Sunday, September 29, 2013


A while ago I heard about this website called Influenster from my friend and fellow blogger, Becky.

I still don't fully understand said website, but I do know that a few weeks ago I was selected to receive a "Vox Box" full of CHEESE.

Who was I to say no?

This is what I received in the mail... in the box there was a coupon for a Free Sargento cheese snack, a dollar off another Sargento cheese snack, and a little snack cheese caddy. Which is cute, but it made me laugh, because I was like... really? This is a real thing that is apparently necessary.

Anyway, I went to the store and got my cheese snacks:

And I have to say, they're pretty tasty.

My favorite is definitely the Colby-Jack, and I enjoy eating it with an apple or a pear. I also enjoy that these snacks are reduced-fat. And I have to admit... I used the cheese caddy.

Since I don't always get to throw my lunchbox in the fridge right when I get to school, the little insulated cheese caddy did help in keeping my cheese cold. My thirty-one lunchbox is also insulated, so my cheese is extra-protected now! LOL

I have to point out that neither Influenster nor Vox Box is paying me to promote their product, but I do enjoy cheese, and this was a fun box to get in the mail. : )


Sunday, September 22, 2013

My HP Fix: Would You Rather, part deux

Would you rather...

1. Have an invisibility cloak or a time turner?

Definitely an invisibility cloak. I would definitely use it for the dramatic reveal.... pulling pranks... just hiding when I don't want anyone to bother me... : )

Time turning would freak me out. I would be too worried that I would royally screw things up.

2. Spend an hour talking with J.K. Rowling or Daniel Radcliffe?

Okay so, who wouldn't pick JKR? Just curious. It would be so much fun to sit down and pick her brains. It seems like Daniel is kind of over HP:

3. Have a flying broomstick or an enchanted flying car?

I am tempted to say enchanted flying car, because it seems like a broomstick would be the flying equivalent of a motorcycle. However, I have to agree with Becky in saying that a broomstick would be much less conspicuous.

4. Spend a week in the Forbidden Forest or a day in Azkaban?

Can I invite Hagrid?

If so, I pick the Forbidden Forest. It's a legitimate point that one day of intense fear would be less than a week of fear, but Azkaban freaks me out.

5. Change the story so that Dumbledore does not get killed or so Sirius does not get killed?

Dumbledore's death is an integral part of the story and that would probably severely alter it. Having Sirius around to keep Harry company couldn't have hurt, right?

Until next time... I'll be busy with band. So, I promise I'll be back sporadically throughout the next month. It's the most crazy time of the year!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

My HP Fix: Goblet of Fire... and MORE HARRY POTTER

Okay guys.

This week was kind of a let-down overall but... there was some super exciting news...


Yes. That's right.


Oh man.

Anyway... this week's HP fix is based around my favorite book in the series, The Goblet of Fire!

Favorite parts of GOF:

1. The Yule Ball. It's seriously one of my favorite things about the whole series because I'm a nerdy girl and I love stuff like this. 

In the movie, the scenes leading up to the Yule Ball are the best. Ron and his dress robes, Fred asking Angelina to the ball, Neville practicing dancing. But mostly, this:

2. We meet the other Wizarding schools. I do enjoy in the books that the schools both seem to be co-ed, although I'm not sure any girls come from Durmstrang? But we get so much more interaction and personality with the foreign students, as opposed to the film when we just see Krum skulking down the beach. 

3. Visiting the house-elves in the kitchens. Dobby was not my favorite character in book 2, but he did grow on me in book 4. I also found it interesting that we got to see "normal" house elves for the first time. 

4. The Quidditch world cup setting... I love when they are walking around the campground, the descriptions of the fancy tents, wizard children on brooms and playing with wands, and of course - Archie, the old guy who is wearing a woman's nightgown and "likes a healthy breeze 'round his privates." I laugh at the part every single time I read the book. 

