Monday, November 30, 2015

Turkey Day Recap

Y’all I am so not feeling today – the Monday after Thanksgiving.  AKA, the first day back to work in a full week. 

I have about 927 work things I should be doing right now, but I literally cannot.  So I’m writing here instead.  Employee of the month right here.  Hee.

Our Thanksgiving week was a great one, so I’m going to share the rundown with you now.  Ready?  Go.

Jillian and I spent the week in Clearwater last week with my mom and dad.  Hubs had to work (he met us down there on Wednesday afternoon), so we decided to take a mini vacation and go hang out with my parents.  And we had a blast! 

We went to the children’s zoo...

The Glazer Children's Museum in Tampa... (unfortunately I only snapped one picture)

The mall (pre-Black Friday) where we rode the holiday train...

Grandma and Grandpa's backyard where Jillian learned how to place Hide and Seek.  (she's a pro at counting to ten and saying "ready or not, here I come!")

It was great.  Lots of fun, lots of running around.  It was fun to be down there for the week! 

Turkey Trot
On Thanksgiving morning my dad and I got up early to get our cardio on by running in the Tampa Bay Times Turkey Trot 5K. 

(this is actually a pic of the Turkey Trot from a few years ago, but it's an accurate portrayal of the chaos and amount of people - it's cray)

Like I have mentioned before, we have run this race off and on since I was in high school, and it’s kind of become a Thanksgiving tradition for the two of us, which I love.

Since I have been on the workout wagon lately, I was actually excited to run 3.1 miles and it felt great to be out there doing it.  There were two 5Ks offered this year – a timed run for those serious runners (aka, not me) and a “fun run” which was untimed.  It’s probably best to not know what my time was.  I wasn’t out there to win anything, just wanted to get some exercise.  It was a good time.


I was in charge of desserts for Thanksgiving, so on Wednesday I made a pound cake using my mom’s recipe (OMG, so delicious) and on Thanksgiving afternoon I made something I’ve wanted to try for a while – Ohana’s Bread Pudding with Bananas Foster Sauce.  Ohana is one of our favorite restaurants out at Disney at the Polynesian Resort and their dessert is the highlight of the meal every time.  I happen to own like every Disney cookbook ever made (thanks Hubs!) and this recipe was in the book Delicious Disney.  I’ve been meaning to try it, but never had the right occasion to make it, so why not try it on Thanksgiving?

All I have to say is YUM!  I was a little worried about trying a new recipe on Thanksgiving (hence the back-up pound cake), but it turned out great!  So delicious.  I really wish I hadn’t been so stuffed from dinner, I probably would have enjoyed in a little more.  Ah well, next time.  Because I will definitely be making it again!  I'll be sure to share the recipe in an upcoming post.

Our whole Thanksgiving was great.  Ran in the morning, got cleaned up, had a good breakfast, took Jillian to the park for a while and by the time we got home my in-laws were at the house.  We visited for a while and then sat down to eat.  Everything was delicious as usual.  After dinner we worked off some of our meal by running around with Jillian in the backyard and taking pictures (with a selfie stick). 

We always take our Christmas card photo on Thanksgiving Day.  Well, after countless pictures, we didn’t have that perfect one, so we gave up and just started messing around.  We had fun. 

On Friday, we headed home in the afternoon.  No Black Friday shopping for us.  We just chilled on Friday evening and Saturday.  On Sunday we had lunch plans out at the new Boathouse restaurant at Downtown Disney (er, Disney Springs) with Jordyn, who was in town from LA for the weekend.  The rest of the day was spent decorating for Christmas (!!), grocery shopping, eating Thanksgiving leftovers, and getting ready for the week ahead.  Nice way to end the busy week!

All in all, great week, great holiday, great times all around.  Another Thanksgiving in the books. Now onto Christmas!!!

How about you … How was your Thanksgiving? 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A Fun Thanksgiving Survey

Hello! It's been a busy couple of days. We have been having a blast at my parents house in Clearwater since Monday. The weather was perfect yesterday so we hit up the children's zoo for the afternoon. 

I found this fun lil Thanksgiving survey on PB Fingers this morning so I thought I'd do it as well. Enjoy! 

