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WDW Wednesdays: Halloween 5K

3 Aug

Now that I’m back in the swing of blogging again, Walt Disney World Wednesdays are back, too!  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again–I always have a WDW trip in the works!  The present time is no exception.

I’ll be going to WDW with my family (plus sister’s boyfriend) the last week of September to celebrate sister Amanda’s birthday, and to hit up the opening weekend of the EPCOT Food and Wine Festival

When I was working at EPCOT, I was lucky enough to be there during Food and Wine.  I was able to hit up so many of the food booths because I lived there and went during lunch breaks or just on days off with friends.  The festival features so many different ethnic foods, and I’m so glad I get to go back with my whole family this time.

Halloween 5K Course Map

3.1 miles around Animal Kingdom

As part of the Food and Wine Festival, runDisney is hosting the Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend that same opening weekend.  While I am in no shape to run a half or even a half relay, the family Halloween 5K is definitely doable.  I may even run some of it if the Couch to 5K Challenge continues to go well considering my herniated disc. (Injection #2 is tomorrow. Ugh)

The best part is that both my mom and sister will be participating with me!  When I did the Beauty and the Beast Royal Family 5K in February, all I thought was, this would be so much fun with Mom and Amanda!  What could be better than racing through a WDW Park? With characters along the way! And you get a t-shirt!

Jack Skellington tee

From disneystore.com, nothing says Halloween like Jack!

Needless to say, I’m excited.  Plus, we bought Jack Skellington t-shirts to wear during the race to keep with the Halloween theme and to match as a team.  We’re going to be so cute!

The 3.1 miles takes us through Animal Kingdom, which should be gorgeous early in the morning, and a little creepy, too, with all the shade (which fits since it’s the Halloween 5K).

The last few years I’ve been forgetting to get in the Halloween spirit. This race should do the trick!

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InnerPeace Pilates Causing Inner Turmoil

29 Jul

I just bought a Groupon for InnerPeace Pilates in West Dundee, Ill.  I get five mat classes for 27 dollars.  A pretty good deal, in my opinion.  Once I clicked ‘buy’, I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.

Oh crap.  What did I just get myself into?

The only pilates and yoga experience I have is a few beginner practices OnDemand on ExerciseTV (which I love, btw).  I do Pilates Abs to help my bulging disc and YogaWorks for Beginners sporadically, when enough time has passed for me to forget that I don’t really enjoy it.

Yoga, in my opinion, is not relaxing.  I’ve never been flexible.  Ever.  President’s Fitness Test Day in elementary school?  Worst day of my life.  ‘Sit and reach’ can go to Hades. 

Pilates Abs isn’t all that bad, and I actually find it to be a great core workout.  But abs are only one part of pilates.  I’m scared for the other stretchy parts that a mat class will include.

Plus, I’ll be doing it in front of other people, instead of the secluded comfort of my own living room.

But, in the name of being adventurous and trying something new for a 50 percent discount, I’m just ballsy enough to give it a go.  Plus, my gym is sort of going in the toilet, so I need a change of pace.

I may try it this weekend, if I dare.  I’ll probably ask which classes would best fit a beginner (and I mean beginner, not “oh, this is for beginners” and you have me standing on my head or something).

I’ll report back and let you know if I’ll be using the rest of the four classes.  And if you’re in the mood for a laugh, walk down Main Street in Dundee and peek in the window.  I’ll be the girl in the back, sweating, cussing and falling over, when everyone else is in their “zen” place.

Resolution

26 Jul

My mid-year’s resolution is to blog more…

In all seriousness, I have really slacked on this blog.  But, the downside of being The Lil’ Wanderer is that I’m never in one place long enough to write a post!  Plus, my position managing the PRSA New Professionals Blog had to take priority, which has proved to be the right choice since we’re receiving so much good press and positive feedback.  Check it out! I also blog on a private community, and I can’t slack with my relationships there.

