Square Life Round World

I'm navigating through this round world while living a square life, and it fits exactly as it should.

Thanksgiving and My Award-Winning Peanut Butter Pie

Happy Thanksgiving!  This is one of my favorite days of the year.  Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, football, food, family, shopping, and the start of the holiday season are just a few of my favorite things about this day.

For most people, Thanksgiving is all about turkey and trimmings, but it’s also all about the desserts.  Judging by my Facebook and Instagram feeds, I think most people would agree.  Get your stretchy pants ready because I’m finally about to share with you a Thanksgiving staple in my family, my award-winning Flutter Nutter Peanut Butter Candy Bar Pie.

Back in January of 2010, I saw a program on Food Network about the Crisco National Pie Championship held each year in Celebration, Florida.  That’s the cute, quaint town right outside of Walt Disney World Resort so naturally, my ears perked up.  The winners all got huge gift baskets.  I wanted a gift basket.  Seriously, that’s how this whole thing got started.  After a little research, I learned the competition was in April and was open to everyone who could submit an original, not previously published, not previously submitted for other competitions, pie recipe.  There was just one problem.  I had never made a pie, much less developed my own recipe.  That didn’t stop me, so I began experimenting with flavor combinations and different types of pies.  After many failed attempts at made-from-scratch pie crusts and fillings, I quickly realized a no-bake pie was my best bet.  After much experimentation, I finally came up with one I liked, and my Flutter Nutter Peanut Butter Candy Bar Pie was born.

The competition itself was really fun.  I chose the bake on-site option, and I had so much fun talking to all the spectators and explaining what I was doing step-by-step, almost as though I was hosting my own show.

Me and my pie at the competition

Me and my pie at the competition

I really didn’t think I had any chance of winning, so my goal was to have as much fun as possible, and I did!

The next day was the awards ceremony.  When I saw all the lovely gift baskets lined up on stage, I remembered why I wanted to do this in the first place.  I realized I really wanted to win.  I can honestly say I was completely shocked when they called my pie as the first place winner of the peanut butter category.  I got my gift basket!  I also got a sweet cash prize to go along with it, but the gift basket!  Be still my heart!

It's a major award!

It’s a major award!

So, here it is.  Now, I realize most food blogs give you a step-by-step explanation of how to do everything in the recipe before giving the recipe itself.  Well, I’m not a food blogger, and truthfully, I usually just look at the photos and skip to the recipe anyway so that’s what I’m giving you.

I do want to toss in a little disclosure here first, though.  As a previous winner in the Crisco National Pie Championship, this recipe is the property of me and the American Pie Council.  It is published in America’s Best Pies, a cook book produced by the American Pie Council.  So, publishing this recipe or producing it for remuneration (money) is prohibited without the written consent of the American Pie Council.

Now that we have that out of the way, on to the yummy stuff!

Really, could anything that starts out with this be bad?  I think not!

Really, could anything that starts out with this be bad? I think not!

Nutter Butter cookie crust

Nutter Butter cookie crust

Next is the Nutella layer.

Next is the Nutella layer.

Chopped up Reese's go on top of the Nutella.

Chopped up Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups Miniatures go on top of the Nutella.

Yummy peanut butter mousse filling

Yummy peanut butter mousse filling

Finally, more Nutter Butters and Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Miniatures get chopped up to garnish the pie.

Finally, more Nutter Butters and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Miniatures get chopped up to garnish the pie.

Flutter Nutter Peanut Butter Candy Bar Pie

Ingredients
Crust
12 peanut butter sandwich cookies, such as Nutter Butters
1/4 cup granulated sugar
6 T butter, melted

Candy Bar Layer
1/2 cup chocolate hazelnut spread, such as Nutella
8 miniature peanut butter cups, coarsely chopped

Filling
1 8 oz package cream cheese
1 7 oz jar marshmallow cream
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 8 oz container frozen whipped topping, thawed

Garnish
2 coarsely chopped peanut butter sandwich cookies, such as Nutter Butters
3 coarsely chopped miniature peanut butter cups

To Make Pie
For the crust, process the peanut butter sandwich cookies in a food processor until fine crumbs are formed. Add in melted butter and sugar and process until blended, about 30 seconds. The mixture will resemble wet sand. Press mixture into a 9 inch pie plate. For the candy bar layer, spread chocolate hazelnut spread on top of the crust and sprinkle with the coarsely chopped miniature peanut butter cups. For the filling, blend the cream cheese, marshmallow cream and peanut butter with an electric mixer until smooth. Add in the whipped topping and mix with an electric mixer until blended. Spoon the filling on top of the candy bar mixture and smooth out so that it is evenly distributed. Garnish by sprinkling the remaining coarsely chopped peanut butter sandwich cookies and miniature peanut butter cups. Chill for a minimum of 2 hours. Serves 10.

I hope everyone has a happy and safe Thanksgiving!

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Disney Parks Moms Panel 2015–When Failing Isn’t Failing

If you follow me on Twitter and Instagram, you may know that for the past couple of months I have been a candidate to become a member of the 2015 Disney Parks Moms Panel.

