Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A Different Kind of Trip….Let’s runDisney!

I was lucky enough to be taken to Disney World 3 times while I was growing up, but it wasn’t until a 2011 “adult” trip with my parents to experience the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival that I became hooked. And by hooked, I pretty much mean obsessed! Since then, I’ve made several return trips to the World, with the most recent being last week. What made this trip a little different was that I wasn’t going to just have fun or relax, but to run a race!
Several times a year, runDisney puts on amazing race events at Disney World. runDisney events quickly became my favorite races to run after experiencing my first one last year. It was so much fun that I roped a friend into making this year’s Tower of Terror 10 Miler a fun girl’s weekend. Read on for a couple reasons why I think runDisney events can’t be beat!
A photo posted by Leslie Noggle (@onegirlandtwodogs) on

  1. It’s totally okay if you’re NOT a speed demon! These races really are for everyone! I started running last year in an attempt to get back into shape- and what better incentive that training for a race that was in Disney? I remember being so nervous before last year’s race because I wasn’t a “real runner.” Not only do the runDisney events have a pretty generous pace requirement (runners/walkers must be able to maintain a 16 minute per mile pace), but the events are low pressure and fun!
  2. Entertainment- before, during, and after the race! Races can be fun? Absolutely! Not only are the expos packed with speakers and great vendors, but the race itself is made fun! At both races I’ve participated in, there has been a couple hours of pre-race entertainment, in the form of a DJ and photo ops. Not only that, but there has also been entertainment along the course! Characters are out for those who want to stop for photos and there has been music and awesome course decorations as well. I’ve did the last two Tower of Terror races, and of course they were both villain themed, so those were the characters who were out. The course decorations were spooky and eerie, and just plain fun! At both night races, there is an after party of sorts in the parks after the race is finished. It was pretty great to have access to rides and entertainment way after hours with 10,000 or so other runners!
  3. The volunteers are simply the best! I appreciate anyone who gives their time to volunteer during any race- runDisney or not! Both years, I was amazed at the friendliness and excitement displayed by the volunteers, even as the back of the pack was running! What you may not realize about the Tower of Terror 10 Miler is that it is a night race that doesn’t start until 10 pm! This means that runners are still on the course way past midnight, but the volunteers handing out water, Powerade, bananas, and medals at the end were still enthusiastic even that late!
  4. The medals are amazing! So, we all run for the bling right? Well, I’m pretty convinced that runDisney events offer some of the best bling out there! I mean, take a look at the medal for the 10 Miler! Not only is the design itself pretty great, but the elevator actually moves, AND it glows in the dark! Totally worth all those months of training and running, right?
    A photo posted by Leslie Noggle (@onegirlandtwodogs) on
I’m already looking forward to registering for my next runDisney race!

Friday, August 8, 2014


A couple of weeks ago, I headed to Chicago for a work conference. Since my brother lives in Chicago, my parents traveled with me and we got some quality family time in the city too! Now, I grew up in the country, and now live in a very small city. So Chicago is most definitely a huge change of pace...and I love it! Here are a few of the fun things we did!

Of course on the first night in the city, we had to be the ultimate tourists and visit The Bean! I think this is my new favorite family picture!

The Bean Chicago

We also ate a whole lot of great food! One night after dinner we headed up to the Grand Lux Cafe for dessert and coffee. And it was delicious, as you can see!
Grand Lux Cafe dessert
We also finally tried The Purple Pig! I'd wanted to eat here during my last couple of trips, but we never wanted to wait for 2-3 hours for dinner! This time, we decided to bit the bullet and just enjoyed drinks, conversation, and people watching while we waited to be seated. The Purple pig is a tapas-style restaurant that focuses on using the whole pig- snout to tail! We ordered 7 or 8 plates to split between the four of us, and it was a great experience! One of my favorites was from the smears section of the menu- salt cured Greek yogurt served with strawberry rhubarb preserves and sea salt. So simple, fresh, and delicious!
The Purple Pig Chicago
Our last evening together was spent doing what my dad has always wanted to do, checking out a Cubs game at Wrigley Field! It was so awesome! Well, the experience was awesome...the Cubs lost pretty badly to the Padres, but we still managed to have lots of fun!
Wrigley Field
And of course, what would a Cubs game in Chicago be without a Chicago dog and a local craft beer? Delicious!
Chicago Dog at Wrigley
 My conference finished Thursday afternoon, and our flight home wasn't until Friday evening, so we took advantage of the extra time on Friday to take an architectural tour that showcased both the Chicago River and Lake Michigan. It was easily my favorite activity of the trip!

