Friday, August 31, 2012

August Awesomeness in Disney, Part Four

See parts one, two and three.

We ate, we drank, we had fun and met characters. But we did take some other pictures throughout the week that were really fun.

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The view off the back of a boat from Downtown Disney to our hotel.

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Me and my fabulous Disney hat, plus a lanyard with new Annual Pass exclusive pins. Those are our souvenirs that we bring home from each trip.

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Fabulous margaritas at Cava del Tequila in the Mexico pavilion at Epcot

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We got upgraded to a Princess room at Port Orleans: Riverside! It was amazing. This is the backdrop of the bed, and the picture actually lights up with fireworks when you hit a button.

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Princess Tiana even left us a note! Well, she painted it onto the table but same thing.

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There was even a Mickey waiting for us when we checked in.

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Hubs wanted to include this one because of the crane in the soon-to-open new Fantasyland!

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Balloons on Main Street

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We even got to take a tour of Main Street and go backstage. We learned the stories behind the forced perspective of the buildings on Main Street, and a bit behind the naming of the windows there. It’s a very big deal to have a window on Main Street and is only given for those who make a major contribution to the company somehow.

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We had wonderful seats for the Wishes firework show – from an angle we hadn’t seen it before.

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Even without the twinkle lights on it, the castle always takes my breath away.

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And what would a trip report be without adorable pictures of my nephew?

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I feel like I have a million pictures of him in different hats.

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The shirt says “my daddy wanted to name me booyah” – another treat from the ESPN Zone. Hehe.

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One of our favorite parks. I love that big golf ball!

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We took a much smaller raft than this big boat to Tom Sawyer Island in the Magic Kingdom one afternoon, wandered around, climbed on the paths, and then found some rocking chairs to just sit and look around.

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One of our views, this was the small raft that takes you to the island.

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What a view!

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The Imagineers have all kinds of little details that bring the story to life.

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This is a tradition – the Attitude Picture. We have pictures of everyone on the last day of the trip, showing whatever attitude comes to mind. This day, my BIL and the family did NOT want to leave Disney – and you can tell by their expressions!

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Less attitude here, I think.

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We asked a nice cast member to take this family portrait. We were leaving Disney, but we would be back soon! We’re already planning the next one…

Thursday, August 30, 2012

August Awesomeness in Disney, Part Three

Read the first installments: part one, and part two.

On our trip, we really enjoyed introducing our nephew to the characters – even though he won’t remember it! My BIL and his girlfriend had a lot of character greetings and got their autographs in his first autograph book. It was really cute. Some of our dining reservations included characters meals, where the characters come to your table for interaction rather than you waiting in line.

Tigger took an interest in my nephew. He came back again later and wanted to hold him! The cast member who was accompanying him was clearly VERY nervous at this, but Tigger did great and so did the baby. He was a champ!

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Don’t think the baby knows what to think about the day-go tiger next to him.

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Of course, I needed my picture with him too!

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This was my profile picture right when we came back. :)

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I felt bad smiling around Eeyore, but what else would I have done?

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Family picture!

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With the Big Cheese himself!

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Goofy is my BIL’s favorite character, so this was a great picture.

Notice Mickey on my nephew’s onesie!

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I love my MIL’s face in this one.

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I love meeting the characters, no matter how many times I may have seen them before.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

August Awesomeness in Disney, Part Two

Read the first part of my trip here.

Ok, so we ate a ton of ice cream for dinner on our first day at Disney. How else should you celebrate a three month birthday? ;)

So that was the first full day, on Saturday. Normally this would be the point where I moved on to Sunday’s pictures, Monday’s, and so on. But I guess we were having so much fun that we didn’t take a whole lot of pictures! We also have shots of almost ever part of the park, so we usually don’t take that many when we’re down there now. Also – I had SO much fun that I can’t quite remember what we did each day!

I do know that Hubs and I ate at one of our favorite restaurants during the week, at California Grill.

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We were celebrating something, I’m sure! Well, since we weren’t celebrating a birthday or anything, they said we could celebrate coming back to our favorite restaurant and so, that’s what I got on my yummy caramelized banana and other awesome banana dessert. SO GOOD.

And just to continue with the food theme, we had the most amazing lunch at 50’s Prime Time CafĂ© with the whole family. It’s themed like you’re having dinner at your family table, with your aunt or uncle or cousin serving you lunch or dinner. Elbows off the table, eat your veggies, no back talk, things like that. If you mess up, you can end up doing some silly things! Our table was well-behaved and so no one got in trouble. But we all got names – Junior, Scout and I was Princess! It’s such a great theme and a fun way to interact with your server.

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Brothers, hanging out in the restaurant lobby

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See? It looks like my grandma’s kitchen!

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We asked the server for a family portrait and we got this unposed one.

So much better than the posed one!

