Thursday, March 26, 2020

Saratoga Springs Derby Dash

With all of the craziness and stress going on in the world right now, let's pause and take a few minutes to enjoy a little Disney escape, shall we?

For starters, several resorts throughout Walt Disney property offer a fun run of some sort during the week. Saratoga Springs just so happens to offer their "Derby Dash" on Thursday mornings at 8 a.m. The cost is $15 and the distance is approximately 1.44 miles. The offerings with these runs are also different for each event, so check them out if you're interested. I've participated in one other resort fun run besides this one, and it was the Beignet Dash at Port Orleans French Quarter.

During our recent Princess Half Marathon vacation, we stayed at Saratoga Springs. This was our first time to stay at this resort and to be honest, I completely forgot that they offered a fun run during the week. Also, I heard through the grapevine that these fun runs were not operational during runDisney weekends, so I never even thought twice about it. Note to self: The Derby Dash does take place on "runDisney weekends" and I don't think a Thursday is considered a "weekend" for them.

The evening before the fun run, we received a voicemail to the phone in our room, "reminding" us of the Derby Dash the following day. Although I wasn't mentally prepared to run it, I had everything I needed (this was a runDisney trip, after all) and I'm never one to pass up an opportunity like this, so I set my alarm and planned on running it the following day! I figured since I was already physically there and I had no idea if I'd have this opportunity again, I might as well run it!

The race began at the Community Hall which was super easy to find. It was quite a bit of a hike from our room (about a 12 minute walk), but I made sure to leave in plenty of time.

Registration begins at 7:30 a.m. and in order to register, you must see a cast member inside of the Community Hall. You can pay with your magic band if it's connected to a credit card which makes things super easy. 

Saratoga Springs has the perfect layout for this race because the grounds of this resort are HUGE.We didn't even see the entire resort during our 1.4 mile run which is crazy to me!

 At exactly 8 a.m., and with a quick "Call to Post" (a super cute touch), we were off!

This course was adequately marked and I never felt like I could have gotten lost. It was a fabulous way to see the layout of the resort, too!

My favorite part of this course was the running portion that took us by Disney Springs. It was so quiet and peaceful in the morning, too.

Almost done!

After crossing the finish line, each runner received a medal. There was also a table with water bottles, wash cloths, granola bars, bananas, and oranges.

I was so happy I decided to participate in this race! It was a very good way to see the resort, a nice shakeout run before the upcoming Fairy Tale Challenge, and I got "unexpected bling" out of the whole deal!

If you're on the fence about running this, I think you should. This race was a nice way to get a little "touch" of runDisney, especially if you happen to be there on a non-runDisney trip. It was also a great way to kick start the day!

Have you ever run a resort fun run at Walt Disney World? If so, which one and what did you think? Let me know in the comments below.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Mickey Shaped Beignets At Home

Hello, happy Monday, and welcome to the Coronavirus diaries day 1! Kidding...

But seriously, who has spent the past week looking for "out of the box" fun things to do with your kiddos while you're home together for this extended period of time? Well, if you're a Disney fan who  loves the beignets over at Port Orleans French Quarter at Walt Disney World (or Cafe du Monde in New Orleans), and you own an air fryer, look no further!

As a full disclaimer, although this recipe was good and we all enjoyed these beignets, they don't taste *exactly like the ones you'd find in New Orleans or at the French Quarter resort, but they are a fun, at home substitution! 

During this experiment, I tested out two recipes - one that did not include active dry yeast and one that did include active dry yeast. In the end, although the one that included the yeast took longer to prep, it was definitely the better of the two recipes. The one without yeast was incredibly sticky and too cake-like. So, moral of the story - if you're making these beignets and want a decent tasting recipe, go with the yeast!

After prepping the dough (including rising time) Brayden and I set to work on cutting out Mickey shapes!

We used an air fryer for this experiment because I've never actually deep fried anything (like, ever) and was kind of scared of burning the house down!

I will say, although I love the option of using an air fryer, these beignets weren't as light and fluffy as they would have been had we deep fried them. Don't get me wrong, they were very good, but not Cafe du Monde perfect.

Look how precious they turned out, though!

Jason and I enjoyed this little touch of our two favorite places (Disney and New Orleans) with a cup of coffee for breakfast! Brayden loved them too, and he even asked for a second serving! 

