About Me

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A 30-something living in the foothills of the Virginia mountains; I'm saved by grace, addicted to coffee and my little sister is my best friend! I devote most of my time to exploring, reading, attending as many Nationals games as possible and documenting life here. My Prince Charming got lost somewhere along the way...but I'm trying to remain hopeful that true love exists.

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Thursday, July 31, 2014

What I Was Into in July

Wow - I cannot even wrap my head around the fact that it's August already. There are only five months left in this year...I mean, are you kidding me? I feel like I missed part of this month or something, where was I? I mean, I know a week in Disney World will warp your mind (in the best way possible) but where did the other three weeks go? Oh well, some things I was into this past month...

Books I Read

Okay, I am ashamed to say that I don't guess I read a single book this past month! I don't know what I was doing but it obviously wasn't reading and that is so not like me! I did start the book The Maze Runner just a couple days ago, but I haven't come close to finishing it yet, so...nothing this month. Amazing. Who am I?

No books? What? I can't...I just...

Books in the Queue

So, almost nothing has changed on this front list either...except that I did pick up The Maze Runner and start that one. I still have to get around to reading The Longest Ride and If I Stay! I do believe that I've discovered one more book that I'd like to read though...

The Hundred Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais - This book is another one that I discovered through a combination of seeing a preview for the movie and also seeing it on Buzzfeed's list of books that you should read before seeing the movie! The book centers on an Indian family that move to a small town in Paris and set up house (and a restaurant) right across the street from a celebrated French chef! The wizened French chef clashes with the young Indian chef for a time...until she takes him under her wing and they form a lasting friendship; and some delicious food!

This books sounds great - I have a feeling it will make me hungry though...

Can't Miss Television

True Blood - The show is in it's seventh and final season and even though I don't have HBO anymore, there are always ways to find the episodes online and that is exactly what I've been doing...I'm sneaky like that! I'm very interested to see how the show chooses to wind up since the book series it is based on have already ended and (at present) it doesn't seem like the show is going in the same direction. I can't decide if I want Sookie to end up with Bill or not... I guess I'll find out soon enough though; there are only four episodes left!

Season 7 character posters...I know, probably too small to read. Oh well.
Girl Meets World - Why yes, I have...at the ripe old age of almost thirty...retreated right back to the Disney Channel to watch this gem! Hello, I grew up watching (and loving) Boy Meets World, so when you create a show with the same characters and their children, I'll certainly watch it. I can be nostalgic and entertained all at the same time. Are parts of it a little bit less than plausible and maybe a tad bit silly (who names their kid Farkle?? Oh wait...)? Yes, they are. I don't care though, I love watching Corey and Topanga again! 

They're kind of cheesy...but I do love it!

Movies I Watched

Again we come to a category that is usually loaded with information and this time...there is nothing. I'm not sure what I've been doing all month but it certainly didn't involve going to the movies. Maybe it's because I've been spending more time outdoors? Again - WHO AM I???

Music I Listened To

Game of Thrones season four soundtrack - Because I still haven't accepted that this season is over. It's just on a really long break and will be back soon. Oh wait, nope...won't be back till late March or early April. Oh well, till then I'll listen to my music.

Lovely - right?

Disney music...because I was in Disney World for a week! I do love Disney music, even when I'm not at Disney World....

Yummy in my Tummy

Basically everything we ate at Disney World...okay, except maybe not the Shepherd's Pie from The Rose and Crown Pub. It was supposed to be just veggies and potatoes, but folks...there was meat in it too and that is Shepherd's Pie and that isn't what I ordered.

Don't even get me started on the Rice Krispie treat(s), the Olaf and Frozen cake pops, the French pastries, the Mickeroon (a Mickey Mouse shaped macaroon...) - the food alone probably deserves it's own post but I'll pass on that. Also, the food at the Brown Derby - oh my goodness! Amazing salad, (I'll ask again - who am I?) a delicious pork loin and smashed rutabaga and the dessert trio...oh, the dessert trio. I love Disney food

I'll take five more....
What I'm Looking Forward to in August

I have no clue! August on my calendar is currently wide open - there is nothing planned and I have to say it's been a long time since I had nothing planned. So I guess I'm looking forward to the unexpected...the possibility to go and see and do at (sort of) a moment's notice. I'm sure I'll find something to get into!

The Orlando Experience - Shop till you Drop!

