Blogging and Traveling (TOL #41)

Ever wonder where all these beautiful, well written blog posts come from when you know I’ve been traveling for weeks on end?  Well I’m glad you asked!  I’ll tell you all about it thinking out loud style.  Thanks Amanda for hosting, check out the full post here.

Thinking-Out-Loud

  1. If you have been following along with me for a while you know I like organization.  That is my key point for keeping up with a blog while traveling.  I write a lot of content in advance and schedule it to cover while I’m gone and a few days after I get back to give me time to write new content.  Planning out the posts makes your life a lot easier.

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2.  Have regularly occurring posts.  You might have noticed 4 of the 5 posts I do a week are around a theme.  What I Wore Wednesday, Foodie Friday, Thinking Out Loud Thursday and Workout Recaps on Tuesday (I like alliteration, don’t hate).  That makes it really easy for me to plan posts and keep a posting schedule that works for me.

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3.  Keep a list of post ideas and write drafts to expand on when you have a free moment.  For example, this post has been sitting in my drafts for a few days as I continue to work on it.  I have quite a few others that are just post titles waiting for inspiration to strike.

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4.  Don’t worry about missing a post.  I see a lot of posts like “sorry I was gone for a week”.  Look, at the end of the day most bloggers don’t really make money from their sites so its not the end of the world if you miss a post or two.  I personally don’t lose sleep over it and I’m sure readers don’t either.

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5.  Don’t post just to post.  I find that bloggers who are posting content just to make sure they get a post out there have little substance and leave me wondering why I’m reading the blog.  If your are posting make sure there is substance not just a  bunch of words.  I’d much rather read an interesting blog that doesn’t post as frequently then a pointless blog that posts all the time.

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6.  Apps are your friend.  I have the wordpress app and do some writing / editing / posting from my phone when I don’t have access to a computer.  My posts are pretty much already done but I use the app to make any last minute editing or changes before posting.  I don’t know if every hosting site has an app but it sure does make things easier.

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7.  Keep up with comments even when traveling.  I get annoyed when I take the time to read and comment on someones blog and there is never a response back.  Why am I spending my time when it seems you don’t appreciate it.  Be a good blogger and at least write a quick comment back or a like or something that way that reader knows you saw and appreciate their time.  This goes back to the app a little bit because wordpress does send a notification when someone comments or likes your post.  I try my best to respond same day.  If your comment got lost in spam I’m still working on getting the hang of that 🙂

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8.  This isn’t really travel and blogging related but find your voice.  This blog started out as a way to talk about running but has morphed into a travel/Disney space and I really am not that upset about it.  I still talk about running but that’s not what my life is totally about right now.  Just because your blog started out about one thing that doesn’t mean it cant change.  Be authentic and readers will respond to that.

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CHIME IN!!!  How do you keep up with a blog when you travel?  Share your blog in the comments below!!!  What’s your favorite blog?

WIWW #45

I’m sitting at my desk staring at my tea willing it to give me the energy I just don’t have today.  So far its not working but its still early.

Since some of us (*cough*me*cough*) are having issues getting off the weight they gained I cant wear all the things in my closet.  Today was a mix of wanting to be comfortable but also feeling a little uncomfortable because things feel too tight and blah blah self conscious rant here.

I actually have quite a bit of nerd-ware in my closet that I don’t wear that often because people don’t get my obsessions at work but fooey on them I wanted to wear this today so I did!

WIWW

Top: Express

Sweater:  NY and Co

Skirt:  Etsy

Petticoat: Online Shop

Necklace:  Etsy

Shoes: Converse

CHIME IN!!!  Do you buy clothes from etsy?  Whats your favorite color chucks?  What’s your morning pick me up?

Workout Recap 6/21-27

I’m home again!  While I am zero percent happy about running in the heat and humidity I’m happy to be able to shower in my own shower, run without a map and get back into a normal routine.

