Friday, April 17, 2015

Atlanta Family Happenings: April 25th-26th, 2015

Welcome to a new addition to my blog - Next Weekend in Atlanta!  

Why next weekend?  Why not this weekend?  If you're anything like me, you need a little more advance notice to juggle the family's schedule.  It's my hope that you will find fun things for your Atlanta area family with plenty of time to make sufficient plans.

Atlanta Museum Week kicks off!  Over 35 cultural institutions around Atlanta are offering free or discounted admission from April 25th through May 1st.  You can read the full list of participating institutions and find a link to get your discount admission coupon!  Visit an old favorite or explore a new location!  Be sure to use the hashtag #atlmuseumweek and post pictures of your adventures on social media!

National Astronomy Day & Star Party - Tellus Museum April 25th
This event runs from 10 AM until Midnight!  Planetarium shows, sun viewing in the Observatory and star-gazing on the lawn!  A Star Party with children's activities will be from 6-10 PM.

Taste of Marietta - Marietta Square April 26th
Experience this annual favorite from 11 AM - 7 PM.  It offers over eighty restaurants / caterers offering tastes of their signature foods, with tastes ranging from $1-5.  Live music, kid's activities and cooking demonstrations are included.  Admission in free.


Super Kids Save The World! - Children's Museum of Atlanta
Runs through Sunday, May 3rd
Based on a British children's book, the exhibit is designed to encourage kids to save the world simply by making responsible choices!

Paul Bunyan and the Tall Tale Medicine Show - Center for Puppetry Arts
Runs through May 24th
Songs and stories featuring American Tall Tale heroes Paul Bunyan, John Henry, Pecos Bill and Hekeke of the Miwok tribe.  Recommended for ages 4 and up.


Georgia Renaissance Festival: Weekends through June 7th
This weekend's theme is Roman - including a toga contest!  It's also pet-friendly weekend - bring your dog or cat and sign them up for the pet costume contest!

Inman Park Spring Festival and Tour of Homes: April 25-26
This is the 44th year of this popular festival in one of Atlanta's oldest neighborhoods.  In addition to the Tour of Homes, there are kid's activities, a street parade and an Artist's Market.

Spring Jonquil Festival, Smyrna: April 25-26
Downtown Smyrna will host more than 150 artists / crafters from across the country.  Kid's activities, shows and festival food.  Admission is free.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Amy Eats: Asheville Restaurant Recommendations

I had the pleasure of running the 2015 Asheville Half Marathon with my friends Wendy and April in March.  Part of the fun of a racecation with friends is exploring new places together - girls gotta eat!  Spoiler alert:  there was not one meal that we didn't fully enjoy.

We got a couple of recommendations from Wendy's parents who were familiar with the area.  Our dinner Friday night was at The Cantina.  We stayed at the Doubletree Asheville - Biltmore and it was great - awesome service and extremely close to the shops and restaurants of Biltmore Village.  We walked to The Cantina and were seated pretty quickly.  The food was excellent and the margaritas were yummy.  Perhaps too yummy, because I forgot to take a picture.  The restaurant was cozy and inviting - a definite plus for a chilly, drizzly night.

The Wayside Grill
Dinner Saturday night was the Wayside Grill, also in Biltmore Village.  I had tried this restaurant previously last November when my family and I visited the Biltmore Estate and oohed and aahed over the Christmas decorations!  April and Wendy agreed that the eats were good.  Burgers, Pub Food and Sandwiches are the menu headings and they didn't disappoint.  The adult beverage selection was sufficient and the wait staff friendly.  The Wayside Burger was delish, but dessert was outstanding.

A peanut butter mousse cupcake, y'all.  I.  Die.  It was moaning good.  I offered my friends a bite and was secretly pleased when they declined.  More for me.  Get you one.

After a chilly race, April bid us adieu as she had a longer drive home than we did.  Running 13.1 hilly miles makes a girl hungry for real food - not just bananas and pretzels.  Wendy was a genius with a phone and searched out our breakfast destination.

The Early Girl Eatery was just what we wanted.  And what a lot of other people wanted, too.  We were told it would be at least a 30 minute wait.  We debated walking around and finding something else, but to be honest, it was cold and I had just run a half marathon.  I really didn't want to walk anywhere else.

The wait ended up being shorter because of foolish people who put their name on the list and didn't stick around.  I feel sorry for them.  The menu is good old-fashioned Southern breakfast meets organic farm fresh.  There are vegan options as well.  They work with many local farms and CSA's to serve local, fresh ingredients.  My breakfast was amazing and I urge you to check it out - it's so worth the wait!

I had an omelet with spinach, mushrooms and cheese.  The potatoes and biscuit were perfect and my grits were completely satisfying.  It's safe to say that breakfast is my favorite meal of the deal and this restaurant did not dissuade me of this notion!

Have you eaten at any of the above restaurants?  Do you have any others I should check out next time I'm in Asheville?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Meb For Mortals: Book Review

Disclosure:  I received a complimentary copy of this book from Runner's World for purposes of review.  All opinions are my own!

