Returning To Orlando!

Never in a million years did I think that I would be visiting Orlando twice in as many years.

Even whilst boarding the plane last October (in the midst of a hurricane, no less) did I suspect that in just over a year I’d be heading back.

Orlando is definitely my second home, forgetting all the parks (but why would you want to?) it’s got all the weather, the food, the beaches and the views. It’s an incredible place.

So, when friends offered to have G Man and I for a stay whilst they are there in October, we knew we had to try to make it work somehow.

I’ll no doubt keep mentioning this over the period of time we have left until we head out, but I thought I would share a little bit of the things we want to do whilst we’re there!

Disney!

We’re not going to be spending much time in the parks, in fact it’ll be just one evening – Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party! We’ll be able to spend from 4pm til Midnight in Magic Kingdom and intend on rinsing every single second! I’ve got my costume sorted and I can’t wait to walk down Main Street and see the castle again!

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Visit Downtown Orlando, Winter Park, and St Augustine

Since our visit last year was straight Disney and Universal Studios jam-packed, we didn’t really go out and about in Orlando or the surrounding areas (apart from the shopping malls of course!) so this time around we want to visit some of these areas. I’m especially looking forward to seeing St Augustine because from what I’ve seen in photos it looks beautiful.

 

Complete my Orlando ‘Your Are Here’ Mug Collection

About a week after we left Orlando last year, Universal Studios announced the release of their Starbucks ‘You Are Here’ mug…. I knew I had to go back and get one, so that’s what I intend to do. I can’t have an incomplete collection now, can I?

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Shopping!

Oh yes! I will be stocking up on Bath and Body Works, getting my money’s worth in Victoria’s Secret and Hollister (the prices are so much better there!) and visiting far too many Target, Ulta and Sephoras. Let’s just say I’m planning on packing light so I have room to bring things home….. eek!

The Food!!

I honestly can’t wait to get eating! Blaze Pizza, Publix Subrolls, Cracker Barrel for breakfast – and the one I’m most looking forward to… Homecomin’ I get to have that beautiful Moonshine Cake that I’ve been dreaming about all year, again! This isn’t even mentioning Dole Whips and all the other Disney treats you can get in Magic Kingdom and Disney Springs!

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Speaking of Disney Springs……

I’m looking forward to spending time in Disney Springs and City Walk, as well as visiting the Boardwalk area which we didn’t do last time.

Clearwater

And last but not least, I’m really looking forward to hopefully visiting Clearwater beach. We didn’t have the chance last time, so I’m hoping we will this time around, because I can’t go to Florida twice and not see at least one of their beaches!

As well as all of this, we intend on relaxing, taking in the weather and spending time with our hosts. I really can’t wait!!

 

Eating Las Vegas

Anyone who reads Shutterbug regularly will know I love my food. And I have no problems with whipping my camera out to photograph the food I’m served all over the world. My Dad has actually started requesting pictures of things I eat when I’m away, and I’m more than happy to oblige!

If food photos don’t float your boat, then feel free to skip this post. I won’t hold it against you! All the more for the rest of us 🙂

My foodie journey began on our flight. After being recently confirmed as lactose intolerant, I knew I assumed I would have a hard time finding things I’d be happy to eat. We updated my flight details and opted for a vegan diet on both flights there and back, since the vegetarian option couldn’t guarantee there would be no cheese in the food. A long flight isn’t the kind of place you want to have ‘those’ kind of problems….

I had remembered from a previous flight, years back, that airlines like to stuff you with food, but hadn’t flown with Virgin before so had no idea of what to expect. Here’s a section from my travel journal about the flight:

What’s with all the food?! Still five hours to go on an 11 hour flight and we’ve already had…. a snack, full 3 course meal, ice cream lolly and now a ciabatta/calzone (huge). Will we starve for the rest of the flight? Who knows? Apparently we have afternoon tea an hour and a half before we land. I need never eat again!

The three course meal was really nice. It was a tomato orzo salad, then chickpea dahl, pea and spinach paneer and basmati rice. Then a fruit salad. The calzone weren’t dairy free but I was given a full-sized mixed bean ciabatta roll. I couldn’t eat the pretzels, ice cream lolly or the afternoon tea because it was all cheese and chocolate. By the second half of the flight my stomach was expecting food every half an hour so by the time we were at the hotel (and after a little nap) we were starving!