Tuesday...you've got to love Tuesday because while it was a so-called "down" day, it was still a down-day done Disney style and that's honestly the best kind of down day there can be, right? Okay, maybe I'm a little too in love with Disney. Oh wait - NOT POSSIBLE! Moving right along...

We slept late (okay, Ginger slept really late...ha-ha) on Tuesday and then got on one of the lovely Disney transportation buses and made our way to Downtown Disney. We passed Typhoon Lagoon on the way and I have to say a small part of me was sad we weren't hitting one of the water parks on this trip - Disney does everything in such a special and magical way, even the water parks. Having said that, even in the 100+ temps I wouldn't have been swimming with the sharks at Typhoon Lagoon - I did it once before and it was fine, but I was young and innocent then - I hadn't watched years of Shark Week!

Lunch at Rainforest Cafe - of course things got a little bit "wild"

Step right up for pasta, ribs & indoor rain showers....

World of Disney - if you can't find it here, you probably won't find it at all. I love this store.
I love Downtown Disney and I probably could have stayed longer than the 4 hours we were there - they have so many unique shops and of course, they have the largest Disney store ever: World of Disney. I absolutely fell in love with so many of the things I saw, from the Be Our Guest dishes to the Dooney and Bourke Disney purses (that was a laugh...I had nowhere near that kind of money, but one can dream...) and do not get me started on all the pins! I could look at this stuff for days and find something else I wanted every time! Lindsey did the most damage at Downtown Disney, walking away with three bags of stuff - whoosh! I also discovered a new favorite store - Basin!

The Lego lake monster - look out!

Lady & the Tramp - I love those ears Lady!

The princesses from the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo Salon preparing to lead the parade - those flip-flops are princess chic! They also happen to be my three favorite princesses: Elsa, Belle & Anna...also Elsa is actually a queen...

Shop till you drop! 

I added to my pin collection quite a bit this trip...
After a short visit to the pool, we caught the boat over to the Fort Wilderness campground for dinner and show - the Hoopty Doo Musical Revue. I am always skeptical about these "hokey" dinner and a show type things but it is completely understandable why this is considered the number one dinner show at Disney - the food was delicious and the performers were hilarious...and don't even get me started on the strawberry shortcake! We got caught in a bit of rain as we left but we ended the night with a rainbow and we all hoped that it was a sign it wouldn't rain anymore while we were at Disney, ha-ha!

Wave your napkin in the air!

The guy in the vest - Six Bit Slocum was his "name"...he was hilarious.

I'll take more...and more...and more...

She's a natural folks!

Good night!

No more rain - we hope!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Orlando Experience - Let's Go to the Movies

I must confess from the start - while I love, love...just love Disney's Hollywood Studios, it is also probably my least favorite park out of the four there are to choose from...but that's like saying you like a bar of milk chocolate a little more than you like a bar of dark chocolate - it's chocolate, what's not to love? I have to say that Hollywood Studios (which I'm still used to calling MGM Studios...oh well...) stepped up it's game a little bit this time with all the Frozen-related things.

And yes - I'm almost thirty and I loved (love) Frozen. I've always been a sucker for Disney Princesses and I'm fairly certain age will never change that!

Wearing our Minnie Mouse ears on the Disney bus to Hollywood Studios - you've got to have the ears!

Oh look at that lovely hote...wait, maybe not...

Anyone want to eat Olaf for breakfast? Is it just me or do some of these Olaf look a bit menacing?
We started the morning off with breakfast at Starring Rolls Cafe; nothing fancy just some pastries and that's where I stumbled onto those delightful Olaf cupcakes - in case anyone needed an extreme sugar rush at 8:30 AM, right? The family rode the Rockin Roller Coaster after breakfast and for any myriad of reasons, I totally wussed out and chose not to ride...even though I've rode it multiple times before. I don't know what my deal is, but there you have it - to each their own. We then went to see the Beauty and the Beast show, which I love, love - because my favorite Disney movie of all time is Beauty and the Beast (closely followed by Frozen and Sleeping Beauty) and so I just love to watch that show every time we go. It's the best!

Oh happy day - how I love Beauty & the Beast! 

The Royal Welcome parade - these are the best pictures I had....
We got out of the Beauty and the Beast show around 10:45 and made some pretty quick tracks toward Hollywood Boulevard to try and find a spot for the Frozen parade at 11 - and yeah, TRY to find a spot is the key word because folks, it wasn't happening. When I tell you Disney is making a killing off of Frozen, I do not jest in the slightest...and I'm cool (pun intended) with that because I loved the movie. We couldn't get within ten feet of the street because of the crowds of people; I feel pretty sure the entirety of the park was at this one spot - it was wild. We watched from afar because that was all we were going to get - a view from afar - and we tried to stand on the side of the hedge borders and were promptly asked to get down. *sigh* I just want to see Elsa and Anna....

