Friday, March 28, 2014

Italy : Florence Part 2

I'm recapping the trip to Italy I took in January. 
You can find my recaps of Rome here (Part 1, Part 2, & Part 3) and Florence Part 1

The Accademia Galley
The Accademia is home to Michelangelo's David, the real one, not the replica. The statue is huge (17 feet tall) and sculpted from one piece of marble. I'm pretty sure I stood there with my jaw hanging open. Kinda incredible that Michelangelo was able to sculpt so much detail so many years ago without the tools we have today. This is really a must see in Florence.

Santa Croce Square
We wandered around this cute little square while on the hunt for a taxi stand in preparation for the next day's travel to Venice.

Up next... a cappuccino and pastry break! 
We needed some extra energy for our next adventure.

Florence Cathedral
The Florence Cathedral is the biggest and most notable cathedral in Florence. It consists of different buildings, including the Baptistry, Bell Tower and Duomo. One of the unique things is that you can climb to the top of the Duomo and take in Florence from a different view. It's 463 steps to the top of the dome, hence the need for coffee beforehand.

It's all fun and smiles... until you have to climb all those stairs...

 A view of the inside of the cathedral from ground level.

 The passages were very narrow while climbing to the top of the dome. Some past visitors left their memoirs.

About halfway up, you go back into the dome and can look down in the cathedral.

See those people down there? That's where I took the other photo of the cathedral.

Every so often, there were openings where you could see outside. See the tall tower towards the right? That's the Uffizi!

The steepest stairs to get to the very top.

We made it!

The top of the dome has space to walk around with a few benches. There are about 6 arches that go around the little viewing area.

There's still so much detail in the architecture, even at the top of this huge cathedral.

 View of the Bell Tower from the dome.

View of the Bell Tower from the ground.

Santa Croce Square (where we were earlier in the day)

Check back for my recaps on our final Italian city: Venice!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Italy: Florence Part 1

If you're just joining us, I'm recaping my trip to Italy with my husband. You can check out my recap of our time in Rome here (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3).


After 3 days in Rome, we took the train to Florence. Since we booked the entire trip a la carte and all ourselves, getting from place to place was a bit stressful, especially when you don't speak or read the native language... We took a taxi to the train station, but since we couldn't call a cab, we had to find a taxi station first. We planned ahead and scoped out the taxi station the day before, but it was still a decent walk from our apartment. Fun times dragging our luggage down the cobblestone streets. Thank goodness we did carry-on only!

Once on the train, we were able to enjoy the sights!

We rented an apartment in central Florence. It was nice and open, but it didn't hold any heat. 

The gentleman who owns the flat is also an artist. Just one of his many paintings in the apartment.

The Uffizi
We stopped at the famous Uffizi museum. Again, we listened to Rick Steve's audio guide. Photos aren't allowed inside the galleries, but I was able to snap one of the hallway inside the museum.

The David
This is just a replica of Michelangelo's David. We saw the real deal the next day inside a museum.

Ponte Vecchio
The Ponte Vecchio bridge is famous for its many gold and jewelry shops. It spans the Arno river.

View from the bridge. In the summer months, this view is much more cheery. Can you tell it rained a lot?

With the gold shops on the bridge. No... we didn't buy anything. :/

 A shop with lots of yummy goodies!

We ended the day by having dinner at a traditional trattoria. The waitress didn't speak any english, but luckily they had an english version of the menu. We had to count off the items on the menu to see what it translated to in Italian.

Wine is always an easy one to order. Most places don't sell wine by the glass- only by the bottle!

Primo (i.e. first course) of wild boar ragu pasta

... and some kind of pesto lasagna.

Second/main course of meatballs and mashed potatoes and beans and bangers (pretty sure that's an English dish, but it was still good!)

Honestly, I don't know how the Italians manage to eat so much and stay so skinny! Every meal had a first course (pasta), a main course (meat), and of course wine. We were so stuffed by the end of the meal! 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

(A Belated) Training Tuesday: My Longest Run!