Tuesday:  Rest day!!!  I normally run on Tuesdays so this is a little strange for me but I’m not complaining.  Just a boring hot day in Houston with no workouts 🙂

Wednesday:  Hill repeats today.  15 minute warm up with 4x 2 1/2 minute inclines at 5% grade and 2 1/2 min rest at 1% grade.  I did stop a few times because my lower calf has been so tight its ridiculous.  Also I did this on my home treadmill and the incline metric isn’t the same as a normal treadmill.  It felt like I was doing a 5% but I couldn’t tell for sure since it doesn’t display the same.  Finished with 40 minutes and 3.23 miles.  15 minutes stretching / foam rolling / yoga poses that night.

treadmill

Thursday:  Speed work today and OMG it was hot out.  I got up at 5am and both of my weather apps said it was 80 degrees already.  YUCK!  20 minute warm up with 8×30 second very fast effort and 90 second recovery finish with 16 minute cool down.  Ended with an 11:14 overall pace but the very fast efforts were between 6:49-7:20 so not too shabby!  My legs were dead after the 8th pick-up though and I had to slow jog it back home…like 12:30 slow job.  Yikes this heat is a beast.  15 minutes stretching / foam rolling / yoga poses that night.

sunrise

Friday:  Rest day!!!  Mentally preparing for tomorrow…8.5 miles in the heat.  Im physically and mentally exhausted so I made sure to go to bed a little earlier to feel good in the morning…hopefully 🙂  15 minutes stretching / foam rolling / yoga poses that night.

Saturday:  Oh geeze today was hot!  Got on the road at 6am for 8 (I got my distance and time confused ended at 8 but should have done a little more) hot miles.  Had to slow down a little to keep moving and ended with an 11:32 overall pace.  I went through plenty of water for my head and my hydration.  Luckily Joe came and met me around mile 6 with refills for my water so I could finish with cool water yay!!!  Took a gel at mile 5 I started getting hungry so it was perfect timing.  I love it when the sunrise is pink and blue makes me think of Sleeping Beauty everytime!!  90 minute massage with a new therapist today and it HURT SO BAD and not in the good way.  Granted I needed it and I feel better now but she didn’t do the head-rub at the end!  Boo!

Sunday:  55 minutes scheduled today but after yesterday’s brutal massage my whole body was sore and I was just not feeling it.  I ended with 3 miles at 11:32 pace and I’m no sad about it.  Did this run on the treadmill so I could sleep in a little bit and not run in the miserable heat.  15 minutes stretching / foam rolling / yoga poses that night.  Oh and PIZZA TIME!!!  I love weekend pizzas and wine 🙂

pizza and wine

Monday:  Rest day!!!  I wanted to go to core class today but we had a 4 hour training this morning that went into class time 😦  Boo!!!  15 minutes stretching / yoga poses / foam rolling that night.

CHIME IN!!!  How early are you getting up to run now?  Have you seen a drop in your speed?  How did your workouts go this week?

Top 10 Things to Do at Magic Kingdom in WDW

Its no secret I love Disney especially visiting Walt Disney World.  I cant count the number of times I’ve been its somewhere between 50 and 100 (thank you College Program).  Over the years I’ve narrowed down the things that we do and just go to the highlights that we love visiting over and over again.  The below list is in no way a comprehensive list of things to do at the Magic Kingdom but more of things I think you should definitely do if you’ve never been before or don’t visit very often.

Without further ado, your top 10 list of things to do at Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World!

  1.  Castle Selfie!!!  I know people make fun of this and say its basic and all that rot.  Well FOOEY on those people.  Why would you NOT want a picture of yourself and that majestic castle behind you!  I say take MORE castle selfies, they are magical and bring happiness to the world…ok that was a little far but you get my point.  Take all the castle selfies!!!

castle selfie

2.  Wishes!  In my opinion this is the best fireworks show at Walt Disney World.  Its magical, the music is beautiful and the fireworks are perfectly timed.  There are so many different spots to see Wishes but if you are a first timer get a spot by Casey’s Corner or in the grassy area in-front of Casey’s Corner.  You don’t have to get there super early, probably an hour before hand to see the pre-fireworks castle show which is also a technical masterpiece.

