Not So Magical Dining

Every September, Orlando has this thing called Magical Dining Month. It’s when 20 or so upscale restaurants offer three-course meals for a discounted price of $30-33 per person. It’s a way for restaurants to grab new business in a slow month while letting people like me, who spend $3.00 in the Wendy’s drive-thru for dinner, try something new without having to take out a second mortgage.

Friday night, hubs and I met a bunch of friends out at Park Plaza Gardens in Winter Park for magical dining birthday celebration. The restaurant is super cute. It’s indoors but it looks like an outdoor courtyard. Amazing atmosphere.

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You can order off the regular menu, but if you want to do the magical dining deal, you choose from a limited menu. The choices are different every year (sometimes the same restaurants participate). Here were the choices for this year’s appetizer at PPG.

It was a toss up between the rock shrimp and the summer baby greens for me. The salad won out because it wasn’t described as being served “in butter.” I like to save my arteries for desserts, thank you.

The salad was good. I should have ordered the dressing on the side because there was too much of it, but I still ate the whole thing. The pastry wrapped brie was amazing. But I think you could have pastry wrapped dirty socks and I would like it.

Hubs picked the gazpacho for his appetizer. I didn’t get a picture, but it looked like a bowl of tomato soup. It was cold, which I didn’t expect. Or like. It tasted like spicy Bloody Mary mix so I guess if they added some vodka, it would have been alright. I didn’t care for it, but hubs seemed to like it and it was his meal, so I guess that’s what matters.

Here were the choices for entrées.

I picked the chicken. I know, not the fanciest choice, but it was a process of elimination. I don’t like pork 95% of the time and I don’t like mussels so chicken it was. Unfortunately…

My first thought when I saw that plate was how disgusting it looked and an up-scale restaurant should be embarrassed to serve it. I mean, it looks like baby vomit and the plate wasn’t even wiped clean. Maybe I’m just watching too much MasterChef, but that’s the kind of crap I expect from Fazolis (are those still around?). The dish didn’t taste any better than it looked. The manager did offer to bring me something else but I had already eaten half the chicken and was getting full so I declined.

Hubs had the pork rib eye, which actually looked great, but he didn’t care for it. I’ve never seen him leave meat uneaten on a plate. It made me sad for him and for that poor piggy that gave his little porky life to become a terrible dinner.

Finally, the dessert choices.

My friends think I’m crazy to not like Crème Brulee, but puddings and custards are gross so I went with the pecan pie.

I live for the filling that goes in pecan pie. So, so  good. That pie was all pecans and no filling. I ended up eating the ice cream and some of the crust and left the rest. It wasn’t sweet enough for me, though I heard someone else at the table say they liked it because it wasn’t too sweet. Too sweet is not a thing. That is just crazy talk.

Hubs had the Crème Brulee and said it was delicious. I’m taking his word for that one.

We had a table of 10 and most of us didn’t care for the food. It also took us 2.5 hours to eat. The service was painfully slow. I wouldn’t recommend it, but it was still nice to celebrate our friend’s birthday and see a few friends we haven’t seen in awhile. So I guess a bad dinner is a still good dinner when you’re with friends and that makes it worth it, right?

Right.

By the Numbers

1. There’s a dollar store near my mom’s house that she totally loves. She talked this dollar store up like crazy when she first moved out to CA and I would think, “It’s just a dollar store. Who cares?” Well, turns out it’s not. It’s the mecca of dollar stores. It’s huge and they sell just about everything. They have your typical dollar store items but they also have a full grocery section of fresh fruit and veggies, eggs, all sorts of frozen foods, etc. They even have hub’s favorite coconut water for a dollar, which I pay five dollars for at the grocery store here. (Bitter, party of one.) Anyway, I was at the check out when I realized there is nothing this store doesn’t sell.

Edited to add: No, I didn’t buy one and no, I’m not pregnant. I’m still doing my part to eradicate the beer epidemic of this country.