Favorite Thanksgiving food? 
My mom's stuffing makes Thanksgiving Thanksgiving. Without it, it's just not Thanksgiving. 

What is one of your favorite Thanksgiving memories? 
My favorite part of every Thanksgiving is my dad and me helping mom build the stuffing. We are her official taste testers and tell her to add more spice or poultry seasoning or whatever. It's a delicious process!! 

Do you go to a movie on Thanksgiving? 

Any Thanksgiving foods that you do not like? 
Not a fan of cranberry sauce. 

How do you feel about stores opening up on Thanksgiving day? 
I have never been a Black Friday shopper, but I feel like they have ruined the fun of Black Friday by opening on Thanksgiving. The thought of going shopping on Thanksgiving, or getting up at the crack of dawn to stand in line to shop isn't appealing to me. There is nothing I need to buy that bad. 

Do you hit up stores on Thursday/Black Friday, or do you avoid them like the plague? 
We might go out in the middle of the day on Friday to see if there are any sales, but it's not a ritual. 

Do you typically run a race or go for a run on Thanksgiving morning? 
Yes. We have been running The Times Turkey Troy in Clearwater on and off since I was in high school. I love running the Turkey Trot because it makes me feel good to start the day, which is mostly spent sitting around and eating, with a little activity. 

Do you prefer a big get together for Thanksgiving, or keep it small? 
We keep it fairly small every year - my parents, my in laws and us. 

What are you in charge of to make this Thanksgiving? Or are you hosting the whole meal? 
This year I am in charge of desserts. I made my mom's famous pound cake yesterday. And tomorrow I will be trying a new recipe - Ohana's bread pudding with bananas foster sauce. Oooooh! Never made it before, so we will see how it goes. 

What time do you typically eat Thanksgiving dinner? 
Usually around 3. 

That's it!! I hope you have a super Thanksgiving!!!! 

Friday, November 20, 2015

Friday Randomness - Blog Neglect Edition

Oh, hey there blog.  Sorry I have been neglecting you. 

Ergh.  I really haven’t even been that busy, outside of the normal hustle and bustle, I just haven’t been very chatty.  But now I’m all about chatting, so get ready…

Last Monday I made an official effort to eat clean and exercise.  We had just gotten home from ATL and I was so tired of eating like crap and feeling like crap and just being overall crappy, so I did something about it.  Eating clean is easy once you get into a groove.  I always feel like it’s this horrible, terrible nuisance, but it’s not bad at all.  Protein, complex carbs, fruits and veggies, that’s what I’ve been doing lately and it’s been awesome.  And I quit the Diet Coke again.  Yay!  I feel 1000% better and feel good about myself again.  Seriously, it’s just good for me.

Workin’ It.
In addition to the eating clean, I hopped back on that workout wagon (again).  I got three run/walks in last week and two strength workouts.  That was my goal, and I met it, so I am happy about that.  This week, I’m still going strong.  I’m impressed with myself.  I also have a 5K next week, so there’s that. 

Turkey Trot.
My dad and I will be turkey trotting again this year on Thanksgiving morning.  I can't wait.  Last year it was so cold, this year it looks like it's going to be warm and humid, so that is a good thing.  I like this race a lot because I've been running it off and on since high school, so it always brings back nice memories.  And it's always nice to know you've got a workout in before you eat your weight in stuffing.

Turkey Trot 2014.  I look bald in this picture.

Thanksgiving week.
I am looking forward to undoing all of the good I have been doing these past couple of weeks by eating all of the things on Thanksgiving.  And really, the whole week leading up to it.  Ha, I kid.  Sort of.  Jillian and I are going down to Clearwater on Monday because I have the week off of work, so I will be helping my mom put together the food for Thanksgiving Day all week – baking, building the world’s greatest stuffing (my mom’s is the best), all of that fun.  I cannot wait.  Hubs will meet us there on Wednesday since he has to work, and then my in-laws will drive down on Thursday for the big day.  I heart Thanksgiving.
Tori Kelly.

