Disney’s Animal Kingdom

There was horrendous traffic getting to the highway on Thursday, so J decided to skip his classes that day. When he came back home, he suggested we go to Disney.

Animal Kingdom is the park we least frequent. It is a great park but the animals are the main attraction and that can get old fast. It also closes earlier than many of the other parks, so if you do not get an early start, it can be hard to have enough time to spend there.

The main attraction at the center of the park.

The Tree of Life is huge and really beautiful. It houses the It’s Tough to be a Bug! show and has intricate carvings throughout the base of the tree.

Outside of the Flights of Wonder, we spotted my favorite bird.

Owl! If you follow me on Pinterest, you may have noticed my love of owl tchotchkes. They are just so interesting looking.

Upon arrival, we made a beeline for Fast Passes for Kilimanjaro Safaris Expedition. This is my top must ride at Animal Kingdom. It puts you in a vehicle and takes you on a safari through a wildlife reserve. I never get tired of this ride because each time is different.

We saw a giraffe.

A lioness.

Scary warning sign which is Disney’s attempt to keep it real.

Plus zebras, rhinos, elephants, and a cheetah.

We did a lot of walking and spotted Expedition Everest. I am a big chicken about heights, so I have never been on this ride.

It was a beautiful day and it made me so thankful having an annual pass.

Do you have a favorite Disney park?

Half Marathon Training Week Twelve

If you would like to follow my other weeks of training, they can be found on my Workouts page. I break my half marathon training down by week to make it easier to follow.

Half Marathon Training Week 12

Key Workouts:

Easy Runs: 3/3

Speedwork: 1/1

Long Run: 0/1

Strength Training: 1/2

Cross Training: 1/1

Total Miles: 21.53

This week was not my best week. My easy runs were fine, no issues, but my speedwork on Thursday was a disaster. I ended up calling that run a few miles before it was supposed to be over. The pace felt really fast, the weather was bothering me, and I could not get myself to continue mentally.

Supposed to be a tempo run

I rarely have runs like this and I am not sure of the exact cause but maybe it has to do with overall stress? As positive as I am trying to be, being out of work is rough. I feel slightly depressed and the lack of interviews is makes me feel rejected.

I missed my long run on Saturday because I attended a political event that ended up lasting for four hours. I did not have the time to run and make our dinner reservation. I might have been able to run but would not have been able to shower and do my hair/make-up. If J plans a romantic night, I like to at be somewhat presentable. (Plus he sees me in my pajamas and messy hair most of the time because I am home a lot more now. Have to keep a little romance alive.) I attempted to do a make-up long run on Sunday but the weather was nasty. So cross training and some streamed Teen Wolf was in order.

Teen Wolf TV Show

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As an aside, is anyone else watching this show? The first season aired last summer and it seemed to get some buzz especially for a show on MTV that is not Jersey Shore. I have only watched a few episodes but I like it so far.

Back to the regularly scheduled running talk…

My training for the Half on March 4th has been strong, so I am not going to stress a few missed runs.

How do you handle missing workouts?

Any new shows to recommend?

The Rules Of Inheritance: A Review

The Rules of Inheritance Claire Bidwell Smith

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The Rules of Inheritance by Claire Bidwell Smith is a memoir of life and death. Claire is only fourteen years-old when her parents are diagnosed with cancer within months of each other. This book shows Claire growing and changing with their illnesses and how it impacts her life.

The book is written in a non-linear form that jumps from year to year and various stages of illness. It shows Claire as a teenager, losing her virginity, and trying to find a way to fit in. It takes her through different jobs and different men. The death of her mother when she is 18 and in her first year of college, is life changing. She is never again the girl she was before her mother dies.

Her mother’s death gives Claire time to get to know her father. The relationship is tender and sweet. One of my favorite chapters is where Claire and her father travel to Europe to where his plane is shot down in World War II. They meet-up with a historian and he introduces them to people who remember the war and the impact the American soldiers had on their lives. Finding a statue in tribute to the soldiers who died is touching and fitting way for her father to spend the last trip they take together.

The Rules of Inheritance is about a woman who loses her parents before she is 30 and how she emerges from the other side of grief. It is honest and raw, it shows the bad feelings and remorse. There is strength, love, and eventually peace. Claire ends up a woman who overcomes her grief and makes a career out of helping others cope with theirs.

I highly recommend The Rules of Inheritance for anyone who has lost or feels lost. It is ultimately hopeful and true.

To follow the discussions and learn more about Claire Bidwell, you can find the Rules of Inheritance on the BlogHer Book Club page.

This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own.

12 Random Facts

The lovely Carolina from Peas In A Blog tagged me in her 12 Random Facts post. Carolina picked the 12 questions below.