Not-so-favorite parts of GOF:

1. Rita Skeeter.
Rita: "This is cozy."
Harry: "'s a broom cupboard."
Rita: "Well, you should feel right at home then."

2. The shaggy haircuts (or lack thereof) that all the guys seemed to have in the film. Not a great look...

Ron's face in this picture hahahahaha

3. Ron's need for an attitude adjustment... we start all kinds of teenage drama in book 4. First he's mad at Harry for being forcibly entered into the Triwizard Tournament, then he's mad at Hermione because Krum likes her. So basically he's mad at both of them for circumstances beyond their control. Lamesauce.

Really though... Book 4 is the literal middle of the series and has the biggest turning point: Voldemort comes back. Before this book, we didn't have anyone on the "good side" die in the timeline of the series (other than Harry's parents, of course) - they all got some kind of reprieve. And suddenly, Cedric - who was a good character in the book even if he wasn't as strong in the film - gets killed for no reason. BOOM. (Side note: when Harry returns with Cedric's body in the film - the music - gorgeous. Chills each time.) The plot twist at the end is also crazy - upon first read, I never would have guessed that Moody was Barty Crouch Jr in disguise.

PS: I am wearing my Hogwarts shirt today, so... HP nerd all around.
Until later -

Sunday, September 8, 2013

HONEYMOON! post: Good table service eats at WDW

As promised, here is part two of our Disney dining experience from our honeymoon... our favorite eats!

Tutta Italia - Italy - EPCOT

Our first night in Florida, we went to Tutta Italia in Italy in EPCOT. It was interesting getting there because there was a downpour right after we crossed the International Gateway or whatever it's called. We had planned on kind of exploring the left side of the World Showcase and ending up in Italy, but the rain quite literally put a damper on our plans... LOL. We did the ride in Mexico, the American Adventure, and explored what was indoors in Japan while we were waiting for dinnertime.

It was so worth the wait.

I don't have pictures of the appetizers, but A. got the calimari and I got the Tortino de Zucchine. Both were really awesome.

I completely forgot to take a picture of my dinner before I started eating it, but I couldn't help myself. I took a recommendation from our waitress and instead of ordering something "safe" I got the "Filetto de Sogliola" - filet of sole with white asparagus, lemons, and capers. It was deeeeeeeeelicious. 

A. got the Gnocchetti - clearly you can see he is happy. : )

We both got the Tiramisu for dessert - you really can't beat it. 

We both honestly thought that this dessert was being delivered to someone celebrating a birthday, because after our tiramisu was done, a bunch of the waiters and bussers came around the corner, clapping and singing - in HARMONY - with this chocolate mousse complete with lit candles. We were both so surprised when they brought it to us and congratulated us on our recent marriage! What a great way to start the honeymoon.

Not only was our waitress fantastic and fun to talk to, the busboy was also extremely attentive and we also had a visit from the manager on duty. It was seriously the perfect way to start the week.

Spirit of Aloha Polynesian Luau - The Polynesian Resort

We were both excited for the luau, especially since we initially wanted to honeymoon in Hawaii. We traveled to the Magic Kingdom and then decided to catch the boat rather than the monorail to the Polynesian Resort. It was a great decision. The evening was gorgeous and the boat ride across the lagoon was very pleasant. 

When we arrived we had plenty of time to spare, so we walked around and checked out the resort. Very pretty! When we checked in for dinner, we got our pictures taken, got our leis, and then went to a holding area. After they opened the venue we were all escorted to our tables, already set up for each individual party, which was impressive. We had Category 2 seating, which was two table credits a piece for each of us. Unfortunately there was a large pole directly next to our table that blocked my view sometimes, even though we were in the very first row.

We went to the 8 pm show, so by the time we sat down to the appetizers, we were pretty hungry...

One of my favorite parts of dinner was the pineapple-coconut bread. It was sooo good. My favorite on the tray pictured above was the noodle salad, whatever it was - I didn't get to keep our menu from the evening and the one on isn't matching up with my picture. Oh well. The fresh pineapple was also delicious. 