The last memorable actually happened towards the beginning of the trip. While my BIL and that part of the family were back at the hotel, we ended up at Biergarten in Germany at Epcot with my in-laws. We had never been there, and we had a blast! You are assigned tables family-style, although we didn’t share a table with anyone. It’s a buffet with all of my family favorites – it felt like I was going to a big family reunion and had all the usual German dishes. SO GOOD.

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There were even performers during lunch!

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Me and hubs, and our drinks.

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We learned that Germans take their beer VERY seriously. But coming from St. Louis, this was no surprise! The family was quite amused when I tried to take a sip of beer from Hubs’ stein. It’s almost as big as my head. But my oh my was it good beer.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Sometimes the Hype is Just Hype

I live in what the media occasionally calls the most dangerous city in America.

Most of the time, I think the hype is just that – hype.

I love St. Louis. I grew up here, before moving to Texas in elementary school. I adore the food, the people, the community feeling of all the suburbs (even if I don’t have an answer to age old question of where I went to high school).

So when a fellow Billiken alumni was shot and killed in a neighborhood near my work, an area where many friends live, an area where I frequent quite often for the bars and restaurants, I was concerned.

I did not know the girl but I know that she didn’t deserve to be shot over a cell phone. She was arguing with her assailants during a bungled burglary and was shot for it. It makes my heart hurt to read the article describing the event, just to warn you. This was in broad daylight and she was talking on the phone to her mother. I cannot even imagine being in either situation, Megan’s or her mother’s.

Since I work nearby, I was a little concerned walking those streets. The police are talking about increasing patrols and putting more officers on the street, but I’m not so sure it makes me feel safer.

Walking around my own apartment complex sort of worries me as well. Who knows who might be driving by looking for a young woman of slight build who could be an easy target?

But I don’t want to be looking over my shoulder for my entire life. It’s just not a way to live. You have to strike a balance of safety but still live your life. Incidents like the one last week in our Central West End just makes me stop and think, and pray for Megan’s family, the families of the accused, our Billiken family and our St. Louis community. We just have to make things like this a rare occurrence and not the common as it’s starting to become.

Monday, August 27, 2012

August Awesomeness in Disney, Part One

When we last visited Walt Disney World for New Year’s, I wasn’t sure when we would be able to come back. That trip was amazing because my mom and brother came with us and I got to show them why exactly I love vacationing at the House of the Mouse.

But when we came back, our annual passes were burning holes in our pocket. We had purchased one for my birthday trip last September, knowing that we’d get at least two trips out of them. It makes much more sense to get an annual pass if you were doing two trips. But towards the end of the trip, I started to wonder when exactly we we could get back to Orlando.

With Hubs heading to France for the semester, and starting his last semester of law school in August, we thought that an early August trip might work (and at that point we weren’t sure if he was coming home for the summer or not). It would be a reunion of sorts, for his parents and brother to spend some time with him before his last semester. When our nephew came along, my brother-in-law and his girlfriend decided to bring the little one for his first trip! So an early August trip to to WDW was planned!

I left work early on Friday afternoon to meet Hubs at the house and head to the airport. Let me just say that I feel so badly for my colleagues at the office that day! I think I was doing the happy dance until I left around 2:30 pm. They understood though.

After many trial and tribulations, we ended up in our correct room very late at night. But we weren’t there for very long – we had an early morning date with the Magic Kingdom!

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We were able to get there for Rope Drop, or, first people to get into the park. They do a fun opening ceremony with the Mayor of Main Street plus the characters coming in on the train, right in front of the train depot. I loved it.

Later that afternoon, we met up with my in-laws to celebrate our nephew’s three month birthday. I can’t even believe how big he’s getting!

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The Kitchen Sink at Beaches and Cream was a fitting celebratory dessert for the adults… he had milk. ;) 8 scoops of ice cream, every topping in the joint plus an entire can of whip cream.

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And the aftermath…

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We didn’t really eat a lot the rest of the day. But eating ice cream for dinner is just what vacation is for, right?

And this was just the first day.

To be continued…

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Weekends Recharge My Batteries

This weekend has been a nice quiet one – my favorite. Friday night was a housewarming for a law school friend, Saturday morning was a Costco run and the afternoon at the mall before a dinner with friends, and today Hubs and I visited the penguins at the zoo, bought some awesome running shoes for both of us and snuggled to watch television in the basement as it thundered outside.


So as Hubs came downstairs to hang out with me post-studying, we saw a show recorded on our DVR that he said we *had* to watch.

Bitchin’ Kitchen is apparently a comedy cooking show on the Cooking Channel. He found it one night while staying up late with a bit of insomnia. My apologies if the name of the show offends, but really, it is the FUNNIEST show I have seen in a long time.

We can’t quite tell if the host is Italian, Canadian, deranged or just brilliant. The show is like any other cooking show, but she’s got an edge – and a theme. The one we saw? Depression Desserts. Los of options to make your depression go away! And the desserts she made? We were drooling. So much so that we are going to try to make some of the desserts and stat!

So my husband and I spent Sunday night enjoying each other’s company, drooling at cooking shows.

I love Sundays.