Mickey Shaped Beigents (with an Air Fryer)
Adapted from: The Blue Jean Chef


Yeast mixture:
3/4 cup of warm water
1/8 tsp of sugar
1/2 envelope of active dry yeast (about 1 tsp)

Dough mixture:
1/4 cup of sugar
4 cups of all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp butter - room temperature
1 egg (lightly beaten)
1/3 cup of almond milk
1/4 cup melted butter
1 cup of powdered sugar

  • Combine lukewarm water, 1/8 tsp of sugar, and yeast in a bowl to let proof for five minutes.  Make sure your yeast mixture makes a froth at the top before using it. If not, check the expiration date on the packaging and start again.
  • In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, butter, and sugar and combine. 
  • Add the egg, milk, and yeast mixture to the bowl and stir until mixture forms into a sticky ball. 
  • Knead the yeast for a few minutes (about 5 minutes or so).
  • Transfer dough to an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap to let it rise for at least 2 hours. You may refrigerate overnight if needed, but make sure dough is at room temperature before proceeding.
  • Once the dough has risen, roll the dough to a thickness of 1/2 inch with a rolling pin or cup. Use a Mickey cookie cutter (or any shape you like) to cut out dough. 
  • Brush the beignet shapes on both sides with melted butter.
  • Air fry in batches at 350 degrees F for 8 minutes.
  • Once the fryer is finished, transfer beignets to a bowl and cover with powdered sugar. 
  • Serve and enjoy! 
If you prefer to deep fry these, you can! Make sure to use vegetable oil and have it at a heat of 370 degrees F. Fry until golden brown on both sides, transfer to a paper towel lined plate, sprinkle (our pour) over with powdered sugar and serve!

A faster option to making these beignets is to purchase the Cafe du Monde mix itself. Since we are in the middle of this craziness and I was trying to limit my social interactions as much as possible, I opted for making my own at home vs making a trip to the grocery store.

If you try this recipe, let me know in the comments below! I hope you enjoy as much as we did! :)

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Jason's Hospital Journey

Hi there! Long time, no blog. I promise I have a good reason, stay tuned to find out!

Jason's hospital journey began on the day we were leaving Walt Disney World. It was a Tuesday and he woke up with a pins and needles feeling in his fingertips and toes. Jason thought he slept funny or something random, so he didn't mention it to me. (We realize now how big of a mistake that could have been, but in this situation it was ok.) After arriving home that day, we unpacked and attempted to return to the groove of things. It was that evening when Jason told me about his symptoms. I was concerned (of course) but didn't want to panic so I told him if it worsened, I would take him to the ER. Honestly, the fact that it was his bilateral hands and feet threw me for a loop. I'm an oncology nurse so that didn't ring "tumor" in my head and I just didn't know what to think. (Let's be honest here - because oncology is my specialty, every time one of my family members or myself have a symptom, the first thing going through in my mind is oncology symptoms!)

The next day was Wednesday and Jason said everything felt exactly the same. We were both so confused about what was going on and again, I told him if it worsened we would head to the ER.

Enter Thursday morning, the day everything changed. Jason woke up and was incredibly wobbly on his feet. I was still home, thankfully and hadn't yet left for work. He also said that the "pins and needles" feeling had increased to the palms of his hands and the soles of his feet. True to my word, we headed to the ER at the hospital where I work.

We spent a total of 11 hours in the ER between Jason being poked, scanned, and examined. He had blood work, CT scans, a lumbar puncture, and MRI's and after the ER provider spoke with the neurologist on call, they decided to admit Jason to the hospital for two nights at minimum. Their fear was that he might have a rapidly progressing syndrome called Guillain Barre. It's rare, they don't really know why it happens to some people and not to others, and it can cause respiratory paralysis. In short form, they basically told Jason that if GB is what he had, he was likely exposed to a virus somewhere and his body turned on itself and started attacking his peripheral nerves. Thankfully, his version of GB was caught super early and never progressed beyond his hands and feet.

Over the course of his hospital stay, he was blasted with crazy does of IV steroids. The neurologist on call did a full exam and told Jason he would be fine "in time". Because we were dealing with nerves, who knew how long "in time" would be. On Saturday of that same week, after two nights in the hospital, Jason was discharged home, still feeling the exact same way he was when he arrived and the providers were pretty much shaking their heads because all of his testing returned normal. His physical symptoms in his hands and feet were there as well as a lack of reflexes (super weird) and  difficulty walking up and down stairs (think spaghetti legs here).