Princess 5K

With co-worker during the Beauty & the Beast Royal Family 5K, part of WDW Princess Half Marathon Weekend, while in O-Town for work

So where does that leave me since November 2010?  I feel like a different person.  From joining the PRSA New Professionals Section executive committee, finishing a WDW 5K with a case of tonsilitis (and significant fever), getting snowed out of Chicago during the big blizzard of 2010, business trips to Vegas, Orlando, Stevens Point, Wis., Columbus and many more, to dating (and breaking up) and vacationing with friends in Colorado, I’m surprised I made it out of winter alive.  (I won’t say spring because we didn’t have a spring in Chicago this year.)  I’ve had a rough 2011 so far, but I feel that things are finally looking up.  Big changes are coming in August.

First, my last business trip with USDTL will be in August to Boston, which also happens to be my 25th birthday.  I’ll be hitting up some UW and WDW friends while I’m there, so I can get at least some celebrations in.

Why my last trip?  I have accepted an offer with a PR agency in Chicago to be an account executive in their insurance, HR consulting, risk management sector!  My Section Chair works for the company, had nothing but good things to say about the opportunity and the interview process all happened very quickly. 

The decision to leave USDTL was very difficult for me, emotionally and for more left-brain reasons as well.  In the end, I was excited for the new opportunity to dig into PR, gain a new set of skills and meet and work with other PR professionals.  I start August 15, and I’m overwhelmed with a range of emotions about it.  I know I’ll feel better once I finally start and learn the ropes.  I will miss everyone at USDTL, since they treat everyone as family from day one.  They all have been so supportive of my news–I am so lucky.

Hollywood Studios

With some WDW College Program friends 🙂

Working downtown also means I’ll be moving!  About time, eh?  Right now I’m looking in the Arlington Heights area–close to the Metra, a shorter drive to the Northbrook office and lots of nicer apartments around the “hot spots” in the “downtown” area. (Hey, it’s still the suburbs…)  I can’t wait to have my own little place and have some visitors over!

I guess it’s good that I was too busy to write in the last seven months, rather than too bored.  It seems like life isn’t slowing down, as much as we’d like it to.  I have a feeling, though, that 25 is going to be even more amazing than 24. 

I promise to blog my quarter-century adventures more often than I did this year! I won’t be traveling out-of-state for work anymore, but I know I’ll have new Chicago wanderings to share. Plus, I’ve got some great, new experiences for WDW Wednesdays.  I always have a trip in the works, and this year is no different!

WDW Wednesdays: Contemporary Eats

10 Nov
Me, in my Ke$ha wig

Me, my Ke$ha wig, and faux nose jewelry

I’m home safely after a crazy awesome Halloween spent in Madison with good friends, food (Tex Tubb’s Taco Palace, or Cadillac Ranch as it’s now called) and drinks (forgot how giant The Real Thing is at Red Shed).  I had some serious fun in my Ke$ha costume, which has made me consider dying my never-been-colored locks blonde.  Doubtful, but I’m considering it.

Last weekend I drove to Cincinnati to visit my older sister in her new-ish house.  We bummed around all weekend, playing Wii, watching girly movies on We Entertainment channel and making some of our fave meals from childhood (hot dog pizzas, anyone?)  I also got to see the Hofbrauhaus, which totally took me back to Germany and yes, Epcot’s German buffet, Oktoberfest.  Sue me!

Speaking of WDW, it’s Wednesday!  Time for my next WDW Wednesday installment.  I’m now less than a month away from my next Disney vacation, and I couldn’t be more excited!  The thing I love about WDW is that no matter how many times you have been there, there is always something new to try, or something old you never got around to trying.  In December, my parents and I will be dining at the Contemporary Resort’s California Grill.  I’ve heard great things about it, and I’m excited for some fancy drinks and Cali-inspired dishes.  If I ever make it out to Disneyland someday, you can bet I’ll be trying the Napa Rose restaurant for the same reason.