We headed out to the Rainforest Cafe, in our hotel, since we knew there was a good chance that we would get tired very fast and we knew there was stuff we’d eat there as we’d eaten at the Cafe in Disneyland.

10923641_10155478210920727_4900933054957404483_nI opted for the Paradise Pot Roast which came served on mashed potatoes. I’ve been taking lactase tablets a little before eating anything with a small amount of dairy in, so I popped a few of those knowing there was likely cream in the mash. They seem to work quite well for things like this. Despite the messy bowl, I loved the presentation and the food was yummy and comforting. Just what I needed after a long flight!

After a fairly good night’s sleep, and checking Facebook, a friend Carrie had recommended eating breakfast at a place called Hash House a Go Go. It looked great on the website and had been featured on Man Vs Food. Since we were awake stupidly early, and starving we hot footed it to this 24 hour restaurant, and got seated straight away.

10945409_10155478211130727_6074142470278156142_nGary had a massive pancake (they call these flapjacks) and I had an avocado, swiss cheese and bacon scramble with crispy seasoned potatoes and a buttermilk biscuit. It was all amazing. They gave me some strawberry jam for the biscuit which was wonderful.

We also tried the Cheesecake Factory during our stay. I had a wonderful salad, and thought I’d risk the cheesecake.

1491766_10155478214140727_1435444263095033494_nI got a little emotional eating this, it was so good. I chose Key Lime Cheesecake. But despite it being wonderful to eat, no amount of lactase tablets could save me and let’s just say my afternoon wasn’t as pleasant as my morning had been. You can get lactose free Philadelphia now, so it looks like the only cheesecake I’ll be eating from now on will be home-made!

On one of the afternoons there was a Man Utd game on which Gary wanted to watch so we headed to a sports bar in our hotel called Tap. It’s actually owned by a guy from Watford, who we chatted to for a bit on the last day. We had intended on just having a few drinks and watching the game, since neither of us were really hungry, but we were lured in by their bar snacks. We ended up ordering to share, pig in blanket (a sausage in pastry) which came with an amazing brown beer mustard sauce, and some fried green beans.

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We ate at a Denny’s one morning. After being educated by Beckie, I discovered I should have asked for my eggs ‘over easy’ to get them how I like (we only have one way with fried eggs in the UK!) so I was able to ask for this later on in the holiday. We also ate at a Johnny Rockets and PanAsian. But we really enjoyed the restaurant food. We had planned on eating at a buffet on one of the lunchtimes but ended up eating in Serendipity 3 instead. Home of their famous frozen hot chocolate (which I decided was probably not safe to try after the cheesecake incident!), we were really surprised by how good their savoury meals were.

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I had a pulled pork and slaw pretzel roll with fries. It was so full I had to eat it with knife and fork, but so so delicious! They need to open one of these in London!

Finally, on our last day, we woke late, packed and checked out and then headed back to Hash House a Go Go. This being a lot later than on our first morning we had an hour wait to be seated and then half an hour wait for food once ordered. The atmosphere was great though, since it was so busy.

10171730_10155478209675727_8909387152905351245_nThis time I went for a skillet of artichoke, spinach and mushroom with crispy potatoes and eggs (over easy!). Again the food was amazing. I’d never had artichoke before and was delighted with the flavour. It was like a cross between celery and cabbage but a really light flavour.

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And I didn’t miss out on desert in The Venetian, where I had some dairy free strawberry and apple sorbetto. Just as good as ice cream, if not better!

I was really pleasantly surprised by the amount of food I could eat, which was dairy free, and I haven’t even mentioned the best steak ever that I ate, on one of the evenings! On my return, I expected to have put loads of weight on but was happy to have remained the same as when I left. We worked out we averaged 10 miles a day, walking, which will have helped burn off the calories!

I am missing the amazing choice of foods, and different places to eat, but I will admit I am ready for some home cooking. There’s nothing wrong with a baked chicken breast with a side of broccoli and new potatoes!

 

You Are What You Eat

Since joining the gym I’ve been very conscious about what I eat. I’m really lucky that I work in an environment where people eat for health and are often on diets based on their chosen sport. I work with a weight trainer, a cross lifter, a footballer and a cyclist – we all have our chosen training and eating plans. It’s really helped me to train my mind and the way I think about food.