I saved Tori Kelly’s Unbreakable Smile album (do people still call them albums?) to my Spotify a few months ago and never got around listening to the entire album, so I’m a little late to the party with her.  But day-um!  It’s SO GOOD!  There were a few songs where I literally yelled out, to no one in particular (because I was blissfully home alone last night cooking dinner and blasting music), “damn girl, you go!”  She’s got a crazy awesome voice.  Unbreakable Smile will be on heavy rotation around here for a while.


I mentioned a while back that I am all about podcasts right now (late to the party on that too).  I got all caught up on my Happier podcast (I listened to all 38 back episodes within a couple of week – I am a machine!).  Since I was all caught up, I had nothing to listen to, so I had to find a new podcast to get hooked on.  And I did.  I heard a promo for Spawned during an episode of Happier, and Kristin and Liz just made me want to listen to them through their promo.  Spawned is a podcast put on by the two mom’s behind Cool Mom Picks and it talks about all kinds of topics for busy moms.  And it’s not all about kids and stuff, so I really like it.  

Jillian brought home the creeping crud from school last week again and has another icky cough. Poor baby, I hate when she is sick. I dodged getting sick the last time she brought it home, but not this time. Meh. I developed congestion in my chest, then a cough and now full blown laryngitis. While losing your voice is a little bit fun (I have a good reason to not talk to people and there's the whole "sexy voice" thing from Friends - remember that episode?), it's exhausting. I can't not talk, I have a kid!  But when I try to talk I just get exhausted. It's really not fun. And now I'm getting to that post nasal drip part where there's always a tickle in your throat and you just cough all the time. That's real fun. Yep. 

Christmas music. 

The other day Jillian woke up at 5:30 hacking and decided that she didn't want to go back to sleep. In an effort to try and get her to go back to sleep we brought her in our room and put on some music. While looking for the smooth jazz station on our cable that normally works, I came across a Christmas channel and had to stop. I am now officially hooked. Normally my rule is no Christmas music (or anything Christmas, for that matter) until after Thanksgiving, but I just couldn't resist. And I loved every minute of it (even at 5:30 in the morning). And she fell back asleep! Win win!! 

OK, that's all.  Hope you have a happy Friday and a super weekend!

How about you ... Is it too early for Christmas music?  Thanksgiving plans?

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Non-Vacation Vacation to Atlanta (Part 2)

So I left off at the recliner movie. Yeah that was nice. But I ended up with the biggest headache afterwards. Not sure if it was the fact that I had just spent hours laying down or the loudness of the movie or what but I felt like I took a bowling ball to the head. 

We made our way back to the hotel and got back around 6 or so. We had plans that evening to go to a nice dinner at The Atlanta Grill (inside the Ritz) to celebrate my birthday. However after lounging around the room and nursing my headache we both felt less and less inclined to get up, get dressed and presentable (seriously what the heck was I going to do to make my hair look somewhat normal?). We wanted steak but didn't want to get up and go anywhere. Enter room service. 

never order room service because it's just ridiculous. The price of the food is like three times normal and then they add a 20% service charge and a delivery charge and then gratuity, it's just insanery. However, room service at the Ritz-Carlton to celebrate my birthday? And I don't have to fix my hair? And I can wear the snazzy Ritz-Carlton robe while I eat? Yes please! Oh, and they threw in a free in-room movie, so it was all worth the extremely exorbitant price tag. Totally. Worth. It. 

(Pay no attention to my hair)

We dined on filet, whipped potatoes, Caesar salad, Southern banana pudding for dessert and they even threw in free popcorn for the movie. So we ate, watched Trainwreck (freakin hilariously great) and just enjoyed the fact that we had a nice meal in our jammies. Perfect way to spend my birthday eve. 

Saturday morning, my birthday, I wanted to sleep in really late since that's something we normally can't/don't do at home. We woke up at 7:30. Meh.

I wanted my birthday to be great all around so I went to the gym again to start my day off on the right foot. It was good.  Then we got dressed, packed and checked out of the Ritz. But not before I attacked the candy bar they had set up in the lobby. (so much for that workout)

I like to think they set that up in honor of my birthday, but I think that's just what they do at the Ritz? 

Free candy in the lobby.  Genius.  Nomnomnom.