Disney Parks Moms Panel

Disney Parks Moms Panel

Why have I not been more vocal about this here?  It’s simple.  I’m not a mom.  Some might think it’s quite silly for a childless person to want to be a part of something called a Moms Panel.  However, the Disney Parks Moms Panel really has very little to do with being a mom.  More than anything, it’s about helping Disney Parks Guests plan their vacations.  Anyone who knows me well knows that something like this is right up my alley.  Still, for years I have applied and the selection committee has never even blinked at me twice.  I always assumed it was because I lacked the whole kids thing, but this time was different!

See, looking back, I really think the reason I never advanced past the first round of applications had less to do with my lack of children and more to do with my lack of effort.  As much as I wanted to be a part of the panel, deep down inside I never really tried.  I think somewhere in the dark recesses of my psyche, I thought if I didn’t really take it seriously, it would be easy to assume my failure was due to my childless state and not because of me.  It would also be really easy to get that rejection, and it was.

This time I did something else.  I tried.  I tried really hard!  I put everything I had into the process.  Not only that, but I liked the work I submitted.  I still assumed that as soon as the selection committee found out I didn’t have kids, I would be done, but I was going to ride that wave for as long as they would let me.

The first round did not contain any questions that would give it away that I wasn’t a mom.  We did have to submit a Disney family photo, but my favorite family photo is of our whole clan, my parents, my sister, her husband, and their 4 kids.  It wasn’t obvious in the photo that none of the kids were mine so even my Disney Side photo didn’t give it away.

Disney Side Family Photo

Disney Side Family Photo

We often travel to Disney the same week each year, and we’ve been on a Disney Cruise Line cruise together.  So, it’s not like I don’t know what it’s like to travel with kids or even plan a trip with their needs in mind.  About 5 weeks later, I got a magical email!  For the first time in forever, I had advanced to Round 2!

Round 2 Email

Round 2 Email

My elation quickly turned to panic when I saw what Round 2 entailed.  There were 8 essay questions and a 71 second video that had to be submitted.  Two of the questions were the source of my panic.  I had to tell the committee about myself in 100 words or less and I had to tell about my family in 200 words or less.  There was no way around it.  They would know my secret and surely toss me to the curb.  I agonized for days about this.  Do I talk about my nieces and nephew without referring to them as such and let them draw their own conclusions?  Do I skip over the fact that I have no kids and pretend it’s not there?  What I finally decided to do is wear it like a badge.  I dealt with it head-on.  I wanted them to know I am childless and I wanted them to want me anyway.  Guess what!?  They did!  About 3 weeks later another magical email arrived inviting me to Round 3!

Round 3 email

Round 3 Email

I really started believing this could be possible.  I began to want it more than I think I’ve ever wanted anything.  I knew I was still a long shot, but the thing about being a long shot is you still get a shot.

Round 3 consisted of a 15 minute phone interview with Gary Buchanan, a man I admire and respect a great deal.  For me, he embodies the spirit of Walt Disney himself.  When I found out I was actually going to get to talk to him, I felt like I had already won.  Following the interview was a Round 4 Moms Panel question that had to be answered in 45 minutes or less.  Then came the longest week of my life.

Yesterday was announcement day, and was filled with enormous anticipation!  Finally, my email came, and for the first time in this year’s process, it was not what I had hoped it would be.

The nicest rejection letter I have ever gotten

The nicest rejection letter I have ever gotten

I cannot even begin to explain the emotions I felt.  Sadness for not making it, pride for being a finalist, pain for others who didn’t make it, pain for Gary because it wasn’t easy for him either, excitement for those who did make it, confusion over what I could have done differently, emptiness for something I tried so hard to get but didn’t, love from friends and family who supported me are just a few of the emotions I went through.

So, why is failing not failing?  What I got out of this may be worth more than a spot on the panel.  I got validation.  I’m an easy one to say no to.  I don’t even fit the profile of what they are looking for.  Yet, members of the Disney marketing and PR team noticed me.  Me!  They noticed my writing ability.  They noticed my passion.  They may not have ultimately picked me, but I know I made them pause and think about it.

Would I still like a spot on the panel?  Absolutely!  At the same time, I wouldn’t trade what I’ve learned about myself through all of this for one.  Don’t think for a second I won’t be trying again next year, though.

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runDisney Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10 Miler Race Recap Part 1

It’s hard to believe that the runDisney Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10 Miler (#Tower10Miler) was over a month ago!  This was the second time I’ve been lucky enough to run this one, and it stands as the only runDisney event I’ve ever repeated.  In fact, other than this, there are only 2 local 5ks I’ve repeated.  I guess I’m not really one to repeat races, but my experience in 2012 with the #Tower10Miler was so bad it almost made me stop running.  I needed redemption.  Did I find it?  Hmmmmm, I’m not too sure, but I did have a much better experience so there’s that.