Next Race: April 13th - Half Marathon

This whole training plan thing...? Let's just say I've made some creative adjustments to it. As in only running once a week. But the week wasn't a total waste; I had my longest run ever- 15 miles! I'm running my next half with my friend and this will be her first half marathon. She really wanted to train up to 15 miles before the half, so I've just been going along with her training plan. That 15 miles really kicked my butt. The last mile I was struggling so much. My stomach was growling and I was starting to get faint, a sure sign I needed to eat a bigger breakfast. Overall, I'm super excited I made it! I like to think of it as the beginning of marathon training. :) 

This week I'm taking Lauren's advice to heart- you get fit at the gym and lose weight in the kitchen. Since it's just me, I have been so unmotivated to cook a real healthy meal. Take-out is easy, but it's really starting to weigh on me. Literally. This week it all changes. Lunches: salad greens with mandarin oranges and papaya poppyseed dressing. Dinner: grilled chicken, asparagus and pasta lightly tossed in a pesto sauce. Snacks: cheddar cheese, yogurt or strawberries. 

I've been addicted to these!

How do you eat healthy? Any meals you can recommend?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Avengers Half Marathon Weekend

Registration officially opens today at 9am PST for the Avengers Half Marathon Weekend at Disneyland! 

You can register here.

The weekend takes place on November 14-16, 2014.

Avengers Super Heroes 5k
Saturday, Nov 15th

Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon
Sunday, Nov 16th

Weekend Expo
Fri, Nov 14th: noon to 7pm*
Sat, Nov 15th: 10am to 4pm*

* times can change

Important: As a reminder, runDisney no longer allows someone else to pick up your race bib/packet for you. You must attend the expo to pick up your own packet!

(expect the race to sell out before prices jump though)

$70 by August 20th
$80 on or after August 21st

$195 by April 29th
$210 between April 30th and June 24th
$225 on or after June 25th

Will you be at the all-new Avengers weekend? I hope to see you there! :)

Monday, March 24, 2014

WDW Planning - Help!

Last week I confessed casually mentioned to my husband that I registered us for the Wine & Dine half marathon taking place in WDW in November. I've been talking about it for a while, but I think it still took him by surprise since we don't even know where we'll be living then. His work training ends around October and that's when we'll find out where he will actually be working. Could be back here with me, could be in Texas, could be anywhere! (As a planner, this whole living life on the edge thing drives me nuts!)

He gave me the okay to start cautiously planning, keeping in mind that we may have to defer the race and cancel the trip. :/ I've found some stuff on the interwebs and it sounds like you have to cancel at least 45 days prior to get a full refund on a package. Room-only reservations are a bit different.

What are the advantages/disadvantages to booking a package (room & tickets, no dining plan)? What do you normally book and why?

I'm definitely used to Disneyland. Planning for WDW is a whole new world to me- more parks, more hotels, more options! 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Foodie Friday : Mickey Cupcakes

This Foodie Friday isn't really about food, it's more about the awesome cupcake mold I got at Disneyland. It's a silicone cupcake/muffin mold in the classic Mickey shape. I didn't have time to make cupcakes from scratch, but I really wanted to test it out!

You can make 6 at a time, which means making a whole batch of cupcakes takes a long time. Since the silicone mold is a little flimsy, I placed it on a baking sheet for support.

I just grabbed what I had on hand to make the cupcakes. Be sure to spray the inside of the Mickey shapes with Pam or other non-stick baking spray. Don't forget a few short sprays to get the ears.

I baked them according to the box. When they were done, I flipped the silicone mold over and giggled it around to get the cupcakes to pop out. For the most part, they came out easily.

Super cute, huh?

I attempted to frost a few of them... terrible idea. Super hard to frost and still maintain that Mickey shape. Maybe a good drizzle of melted chocolate would work better. Brownies would work great in the pan. I'm thinking of trying crustless quiche next! :)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Santa Monica & Disneyland Weekend Trip

This past weekend I visited my husband while he was on a business trip in Los Angeles. We went to Santa Monica and walked to Venice Beach. And of course, we spent a day at Disneyland.

View from the Santa Monica Pier

This bike path runs on forever! What a beautiful place to run!

We walked in the sand for at least a mile. Good workout!

It was a gorgeous day at Disneyland. Temps got into the 90s, but it was nice to soak in the sun.

We visited on March 16th, just a day before Big Thunder was to open after over a year of being closed. Lucky for me, they were doing annual pass holder previews and I was able to ride. Unfortunately my hubby does not have an AP... so he had to wait for me. :/ 

The mountains and everything look at lot more vibrant and fresh.

There's been a change to part of the ride- I won't give it away, but I will say it was loud. Like really loud. Clearly the guy riding in front of me agreed.

Have you ever been to Santa Monica?