After checking out, we made our way to Newnan, Georgia (about 30 miles outside they city) where the wedding was. Since the wedding wasn't until evening and there wasn't a heck of a lot to do in Newnan, we decided to go see another movie. I think I will deem this vacation the  "movie vacation." 

This turned out to be the best idea ever because we saw Steve Jobs (the movie, not the man), and it was absolutely phenomenal. So so good. I wasn't on the Michael Fassbender train before, but man, he was riveting as Steve Jobs. It was a great movie. So glad we went to see it. 

After that we had just enough time to get back to the hotel, change and make the 45 minute drive (in the rain - yes, still raining!!) to Roopville, GA to the farm where the wedding was being held. Yes, farm. I wasn't sure what to expect. 

Better hair. This is what 38 looks like. Filter required. 

We arrived just as the skies opened up, which is always awesome when you're walking into a wedding, late, with the wedding party, wet. We quickly found seats in the gorgeously decorated vintage barn with enough time for the wedding to begin. 

It was just gorgeous! 

The wedding was lots of fun. Good food, dancing, it was a nice way to spend my birthday. 

Hubs' face in this picture makes me cackle.  So funny.  Oh, and sparklers scare the bejeezus out of me. 

Sunday we woke up and it was as if Winter descended on Georgia. It was  in the 50s and raining (hey shocker!). But I was happy I finally got to wear my new plaid flannel looking shirt (it's not really flannel).

And from there we made the 7 hour journey home in torrential downpours.  It literally did not stop raining until we hit Gainesville, which is about an hour and a half from home. It was awful. Thank god I wasn't driving. 

All in all great weekend. We did nothing, but we did a lot. The goal wasn't necessarily to go all vacation mode in ATL, but rather to just enjoy some down time (and see movies) which we did. 

And as for Jillian, she had her own vacation with my in laws ...

Riding surrey bikes

Going to the corn festival (that child loves corn)

So she was loving life while we were gone. I am so glad to be home with her though.  I missed that little face!  

And that's all! Phew! 

How about you ... How was your weekend?  Did you see Steve Jobs?  (the movie, not the man)

Monday, November 9, 2015

Non-Vacation Vacation to Atlanta (Part 1)

Hello! After what seems like a while, I am back to normal life. Last week was all but normal - three days driving back and forth to Disney for the Learning conference and then a trip up to Atlanta for the weekend. (I'm actually typing up this post from the car on the way back home from ATL)

We went up to Atlanta to attend a wedding on Saturday, but decided to make a mini vacation out of it. We left on Thursday, drove 7 hours north and arrived at our hotel in downtown Atlanta around rush hour 6:30. 

We found a really good deal at the Ritz-Carlton in the area we wanted to be, so we said "why not?" and booked it. We've never stayed at a Ritz before, they're pretty swanky. 

We had zero plans for the weekend, except the wedding, and made no plans to sight see or anything like that. Really it was all just fly by the seat of our pants. It's probably good that we didn't make grand plans because the weather was horrible the entire time we were there. I was really hoping for some "Fall" type weather, but no. It was warm, muggy and rainy until Sunday, and then it was freezing and rainy. No in between. Ah well. 

On Thursday night as soon as we checked in and got situated we went out to roam around for dinner. It just so happened we were only a block away from Hard Rock Cafe (that may or may not have been planned), so we went. 

That was the extent of our evening given the fact that it was "spitting" out (you know, not really raining but wet enough to be annoying).

On Friday morning I got up and did something crazy ... I went to the gym. It was the Ritz, I felt like I needed to check out a ritzy gym, so I did. It was nice, and it kind of felt great to work out on gym equipment, since I haven't been to my gym in like a thousand years. I did the bike, the elliptical and the treadmill while reading The Happiness Project (again).  I wanted to do some weights but there was a guy over in the weight area grunting so I refrained (maybe this is why I stopped going to the gym?). All in all, good way to start my day! 

We decided to take a walk over to Centennial Park and wander around for a while. It was still "spitting" out and very humid, so I was cursing the hair gods. Seriously there was really no point in washing and styling my hair that day, it just ended up being a frizzy mess. Meh. 

