New Years Zumba Glow Party

My Halloween Zumba Glow Party was so much fun, almost all of my class participants excitedly asked me to throw another one. Of course, I was more than happy to do so!

I’d been wanting to throw a blacklight party for (literally) years, and it was great to see my idea was a winner. On the day after Halloween, I hit up the local holiday shops in search of black light deals. I bought 5 from the shops (50% off) and ordered one online (thank you, Amazon prime!). I’m seeing many glow parties in my future. I didn’t invest in all these lights for nothing!

Here are some photos from the January 2014 event:

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I have to thank my wonderful class assistant team and some volunteers for coming early to help me set-up. These types of parties are not easy! Though, they are worth it.

With my experience from the first party and a new light configuration, I think we were able to get the room extra glowing! We also added a fabulous “ZUMBA” feature on one wall, and this is just the beginning. I’m hoping to build on my resources bit by bit each year. I already have ideas for ways to spice up my next party! Speaking of which, people asked me to do the next one around Halloween again! Looks like the next party is tentatively scheduled for October.

Oh, and one of my favorite things about a glow party is how dark the room is. I love telling my class, “If you’ve ever wanted to dance like no one’s watching, then now is your opportunity. Because pretty much…no one can actually see you in these lights!” I think it makes people work extra hard. Woohoo! Fun and effective! Glow on!

#auctionforPH Grand Total

I’m so very excited to share that we worked together to raise $3,125 via the #auctionforPH (an online auction and bake sale hosted here on The Chic Life) to help the Philippines!

I’m so proud to be a part of this endeavor and to have worked with so many great people on this. This was such a beautiful, collaborative effort, bringing together food and healthy living bloggers and their family, friends, co-workers, and readers.

Grand Total and Other Numbers

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Most of the donations were a direct result of the items up for bid in the auction, but we also received additional donations and company matching that brought the total up by quite a bit.

I also donated my ad money for the day before, of, and after for the auction, plus a little extra for good measure.

Every little bit added up to quite the total!

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Here’s a breakdown of the donations:

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Support Team

This auction wouldn’t have been possible without donations from many generous bloggers and individuals. If you have a moment, please show these blogs and businesses some love to thank them for their support:

Bloggers and Friends:

Charlotte Businesses:

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Thank you again to everyone who donated their time, energy, and support. From participating in the auction, bidding on goodies, making donations, and helping spread the word, every little bit helped this auction be a success. Thank you!!!

Call for Donations: Online Bake Sale and Auction for the Philippines

*UPDATE on 11/19/2013 – Call for Donations has CLOSED. Thank you for your interest. You can still help by spreading the word and/or bidding on some of the wonderful items below when the auction opens on Thursday, November 21st. Please check http://thechiclife.com at 9pm on 11/21/13 for more details.*

It’s been almost 4 years since I hosted an online bake sale to raise money for Haiti, and now, a new disaster has struck that hits a little closer to home for me. I’m sure you’ve seen the terrible news about the devastation that Typhoon Haiyan caused in the central Philippines. Earlier today, I was wondering which charity I could donate to and felt frustrated that my donation seemed so small when my sister texted me suggesting I host another online bake sale, this time for the Philippines, which is where my mom is from.

I remembered how wonderful it was that our blogging community – both bloggers and readers – came together to raise almost $3,000 for Haiti, and I thought…maybe we can do it again. So, I’m looking for food bloggers, healthy living bloggers, etc. who are willing to donate baked goods for another online bake sale. And, I’m considering opening the door to other auction items, like gift certificates, etc. since that could help raise additional funds and allow others to participate who may not have been able to if we were we just raising money based on food.

Together, we can do great things!

