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Catching Up to the Present

6 Mar

What have I been up to since starting an unofficial blogging “break” in December? I’ll recap some of the runs below in more detail at a later date, but here’s a look at what I’ve been doing-running and otherwise!

Enjoying the holiday season with my first trip home for Christmas in FIVE years! Complete with quality time with the family, christmas cookies and other homeade meals and treats galore, SNOW, a trip to NYC and a Coldplay concert.

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve

Freedom Tower in NYC

Freedom Tower in NYC

 

Snow

Snow

Stew Leonard's, the Best Grocery Experience. Ever.

Stew Leonard’s, the Best Grocery Experience. Ever.

Coldplay!

Coldplay!

Ringing in the New Year from my condo complex’s parking lot with a friend.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Taking in some Broadway at the Bob Carr with student rush tickets to Mary Poppins!

Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins

Running the Color Run in January during it’s first visit to Orlando.

Running the Dick Batchelor Run for the Children at Universal Orlando for the second time. One of my favorite 5K’s!

Not exactly a running photo, but take in the post-race area at Universal's CityWalk!

Not exactly a running photo, but take in the post-race area at Universal’s CityWalk!

Celebrating my golden birthday (26 on the 26th of January) with surprise cupcakes, work, pottery painting and dinner with friends!

A Welcome Birthday Surprise!

A Welcome Birthday Surprise!

Palm Tree Pottery

Palm Tree Pottery

Starting spring semster grad school classes. Two online courses this semester. Taking advantage of tuition waivers and making slow progress towards my Master’s.

Running the Lady Track Shack 5K, an all female run in Winter Park, Florida.

Running the innaugural Winter Garden 10K-and tackling a new distance!

Running the Disney’s Princess Half Marathon!

Planning my 2013 (into 2014) dream race schedule which includes signing up for Disney’s Tower of Terror 10 Miler and hopefully signing up for Disney’s Wine and Dine Half Marathon when registration opens!

Preparing for my sister’s arrival to Orlando for Spring Break- which means some upcoming time spent enjoying the local theme parks!

 

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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?

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!

2nd Annual Ice! Excursion

8 Dec

Continuing with the holiday festivities for the month of December, my friends and I crossed another holiday activity off our list- a visit to Ice! at Gaylord Palms, a beautiful Orlando area hotel.

Ice! is a winter extravaganza held in the convention area of Gaylord Palms, featuring incredible ice sculptures celebrating the holiday season. My friends an I had attended last year and the sculptures were all themed towards the holiday television special Shrek the Halls. This year it was themed towards Merry Madagascar!

Merry Madagascar!

Merry Madagascar!

As always, the ice sculptures are truly amazing! Over 2 million pounds of ice are use throughout the display. I enjoy seeing the characters from the Madagascar movie and television special in ice form. It makes me appreciate the detail and how well they can duplicate the characters’ likenesses.

The Cast of Characters

The Cast of Characters

Here are some of the ice sculpture highlights:

The Wonder of Ice!

The Wonder of Ice!

As much as I love all the sculptures, my number one favorite thing about Ice! is the ice slide they create! Last year, I probably went down the slide as much as some of the little kids at the experience! The main motivation this year was to get a sweet picture sliding down the ice. Unfortunately, that didn’t go quite as I hoped.

Last year, I had used one of the loaner coats that Ice! offers, but this year I chose to wear my own coat which greatly affected my sliding ability! Since I was wearing jeans, I didn’t slide very well at all and basically had to shimmy and push my way down the ice. It was still fun and definitely very funny as well! I tried to have my friend take some photos of me pretending to whiz down the slide at fast speeds, but I think it was a no go.

Slide Fail

Slide Fail

My friends had put me on “slide probation”  because I’ve still been dealing with some hip pain and they didn’t want me to keep pushing myself down the slide with the potential of irritating my hip. As a result, I called it quits on the slide after one turn. After that we had some fun taking more pictures throughout the different scenes- including impersonating some of the characters!

Pretty Good, Right?

Pretty Good, Right?

That little boy in my picture definitely approves!

After the colorful Madagascar scenes, Ice! ends with a more traditional holiday scene, an impressive nativity display. Much more simple, but equally spectacular.

'Tis the Season

‘Tis the Season

All in all, another great holiday centered evening with friends! Looking forward to more holiday fun next week!

More Holiday Fun

6 Dec

After finishing my half marathon on Saturday, I had some rare free time to enjoy. As someone with two jobs that works 7 days in the average week, free time is definitely at a premium.

After heading home, I showered freshened up and enjoyed some quality time with my DVR for a bit. Later in the afternoon, I met up with a friend of mine and headed to Disney’s Hollywood Studios for another one of my favorite holiday traditions, the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights.

Each year a themed area of the park full of city street facades is covered in thousands and thousands of holiday lights that dance to Christmas music every ten to fifteen minutes.

Holiday Magic

Holiday Magic

When I moved to Florida, attending this event made it truly feel like the holiday season. Definitely great to enjoy the holiday atmosphere, without the sub-zero temperatures! Another holiday favorite down for 2012!