite is super weird. Long run days I crave food, but get full really fast. Rest and bootcamp days I eat the most. Is this normal?

**Since I’ve hit 14 miles on my long run, I’ve worn my Nathan Endurance vest on my long runs. I feel like I have a love – hate relationship with this thing.


This is my trying not to die while foolishly taking a selfie because I’m an idiot face.

I love the ease and accessibility of my fuel/water – and I’ve finally gotten to the point where it actually feels comfortable to wear it – but I hate, hate, HATE the straps touching me while I run. Now I could wrap them up all neatly, but that is SO unrealistic and not going to happen. Instead I spend half of my trying to fix them so I don’t feel them. It is just me?

**I have the best cheerleaders waiting for me at home. Every single time I get home from a run I get cheers and applause. And also sometimes I get this…

Better than a medal any day.

**I need more pop-culturey running shirts.

Just got back from a 5-miler with Castiel. I hope he didn't get any bugs in his mouth like I did. (Thanks @eatwatchrun for the awesome birthday present!) #spn #extraprotein #wooendorphins

Running with Castiel is the best. Thanks to Paula for this fantastic birthday gift.

And that’s pretty much it for the first month.

14 disgustingly humid miles done (I wish that gigantic rain cloud would have just rained!). I met a turtles, gave dirty looks to more than 10 bikers riding on the sidewalk, and didn't fall. #chimarathon #teamrmhc #wooendorphins

TL;DR — I ran a lot, I feel once, I saw a lot of sunrises, sunsets, and ducks, the heat really sucks — but it’s ALLLLLL worth it. Hopefully. Also, 1 month done… 2 more

Favorite pop-culture tee/tank? I might have to get an “I Am Groot” shirt next… more about that in my next post.

Volunteering at Second Harvest

I’ve been saying that I’ve wanted to volunteer with my kids for years now. It comes up, I think about it for a few days, and then I do nothing about it. Part of it is because it’s HARD to find volunteering opportunities for kids and the other part is that I’m just full of excuses about being too busy and too consumed with my own life.

That’s changing.

This week I FINALLY had a chance to volunteer at the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida. Second Harvest collects, stores, and distributes donated food to more than 550 feeding partners in six Central Florida counties. Their food goes to food pantries, daycares, soup kitchens, emergencies shelters, and senior centers (to name a few). Over 50% of their food comes from retail stores – but chances are, when you donate goods in Central Florida, it ends up at Second Harvest.


Second Harvest has many, many volunteering opportunities for adults, but every other month they offer a “Family Night” where kids from ages 5-9 can volunteer, which is where I went (with B and L) last Wednesday night.

Also joining us was Paula, who, by the way, my kids decided they want as their new mom. #tryingnottobeoffended

My kids decided that @eatwatchrun is their new mom. #coolerthanme

And just think, she only thought she was signing up to volunteer for a few hours!

We got to Second Harvest 5 minutes before 6 (the program ran from 6-8), signed in, and then was sent to the volunteer break room. The whole process was very simple. We waited for about 10 minutes before they raffled off two tickets to Fun Spot (that thankfully we did not win — shhh don’t tell the kids I said that) and then we were directed into the warehouse to sort food.



And sort food we did! There were 18 pallets of food (about 15,000lbs) that we placed into a variety of bins (cans, dry goods, chemicals, non-food, candy, etc.).


It was a simple activity, but seeing all of the kids working hard was so fun! B especially got into it, while L made friends with an older boy (seriously) and helped collect the empty boxes.




Is it too early to lock her up?

We ended up smoking through the pallets (they anticipated 12 pallets taking 2 hours and had to bring in 6 more after 45 minutes – which still wasn’t enough) and finished up a little early.


Paula and B REALLY wanted to take home the candy, but I’m mean and I said no.



As we were leaving B BEGGED to come back (he actually wanted to stay and do more), so I signed up for September as well. As of right now there are still about 25 spots left if you are interested in volunteering with kids!


And by the way, another event that Second Harvest is involved in is Taste of the Nation Orlando which is coming up on August 9th.

Taste of the Nation

Taste of the Nation is a HUGE fundraising event for both Second Harvest and the Coalition for the Homeless – raising money together for their No Kid Hungry campaign.


It also happens to brings together some of the BEST local restaurants (as well as a few chains) where you can eat and drink your little heart out. It’s a one of a kind event where you can feel gluttonous about eating massive amounts of food, while also feeling good about the cause.

You may remember that I went last year as Paula’s date and had a FANTASTIC time. I cannot wait to head back again this year!


So, long story short – if you’d like to dedicate a few hours of your time check out the Second Harvest Food Bank. If you aren’t local, it’s worth checking out your local food banks.

AND If you are looking for something to do in August, which just so happens to support a fantastic cause, you can buy tickets HEREDo it! It’s for the kids!