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(Auction opens 11/21/13 in the evening)

Bake Sale/Auction Details:

  • The auction will open the evening Thursday, November 21st, 2013 and run for 24 hours.
  • This bake sale will be online, so you don’t have to be local to bid.
  • Shipping will be for US and Canada (bakers will indicate where they are willing to ship to).
  • I’ll be posting bakers/donators and what they’re donating as I receive them (trying to have the list complete the day before the bake sale/auction).
  • All money raised from the bake sale will be donated to the American Red Cross Typhoon Appeal Fund or the World Food Programme (choice of auction winner where to donate).
  • Donators/bakers will work with the winning bidders on when the items will be shipped.
  • Please see upcoming Auction Page for full details on the bake sale and auction.

Looking for Bakers/Donators, please!

The more the merrier. Thank you for your consideration to donate for a great cause. Please click on the below link to submit your donation by noon on Tuesday, November 19th.

Bakers/Donators: please CLICK HERE to submit your item(s) for donation by noon on Tuesday, November 20th Call for Donations has CLOSED. Thank you for your interest. You can still help by spreading the word and/or bidding on some of the wonderful items below when the auction opens on Thursday, November 21st.

NOTE: If you have submitted your information but do not see your name/info here within a few hours (unless you submitted it during business hours when I’m at work), please email me asap at thechiclife at gmail dot com. If you do see your info, please take a look to make sure it’s correct and complete. Thanks!

Bakers/Donators Signed Up:

Here’s the line up so far – get ready to bid!:

Baked Goods/Food

Baker Name Item(s) Donated Item(s) Description Shipping TBD
Aly of Cooking In Stilettos Mexican Chocolate Cookies 1 dozen of these delicious cookies – http://cookinginstilettos.com/recipe-redo-mexican-chocolate-cookies/ US Only
Aly of Cooking In Stilettos Oatmeal Cherry Chocolate Chunk Cookies 1 batch of these yummy cookies – http://cookinginstilettos.com/oatmeal-cherry-chocolate-chunk-cookies/ US Only
Charlie of Sweet Salty Spicy 10-12 cups homemade granola Winning bidder can choose one of 14 granola flavors here: http://sweetsaltyspicy.net/recipage?search_term=granola. Recipes under 10 cups will be doubled. Vegan options! Both US and Canada
Attune Foods (with thanks also to Annelies) HUGE Attune Foods Package 3 boxes of Peace cereal, 3 boxes of Erewhon cereal, 3 boxes of Uncle Sam cereal, 3 cartons of Sweet Home Farm Granola US Only
Elle of nutritionella BKR Water Bottle, Briggi Lunch Box, a batch of my homemade granola, BondiBand Compression Socks A few of my favorite items including an coral bkr water bottle, a cute Briggi lunch box and a pair of new pair of compression socks from BondiBand! US Only