We both got the "Island Breeze" which came with a souvenir cup. They were good but not mixed very well - probably because the bartender had to make a million at once. I was planning on getting the signature cocktail, Pele's Fire Punch, until A. pointed out that it involved plenty of alcohol and I am generally not used to consuming that much. : )

Ah, the main course. Ribs, rice, veggies, roasted chicken, and "island pork loin." I wish I had eaten less chicken and more of everything else, because I can eat chicken any time!

By the time dessert rolled out we were both stuffed. It was some kind of pineapple bread pudding, which I hardly touched because I was positive I could not eat another bite. 

Overall the show was good, the food was good, and the service was okay. I think next time we will probably try a different dinner show, though.

Wednesday's dinner was at Be Our Guest, which I reviewed in its own post. : )

Cinderella's Royal Table

When I called to make our dining reservations approximately 180 days in advance, I was shooting for a character breakfast buffet at Akershus in EPCOT. Instead, the guy who was helping me out noticed that there was a 10 AM opening at CRT for Thursday. This is practically unheard of, because all I read about was how difficult it was to get a reservation there and you had to call at the crack of dawn etc. etc. etc. So you can bet I snagged that reservation immediately! I WANTED A PRINCESS MEAL OKAY. I'm a grown six year old.

A. was such a good sport.

When we arrived we got our picture taken with Cinderella... while we were waiting, I found Jacques and Gus-Gus hiding in the greeting chamber. Can you see them?

Anyway, we went up to our table then for our breakfast. Our waiter was funny and also a good sport. After asking where we were from, he rattled off a list of Pittsburgh suburbs and western PA destinations. We asked if he had family up here and he said, "No, but we all get out of the castle once in a while..."

So we got an impressive little tray of pastries as an "appetizer" while we waited for our breakfasts to come out. I decided to just go for it and I ordered the "Lobster and Crab Crepes - warm cheese-filled crepes topped with spinach, sauteed lobster, and blue crab meat with a poached egg perched on top and draped in Hollandaise sauce" So. Good. (Side note: this is another reason I enjoyed the DDP - which was two table service credits for CRT, by the way - I wasn't worried about the prices of each meal when I was picking what I wanted to eat. I wanted to get the most out of what we paid for.) A. got a traditional breakfast.

We also got to participate in a "wishing ceremony" (or I watched it and A kept eating). I got a magic wand and A. got a sword. He acted like he was too good for it, you know, but then when we were unpacking he kept playing with his sword. I think it's his favorite souvenir. ; ) The princesses came around and visited each table and we got photo ops with each of them - Jasmine, Ariel, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty. 

It was a neat experience - the food was great and the service was terrific - but I don't think I'd try to get in again unless I had a little girl who really, really wanted to go. 

Fulton's Crab House - Downtown Disney

This was another instance when it totally POURED on us. We were booking it from the bus depot to the steamboat because we knew the skies were about to open. We got there just in time... but when we left it was storming pretty hard. This was unfortunate because we wanted to walk around Downtown Disney a little bit. I did get A. to go shopping but since it was raining, the stores were extremely crowded and we were both getting a little cranky.

Anyway. This was by far his favorite meal of the week and bar none our best service of the week. Our waiter was outstanding. We gave him an enormous tip because he totally deserved it. Disney has pretty great service overall, but... this guy. Wow. 

For appetizers at Fulton's, A. got calamari and I got clam chowder, which was great. We both liked the calamari though - it came with a really yummy soy-like sauce. So good!

For dinner we decided to go for broke and we both ordered the lobster. Here's the thing. I've never had a whole lobster before. I've had lobster tail, but cracking into a whole lobster was a little intimidating. I sat there for a few minutes struggling with my knife and fork, flinging small pieces of shell and fish into the aisle, when the waiter finally took pity on me, came over and cracked apart my entire lobster in a matter of seconds. He finished taking apart A's for him too, even though he was definitely faring better than I was.