It was pretty funny when both characters were on stage and Olaf (by video screen - as a snowman, that Florida humidity would melt him before he could say "summer") led everyone in a sing-along of "Let It Go"...have you ever heard thousands of little kids sing the same song at once? It's pretty precious. And yes, we sang along too!

At-At Walker...that means you must be close to Star Tours!

I'm just not sure which tour I should take - it's all gibberish to me...

Prepared to tour the stars!
It was blazing on Monday...oh wait, it was blazing all week! The perpetual feeling of being sweaty, slick and gross was just something we all had to adjust to; you can still have fun if you just accept that you're going to be slimy all day long! Ha-ha! We'll be going in January next time - I'm not kidding! I wish Elsa would have shown up and frozen everything...

Seeking a small patch of shade while we waited in line for the Backlot Tour!

Hey look - it's shrub Mickey! 

I found Superman's cape!
Because Hollywood Studios was the hub of all things Frozen related, they were handing out Olaf to everyone...you see, Olaf loves summer and so everyone was supposed to take pictures with Olaf sharing in your summer vacation, post the pictures to Instagram with the hash tag #Olafsummervacation and your picture(s) might be chosen to be used in the Frozen Fireworks at 9 each night. Spoiler alert - our pictures weren't chosen! We did have fun with it though - probably a little too much fun to be 23 and 29 years old, but I'm of the mindset that everyone is a little younger when they're at Disney World...right?

Jeff & Ginger even got in on the Frozen fun with Olaf - because Olaf is awesome.

Olaf especially loves dessert on summer vacation!

One of the many perils of being hot & sweaty - automatic transfer of Sharpie from the Disney button to a person's arm. Gross.

Trying to amuse myself while in the 120 minute line for Toy Story Mania - I am not even kidding, people LOVE this ride. It is pretty cool....
We had to cut our day at Hollywood Studios short - so sad! It came an absolute flood while we were having supper at the Brown Derby but it had passed by the time we finished, so we were pretty sure we'd dodged the rain bullet...but no. When we were getting in line for Toy Story Mania, it started to rain again and we were sure that by the time we waited two hours, rode the ride and came out it would have quit...but no. When we found out that Fantasmic (best show at Disney!) was cancelled for the night, my Dad and I headed for the buses in the downpour - Mom and Lindsey rode Tower of Terror (no thank you, not even remotely interested in feeling like my elevator is crashing...) and Rockin Roller Coaster a second time before following us back. Dad made a little friend on the bus; I gave a little girl my seat and as soon as the lights dimmed, she crashed into a near coma-like slumber. It was pretty funny!

Trying to rouse Sleeping Beauty from her nap - being little at Disney World is obviously exhausting!

Since I missed the Frozen fireworks, I got a Frozen rice krispie treat instead!
So - easily the best Monday I've had in a long time. How can you not love Monday when you're at Disney World?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Orlando Experience - You're A Wizard, Harry!

Sunday might just have been my favorite day of our trip - I cannot even stress that enough. Why, you ask? We went to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios and I was basically in nerd heaven (right alongside my little sister) all day long. We've both read the books...more than once and we've also watched all the movies...more than once. So spending the day at WWHP was like stepping into the stories we've read over and over again. In a word, it was: Magical. ;)

The Knight Bus parked outside the entrance to Diagon Alley....

Why look - a large dragon appears to have decided to sit down on top of Gringotts...
We took a taxi from Disney to Universal Studios on Sunday and then we followed the crowd (literally - the park employees said "if everyone will just follow us, we are leading you straight to Diagon Alley) to the entrance of Diagon Alley. Everything was just amazing - you see the London street front with Kings Cross station, the Underground and some store fronts and as you pass through a brick walkway, you hear the sounds of the bricks shifting...you round the corner, walk through an opening in the brick and you are on Diagon Alley...and it is amazing. There was a lot to take in but the first order of business was to book it to Escape from Gringotts as quickly as possible!