Erica of Itzy’s Kitchen Bidder’s Choice Baked Treats paleo friendly chocolate, oatmeal chip cookie, almond butter chocolate chunk, or a variety of muffins (all vegan) including PB banana chip, PB pumpkin chip. US Only
Heather of Bake. Create. Love. Chocolate Dipped Caramel Biscotti 1 dozen delicious caramel biscotti, dipped in chocolate with a sprinkle of sea salt. US Only
Heather of Then Heather Said 1 lb homemade Nutty Pumpkin Pie Granola One pound of homemade Nutty Pumpkin Pie Granola – perfect for snacking, parfaits, in a bowl of your preferred milk or as an ice cream topping. US Only
Janetha of Meals and Moves two loaves of the best banana bread ever not vegan due to the eggs but it can be made dairy free (2 separate auctions) US Only
Kath Younger of Kath Eats Great Harvest Charlottesville Goodies Great Harvest Granola – Cville Cluster and Pancake Mix US Only
Kelly of Foodie Fresh Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies (No Bake Cookies) Rich peanut butter and chocolate make these oatmeal cookies a family favorite. They are easily made Gluten Free, so if you win the bidding on these highly addictive cookies, let me know and I’m happy to convert them for you. US Only
Kerri A (my sister’s friend) Banana Nutella Bread Moist banana bread with silvered almonds and a rich ribbon of chocolate hazelnut spread. Enjoy now or freeze for up to 3 months. Winners may choose to receive one large, standard sized loaf, or 4 mini loaves. 10 prizes/winners to be donated. US Only
Lindsay of Cotter Crunch 1 box Healthy Bites (Variety) One box Healthy Bites for gluten free eaters! These bites are custom made, protein packed, made with mostly organic ingredients. Can be made paleo or vegan if needed. Details: http://www.cottercrunch.com/healthy-bites-2/ US Only
Lisa of Anali’s First Amendment Gingerbread or Scones Choice between: Gingerbread or scones. You can customize the scones based on certain likes or dislikes. If you don’t like chocolate, nuts, etc. I’ll do my best to accommodate your ingredient requests. Both US and Canada
Madeline of Edible Joy Brown Butter Rice Krispies Treats A twist on a classic sweet treat that everyone loves. The brown butter is a game changer! (Gluten-Free) US Only
Marlon of Me in the Balance cupcakes in a jar 6 total! Flavor: red velvet with cream cheese frosting US Only
Purely Twins pumpkin coconut chocolate chip cookies (gluten free, vegan, grain-free and nut free) pumpkin coconut chocolate chip cookies (gluten free, vegan, grain-free and nut free) US Only
Sophia of Sophia Kristina Creative Mexican Wedding Cake cookies These light, melt in your mouth cookies are always a party favorite. You’ll get three dozen cookies in this batch, but you can choose who you want to share it with :) US Only
Theresa (my sister) Chocolate Chip Butterscotch Oatmeal Chewy Bars Chewy bars that include all the best ingredients: oatmeal, brown sugar, butter, butterscotch and chocolate chips. Of all the desserts that I make this is my absolute favorite! I will be making 5 batches. US Only