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3.  Meet a Character, I don’t care which one but its an iconic Disney experience (read all about that here).  Some of the characters have fast passes, some you just happen upon and others have areas around the park without fast passes.  Check My Disney Experience App for locations and times.

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4.  Haunted Mansion.  Not the original but always worth going.  The cast members are great, even the queue is great.  Don’t skip out on this one.

haunted mansion

5.  Hall of Presidents.  Yes its a little boring and yes its historical but its one of the World’s Fair attractions you just have to see once.  Also its a great place to beat the Florida heat and usually there is never a wait unless its for the last show to let out.

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6.  Carousel of Progress is another World’s Fair piece but this one is super fun with a catchy song.  I love this show, it lasts a long time though and a lot of people use it as a nap spot but trust me you have to watch it at least once.

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7.  Eat something sweet.  Right when you walk down Main Street the smells of sweet baking will fill your nose.  BE TEMPTED!  There are some great treats to enjoy, you will be walking those calories off anyway.

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8.  Festival of Fantasy Parade is by far the best parade I have ever seen at Disney.  The costumes are fantastic, the music is fun and the floats are nothing short of immaculate.  When you see the Steam Punk dragon you will not be disappointed.  My favorite spot is by the flag pole in Frontierland but there are tons of great spots.  Make sure you get close to the front because some of the entertainers will interact with guests along the route and that is always fun.

steampunk dragon

9.  Ride at least 1 mountain, take your pick!  Space, Thunder, Splash, Mine Train (ok not a mountain but pretty close).  My personal favorite is Space Mountain but I think its because its the first “real” roller coaster I went on and loved it.

space mountain

10.  Stop and really enjoy where you are.  Sit in the hub grass and people watch, just enjoy yourself.  I know this seems trivial but I do love finding a shady place to sit and just watch people interact with each other, cast members making magic, just everything at Disney.  Sometimes its nice to sit and stare at the castle.  Take a moment a really enjoy the fact that you are the Magic Kingdom, I know I do all the time.

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CHIME IN!!!  What is on your must do like at MK?  Whats your favorite mountain?  When are you going on your next Disney trip?

Foodie Friday #42 NYC Edition!!!

I just got back from a lovely trip along the milky way!  Sorry…wrong song…Start spreading the news, I’m leavin’ today.  I want to be a part of it…New York, New York!!!

Oh Mickey Blue Eyes you really knew how to capture people’s heart’s with song.  

 For your viewing pleasure 🙂

Let’s talk food!  There really isn’t any place better to eat anything and everything than New York City.  I tried a few new things and a few old favorites while I was in town.  I’m not going to do a full review of each place but show you some food pics and where I went.  You know I did copious amounts of research and asked quite a few people and ended up eating at great locations.  If you find yourself in New York make sure and check out a few of these places and of course report back with photos!!!

NYC skylin

Sunday I took the earliest flight in probably my entire life (6am) to make sure I got to spend a full day in the big apple.  I got to my hotel around 11am and it was time to find lunch.  Since it was Sunday it was still brunch and the hotel sent me to Lord and Taylor’s restaurant.  I had an eggs benny and it was ok but nothing to write home about and no pictures taken.  I walked around NYC for hours then made my way back to the hotel for dinner.  David Burke has a restaurant inside the hotel that I wanted to try and it was pretty good, not great but pretty good.  Its called Fabrik and I had the Three Layer Avocado Dip and the Lobster Bisque Dumplings.  The food was good but the service was better.  Now its time to sleep!

Monday was a work day and nothing special for breakfast but lunch and dinner was where its at!  I of course went to Luke’s Lobster for lunch because I love their rolls.  This visit though they have slightly changed the rolls and I wasn’t as impressed but it was still delicious.  There really isn’t much better in a work day then eating a lobster roll outside with a cool breeze on your back and the sun in your face.  For dinner I decided to try something different and went to this bakery in China Town that sold filled buns for $1 a piece…yeah that’s right $1.  Probably the cheapest delicious dinner I’ve had in NYC.  I bought a few, just in case I didn’t like them, and ate the buns while I walked around Chinatown and Little Italy.  That’s NYC baby!  Oh and the bakery was cash only so if you go be prepared…otherwise there is an ATM outside.