2. My mom also lives near an 85-year-old man. This is the inside of his car.

This is just the front. The back was packed with junk so high it was blocking the windows. There’s no room in the front seat, his glove box is overflowing and open, and he has to move stuff to shift the car into drive. I know this is weird, but after seeing his car,  I desperately wanted to see the inside of his house.

3. Hubs and I watched Now You See Me this week.

We both liked it. There were some cheesy scenes here and there, but overall it was entertaining.

I really like Jesse Eisenberg. He just seems so smart, but I have no basis for thinking that. Maybe I get that impression because of The Social Network? I don’t know. I do know that I spent the entire movie thinking that Isla Fisher was Amy Adams.

4. I am still super obsessed with my pedometer.

I bought a Bodybugg way back and it lost its novelty after about two months. Once I got an idea of what I burned during my usual activities, I didn’t care about it anymore. Well, I wear my pedometer all the time. I try to get in the recommended 10k steps per day (which is approximately 6 miles) and most days I do. Other days I get as close as I can. The national average is 5,500 steps/day. If I have a total rest day, I don’t even make it to that much. Sad. So if you’re looking for something to encourage you to be more active, I really recommend getting one. Mine was around $20 and totally worth it.

5. I haven’t worn a watch in 10 years but I found this cheap one and loved it. Now I’m a watch-wearer again.

I really wish I didn’t look up the link for that because now it’s on sale. *sniff*

6. Jon Hamm is still alive and well and eating adorable mini-donuts with his adorable hammy hands.

He’s got a bit of a skin condition that we’re keeping a watch on. He may need a trip to the vet, which will surely cost 4x as much as he did.

7. Pants is still adorable as well.

She was playing the other morning and decided she wanted to snuggle up to me and be petted instead. <3 Also, let it be known the bunny that growls when I give her food is terrified of that hamster.

Alright, that’s all I have for today. Have a good weekend everyone. :-)

I’m Too Old for this S!#t

This weekend was exhausting. Exhausting in a good way, but also in that way that reminds you that you’re dangerously close to 40. So. very. close.

Hubs, the bestie, and I drove down to Tampa on Friday afternoon for a couple shows we were seeing at the Florida State Fairgrounds. We checked into the Red Roof Inn across the street from the amphitheater – our usual spot to stay when we see shows there. But this time it was different.

Those rooms are nasty. Why did it take me until now to notice all the hairs in the bathroom (that were not ours) and the stains on the comforters (also, not ours)? We’ve stayed there five times and this is suddenly news to me. It also took me until now to realize there were four other better hotels right next to it. So valuable lesson: don’t stay at the Red Roof Inn and pay better attention to surroundings. Check.

We hung out in the hotel room and had some drinks and a photo shoot before we walked over to the show. We now have 50 variations of this picture.

Once we got there, I randomly ran into my cutie patootie friend, Kim, from high school (she’s the one in the Air Force shirt). I had no idea she was going, so for me to run into someone I know at a sold out concert of 20,000 is pretty impressive. Though, I am taller than most of the world so I’m kinda easy to spot.

We also got the only photo evidence that hubs was with us the weekend. That one likes to evade my camera.

Anyway, the first show of the weekend was Maroon 5. I love them. Their music is catchy as hell and only someone with a cold, black soul would say otherwise. We were in the lawn section so we were far back. Real far back.

The acoustics aren’t great on the lawn since it’s in open air and if you need to go to the bathroom, you have to wade through a sea of people to get there. Not ideal but the concert was still a lot of fun.

Kelly Clarkson opened. She is crazy adorable. I super love her, even more than Maroon 5, so I could have gone for another hour of her music. I was sad when her set was over. She needs to headline her own tour.

Maroon 5 is a hit machine and that’s basically what they did. Hit after hit. I could have gone for several songs that they haven’t released but I guess when everything you release is popular, that’s what you do.

The next day, our friends Jimmy and Linda came into town from Orlando. Originally we were planning to go to the zoo, but we ended up on a mall shopping spree instead. Poor hubs and Jimmy had to walk around the mall together like bro-friends while Linda and I tore it up in Papaya.

