Saturday, December 31, 2011

It's Almost Here

We are a few days away from WDW Marathon Weekend.  Stay tuned to see if this is how Dave will look for the 5k:
There's still time to make a credit card donation by following the instructions in THIS LINK

Thanks for following us this year!  Live updates to come next week.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

All of us here at (ok, that's Holly, Dave, and Tizzel) wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Salute to all Nations

One of the fun things about maintaining this site/blog on is checking out the stats.   You get to see what sites readers used to find your site, what search engine terms drove readers to the site, where your readers are from, and what device they used.   This is an aggregate measure, not by individual, so we are not spying on you.

In looking at the stats we've discovered a few fun facts.  First, one of the top 5 referring site that drove readers to was is a Russian search engine.   At least one reader found us by searching for  This is fascinating to think someone across the globe put "" into a search engine.

Blogger gives you a map of the top ten countries reading your site by day, week, month, and all time.   Since we launched in June we've had readers in six continents (if you know someone in Antartica please send our link to them so we can get to all seven).  We're not surprised how many American page reads we've had.  However, we figured being kinda Disney-centric countries like Canada and England would have the next highest read totals.   That's not the case.    Here's our top ten page views by country:

Pretty cool!  Today we had a page view in Malaysia and China.   Alot of other countries were represented in prior rack-ups and some new countries, like France and Egypt, are coming up in the page views.   We thank all our readers for following along with us as we bring you some of our memories and stories and keep the fight against breast cancer (and all cancer) top-of-mind.  

We'd love to hear from you; especially our international readers.  Leave a comment on this post and let us know who you are, where you are from, and what brought you to view our site.  Making new friends is what social media is all about and making friends has been one of the greatest benefits of being on Team Allears!  You can also comment on our Facebook page or drop us a tweet at @teamtizzel.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Reggae Marathon Report

In 2007 I had just finished the NYC Marathon and was recovering in Negril, Jamaica during our annual Thanksgiving vacation. The Reggae Marathon was happening following the weekend we were leaving. Our driver pointed out part of the course heading back to the airport. I said to Dave that this is one marathon I will never do. This course is awful (hilly and hot).

Fast forward to 2011. Due to some circumstances at work we would find ourselves in Jamaica during marathon weekend. Of course I had to sign up, right? Not only that but I convinced Dave to do the 10k!

We got to Jamaica a week and a half before the race and stayed at an all inclusive in Montego Bay. It was a week of overeating and over drinking! Not sure how this was going to work out on marathon day. I did hit the non air-conditioned gym a few mornings and kept up with my taper run schedule. I hoped the heat of the gym would prepare me for the heat of the race.

We got to Negril on Thursday and the race was on Saturday. We stayed at the Sea Wind Resort which was very close to the Pasta Party and a short walk to the start/finish of the race.  The staff was very nice and they had a great bar and very good breakfast.  On Thursday, we went and picked up our race packets.  Just standing at the registration table we could feel how hot is was. Our goodie bags included really nice T-shirts and a drawstring bag as well. 

That night we enjoyed sunset and live reggae at Rick’s Café  then had a great dinner at Xtabi on the cliffs.

Friday was a quiet day for us. I was really getting nervous. I was drinking water all day, trying to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. We went to the free pasta party and it was great. There must have been 20 different types of pastas, salads, and breads. There was a steel drum band as well and they were fantastic. We headed back to our hotel early for a good-night’s sleep since the race started at 5:15am.

Race morning and we are up and out of the hotel by 4am. We started walking to the race start as it was only a half of a mile away. It was a bit dark on the road and we were glad when one of the race’s shuttle buses picked us up and took us the rest of the way. The race area had port o potties that took some getting used to as they flushed and most of us didn’t know this. Use your imagination. The race start was great. There were drums beating and tiki torches lining the course. Reggae music was blaring and we were off. They changed the course since 2007 so I wouldn’t be doing the awful part up the hills that I saw years earlier. This was now a loop course. There was one loop for the half marathoners and two loops for the full marathoners.

It was warm already at 5:15am but at least there wasn’t any sun yet. It didn’t take long for me to get in a groove and I felt pretty good. I was keeping a good pace and felt like it wasn’t hard so I felt ok about making it the full 26.2. I saw Dave at the one turn and he was looking good on his way to the 10k finish. The sun came up around mile 10 and I was still feeling good. They had the best hydration system. They handed out pouches of water and their version of Gatorade (Hi-Lyte). The pouches were plastic and they were cold. I would take two and use them as compresses on my neck and face and wrists to keep me cool. Then rip them open and dump one on me and one in my stomach! It definitely worked to keep me cool. I wish we could have these in all of our races.