We also didn't feel the need to just sit in the hospital when there wasn't anything anyone else could do. Instead, I began researching additional provider options. You see, the neurologist Jason saw in the hospital was very good, but it's near impossible to get an appointment at his office due to the crazy amount of patients he sees. I knew our next course of action needed to be an out of town neurologist, so I began to dig.

I believe that some things happen for a reason and I do believe our paths cross with others at certain times for a reason, too. So, as we were leaving the hospital on a Saturday, I randomly happened to bump into my physical therapist who was just returning to her car from a run. She shouldn't have been around work that day and neither should I but there we were. When I explained what was going on with Jason, she asked if I'd looked into the Neuromedical Center in Baton Rouge. At the time I had not, so that's where I began my focus. Around here, people tend to point to Houston for any and every medical problem and that's great for some things - but I just didn't have a peace about Houston. As a nurse, I know that following your gut feeling is important and Baton Rouge was where my gut feeling was leading me. Along this journey, I also had two additional confirmations about the Neuromedical Center in Baton Rouge, so I knew I had made the right call.

Once home from the hospital, I specifically asked on facebook for prayer for a quick appointment and you wouldn't believe how shocked I was when I called on Monday morning and was offered an appointment for Wednesday afternoon of the SAME week. During our appointment, I was discussing Jason's case with the neurologist and he asked why we traveled so far to see him. (It's literally 2 hour trip there.) When I explained about our situation with the home neurologist, the Baton Rouge one said "we're not much better here!" I told him I had literally called two days ago to make the appointment and his response was, "well, sometimes things just open up!" WOW.

By the way, the Neuromedical Center is HUGE. It's literally like the same size of the hospital I work in and they see neurology alone! Wow! 

After a lengthy discussion and evaluation from the Baton Rouge neurologist, Jason was diagnosed with something called AIDP (acute inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy) which is essentially Guillain Barre. Currently scheduled are appointments for a nerve conduction study as well as physical therapy with the PT who recommended the Neruomedical Center in the first place! He was also told that this will be a "wait and see" game, so that's what we are doing. Waiting, seeing, and praying!

Since all of this, the tingling/pins and needles feeling has changed and now Jason feels a tightness or pressure type feeling in both hands and both feet. Also, normal functioning and sensation has returned to three of his fingers, but he still has a bit of a ways to go. Nerve endings can be slow to regenerate and that’s the place we are in right now. 

Throughout all of this, our family, friends, and church family have been phenomenal. Jason had so many visitors while in the hospital, people offering to bring us food, flowers, even a deck of cards! Our church sent a bouquet of flowers that were purple and yellow for the LSU Tigers and after they were delivered, our children's pastor and his daughter (also our friends) arrived with a yellow LSU tiger balloon animal (complete with lumbar puncture wound on his back)! Funny thing is, they had no idea that what type of bouquet had just been delivered!

Even though we have walked through some deep waters with all of this, I have literally felt God's had on it all. We are believing for a full 100% recovery so life can return to normal around here.

What a way to return home from vacation, huh? Jason says we probably shouldn't vacation to Disney anymore...and I just think he's crazy! (He's joking, of course!)

If you guys could keep us in your prayers when you think about it, that would be wonderful! We appreciate all of the prayer that has gone up on Jason's behalf so far and we definitely feel the love. God bless!

Monday, February 17, 2020

2020 Rock n Roll New Orleans Half Marathon

New Orleans has always been one of my favorite cities to run through. The sights and sounds of the city combined with the beautiful architecture and gorgeous homes all make for an amazing race experience. 

This year, my friend Melissa and I wanted to bring a little Disney flare to New Orleans and that's where our outfits were born!

I searched high and low for shirts I liked and couldn't find any available in our sizes. Instead, I decided to make them. Another fun Disney touch? The font I used for the shirt's slogan is also a Disney one! 

Another thing I love about Rock n Roll races is the start time. I actually feel like I get to sleep in when compared to runDisney events!

Thankfully, we were only a short walk to the start line from our hotel (Hilton Riverside).

The race start was delayed by 20 minutes and we were seriously freezing. I was so glad I remembered to snag a few packs of hot hands before the race!

The crowd behind us seemed endless!

Before long, it was time to run!!

Something I love about Rock n Roll races is they truly attempt to bring out the culture of the area to their events. From Mardi Gras floats to Second Line Bands and great courses, they really are a great way to "see" New Orleans city by foot!

There were so many inspirational runners on the course, too. Take this guy for example...

The weather was perfect for this race and as we gained mileage, I was so happy we decided to wear shorts instead of capri tights.

