Volunteering Benefits Everyone

There’s no doubt that being able to see the results of hours of your hard work, makes putting the time in a little easier.

And when countless hours spent volunteering to help make tissue paper flowers for a Mother’s Day charity event goes from a pile of paper on your dining room floor, to a beautiful venue…

you smile and feel good inside.

I believe volunteering makes a difference – in both the individual who does the volunteering, and in the world around us.

With our busy lives today, it’s easy to say we don’t have time, but the rewards of volunteering even as little as one hour of our time can be enormous. It can be a chance to give something back, gain new experiences, develop skills, meet new people and socialize, or get out and discovery more of your community.

Our children are required to complete 40 hours of volunteer work before they can graduate from high school, but why stop there? And shouldn’t we set the example for them?

I volunteer my time in different ways: as a member of the parent council at my daughter’s school, at different school functions, and often for various local running and charity events in our community.

Over the past couple of weeks, I spent hours making tissue paper flowers alongside my youngest daughter for a local Mother’s Day charity event. She’s too young to have her volunteer hours count toward her required hours for high school just yet, but our little girl gladly put in her time regardless.

In the end, we were able to attend the event, a Mother’s Day high tea, and see how our hard work brightened up the venue and brought both smiles and a touch of spring to the room. While both my daughter and I are not too eager to see another tissue paper flower for a while, I know we’ll step up again next year with a smile and do it all over again if given the chance.

Do you volunteer your time in any way? What reward or benefits do you gain?


Garden View Tea Room – Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

We have been fortunate enough to enjoy afternoon tea in the Garden View Tea Room at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa many times over the years, and it has become a family tradition for every trip.

Garden View Tea Room tea pot and cover

Sweet Curry Chicken

That’s because my family knows that if there’s one must-have food item I need to eat every time I go to Walt Disney World, it’s the Sweet Curry Chicken finger sandwiches at the Garden View Tea Room.

These little delights haunt me in the best possible way.

It’s the one recipe I cannot duplicate when I get home, and believe me, I’ve tried. And tried. And tried.

Garden View Tea Room

The Disney Dining Plan is not accepted in the tea room, so it’s worth noting that this is an extra expense if you typically use a dining plan as we do.

There are a few different packages at different price points on the menu, but we love The Bedfordshire Tea package (the least expensive package) which includes assorted finger sandwiches, a scone, your choice of dessert, and of course your choice of tea from their vast menu. There is no shortage of food here so be sure to go hungry!

 

A Delightful Gluten-Free Tea Experience

I’m the only one in our family that has to follow a gluten-free diet, and the chefs never disappoint when it comes to my personal tea experience.

Gluten-Free Finger Sandwiches

As with their standard menu, there is a gluten-free assortment of finger sandwiches that come on fresh gluten-free bread and they are amazing! The selection can vary but my plate pictured above included egg salad, sweet curry chicken, tomato, cucumber, and poached pear (did I mention there is plenty of food?).

gluten free cakes and spreadsThe scones on the menu are the one difference and for anyone dining gluten-free, they are replaced with different breads (snack cake style), but you won’t miss the scone and you still get to enjoy the trio of spreads that everyone else does: strawberry jam, clotted cream, and lemon curd. Again, amazing! macaroons inside view

As for dessert, I always enjoy the plate of sweet macaroons that go perfectly with those last few drops of tea.

While the entire menu is tasty, I can’t help but hold a sweet spot for that curry chicken. I have created my own sweet curried chicken salad recipe at home which is close, but that magical ingredient is sadly missing.

My hunt for that perfectly duplicated recipe continues and every time I find a recipe for curried chicken somewhere that looks close to what I imagine the Disney recipe must be, I test it. I’ve had no luck so far, but I’m enjoying the process. And if it means I have to keep visiting the Garden View Tea Room in hopes of getting my fix, so be it.


If At First You Don’t Succeed

Here we go again…

Today was the day. I got up this morning with mixed emotions and decided I would late fate decide: to run the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon weekend, or not.

Yes! Who am I kidding?? Of course I’m going to take another shot at a runDisney event!

I drove my daughter to school, put on a pot of coffee, logged into my laptop, fired up the runDisney Events page and waited.

Thirty grueling minutes later, it was done. I’m in!

w&d1

A New Hope

But…

I will admit I was so excited for the Star Wars Rival Run trip and the excitement I’m feeling for this trip/run is very different. I had to rethink this trip: how much to keep the same and how much to change? Turns out switching it up has helped me get excited about it all over again.

First, my Star Wars trip was meant to be a solo trip and a personal challenge for my 50th birthday. This new trip is not that. Instead of registering for the challenge, I’ve registered for “just” the 10K (a girl can only throw out so much in Canadian funds to sign up for runs that offer no refund). I did however register for the Star Wars Virtual Half Marathon so that will be my challenge to myself once my doctor gives me the ok to run again. And I’m keeping the solo aspect of this trip and am excited at that. Disney on my terms, my way.