We all tried a Japanese shaved ice while we were there. Linda insisted it was amazing and that it “tastes just like Chinese shaved ice.”

None of us had a clue what she was talking about. I know what a sno-cone is and that’s about it. But she was right, it was delicious. I got the Tsunami, which tasted like melon with kiwi and honey drizzled on top. Delicious.

After our shopping spree, we got ready for Depeche Mode on night #2. That means drinks in the hotel room, a quick stop for dinner and drinks at Wing House beforehand, and then a walk back over to the amphitheater.

I only took one picture of Jimmy and Linda the entire night which probably isn’t appropriate for the internetz, so instead enjoy another more appropriate picture of Lisa and I.

We had seats for Depeche Mode, but were still pretty far away.

This was my fifth time seeing them and the first time I didn’t care for their show. I didn’t love the set list and they usually have a much cooler stage set-up. I mean, they always sound good but they’ve just been so much better previously. I guess it’s just wasn’t worth the travel to Tampa and the hotel cost this time. Plus, they always seem to play the only song I hate from them (< — haha, that video is mesmerizing). It’s like they do it on purpose to torture me.

Later that night, we ended up at the Hard Rock Casino some how where we ate our faces off, gambled an entire dollar, and then took a cab back to our hotel. It was a great weekend with great friends but I am wiped out and I think my liver needs a vacation.

The Rest of Vacation

I’m back from San Diego. I love visiting my family, but man it’s hard leaving. I only get to see them once a year since they’re on the other coast. Leaving makes me sad for weeks because I know how long it’s going to be before I see them again. We didn’t all get a picture together this time, but here’s the one from last year.

(From the left: my nephews (who are now taller than me), mama bird, brother, moi, niece, and my SIL’s sister)

I took the red eye home on Friday and had the whole row to myself. I love when that happens. That’s when the armrests go up and Paula gets to stretch out her 5’9″ body. I’m not good at sleeping on planes but I love red eye flights so I don’t end up wasting a whole day traveling. I can usually get that spotty, drooling, head-whipping-forward-and-waking-me up sleep on the plane and then I take a little nap when I get home and I’m good to go for the rest of the day.

I wanted to write a little more while I was out there but was too busy reigning as the Queen of Leisure, so here’s what went on during the rest of my vacation:

1. I went on a two hour bike ride (25 miles maybe?) with my SIL’s sister, Kate.

That’s her riding in front of me. I don’t think I’ve been on a real bike in five years. It was a lot of fun. It was super foggy the entire time, so it was nice that I wasn’t baking in the sun but not so nice that I could barely see the view of the beach on the right. I’m pretty sure if I lived in Carlsbad, she would be my biking buddy. Those hills do not mess around. It’s like an outdoor spin class out there. As I was struggling to get up the hills, I’d pass people running them like it took no effort. Those hard-bodied jerks with their wonderful stamina.

I love that California has bike lanes and paths everywhere. I don’t think I’ve ever seen another state that caters to outdoor activity as well. If Orlando was more activity friendly, maybe I’d attempt to go outside more than once a month. I mean, probably not. But I like having options.

2. I met a parrot.

I ran across that little fella on the bike ride. Kate asked the two guys behind him how old he was and they told us they had no idea. Some guy just ask them to watch his bird while he got coffee at Starbucks.(?!?!) I’m telling you, people were swarming around this bird, taking pictures with it, and asking the guys questions. If you’re having trouble meeting that special someone, get a bird. Trust me. It going to work. They will come to you.

3. A half hour into our bike ride, this happened.

It was 10 in the morning and I knew it wasn’t a good idea but someone was a terrible influence.

4. After our bike ride, we took a three-mile walk at Batiquitos Lagoon. The fog never let up, but the view and trail were still really pretty.