  1. LOST. The best or bestest show of all time? I kid (not really)! What’s your favorite show of all time?
  2. If you could take your celebrity crush on a date who would it be? Where would you take him/do?
  3. Favorite ingredient to cook with and why.
  4. What song are you most embarrassed to have in your iPod?
  5. If you could go anywhere in the world right now where would you go & why?
  6. What’s your favorite way to work out?
  7. Favorite nail polish color. Go!
  8. Best movie you’ve seen this year?
  9. What’s your favorite piece of jewelry & why?
  10. What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?
  11. If you could do the same thing every day what would you do?
  12. What’s the first blog you started reading?

1. Did you guys know I love TV? Well I do and lots of it. Picking one show as my favorite of all time is really difficult. With a gun to my head, I would have to say Six Feet Under. That show gripped me.

2. This is so cheesy and cliché but my most favorite place in the world is Paris. So if I could take my celebrity crush on a date it would be to some anonymous but completely fabulous restaurant in Paris. (In this fantasy, there would also be unlimited amounts of funds for the shopping spree that would start on one end of the Champs- Elysees and end on the other.)

This is not exactly part of the questions but I would probably take this guy (even though he turned out to be a bit of a cheater on The Lying Game and I am a little mad at him.)

Ethan Whitehorse The Lying Game

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3. I love garlic and tend to double it in any recipe because it is delicious. It could be because I am Italian and used to eating it in lots of dishes.

4. I have a lot of Glee on my iPod.

5. I haven’t been back to Connecticut since my wedding in 2009 and would love to get up there to visit friends and family. As terrible as the winter is, I do miss seasons living in Central Florida and would love to go up in the fall.

6. My favorite way to work out is running. Shocking!

7. I am lazy and cheap when it comes to manicures but when I do paint my nails, I love “nice is nice” by essie.

nice is nice essie

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8. I have not seen many moves in 2012 but the best one so far is Forks Over Knives. When I do use the elliptical at home, we have a small TV that has a Roku player to stream Netflix on. I love documentaries and stumbled on this one.

9. My engagement/wedding rings. They are the few pieces of jewelry that I wear and they have sentimental value.

10. Two Christmas’s ago, J gave me a family ring that his Great-Grandmother brought over from Poland. It is beautiful and his mother even wrote up her engagement story to go with the gift. I am actually really lucky that J is an excellent gift giver and always gets me thoughtful and creative gifts.

11. Listen to talk radio. I am a political junkie and need a news fix plus I love to listen to other people geek out over public policy.

12. My first blog would probably be a political one maybe Fire Dog Lake or The Daily Kos? I read a lot of blogs and have for a long time, so this would be my best guess.

There it is, 12 Random Facts you did not know (or did not care to know) about me.

Instead of tagging anyone, I would love it if you would answer one of the questions above in the comments.

Valentine’s Day Part Two

On Saturday, J and I finally made it to Chalet Suzanne in Lake Wales. We have been meaning to eat there for years but never managed to. Chalet Suzanne has a fascinating history and has been around since 1931 which is incredible in Florida.

To get to the restaurant, you turn down a long drive that leads to this interesting collection of buildings (there is an Inn and Spa plus the dining rooms that make-up the property.)

Chalet Suzanne Exterior

Chalet Suzanne Exterior at night

We might be dorks but both felt that this door was very Hobbit-like.

Chalet Suzanne Yellow Door

Chaley Suzanne Lake Wales Historic Place

Walking into the restaurant, there are tons of antique accents.

Chalet Suzanne Interior

We would love to come back just to get a better look around.

J found this and thought it was hilarious.

Chalet Suzanne Florida

Each table setting was different and really pretty. I particularly liked mine.

Chalet Suzanne Vintage Plate

J started with the Caramelized Grapefruit and Organic Chicken Liver.

He loved it especially the chicken liver.

Then there was the Escargot Cappuccino.

So cute and delicate in a teacup with the puff pastry hanging over the edge. It had loads of garlic and the paring with the puff pastry was delicious.

J then had the famous Moon Soup (otherwise known as Romaine.)

They call it Moon Soup because it was taken on Apollo 15 to the moon in 1973.

This soup was a real standout and J loved it.

We both ordered salads but it started to get dark and the pictures for both came out awful. J had the Caesar and I had the Baby Blend with Citrus & Pear.

For entrees, J ordered the Maine Lobster Newburg. He had done some research into how Lobster Newburg is made and was really looking forward to trying it. (Some information about Lobster Newburg if you are curious like J.)

The waiter breaks up the contents in the bowl and puts it over the puff pastry. J loved this dish and would highly recommend it.

I had the crab cakes.

I prefer crab cakes served with tartar sauce but these were decent. If you like crab cakes, these definitely will do the trick.

We grabbed our desserts to go because the service was a bit on the slow side and we were both getting tired.

Overall, I liked Chalet Suzanne but found it to be a tad over priced. (J’s Ketel One martini’s were $18 each.) The atmosphere is really beautiful and romantic, so come early to walk around and take pictures. We are planning a return visit to try more of the interesting dishes on the menu.