Along one of the backdrops, we saw a line form and wondered what was going on. Well, when we saw people taking pictures, we decided to join in!

Since we were both injured for this race, we planned to take it slow and just enjoy the scenery. We literally ran/walked the entire thing and had a blast!

I loved how bananas were available at one of the water stops! Such a nice touch!

Before long, we were looping back towards the French Quarter and Jackson Square.

This cathedral along with Cafe du Monde located just across the street are quintessential New Orleans "must do's"!

Hello Mile 12! I of course had to stop for my traditional mile 12 photo!

Forest Gump was even out and about for all the fun!

Our husband's text us their location along the finish line route so we knew where to look and they got some hilarious video footage of us finishing the race. Think: slo-mo...

We did it! It might have taken us almost three hours, but we did it! I have no regrets on the timing of this race for us as we literally spent so much time playing around, taking pictures, and just enjoying ourselves!

The food after the race was in plenty, but we somehow missed the chocolate milk. Instead, we picked some up at Starbucks on the walk back to our hotel.

Another nice offering by Rock n Roll are the free transportation shuttles. Since this race does not start and end in the same location, shuttles are available to take spectators to the start line and runners/spectators back to the downtown area once the race is over.

We loved spending the weekend with our friends!!

Our post-race lunch took place at the Ruby Slipper Cafe. It was delicious!!

I had the roast beef eggs benedict and it was seriously delicious!

Before saying a final farewell to our friends, we stopped by Cafe du Monde for a few souvenirs for our friends back home!

If you're ever thinking of running this race, you should! We really enjoyed our weekend and had a blast through it all!

Friday, February 14, 2020

2020 Rock n Roll New Orleans Expo

This past weekend, Rock n Roll held its annual New Orleans Marathon weekend . Despite being on the upside of an injury (and with a half a second of a thought to dropping to the 10K), my friend Melissa and I agreed to run/walk the half that we were initially registered for. 

We stayed at Hilton Riverside which was located right next door to the Ernest N Morial Convention Center (where the expo was being held). Don't let the "right next door" part fool you - this is a HUGE convention center and the walk was a rather long one!

A change that Rock n Roll has made within the past few years is the elimination of race waivers. You basically sign your online waiver when you register, so you don't need an extra paper in hand once you arrive. There's a mobile app where you can look up your bib number and then line up accordingly by bib number to pick up your packet. It's super easy and wastes less paper!

Rock n Roll also always has you walk the red carpet on your way to check in! What a fun touch!

Another fun touch this year was the addition of gold, green, and purple mardi gras beads! I love it when each race experience really hits on the cultural aspect of the area. So fun!

It wouldn't be a Rock n Roll Expo without the traditional Chocolate Milk finish line photo!

After picking up our bags and shirts, we made our way to the Brooks showroom floor to check out the merchandise this year.

My favorite were the light up number signs! (Not for sale, sadly.)

We spent a good 45 minutes or so here, looking through the merchandise and trying things on. I came away with a long sleeved finishers shirt (which I love) and a Rock n Roll New Orleans coffee mug. I've never purchased a coffee mug at their Expo because they weren't race authentic enough. Well, this one had purple, green, and gold insignias all over it so yes, it's now mine!

We made our purchases, then walked over to the Main Expo floor to check everything else out.

A super fun experience was put on at the Humana booth where my friend and I received matching "tattoos"!

Another fun "New Orleans" touch to this race experience were the multitude of Mardi Gras costumes, parade floats, and photo opportunities.

We definitely took advantage of them all!

Oh yes, and a giant crawfish...almost forgot about him!

I also registered for next year's Rock n Roll New Orleans half. If you register for the following year's events at the Expo, you can usually take advantage of special pricing and receive a free tshirt!

After leaving the Expo, we walked back over to our room to drop off our purchases, then made our way to the Riverwalk Mall for some beignets!

Although the "authentic" Cafe du Monde is located in the French Quarter, they do offer various locations throughout the city and this one happened to be inside of the Riverwalk Mall. It was super easy and convenient for us, so we went with it!

Watching them make the beignets was super fun, too! She literally scooped these up and tossed them in the fryer. (See instagram stories for footage!)

The remainder of our day was spent touring a plantation home located just outside of New Orleans and eating pizza at our favorite, Outlaw pizza. It was a fun day in all and ended with an early bed time for the runners.

Up next: Rock n Roll New Orleans Half Marathon race reap!

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