Since we weren't interested in going to the Coke museum or the Georgia Aquarium, there really wasn't much to do at Centennial Park except walk and feel my hair grow bigger and bigger, so we decided to take the Marta (subway) to an area called Atlantic Station. We figured we could eat, shop and go see a movie (something we so rarely get to do at home) since the weather was getting increasingly worse. 

After a short Marta ride and shuttle bus, we quickly found lunch at The Yard House and our timing was perfect because as soon as we sat down the skies opened and it flat out down poured. Thank God we were inside. As if my hair wasn't bad enough at that point. 

During lunch we decided that a movie was the way to go, so we decided to go see Spectre (James Bond) after lunch. The movie was good, but the theater experience was better. The theater had recliners. Like, you reclined in your leather easy chair and watched the movie in the prone position. It was amazing. We were sitting fairly close to the screen too so it was like you were immersed in the movie. I never want to see another movie sitting upright again! It was fabulous. 

OK I'm stopping here because this is really wordy and I'm sure this recap would be best in chunks, so stay turned for part two of our "non-vacation vacation" later this week! 

How about you  ... Ever been to Atlanta? Are you a James Bond fan? 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Things I Learned at the Learning 2015 Conference

I just spent the last three days at the Elliott Masie Learning 2015 Conference, and wow, what a great three days!  Here are some things I took away from it.  

Learning is great.
People think that learning ends when you get out of school. So not true! There is always opportunity to learn more and grow in your job and everyday life. This conference expanded on all of the different concepts and modalities that you can do that. It was pretty eye opening for me, and I do this for a living. 

On Monday we had Sal Khan, the Founder of Khan Academy, as one of our keynote speakers. 

If you have never heard of or seen a Khan Academy course, please do yourself a huge favor and go here. It's mind blowing. In a nutshell Sal has created a free environment where anyone can get a world class education. His courses are geared towards younger, school aged kids but he also has adult learning topics out there as well. The way he presents learning on those universally hated topics of math and science (I disagree, I heart math) is engaging and makes you want to learn math. Crazy right? 

Listening to him speak was awesome. I did not realize it, but a) he's my age. He is a multi millionaire with an amazing, thriving concept and Bill Gates as a business partner, and he's my age. Wow; b) the Kahn Academy concept was started in answer to his young cousin one day asking him for help in math.  Proof that the simplest of things can spawn somewhat of a revolution. It was so, so cool to hear him speak. (Am I sounding geeky? Yeah maybe.) 

Being surrounded by 2000 of your peers, people who actually know what you do and do what you do, is awesome.
OMG. People at my company don't really understand what I do. They know I am a Learning Consultant, and that I design and develop training programs, but when they see me recording audio for a module, or capturing  a video of myself on my iPad, or spending countless hours scouring free music websites for the perfect song to accompany a training module, they are like, "You get paid to do that? Really?”  Yes, yes I do. Heck, I just went to a seminar on how to make a 6-second training video using Vine.  How cool is that?

Coloring is fun and therapeutic.
As part of our conference packet, they gave us a note taking book with coloring pages and a box of really cool Crayola coloring pencils. 

The curator of the conference, Elliott Masie, told us that coloring fosters creativity and encouraged us to color whenever we felt - during a session, in between sessions, whenever.  Coloring is awesome. 

I'm really lucky to be in a profession that is cool, is growing all of the time and allows me to go to really awesome things like this.
Nuff said.  

The end.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Things I'm Watching, Listening To and Reading

I'm off hobnobbing with Steve Wozniak this week (I'm really not, but that just sounds good).  While I’m gone I thought I'd leave you with a post about some fun things I’m watching, listening to, reading, etc.  Because, why not?

Happier Podcast. 

I never thought I was a podcast kind of girl until Julie mentioned a podcast by Gretchen Rubin, the writer of The Happiness Project (a book I have dabbled in but have yet to finish). The podcast is called Happier and it centers around the little things you can do to live a happier life.

I am all about the happiness and finding little things to integrate into everyday life to be even happier, so I gave it a try, and I am loving it! Not just the content of this podcast, but podcasts in general. 

Happier offers bite sized little podcasts, about 20-30 minutes each, hosted by Gretchen and her sister Elizabeth, who are both super likable. I'm about 12 episodes in and I have literally jotted down a few things to try from each episode. During each podcast they offer up a simple “try this at home” anecdote to help you make your life a little happier/easier/better.  I love this because I just enjoy this kind of stuff. 