I went to Atlantic City for a few days and was with someone who isn’t big into food photos so I made sure to not do that.  Back in NYC Thursday night I had a super late dinner after my Broadway show and went to the Iconic Sardi’s.  The menu honestly was lack-luster but wasn’t nearly as expensive as I thought it was going to be.  I had the chicken lasagna but didn’t take pictures of it because it wasn’t really that nice to look at.  After that I went to Junior’s for cheesecake which SUCKED.  They messed up my order and even then the cheesecake was just not good.  I didn’t take a picture of the actual cheesecake but me with it on the subway.

Friday was another work day and another Luke’s Lobster!!  This time I ate my lunch outside the New York stock exchange!!!  Super cool right?!  After work I decided it was high time to get some New York style pizza.  There has been much debate within the office on where the best pizza was but ultimately I decided to try Joe’s Pizza and it was totally worth it.  I got a Sicilian Style and a Fresh Mozz style pizza.  It was delicious.  Again cash only and I took this outside to the park across the street to eat.  I wish I had gotten another slice but I really didn’t need it.  I walked all around West Village, came across a few great shops and ended up at Magnolia Bakery.  I had the banana pudding a few days earlier which was actually pretty good but decided to try the Red Velvet and Strawberry cupcakes this time.  Mistake, these cupcakes were dried out had an artificial taste to them and were just overall lackluster.  I actually threw them both away without eating the whole thing they were that bad.  Super sad face because these are probably one of the most hyped-up cupcakes.  On the plus side though the banana pudding was actually pretty good!  After that sad dessert I walked around a little more then headed back to the hotel for an early morning run the next day.

Saturday is here and I have half of the day to explore NYC.  After my run I decided to head to Brooklyn for brunch at a spot that is on a lot of “top brunch places” lists, 5 Leaves.  At 10am there was already a line out the door but luckily being alone I could sit at the bar.  I got a bloody mary (too watery and spicy) and the lemon ricotta pancakes.  While I liked the pancakes I’ve had better brunch back in Houston and was a little disappointed with the offerings.  Almost all the places I researched for brunch had pretty basic offerings nothing like what I’m used to back home.  Oh well, now I can say I’ve brunched in NYC!  I walked around Brooklyn for a while and ran across a food market and grabbed a prickly pear lemonade which was delicious!  Brooklyn actually surprised me on how cool it was so next time I’ll spend a little more time here exploring the neighborhoods.  I headed back to the Financial District and spent some time in Battery Park.  For lunch I went to Luke’s Lobster Tail cart and had 2 large grilled lobster tails.  They were awesome!  I wish I had tried the blueberry balsamic dipping sauce but that’s ok the tails were still delicious.  After lunch it was time to head to the airport and home 😦

This time in New York I tried a lot of new things but kept some old favorites as well.  There are so many places to try it can get a little overwhelming.  Recommendations from people are widely varied and in my experience usually don’t match up to your personal taste.  Take yelp scores and reviews with a grain of salt and don’t be afraid to venture out of your comfort zone you might find some amazing places.  Most importantly though, save room for dessert…always.

CHIME IN!!!  When was the last time you were in NYC?  What was your favorite thing to eat there?  Do you like lobster rolls?

What I Look for in an Accommodation (TOL #40)

Its no secret by now that I travel, and travel often.  In a few posts I mentioned that I am a traditionalist when it comes to accommodations and stay in hotels almost exclusively.  I’ll do a separate post on why that is but today I wanted to share what I look for in an accommodation before I book.  The list isn’t long but they are important to me.  This list will not be the same for everyone but I bet there is one item that will be on everyone’s list 🙂

Linking up with Amanda to do this thinking out loud style.  See the full post here.