My parents waiting to board

Chicago skyline from Lake Michigan
Even though my days were spent working, we managed to fit in a lot of family and fun time in the evenings, and it was a great trip!

Until next time, Chicago!

What's your favorite city to visit?

Friday, June 20, 2014

Things I'm Loving About Summer

My full time job is a 9 month faculty position at a community college. Not only do I love teaching, but I also am totally in love with having summers off. Now anyone who has ever taught knows that "summers off" is kind of a misnomer, as you're always tweaking units, researching new curriculum, and other things. It's also not completely off for me, since I'm still teaching a class online and doing some part-time work. But- it feels like it is completely off, since I don't have to be anywhere at a certain time, I'm not going to campus daily, and all that.

So, since 1 month of my time off has officially gone by (sad face), I thought I'd list a few things I'm loving about summer so far:
  1. Disney with my mom! We took off for a girl's weekend to Disney for the last weekend of Epcot's Flower and Garden Festival as soon as I was finished with the school year. It was great to get away for a little while, especially to our favorite place! 
    Mom and I in Epcot.
  2. Lots of time with the pups! I love nothing more than spending time with my two dogs, and over the summer I've been keeping my parents pups for a couple nights each week too. It has been great! 
    Sweet Echo!

  3. Running! Before the semester ended, I finally got into a pretty good routine of working out 4-6 times a week, by going to Boot Camp classes. One thing I really wanted to get back to was running- especially since I'm running my 2nd Tower of Terror 10 Miler in October! Being off has given me plenty of time to start training for that (and keep up with Boot Camp too)! 
    Run is done!
  4. Fresh fruit! My two favorite fruits are finally in season! Watermelon and cherries...I could live off of those! It's not nearly as hard to eat healthy snacks with those two fruits around. 
  5. Pool time! This is only my second time (as an adult) having summers off, and I promised myself that no matter what else I have to do or work on, I WILL enjoy some pool time each week! So far, this has meant spending an hour or two at the pool a couple times a week...but that's more than I used to get, so I'm soaking it up! 
    Pool time
What do you love about summer?

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Food: Bacon Meatballs with Barbecue Sauce

The Super Bowl was tonight, which of course meant craving Super Bowl food. I wanted to make something that would be delicious, but not quite as bad for me as all the other food we were planning on serving up. Plus, I needed something that could double as a couple lunches for the week ahead. I settled on meatballs, and ended up combing a couple of recipes to make bacon meatballs and a tangy barbecue sauce. The recipe I used is an adaption and combination of these two: PaleOMG's Bacon Meatballs and The Pioneer Woman's BBQ Comfort Meatballs. The Bacon Meatballs are paired with a Mango Honey Mustard Sauce that sounds awesome...but I'm allergic to mustard, so had to figure something else out. Here's what I ended up with:

Bacon Meatballs (recipe adapted from PaleOMG, cooking method from Pioneer Woman...this version is not paleo)
1 pound of ground sirloin
4 slices of bacon, diced
1/2 sweet onion, diced
1 egg, whisked
1/4 cup flour (divided)
2 teaspoons chili powder
Oil or cooking fat

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Throw the diced bacon into a skillet and start to brown.
  3. Once the bacon starts rendering enough fat for the onion to not stick, add the onions to the skillet. Stir the bacon and onion around until the bacon is cooked and the onions are soft. Remove and drain on a paper towel.
  4. In a bowl, combine the ground sirloin, bacon, onions, egg, spices, and a couple Tablespoons of the flour. Mix it all up with your hands.
  5. Scoop out meatballs and roll into balls (I used a small cookie scoop to make sure they were all the same size). Roll each meatball in remaining flour to coat.
  6. Get the oil or cooking fat of your choice hot (or just use the bacon grease if there's enough) and add the meatballs to the skillet. Cook enough to sear each one. 
  7. Once the meatballs have reached the brown-ness of your liking, remove to a parchment covered baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until done.
Barbecue Sauce (adapted from Pioneer Woman)
2 cups of ketchup
2 Tablespoons of sugar
5 Tablespoons of distilled white vinegar
4 Tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce
4 Tablespoons of minced onion
1.5 Tablespoons of grape jelly