It was nice to get off that bike seat for awhile and stretch my legs. Plus, we had to mentally prepare ourselves for the Starbucks frappuccino we stopped for after the walk. So basically we burned 200 calories and then consumed 300. This is my favorite way to exercise.

5. Big brother and I went out to dinner at the Wild Note Cafe with a couple of his friends.

That dude can eat whatever he wants and stay thin. I don’t even understand it. I work out five or six days a week to sort of fit in my pants, and he works out one or two times a week (if he feels like it) and holds back if he starts to sweat because he doesn’t like sweating. He actually said that to me. He’s lucky he’s still in the family after that one.

6.  After dinner, we saw Everlast next door at Belly Up.

If there’s anyone that loves live music as much as I do, it’s my brother. He usually finds a show for us to go to while I’m in town and it’s always a good time, even when I don’t know the band.

I was checking out Everlast videos before the concert and found this one for you Aaron Paul fans. :-)

7. And finally, my last meal before I left town.

That’s the grass fed Kobe burger from Encinitas Ale House (Gruyere, Gorgonzola, Onion Straws, Tomato, and Baby Greens). I shared half of that burger and half of another one with my bro. Mom got the fish and chips with a bucket of tarter sauce. That woman loves her sauce like no other.

I had a five minute worry that getting on a plane after a giant burger was not going to go well, but good news, I made it home without incident. So besides the napping and shopping and adult beverage drinking, that is how I spent my week vacation with the birthday girl.

 

A Little Celebration

My mom’s birthday was a success! The brother and I took her out for dinner at Peohe’s on Coronado Island. We knew it would be good because Peohe’s is a Chart House restaurant. It was dark by the time we got there so I felt kinda dumb taking pictures. So, my mom, brother, the pu-pu platter appetizer, my candied walnut salad, and crab-stuffed tilapia got no photo love, but I managed to get the one important picture.

My love for molten lava cakes knows no bounds.

I went to the restroom right as dessert was brought to the table and my brother waited for me to come back so I could take a picture for the blog. What a guy. Amirite? Although, he scolded me for my poor bathroom timing and even called my cell because I was not back to the table fast enough for him. This family does not mess around when it comes to dessert.

We sat outside by the water and had an awesome view of downtown San Diego that included some birthday fireworks!

Ok, maybe they were Labor Day fireworks. But probably most likely birthday fireworks.

We had a nice time and even took a walk on the pier afterwards. I was ready to hibernate for the winter after that meal but then I remembered how hot and muggy it is here with no winter in sight, so I just rolled around on the floor and complained about how full I was.

The next day, mom and I got birthday pedicures. She was basically in heaven.

Before we left, I told her I was thirsty and her response was, “want a Mudslide?”  It was 10 in the morning. <— I know, amazing  I love that all it takes to keep my mom happy is pretty toes, a full belly, and tons of booze.

Hills. Ugh.

Why is it so hot and muggy here? Didn’t California know I was coming?

The high is supposed to be 72 and the low 55. That is the only weather I will accept. Get with the program California. And here I thought you were perfect. Hmph.

Don’t even get me started on the hills.

Mygodthehills. They’re everywhere. If I wanted to run up a hill, I would increase the incline on the treadmill which I’m not going to do because that’s just silly.

What I’m trying to say is, I ran. During that run, I took a turn on a street called Cerro, which was just a bad idea all together. Luckily, this was part of my view.

And that right there is how California tricks you into coming back for more.

I ran 2.5 miles (9:43 pace), stopped back at the house to walk a mile with mom, and then ran another 2.5 miles after I dropped her off. The second half was slower by 10 seconds. I felt super impressed with myself because I hated every hot, hilly minute of it. Even though it was split in two, I’m calling that my long run for the week.

Birthday Surprise

I flew out to San Diego last night to surprise my mom for her 75th birthday. I tell you, there is nothing more satisfying than waiting quietly for a 75-year-old woman to walk into her house so you can yell Happy Birthday.

Good news: her pacemaker works.

