Where in the World…The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

So to celebrate the opening of the new Harry Potter – Diagon Alley in Universal Orlando, I thought I would dedicate this post to my first visit to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

In 2010 we went to Florida as a family for my cousin’s wedding. We attempted as much of Disney as we could in a day (my aunt got blisters) and then drove and checked into Loews Royal Pacific at Universal Orlando. We had decided to stay on property since that meant you got early access to the park (aka Harry Potter Wonderland). In 2010 when we went just Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure was open. Now both Hogdmeade and Diagon Alley are open and connected via the Hogwarts Express. We are heading down in October to experience both parks!

Now when I say I am a huge Harry Potter fan I mean it. I have read all the books (I used to re-read the series when a new book came out to “refresh” my memory), seen all the movies (multiple times) and seen the traveling collection of things from the film in Boston and California. Cheryl and I went to Universal Orlando for the day and ONLY stayed in Hogsmeade. We did not go on a single other ride in the park, and I was the happiest person ever! Here is a day at Universal Orlando Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

We woke up EARLY and got in line at the boats to take us to the park. There was already a decent line in front of us which was crazy! Once we got to the main gate Cheryl and I started merrily walking/jogging to Hogsmeade. We had to walk through a few different areas of the park first, but then I saw the gates!

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

When you first enter Hogsmeade you see the Hogwarts Express. I can’t wait to actually ride on it in October!

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

I loved the detail they put into Hogsmeade. Even though the rest of the park surrounded us I felt immersed in Harry Potter. The whole street looked like Hogsmeade. I loved the touch of snow on the roofs as well.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

We wanted to wait for our aunt who was making her way across the park before we got in the ride lines. So we figured why not look in the stores! The first store we went in to was Honeydukes.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

SO MUCH CANDY! I wanted to buy a few things as souvenirs, but it was hot so I decided to wait until later. Ever try Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavour Beans? I got an earwax one once…gross!

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Next we figured why not try butterbeer! It was hot out and there was a little stand selling them in souvenir cups.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

It was delicious! So refreshing and unique. Definitely not the only one I had that day!

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Next we wandered around the street a little heading over toward the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride. There were a bunch of storefronts, but you couldn’t go inside. It would have been cool though!

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

One of my favorite touches were the “moving” posters all through the street. Sirius Black was one of my favorite characters. This moving wanted poster was awesome, just like the movie!

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Finally my aunt made it and we headed over toward the Forbidden Journey (or what I call The Castle Ride). There was a pretty long line, but it was really early so we didn’t mind waiting.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

We jumped in line and started heading into the castle. They had so many details all over the place it was hard to see everything. Some of the reason there was a line was people taking pictures of stuff. We were all VERY excited though.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

We weaved our way through the first inside corridor (the dungeons) and then headed outside into the gardens. Mandrakes in pots and plants weaving all over. It was very cool. I felt like I was on the castle grounds!

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Then…the line stopped moving. At first we thought people were holding up the line, but an announcement came over some speakers saying the ride was down and they were not sure when it would be fixed. A few people left the line, but most just hunkered down and waited like us.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

It was a good 45 minutes until the line started moving again and you could hear cheers from everyone!

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Then we were finally inside the castle! There was so much to see I kept looking all around. The house points were on the wall and then there was Dumbledore’s staircase and maps and tapestries all over.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Inside where all the portraits were hung most of them talked and moved. It was so cool, but my camera couldn’t get any good pictures of them. Then we went through classrooms and finally we saw the trio (a hologram) and we were all set to ride!

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

The ride was amazing. I was squealing with joy after it was over. You “rode” a broomstick along with Harry. It seriously was so cool the way they did it. No more spoilers other than that.

Once we left the ride (after looking through the gift shop) we went back toward the main part of town. We heard drums so we walked over and saw the Triwizard Spirit Rally with the ladies of Beauxbatons and the men of Durmstrang.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Next we went to Ollivanders and the Owl Post. I didn’t get many pictures because the places were SO crowded, but I did get pumpkin juice which was awesome! I also met a conductor of the Hogwarts Express.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter


The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

After we had a drink and did a little shopping we decided to try out the other rides. First was the Dueling Dragons. The path to the ride was also littered with amazing Harry Potter things like Hagrid’s Hut and the Flying Ford Anglia.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

There wasn’t really a line for Dueling Dragons (it was lunch time at this point) so we went straight on.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

I love roller coasters that flip. This one you are going head to head with the other roller coaster so that was cool. We rode the Hungarian Horntail the first time. When we flipped at the same time I thought I was going to kick someone on the other coaster! After we rode once we said why not try the other side (Chinese Fireball) and since there was no line we did!