  1. While meatballs are cooking, combine all sauce ingredients in a sauce pan. 
  2. Cook on medium low heat, stirring frequently, until mixture comes to a boil.
Once the meatballs are cooked, you can either pour the sauce over them or serve on the side as a dipping sauce, depending on your preference.

Since it was Super Bowl Sunday and I knew we'd be grazing, I dumped the meatballs and sauce in the crockpot after cooking to keep it warm.

This recipe received raves from everyone!

Friday, January 31, 2014

Blogger Challenge

I couldn't decide whether to post this here or on my professional I'm posting in both places!

So a while back, I saw the #11questions thing going around Tumblr, then I started seeing my friends being tagged on Facebook. If you're reading this, you can thank Kyle Wood for asking questions that made me answer with extremely verbose answers! Seriously though, I've been a horrible blogger, and what better shove in the direction of getting back to it than this challenge? So here goes...

 The Guidelines of Your Challenge:
  1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger.
  2. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
  3. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
  4. List 11 bloggers, excluding the blogger who nominated you.
  5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you have listed to answer.
  6. Let the bloggers know you have nominated them.
  7. Post back here in the comment section a link to your post.
11 Random Facts About Me
  1. It is really hard for me to work or be in silence. I can read in silence, but nothing else. It's rare that I don't have TV (or something on the iPad) on just for background noise at home, or earbuds in listening to music at work. Both help me focus.
  2. Breakfast is my favorite. I have breakfast for dinner a couple times a week usually, and I love the days when my dad calls to say he's cooking breakfast so head over, or we go out to breakfast.
  3. I used to make fun of people who treated their dogs/pets like children. I totally am that person now. Sometimes, I wonder if I'd be able to love my kids as much as I love Bailey and Echo.
  4. I can't handle watching ASPCA commercials or news stories of animals being abused, abandoned, or mistreated. I have to turn the channel, close the browser, whatever because I just can't deal.
  5. I have never ever been as proud of myself as I was when I finished the Tower of Terror 10 Miler. I was so scared in the days before, and kept thinking, "I'm not a real runner, what am I doing here?" If it hadn't been for my dad traveling with me, I probably would have found an excuse to not even start (sorry, Amanda! I was scared!). But actually doing it, and finishing? The best feeling in the whole world. Also...that whole silence thing in number 1? I ran the whole thing by myself with no headphones. So basically, alone with my thoughts...and it was really pretty great to have to push myself through something hard like that.
  6. Disney is my happy place. As a kid, I liked it, but as an adult, I absolutely love it. Everybody does Disney differently, but for me, it's all about staying on property and immersing myself in that Disney bubble. It's the one place I can forget reality exists for a few days at a time. We have just as much fun trying out resort restaurants and just soaking up the atmosphere as riding and being in the parks.
  7. That being said, if I could afford to move to the Outer Banks and had a job waiting for me there, I'd be gone in 2 seconds or less. Sometimes I crave the ocean...just sitting and being.
  8. As a teenager and in my early twenties, all I wanted was to get away and be on my own, away from my hometown. Now, I can't imagine not living close enough to my parents to visit just for a walk or to head to Target with my mom.
  9. I really, really, love music. What genre depends on my mood, and I'm not ashamed to admit (anymore) that sometimes this just means really liking popular, Top 40 stuff too.
  10. I miss my brother. Now that we live so far apart, I really hate that we weren't closer in high school. I wish we could go back in time and get along with each other back then like we do now.
  11. I don't mind random people on the internets reading what I write, but it freaks me out sometimes to think that people I know read it.
Kyle's Questions for those Accepting the Challenge...