My issues with this race in 2012 were partly runDisney’s fault and partly not.  The expo was awesome and more than exceeded my expectations!  It was a great first impression as this was my first runDisney event.  The event staging area and event transportation were also huge hits!  The corrals were much more organized and closer to the drop-off than I thought they would be.  There were even port-a-potties in each corral, which was awesome.  However, it was all downhill from there.  The heat and humidity really got to me and made for a miserable night.  Also, I felt the entertainment and course theming were lacking, even for a newbie like me.  Fast forward to 2013, and from reports I read and heard, course theming and entertainment had really been stepped up.  When registration opened for 2014, the event date coincided with an already-planned family vacation so adding this on to the beginning seemed like a good idea.

I went into this event ridiculously under trained.  I considered bailing at least a hundred times.  I just couldn’t let it go, though, and I’m so glad I didn’t.

I didn’t arrive until Saturday morning, so the expo had already been open for a day when I got there. 

The expo was practically empty when I got there Saturday morning.

The expo was practically empty when I got there Saturday morning.

I did arrive shortly after it opened on Saturday, which was right after the Happy Haunted 5k.  I enjoyed seeing all those runners with their cute Hitchhiking Ghosts medallions and all the cute costumes.  The kids races were about to get underway, too, so there was a lot of hustle, bustle, and excitement in the air, perfect for setting the stage.  The expo, on the other hand, was completely empty.  This worked to my benefit because my first order of business was getting the special runDisney New Balance shoes.  I wanted both the Minnie and the Cinderella ones and anticipated long lines.  However, I walked right up and 5 minutes later had my shoes in hand!  Next up was merchandise.  My only complaint about the event is that they were out of almost all merchandise.  I only got an “I Did It!” t-shirt, and had to settle for men’s at that.  I don’t understand why they can’t get the merchandise right.  They either have way too much and lots ends up in the outlets weeks later or they run out very early, and late-comers don’t get anything.  I’ve even heard reports of things being sold out at the expo, only to show up in the outlets weeks later.  What’s up with that?  I digress.  My next stop was the KT booth for the special Minnie KT tape.  I’m a sucker for all the things I can only get at a runDisney expo.  I needed tape anyway, so what of it?  Next I stopped at the Florida Hospital booth to pick up my free draw string bag.  Have I mentioned I love bags?  I do.  All types of drink ware and bags are totally my thing!  My dad came to the expo on a later bus than I did, so next I met up with him, picked up my bib, had a cute runDisney Instagram photo taken, picked up my shirt, and started to make our way back to the buses. 

I love that runDisney offers these special photo ops for free.  You just have to show them you follow runDisney on Instagram.

I love that runDisney offers these special photo ops for free. You just have to show them you follow runDisney on Instagram.

On the way back, I noticed the beer carts were selling beer in cute runDisney cups.  I didn’t want beer at 9 am on the morning of a long race so I stopped to see if they would sell me just the cup (hello, drink ware!).  They did, and $4 later we were on our way back to the buses for real this time.

Stay tuned for Part 2, where I’ll share my experience with the race itself.

Have you ever seen an almost-empty runDisney expo?

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The Fitness Games App Review

The Fitness Games and Sweat Pink

The Fitness Games and Sweat Pink

Through a partnership with Sweat Pink, I recently was given the opportunity to try and review The Fitness Games app.  This app is available for iPhone users and uses the power of social media to help keep yourself motivated.  Inside the app, you have the ability to challenge other users or accept challenges from other users.  After each of you complete a workout, a winner is declared, usually based on who finishes the workout with the fastest time.  There are a number of different workouts available so boredom is not an issue.  The workouts are also categorized based on fitness level so it works for novices and fitness experts alike.  After I downloaded the free app, I was to be upgraded to the platinum version at no cost to me for the purpose of this review.  I honestly could not tell the difference in the 2 versions so I’m not sure if I really was upgraded or if they are just that similar. 

The Fitness Games

The Fitness Games

This app works best if you use it with friends.  I did challenge a few Sweat Pink users but as far as I could tell, my challenges were not accepted.  So, I really wasn’t able to test this app with other users.  However, I still really enjoyed using it.  The real benefit of the app for me was the tutorials.  When I first looked at the workouts, I was a bit intimidated.  The majority of my exercise comes from running or DVDs.  I have ventured to weight machines in the past but other than that, I’m pretty much in the dark.  What’s a Superman?  I read the workouts and immediately thought I would never be able to figure them out.  To my delight, I discovered short video clips showing the correct way to do the exercises, right inside the app.  I learned all kinds of new moves, things I had never heard of and things I had heard of but just didn’t have a clue what it was, like the aforementioned Superman.

The Fitness Games App is available in the app store for iPhone users.

The Fitness Games App is available in the app store for iPhone users.

I think the app is great for cross training, and I can see how it would be really fun with friends.  I’m sure all fitness enthusiasts can find something they will love in this app.  If you are an iPhone user, you can find it in the app store.  Check it out and challenge me to a workout!

Disclosure: I received the platinum version (I think) of The Fitness Games for free to review through a partnership with Sweat Pink.  As always, all opinions are my own.

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