Thinking-Out-Loud

  1. Free wifi.  That’s right, free internet.  I bet this is the one thing that will be on everyone’s list.  Especially when traveling internationally I want to know there is at least one place where I can reconnect with the world.  Internet isn’t just to check facebook and instagram, I can skype with people back home.  Check emails to make sure nothing is going crazy at home (my security system is linked to my email) or text with WhatsApp to avoid huge data charges.  Free internet baby, its where its at!

Free-WiFi-Van2.  White linens.  Sounds strange right?  Well just imagine those old school floral bedspreads with God knows what on them.  With the white linens there are higher cleanliness standards and while the comforter under those sheets may not be washed very often you can bet the sheet on top is washed after every use.  White linens also show every little stain so I know its been bleached within an inch of its life and I’m cool with that.  Stay away gearmies!!!!!

venice hotel3.  Fitness center or access to a fitness center.  As you know I run, and I run even when I’m on vacation and especially when traveling for work.  I need easy access to a fitness center to stay on track.  When traveling abroad this can be tricky but that’s when the next point comes in handy.

today i will kill it

4.  Location location location!  Just like that old school Disney commercial (you know the one, go watch the original Lion King VHS and you’ll see it), location is everything.  No matter where I stay I base it on what I want to be close to.  I actually try and not stay in a City Center/Downtown areas because traffic/parking/prices are crazy.  Instead Ill try and stay by a landmark that I want to visit or close to public transportation.  If there is no fitness center I also try and stay in an area that would be safe for me to run in the morning.  Getting those runs in no matter what people!!!

5.  Some kind of food.  Whether its free breakfast, a restaurant on site, room service, something.  I prefer a hotel that includes breakfast but sometimes, especially during work trips, I just want to eat at the hotel and get up to my room.  Again, this is something that’s not really at all international hotels but a must have on work trips.

hotel food

6.  A good review score.  Yup, I am a review snob.  I read them and I leave them.  I appreciate reviews but look at them with a skeptical eye.  Some people just like to complain and those are most frequently the people that leave reviews.  I appreciate honest reviews and I leave them as well.  Truth be told I’m more likely to leave a good review than a bad one.  I want people to know of the great experiences I’ve had so they can have them too.  So if you are someone who doesn’t leave reviews, think about how often you use reviews to base your decisions on and maybe think again about that decision.  Ok rant over…but the point still stands.

review score

7.  Air-conditioning and heating.  You would be surprised the amount of hotels that don’t have AC.  In Texas its standard but be warned, not all European hotels have AC let alone individual room AC.  When traveling anywhere outside the US make sure and check especially if you are traveling in the summer.  I don’t know anyone who can sleep soundly when its 90 degrees.

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8.  Not something I look for pre-booking but keep in mind for future trips is availability of power outlets.  I’ve stayed in so many nice hotels that only have the standard electrical outlets (you know, behind the bed) which make it really difficult to charge my electrical devices.  If a hotel has all the above criteria plus outlets in the lamps, outlets in the headboard, or mega bonus USB and outlet plugs close to the bed you are definitely going to get my repeat business.

CHIME IN!!!  What are some things you look for in an accommodation?  Ever stayed in a room with no AC?  Free wifi, need or don’t care?

Workout Recap 6/14-20

I spent this week in New York and New Jersey (what?!) so I had some interesting runs!  I was actually pretty excited to have a long run in NYC this weekend to run over the Brooklyn Bridge.  I debated between Central Park and the Bridge but ultimately decided on the bridge because of my proximity to it and the fact there is a trail along the water to add on some extra miles.  I even took my goPro to practice with it before Paris.  I was uber-prepared this week 😉  Let’s talk about it!