If she wore pants, I’m fairly certain she would have pooped them. I wish I recorded her reaction because it was a beautiful blend of excitement to see me and relief I wasn’t a murderer. So this week, I’ll be hanging out with my mama and brother and enjoying a week off of work.

So far, the birthday girl requested lunch at Islands Restaurant. This was her meal.

That’s what you do when your 75. Get exactly what you want. No shame. She’s like the honey badger. She don’t care.

We’re going to dinner tonight, so I ordered the turkey burger off the lighter menu.

Then I proceeded to eat half of mom’s fries so that idea was a bust. (Seriously the best sweet potato fries I’ve ever had. Let’s add Islands to the list of places we need in Orlando.)

Anyway, I need to get ready for tonight’s celebration. Mom is making herself a mudslide as we speak and it’s not even 5:00pm. That’s a woman after my own heart. Happy Birthday Mama Bird!

Stuff Lately

1. I ran 3.11 miles in 30 minutes last night. That’s not my goal pace and my lungs were ready to quit at the end, but I didn’t need to walk and it’s a full minute faster than the pooptacular that was Sunday’s run. Sure, it was on the treadmill and in ideal “weather” conditions, but it was enough to make me think I’m magnificent again.

2. I finished Orange is the New Black (*love*). Then I started watching House of Cards. Then I started watching Parks and Recreation. Then I watched some movies.

Don’t even need 15 seconds. I’m not doing anything with my life ever.

3. Is everyone watching Dexter but me? I feel like I’m the only one that’s still a part of this CBS/Showtime blackout. There’s nothing worse than watching half a season and then not being able to watch the rest. Plus, Homeland is back in a month. Showtime is cutting it a little close for my taste. I know that I could “go outside” and “enjoy nature” with the time I have back in my life each week, but that won’t happen. I’m sitting on the couch and waiting for it to come back.

4. Hubs tried to read my blog at work the other day and found that it’s blocked now. He sent me this screencap. Luckily, it gave me official proof that I am entertaining.

I’ve been telling hubs that I’m entertaining for years.

5. This.

6. And this. (< — 24 Times Leonardo DiCaprio was a Total Bad Ass)

7. The best and worst decision of last weekend.

That’s a Reese’s Chocolate Molten Lava Cake from Chilis. It has liquid Reese’s on the inside. Liquid Reese’s! Looks like poop on a plate, tastes like heaven.

8. If you’re not already watching Breaking Bad, for the love, you need to do that now. Just drop everything. Even babies.

WW

Ok, don’t drop the babies. Just place them in a cage with some water until you’re done. I’m not a monster.

Six Miles of Suck

Oh, hey there stranger.

Dusted that baby off and plugged it in for the first time in four months. That can only mean I did the one thing I hate most during the summer: I ran outside. Spoiler alert: it sucked. And it was only six miles.

Hey, remember when I ran 18 half marathons and two marathons? Someone remind me how I did that because this was hard. And slow. And humbling. And I wanted to die on the sidewalk during the last two miles.

My second marathon was faster, so I once ran quadruple the miles at that pace. The only thing that kept me going was Michelle. No way in hell I would have finished those miles running if she wasn’t next to me telling me not to walk. Anyway, here’s a cute picture of Michelle and a crappy picture of my red face afterwards that I stole from her.

I’m going to take into account that it was disgustingly hot. And it was the longest run I’ve done in four months. And that I went to Crossfit on Friday and Saturday and my legs were (and still are) super sore. And I was tired. Well, I’m always tired. I have not been sleeping well for almost two months now. It takes me at least two hours to fall asleep every night…because of THEM. (Someone tell me how to get comfortable in bed, please.)

Even with all the negatives, I feel like that run shouldn’t have been as hard as it was. We did score some good Samaritan points by finding an iPod Touch and emailing the owner that we found it. Well, that was after looking at the selfies and booby texts she sent to friends. But still, that’s got to give me some good karma for my next outside run.

And because I haven’t posted a Crossfit workout in awhile, here’s what I did on Saturday.