Also, when he delivered the lobsters, he said "say hello to your little friends" as he set them on the table. Hilarious.

 I don't know why they put potatoes with this. Does anyone ever eat them?

He took a picture for us, too. 

And then... then we still had dessert.

I ordered key lime pie and A. ordered a chocolate creme brulee. Mine was good, but his definitely won.

Overall... a really awesome meal.

Saturday's meal was at the Rainforest Cafe', but we both felt rather "eh" about that so I have no pictures from the meal and not much to say about it either other than we will probably find somewhere else to go next time. After the week of amazing food we had, it was difficult to compete.

I'll put about our quick-service meals in another post because this one got super long really fast. It's just... we had a great week and I want to keep talking about it : ) I want to go back NOW!

Sigh. We'll get back there sometime soon, I hope!

Fun Wedding Facts!

I recently got this great wedding scrapbook off of Amazon:

My mom has something similar to this from her wedding, and I like looking through it... so hopefully someday my daughter will like looking through mine, too. : )

Anyway, one of the pages in the book lists fun facts about your guests... so here are some about mine:

Our wedding was in Pennsylvania, and we had guests travel from:
Washington, D.C.
New Jersey

Our oldest guest was 91 years old (my Aunt Sis).
Our youngest guest was 10 months old (A.'s cousin's son).

The guest with the most insane dance moves was definitely my brother. People are still talking about it.

We did an anniversary dance instead of tossing the bouquet/garter. The couple at our wedding who had been married the longest was married for 57 years (my grandparents). A.'s grandparents were very close with 56 years!

We're hoping we get our photos and video back soon. : )

Saturday, September 7, 2013



My Harry Potter Fix has returned after its summer hiatus!

This week's episode is a game of "Would You Rather..."

1. Have Ron or Hermione as a friend? 
Hermione. I feel like sometimes I'd want to bang Ron's head against a wall.

2. Be sorted into Ravenclaw or Hufflepuff? 
Well according to Pottermore I'm a Ravenclaw, and that's what I always kind of identified with before Pottermore... so definitely Ravenclaw. : ) Plus, if I was a Hufflepuff, what on earth would I do with my Ravenclaw scarf?

3. Attend the Yule Ball or the Quidditch World Cup? 
Yule Ball! I love dressing up, I love dancing and have little shame when doing so, and Christmas is the best. Quidditch would involve a sporting event with a huge crowd of screaming people, which is not my scene. I get really anxious in large crowds, especially noisy ones. Ahh!

4. Take a class in Potions or Care of Magical Creatures? 
I would probably do Potions. I really like baking and cooking and I feel like Potions would be similar. I don't know if I would be great at CoMC because I'm not much of an outdoorsy person.

5. Be a teacher at Hogwarts or be an Auror? 
Teacher... it's in my blood : )

Take it easy y'all... I know, two blog entries in one day. That just happened. There might be another one tomorrow. MIGHT. Don't go crazy or anything. : )
Be back soon!

HONEYMOON! post: WDW Deluxe Dining Plan & Sassagoula food court

Wow. Okay. So the past couple weeks have been a little nuts with school starting. I have been unbelievably busy between marching band, music lessons, and Penny appointments/entertainment. I'm pretty much tired all the time. Ew.

Anyway, I do want to write about one more aspect of our awesome Honeymoon to Walt Disney World before I forget... the FOOD!

So much food.

So much DELICIOUS food.

And I am splitting this up into two parts because it's turning into a giant of a review.

The Deluxe Dining Plan 

A. and I decided that we were going with a dining plan, which neither of us had ever used at WDW before (I've been there 3 times with my family, he was there once when he was younger). After picking the restaurants we wanted to get reservations for, we decided to upgrade our plan to the Deluxe Dining Plan - many of the places we wanted to eat required two table service meals, so it seemed to make sense. And mostly it did. It's just that the DDP has SO MUCH FOOD incorporated into it. It was a lot.