I’m often told by my friend Jen that abs are made in the kitchen. And she’s right. We will often have discussions about food and what it does for you. I have found in the last few months, since signing up for the half marathon, that I’m really thinking about what I put into my body – no that’s kind of a lie – I’ve not being thinking about it so much as it’s a natural thought process whenever I choose a meal. I think about how food will fuel my body for the activity I’ll be undertaking that day. I’ll eat a protein packed lunch if I’ll be weight training that evening, or I’ll plan dinner to be carb heavy if I will be running after. And it’s not a chore. I like to eat a lot of these things anyway, but now if I’m going out to eat I will naturally choose something that will complement my activity rather than going for a big pile of greasy food that will make me feel like rubbish.

I’ve been noticing which foods alter my mood, give me belly ache or bloat me too. Normally I’d just ride it out but because I have been eating right for a longer time now I am less tolerant of this and choose not to feel that way. I watched a BBC Horizon documentary last week called Sugar V Fat. Two British doctors, who were identical twins, did an experiment where one of them ate a sugar only based diet and the other ate a fat only based diet. They wanted to see what would happen as the UK and US are always harping on about sugar being bad or fat being bad – they wanted to see which was right. They basically both got very unhealthy but not to a point where they should cut one or the other food out. They found that what makes people fat is the foods that contain a half sugar half fat content – things like cheesecake and ice cream. They pointed out that there is no food in nature which contains this kind of balance – our bodies aren’t built to cope with it but it tastes amazing, and as we can eat so much of it we just convert it into fat. It’s really effected what I choose to eat and made me think before I eat an ice cream or doughnut.

I like to think I ate healthily before but wouldn’t think twice about getting a pizza delivered and eating the whole thing. I know it’s all about moderation and balance, but I’m enjoying the way I’m thinking about food and eating. And it also means that if I have a ‘cheat’ meal as a treat it really IS a treat.

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This Week I Have Been Mostly

This week has been all about feeling better. Last weekend was a write off because Gary and I had what we thought was a cold and turned out to be a viral infection. It knocked us both for six and meant we had to delay starting our half marathon training. We did, however start to feel well enough midweek to make a visit to the gym and do some weight training, followed by an easy 2 mile run on Thursday evening after work. It was the first time we’d run in the dark and we found a nice little route looping where we live. It’s well-lit and doesn’t get too muddy, though the pathways are a little uneven at points so you do need to concentrate – I don’t think I’d do well trail running!

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I wrapped up warm and took advantage of a rain free evening. My Garmin had run out of battery so I ran with the Nike running app on my phone but had accidentally set it to pause every time I stopped running and so when I waited to cross a road it paused without me realising. Half a mile later I noticed the distance hadn’t moved and worked out what had gone wrong. Needless to say I was a bit miffed – especially since as I was wearing gloves I couldn’t get it going again myself. That was the first run record I have ever discarded. Naughty Nike app.

Strength training has been going well too and I can feel it making a difference to my running. I’m hoping the work I’m doing on my legs will reduce the amount of injury I suffer down to ITB and runner’s knee pain (not to mention how great my arms will look in the summer!). The run on Thursday was great with only a small knee niggle as I ran back towards the house. Today we went for another run around the same route and I felt no pain at all. Our training plan will have us running at least 4 times a week with rest days at the gym working on strength. We plan on working in some core exercises to be done at home too. For Christmas I received a Moleskine journal aimed at health and wellbeing. I’m really looking forward to using it and getting something down on paper.

Because we’re out of the house so much at the moment and being so active, food has become a real point of focus for us. We always try to eat healthily but we can be a bit lazy and buy prepackaged meals that are easy to whack into the oven and leave for 20 mins. But now we need healthy hearty food pretty quickly when we get in from running or the gym and we need it to be filling too. I’ve been trying to make the long-winded meals at the weekend and make enough for 4 people that we can eat half of that evening and then chill the rest to reheat  in the week. I’ve also been making pasta bakes at the weekends to portion out and take to work for lunches so I can get my carb fix before I head for my work out. I’m really enjoying trying new foods out and my herb and spice cupboard has never looked so good!

Pinterest is a god send when looking for recipies and this time of year it’s full to bursting with fantastic healthy food ideas. The latest one I’ve tried is for cheesy broccoli orzo which has made enough for two good-sized portions to take to work. It tasted great hot so I’m hoping it survives a nuke in the microwave at the office!

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Next weekend I’m excited to get the slow cooker out and give it its first spin of the year. I really really love food – can you tell?

