Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Influenster Vox Box: Sugar and Spice Review

A few weeks ago, I got my first InfluensterVoxBox (Go here to learn more about Influenster or click the badge on the right). I was chosen to try out their Sugar and Spice Vox Box. When it arrived at my door, I was super excited to see so many different products I wanted to try! 

• Nutritious sustained energy all morning? • 18-20 grams of whole grains per 50 gram serving • A good source of both energy-releasing B-vitamins + fiber • No high fructose corn syrup • No artificial flavors or sweeteners

I wish I would have known about BelVita sooner! 
I've added them into my morning routine, replacing my usual sugar- filled granola bar. Bonus it's more nutritious. They are really good crushed up in some yogurt; that's how I've been eating them. Once training season rolls around, I can definitely see myself adding this to my breakfast before a long run. It's very mild. I don't see myself having to choke it down like I normally do with my breakfast that early in the morning. My favorite is the Cinnamon Brown Sugar but it comes in Blueberry, Golden Oat, Apple Cinnamon and Chocolate, I'm sure you can find a flavor you'd like.
Gentle spun lace cloth helps extract trapped dirt & oils, tones and protects skin-Original witch hazel is perfect for sensitive skin-Non-drying like many other oil removing products-Simple efficacious ingredients-The small size is convenient to travel with and bring anywhere – the home, office, beach, sporting events and gym-Cleans and conditions on the go.

My favorite time to use these is at the end of the day. They're super convenient, so keeping them with you and using them whenever is also an option. I like that it refreshes my face. During the Influenster twitter chat, someone mentioned they used them after their triathlon. How genius! I would definitely swap out the random wet naps (yes, I collect them from restaurants. Don't judge) I use after races/ long runs for these any day! 

If you're interested, I have a couple of extra coupons for $2.00 off any of Dickinson's Original Witch Hazel Products. Email me at abby.arta at gmail.com with your address and I'll mail one to you (Continental US only, please. While supplies last).

New NECTRESSE™ Sweetener tastes like sugar and is naturally zero calories per serving. How? We started with the deliciously sweet extract of monk fruit and combined it with the perfect blend of other natural sweeteners. It's 100% natural with nothing artificial. You're going to love the way it tastes.
The only time I add sugar/ substitute to anything is tea and coffee. When I used Nectresse, it sweetened without the aftertaste of a sugar substitute. To be honest, I didn't notice a big difference besides that and I guess that's the point. I think because they say it comes from the Monk "fruit", I was expecting a distinct flavor difference. Instead, it just enhanced the other flavors and made everything taste better. Isn't that what sugar is supposed to do in the first place? 

The collection of Colgate® Optic White® products whitens more than 3 shades* and results start in one week. With Colgate® Optic White®, the only accessory you need to look fabulous is your smile.
Every time I try the whitening strips, they usually make my super sensitive teeth even worse. I always buy them with the intention of using, but I never do. This was my first time trying the toothpaste/ brush/ mouthwash combo and I have to say I was impressed. I was expecting it to taste disgusting (like the strips) but it was surprisingly nice! The toothpaste and mouthwash are definitely products I could use more often, although I really like my electronic toothbrush, I might be able to make an exception for The Optic White one. There are so many different sized bristles
 that it's hard not to feel like your mouth is clean. I didn't use it when I was sick, but since then, I have noticed a gradual whitening of my teeth.

Vaseline Spray & Go
• A convenient 360° continuous spray lotion that moisturizes deeply and absorbs in seconds (less than 10) • Skin feels instantly soft – not sticky or greasy • Contains multi-layer moisture complex and infuses moisture across all layers of skin* – at the top, the core and deep down • Fast to apply, quick to absorb, so women can put their clothes right on after moisturizing • Targeted spray (width of woman’s wrist) dispenses lotion quickly and evenly • To apply simply spray up one side of your body, switch hands, spray down the other side, and then rub in with a few quick rubs (“Up, Switch, Down, Rub”) • All over body coverage • Also comes in Total Moisture®, which contains pure oat extract and leaves skin feeling healthy and soft, Aloe Fresh which contains pure aloe and leaves skin feeling healthy and fresh and Cocoa Radiant™ which contains pure cocoa butter and leaves skin feeling healthy and glowing**Stratum corneum (multi-layer surface skin)