After Dueling Dragons we figured we should eat something. We had waited hoping the lunch rush would die down. We headed over to the Three Broomsticks and of course it was packed. Cheryl and I headed next door to the Hog’s Head and grabbed a beer (in a souvenir cup) while we waited.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

They had a pretty limited food selection, but luckily I eat anything. I had the fish and chips and Cheryl had shepherd’s pie. They were just what we needed.

After lunch we headed back out to the square and saw another show starting. This one was the Frog Choir.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Then we got a call from our cousins who had been wandering the rest of the park. They heard the Forbidden Journey ride was great so they were headed over. Of course I wanted to ride again so we waited for them and jumped in line. The wait was a lot longer now, but luckily the ride didn’t break down so we slowly moved through.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

This time around I noticed even more little details I hadn’t noticed the first time through. My family loved the ride just as much as me, but they were tired and decided to head out to the hotel we were staying at near my cousin’s wedding venue.

Cheryl and I were not done with Hogsmeade yet! We stayed and went on the Flight of the Hippogriff. It was ok, more of a kid-friendly roller coaster. The rest of the day we spent in the Hog’s Head cooling off with butterbeer (and regular beer). The hog’s head on the wall behind the bar would grunt and snort every once in a while.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

As the sun was starting to set we realized we had been in Hogsmeade ALL DAY. I had no regrets about it whatsoever. We were also the last of our family in the park. The rest had headed to the hotel. Cheryl and I were exhausted, but it was such an awesome day we didn’t care.

I cannot wait until October! Some of the new things you can do at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter are:
Ride the Hogwarts Express
You board at King’s Cross Station on Platform 9 3/4 by Diagon Alley to Hogsmeade. The windows of the train show the scenery of the British countryside. I heard the opening day lines were hours long. Let’s hope it is less hectic in October!

Escape from Gringotts Ride
The goblins inside move and look at you, and the ride is a multi-dimensional trip through the volts of Gringotts. I think there might even be a dragon involved!

Weasleys’ Wizarding Wheezes
I cannot imagine how many things I will want to buy! You think they give a twin discount?

Borgin and Burkes
I bet the dark magic stuff in there is so cool

Madam Malkin’s Robes
I will not be buying a robe, but I definitely want to try one on!

Magical Menagerie
Animals everywhere! I wonder what kind of stuff they will have. Maybe I can get an owl?

Quality Quidditch Supplies
With the popularity of quidditch I can image there will be a lot to look at.

Ollivanders and Gregorovitch Wand Shops
I will have to look through each. I do already have a Snape wand, but maybe Sirius?

I must get some stationary!

Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream
It might not be super hot in October, but I cannot go without trying some ice cream

Really what else can I say. More butterbeer and delicious food to try! I wonder if Tom will be the bartender?

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is every Harry Potter fans dream come true! Have you ever been before?

Running at Assateague Island National Seashore

Running at Assateague Island National Seashore

Cheryl and I are still in training mode for the SeaWheeze Half Marathon next month. I have not been as strict with my running lately. I have been trying to juggle that plus crossfit three times a week and work/sleep.

This past weekend we went to Assateague Island National Seashore for a camping “vacation”. I rarely ever find time to workout on vacation (unless of course I am doing a Disney run), but we decided to bring our running stuff and attempt to fit a run in. As we were driving toward the Verrazano Bridge to get to Assateague we saw a woman running on the side of the road. As we made our way over the bridge we saw one side had a very wide running/biking path all the way along the bridge. At that point I knew we HAD to go for a run. It was destiny!

Friday night was spent eating and drinking and by Saturday morning my elation at going for a run had deflated. Still I knew I needed to go so I woke up and made myself coffee and half a bagel. I forced Cheryl out of bed around 8am. She ate and we both got ready. A few other friends were walking up around this point, and even though I was hungover and tired I told everyone we would see them in about an hour because we were going for a run.

Now the road to Assateague Island National Seashore says the ranger station is 2.25 miles once you get over the bridge. After that we had a short drive to our campsite. I estimated the run would be around 6 miles to the middle of the bridge and back. Cheryl and I had a few false starts. First she forgot her footpod for her watch, then we decided to run back and grab waters since it was pretty hot out. Finally we were on our way.

We walked through the campsite area to the main road and then started our run. The main road to the campsites does not have a shoulder or running/biking area so we had to be careful. Once we got to the main Assateague road we hit the running path. The main road runs right by the beach so you can see the sand dunes.

Running at Assateague Island National Seashore

At this point Cheryl checked her watch and we were already almost at a mile and we hadn’t even gotten to the ranger station yet. At this point I figured it would be around 6.5 or 7 miles with the added route to and from the campsite. We kept running down the main path on the right side of the road.

Running at Assateague Island National Seashore

The roads are really well maintained. There are mile markers along the ground and a wide path so bikers and runners can pass each other without incident. Once Cheryl’s watch hit 3.25 miles near the bridge I realized this 6 mile run was going to be more like 8 miles. We had to run 10 miles on Sunday anyway so I figured we would cut it down and make this our long run of the weekend.