Books, Accessories, Gift Certificates, etc.

Donator’s Name Item(s) Donated Item(s) Description Shipping TBD
Alissa of alisueonthemove doTERRA Essential Oils Intro Kit Using essential oils is intuitively simple and highly satisfying. However, the many oils available, with their numberless combinations and wellness applications, can be a bit overwhelming to beginners. So, as a simple first step on your journey with essential oils, dōTERRA® recommends the trio of lavender, lemon and peppermint; three of the most popular and versatile oils (and those included in the Beginner’s Trio set).

In addition to a 5 ml bottle each of dōTERRA’s Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade® (CPTG®) lavender, lemon and peppermint essential oils, the Introduction to Essential Oils Kit includes an introductory audio CD and booklet. The attractive presentation box also includes at-a-glance suggestions for the uses of the included oils, providing you with an immediate experience of the life-changing benefits of essential oils.

Both US and Canada
Aly of Cooking In Stilettos Autographed Copy of Sunny’s Kitchen This is signed copy of Sunny Anderson’s debut cookbook, “Sunny’s Kitchen” with some amazing recipes that have been raved about on The Rachael Ray Show, The Today Show and more. If you love her on Food Network, you are going to want this cookbook for your kitchen! US Only
Angela Liddon of Oh She Glows 1 signed copy of The Oh She Glows Cookbook The Oh She Glows Cookbook, written and photographed by Angela Liddon, features a treasure trove of more than 100 mouth-watering, wholesome recipes—from revamped classics that even meat-eaters will love, to fresh and inventive dishes – all packed with flavor. From rich and hearty entrées like the Crowd Pleasing Tex Mex Casserole and 15-Minute Creamy Avocado Pasta to decadent desserts like the Chilled Chocolate Espresso Torte with Hazelnut Crust and Angela’s famous Glo Bakery Glo Bars, there is something for everyone. The cookbook also includes many allergy-friendly recipes–with over 90 gluten-free recipes–and many recipes free of soy, nuts, sugar, and grains too! Official release date is March 4, 2014. Worldwide
Ashley McLaughlin of Edible Perspective 1 signed copy of Baked Doughnuts for Everyone With Baked Doughnuts for Everyone, you can now enjoy fresh doughnuts from the comfort of your own kitchen and without fussing over a fryer. All you need is a doughnut pan, a mixing bowl, and simple ingredients like oat flour, almond meal, and pure cane sugar. The result? Truly cake-like doughnuts with no grainy texture, starches, or gums. No one will ever guess they’re gluten-free! Prepare to become a baked doughnut addict. Both US and Canada
Dana of Words to Sweat by $30 gift certificate to Words to Sweat by online shop Words to Sweat by wants to fuel your fitness fashion and passion with this $30 gift certificate to the online shop of motivational fitness accessories. Both US and Canada
Farihah of Spice’s Bites $35 Penzey’s Spices gift card Want to “spice” up your cooking or baking? This $35 gift card from Penzey’s Spices will let you do just that! US Only
Mara of Foodie Reset Minion Hat (From Despicable Me) Handmade crochet hat Both US and Canada
Mary Fran Wiley Positivity Poster (designed by donator) Valued at $45, this is an 11×14 Giclee print of a Tanzanian proverb from the Chronic Positivity Project, a series of inspirational quotes and typographic designs from Chicago designer, Mary Fran Wiley. Both US and Canada
Rebecca of Rosey Rebecca $50 Winner’s Choice Gift Card (groceries/athletic wear) $50 USD gift card choice of: whole foods, trader joes, wegmans, Athleta, or Lucy Both US and Canada
Roni Noone of Roni Noone 1 signed copy of the GreenLiteBites Cookbook Favorites From the First 3 Years is a full color, photograph rich, cookbook containing recipes and ideas for lighter, healthier meals from the popular website GreenLiteBites.com. From breakfast to dinner, sides to sweets, GreenLiteBites has a little bit of everything to inspire the hesitant home cook. The ideas are simple and use every day ingredients and techniques. Both US and Canada
Tasha of The Clean Eating Mama handmade towels or re-usable produce bags Handmade decorative kitchen towels that will make your kitchen look chic and fun! These beautiful towels are delicately made from natural linen and quality cotton. While these are specifically made for decor, feel free to gently use them in your everyday cooking and cleaning. The hems are zig zag stitched and are supposed to fray with use and over time. This adds to their unique and genuine character. Also, a set of 4 – 1 large, 1 medium and 2 small. Use the large for lettuce or bananas, use the medium for apples and oranges and the smaller bags work well for bulk beans and grains. Made from unbleached, washed muslin and a cotton yarn drawstring. Carry them with your reusable shopping bags and help the planet! US Only

(I’ll continue updating this list as we approach the auction go-live)

*New* Charlotte, NC Donations for Auction (for Local Pick-Up):

IMPORTANT: Please don’t plan to bid on these items unless you are able to work with the donator/baker to arrange pick-up in the area/neighborhood(s) listed below.