Half Marathon Training Week Eleven

If you would like to follow my other weeks of training, they can be found on my Workouts page. I break my half marathon training down by week to make it easier to follow.

Half Marathon Training Week Eleven

Key Workouts:

Easy Runs: 5/5

Strength Training: 1/2

Total Miles: 29.27

This week was a step-down week that only contained easy runs. It was a nice mental break from a long run that eats its way through a huge chunk of my Saturday. I felt strong and rested throughout the week and my body responded well to the lighter week. I did do Jillian Michaels No More Trouble Zones on Wednesday which did leave me sore on Thursday and Friday.

I have speed on my mind a lot lately. Obviously, the goal in racing is to improve your time which I do think I am right on target for a faster half this time around than my first. What I have been thinking about is how to proceed after this training cycle to improve my speed. I do want a sub-30 5K. Being at the end of a training cycle, it can be difficult to remember how you felt at the beginning. Are these miles getting easier? Is my body stronger from adding the additional day of running?

Going back through my Garmin data, it does look like I have gotten a bit faster. With my easy runs, I do not aim for any particular speed but run what feels like a comfortable pace. This can vary based on the temperature and how I feel but seems to vary by a minute per mile either way.

This is my average pace for my most recent easy runs.

Average Pace 2-6 to 2-14

This is my average pace for easy runs at the end of December.

Average Pace 12-26 to 1-9

Longer runs with slightly faster average speeds all run at a comfortable pace means I’m getting faster, right?

I guess time will tell on March 4th.

Valentine’s Day Part One

I expected a pretty low-key Valentine’s Day this year because J and I are trying not to spend money until I get back to work. So I was surprised to see a gift left on the kitchen counter yesterday morning.

Cute Cat Valentines Day Card

Not sure if you knew but I love cute pictures of cats. A kitten in a bag may be the perfect card.

Breaking Dawn Part One Special Edition DVD

Then there was this. I actually mentioned the night before how I wanted to pick this up to watch over the weekend.

The card also mentioned dinner reservations for Chalet Suzanne for Saturday. We have both wanted to eat there for years but never gotten around to it. I am so excited and have already stated to plan out my meal. (Herb Butter Lump Crab probably.)

Tail was staring at me while I was reading the card. He did not seem impressed.

Tail The Cat

I gave J a card and made chocolate chip cookies. That may have been a mistake because now I am in the house alone with a huge plate of cookies and it smells like them everywhere.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I used this recipe from The Joy of Baking. I have baked these before and they always come out great. If you are interested in a crispy, sweet chocolate chip, I definitely recommend it.

Did you have a good Valentine’s Day?

Things That Are Awesome

Regular readers know that I have a lot going on with recently being laid off. I am working so hard at keeping positive. This past week, I have had a lot of good news and wanted to share.

Fame

(Just kidding, I do not think I am famous now.)

I got my picture in the paper. (I am in the pink. The sign in the foreground, is the sign with my story on it.)

Jobless_Rally_In_Lakeland

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I spoke to the reporter and was quoted in the article.

Lakeland_Ledger_Article

I had so much fun and was glad to be able to participate.

Books

New Books Speak Emma Pretties The Rules of Inheritance

One $50 gift card to Barnes & Noble and lots of browsing in store. I love to read and love to buy books. Book stores are my favorite of any kind of store and I can spend hours in one. (I do know that my choice in books is all over the map, no need to judge.)

Having more time on my hands and a goal of reading 100 books in 2012, I am digging right in. It’s a great way to spend time when you are avoiding spending money plus it takes my mind off my present lack of employment.

Ironman 70.3 Florida

I saw on a local blog that not only is Ironman Florida moving to my small town in Central Florida but they will be here for the next five years. This year, Lance Armstrong will be competing. My first thought is how can I volunteer for this?

I am just so proud that so many athletes will get to enjoy how beautiful Lake Eva is. I feel so lucky to run there regularly.

Ironman Haines City

Ironman 70.3 Florida

Anything awesome happen to you lately?

Run For Sherry Arnold

Running_for_Sherry

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Sherry Arnold was a runner and teacher. She was the victim of a tragic act of violence and one that many runners fear could happen to them. More information about the run can be found on Runner’s World and the blog of her cousin Shut Up And Run.

As a woman who mostly runs alone, being attacked while running is always a fear that lives in the back of my mind. I try to take the typical precautions, carrying pepper spray and my phone. I always let someone know where I am going and when I should be back. There is always the fear, is it enough?

The tone of those participating in Run For Sherry Runs is one of hope. One that we should not be afraid to run. That even when something tragic happens we need to keep moving.

My thoughts are with Sherry Arnold’s loved ones and I hope that they felt moved by the outpouring of hope from the running community on Saturday.

Have you been following this story? Did you participate in the virtual run?