Water and sports drink in pouches.  Photo from

At the end of one loop I saw Dave and said, boy, I wish I was doing the half, I feel great and we would still have the whole day ahead of us. But I kept going. Around Mile 16 I started to feel hot and yucky. I was doing math in my head to see if I could start walking and still make the seven hour cutoff time. But I really didn’t want to walk 10 miles! So I decided to try some of the Hi-Lyte.  I declared it Hi-GREAT! I started to feel better but still dialed back my run walk pattern to 3:1. I saw Dave again at Mile 19 and said that I was really hot and was going to slow it down. At about 20 I went to walk 3 minutes and run 1 minute instead of the opposite. It was just too warm and I wanted to be able to enjoy the race.

I met 3 young Jamaican boys around mile 22 and they were great. They asked me what I was listening to and when I said Tarrus Riley (a reggae artist) they loved that and we became running buddies. Whenever my interval timer went off they said, “it’s time to run!” and we would all run together for the minute. They really helped me. They asked about how easy it is for us to go to stores and get what we want. They asked if we had kids and I said no and one of the boys said I should order one! I said I have a dog and that is enough for us. They loved that his name was Rufus. We had a great time and they left me at mile 24. I am so thankful that I had them along with me, especially at that point as I was struggling. They shared some great tips on Negril and I can’t thank them enough.

The finish was a mile away now and this is Bob’s mile. Named for Bob Marley and they have his lyrics on signs along the way. It was very motivating and inspiring. I passed a reggae band and they started playing the song Sweat by Inner Circle (“Girl I want to make you sweat”), I sung along and laughed.

I finished strong and was pleased with my time 5:46. I got my cool medal and used the wonderful misting tent set up where I was doused with ice water. It was great. The only negative was the race had run out of all food and drink. No bananas, oranges, nor the traditional whole coconut that they talk about. I was very disappointed. You couldn’t even buy a Red Stripe! This is something the organizers have said they will work on in the future.

I did take the traditional swim in the sea and it was great.

We then took the walk down the beach back to our hotel and I pretty much spent our last afternoon of vacation in the water with Red Stripes in my hand. It was a great race and I would recommend it to anyone. If I came back I would do the half but if I didn’t do the full this time I wouldn’t have gotten the real Jamaican experience.

Here's our video from the race

There's a longer version available at our youtube channel: raceandwdw

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

More About Team Allears

Please check out our fundraising challenge page and our donate page.Thanks!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Wrapping it Up!

We've come into the last 48 hours of our Disney trip.   These next two days could not be any more different from each other, even though we spent them both in the same park.

On Saturday,  we were first in line at the International Gateway ready to tackle Future World.  This put us in great position for the first Soarin' or Test Track ride.   Instead of hitting either of those right away we went to the Epcot Character Spot.   We've never been there before and this is absolutely the best time to hit this location.   The characters  were very interactive and did a lot of playing around with us and on their own while they had down time.

After "The Spot" we hit Test Track and Mission Space again.  We really took our time this morning just walking around, shopping, trading, etc.  We even played a game or two in Innoventions.  When World Showcase opened we grabbed a few random food items and stopped at La Cava.   Holly expressed interest in their infused tequila flight, and Dave won't turn down a visit to La Cava, so we went for it.  We got four samples in our flight:  Tanteo Jalapeño, Tanteo Cocoa, Tanteo Tropical, and Centenario Rosangel Hibiscus.   We have to say they all tasted pretty much the same.  Since we decided to enjoy these by the fountain, we missed seeing Len Testa from Touring Plans and WDW Today Podcast go into La Cava.  Dave's cell reception was bad in the pavilion so we didn't Len's tweet offering free tequila until we were at The Odessey.  Nuts.

When we left Mexico we could tell the park was crowded.  Really crowded.  For now that was ok since we had back-to-back events:  Jamie Deen deminar and the Shake It Like the French Grand Mariner tasting (both covered in a prior post).  

Once the deminars were done we needed some lunch.   The park was packed.  Every line was deep.  Last time we've seen World Showcase like that was during the inaugural Wine and Dine race party.   We think the low temperature brought out all the residents.    Our only chance for food ended up being the really bad pizza at the Via Napoli window.  Why can't they have regular slices?