Baked Goods/Food

Baker Name Item(s) Donated Item(s) Description Area for Pick-Up TBD
Ali of Labels are not my forte Dozen cupcakes and Tupelo Honey cookbook One dozen white vanilla cupcakes and a copy of the Asheville favorite Tupelo Honey cookbook Charlotte, NC
Katie of honeystuck Vegan Gluten-Free Blondies These are THE BEST EVER. I make them all the time for everything and they are always a hit. No one ever knows they’re vegan and gluten free. Customize your order with your favorite nut butter. Choose from: almond butter or peanut butter. Includes 1 8×8 pan of blondies. Charlotte, NC
Keia of Ink & Fork (1) Strawberry Tart Strawberry Tart filled with vanilla bean cream and topped with local strawberries from Bush n’ Vine. Charlotte, NC Pick-Up (Center Charlotte preferred)
Keia of Ink & Fork (1) Pumpkin Pie Pumpkin Pie- Because it’s Pumpkin Pie time! Charlotte, NC Pick-Up (Center Charlotte preferred)
Kelly aka @KellyWoodfin Bidder’s Choice Cookies One batch chocolate chip or one batch pumpkin cookies, bidders choice. If local (if bidder can do pick-up), pumpkin cookies will have cream cheese icing. : ) Charlotte, NC (weekend pick-up only)
Kseniya of in the Queen City 2 dozen mini honey cornbread muffins Irresistible, small and sweet. Baked with love using local honey and organic cornmeal. Charlotte, NC (Arrange pick-up in 3rd Ward or other nearby neighborhoods.)
Leslie (my friend) Breakfast Gift Basket Coffee (roasted locally)
Hand painted mugs (2)
Very Berry Jelly
Peach Jam
Apple Butter
Apple Bread (2)
Cinnamon Bread (2)
Local and Organic Apples (4)
Charlotte, NC
Sarah (my friend) Sarah’s Famous Cheesecake This classic cheesecake is one you won’t want to miss. Dilworth, Myer’s Park, Southpark, Noda, Plaza Midwood, Elizabeth, Southend, Sedgefield
Savory Spice Shop Southend Picks For Popcorn gift pack These four flavors can empty a bag in a hurry so pay attention or you’ll be left with crumbs. Toss dry-popped corn with 1-2 tbsp. of vegetable oil before seasoning. Toss in 1 tbsp. of seasoning, toss again, taste test and add more if needed. The additional spices used to pack this set are also of excellent quality and should be stored in a container for future use.
This set contains the following products in medium glass jars (4floz): Cheddar Cheese Powder, Honey Powder, Smoky Hills Cheese Powder, Paris Cheese Sprinkle
Pick-up in the store in Southend

Gift Cards, Packages, etc.

Donator’s Name Item(s) Donated Item(s) Description Area for Pick-Up TBD
5Church $50 Gift Card to 5Church Restaurant $50 Gift Card to 5Church Restaurant (Uptown) Pick up at the restaurant (Uptown)
Lindsay of Lindsay Wynne Photography Petite Portrait Session Pamper yourself with a petite portrait session! 1 hour photo session with Lindsay Wynne Photography (Can be beauty, boudoir, headshots, holiday portrait) with express hair and makeup in my Plaza Midwood studio, in your home or on location. ($249 value) in my Plaza Midwood studio, in your home or on location
Nan and Byron’s $50 Gift Card to Nan and Byron’s $50 Gift Card to Nan and Byron’s (NEW in Southend) Pick up at the restaurant (Southend)
Y2 Yoga One Month of Free Unlimited Yoga Charlotte’s hottest yoga studio is expanding, big time. Opening Winter 2013, the new Y2 Yoga will feature two stories, three practice studios, a cafe, a sushi bar, a wine bar and a luxury on-site spa. Be one of the first to practice in the new studio with a one-month unlimited membership (a $180 value). Studio is located in Cotswold

(I’ll continue updating this list as we approach the auction go-live)

Spread the Word:

We’ll also need help spreading the word about this online auction. If you can, please help spread the word about this online auction.

If you’re on twitter, Instagram, or Facebook, please use hashtag #auctionforPH

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“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” ~Margaret Mead

Thank you for reading! Please stay tuned for more details on the auction and get ready to bid for a good cause!

Zumba Glow Party {October 2013}

Last week, I finally got to do something at my Zumba class that I’ve always wanted to do – a glow party!

I’m planning to do a how-to post (and maybe video!) with some tips and tricks since I didn’t find a lot of info out there when I was researching how to set up mine, and I’d love to help out some fellow fitness instructors if I can. But, for now, here are some photos from my party…

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{Group shot}

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{Class in action}

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{Photo from my friend Chloe}

I busted out the wings I bought for my Zumba Convention costume. Turns out, those things glow under a black light, too! I didn’t wear them for the whole class. I waited till we were doing a song where the class faces each wall, and they weren’t looking to pop them on. And then I kept them on for one song – Let Me Think About It.