We didn’t see any horses all the way up to the bridge, but then there were a bunch. A few were on the other side of the road and others were just wandering in the road like they own the place (which they kind of do).

Running at Assateague Island National Seashore

We made it to the middle of the bridge around 3.75 miles and we stopped to take a few selfies of course!

Running at Assateague Island National Seashore

It was a hot day, but luckily it was overcast so we didn’t have to deal with both heat and sun. The rest of the run back was like the way to the bridge, horse free. We started to get tired once we got back past the ranger station (and we ran out of water) so we did a walk/run until we got back to the campsite.

I definitely recommend bringing running shoes or a bike (you can also rent) when you visit Assateague Island National Seashore. They have really great paths for running, walking or biking and it’s a great way to see the beautiful scenery of the island while also getting in some exercise!

Camping at Assateague Island National Seashore

So this past weekend I went camping with friends at Assateague Island National Seashore in Berlin, Maryland. We had booked the campsites months ago because we knew they filled up fast. You can camp at the State Park or the National Seashore. My friend Cindy had mentioned her and some of her college friends (and their friends) had booked 3 campsites on the bay. Cheryl and I decided camping at the beach with wild horses sounded awesome! We booked a campsite next to theirs and invited a few of our college friends to come with us. You can have 6 people, 2 tents and 2 cars at each campsite.

Cheryl and I worked from home on Friday so that we could leave as soon as we were done with work. We had A LOT of stuff so luckily it was just the two of us in the car. My parents camped a lot when they were younger and their stuff is still in great condition so we brought it along with us. We hit a lot of traffic on the NJ Turnpike (construction is close to done though) and when we got into Deleware.

Camping at Assateague Island National Seashore

Assateague Island is actually located in 2 states. You can only camp on the Maryland side, but you can go to the beach on the Virginia side if you want. My GPS originally had me going to the Virginia side, but luckily we figured it out before we went off course. We got to the Verrrazano Bridge (no, not the NY one) around 6pm. We paid at the toll booth ($15 for a 7 day pass) then checked in at the ranger station for our campsite. Now you can also camp in 2 different areas, the bay and the ocean. We booked next to where our friends had already booked in the bay, but in the future I would definitely love to camp right on the beach!

We saw horses as soon as we got to our campsite and all along the road coming in. They pretty much just wander around, but there are signs everywhere not to get close because they will kick/bite.

Camping at Assateague Island National Seashore

We set up our tent and our dining net over the picnic table. That took a little longer than expected because I never set it up over something before. After that we all moved over to our friend’s campsite because they were the most secluded and we didn’t want to annoy the people around us. The campsites are very close together. They built a bonfire and we had burgers for dinner. Our other friends got there a little after we were done eating so we helped them unload and set up. At this point it was around 8 and getting dark. We had beers and made smokes by the campfire. It was a lot of fun. Cheryl brought her bluetooth radio so we listened to music too.

Camping at Assateague Island National Seashore

One of the guys, Ryan, decided to make us all shots. I really have not been able to handle shots the past few years so I sipped at it for a little, but then passed it off to my friend’s boyfriend to finish.

Camping at Assateague Island National Seashore

We had all read online (and saw signs) about quiet hours from 10pm-9am. Once 10pm rolled around we decided to pack up some coolers and walk over to the bay area on the end of the campground. There were no campsites down there so we figured we might be fine. No one bothered us! We had music playing, a dance party in the water, beers and a campfire.

Camping at Assateague Island National Seashore

It was a blast. We stayed down there until around 12 or 1 and then headed back to get some rest. Everyone staying with us on our campsite decided to stay up for a little. We played Cards Against Humanity. I got exhausted around 1am and headed to bed. They stayed up until about 3am. Luckily when I have been drinking and I am tired I sleep like a rock so I didn’t hear anyone come into the tent.

The next morning Cheryl and I had planned to go for a run. The bridge to the island had a cool running/biking path and all the roads had a path as well. I was very hungover when I got up around 7:30am. My feet also felt very swollen. I think I was dehydrated so I had a lot of water. I woke Cheryl up around 8am and we had coffee and half a bagel. We headed out to run around 9:15am. I had originally thought the route was 3 miles to the bridge and 3 miles back. It was actually 4 miles each way so we decided to make that our long run of the weekend. We saw only a few horses around the bridge area and a few other people out biking and running.

Camping at Assateague Island National Seashore

Camping at Assateague Island National Seashore

The middle of the bridge had a really pretty view. It was not super sunny out, but it was pretty hot. We got tired toward the end and started run/walking. Once we got back everyone was cooking breakfast so I had some eggs and bacon. Next was a part of the weekend I had been dreading. The campsites have places for fires, a picnic table, a pot bathroom and cold water showers. Now when I say cold I mean COLD. It was slightly ok since I was still hot from my run, but I am not a fan of cold showers. I had to tough it out though. Then I got ready to head to the beach!