Second, I LOVE everything Star Wars and was absolutely stoked at the idea of being a part of the Rival Run excitement. Light side vs dark side? And those medals?? Loved it all! So only a food-themed run during the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival could get this chef as excited to try again. And hey, thanks to Disney’s latest announcement about the earlier than anticipated opening of Galaxy’s Edge, I get to combine both of my loves in one trip (just me and about 5 million others).

Third, was the resort issue. Stay at the original resort I had planned, or pick a different one? I decided to go for a whole new one. I’m picking a Disney Resort that we’ve never stayed at in the past (more about that in a future post).

So here I sit excited about a whole new trip and a new experience. This will be my first solo trip, my first runDisney 10K, and my first time at my selected resort. If I can just keep my feet firmly planted on the ground and avoid anymore accidents between now and then…

…just 225 days to go!

 

 

 

 


When You Can’t Get to Disney…

One week ago today, I had a nasty accident that left my entire right side badly battered and bruised, and my right wrist broken.

In an instant, all of my Disney dreams went out the window as a surgeon spoke the words I’d already been telling myself but hadn’t been strong enough to speak out loud, “there will be other marathons.”

I have spent the past seven days feeling sad and sorry for myself. I cancelled all of my vacation plans and let go of my dreams of my first Disney solo trip and running the runDisney Star Wars Rival Run Challenge.

Until today.

Today I stopped feeling sorry for myself and started thinking. I’ve trained hard and I’m ready to run my first half, so why let all of that hard work go to waste?

Virtual Running

I cannot tell you how many times the words of the surgeon have played over and over through my head, “there will be other runs.” So today I went looking for other runs.

And bingo, there it was right in front of me!

As I roamed social media, hitting every marathon and running site looking for a run in the not-too-distant-future, there it was. The runDisney Star Wars Virtual Half Marathon.

It’s perfect:

  • I have time for the bruising to subside and my wrist to heal enough to run again.
  • I don’t have to travel anywhere or run with a cast in heat and humidity (suddenly I’m thankful for the cooler Canadian temps).
  • I have the option to break the distance down over shorter runs if needed (not that I want to).
  • I still earn a Disney Star Wars themed medal.

I thought about it for all of five minutes before I hit the Register button.

Back to my Roots

This isn’t my first virtual run. It’s actually how I first began running and earning medals. I started out with the runDisney Virtual Running Shorts back in the summer of 2016, earning my Yellow Shoes, Red Shorts, and White Glove medals. I quickly also joined the Hogwarts Running Club where I earned medals running longer distances and going beyond 5K’s. And once my daughters saw me earning my medals, they were all in too!

While the official deadline for this virtual half is March 31st, I want to complete my run safely and with doctor approval. Maybe I’ll set the medal aside and run it at home on the same day of the runDisney Star Wars Rival Run Half Marathon. That way it won’t hurt as much when I see all of those fabulous finish line photos pop up on social media on the day of and after the run.

Maybe it will have to wait longer. Only time will tell. Either way, I won’t unwrap and wear the medal until I’ve earned it. Safely.

So remember…where there’s a will, there’s a way.

And watch for my future post where I’ll be wearing that Star Wars half marathon medal!

runDisney Star Wars Virtual Half Marathon Medal

runDisney Star Wars Virtual Half Marathon Medal

Look here to see all of the Star Wars runDisney 2019 medals.

 


How NOT to Train for a Marathon

Fall

Down for minimum of six weeks with a broken radius.

Accidents Happen

Life doesn’t always go according to plan.

For instance, I had planned to train for and run the runDisney Star Wars Rival Run Challenge in April at Walt Disney World. After successfully registering for the challenge, I put in the hard hours of training, logging many miles on my running shoes, did the research on a proper diet and ate well, and I put in time at the gym doing cardio and weight training workouts to prepare.

Then, as I was decorating for my daughters 13th birthday party, I had an accident and all that went out the window. I fell. Hard. Long story short, I have a badly broken wrist with possible nerve damage and the surgeon tells me “there will be other marathons.”

He’s right of course, but that doesn’t take the sting out of it.

One minute I was just 30 days away from my first solo trip to do the challenge, a trip that was both a birthday present and a challenge to myself for my 50th birthday, and the next I was just thankful to have only a broken arm and not having lost an eye or having broken a leg as well, and wondering if I’ll one day be able to pick up and yield a chef’s knife once again.

Cancelled Plans

I cancelled my trip.

I believe all things happen for a reason even if we may not always know that reason, and I try to focus on the positive. In this case, the reason escapes me, but I am happy I spent the time training and getting myself in good shape. No doubt about it, that will help me in my healing and rehabilitation process.