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{Class enjoying the glow party}

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{What I saw from the stage – I took this photo from the front-side of the room}

The glow party was super fun, and I’ve already had requests from most of the people in attendance to do another soon! Woohoo!

On Friday, I called all the Halloween shops in town in search of backlights. I decided to hit up the one that had the most in stock – 5 18-inch black lights – and I bought them all at half off. I’m also going to test one out that I ordered from Amazon, and I’ll be sure to include my recommendation on which I think are the best.

If you’re thinking of doing a glow party for your class, now is the time to stock up! Most Halloween shops put them 50% off after Halloween!

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In other Zumba news, I’ve been trying to work up the courage to record some of my choreography to share with you guys. I’ve been working on a lot of fun songs lately!

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Check out my content on Facebook, twitter, and Instagram, too!

Thanks for stopping by!

Uber Car Service Hits Charlotte, NC {And Why I’m a Fan Now}

I have a new favorite form of transportation (when I’m not driving, that is), and it has a catchy name: Uber.

I’m gonna cut straight to the chase – why do I like Uber so much? Two words come to mind – safety and convenience. I must admit, I was a little apprehensive about using Uber at first. Did I really need to download yet another iPhone app? Why use Uber when I could just flag or call a cab?

Here are the reasons I’ve become an Uber fan:

  • Safety: I felt safer using Uber. When I requested my driver, it assigned me one almost immediately. The app showed me the make and model of the car and the photo of the person picking me up. Sure, it doesn’t guarantee safety, but I thought it was great to know who to expect to see at pick-up. I could also see the car on the map as it approached my location, so I knew exactly where they were and when they were close.
  • Convenience: I don’t like downloading new iPhone apps, but this one was simple. I had it downloaded and had set up my account in less than five minutes. On top of that, you store your credit card in the app, so you never need cash or a form of payment on hand to order a ride. Uber already has that. When you’re ready to order, you can see if any cars around near your location, and once you’ve ordered, you get a pretty accurate estimate on how long it will take for your ride to get there. There are methods to contact and cancel your ride from the app – I haven’t tried these out, but they’re there (though, I do think the cancel option will charge you after a certain time period). Finally, I don’t live in NYC. It’s not always the easiest thing to find a cab, depending on where you are, but Uber makes it easy to catch a cab without having to look up cab company numbers.

The only improvement I can see (and maybe it’s there, but I missed it) would be the ability to order a ride for a particular time in the future. It seems like you can only order an Uber ride when you’re ready (or almost ready) to go.

***

*** Check out how Uber works at the end of this post. In the meantime, here are photos from the Uber launch party at 5 Church ***

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I had the pleasure of attending the Uber launch party a few weeks ago. One of the best parts was getting to try out Uber with a free ride to and from the event. We decided to check out the black car service, which was pretty swanky. It would definitely be nice to splurge on the black cars for special events.

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Also part of the event – free cocktails! I tried out the Southern Hospitality, which was light and refreshing.

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Since the event was at 5 Church, there were plenty of yummy eats being passed around all night.

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The beets were a favorite for me.

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This is a cake!

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See – totally yummy cake.

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Thanks for the fun night, Uber and 5 Church! And welcome to Charlotte!

***

How Uber works*:

  • Download & Set-Up: First things first, you have to download the free app and create your account, which includes storing your credit card information and agreeing to the terms and conditions. This was super fast for me – about 5 minutes or less via the phone app.
  • Order Away: When you’re ready for a ride, pull up the app. The main screen shows you your location with an estimate on how long a ride will take. You can move the pick-up location with your finger or type in a new location if you want. Toggle the bottom button to switch between your car options. In Charlotte, you can currently choose between uberX (more like a regular cab – more affordable fare) and black car (when you feel like riding in style) and when you switch, your time estimate will change. Order your car and wait for a car matching the description you’re provided for car type and driver name/photo. There is a minimum charge.
  • Pick Up: Unless you’ve opted out, you should get a text message when your ride is there. Head outside and ride out.
  • Closing Out: Currently, you don’t need to tip your driver (I believe it’s included in the fare). Remember to give your driver a good rating if they did a great job. I think Uber uses the rating system to evaluate drivers.