I love how the product makes my skin feel and it does dry super fast. I'm not a fan of the
aerosol can, though. I run into the same problem with the sunscreen that comes this way. When I spray it onto my legs, etc. the product gets everywhere- specifically the hardwood floor and it makes a slippery mess. So I usually just spray it into my hand. I don't know if this defeats the purpose, but I don't have a terrible mess to clean up after. A tip I heard is to spray it while you're on the bathmat or in the bath tub to avoid this. 

Which product sounds most appealing to you?

I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes. Everything in italics is from the products' websites. Everything else is 100% my opinion.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Run as One 4M: Volunteering Recap

This morning I woke up earlier than I have in months and headed to Central Park to volunteer again. When I found out this week was National Volunteer Week, I decided it would be nice to give back and signed up for the NYRR Run as One 4M. I was hoping to get inspired to train. 

I was also interested to see how the new security measures work out. In the official email to volunteers, they asked that you don't bring a bag, and if you did- you would have to check it at the volunteer area. Upon arriving, if you had anything with you, a security guard asked to see it before you could get into the barricaded off volunteer area. NYRR provided a secure area for bags and also a clear plastic bag for anything you needed to take with you on the course. The Head of Volunteer Operations took a moment before we all headed out to talk about the new security measures and working with the NYPD to implement them. So, it seems like no garage cans and clear bags are becoming a permanent thing. I'm interested to see how it will affect me as a runner and next winter. I understand why they're doing it. Is it annoying? Absolutely. 

I signed up for Amenities not really knowing what it was. I just knew it wasn't course marshaling or baggage and I was interested in seeing a different part of the race. It happens to be passing out the water, bagels and apple at the finish line. We set up the area and then our team leaders gathered us and we went around the circle telling our name and occupations. It was nice getting to know what your fellow volunteers did. Then it was time to start handing out the amenities! 

Guys? If you're a runner and you know the rule is one bagel per person, please follow this rule. It makes it super awkward as a volunteer when I have to tell you no, you can't have another bagel (seriously, you just ran 4 miles what do you need with 2 bagels?! You barely burned off one). As a back of the packer, it really irritates me because thanks to you, I might not get to have a bagel. Luckily, that didn't happen- but they did run out of apples quickly. Seeing people fill plastic bags full of food (that they carried with them during the race for that specific purpose. I can't make this stuff up) or watching someone put a bagel in their pocket then grab for another one from another volunteer, really disgusted me. Please don't do those things. It hurts my heart. 

Next time, I think I'd rather do anything else. But it was a beautiful day and it was really nice when people thanked you- I noticed that happened less at this location. Note to self: Thank the volunteers who handle your food!  

top: front, bottom: back
For the month of April, NYRR rewarded their volunteers with a free entry and this awesome tech tee. If that wasn't incentive enough to sign up, I don't know what is! I'm torn between the Queens 10k ($34 in Queens- there is a medal involved, I believe) or The Giants Run of Champions 5k ($50 finish line is in the Giants Stadium- in Jersey). Double the miles or double the price- which would you chose? 

Friday, April 26, 2013

The Glass Slipper Challenge

RunDisney broke my bank account again the news about officially expanding Princess weekend. They added a 10k to the weekend and topped it off with The Glass Slipper Challenge- which will consist of completing both the 10k and Half. I think we all knew this was inevitable with the popularity of their races and the added events to this year's the Disneyland Half and 2014's Marathon weekend. I like that one of my new favorite Half Marathon weekends is getting love with this runDisney update. I'm also a fan of the 10k distance. Followed by a half marathon? We shall see for Dumbo! 

