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.

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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…

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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

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I did not drive home.

I think Dan had fun too.

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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!).

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

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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!

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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.

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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?

*crickets*

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.

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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

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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.

 

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

2. Girl’s Night Out happened. Again.

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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.

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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.

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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?).

5. I MET MY FUNDRAISING GOAL!!

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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.

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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? 

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.

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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.

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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.).

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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.

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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.

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

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

All The Partying

As I’ve stated numerous times, I’m a big fan of working hard and playing hard. So after 9+ months of working hard… I have spent the last two weeks reaping the benefits.

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I didn’t say I was klassy.

I also like to call this – the time when I hung out and partied with Paula and Jackie two weeks in a row.

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Up first was girls’ night out. I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about leaving Evan for a night of fun and partying with my girls – but Dan insisted that I do it and while it was REALLY hard to leave him (and dude, the pumping SUCKED), I’m really glad I spent a night out.

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It was much needed. I somehow managed to get less sleep than when staying at home with my infant, so needless to say I was freaking exhausted the next day. It was worth it though and I’m really glad we are making this a yearly tradition.

As if that weren’t enough, Paula invited me to be her date to Taste of the Nation Orlando last Saturday.

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We ate, and ate, and ate… and drank… and did I mention the eating?

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Stop looking at my boobs.

We also hung out with Jackie and Katy (who I haven’t seen since my baby sprinkle in APRIL!) and just had fun.

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The bad news is that I got full too soon (HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE??) and I didn’t get to experience everything. Next year (and there will be a next year!) that WILL NOT HAPPEN.

At the beginning of the night I paid $25 for a key to a door. If that key unlocked the door I would have won 150 bottles of wine. (the best part is that this $25 was for the kids, man)

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And now you’re looking at my ass.

Unfortunately, I didn’t win. BUT the guy behind me did. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? Ugh. So close. Kinda.

And that’s how I ended my night. And my partying.

I have to admit – partying is pretty lame when you get tired at 10pm and have the tolerance of 16 year old (umm, not that I drank when I was 16 – for real), but I’m glad my friends put up with me because I had a lot of fun and got to be “myself” again for just a short while.

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And obviously, I needed it.

Indulgent & Relaxing Weekend

This weekend I stuffed my face, treated myself to a pedicure, hung out with friends, and basically just tried to relax. I wasn’t seriously concerned about going into labor while we were at our friends house (3 hours away from my Doctors/hospita!), but it was always a possibly. The good news is that we are home safe and sound — and I am still pregnant!

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My weekend started at the Ravenous Pig with my brother, Ben, and sister-in-law, Christina.

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It was a fun dinner, we caught up and had some good laughs and great food including their soft-pretzels, shrimp tacos, salad with beets, goat cheese, and pistachios (I think I’ve found a new favorite salad!), lamb, and “pig tails” for dessert.

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It’s crazy to me that Ben and Christina have almost been married for a year. It feels like we just made the trek out to San Franciso/Sonoma (I’m super jealous – they are heading back out there in a few weeks to celebrate their anniversary). Dinner was great – although I might love Cask & Lader a little bit more…

Saturday was pretty low key. Baseball was cancelled and while L and I were at dance/getting our nails done – Dan ran some boy errands with B and installed the infant seat.

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Eek.

We then headed down to the West Palm Beach area around 1:30 and lounged around with our friends for the rest of the afternoon/night.

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Today was much of the same. The kids were up waaaay too early, but I guess I expected it! We spent most of the day swimming/laying out by the pool (I got a little swimming in, but I’m a super wuss and the water was COLD) most of the day before heading to a late lunch and then heading home.

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I’m feeling slightly exhausted right now, despite relaxing. I was up most of the night with irregular contractions (that then lasted the majority of the day as well). I am feeling better now, so I’m hoping tonight will be a better night! For what it’s worth, I vaguely remember the same thing happening with L – so I’m not thinking they actually mean anything – but who knows, Thursday is a full moon!

Truthfully, as uncomfortable as I was today, I still want to make it through this week — I have a hair appointment, book club, and my rescheduled family pictures on Sunday. Obviously, there’s no room in that schedule to have a baby :)

On that note… I’m off to have a low key Sunday night. Hope everyone had a great weekend and a Monday that doesn’t completely suck!