*Check out the Uber web site for your city for full details, terms, pricing, etc. and the latest and great info. This post may not have full details for your city or as policies, etc. change over time. Here’s a link to Uber Charlotte.

***

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{Katie, Katy, me, Jenn, Kseniya at the launch party}

Thanks for stopping by!

Food Blog Forum 2013 – Disney Kid’s Cuisine {Orlando, FL}

The conference day breakfast may have been light, but Food Blog Forum and Disney had a real treat up their sleeves for our lunch – Disney Kid’s Cuisine! That’s right, we got to sample some of the best dishes off the kid menus from all around Disney World – from Epcot to the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Not only did they bring the kid-friendly food to us with various stations set up in one of the Grand Floridian conference rooms, but they brought the chefs, too!

By the way, if you’re catching up, you can check out my previous posts here:

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We gathered in the hallway, excitedly waiting for the doors to open. As soon as they did, we rushed into the conference room where we were given tasting plates with blinking decorations. I got a green tinker bell and headed to the left.

I decided to post the photos from lunch in the order they looked best for the post, rather than the order I ate the related food. I’ll explain along the way…

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I tried these baked Florida coast fish sticks after eating the cheese soup and macaroni and cheese, so at first, the flavors were lost on me. I think the saltiness of the cheesy dishes prior kept me from really tasting all the subtle flavors of this dish. Luckily, I was slowing down on my eating since I was also chatting with fellow food bloggers, so I ended up inadvertently taking my time with this one. As I slowed down, I really started tasting the fish and the breading, which were delicious together. This one may have been my favorite of the lunch, mostly because of the fish. I also enjoyed the crisp-tender seasonal vegetables, and I liked how they snuck carrots into the whole-grain rice pilaf.

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The fish stick dish was presented by the Flying Fish Cafe at Disney’s Boardwalk. Chef – Tim Keating, Manager – Stig Jacobsen.

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I’d like to say the mac and cheese was another favorite, and it was…but all the food was really so good, they were all favorites in different ways. And you can’t really go wrong with mac and cheese, can you? This mac and cheese was made with a white cheese sauce, which was a fun and tasty twist. I easily ate this one right up.

The mac and cheese came from Jiko – The Cooking Place at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Chef: Jonathon O’Brien, Manager: Victoria Thompson.

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They also had pineapple-chocolate Mickey Mouse pops at this table, which made for a light early-dessert-bite.

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The cheddar cheese soup was one of the dishes I was looking forward to least, though I was determined to try each dish at lunch. In my head, I imagined it to be something like a big bowl of thick, orange cheese dip. In reality, this soup was light, creamy, and just fantastic. The soup was also a favorite with many of the food bloggers at my table. The toppings of pretzel croutons and (I believe) green onions added great texture.

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Le Cellier Steakhouse from Epcot presented the cheddar cheese soup. Chef: Jay Derby, Manager: Rick Decicco

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One of the lightest dishes was the oven-roasted Atlantic shrimp with brown basmati rice, green beans, and red grapes, which was a great combination of savory and sweet. I liked how this dish had a trio of my favorite meal components – a lean protein, a whole grain, and vegetables, plus a bonus of fresh fruit!