Dave was excited for today's Eat to the Beat Concert:  Howard Jones.   We got to the theatre with plenty of time to spare.  Holly left for the restroom and to grab a pretzel - it was a 20+ minute excursion.    Dave left upon her return and made it back just in time to see Howard walk out.   We were sitting next to Len Testa and had a fun convert before the show.  Overall Howard's song choices were good but he was not the most engaging performer.   We caught the second set and had the same feelings.   No need to see the third set.

We took a trip over to Off-Kilter's 7:30 and it was nuts.   A huge dance party broke out for about 1/2 of the set.   Folks on people's shoulders, others dancing real crazy, etc.   Fun to watch.   Dinner was scheduled for 8:15 at Bistro de Paris, but we just couldn't do it.  The new fall menu was not that appealing and we were starting to crave some simpler food.   We went back to the Boardwalk and ate at Big River Grill.   We scored bar seats that kept us from having a 90 minute wait for a table.

The next morning we found ourselves back in line for Epcot's rope-drop.  We were scared of a repeat of the day before crowd-wise.  We did some Future World activities - nothing major.  We were lucky enough to find a photo op with Genie and see the Fountain Show at the same time.    Dave's camera also came back to life today!

We had an early lunch at Via Napoli.   Great addition to Epcot.   We split the 4 Cheese pizza and a pitcher of La Rossa.   We can get La Rossa by the bottle at a local restaurant, but it's not as tasty as it is on draft from Via Napoli.   After lunch we went to La Cava, sat down and ordered drinks.   We had a nice time just chillin' and talking to other folks at nearby tables.   Most of the talk was about Food and Wine Fest. 

The crowds today were light!  Yes!   We hit some food and drink favorites during the day and continued a new tradition:  Pick a Pearl in Japan:   This is a fun experience largely because of the big deal the cast members make about it.  Mikukotshi is one of our favorite stores in WDW.  In January, Dave plans to buy a kimono from there.  Here's some video of Pick a Pearl:

We visited other favorites:  The Rose and Crown Pub, Off-Kilter, and the British Airwaves (not really a favorite but they occupy the time between Off-Kilter sets).  Dinner came from food booths.

Overall it was a great last day and relaxing end to our trip.

Picture-Perfect Day

This must have been a real relaxing day because we don't have too many photos from it.  The day started out in the Studios with yet another mad-dash to Toy Story Mania.   Dave was in good position from the start: right where he wanted to be on the far right of the pack.   Then, the folks they corralled at The Brown Derby were allowed to join in and he ended up behind the pack.  Of course he worked with way up (very politely by studying gaps - not pushing) and was right in the Fast Pass line first.

After hitting the heavies (Star Tours, Tower of Terror, Toy Story, Rock n Roller Coaster) we watched the Voyage of the Little Mermaid - a stage show about: The Little Mermaid.  The rest of the morning we spent time shopping and visited the Monsters Inc character area. 

Our lunch plan was, of course, Food and Wine Fest, however we decided to try a popular Disney drink we've never tasted before: The Peanut Butter and Jelly Shake at Tune-in Lounge.    It's a milkshake that tastes like a sandwich!   It's a fantastic product that's worked its way into the future snack must-haves.  The blue drink next to it is Dad's Lemonade.

After our liquid snack we headed out of the park back to our hotel.  For the next few hours we spent some time by the pool.   It was a REALLY nice day and a good point in the trip to take a break before the full-press of Food and Wine on the weekend.

After some pool time we went back and changed for dinner (Artist Point) and then hit Epcot.  We timed our lunch and beverage breaks around the live entertainment; which means we made sure we saw Off-Kilter. 

We used the bus system to get to Artist Point (in the Wilderness Lodge Hotel) by walking through the front of Epcot and hopping on the bus.  We haven't been to "The Lodge" in two years so we left early to do a little touring.  It really is a very pretty resort worth visiting.  We met a great cast member working the pin kiosk.  She was 80 years old and drove 40 miles one-way to work at Disney (necessity over passion) but she took the time to take out her personal pins to give us extra trades and even just gave Dave a pin for the heck of it.  Nice moment.

We had a cocktail at the Territory Lounge before going to dinner.  Dinner included a mussels appetizer, Dave had bison, and Holly had fish.   We like the fact that the wines at Artist Point focus on the Pacific Northwest vs. California so you can find some wines you don't typically see elsewhere.  Everything was good, just not over-the-top.

We cabbed it back to The Boardwalk and it's a good guess we visited Bellvue Lounge for a to-go nightcap and called it quits.   Saturday was going to be a big day so we needed to prep.