As I informed one of my co-workers about this announcement (Bless her heart for patronizing me every time a new announcement comes out), she replied with "The Glass Slipper Challenge? Because after running all that your feet turn to glass, shatter and fall off?" Clearly, the runDisney fan is it's own niche :) 

On top of that, they also released an exclusive Coast to Coast Medal specifically for completing the Princess Half and the Tink Half. That, my friends, is a whole lot of Blush and Bashful (Anyone else immediately think of the Steel Magnolias quote after seeing the medal?). Again, I really like that these races are getting more attention. After all, women are the majority of the running community nowadays (thank you again for the women's cut option for all of your races, rD!). If I could just quit marathon weekend, I'd love to partake in this challenge one day.

Back when the 10k rumors started, I thought I might just do that instead of the half and legacy, but now that it's an official challenge, I'm pretty sure it's a no brainer. Or I have no brain for wanting to do this? But, who wouldn't want a glass slipper medal? Since it looks like we will most likely be back in Florida for this race weekend anyway, might as well tack a 10k on to it, right? All this hype is making me very excited for Dumbo Training! 

No word on pricing yet, but registration is set to open on June 11. Start saving your pennies, Princesses! 

What are your thoughts on the announcement? 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

3 Things.

This is the 1st official week of getting back to the gym and let me tell you, I am tu-ckered. My abs are still very aware of my PiYo class from Tuesday. Tonight, I ran a 5k at my PR, which is pretty cool. It's nice to know, even after taking 2 months off, I can do that. When I start training (2 weeks!), I will be focusing on getting faster. Until then, I feel a lot of early bedtimes coming on.

I finally got a chance to test out my locklaces! After one run, I can tell I'm probably a fan. They were awesome for my 5k tonight on the treadmill. I'm interested to see how they will hold up for long runs. I like that since they're elastic the tension redistributes as you run, so it won't dig into your foot like regular laces would depending on how tight you tie them. Will definitely keep you posted. 

I have a serious problem with my new yogurt obsession. Remember when I didn't know if I was a fan?Turns out, it all depends on the brand. Oikos (Banana or Orange Cream) is my absolute favorite. Adding granola is a must and I also just discovered honey is the cherry on top! Amazing, I tell you. It doesn't help much that The Yogurt Culture Company (imagined by Dannon) is right down the street from my work. Tonight, they had a Happy Hour hosting with local company, Oats Granola. The Pistachio Froyo with chocolate Oats Granola totally hit the spot before I headed to the gym. The A Team was excited to see one of their favorite TNT Coaches, too. 

What's your latest food obsession?

Monday, April 22, 2013

Earth and Birth Days!

Happy E-arth Day, Everyone! I think I want to celebrate by watching a Nature documentary (it's date night, so don't tell B :) A few of my favorites: DisneyNature's Earth or Oceans, Tapped (about the bottled water industry; how it's affecting the environment and how water from your tap is cleaner and regulated more than what's in that bottle) or Chasing Ice (shows you exactly how global warming is affecting glaciers. It's pretty mind blowing) 
Today also happens to be the 15th anniversary of Disney's Animal Kingdom. Happy 15th, DAK! You've come a long way from the park that I worked at so long ago (yikes!); Most of the people I worked with opened the park and it was very different. Now, I can't even imagine Asia without Expedition Everest or Dinoland USA without Chester and Hesters Dino-Rama. I do have a new found appreciation for Tarzan Rocks! and am totally sad it's gone (not bias or anything). 

The Tree of Life from the roof of Dinosaur 2001.

It's also Cirque Du Soleil ToTem's 3 yr anniversary (hence, the new found appreciation for Tarzan Rocks!Seems like an awesome day for good things!

Do you know of a good nature documentary? What's your favorite attraction at DAK?

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Amazing New York Scavenger Hunt

When I saw this Pogo event through Time Out Offers, I double checked that the PIC was in town and I signed us up! Little did I know, I wouldn't be feeling 100% and no where near good enough to run around the city on a scavenger hunt, but I did it anyway (I live on the wild side like that) and it turned out to be an awesome day! 

Their website encouraged teammates to dress up. This was not a problem for us, that's one of our favorite things! Last minute, we decided on Salt and Pepper. 