California Grill is located in the Contemporary Resort, one monorail stop from the Magic Kingdom.  Considering its location and rooftop view, Cali Grill is one of the best places to view MK’s Wishes fireworks show.  We have a reservation right around 8:30 p.m….perfect timing for the 9 p.m. show!

goat cheese ravioli

Goat Cheese Ravioli, courtesy of http://www.waltdisneyboards.com

The menu is always changing, but right now both raviolis are looking amazing to me:  Sonoma Goat Cheese Ravioli with Sun-dried Tomatoes, Pesto, Shiitake Mushrooms, and Basil; House-made Potato and Cheese Ravioli with Florida Corn Purée, Summer Squash, Vidalias, and Black Truffle.  Since that’s probably too many carbs for one meal, I’m eyeing the Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Goat Cheese Polenta, Button Mushrooms, Zinfandel Glaze, and Sage or the veal chop or the filet.  Can’t go wrong with a steak at WDW!  But’s that’s a whole other post!

Hmmm, what am I missing?  Dessert!  Say ‘coconut’, and I’m there.  Coconut-Mango Panna Cotta: Coconut Infused Panna Cotta with Mango Gelée, Almond Biscotti, and Coquitos.  Not sure what a coquito is, or a gelee for that matter.  But I’m willing to take one for the team to find out.  Plus, there’s no sugar added, so I don’t have to feel guilty for indulging!

Remind me to pack stretchy pants.

WDW Wednesdays: Halloween Arts and Crafts Corner

27 Oct

I have to admit, I love arts and crafts, cooking, baking…I just don’t get the opportunity to do them often because of my crazy hectic schedule and travels.  But, hell and high water can’t stop me from putting a little extra effort in around “the holidays” (and yes, “the holidays” start with Halloween!)

The Disney nerd in me wanted to give cred to Jack Skellington, everyone’s favorite pumpkin king, this year for Halloween.  I was invited to a pumpkin carving party at my friend M’s house, so I thought I’d bring a little treat along.  I had seen these Jack Skellington cupcakes  online last year, and I’ve been itching to make them ever since. 

Of course, I can’t follow the recipe.  I love Halloween, and I’m going to indulge, but I seriously don’t need to gain 5 lbs over the weekend.  So, I decided to revise the recipe a bit.

1 box cake mix (I bought Pillsbury? I think.  The kind with the pudding mix in it for extra moistness)
1 can pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
1 cup water
white and black frosting (I bought whipped…more air=less calories!)

Follow the cake mix instructions for baking 24 cupcakes, except substitute the oil and eggs for the pumpkin.  Instant calorie reducer!  I used a measuring cup to spoon out the batter into the muffin tins to ensure that the cupcakes would all be the same size, so they would bake evenly. 

Then I frosted them, which was time-consuming, but I think they turned out pretty great!

Jack Skellington cupcakes

My Jack cupcakes!

OH!  And I also added a bit of pumpkin pie spices to the batter to bring out the pumpkin flavor.  Loved it!

So at M’s house for the pumpkin carving party, I brought with a template to carve Jack’s pumpkiny head into my jack-o-lantern.  Carving this was a pain in the butt!  First you poke holes around like a stencil, then you have to go back and carve it all out.  The mouth was insanely intricate, and my wrist definitely hurt after awhile, but I think the result was worth it.

Jack Skellington Pumpkin

The Pumpkin King

I hope everyone enjoyed WDW Wednesday today, and I hope you use some of my tips to Disney-fy your Halloween!  Be safe and have fun!

Whirlwind Autumn

26 Oct

Goodness, I haven’t posted in forever!  I’ve been all over the place lately, and living out of a suitcase more than not.  I went to Vegas for the first time, exhibited in the Chicago area for work, and just got back from the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Conference in Washington, D.C. (next year is Orlando!).  I did some Halloween-y stuff last weekend and have watched the Badgers trounce all over Ohio State and Iowa.  Halloween is coming up, and I’m heading to Madison!  Then it’s off to Cincy to visit my sister, then Boston…it never stops!  I’ll be blogging about my past and future travels soon.  Stay with me!  Tomorrow’s WDW Wednesdays, and I have some fun Halloween arts and crafts for you!