I'm linking up today with Patty, April and Erika for Tuesdays on the Run!  Visit one of their sites to link up your running post and read plenty of others!

I was pretty excited when Meb For Mortals landed in my mailbox - I do love me some Meb.  I read his book "Run To Overcome" and cheered when, in 2014, he became the first American man to win the Boston Marathon since 1983.

Meb (we are on a first name basis, right?) acknowledges that he certainly doesn't expect the average, everyday runner to do everything that he does.  However, he wants to share his routine, share his tips so that people like me can pick up what we need and what fits in our schedule.

The tagline of the book is "How to Run, Think and Eat like a Champion Marathoner".  To that end, the chapters cover not only running, training and exercises but also cover healthy eating practices and how important a positive attitude is.  I'm so glad that he is not just focusing on the mechanics of running.  I know firsthand that so much of a person's success in hitting their running goals is mental - committing and believing in yourself.  Discipline and wisdom to know when to push it and when to rest.

Meb throws in a lot of personal anecdotes to illustrate how the tips he's giving have helped him in the past - that really helped me as a reader understand the validity of what he was saying.

For every conditioning drill, strengthening exercise and stretch there are pictures of Meb performing the actions and detailed descriptions.

Meb puts emphasis on what many others consider "the little things" - cross-training, nutrition, stretching and recovery - and feels that these "little things" are vital parts of the bigger picture.

Follow this link to purchase the book!

Did you know?  Meb Keflezighi is the only person in history to win the New York Marathon (2009), the Boston Marathon (2014) and an Olympic medal (2004).

You can find out more about Meb on his Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts and his website.  

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Kingdom Keepers RETURN! Win an Autographed Ridley Pearson Novel!

Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links.  If you purchase something from Amazon following these links, I will get a little extra cash to help fund the Disney Annual Pass.  Help a Disney sister out!  Oh, and I purchased this book, all opinions are my own, yadda yadda.  

It's become a lot more acceptable for adults to read fiction labeled as "young adult".

Keep your vampires; I've got Overtakers.

I'm a grown woman who has read all 7 books in Ridley Pearson's  Kingdom Keepers: Disney After Dark series.  I read them before my children did / have.

If you come here often, you know I consider Walt Disney World as familiar as my own home.  (Go ahead - order that planning DVD from my sidebar.  You know you want to go.)  I love that the Kingdom Keepers books give us repeat guests a way to imagine a completely new side to the Disney Parks!

The summary:  The Kingdom Keepers series begins with 5 middle school students waking unexpectedly in the Magic Kingdom after park closing.  Even stranger, they are there as holograms.  They soon find their purpose - to defeat a group of Disney Villains nicknamed The Overtakers that want to upset the balance and take over Walt's world for themselves.

I'm lucky enough to live very near a great indie book shop, Fox Tale Book Shoppe.  Pearson came through last year to promote the 7th Kingdom Keepers book; I was so happy he came back to promote his latest!

Pearson spoke to the crowd between signing books.  He shared that in order to write the books, Disney allowed him to enter the Disney Parks 28 times after closing and was always accompanied by an Imagineer.  He was given access the rest of us drool over!

A young audience member asked him his inspiration for the series.  He said that when his family was leaving a Disney park years ago, the thought jumped into his head that there were no characters leaving the park along with the thousands of guests at the end of the night.  He had what he called his "Toy Story moment" - what's going on in there when the park is closed?  Similar to how the Toy Story characters come alive after the humans leave, Pearson imagined a Kingdom where all the Disney characters were real in more than our imaginations!

This happened after they told my son to "get closer - he doesn't bite!"  Kid had no idea what was going on behind him!
When asked about his characters, Pearson admitted he crafted them from real life.  He said that Finn, Philby and Willa were all parts of him.  Maybeck was inspired by Pearson's boarding school roommate.  Charlene and Storey were his daughters Paige and Storey, respectively.  Pearson also admits to having a "huge crush" on his character Amanda.

This may have led to his book A Kingdom Keepers Adventure The Syndrome .  He thought he had told all the stories he was going to tell for some of his characters, but the three girls called "Fairlies" - Amanda, Jess and Mattie  - "walked onto the pages and wouldn't leave."

His latest book, Kingdom Keepers: The Return Book One Disney Lands , is the mix of familiar characters but  with a new twist!  Pearson said that book #2 will be titled "The Return: Disney Divides" and that there will be a 3rd book in the series.

To close his time in front of the crowd, he answered a question about how much he likes writing a series.  "I've got the best job on Earth!"

I can only hope Ridley Pearson comes back through when he's promoting "The Return: Disney Divides!"

I purchased an extra copy of "The Return: Disney Lands" and it was autographed.  I'm giving it away to one of YOU!

Contest runs from April 13th and ends midnight, April 17th.  U.S. residents only; book will be mailed with delivery confirmation.

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Magical Monday! Link Up Your DisneySide!

