Archive | December, 2012

It’s a Small World

21 Dec

I’ve only been blogging a short period but one of the most fascinating things to me is viewing my blogging stats. It’s neat to see how people find there way to my blog and how many people stop by my site, but the most interesting thing for me, by far, is being able to see where my visitors come from!

So far, I’ve seen viewers come from the following places so far!

It's a Small, Small World

It’s a Small, Small World

It’s amazing to me to have blog visitors from across the globe. It really drives home the fact that technology really does connect us all! It makes me even more appreciative of the opportunity to have this forum for my personal struggles, triumphs and life moments.

Viewing this list also motivates me to get out and travel some more. I’d love to visit all the countries on that list!

Especially at this time of year, it makes me happy to have a global connection!

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Cookie Swap One, Done!

16 Dec

As mentioned previously, this holiday season I am signed up to participate in two different Christmas cookie swaps. This Saturday, I got to collect my cookies from the first exchange! I thought about waiting to post an update about all my delicious cookies until I have my cookies from the second swap, but I don’t know how long the first batch will last!

Including a few of my own, I got to take home four additional cookie creations!

Deliciousness

Deliciousness

 

At the top of the picture, I got some of my favorite holiday cookies-Snowballs AKA Butterballs AKA Russian Tea Cakes AKA Mexican Wedding Cakes. I’ve heard them called by all those names but regardless of what name they go by, I love them!

Going clockwise, the next cookie included in the swap were some Chocolate Turtle Cookies, sans the pecans that would normally get placed in the caramel sauce.

At the bottom, there are some Potato Chip Cookies. These were something new to me. The dough includes crumbled up potato chips, giving the cookies a unique sweet and salty mix.

Lastly, there were Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies, featuring a peanut butter dough with a thumbprint of jelly. A nice twist on such a classic food staple!

Lastly, I my inclusion to the swap were the Hot Chocolate Cookie Balls I made a few days ago.

It’s always great to be able to mix and mingle with my work team and gain some unique cookies in the process!

I don’t have the exact recipes my coworkers used for their cookies, but here are some links to similar recipes I found on the web!

 

Snowballs from My Baking Addiction
Chocolate Turtle Cookies from Recipe Girl
Potato Chip Cookies from Southern Plate
Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies from About.com’s Home Cooking section

 

Hope you can enjoy some of these cookies in the future! I should receive my second set of cookies soon- we had more than twenty team members participating so it should be a great variety of holiday treats!

 

Reindeer Run 2012

15 Dec

This morning it was time to participate in the Reindeer Run at SeaWorld Orlando! Presented by Track Shack, a local running store, it’s the first run that started my regular running habit!

I met my friend at SeaWorld at about 7:00AM for a 7:15AM start time. I had been planning to get their earlier, but traffic into the park was a bit crazy! Luckily, I still made it in time and found my friend a minute or two before the race start.

Ready to run!

Ready to run!

 

The race itself was a ton of fun. The course was the same as last year as far as I could tell. The first mile takes place all along the perimeter of SeaWorld’s parking lot, after that you head into the park and essentially make a loop through all main areas of the park. Along the way, there are some good views of the flamingos and dolphins. Lots of runners stop to take view the animals for a bit, but since I’m a passholder I kept running!

My favorite part of the run is running across a bridge through the middle of SeaWorld’s lagoon. It provides a pretty view of the park and some of the holiday decorations they have on the water!

Sea of Trees

Sea of Trees

It was a foggy morning, as you can see from this picture. The moisture in the air made the bridge and some of the other surfaces a little slippery. I tend to have a bad track record when it comes to walking on wet surfaces- lots of slips and falls- so I was a little nervous and tried to be super careful as I was running. The weather definitely could have been a bit better. It was cold for Florida, with temperatures in the low 60’s, but simultaneously pretty humid which wasn’t idea.

My friend and I ran separately for the most part, but she finished about 2 minutes after me, so it was a successful run for both of us. The race wasn’t timed but based on the finish line clock, I crossed the finish line in about 40:26. Going off of my Garmin, I finished in 38:59 but I started it a little late as I missed the start line signs!