Sadly, when we got there, we were the only ones dressed up. When I spoke to one of the reps after, she said it all depends on the day. Sometimes everyone is dressed up and sometimes no one is. Luckily, we decided on a mild costume, (the original idea was multi-colored tutus. . .yes, this is considered mild for us!) so we didn't look too different AND we got extra points for it. Score! Plus, it made it a lot more fun for us; when does dressing up not make things better?!

We started by meeting up at Libations bar/restaurant on the Lower East Side. Before arriving, you were supposed to download the ScanQuest app, which is where all of our challenges came from. The event website said to bring a digital camera, but it wasn't needed. You took pictures with the app and the pictures were automatically sent to your phone's photo album. That was a really cool feature, except for a lot of the pictures, the logo was so big it covered us up. 

Once they scanned your code, you were off! You had to complete as many challenges as you could within the time allotted and be back to the bar before your time ran out. As soon as we got scanned in, we strategized. We tried to figure out the clues and where the pictures need to be taken (we had to take a picture with the signs of these locations. Both teammates had to be in all of them, which got quite tricky especially being in NYC and not willing to part with your iPhone). We decided to tackle the landmarks farthest away and work our way back downtown. The farthest being Tiffany & Co. and Ernest and Young. Just what I always wanted- a chance to run through midtown on a Saturday while recovering from a sinus infection. Luckily, I had my PIC with me and honestly, it was a lot of fun! 

Lord & Taylor

Barnes & Noble

Along the way they had a side challenge- collect business cards from 6 different frozen yogurt/ ice cream parlor or matches from 6 different restaurants. We started collecting both but ended up with all the matches first. Who knew restaurants still did this?! And PS- the matches are usually at the hostess stand, not the bar.

Random things to find: Apple & Orange

Save time: Take pictures of things you already have on the train!
Paper & Pen

There was also a "Road block" back at the bar in the middle of the adventure for a ton of points. We made our way back to Libation for the challenge which consisted of a Jenga game- we had to pick 5 pieces, which each had an activity to perform in the bar. Some of ours were acting like we won the lottery, stand on a chair and tell everyone in the bar hello, get 5 autographs, etc. Luckily, this bar seemed to have an awesome atmosphere, so it wasn't terribly disruptive (in fact, most of the people who were having brunch were still there when we finished the game- dancing in the aisles! For a $24 brunch with bottomless mimosas, this is definitely a brunch place I'd like to check out in the future). 

Off we went to get the rest of the photos. This time, we stayed close to get the rest of the challenges done. These challenges consisted of 2 things (ham&eggs, moon&stars, mickey&minnie, etc.) that had to be in the picture. Honestly, I didn't think we did too bad. It did say to get creative with our photos, and creative we got!  We missed 2 photo opportunities- Milk & Cookies, Peanut Butter & Co. in the Village but we figured we would make up for it by getting all the other ones. We headed back to the bar and waited for the winners to be announced. 

Little did we know, we won! 

That was a surprise, especially considering I was not functioning at 100%, but that just goes to show you how awesome The A Team is when we're together! We won a tshirt, a $60 gift certificate to Naked Wines, tickets to The Big Quiz Thing, The Memory Show musical, and a Quiet Show event. I'm excited to see what all these shows are about! 

A tshirt that says I'm amazing? How did they know? :)

I really enjoyed the event and would suggest it to anyone wanting to spice up a Saturday. We definitely put our knowledge of the city to good use. It was extremely helpful to know the subway system and to know different areas of town. Even though, neither of us knew much about the Lower East Side and The Village before this- we will definitely won't forget the area anytime soon!

Have you ever done a scavenger hunt through your city?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

3 Things.

I'm trying out a new technique. It's called focusing on the positive. Novel idea, right? There is way too much crazy going on in the world not to. I'm loving that I feel human again! I've been craving a good yoga session, too, but haven't gotten around to it. I hope I can start slowly going back to the gym next week. . .or whenever I stop losing my breath at the smallest activity. Man, is it easy to lose that endurance.