Dave's Artsy Photos of the Day:

For our long trips we purchase Disney's Photopass CD (now download).   For a fixed price, you get all the photos the Photopass photographer's take of you while in the parks.  It's pricey, but gets cheaper if you pre-buy before your trip.  It's a nice-to-have for the two of us whom aren't usually in front of the camera together.  Someone else is taking those pictures of you and making decisions on how to pose you.  When you get home you can add borders into the photos, crop, etc.   Here are some of our more creative edits:


No idea who these folks are.  Zoomed in on a photo of us to create this.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Last Passport Stamp

Originally breakfast at Kona was in the schedule for today (that's in the Polynesian Resort).  But two weeks before our trip Disney changed the park schedule and decided to open the Magic Kingdom at 8am instead of 9am.   If you come to the park even an hour after rope-drop it just puts you behind schedule and in longer lines.   So we skipped Kona and went straight to the Magic Kingdom.

Other than our quick walk to Fantasyland to get on the must-do's quickly like Peter Pan, this was a relaxing morning.   We took time to get some character photos, including the Mickey/Minnie Main Street theather location.     When we were brought into Mickey's dressing room (sounds creepy - and is he sharing it with Minnie?) there was a family of probably 3 sets of older siblings that decided all the young cousins should go to Dinsey together; including the infant and crying toddler.    With the mice, photopass guy, character wrangler, kids, and parents there were 12 people crammed in that little space.    The first chance he had Mickey broke away and grabbed our photopass out of Holly's hand while Minnie politely escorted the family out.   Mickey marshalled us over to stand for the photo then Minnie marshalled us out.   Our experience lasted about 10 seconds. This video shows the whole thing:

We visited the rest of the attractions we had wanted to and said goodbye to the Magic Kingdom for this trip.   We took a boat to the Grand Floridian around 1:00 since we had a tea reservation at 2:00.  Instead of just walking around the resort we headed straight to the pool bar, bought some beers, and sat on loungers for the hour.   No one was in the pool and it was a clear blue-sky day.  Lovely.    Note: If you are thinking "Hey that's pool-hopping!", we're DVC Members so this is within the boundaries of our perks.

We like the High Tea at the Grand Floridian.  You can get some tasty pasteries and finger sandwhiches, get a chance to take a quiet break from the parks, and have champagne if you'd like.   But, for whatever reason, the service always seems slow.   It took forever to pay our bill.   The waitress wasn't slacking - just too many tables to cover in a very process-oriented service.

Once tea was over it was time to have our second lunch at Epcot's Food and Wine Festival!  The plan was just to hit the booths we did not visit yet.

First up was the Caribbean.   We ordered the jerk chicken and the ropa vieja.   These were not good.   We like cuban food a lot, but this ropa vieja had no flavor.   The jerk chicken was not jerk chicken.   It was just chicken.  The mango chutney was the only vibrant thing about these offerings.

Next up was the Dessert booth.  We tried the trio of desserts which included little samples of Lemon Chiffon, White Chocolate Macadamia Mousse with Dark Chocolate Pearls, and Tres Leches Verrine.   They were ok - nothing was really a knockout.

Borrowed with love from the

With these two booth visits we filled our Food & Wine passport and visited every booth.

We also tried the sparkling ice wine from Canada today, which was very good.

After Epcot we headed back to The Boardwalk for a quick wardrobe change.   On the way leaving the hotel Dave put a dollar in a desk drawer that was in our floor's elevator area.  A reward for a curious child and something for us to check on the rest of the week while waiting for the elevator.    We walked over to the Studios for the first showing of Fantasmic!   It was crowded, but managable.   After the show we left the park and headed to the Swalphin for dinner at Bluezoo.   This is a high-end trendy restaurant and cocktail lounge from Todd English.  They do a lot of show with their signature drinks - Dave's drink was on fire when it arrived.  We had great entrees and a really nice appetizer.   This We look forward to going back and maybe even spending some cocktail lounge time there.   

Dave's Artsy Photo of the Day:

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Long Lunch Break

The original plan for the day was to go to Blizzard Beach in the morning, but the weather forecast didn't look so great.  Summit Plummet will have to wait (we chickened out in 1996 so we vowed we'd do it this time.  Oh well...).  

We had breakfast at Kouzzina on The Boardwalk.  Cuisine from this restaurant comes to you form celebrity chef Cat Cora.   This is a fact you will never forget because her pictures and video tributes are everywhere.  When we met our waiter he was sure to tell us about Cat Cora's greatness.   They even have her face real big on  the restaurant's sign.   Way too much Cat.  Dave's waffle was really good and Holly's egg-based breakfast was ok.