I’ve Been Tagged

16 Sep

So Mikael over at MikShorty tagged me in her post, so I guess that means I have to fill this out now!  Sorry I’ve been MIA for the last week.  I’ve been traveling for work every week, and being in an exhibit hall all day doesn’t lend to blogging.  Promise I’ll get back to it soon.  In the meantime, here goes”

1. If you could have any superpower, what would you have? Why?

The ability to stop time.  There are so many instances in my life where I wish I could stop time, curl up and live in that moment forever.  Case and point: Four years at UW.

2. Who is your style icon?
Celebs I worship: Zooey Deschanel, Keri Russell, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Katy Perry, Kate Nash, Drew Barrymore, and I try to hate her, but Cameron Diaz

3. What is your favorite quote?
“Wanting to be somebody else is a waste of the person you are.”-Kurt Cobain, “Promise me you’ll never forget me, because if I thought you would, I’d never leave.”-Winnie the Pooh, “This too shall pass.”-my Oma (grandmother)

4. What is the best compliment you’ve ever received?
I’ve gotten some pretty amazing compliments in the past year, but I’d have to say the biggest compliment, I guess, was being my best friend’s maid of honor.

5. What playlist/cd is in your CD player/iPod right now?
My iPod is so old, and there’s a long story to that, but basically all the music is 2006 and earlier because my laptop was stolen and therefore all my music was gone too.  So, dear iPod is no longer a reflection of what I’m obsessed with right now.  Since I’m too lazy to change the CDs in my car, those are a little out of date as well, but they are: Hanson “The Walk”, Michael Buble “Crazy Love”, Paramore “Riot”, mix CD circa 2004, Lady Gaga “The Fame”, *NSYNC “Celebrity” (hey, you gotta throw back every once and awhile!).  Songs I’m obsessed with right now? The Ready Set “Love Like Woe”, Timbaland feat. Katy Perry “I’ve We Ever Meet Again”, Katy Perry “Teenage Dream”, Hanson “Use Me Up” and “Thinking Bout Somethin”, and anything by Kate Nash, Lily Allen, and Adele.

6. Are you a night owl or a morning person?
Used to be a night owl, now can’t stay up much past 10 p.m.  But mornings are rough, too.

7. Do you prefer dogs or cats?
Dogs. Cats hate me, and the feeling’s mutual.

8. What is the meaning behind your blog name?
I love to travel.  LOVE.  I also do it a lot for work.  But it’s not just about vacations and business trips.  I like going to festivals, seeing movies, wining and dining, planning events, and basically just have to always be doing something.  Wanderlust is a German word, and I’m German.  It technically means the desire to hike, but has come to mean the desire to travel.  When I was little, I had a music box with the German song “The Little Wanderer”, so put it all together, and you’ve got The Lil’ Wanderer!

WDW Wednesdays: Halloween

8 Sep

Around this time of year, when mornings are brisk and all I want is a cup of hot apple cider, I get all excited for Halloween, and the endless possibilities of costumes for the biggest party of the year in Madison.

Spending Halloween in Disney was almost as magical as Madison (minus a riot or two).  Magic Kingdom is all decked out in rust-colored leaves and orange Mickey pumpkin heads.

Magic Kingdom at Halloween

Main Street in Magic Kingdom at Halloween

One of my favorite things I did at WDW was the Legend of Sleepy Hollow carriage ride.  Being from Sleepy Hollow, and an avid fan of the Washington Irving story and Walt Disney animated film featuring Bing Crosby (love him!), this was a must-do for me!

At Fort Wilderness Lodge, a carriage ride takes you through the story of the Headless Horsemen, and after making a wrong turn, leads you into dangerous territory!

I’m a scaredy-cat, and only got mildly excited (mildly…) during the ride, but mostly it just put me in a great Halloween mood!

Madison, I Love You

4 Sep
Rathskeller

Der Rathskeller

I don’t even remember the last time I was in Madison.  I always say I’m going to get up there soon for a weekend, visit a friend or two, see a football game, chill at the Vintage and take comfort in being surrounded by multitudes of fellow Badgers.  People who understand why I dream about muggy Summer nights on the Terrace.  People who understand why I squeal when “Jump Around” comes on the radio.  People who know that once you go mac and cheese at Ian’s, you never go back.