10 points to whoever knows where this is from :)

4 years ago today, I lost one of my favorite people in the world. 2 years ago today, I decided to make it a positive by choosing it as the day I quit smoking (it was also the day of The Boston Marathon. . so it had all kinds of significance). It's crazy how so much can happen through the years that all these things feel like a lifetime ago.

Travel Day! 
 Yes, I'm only going for the weekend.
No, it's not a race-cation and no, I don't know why I need so much stuff.

Reason #672 you know you're turning into a New Yorker: Bringing luggage onto a train at rush hour no longer gives you anxiety. Instead it gives you small joy to hit people "on accident" as you try to exit the crowded train because no one will move. Hey, that's positive! Another small joy: disguising your yoga pants as work appropriate (again). What can I say? It's a fun challenge. I should probably stop running around the office asking if people can tell they're yoga pants if I actually want to get away with it, but it's just so much fun!

What's your plan for focusing on the positive?
Any awesome plans for the weekend?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


Spoiler alert: this is tomorrow's date. Thought it was more appropriate.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A Blue and Yellow Heart Day

I'd like to apologize to those of you who read my post yesterday (even when it's been taken down, if you open it through a reader it still shows up for some reason), it was posted before the tragic events happened and was respectfully taken down as soon as possible. I didn't feel comfortable leaving the content up. If you did get a chance to read the post, you know The Boston Marathon does hold a special place in my heart and I would never want something to be misconstrued. 

This time of year already has great significance to me, and yesterday just added sadness to my already heavy heart. I don't really have much to say about this at the moment except my thoughts and love are with Boston and the running community. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Date Night: Cirque du Soleil's Totem edition

This week's date night was extra special! We went to see Cirque du Soleil's Totem. It was held in the parking lot of Citifield. That stop on the 7 train is always fun, seeing as the Flushing Meadows Park is there. This is where the famous unisphere from the World's Fair is and "spaceships" from Men in Black are- I also ran a half marathon there last year.
You can totally see them right? 

We walked over to get a better view, but it was freezing and the wind was insane, so that's the best I could get. Little did we know a Mets game was letting out at that moment, so getting to the other side of the subway station where the Cirque tents were was  interesting to say the least. We did get there early, so we had time to take pictures and hang out in the concessions tent.

Don't forget to get your picture with someone from the cast, thanks to Inifiniti.
You know I had to do it.
I was a huge fan that they were selling refillable water bottles and providing water to do so. I believe this has to do with their partnership with One Drop, an organization that helps provide clean water in developing countries. That really impressed me, especially because I am all about the refillable water bottle! 

The Grand Chapiteau's tent atmosphere made for a very intimate event. This was new for us and completely different from when we saw Zarkana at Radio City Music Hall. We were in one of the upper sections, but we still felt very close to the stage. There didn't seem to be a bad seat in the house. 

If you haven't heard anything about Totem, it's concept is about the evolution of mankind. I was interested to see how this was going to be worked throughout the show and I was not disappointed. I can't even pick a favorite act because they were all breath taking. I can say the stage was my favorite character; it definitely took the show to a different level. It was beyond impressive, even more so that it's a touring stage! Kudos to the designers and those who manage that.

Before this weekend, Zarkana was the only other Cirque we had seen (I saw Dralion many moons ago and don't remember much) and our favorite. Even though it was amazing, Totem totally blew it out of the water. If you get a chance to see this, I highly recommend. I can't wait for the next tour to get here so I can add another one to my list! Hopefully, we can add La Nouba when we go in October and I'm thinking we need to take a Cirque-specific trip to Vegas sometime soon- they have 6 different cirque shows playing there right now!
Are you a cirque fan? Which one is your favorite?

Journey Bar giveaway is open until Monday!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

3 things.

And for the 3rd week in a row, I am sick. I have succeeded in getting a sinus infection this time (which isn't that surprising) and am now on my 2nd round of antibiotics. You can't make this stuff up. I just can't win, people. I would like to thank this stupid excuse for New York Spring weather. It's extremely frustrating to not have a day where your entire body is functioning in a moderately normal fashion in almost a month. Please ignore my whining. I'm trying to keep it to a minimum.