Camping at Assateague Island National Seashore

The weather the day before when we were driving there was gorgeous! Blue skies and warm. Of course the next day the sky was full of clouds all day, but at least it was still warm out. I did some tanning, but mostly drank and hung out with everyone on the beach. Cheryl and Matt dominated in cornhole and Cheryl even got to use her hammock on the beach.

Camping at Assateague Island National Seashore

I had brought some chips with me to the beach so our lunch was really just that and beer. Most people headed back around 2 or 3 to eat. We stayed longer and headed back around 4. When we got back we realized we were out of beer so a few people went to replenish supplies. I took a COLD shower again and we moved back over to our campfire circle. Maya and Ryan who’s campsite it was had to leave that night, but we stayed there since it was still the farthest from other people.

Camping at Assateague Island National Seashore

We built another bonfire and started cooking burgers and hot dogs. As we were cooking the sky opened up and it started to rain. We scrambled to get everything inside a car or our dining next to keep it dry. After about 15 minutes the clouds rolled off and we headed back to the bonfire. As it got darker I wanted s’mores. I had seen on Pinterest people making s’mores with Reece’s peanut butter cups instead of just chocolate. SOO GOOD! I had 3! Definitely something to try if you are making s’mores and love peanut butter.

Camping at Assateague Island National Seashore

A lot of people were tired the second night since we were up so late the night before. A few of us headed back to the bay when quiet hours started. We just hung out and talked and listened to Disney Pandora. It was fun, but then it started to drizzle again so we packed up and headed back.

Sleeping that night was a lot more difficult. I hadn’t really had a lot to drink and even though I was tired the rain kept waking me up. I got some sleep, but I was pretty tired the next morning.

Camping at Assateague Island National Seashore

I got up around 8am again (I can’t sleep in) and started cleaning up. The trunk of the car was a mess so I unloaded everything so we could pack it up nicely again.

Camping at Assateague Island National Seashore

I shared a tent with my sister and my friend Lauren. Lauren had wanted to bring her air mattress. I was against it because I didn’t think we could all fit on it, but we did and it was really comfortable! I did still sleep in my sleeping bag and if I had wanted there was space next to the air mattress for another sleeping bag.

Camping at Assateague Island National Seashore

After we packed up we were originally going to go to the beach, but it was still cloudy and rainy. We decided instead to head over to Ocean City and walk on the boardwalk and get lunch. The boardwalk was nice. I had never been there before. It started to rain as we were walking, but I had grabbed my umbrella. We found this awesome car though!

Camping at Assateague Island National Seashore

We walked back and forth and decided to get lunch around 12 so we could start driving home at a decent time. We decided on The Dough Roller. I don’t eat pizza that often, but when I do it’s always something different. I am not a plain pizza kind of girl. I need stuff on it. Cheryl and I decided on BBQ Chicken pizza with red onions. Cindy split the pie with us and it was delicious!

Camping at Assateague Island National Seashore

Camping was a lot of fun. We had read a lot of reviews since no one had been there before. It said the bay side was very buggy (mosquitos), but I must say I didn’t get bit at all! We used a lot of Deet and had a citronella candle and mosquito sticks, but not sure if all that was even necessary. We also head they were very strict about quiet hours. The first night we went to the bay, but we were talking and stuff when we got back at 1am and no one bothered us. It was less crowded on Friday too. Saturday we left again for the bay at 10, but when we came back I head a lot of other campsites being loud and no one really bothered them.

I would definitely go back and camp on the beach. Listening to the waves roll in and waking up right on the beach in the morning sounds amazing. I would also get a group campsite. You can have unlimited people and cars and it would make it easier with the larger sized group that we had.

Have you ever been to Assateague Island? Anything else I didn’t experience I should try if we go again?

Wisconsin State Fair – Food on a Stick

This post is brought to you by my love of food! After I graduated college in 2007 I decided I needed to see my family in Wisconsin more. Up until that point I had actually never been to Wisconsin to see them. The first year we went we decided to go in the summer and go during one of their many summer festivals. We decided to go during the Wisconsin State Fair. We had a blast and tried cream puffs and cheese curds for the first time. Cream puffs are only sold at the fair so the lines are insane. You can watch them be made right in front of you. They are cream-filled pastries that taste like heaven. Cheese curds are found all over Wisconsin. They are like mini mozzarella balls, but lots of different kinds of cheese can be used.

2007 Wisconsin State Fair

The following year we decided to try the other summer festival Summerfest. It is the world’s largest music festival. We had a blast rocking out to music from all different bands.

WARNING! The following post may make you extremely hungry. Read at your own risk!