How to: barbell deadlift (you can also do them with dumb bells) and kettlebell swing.

I used a barbell with 75lbs for the deadlifts and a 25lb dumb bell for the swings since the gym didn’t have a heavy enough kettlebell. So, don’t think you need actual kettlebells to do the swings.

You should try that Crossfit workout and then try to run six miles the next day in 200% humidity. You’ll love me forever.

Catching Up

There have been a lot of things I’ve wanted to write about lately but I can’t seem to find the time to do it. So instead of writing a bunch of blogs about past stuff, I thought I’d give you the abridged version.

1. I went out with the girls the other night. Ok, it was two weeks ago. The point here is that I got dressed up and looked all civilized and whatnot.

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If you can’t find me, just follow the ass in from the left.

I can’t tell you how many test pictures Kate (on the bottom right) took and she never said anything. How can you not see an ass full of ruffles sticking out? I’m calling conspiracy.

2. Last week, I went to see One Republic with the hubs and the bestie.

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I’ve never heard of their opener, Mayer Hawthorne, but they were literally one of the worst bands I’ve ever seen live. Just terrible, terrible music that made you question if you should stay for the main act. And life. They made you question life.

The night significantly improved when One Republic took stage. I’m not a fan of them, but the bestie is and it’s important to support the besties.

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The concert was on a Monday night, which I reserve solely for sitting on the couch and being depressed I have to work four more days until another weekend. So you know I love her if I change up that schedule.

3.  Last week, hubs and I also went to see Wolfgang Gartner. (I can hear the collective “who?” right now.) He’s a techno DJ that hubs loves. Get ready for a picture that is going to make you feel 82% older.

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Yeah, it was like that. But there was lots of good people watching, like that guy in plaid at the front of the stage with both arms up. You know you’re old when you’re watching him jump up and down for two hours and thinking, “Man, I bet he gets to eat whatever he wants with all that exercise!”

4. The Wolfgang Gartner show was at a club called Roxy that’s about 15 minutes from my house. There was a letter out on their sign…

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I can’t make that stuff up.

5. I love this picture of hubs so I thought I’d share.

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What’s the first thing you look for in a partner? I look at teeth first. Man, I love a good set of pearly whites. I’m mesmerized by hub’s teeth. When an old middle school friend saw a picture of us for the first time, she said, “I knew you’d marry someone with good teeth.” So apparently this has been my thing for a long time.

6. It only took until August, but I made something that wasn’t cooked in the microwave this year.

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That’s a ground turkey, onion, and squash stuffed pepper with salsa and goat cheese. It was really good. When hubs told me he thought it needed more salt, I pretended to hear, “This is the best thing I’ve ever eaten and nothing compares to it.” So, all is well.

7. Hamsters eat with one hand and it’s adorable.

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8. These just don’t get old for me.

Hey girl

9. I’m still running. I’ve only been doing 4-5 milers but I’m ready to start adding mileage on the weekends. I found a training plan on the back of an old flyer for the Orlando half marathon, so I might as well follow it this year since I’m running the race again and didn’t sign up for my running group.

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That schedule is super close to what I do now except I cross train on Friday’s instead of rest and I do my long run on Saturday or Sunday depending on what I have going on over the weekend (i.e., when the booze flows). Since I’m doing 5-milers already, I’m a month ahead for the weekend mileage, so I’ll probably end up getting more longer runs in than what’s scheduled.

10. Did anyone see the True Blood finale last night? Man, that whole season was a real stinker.

Low quality shit

The Lilith storyline was a bust when it had some serious potential, Warlow was a lame character that was supposed to be super powerful but wasn’t, and there was barely any Lafayette all season. He can talk to the dead now, surely you can insert him into the storyline more. The show didn’t get good until the last half hour. So, 30 minutes of 13 hours of programming were good. I’m pushing that show from “orders HBO every year for it” to “Netflix when I have time.” Don’t think I didn’t appreciate the full frontal from Eric, though. Because I did.      A lot.