I really should've put money on how fast the inaugural Minnie 10k was going to sell out. 7 hours for a 10k is quite impressive. On the other hand, Dopey and the 5k totally blind sighted me. I definitely under estimated the power of an inaugural for that one. Hope everyone who wanted to, got into the races of their choice. Even though I have a stronger word than "Dopey" for all my friends attempting the challenge, I'm excited to cheer them on!

A new TV show in the instant queue? Revenge. Anyone else a fan? Wow. Is this action packed full of drama. The entire 1st season had enough going on to keep you on the edge of your seat every episode. I'm only half way through catching up in season 2, but I'm slightly annoyed that I can pick out the formula (get ahead in the plan in one episode, hit an obstacle, fall back for 2). Not even going to lie, I have had nightmares surrounding this show. I know, it's sad. Don't judge me. I don't know how much more my anxiety can take, but I'm proud of myself to branching out.

How's your week? Sign up for any new races?

Did you enter the Journey Bar giveaway yet?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Monday, April 8, 2013

A Journey Bar Giveaway!

Here's the thing, I don't really have a sweet tooth. When I first discovered Journey Bar through the Crowdtap Store, I was immediately intrigued. They hooked me with the fact that they were savory nutrition bars, as opposed to every other sweet one on the market. Personally, nutrition bars are the best route to go for long run breakfast (especially because it's a routine I can take with me on race-cations) but trying to choke down chocolate flavored anything at 5am before a long run does not appeal to me. When I read the co-founder, Marguarette's quote "I believe bars should taste like real food, not candy" and that these bars are naturally lower in sugar (only 7g!) I knew this was something that would be perfect for me. I contacted the company and they agreed to send me some of their products to try.

From their website:
what is a savory nutrition bar, you might ask? well it's unlike any bar you've ever seen before! the most obvious difference is the savory, instead of sweet, flavors, which are inspired by cuisines from around the world.  journey bars are made from organic whole grains and other all-natural ingredients, which makes them a great-tasting, healthy alternative to the typical sweet bars.  our bars are also gluten-free, non-gmo, vegan, and soy-free.  

Sea Salt- a truly global flavor, our sea salt bar is about as simply savory as it gets.  just a hint of sea salt is used to bring out the natural flavors of the almonds and whole grains.

Rosemary- one of the most common spices used in delicious French cooking found its way into our bars. with rosemary’s warm and earthy aroma, we realized it's the only flavor we needed for this wholesome bar. sometimes less is more.

Seasame Ginger- inspired by the healthy cuisines of japan, toasted sesame is blended with whole grains to create a mild and warm flavor, while a hint of ginger is used to add freshness. you’ll find this flavor truly delightful!

Don't expect your taste buds to be accosted with which the powerful flavor names suggest. Just like they said in all their descriptions, the flavors are hinted and the taste is very mild (i.e. perfect for long run breakfast) which to me was a good thing. I also wasn't expecting the bars to be on the softer side. They were really good and very filling. The pizza marinara, cocunut curry and parmesan romano flavors sound really tasty, so I will have to go hunt those down and find them. I will definitely be incorporating them into my breakfast routine during training.

How many of you are ready to try them, too? Lucky for you the fabulous peeps at Journey Bar provided me with an extra set that I'll be giving away! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway What's your favorite pre-run meal?

Journey Bar was generous enough to provide me with their product to try and to host a giveaway. All opinions are always my own.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Special Treatment Saturday and a Stride Box surprise!

I interrupt this regularly scheduled Saturday to inform the interwebs of my latest and greatest accomplishment. 
Guys, I made a Quiche. 


Saturday mornings not in training season, have turned into sleeping late followed by the best breakfast ever. This morning I decided to switch things up. I decided I would take over cooking duties. We have to take care of those who take care of us, right?! It was a well deserved special treatment Saturday that I'd love to keep in rotation. (Just not all the time, I reallyyy love those scrambled eggs)

Anyway, I figured that was definitely noteworthy since I'm far from what you'd call a chef and super proud I didn't poison anyone or burn down the apartment. 