As well as working out and eating, this week I have been painting my nails (a lot) so that I can give all my new bottles a try. Not too sure on the Nails Inc Leather or Sprinkles. I am looking forward to trying the chrome and hologram ones soon though. I’m also intrigued by the Gwen Stefani OPI range that’s about to come out. Not blown away by the shades, but intrigued by the new technology.

I’ve been keeping up with my Q&A journal and reading all your blogs. I’m loving the amount of training I’m seeing, healthy eating and positive motivated people –  go you! I’m constantly inspired by you all 🙂

Next week for me is all about getting my first full week of training done, eating well and working hard because next weekend I intend to play hard. Saturday night is girl’s night and we are going for a boogie – I can’t wait!

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The Big Chill Out

Saturday at 6.30pm began the Big Chill Out. Yes it included a 5k race on Sunday BUT that was my choice 🙂

After work on Saturday, which was my last shift at my current job, we went with some of my work colleagues to the pub over the road and got some food and drinks and had a good natter. It was really chilled and informal and relaxed. Exactly my style. Earlier in the day I’d been given and lovely card, some cookie cutters and a year’s subscription to Runner’s World magazine! They know me well 🙂

On my way home from the meal we stopped into my Mum and Dad’s house. My Dad had just come back home after his spell in hospital and it was so good to see him comfortable and relaxed in his own chair at home.

On Sunday, after our race (which you can read about in my previous blog post) we had to get home a for a bath and then we headed straight out to get some lunch. By this time it was almost 2pm and we were starving, both craving greasy food – bad news! We headed to Buddies Diner and I had sausage and mash with gravy. Perfect post run food – a massive plate of mashed potato was very welcomed! Then we had to do our week’s food shopping and we only had an hour by this time to do it before they shut! But we made it and we headed home and collapsed, both exhausted!

Monday was mostly taken up with the news that it was to be the hottest day of the year and that Kate Middleton was in hospital about to have her baby. The morning had actually been quite chilly but by 11am it was hot. Mum and I decided to have a wander around Woburn town and see what the little shops had to offer, but most of them had either shut down or were closed on Mondays. So after a little mooch we headed into Woburn Abbey. Here we had a scone and a drink and then wondered about the gardens.

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It was so pretty and really really hot.

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By the time we left it was about 31 degrees. On our way out we followed some amazing deer.

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Later in the day they announced that Kate had had a little boy – I was sure it would be a girl! We’re waiting to see them today and hear what the baby is called, but I have my money on Alexander (Alex).  We had some amazing rain for all of 2 minutes last night and so far we’ve had a little thunder and lightning and rain. It’s still humid so I’m hoping for more!

Just before I sign off I want to mention some cakes I made last week, Cinnamon Rolls, using a recipe from Pinterest.

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This was the first time I’ve made them and they were totes amazeballs. You must try them!

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This Week I Have Been Mostly….

This week I have been mostly….

Eating: Everything in sight. I have mainly been wanting cheese, milk and fruit. I’m still on my search to find the world’s strongest cheddar cheese – anyone have any suggestions?

Reading: I’ve now read 5 books towards my 40 book Goodreads challenge and I’m reading two at the moment. I’m not really getting on with one of them, but I think that might be because I’ve got so many others I want to read first, so I might pause on this one and come back to it. Stay tuned for my first book list of 2013, coming soon!

Saying goodbye: I had to say goodbye to a colleague this week, who decided she needed to fly back to her country to be with her parents during a hard time. I’ve only worked with her for two months but I’m so glad I got to meet her. We’re going to stay in contact by email but I’m really sad that I won’t see her every week. Our goodbye was a bit of a tear jerker.

Feeling hot and cold: The majority of this week was spent feeling warmer and springy – the sun was finally shining and the birds were singing. There was a chilly wind but I was starting to feel a bit like the weather was turning. Then on Friday it all went wrong and became freezing again. I was getting excited about wearing light jackets, but I guess that’s a way off!

Getting excited for V Day: I can’t say I love or hate Valentine’s Day. Every year I tell myself it’s a waste of money, too commercialised and try to pooh-pooh it, and then on the day I want to do special things and receive bunches of roses. So this year we’re planning something in advance and I’m actually going to enjoy it. We’ve booked a table at a restaurant in London we love and I have the whole weekend off so we can totally relax. I’m really looking forward to it!

What have you been up to this week?

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