In 2009 we decided to head back during the state fair again. This time we also went on a mission. Cheryl worked for the Smithsonian at the time and they asked her (since we were going) to take pictures of all the foods on a stick. I had also joked that we should try and eat all the foods on a stick, but this was my post weight-loss summer and I quickly decided we could try some but not all. The foods on a stick are very popular at the fair. They have A LOT and even print the list in the paper so people going will know what’s new and where to find it. Most of the items were deep fried, but really how else do you get something to stay on a stick.

2009 Wisconsin State Fair

We arrived at the fair in the early afternoon with a BIG appetite! It was a little cloudy out, but we didn’t care.

2009 Wisconsin State Fair

The first food on a stick that we saw was the traditional chocolate covered banana. This one we only snapped a picture of. Cheryl hates bananas.

Chocolate Covered Banana

Next we decided we were hungry and should try a few things. First we got (and split) the deep fried mac and cheese. They were pretty good, but a little greasy.

Deep Fried Mac and Cheese

Next Cheryl got deep fried crab cake on a stick. I mean who doesn’t love crab cakes! I loved how most people just made the food and threw a stick through it so it would be considered “on a stick”.

Deep Fried Crab Cakes

After we headed into the poultry house to see all the chickens. They are just so cute (and tasty too).

2009 Wisconsin State Fair

Inside we found this ice cream stand that my cousin Sarah said we HAD to try. Cheryl and Sarah split a cone and I had my ice cream over hot apple pie. Yum!

Ice Cream and Apple Pie

Once we were done we headed back outside to see what else we could find. We stumbled across a pork chop on a stick (we didn’t try it).

Pork Chop

And of course the ever popular candy apples. I love mine covered in chocolate and peanut butter!

Candy Apples

Next we passed a sign and I knew I HAD to try deep fried smores. It was SO GOOD. I think we bought another one later on.

Deep Fried Smores

Next we just walked around and took some pictures. I needed to digest all the food I just had. We found a turkey leg, chocolate covered cookie dough on a stick, and the traditional corn dog. There was also deep fried shrimp on a stick and a reuben on a stick.

Turkey leg, Cookie Dough, Corn Dog


Shrimp and Reuben

Next we stopped to try the new food of the fair that year, chocolate covered bacon. I know it has since become popular, but this was the first time I had seen it. I was the only one that liked bacon so I tried it. Definitely not a fan.

Chocolate Covered Bacon

We moved on to the next booth over where i discovered my absolute favorite food on a stick. Deep friend peanut butter and jelly on a stick! I still go back and get it every time I am in town for state fair. So so so so good.

Deep Fried Peanut Butter and Jelly

After the chocolate covered bacon and PB&J I had to take a breather so we walked around again. We found jerk chicken skewers, deep fried snickers, bacon wrapped scallops and a brat on a stick!

Jerk Chicken

Deep Fried Snickers

Bacon Wrapped Scallops and Brat

At this point the sky opened up and it started to rain. It was mostly drizzling at first so we didn’t let it bother us. It was a warm rain which I like. We decided to keep the sugar rush going and shared a chocolate ice cream bar covered in peanuts.

Chocolate Peanut Ice Cream Bar

We kept walking around and found a few more things we had missed! Cherry pie on a stick and pancakes and sausage.

Cherry Pie

Pancakes and Sausage

On our last loop around we realized we had forgotten to stop at the MOST IMPORTANT place! The cream puff building! I know they aren’t technically “on a stick” but you cannot go to the Wisconsin State Fair and not have cream puffs!

Cream Puff

Then it REALLY started to rain. I was so full I could barely walk and so were my sister and cousin. We figured it was time to call it quits and head home.

2009 Wisconsin State Fair

I love going to the Wisconsin State Fair whenever I can. They have music, food, rides and my aunt’s favorite is the gadget house. A huge building with tables of people who make things or sell stuff (as seen on TV type stuff). I can spend hours in there. I am pretty jealous that New Jersey doesn’t have a kick ass fair, but the Midwest really knows how to put on a festival.

And now I am hungry….

Running Disney……again

So in 2013 I ran every runDisney race (in Florida) except for the Everest Challenge. Cheryl and I bought season passes and made the most of them. We decided we wanted to dress up for every run, and I must say we had some pretty awesome costumes.

runDisney 2013

Well after our year of runs we thought we were done, but NO! Our friends decided they wanted to try some runDisney races too. Some have done them before but a few have never run a half marathon and they wanted Disney to be their first. So…I AM RUNNING THE GLASS SLIPPER CHALLENGE!

Glass Slipper Challenge

I am actually REALLY excited about it. I forgot how much fun those races were. I can’t wait to show my friends how much fun running a half marathon can be as well.

When we ran in 2013 it was just the Princess Half Marathon. This year they added a 10K the day before and created the Glass Slipper Challenge. After doing the Dopey Challenge in January just two races should be a piece of cake.