This shrimp dish was from Narcoosee’s at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. Chef: Noah Estabrook, Manager: Brian Ruppe

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The multigrain grilled cheese dippers with tomato soup sounded simple enough…so simple, in fact, that I didn’t think much about them as I was perusing the list of eats. Of course, I got a plate to sample, and the grilled cheese part was pretty good but the soup! Wow! The soup caught me off guard with how good it was. I mean, it was “just” tomato soup, ya know? But this was special tomato soup. My friend Aly told me the soup was really good, but I didn’t realize how good till I was slurping down my mini cup. As I blog, I find myself wondering if this recipe is available in one of the many Disney cookbooks out there. Does anyone know? Anywho, I also appreciated that this plate came with some fresh fruits and veggies – great for the kiddos and adults, alike.

The dippers and soup were presented by Whispering Canyon Café of Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. Chef: Philippe Cuenin, Manager: Allyson Schleider

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I’m a big pot pie fan, so I was looking forward to trying the turkey pot pie. Not only was this one lighter than most versions I’ve tried in the past, it was also free of (I believe) 7 allergens, including dairy and gluten. I liked how the cheese biscuit toppers were shaped to fit the theme of the restaurant.

The pot pie came from Cinderella’s Royal Table at the Magic Kingdom park. Chef: Charles Dolson, Manager: Kenny Myers

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The pork tenderloin with roasted potatoes, apple marmalade, and broccolini was another hit at my table. Broccolini is probably my current favorite vegetable, so I was really happy to see it on one of the plates at lunch. This dish seemed like a pretty sophisticated kid’s meal and one adults would also enjoy. Can we order off of the kid-menus? Seriously though, the pork was super tender, and I liked how the potatoes and vegetables weren’t over-cooked. I know I say that a lot, but crisp-tender, just-right-cooked vegetables are big with me. Brownie points!

Citricos from Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa shared this dish. Chef: Phillip Ponticelli, Manager: Keith Gimbel

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The house-made meatballs with orecchiette pasta and marinara sauce was one of the last dishes I tried, so I asked some of my table mates about it before trying it myself. One said it tasted sort of like Chef Boyardee. I was intrigued, so I grabbed a small bowl to taste, myself. And you know what? It did taste sort of like Chef Boyardee…but much fresher and all-around better. I said it tasted “like my childhood.” This pasta dish is surely a favorite with the kiddos – pasta, meatballs, red sauce – what’s not to like?

You can find the meatballs and pasta at the Yachtsman Steakhouse at Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resort. Chef: Daniel Sicilia, Manager: George Sachs

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I was pretty full by the time I made it through all the previous dishes, but after passing the dessert table a few times whilst grabbing the savory plates, I spotted a couple things I knew I couldn’t leave behind. The Mickey Mouse chocolate-bomb-looking dessert was one of them. This one had chocolate discs for Mickey ears and looked quite rich. The inside was actually light and fluffy and almost mousse-like. We guessed the center to be cookies and cream, but we’re not sure. It was delicious either way, and my full stomach appreciated the lightness of this treat.

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I’m actually not a big fan of cake pops, and I only had so much space left in my stomach, so I skipped this part of the dessert table even though it was interactive and looked like a fun dessert.

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But, you guys know I’m a cake-for-dessert kind of girl, so I hit up the cupcakes in search of “the one”.

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The turquoise in the frosting of this Monster’s Inc. cupcake caught my eye, but it looked like way too much frosting for me. Plus, it was also almost twice as big as a normal cupcake. My eyes said yes, but my stomach said no.

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I decided on this green monster eye cupcake – vanilla cake with vanilla frosting. It was SO good! The cake was moist and the frosting was a just-right buttercream. Yum! I would love to have another one of these to munch on while I edit this post.

The desserts were from Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa from pastry chef: Erich Herbitschek

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How fun was this lunch?! I can’t believe they were able to pull all those chefs and teams from around Disney World to share their kid cuisine with us food bloggers. It was definitely one of the highlights of my trip. Thank you, Disney, for sharing your kids-eats with us!

Next up – hubby and I head to Epcot for dinner and make a quick stop into the Magic Kingdom!

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