For instance, one of the “try this at home” items was making your bed every morning.  The reason – doing a small, easy task like this leads to a sense of accomplishment right at the start of the day, leading to happiness. And ya know what, it does!!  I always feel better when the bed is made and our room looks more put together.  Easy.  Another one I have been integrating is The One Minute Rule.  The One Minute Rule is this: if a task takes less than a minute to complete (i.e., hanging up your clothes or putting something away where it belongs), just do it then and there and get it out of the way. If you don't, and you let it pile up, that leads to more stuff to do, hindering your overall happiness. So true! 

I find myself a lot of the time saying “YES!” out loud and agreeing with them on things that they talk about, so this is really resonating with me.  I love it and I feel like I am learning something in my down time, which is awesome.  Way better than spending mindless minutes on social media – amiright?

Since I'm a mommy and pretty much have no time to sit and listen to (and focus on) a podcast, I save them for car rides when I'm alone - driving to/from work or daycare or whatever. It's great! It's almost like a little treat for me in the day, a little nugget of happiness that I get to carve out for myself in the day. Happier indeed!!

Now I want to go back and read (and finish) The Happiness Project and read Gretchen’s other books! 

Stitcher App. 

 Stitcher is an app that helps you find and listen to podcasts (since they're my jam now). I was using the Apple podcast app, but it was so confusing!  I could never figure out how to play an episode or see a full list of them, it was weird. I heard about Stitcher on the Happiness podcast and immediately downloaded it since the Apple one was annoying, and I have to say it’s much easier to maneuver around than the Apple app.  Hooray.

The List App.

The List App was created byBJ Novak from The Office (and other stuff) and it's literally an app where people (famous and non-famous) create lists. And I’m not talking about lists like grocery lists or To Do Lists.  It’s more like lists about stuff.  Anything and everything.  I can’t really explain it, but it’s kind of awesome and I love it.  Here’s some examples…

I remember all of these!

 See, things like that.  You just can't really explain it.   

Again, I’m a mommy, so opportunities to sit and read 100 lists about whatever is hard, but whenever I get a chance to do it, I love it.  Check it out!

Wicked City.

I saw the previews for this new show on ABC about a million times during my regular ABC shows and thought “eh.”  But then I realized that the main character of the show was Ed Westwick, AKA Chuck Bass from Gossip Girl.  I love Chuck Bass, so I had to check this show out.  Granted, he plays a serial killer, but he’s so good as a creeper.  The show is good.  It’s set in the 80s, so it has killer music (and killer hairdos) and it follows a cop (Jeremy Sisto – love him too, hello Clueless) who is trying to catch the serial killer played by Chuck Bass, er, Ed Westwick.  There’s only been one episode so far, but I like! 

Scream Queens. 

 I mentioned Scream Queens a while ago and dude, it’s so good.  It’s a Ryan Murphy show (the guy behind Glee and American Horror Story), so you know it’s going to push the envelope a bit.  I’m way beyond the age of sororities and campy college shows, but this one is cool and smart and creepy and a little shocking.  The story centers around a sorority, with a crazy backstory, that is being targeted by a serial killer.  The storylines may be a little out there, but the characters and the dialogue are what make me tune in each week, because they are all fantastic and crazy.  My favorite character by far is Chanel #3 played by Billie Lourd.  She always wears fancy earmuffs because her ex boyfriend was obsessed with her ears and told her he’d cut them off if he saw her again.  Or something like that.  Oh, and Charles Manson is her dad.  Yeah, this show is off the rails.  But good! 

 And that's it! 

How about you … Do you listen to podcasts?  If yes, which ones? (I want to find more)  Anyone watching Wicked City or Scream Queens?  

Monday, November 2, 2015

Halloween Fun

Halloween was literally too adorable for words. So here are some pictures... 

The many faces of Tinkerbell.
Working her wand skills.
C'mon ride the (Halloween) train. 

Fun at the Halloween party. 

kiddie corn maze. 

Tinkerbell found a Peter Pan. 

The end.