Tuesday:  So happy I am staying at a hotel with a fitness center!!!  Oh but its the smallest fitness center I have ever used.  No worries though, there was no one there which made for a nice peaceful workout.  Today was 15 minute warm up with 8x1min pick ups at 8:06 pace with 1 minute easy rest in between each.  Ended with 3.75 miles with an average pace of 10:41.  I did my cool downs a little slower than I probably should have but I wasn’t really sure how my legs were going to feel today after all the walking I’ve been doing.  10 minutes stretching / foam rolling that night.

the tiniest fitness center

Wednesday:  Bad news bears guys…this hotel we are staying at in Atlantic City has limited hours on their fitness center…9am-6pm…what is that all about!!!!!  I was scheduled to do hills today but seeing as I wasn’t able to get into the fitness center I texted my coach and asked her to change up the workout.  Today’s run was 5x3min repeats at 8:13 target pace.  I did this on the Boardwalk and ended with the repeats at about a 8:25 pace.  A little off target but I’m not used to that speed off of the treadmill, pretty close though right?!  15 minute warm-up, 3 min pick up 2 min rest then 10 minute cool down.  Ended with 4.97 miles at 10:04 pace.  A tad off the 5 mile mark but pretty dang close.  Thank goodness I was prepared for outside running (planning an outside run for Sunday over the Brooklyn bridge) otherwise I would have been a little put out carrying the phone and waters.  15 minutes stretching / foam rolling / yoga poses that night.

running on the boardwalk

Thursday:  Recovery run and it was a misty morning in Atlantic City.  Still much less humid then a normal day at home though!  Out and back for a total of 4 miles.  The back 2 was so windy I was working so much harder to keep the pace.  It was nice though because on the way out I was getting pretty warm.  Ended with the last .1 miles on the beach and OMG people who run on the beach are amazing people, that mess is HARD!!!  No stretching that night I had a tight schedule and didn’t get back to the room until 11:30pm and was ready to pass out.  Oh and I tried out the goPro today!!!  Still trying to figure out the whole editing and uploading process.

beach runs

Friday:  Rest day!  Oh boy this was needed.  Hard workouts plus travel plus meetings all week means an exhausted Rachael.  I didn’t do much but work and find a great place to have dinner…because priorities!  I really enjoy exploring NYC such a diverse city!

NYC strolls

Saturday:  Today is the day!  I have spent some time mapping out this run (this is the route I planned), prepped my goPro, psyched myself up for a fun run and headed out for 7.5 miles.  I really wanted to either run a race or catch up with November Project but there was no run and the group doesn’t meet on Saturdays so I was on my own 😦  I made a video but wordpress free edition doesnt support video if I figure out where I can post it I’ll make sure to share it (I added music so I cant put it on faccebook).  The run went well I stopped a few times for pictures and directions but overall it was a nice run with great weather and left me feeling good.  I actually walked 15.5 miles total that day so I was pretty exhausted when I got home that night.  Ended with 7.2 miles at an 11:04 pace.  Not too shabby!

morning run view

Sunday:  Today was supposed to be a 4 mile recovery run but I was tired and my legs were like lead so I took the puppies for a walk instead and then went to brunch with my friend Summer.  Then all the things around the house I haven’t had a chance to do for almost 2 weeks…yeah being an adult is not fun sometimes (read laundry and grocery shopping lol).  red velvet waffles.jpg

Monday:  I did my 4 mile recovery run today and it was disgustingly hot and humid.  My pace was a little off ended with 3.9 miles at an 11:19 pace but much faster than I thought I was going that’s for sure.  I also did a 30 minute core class at the gym today to get back into the groove and also because my core is sad and weak again.  15 minutes stretching / foam rolling / yoga poses that night.

monday run

CHIME IN!!!  Have you ever run in New York City before?  Run around the water or a trail?  How are you today?

Top 5 Carry-On Items

I bet you have seen or read countless articles on how carry-on only is the best way to travel.  I 9 times out of 10 will agree with that mainly because if you carry things on you don’t have to worry about something happening to your luggage.  While what everyone brings in their carry-on varies slightly I thought I would share with you my top 5 essentials for any flight.