Waiting in line for Escape from Gringotts!
Why did we rush there? Well this part of the park had only been open thirteen days and the wait time for this ride has; on some days, climbed to 7.5 hours. I'm not even kidding... When we got in line, even though the park had just opened, enough people moved a bit faster than us to make the wait time ninety minutes. The line for the ride was interesting though, weaving through the outside of the bank past informational signs about the bank, into the bank and past goblins busy counting money...but not too busy to look up and give a glare at all the "Muggles" coming into the bank...and finally going into the hallways of the bank, where at one point Harry, Ron and Hermione's silhouette's appear behind one of the many doorways and you hear a whispered conversation about how they will sneak into Bellatrix LeStrange's vault...

Once you board your elevator down nine miles into the bank, you pick up your security goggles and board your cart. Almost as soon as you leave the loading station, you run into Bellatrix and she "curses" your cart, causing it to drop forward at a 60 degree angle...and then you sit, waiting to drop forward. This moment caused me to wildly exclaim "we're going down!!!" - I don't really do thrill rides but since this was Harry Potter related, I had to try it out. You get beat up by cave trolls, thrown through the Thief's Downfall, attacked by Voldemort and rescued by Harry, Ron and Hermione. The ride was awesome - no doubt about it!

Diagon Alley - shops everywhere!

The Magical Menagerie

If you take a wrong turn, you''ll end up in Knockturn Alley...

It actually wasn't as crowded as I thought it would be...
Lindsey and I ventured into Ollivander's where we were herded with about twenty other people into a room - some lucky soul (not myself or Lindsey, sad day) is selected and then they begin the process of obtaining a wand. Even if you are just watching, it's still really neat. The wand maker asks the lucky duck to perform this and that with the wands he gives them...until, of course...the music plays, the lights glow and the wand chooses the wizard! Once we finished watching that performance, of course we couldn't help but go out and pick our own wands out...right? Right!

Wands everywhere...and also, people everywhere.

Every fifteen minutes or so, the dragon lets out a burst of flame. He growls & grunts first, causing everyone in the area to stop, swivel in his direction & aim cameras. This was usually followed by lots of "oohs" & "aaahs"...

Weasley's Wizard Wheezes!

First taste of Butterbeer - it's delicious. Absolutely delicious.
We had lunch at the Leaky Cauldron - which was amazing! Mostly because there was Butterbeer involved and it is absolutely delightful and delicious and I wish I could drink it all the time. Lest you think all we did was spend the whole day on Harry Potter, we did go ride Revenge of the Mummy, the Hulk, Spider-man, and a couple rides in the Seuss section of the park...but we did spend almost all our time in the Harry Potter sections. What can I say? My parents raised two nerds and we were in heaven!

Anyone fancy a ride on the tube?

Hedwig was ready to catch a ride to Hogwarts...

All aboard! On the Hogwarts Express!

Hogsmeade - the section of the WWHP that was located in Islands of Adventure!

Banners all along the walkway to the Dragon Challenge ride - very cool!

Oh my gosh - you guys, it's Hogwarts!

Amazing!
Only in Hogsmeade is there snow in July (oh wait...that's not true, but I'll get to that later)! I let my parents and Lindsey take on the Dragon Challenge; they all rode the Hungarian Horntail and then Lindsey and my Mom went back to take on the Chinese Fireball - obviously they were fans. We all climbed on board enchanted benches to ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, which was a cool ride even if I do look terrified in the picture below - how would you react if a huge dementor popped out right in front of your face? Exactly! The line for that ride is amazing as well - you weave through the Greenhouse and into the castle where you pass the house points and the entrance to Dumbledore's office. You also pass through a portrait room where all the pictures are aflutter because there are Muggles in Hogwarts and they're sure this is one of Dumbledore's hair-brained schemes! You go through Dumbledore's office and into the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom where Harry, Ron and Hermione tell you all about the adventure you're about to embark on!

I was holding on to my shoes for dear life - this ride spun, tilted, almost tipped you upside down...

Churros at Moose Juice, Goose Juice...

Butterbeer - Glass Two!

Ready to go to Hogwarts again - I mean, we have our wands!
We had supper at the Three Broomsticks because our parents love us and indulged us - letting us have both our meals that day in the Harry Potter areas of the park. The main reason was because we are nerds and that excited us...but also, more Butterbeer! :) We were sad to leave the magic of Harry Potter behind but I'm so glad we got the chance to see it and I can't wait to go back again someday - plus, this was only Sunday! We had Monday through Friday at Disney World! Awesome!!

A Chocolate Frog, my wand & my Butterbeer mug - from round 3!