Want to make your own? I found the recipe on Trader Joe's website awhile ago. I substituted Italian chicken sausage for the chirizo and a cheddar mix for the manchengo. It was really good, although, next time I will add more cheese. 

I know. I know. Who am I?!  

And while we're talking, yesterday I got a surprise StrideBox in the mail! I knew I had wanted to try it, but couldn't remember if I actually bought one. Turns out, my awesome friend Megan gifted it to me! I don't know how I got so lucky with such great friends, but I truly feel blessed. Thanks again for being so awesome! 

From just looking at the contents in this box, it seems like the program is totally worth it. I can't wait to try the new flavors of Nuun and ClifShots along with the Hammer, Barnana and Action Wipe products. I've heard good things about them all.

I just realized the last time Megan and I ran together was at last year's Cherry Blossom 10 Miler.
Good luck tomorrow, runners! 

How's your Saturday going?

Friday, April 5, 2013

Staying at The Port Orleans Resort, French Quarter.

For the Princess Half weekend, we decided to stay on property the night before the race for the convenience factor. Since we made this decision the week before our options were slim. In the end, we decided on Port Orleans- French Quarter. I heard rave reviews of this resort, so I was eager to decide for myself. The Princess Half was the same weekend of the Rock-n-Roll New Orleans and I was sad I was missing it. For a homesick girl, this was probably the next best thing. The hotel was the best portrayal of elements from my hometown I've ever seen.

The buildings were very Pontalba apartment-esque. (Those are the buildings that surround the St. Louis Cathedral. Once upon a time, I wanted to live in them.) The walkways around the resort were similar to the streets found throughout New Orleans (you know, without the trash and smell ;).

They even named the streets with New Orleans-esque names. It was funny hearing B try to pronounce Pontchartrain. Could you imagine if there was a Tchoupitoulas (hint: the T is silent)? 

The quick service restaurant, Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory, was themed after the warehouses where they keep Mardi Gras floats. There was actual float memorabilia hanging from the ceiling. Being that Blaine Kern's Mardi Gras World (where all the official Mardi Gras floats are housed year round) was a staple field trip throughout my childhood, it was a nice touch. 

The food options were a big difference from other resort quick service options. Lots of fried food (obviously) that was made to order, including beignets and po-boys. I didn't get to indulge as much as I wanted, but what I did sample from B's plate was delicious. The dough and the sugar on the beignets and the bread on the poboy weren't quite right, but it definitely did the trick.

I was even ok with the alligators all around the pool.

B said this guy looked sad all alone, so I decided to join his band.

The resort backs up to Sassagoula River, which is beautiful and very swamp/ bayou like. There are boats that will take you from the resort to Downtown Disney. This was definitely a convenient perk. I had never ridden it before and it was a nice new adventure. We took a ride after dinner the night before the race to check out what was at The Team Disney store, then came back. 

Another of my favorite features of this resort is that the nightly movie is held in the big grassy area between the buildings. At other resorts, this is normally held by the pool, where it gets loud and distracting. It looked like it was nice to watch the movie without the background noise of screaming children.

The other side of the resort is called Riverside and it's themeing is more Bayou/Plantation and less New Orleans Proper. The royal guest rooms (special new headboards) are located in this part. I've never stayed there, so I can't give much feedback about it.  I noticed, the Disney transportation buses go to French Quarter first as well as the race transportation. I heard a ton of people had problems on race morning getting there on time because the buses would fill up and never have a chance to get to Riverside. 

Not gonna lie, I'm not normally a fan of imitation New Orleans. I cringe if you say my hometown's name wrong. I won't order Jambalaya at a restaurant in NOLA, much less somewhere else (my dad's is the best). So, I was nervous about staying there. But I will say, Disney did a good job. I'd definitely consider staying there again and can see why it's such a favorite among guests.

What's your favorite resort?