*I was not compensated for this review in any way. All opinions are my own.*

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Guest Posting Today at So Wonderful, So Marvelous

I really do love this blogging community that has sprung up for me in the past few years of writing on this blog. I have met some amazing people via blog, Twitter and Instragram. I think it satisfies my curiosity about how other people live, and I love it!

When Michelle of So Wonderful, So Marvelous asked me and Hubs to participate in her marriage questionnaire, I thought it sounded like fun! I sent her my answers right after coming back from Disney, so they're a little punchy. ;)

In any case, check out the post here!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Modern Life is Complicated

I’m having storage issues.

Before we left for the wedding and for Disney (trip report and pictures are forthcoming), we discovered a problem. Our long-time Maxtor external hard drive wouldn’t boot. We plugged it into my PC, into Hubs’ Mac, even took it to work to see if it worked on those computers. My IT guy looked at it on his break and deemed it probably dead. He couldn’t get it to boot either.

We were stuck.

I had had good experience with the customer service at the Microcenter store here in town when  my Acer PC wouldn’t recognize its DVD player and therefore I couldn’t upload some pictures from a Disney Photo Pass DVD to my hard drive. I decided to take the hard drive there to see if they could help me out.

Unfortunately, the second they plugged it in, they looked at me and told me it was dead. It wasn’t booting, and apparently something has happened to the plates inside. It’s the worst possible scenario and the most expensive fix.

I took the hard drive home and on my desk it has sat ever since, while Hubs and I try to decide what to do with it. It’s got all our wedding pictures, videos, and all our personal photos since 2004. I so want those pictures!

But that leads us to this week – we got back from Disney on Saturday night, and I’m dying to write about the trip and show you the most adorable pictures of my nephew with Tigger. SO CUTE. However… when I went to upload my Disney pics from the DSLR to the computer, I got an error message that I don’t have enough room on my 220 GB hard drive PC. So either I start deleting the pictures I’ve been saving up to transfer to the external hard drive or just not deal with pictures this week.

I’ve decided that I can wait until later to add pictures to Facebook and blog about them, but the storage issues are getting quite annoying.

And yes, we’re looking into cloud storage too. But I want to have the storage in person with all of our pictures from our life. Is that too much to ask?

The ironic part of all of this? When I plugged in the external hard drive a few weeks ago and found out it was dead, I was about to back all of the pictures up to multiple DVDs as an extra safe back up.


Monday, August 13, 2012

Celebrate Good Times, Come On!

We’ve been very lucky to have a low-key summer around here. Hubs has been off from school, but he’s been working as a research assistant and an admin help around the school, so that hasn’t really meant he’s been any less busy.

There was a trip to DFW back in May and then it’s been kind of quiet, at least, by our standards. We are gearing up for a VERY busy fall around work, but we had two trips in the past two weeks that would just get us geared up for all the craziness to come.

Hubs’ family has a wonderful friendship with another family from when they lived on the same street when Hubs was born. The kids are the same age, and they have been friends ever since. Their only daughter got married at the end of July and we packed up and headed to Columbus, OH, for a celebration at Ohio State. The family drove up on Thursday night so everyone could participate in the pre-wedding activities and I flew in after work on Friday.

Saturday morning, everyone including my nephew, got gussied up for the wedding.

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Brother-in-law, nephew and his mama

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He will sleep anywhere. And how is this position even comfortable?!

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The ceremony was at the family parish in the Columbus suburbs, and it was a beautiful church. The bride was glowing, of course, and they played my favorite song – “How Beautiful” – as the communion meditation song. I cried, of course. ;) We did, however, have an unusual priest. Something about having fun rather than focusing on the solemnity of the occasion just put an odd spin on the whole vow portion of the afternoon.

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The food at the Blackwell was wonderful! The couple had an open bar during the cocktail hour and then limited beverages with the drink tickets. It turned out really well and I’m sure saved them some cash! Besides, Hubs and I “borrowed” his parents’ cards and really enjoyed ourselves!

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The centerpieces were old lanterns surrounded by oranges and other greenery. Real candle light added a nice touch! The little lantern next to it was our place card and our favor! Great way to do double-duty.

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Her colors were pink and orange, which turned out really well. There was nice lighting and the chair ties were a pretty touch. The cake was the centerpiece of the room, as it should be!

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A self-portrait. I hate the lighting in receptions for taking pictures, though – they never turn out quite right!

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There were desserts galore at the reception! First, cake pops, then wedding cake, and Rita’s Ice afterwards! I was a very happy camper.

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See also: photo booth. Very amusing!

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There was a lot of dancing at this reception and lots was done by Yours Truly. Husband even came with me on the dance floor for a few of them – and that is quite an unusual occurrence! But we had a blast (could that possibly be due to the open bar and extra drink tickets? Don’t know!). At the end of the night, I caught this adorable picture of my in-laws. They are so truly in love, I had to snap a photo. Aren’t they adorable?

In the end, what’s not to like about weddings? They’re so much fun!