My soulmates.

It’s a crime that I’ve been away for so long.  I righted that wrong today.  My mom and I drove up there for Taste of Madison, but mostly just to spend time in one of my favorite cities on the planet.  Even when you never really end up doing anything in Madison, it always ends up being a perfect day.

The campus was alive.  Badger game day meant a sea of red and white along State Street.  I felt home again.

Sipping moscato at the Taste around the Capitol Square.  Chocolate Shoppe ice cream walking along State.  Chilling on yellow and orange chairs on the Memorial Union Terrace.  It just feels right.  Every building holds a memory.  Every smell, a different slice of nostalgia.  I used to never be able to walk down the street without running into someone I knew.

Today, every face was that of a stranger.  Everything was the same, yet completely different.  Doesn’t mean I wouldn’t give my right arm to stay there forever.

I left there today with a void in my soul.  Every time I leave Madison, my heart breaks all over again.

Madison is the freaking love of my life.

Walt Disney World Wednesdays (on Friday)

3 Sep

I’m thinking about starting a Walt Disney World Wednesdays series to my blog, so these posts will be limited to Hump Day pretty soon, but I was just so excited by this news I had to share today!

Some of you (or all of you) may know I interned down at WDW in 2008 through the Disney College Program.  It was my dream through college to work for the mouse in any way, shape or form, be it in marketing, event and conference planning or public relations.  Unfortunately, the economy didn’t allow me to continue my career path at WDW, but I still visit there often.  Not a day goes by when I’m not planning a future vacation to WDW.  Today is no exception; I’m going in December 🙂

Hence, Walt Disney World Wednesdays!  It’s my passion, and you’ll just have to deal with it!  I subscribe to the Disney Parks blog and get Google alerts about WDW (nerd, I know).  So, I’m on the up and up with all that’s going on at the parks.

Today, I was updated on two news items that caught my eye.  The topics?  Food and exercise, naturally.

I started training for 5Ks last year, suffered a setback with a groin pull, and am still recovering from that while still training for a 5K.  I’m optimistic that I’ll be able to run longer races someday.  My dream race?  The WDW Princess Half Marathon of course!  Before that, I’d like to run the WDW Wine and Dine Half Marathon relay (split 5-mile and 8-mile legs between two people, and finish at the Food and Wine Festival at Epcot!) with my mom.  I’m always looking for new information, tips and tricks for running, and one of the experts has just partnered with WDW: Jeff Galloway!  You can see the full post here, but basically Galloway will be the new training consultant for the new runDisney edurance series!  There is a facebook page and everything.  You can bet I’ll be “fan”-ing that page later tonight!

If you know me, you know I love food but am now much more interested in healthful options at WDW, so I don’t gain 5 lbs. every week I visit.  Along with some info about new designer hot dogs at the Lunching Pad at Magic Kingdom (MK’s home to the infamous turkey leg), this post offers some great news for those watching their waistlines at the World.  Here is an excerpt:

  • Every table-service restaurant has at least one vegetarian option, and at least one low-fat or no-sugar-added dessert.
  • The top-selling kids’ drink? The 5-calorie lemonade-pomegranate punch.
  • All smoothies are now made with non-fat yogurt and fresh fruit purees (knocking them down from 420 calories to just 120 calories).
  • Seventy percent of trans fat items have been eliminated in merchandise locations
  • I, for one, am stoked that smoothies are offered with non-fat yogurt now.  It’s an equally refreshing snack to, say, a Mickey’s Premium Cookies and Cream Ice Cream Sandwich, but with far, far fewer calories.  I’m also not ashamed to say I’ve ordered the 5-calorie kids’ lemonade.  It’s pretty darn delicious.  And, it comes with a light-up Tinkerbell clip, perfect for Fantasmic!  Too fun!

    I find it ironic that the health tips come after their hot dog announcement.  I guess you’ll need to know where you can cut back after having one of those reuben dogs (you can bet I’ll be trying one)! 

    But, if you’re running one of the WDW marathons, I think you’re safe to indulge a bit 😉

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