One of the best things about this race is seeing how some of the runners dress up! There is a costume contest following the run, so people get pretty into it. There were tons or reindeer, elves and Santas! Mrs. Clause was there too! I don’t think I could handle running in some of the costumes I saw- they looked really hot! I even saw quite a few people running in flannel pajamas, which I could never do!

Once I met up with my friend, we headed to the post race party, grabbed some water, bananas and cookies, enjoyed viewing some of the wildlife SeaWorld had on display and took a few pictures!

Penguins!

Penguins!

 

 

A sea lion, my favorite!

A sea lion, my favorite!

 

 

We did it!

We did it!

 

All in all, it was a ton of fun. This race holds a special place in my heart and is a great time!

Thanks for a great run!

Thanks for a great run!

 

Thursday Things

13 Dec

It is crazy gloomy here in Orlando. And cold! The weather throughout the week has been all over the place. We had some hot and humid days, rain yesterday and just blah, chilly weather today. Granted, it’s technically still in the 60’s which wouldn’t be considered cold in most places, but it’s definitely a change here!

Unfiltered Gloom

Unfiltered Gloom

Tonight, is the winter finale of Scandal! Personally, I think these “winter finales” that so many shows are having right now are a cop out for shorter seasons but, in this case, I at least know it’s likely to be an incredible episode with lots of twists and turns! Sooooooooo looking forward to it.

In less than two weeks, Christmas will be over. I can’t believe we are so close to Christmas and the end of the year. I am hoping to have one more Christmas activity with my Florida Family- all my friends who, like myself, are separated from their actual families by miles and miles and miles. Last night we had a great time looking at Christmas lights at a local campground (separate post coming soon).

I am incredibly excited to go home! This is my first time being home ON Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in 5 years! Thrilled to spend the time with my family. Hopefully a trip to New York City will be in the cards too. My family lives about an hour away and it’s one of my favorite places to visit. Hopefully, it isn’t too cold!

Despite the rapid approach of Christmas, I have yet to do any Christmas shopping. I am the worst. Without fail, even with good intentions, I end up procrastinating until the last minute! I really have to get cracking soon. I have one present for a Secret Santa that needs to be purchased by the 20th!

My goal by the end of 2012 is to have created a complete 30 before 30 list. It’s something I really want to attempt. I feel like I’ve already done a couple things that would have made it on the list- like running a half marathon and travelling to Europe. I need to create a formal list before I have nothing to put on it!

Does it Still Count If I Already Did It?

Does it Still Count If I Already Did It?

Broadway Across America: Sister Act

13 Dec

Last week, I mentioned briefly that my roomie and I were hoping to be able to see the musical Sister Act, which was in town touring at the Bob Car Performing Arts Centre.

We’ve been lucky enough to score cheap tickets before through student rush. Basically the way student rush works is that when the box office opens, usually two hours before showtime, individuals with a valid student ID are able to purchase two tickets at a deeply discounted rate. There’s never a guarantee that tickets will be available, but the box office will sell all available seats through student rush.

We’ve been lucky enough to see both the Lion King and Beauty and the Beast tours through Broadway Across America in the past year. Similarly, I saw Wicked with a couple other friends the year before. Each time, we’ve had pretty fantastic seats on the Orchestra level!

For us, Sister Act wasn’t necessarily a “must see”, as neither of us knew much about it, but we’d figured we’d try our luck and see what happened- and, boy, are we glad we did!  After I got off at work at 5PM, I headed home to pick up my roommate. We got there a little after 6PM, when the box office opened,  and were able to get our tickets!

Since we had some time to kill before the show at 8PM we fell into our regular pre-musical routine and headed to a Panera Bread about ten minutes away. Despite being our regular downtown driver, I somehow managed to get disoriented EVERY TIME I go downtown. Even with the help of a GPS and iPhone, we somehow manage to take a different route to and from Panera each time we go.

At Panera, I went with the You Pick 2, as usual, with the Chicken Cobb Salad with Avocado and half of Panera’s new Grilled Cheese. Chips and an extra pickle were a requirement, as well. While I’ve had the salad several times before and knew it would be a hit, the Grilled Cheese was a new pick for me. The Grilled Cheese was good, but I think I have had better. They also have an Adult Grilled Cheese version, which maybe would have been a better choice.