Even though registration was hectic and stressful we all made it into the race. It sold out in 2 hours! I remember registering for the Princess two years ago weeks after it went live and there were still spots. These Disney races are getting really popular!

Disney Glass Slipper Challenge

So even though I remember it being HOT and the lines for characters were the LONGEST of any race I am ready for more runDisney!

Disney Princess Half Marathon 2013

Now it’s time to prepare! We already have flights booked and now we are registered for the race. WHAT AM I GOING TO WEAR!?! Our costumes in 2013 were pretty great.

Disney Princess Half Marathon 2013

Can’t wait to see what we can all come up with and I can’t wait to add more bling to my magical medal holder!

Disney Medals

Anyone else running!?!

Summer Weekends

So I did not have a chance to post yesterday. It was not because I was busy or anything…I reached my image space maximum. Now I don’t have a crazy amount of blog posts, but the ones I do have a picture heavy. I have never really bothered sizing all my photos a certain size, even though I should have. Instead of paying the $99 to upgrade (because I’m broke) I decided to pull down and resize ALL my blog post images and replace them. That took ALL NIGHT, but now it’s done and I went from having used 3GB of space to just 461Mb. Crazy! It won’t last forever, but it lets me post again.

Crossft has been going amazingly well. Cheryl and I reached a milestone last week. We can now do box jumps! Some people might be like…so. Well I am short (5 ft 2 in) so the box is taller than my knees. Try convincing yourself to jump in the air to land on a platform that is taller than your knees…not easy.

Crossfit Box Jumps

Our crossfit even posted our accomplishment!

Zac Brown Band
On Thursday this week I went to my first country concert in a while. Two years ago we got the Country Mega Ticket so we were going to shows every few weeks. I honestly felt like an alcoholic by the end of the summer. I think I burned myself out. Zac Brown Band was playing in New Jersey at PNC in Holmdel and a bunch of my friends asked if we wanted to go. I of course said yes!

I worked from home on Thursday so we could leave as soon as I was done and hit less traffic. It helped, but the lots were still pretty full when we got down there. Jill bypassed the first lot (even though they were yelling at her) and we found closer spots to the entrance. We parked and tailgated by the car.

Zac Brown Concert

We decided to go inside when they opened the doors since there were a lot of us and we wanted to find a good spot on the lawn. We had drank a decent amount of beer outside (and we got sandwiches for dinner), but once I start I like to keep going. Cheryl luckily had cash and got me a beer.

Zac Brown Concert

There was an opening act who was pretty good, but I don’t remember his name. The one problem with drinking is it makes you have to go to the bathroom and man were those lines long. The first time we went (I was slightly tipsy) we just went in the stalls in the mens room. They don’t use them! The second time we went there were security guards saying we had to stand in the crazy line that went up stairs. Women were getting annoyed and when I asked why we couldn’t use them men’s room this guy was giving me all these crazy reasons (none of which made sense). They eventually left and it was a free-for-all but I was already at the front of the women’s line.

Zac Brown Concert

Eventually the sun started to set which meant that the main act would be going on soon!

Zac Brown Concert

Zac Brown puts on an awesome show. We danced and sang all night long.

Once the show was over we headed to the car. Of course we parked in a ditch area and Jill attempted to drive out over the curb but it was a no go. Cheryl and I got out to try and push and like 15 guys came over to help haha. Still she had to go all the way around to get out. Once we were on the highway we saw a bad accident (going the opposite direction) and then we hit construction traffic. It was a late night by the time we got home, but lots of fun!

Phillip Phillips/O.A.R
On Saturday we continued our concert trend and went down to PNC again for the Phillip Phillips and OAR concert. I love OAR. They came to our college senior year and I met them (I was on Campus Activities Board) and they put on a great show. I also love Phillip Phillips voice.

Phillip Phillips and OAR

We went down in the late afternoon (around 4) because I figured it would be packed like Thursday. Well it was not…not yet anyway. We got a good spot under some shade and tailgated for a while. The lot started filling up as it got later, but nowhere near as many people as Thursday.

We were sure if there was an opening act and we wanted to see both of the co-headliners so we went in on time. The lawn was barely full so we got a decent spot to sit.

Phillip Phillips and OAR

The lawn got crowded, but it was comfortable.

Phillip Phillips and OAR

While we were watching the opening act (yes there was one) I was people watching. The highlight of my night was watching these two security guards CONTINUOUSLY bust this group of underage kids. They kept going over an carding them, reprimanding them, and taking their beers away. I still have no clue how they were getting beers but after 3 times you think they would just give up! My hero!

Phillip Phillips and OAR

As the sun went down Phillip Phillips started first. He was good, but he just kept jammin. I don’t mind a jam session, but not your whole set. I wanted more songs!

Then O.A.R. came on. They are so good in concert. We were singing and dancing all night long.