So, this is day five of me sitting on my butt, trying to learn to do for myself with just my left hand/arm, trying not to think too hard of what might happen during or at the end of my recovery, and I’ve already got my eyes set on another runDisney marathon and a new challenge.  

I guess this means that for now I won’t be sharing any training progress notes with you, but don’t count me out.

After all, I am a chef, so maybe I was meant to run the Wine & Dine challenge??


Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

New Years Eve

Attending a family wedding on New Year’s Eve.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, but I’m still here. Work and life were busy over the holidays, so I stepped away from writing for a while, but now things have settled and it’s time to get back to it.

Let’s start with an update:

Marathon Training

I’m happy to say, my marathon training continues!

I backed off of my running a little bit to take a couple of months to focus more on weight training and core work. The idea was to build some muscle and I’m happy to say, it’s paying off. My body is beginning to show some definition, and now that I’m back to regular running workouts, I’ve noticed a big difference. It’s become ‘easier’ and I’m running faster and with better form (if I run on the track at my local YMCA I can see my reflection in a wall of windows which helps a lot).

I use a run/walk method and have been able to increase my intervals to 1:30 (one minute run, 30 seconds walk) and maintain that throughout my workouts without pushing too hard. It’s a big jump from the 30:30 when I started running that left me huffing!

With just 69 days to go until my runDisney Star Wars Rival Run Challenge, I’m focusing on adding those longer runs, and on fine-tuning my diet. It’s tough to figure out pre and post workout foods that work best – what was enough before, isn’t working now with the extra effort. I also know that I’ll be eating around 3-3:30 am when I do the run, but it’s likely I won’t leave my corral until 6-6:30 am, so I need to figure out the food that will help then too: what to eat when I get up, and what to eat (if anything) while I stand around in the corrals waiting to start. If you have tips on what’s worked for you, I’d love to hear from you!

At this point in the game, I’m now running 3x’s per week (two short runs and 1 long run), with 1 or 2 cross-training workouts in-between: strength training and core work.

runDisney

I’ve been watching all the social media sites as the runDisney weekends keep coming. I drooled through the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend posts, and I awed at those participants that pushed themselves through the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend.

And just when my marathon challenge seemed so far away, we all got a look at the medals for the upcoming Star Wars Rival Run Weekend. Did you see them? I’m so excited! In case you missed them, you can see them all here. Now I’m more determined than ever to complete my challenge: I want that Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader medal hanging on my wall so bad! I just have to watch everyone else enjoy the Disney Princess Half Marathon weekend coming up in February, and then it’s my turn (and good luck to everyone in February!).

Not long now! Just 69 training days left!

Holiday Food

I won’t say I didn’t indulge in any holiday treats, I did. I didn’t go crazy, but I still allowed myself to indulge now and then. As a chef, it’s hard not to take advantage of that time of year to play with and test recipes. Hey, Christmas only comes around once a year, right?

One of the hardest things I endured after going gluten-free was probably my first gluten-free Christmas. Watching everyone else indulge without a second thought in holiday buffets, party food, and stuffing…oh, the stuffing. It hurt.

After that, I promised myself I would never feel left out again. I created a small library of gluten-free recipes of every holiday food I had missed out on, and tested them. And tested…and tested. Some were good, most were not. I crossed out option after option until I was left with a few good recipes I was able to modify or convert to gluten-free and that wouldn’t leave me cringing when I ate them.

Now every year in the weeks prior to the holidays (and I mean even before Thanksgiving starts here in Canada – October), I grab my gluten-free holiday booklet of recipes and get to work. I make sure my freezer is full and my cupboards have all the ingredients I might need to bake a last minute treat. I rarely feel left out anymore. Mincemeat tarts, Christmas cookies of all kinds, holiday scones, cannoli, mini pizza bites, pulled pork empanadas, mozzarella sticks, stuffing, and more.

And I’ve decided, why just leave these foods for Christmas? Keep watching my blog for holiday food posts throughout the year, and by Christmas, we’ll all be ready to indulge!

And so begins 2019..

I hope this year brings you health, happiness and all the things you’re looking for in this adventure called life.


Running for Charity in Toronto

We did it! And what a great way to see the city of Toronto.

STWM5kaThis morning we ran the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon 5K Charity Challenge in support of the Canadian Celiac Association. It was great! With a 5:30 am wake-up, and a 6:30 am hike to the shuttle buses, it was cold, but great!

STWM5kd

While normally we would push to run for a good finish time, this morning we took our time and tried to enjoy the scenery. After all, when else can you walk/run through the streets of Toronto without the worry of traffic or traffic lights? Still, we did break into a run several times and managed a decent finish time, so we’re happy. I’m so proud of our girls (who are not runners) who endure early wake-up calls and cold, dark mornings to participate in a sport that is not really their favourite. I’m even more proud to say they do it to raise funds to help others.

STWM5kcSTWM5ke

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was our first run in Toronto, but I can guarantee, it won’t be our last.