We made our way back to the Bob Carr shortly after and settled in to enjoy Sister Act. Although we had both seen the movie several years ago, we were not really sure what to expect out of the musical.

me

Grainy iPhone Shot

We both ended up enjoying the show immensely! It was such an enjoyable evening. There were so many moments that were hilarious within the show. I really thought that most of the characters, especially the nuns, were cast fantastically. The actors did a great job at portraying the characters we remembered from the movie version. It was really a terrific night that far exceeded our expectations.  It was an amazing night!

Hopefully, our student rush luck will continue with some of the upcoming shows at the Bob Carr. Musicals coming in 2013 include Mary Poppins, Wicked (again), Priscilla Queen of the Desert and Memphis– all of which seem wonderful! I’m already dying to hear what shows will be coming to Orlando for the 2013-2014 season!

Random Running Inspiration

12 Dec

I tend to be a randomly emotional person. I tear up at the oddest things. Yes there are the typical triggers, like the movie Rent or books like Marley and Me.

Then there are the  Things like the trailer for the Katy Perry movie that came out a while ago, as a random example. Yes it’s somewhat of an inspirational underdog movie, however tears at a 30 second preview are a tad extreme, even for me.

Photo slideshows set to music  without fail will ALWAYS get me crying. It doesn’t even matter if I know the people featured or not.

With that being said, I am easily inspired by a good motivational quote. Especially when it comes to running, exercising and just being active in general. Here are a couple examples of quotes that have gotten me off the couch and out the door for a run in the past.

“Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it what you put into it.”
-Oprah Winfrey

“The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.”
-John Bingham

 “Life is short… running makes it seem longer.”
– Baron Hansen

When I recently completed my first half marathon, I loved all the signs along the way. OUC, the race sponsor, had some staked in the ground along the course and there were plenty of funny homemade signs as well. Some of the signs did cause impromptu (happy) tears along the way!

I didn’t take any pictures along the course and have a horrible memory, but a few of the funny and motivation ones that I can remember include the following.

Sweat is fat crying.

Run faster! Your husband just found the credit card bill!

Worst. Parade. Ever.

You’re not slow, you’re just enjoying the course.

Go, Random Stranger, Go!

No one made you do this!

Trust your training
The best motivation that I’ve seen before was the shirt of a fellow runner. On the back it said, “You just got passed by an 83 year old’!

I’ve seen this woman at several local races-often when she is passing me. The shirt is very funny, but this lady’s commitment to running and her overall fitness level at the age of 83  is incredibly inspiring.  It’s always great to see her at these events-even when she is making her way past me :).

I love a little motivation-pre-run and during!

Cookies, Cookies and Christmas Cards

11 Dec

Working two jobs has its perks.

Both of my teams are hosting holiday cookie swaps! Which means means by Saturday I will have more cookies than I could ever dream of!

Tonight, I made both of my contributions for the exchanges, with both recipes being found through blogs! Since I made a complete mess of my kitchen, I don’t have any “in progress” pictures, but did get some photos of the finished products.

First I made Chocolate Crinkle Cake Mix Cookies, that I found on Julie’s blog. So simple and adorable.

photo (8)

Then, I made Hot Chocolate Snowballs as featured on Melissa’s Cuisine.I originally saw these on Pinterest and thought they were cute but wasn’t sure what to expect. After sampling the finished product (quality control and all, right?) the are AMAZING! It’s always a minor victory to successfully complete  a pin from Pinterest.

photo (7)

As a bonus, the hot chocolate cookies call for some of Melissa’s homemade hot chocolate mix-so now I have a nice supply of hot chocolate to get me through the holiday season!

Looking forward to getting my swapped cookies!

In other Christmas news, I am participating in a Christmas Card Swap, hosted by Zaneta of Runner’s Luck.

2012 Christmas Card Swap Logo

I found out today that I am part of Team Snowflake! I will be exchanging Christmas cards with the following bloggers!

Hannah at HannahViolin
Suzanne from Cows and Lazers and Everything in Between
Erica from Life as a Running Mom
Danielle from Breathe
Michelle from Michelle le belle…Tres bien ensemble

Looking forward to receiving and sending cards across the country!