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Show your DisneySide every Monday

along with hosts Jennifer


and Amy

Share the Magic and spread some pixie dust? 
1.) Kindly follow your hosts and co-host.
2.) Link up your Disney post.
3.) Check out and comment on some of the other posts.
4.) Using #MagicalMonday share at least 3 other posts.
Grab the button for your site.

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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Incredible Morphing Bum - It's Not You, It's THEM

Springtime has hit Atlanta and I began the ritual of celebration - checking out new bathing suits.  I've worn the "tankini" style for years.  Even though my weight is low, I'm still 44 years old and have had 3 kids - things just don't look the way they used to.

This year, though, I decided to be brave enough to try on a legit bikini.  Maybe, MAAAYYYBBBEEEE, with enough of the right exercises I could feel good enough about myself to expose this stomach.

I headed to The Mothership and grabbed some cute ones to try.


Y'all.  I was outraged, and it wasn't by my stomach.

I am 5'2" and at my last doctor visit a few weeks ago I weighed in at 108 lbs.  You need this information to understand my righteous indignation.

The suit bottoms I tried on were a medium.  In some crazyland.  And my rear end was spilling out.  My 108 lb rear was spilling out of a medium.  Had I wanted to purchase this piece, I would have been required to get it in LARGE so that I would not be constantly tugging at it and making small children scared.

So then I thought, "If I'm this upset, how must someone who is a few sizes bigger than me feel?"  Granted, someone a bit larger than me may not be going for the bikini so it could be a moot point.   Every woman, though, deserves to try on clothes and not feel bad about themselves because some manufacturers want to jerk them around.

A friend pointed out that it may have been "juniors" sizing.  There was nothing indicating that this was a section for anyone but the general population.  And, really, a size should be a size, regardless of what age group the item is targeted for.

Here's what makes me even more stabby about women's clothes.  For years, YEARS, I was a solid size 6.  No matter what store I bought from.  Before I had kids, I was a size 6.

Somehow, now that I am 44 and have had 3 children, my jeans are a size....2.  Whaaaaaa?  I weigh more now than I did in my size 6 days.  I had to laugh - the jeans are a 2 but they are labeled "curvy" fit.  Must be my childbearing hips that make me "curvy".

Here is what is even better.  The bum that fits nicely in a size 2 pair of jeans is a size 7 in underwear.  Let me spell that out in case there is any confusion.  SEVEN.

Let's review.  My bum is a size 2, 7 and large, all at the same time.

Ladies, do your man a favor and never get mad at him for buying you something in the wrong size.  Even I don't know what to buy for myself.  My husband limits his purchases to outerwear - jackets, sweaters, scarves and the like - because it's safest.

The men have it right in this department.  How many inches is your waist?  How tall are you?  BAM - here are your pants.  Their S-M-L sizes tend to be true.  Why can't we have that?

Bottom line (no pun intended) - don't let the losers get you down, ladies.  When you try on clothes, those size variances have the potential to send you in a corner with a tub of Ben &Jerry's, longing for the bathing costumes of the 1920's.  Be confident in your beauty and don't get hung up on the number stamped onto your clothing.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

First Ever Atlanta Museum Week! April 25 - May 1

HUGE news, y'all!  

For the first time ever, 35 Atlanta museums and cultural institutions are offering special admission deals!  The 2015 American Alliance of Museums is holding its Annual Meeting in Atlanta that week and our local attractions are inviting guests to "Discover What's New"!  Explore attractions unfamiliar to you.  To encourage that, here is a list of the participating institutions and offers!

*Note - head to the Atlanta Convention and Visitor's Bureau page to download a coupon for the below 2-for-1 offers!  

Buy-One-Get-One-Free Admission:

Atlanta Botanical Garden

Atlanta Cyclorama & Civil War Museum

Atlanta History Center

Booth Western Art Museum

Braves Museum Hall of Fame

The Breman Museum

Callanwolde Fine Arts Center

Center for Puppetry Arts

The Children's Museum of Atlanta

College Football Hall of Fame and Chick-fil-a Fan Experience

Delta Flight Museum

Fernbank Museum of Natural History

Fernbank Science Center

The Georgia Aquarium

Hammonds House Museum

High Museum of Art

Historic Oakland Cemetery

Jimmy Carter Presidential Library & Museum

Margaret Mitchell House

Michael C. Carlos Museum

Millennium Gate Museum

Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia

Oglethorpe University Museum of Art

Spelman College Museum of Fine Art

Tellus Science Museum

World of Coca-Cola

The Wren's Nest

Free Admission

CAU Art Galleries

David J. Sencer CDC Museum

Georgia Museum of Art

The King Center

Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site

Museum of History and Holocaust, KSU

Robert C. Williams American Museum of Papermaking at GA Tech

Zuckerman Museum of Art, KSU

Share awareness of this great new program by using #atlmuseumweek on your social media channels!  If this week is successful, this could be an annual Atlanta event!

Which of these amazing attractions are you planning to hit during Atlanta Museum Week?