  1. Noise-cancelling headphones.  This is pretty much a universally accepted carry-on item to keep your sanity.  I don’t know how people sit on a plane for hours with no music, no movies, nothing.  Insanity.

noise cancelling headphones

2.  Music/Movie/Audiobook.  This goes hand in hand with item #1 but I need to be entertained or have an aide in sleeping.  All of these go together because they are either all on my phone or ipad so it all equals 1 item.  I guess I could just put ipad but whatever 🙂

audiobooks

3.  Water.  Yes they give you fluids on the plane but I don’t like to have to worry about paying attention to when the flight attendant comes around and lets be honest that tiny cup isn’t doing anyone any favors.  I bring a large bottle of water to stay hydrated especially on long flights.  I also want the bottles with the pop top.  Yup I’m weird and have a bottle preference but I’ve dropped a water bottle cap on the ground too many times.

water

4.  A jacket and scarf.  Very few flights have I been warm on so the jacket goes with me no matter the weather of the destination.  I hate being cold.  The scarf goes with the jacket for the same reason but also to block out smells.  You know what I mean when I say smells right…ok good, same page 😉  That same jacket and scarf have kept me warm on many a trip, like when we were in Asheville!

jacket and scarf

5.  For international flights I need a pillow.  I try my best to sleep on international flights and a crumpled up jacket or those sad airline pillows just don’t cut it.  I have a neck pillow that sucks and am in the market for a new one but a pillow is a total must have.  The picture below you can get here and is the one I’m looking at getting before my September trip.

neck pillow

5b.  Since the last one was just for international flights I’m going to add an extra item and that’s first aide.  For me that means Dramamine, pepto and Advil.  All of those have come in handy at some point in time on a flight.  For you these things might be different but I never go anywhere without at least Advil.  All of these I take in travel size containers.  With Advil I keep the original container and just refill it.  The other two don’t come in large sizes to refill so I just buy new containers.  Also, pepto I take the chewable tablets instead of the liquid so there are no issues in security.

CHIME IN!!!  What are your travel must have’s?  What’s the longest flight you have been on?  Where are you off to next?

Sprinkles at Disney Springs (Foodie Friday #41)

I have another Disney Springs new place for you today!  Are you tired of them yet?  Well all the traveling I haven’t really cooked so I don’t have any recipes to share with you 😦  Instead I wanted to share the new Sprinkles location with you.  Apparently there is one here in Houston but I’ve never been, but one at Disney, heck yes!

First, I want you to know I waited 15 minutes IN THE RAIN for these cupcakes.  On the plus side, that made the line extremely short compared to a non-rainy day.  I almost went to the cupcake ATM but I wanted the full experience so I went inside.  Also, it seems that Disney has asked Sprinkles to remove the Mickey head which I think is a complete shame.  Its super cute and makes this location blend more with Disney, but oh well probably some trademark business.

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Location:  Sprinkles is located in Town Center.  If you park in the Lime Garage, walk straight to the end of the row of shops and it will be on your right.  The view here is really nice overlooking the lake with a few tables outside to enjoy your cupcake from.  Granted it was pouring rain when I was there so no one was using them but I have no doubt these will get used during nice weather.

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Ambiance:  Sprinkles feels like a working kitchen but on a larger scale.  Everywhere you look people are making cupcakes, whipping up desserts or re-stocking the display cake.  In stark contrast from Amorette’s, Sprinkles is contemporary and a little clinical in feel.  The staff here is so nice though, greeting you with a smile and more than ready to tell you anything you want to know about the menu.

Eats:  Cupcakes are of course the centerpiece here but did you know they also offer ice cream, ice cream sandwiches, cookies, and even doggie cupcakes?!  I went traditional and got a sprinkles cupcake regular size and a mini red velvet.  I was very tempted by everything else though.  Above I have some pictures of the menu but rest assured next time I go I want to try a sundae…or a red velvet waffle cone ice cream…or a cookie sandwich…oh the choices!!!  Ok back to the cupcakes.  Like I said I tried the standard size sprinkles cupcake and a mini red velvet.  Lets start with the mini.

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The mini is 1-2 bites worth but jam-packed with flavor.  The red velvet is one of the best red velvet cakes I’ve had and bonus points for not staining my teeth with copious amounts of red dye.  The cream cheese icing wasn’t too thick and the cake underneath was moist, light and fluffy.  I wish I had gotten the standard size but I really didn’t need to eat 2 full size cupcakes.  After eating this delicious nugget I was really excited to try the sprinkles one.  In the show kitchen I saw the ladies icing these and realized they are funfetti cupcakes topped with vanilla icing and sprinkles.  I thought they were just vanilla cupcakes but I love funfetti so I decided then and there to try that one instead of the coconut or salted caramel.