After breakfast we rented a surrey bike.  These are the bikes that look like carriages or Model A's.   Rental was $20 for a half hour.  We were able to ride around Crescent Lake to the Yacht and Beach Club and by the Swalphin (spell check accepted that word).  There was a large convention going on across all Crescent Lake properties and Dave took great pleasure in ringing the bell by the poor conventioneers on their cell phones.

Next on the agenda:  Pool Time.  The weather turned a bit so we enjoyed some time by the scary clown pool.   This is where something really scary happened.   Dave was using his waterproof camera and getting ready to video a trip down the slide.   As he was cruising down the slide the camera powered-off on it's own.  Upon power-up we got a strange message and it powered-off again.   We could see water in the lens area.   Now the person whom usually brings 3 still cameras on vacation is left with just his iPhone.  We made the best of it.

After the pool it was time for lunch.   What better place to go than Epcot!  Food & Wine Festival for lunch.

First stop was France.  We got some more escargot and a creme brûlée.   Both were very good and the flavor of the Creme brûlée was surprisingly very good.

Next we had some mussels from Brussels (Belgium booth).  They were good quality mussels and the cream sauce was nice and garlicy.   We had the Stella and Leffe beers.  At some point we also had the waffle from this stand but didn't take any pictures.

From Portugal we tried the dessert item, pastel de nata.  It had a nice crust and good custard filling.   Dave tried the moscato wine, which was white, and thought it was tasty (we prefer red wines).
Next up Morocco. We had the Harissa Chicken Roll and the Tangerine Mimosa.   The roll had some off-spice, but the mimosa was really good.
New Zealand was next.  We had the lamb slider with tomato chutney and the White Haven pinot noir.   Dave enjoyed the slider, Holly didn't. The wine was good.

Note to reader:  this may seem like a lot of food, but we are sharing all items.   In retrospect, it still is a lot of food.

And we are still having lunch.   The stuff in Japan didn't sound too good (or look good), so we went safe with the Pork Kakuni.  Didn't look great but had great flavor and was very tender.
Singapore had two decent items.  The Shrimp Cake on a sugar cane skewer with Singapore Noodle Salad was good and you got to chew on the sugar cane.  We also had the Coconut-Braised, Beef Rendang with Jasmine Rice which tasted better than it looked.   We accompanied these items with Tiger Beer.   And yes we are having another meal on a trash can.
The Fife and Drum offered a frozen Jim Beam Red Stag Lemonade.  Up Dave's alley!
We're still eating.   We hit the Poland booth and tried the pierogi with kielbasa.  Not sure why we bothered.  Dave's polish grandmother makes the best pierogies.   These tasted straight out of the Mrs. T's box.
I think we're almost done.  Italy had a few offerings and we chose the Ravioli Di Formaggio All’Emiliana (Baked Cheese Ravioli with Creamy Beef Bolognese Sauce, Parmesan Cheese, Melted Mozzarella).  We've had this other years and enjoyed it.  This year not so much.   It was kinda cold when we got it so it wasn't all that fresh.  Maybe it will be better next year.

The Brewer's Collection featured some really good German beers.   Today we tried the Rauchweizen Roog Smoked Wheat Bier.   It was very dark for a wheat beer and did not have a lot of that "wheatiness" that Holly doesn't like.  Very pleasant.

Our Final food from the jaunt around the World Showcase came from the Cheese booth.  Let's face it, this booth was much more fun when it was named Mouse Catch.   Anyways, we had the 3 cheese sampling of Artisan Cheese Selection with Le Delice  de Bourgogne Lincet, Thomasville Tomme Sweet Grass Dairy, Chevre Affine Wyngaard Kaas
Surprise! Our next stop was La Cava de Tequila for some to-go beverages for our Off-Kilter viewing pleasure.

We finally left Epcot and made our way to Downtown Disney.   We both like what Downtown Disney has to offer, but for some reason it sucks the life out of us.  Maybe it's because we go at night when it's crowded, or the stores start putting us on overload.   This time we got there early enough and had time to relax outside of the House of Blues and hear a few songs from the happy hour act.  
We stopped at Raglan Road's counter-service and picked up the Pistachio Cupcake.
After some shopping we went to Raglan Road for dinner.   Of course it's our luck the band started their break when we arrived and didn't start up again until we received our check.   Dinner was good (and Raglan has a nice craft beer {a REAL craft beer} menu, but I think we had a little too much fun at the fest to fully enjoy it.

Overall a good day - even if we didn't ride one attraction.

Dave's Artsty Photo of the Day