Phillip Phillips and OAR

We had an annoying group of kids next to us. By the end of the night they were drunk and kept slamming into us and dancing all over our blanket. If it was more crowded I wouldn’t have cared, but there was SO MUCH SPACE. I just said whatever and did my own thing. No reason to let annoying people ruin your night!

Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Whimseybox June – Gold Leaf Frame

So last week I posted about my awesome new box service I just started receiving. I slacked on doing the May one when I got it because I was swamped with work. I was able to do both the May and June boxes within a day of each other when I got my June box.

I was really excited when I got my June Whimseybox in the mail. I had always wanted to try gold leaf, but it seemed pretty difficult so I never attempted it. My box had all the essentials to make a gold leaf frame.

Looking back I should have painted the whole frame a color first. I am not a fan of the light wood (right out of the box) frames, but the gold leaf was going to add something to it anyway. I started by reading ALL the instructions first. I hate getting halfway through a project and realizing I missed something or messed up along the way. I like to pre-read everything to make sure I understand the concept first.

I also looked at the step-by-step directions on the website. It includes pictures which helps to follow along.

I started by using a piece of paper and tracing a line across my frame where I wanted the gold leaf to go. I decided I wanted to attempt the “dipped” look. The next part I was confused about at first. The small bottles in the box were not labelled so I wasn’t sure which one was the gold leaf glue and which was the finishing adhesive. I assumed it was the browner liquid and after checking online I discovered I was right. I put the glue on the frame along the line I had traced and all around the edges.

Once I was done and everything was evenly covered I set a timer (20 minutes) and washed off my brush. I did some other things around the house as I waited for the blue to dry. Once the timer went off I went and checked the frame. It looked tacky so I decided to move on to the next part.

Then everything went to shit.

I find myself to be a pretty patient person. I have no problem with tedious projects that involve a lot of concentration. Golf leafing I guess is not my fortay.

I added the sheets of gold leaf over the frame like instructed. I tried to lay them down as flat as possible, but one wrong move and it landed bubbled and you were done. After covering the frame with the gold leaf I used the small brush to “smooth” it out. Some places it worked, others it clumped and began coming off the frame completely. I am not sure if some areas with glue had too much or too little, but after about 10 minutes of “smoothing” I had to walk away. Large chunks were missing. My brush was a mess and I had gold leaf blobs all over the place.

I let when was on the frame dry and then went back and added some more glue to the spots where the gold leaf refused to stick. Then I let those dry and added more gold leaf. A few spots still would not stick but other spots I was able to make look semi-decent. The whole frame was very rough, not smooth like it should have been.

From far away the frame does not look that bad (as long as you don’t look at the edges/bottom). I will definitely attempt to gold leaf something else again and see if I can get any better at this.

I love the way gold leaf looks on frames and vases so I really want to be able to master this craft and gold leaf some other things. I mean how cute are these bottles!

Gold Leaf Milk Bottles

I still have some glue left over so I might attempt this other Whimseybox DIY. Have you ever attempted to gold leaf? Tips please!

I also just discovered what happens when you type in a wrong link on Whimseybox haha! Who wouldn’t want a hug from Ryan (soon to be a hot dad) Gosling.


Project Life – June

Even though I don’t do my Project Life pages week to week on time, I still manage to get them done. Usually it’s in huge bursts which helps with printing, but it’s harder to remember specific details about what happened during that week.

The month started off with building our new backyard oasis and gazebo. The weather was beautiful one day then shit the next, but it seems to have settled on beautiful lately.

The following week I had a trade show in New York. I actually don’t mind going to shows when it is nice out. I love walking around the city in the sunshine. I also have been doing a lot of crossfit (box jump fear overcome) and running. We participated in the Oaklye 10K in New York. It was a hot day, but the run was a lot of fun.

We went kayaking in the Catskills. It was such a nice day and a fun adventure. Then we headed to the Brooklyn Brewery for my friends birthday. We got there early in the day to claim tables and we brought our own food (sandwiches and cupcakes). It was a good time. I just would have loved for the tables to be outside. It was such a nice day!

June ended with a garage clean out to prepare for our upcoming garage sale. It was also AJ’s first birthday! My cousin doesn’t like his pictures online so that is why they are blurred out, but trust me he is such a cutie.

I just also want to add that thanks to Estelle and her Dressing for the Parks segment I have a new dress I am obsessed with.

Love me some dinos! Have a great weekend!

Throw Back Thursday – Family Brewers Game

So last week I was approached by Fanatics to take part in their ‘Family Fanatics’ initiative, which challenges bloggers to describe how sports has brought their family together. Fanatics’ site has anything you’re looking for that’s sports-related – MLB hats, jerseys, you name it! That made me think…what events had my family done all together? It brought me back to my cousin’s wedding in Wisconsin in 2008.