Of your current interests or hobbies, which could you trace back farthest in your past? This would have to be reading. Sorry if that's kind of a boring answer! The thing is though...I have so many memories tied to books and reading. Back in elementary school, I remember hiding my open book inside of desk and straining my eyes to read just a few sentences or pages at a time when I was supposed to be listening to a teacher or doing something else, and sneaking my book into bed under the sheets way after I was supposed to be asleep. In middle school, when my parents were building our house, I loved laying in what would become my room when the house was nothing more than a frame, reading my book while my parents were going over details with the contractor. In high school, I could sit on our front porch or by the pool for hours reading, and there were plenty of nights when I actually looked forward to coming home and crawling in bed so I could finish whatever book I was in the middle of. My love of books and escaping in them stayed with me all the way through high school and college...and reading is still one of my favorite things to do, and one of my favorite ways to relax.

You are in a convenient store. Describe your most likely meal for the next leg of your 10 hour drive. Well, this depends on a couple of things, 2 of which are the time of day and the season. If it is morning...I'm having coffee of some sort, hot or iced depending on the weather. I'm also probably grabbing a water, a granola bar, and Chex mix. (I mean..10 hours is a long time and you've gotta cover salty and sweet, right?) If it is afternoon, switch the coffee out for a fountain drink (Coke or Dr. Pepper depending on my mood) and something chocolate and Chex mix.

If you had one sentence to describe your personal philosophy what would it be? Be true.

You get to read one more book, hear one more song (or album), eat one more meal, and hug one more person. What/who are they? Welp. I guess I'd put on the Avetts, eat a huge country breakfast, get out my Bible, and hug my parents (is a group hug cheating, cause I can't just pick one).

What qualities made your favorite teacher so great? A willingness to be human. When I think about any of the teachers I've loved, I think that is what it all comes back to. As teachers, sometimes we are so afraid to be seen as anything other than "teacher." My favorites have stayed professional, but not been afraid to form relationships with their students or even mess up every once in a while.

What is the most embarrassing fashion trend in which you have participated? I tried to do the whole "grunge" thing in middle school. Which was a complete joke and waste on this shy, preppy girl. My interpretation of grunge was baggy-sh cords and a shirt that was a little bit more loose than the skin tight cropped shirts everybody else was wearing with their low-rise jeans. I think the phase lasted for like 1.5 weeks.

You have become a billionaire rap mogul and have to assemble a "crew" because all of the other billionaire rap moguls have one. (These people don't rap; they just go with you everywhere.) Who are your first five picks and why? Okay so truthfully...I don't know that I can think of 5 people I'd want to be in a "crew" with all the time, everywhere...because I really kind of like and need my space. I mean, this isn't a homework assignment so I can answer without really answering if I want to, right?

If you became independently wealthy, what cause would you choose to support most? Why?  Most definitely some kind of pet adoption or rescue organization. Animals can't take up for themselves, and don't ask to be put in abusive homes or bad situations.

Two movies are made about you. Who plays you in the comedy? in the drama? Kristen Bell. I just finished re-watching all 3 seasons of Veronica Mars and I just love her. I think she could pull of the comedy and the drama...and add just enough of that Veronica Mars snark to both.

What is the coolest place you have ever visited? Why? I think Vancouver, BC. It was just so freaking clean and beautiful, and there's the juxtaposition of huge city right there with wilderness of the mountains and sea all together. I'll never forget going for a run along the sea wall. I want to go back, rent bikes, visit all the parks, and take the ferry to Victoria Island and have a picnic.

What is your favorite word? (Thank you, Lisa Montgomery and James Lipton.)  Still. Because I'm trying to remind myself to take moments every day to be still and relax, and be in the moment instead of constantly thinking about what comes next.

My Questions for You 
1. How long can you last without checking some kind of social media (Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, etc...) 
2. What's the one tv show you always have to catch? 
3. What's your dream job/career, and do you think you'll ever be working it? 
4. Do you have a mantra or philosophy you live by? What is it? 
5. What's one place you've always wanted to see but haven't yet? Explain. 
6. If you could pick the words someone would use to describe you, what would you choose? 
7. Once you retire, how do you hope to spend your days? 
8. Do you have a favorite movie? What is it and why? 
9. You have to choose one meal to stick with for the next year...breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Which meal do you choose and why? 
10. Are you doing what you saw yourself doing when you were a kid? 
11. What are most excited about for 2014?