All that lead up for me to say…this was really disappointing.  The cake was dried out and had no flavor.  I want to use the word cardboard but that seems a little harsh.  The sprinkles were so dense on the icing I felt like my teeth were chipping when eating this.  I took 2 bites, decided it was so bad it wasn’t worth the extra calories and threw it away.  I know I cant believe it either but there you have it.  If this was my only experience with Sprinkles I would have been extremely let down.  Luckily I had the memory of the amazing red velvet to keep me happy.

Overall:  I like cupcakes and these are a solid offering.  While I probably wouldn’t pay this much for a cupcake in my normal life, vacation life is a little different.  I think next time I’ll try something other than a cupcake for a more unique experience.  If you do go just be prepared to wait in line, for the inside to be crowded but friendly staff and yummy desserts.

Extra Bonus:  I mentioned there was an ATM…I didn’t use it because I already reached my cupcake and dessert quota but its a machine that dispenses cupcakes.  You can get any of the flavors and it hold up to 400 cupcakes (I asked the cashier).  Its a super cool option in case the line to go inside is just too long.  There are 2 buts here though…#1 you cannot get reward points when you use the ATM and #2 you can only get cupcakes so if you want to try an ice cream sandwich you are out of luck at the ATM.

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CHIME IN!!!  Have you been to Sprinkles before?  Are you a cupcake fan?  Do you like funfetti?

Running in the Summer (TOL #39)

I think summer officially starts until the middle of June but the heat is already here and slowing everyone down.  Since I’ve lived in the south my whole life I know summer like an old frenemy, that cruel mistress that is humidity and everything else that goes with it.  I thought now would be a good time to give some tips and tricks for dealing with the heat.  You cant escape it but being prepared will definitely help.

Linking up with Ananda to share these tips thinking out loud style!  Check out the full post here.

Thinking-Out-Loud

  1.  First and most importantly make sure you have plenty of water.  For shorter runs its still important especially if you go when the sun is out.  Hydrate early and often.

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2.  Adding onto the water point, have water to cool yourself down.  When I do my long runs I take my fuel belt with 3 small water bottles.  2 are filled with water and 1 is filled with gatorade.  There are a few water fountains along my long run routes to refill those water bottles but I do douse my head and neck with water when i start getting warm.  From experience, its never too soon to pour water on yourself, if you wait until your very warm you probably waited too long.  Thank goodness for my running club that has water set out along our routes, that has saved me more than once during the summer.

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3.  Wear light and loose clothes.  Tight fitting shorts or tops, for me at least, trap in the heat and make me too hot too fast.  I wear things that let a breeze (if there is one) flow through it and help cool me down.  I try and not wear my compression socks so as much of me has access to a breeze.

20150716_0525224.  If you can wear a visor instead of a hat that would be best.  A hat keeps all the heat from your head trapped and makes it difficult for that heat to escape.  I know a lot of people prefer a hat but I prefer not to boil my brains lol

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5.  Run as early or as late as possible.  If you can plan your runs to be done majority when the sun is down.  Once the sun comes up so does the heat and so does the risk of heat stroke.  Morning is better than night (the sun hasn’t baked the road all day) but I know that’s not always possible.  Plus you can see some beautiful sunrises if you go early in the morning.

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6.  Be prepared to adjust your pace.  Blah blah science but when the temps get above 80 you lose speed and that’s just the way it is.  Accept that and don’t expect to see amazing super awesome paces or run times.  There is a reason there are very few races during the summer months.  This pic was from a 10k last June that kicked my ass with the heat.

jog the journey 10k

7.  Last but not least, listen to your body.  If you feel your getting overheated stop and cool down.  If you are feeling sick stop.  Heat stroke is no joke so be careful and be mindful of whats going on with your body.

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8.  What would you add to this list?  How does your body deal with the heat?