My family lives all over the country, so weddings or other events is really the only time we all get together. Even a wedding is difficult to get EVERYONE there, but we try. I live in New Jersey. I also have family in Florida, Deleware, and Wisconsin. Everyone was excited for a family wedding/vacation so most people packed up the cars (or took a plane) and set off for the land of cheese and beer!

Everyone in my family made the trip into a long vacation. The wedding was wonderful and we had a lot of family events planned throughout the weekend. My uncle (at the time, since retired) worked for Miller so we did a big group tour. After the tour we decided to do the next best family activity. Go to a Brewers game!

Now with family being from all over the country, getting everyone to agree to go to a sporting event was rough. Everyone has their team loyalties (Yankees, Red Sox, Mets) but family trumps all that. When else would we all be together to enjoy a baseball game!

We made sure we did it right too. My aunt and uncle loaded up the cars and we were off. My uncle cooked brats and hot dogs on the grill for us. He was a pro and knew how to tailgate.

Not everyone came with us (the kids were too little), but the true baseball fans couldn’t miss the opportunity. We tailgated in the parking lot until it was time to go in for the game.

This was my first time at Miller Park where the Brewers play. The stadium was awesome! This was also my first stadium visit with a retractable dome. Later during the game a storm was threatening so they closed the dome. It was a slow process, but so cool to see!

It was such a special event to be able to hang out withy my family and watch the baseball game. I love going to sporting events with family.

I have since been to a lot more sporting events, but none with all my family together. One of these years we have to try and all get together again for something so we can make new memories.


Fanatics is a top online retailer of all sorts of sports merchandise and apparel, you can find anything from hats of your favorite team to autographed memorabilia from your favorite player! Fanatics approached me to take part in their ‘Family Fanatics’ initiative.

Kayaking in the Catskills

So in April we went hiking in the Catskill mountains. My friend Cindy is always getting me and Cheryl outside on adventure. Last month Cindy asked if we wanted to go kayaking. I had never been kayaking before and I always wanted to try it so I was up for the challenge. She wanted to go somewhere in the Catskills again so she researched places we could go and rent kayaks.

She finally found a place called Al’s Sport Shop in Downsville, NY. We would be kayaking on the East Branch of the Delaware River by the Pepacton Reservoir. We decided to leave in the morning so that we could get to the dock and start early. We weren’t sure what the weather was going to be like so we brought jackets to layer just in case. I also finally got to try out my new Keen Uneek shoes that Cheryl got me from work.

When we got there we went inside and purchased day kayak rentals. $30 for the whole day! They had Cheryl drive our car down to the end which was quite a drive. Once she was back we geared up and headed down to the water. They told us just to grab whatever canoes we wanted to use. It was a little cold still so I kept my jacket on. Everything else I had left in the car. Cheryl and Cindy both brought bags and Cheryl put her phone in a ziplock just in case.

Getting the hang of kayaking took a few minutes, but I got it pretty quickly. The water and the weather was gorgeous! Right when we got on the water we saw a family of ducks floating around. Cindy paddled closer to get a picture. Cheryl and I decide to take a selfie then Cindy joined in.

After about 10 minutes I started to get hot so I took off my jacket and put on sunscreen so I wouldn’t burn. After I got prepped I was ready to kayak!

The water was pretty calm and the current wasn’t too bad. We would stop every once in a while and put our feet up and just float. The weather could not have been more perfect.

Further down the river it got narrower and more “woodsy”. As we were paddling Cindy noticed a bald eagle flying overhead! It was so majestic. She tried to get a picture, but it wasn’t very clear. Some spots had little rapids where Cindy taught me how to see where rocks were to avoid them. I don’t know if I would ever be able to go over crazy rapids.

Half way down the river we decided to stop and eat and rest. We found this cute rock island area so we got out and had some KIND bars. Cindy was smart and brought two mason jars of wine. A family showed up after a while which was annoying, but we ignored them and pretended we were the only ones there.

It took us about 3 hours to get down the river. A lot of the time I would just float. I loved just looking around at nature and all the little houses along the river. Sometimes you could see the road and sometimes it was just the wilderness. We saw fisherman, other people kayaking, it was really fun. We only hit one snag of a very shallow rock area we had to shimmy and use our paddles to get back to the main river flow. Other than that it was easy sailing.

Kayaking was a lot of fun and a great workout. I really felt it in my arms the next day. I can’t wait to go again!

After we were done kayaking we had to bring the kayaks up to the shop. I was terrified of falling out of the canoe the whole time, but never had an incident. Of course as I am trying to get out of the canoe I fall. It wasn’t too bad, but I know for next time.

After kayaking we went to the nearby town of Downsville, NY to eat. I wanted to find a place with trout since it’s “Trout Town USA” but instead we found a cute pizza place and got salads and sandwiches. Perfect end to a perfect day!