I am the kind of person that likes to be completely prepared (or as much as possible) for a vacation before I go, so when I couldn't really find much out about how to use the dining plan, I got nervous. Shouldn't have. It was so easy. Upon check-in at our resort, we were given a card that served as both our room key and park ticket. All of our meals for our dining plan were also loaded onto the cards. When we went to eat somewhere, all we had to do was present one of our cards (not both of them, so that was cool) to redeem our meals. Most waiters and cashiers were really good about asking if we were using our dining plan before the meal even started so that they knew how to guide us through the ordering process. When we got our bill or receipt, there would be a tally at the bottom listing how many meals and snacks we had left for our stay.

This is our receipt from our dinner at Be Our Guest

For the DDP, we each had three meals and two snacks a day - and since we had tickets for six days - that totaled 36 meals and 24 snacks. One of my friends (who is a Disney Vacation Club member) sent me this website before our trip - - which gave a lot of helpful info about what qualified as a snack, what was table service and quick service, etc. On the Deluxe Plan it doesn't matter what combination of table service and quick service you use for your meals. It also doesn't matter how many you use in a day. So on a day when A. and I would have a dinner planned that would use 4 table service credits, we could still both have breakfast and lunch with no problems. (Not that this ever happened - that would have been SO MUCH FOOD in a day.) Lunches and dinners included a drink, an entree, and a dessert. Most days I just used snack credits for breakfast, because I usually eat fruit and A. usually skips breakfast all together.

We also had refillable mugs, which were spectacular - we just each picked one and redeemed our credit for it at the check out of the food court in our resort. We were in the food court all the time filling them up with water, hot chocolate, pink lemonade, Diet Coke, etc. etc.

The Sassagoula Floatworks & Food Factory food court

We definitely took advantage of the terrific food court in our resort, the Port Orleans: French Quarter. Along with standard offerings, they also have some meals and snacks that give you a taste of the Big Easy. And that taste is so, so awesome. Definitely full of calories. But so worth it.

Our favorite meal at Sassagoula was definitely the Shrimp Po Boy:

The Po Boys came with a side of chips. We split a few of these because they are really giant sandwiches, but seriously - the fried shrimp and the sauce are both really good. A. was also a big fan of the brownies with fudge topping for dessert. (I liked them too, but he really liked them.) One of my other favorite foods that I tried at the food court was the Creole Burger. Yum! And of course, if you're getting a snack, you have to get the beignets:

You can see my refillable mug in the background.

The beignets are freshly made so they are still hot and fluffy and covered in powdered sugary goodness when you get them. Yum!

That's it for this post... See you later for more good eats : )

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

It's been a while...

...and I have so many things to blame! Not the least of which was the start of school last week. Yikes. Talk about a week of stress. Trying to start three music programs simultaneously is no joke!

Additionally, my dad has been battling another bout of MRSA (we all passed it around like a bad Yankee Swap gift about five years ago), which came about at a really inopportune time for him as he was getting ready to have surgery done for something else. Luckily he's got some pretty good doctors who have been taking care of him, and he's been following their directions to a T. Hoping he is fully recovered soon!

The weekend before school started I went with my mom to help my brother move into a townhouse from his apartment. It was kind of a spontaneous trip since my dad was out of commission. It was an exhausting weekend to have right before the start of school, especially given the tall skinny townhouse with three flights of steps. I also unintentionally lifted half of a very heavy sofa-bed over a banister by myself... so that was my Hulk moment of the year! Hooray for adrenaline!

Thank goodness for this Labor Day weekend, which I desperately needed to play "catch-up." I went home to see my family for a day, then drove back for a picnic with A's family, and then yesterday we just spent the day doing things around the house and spending time together. Consequently, today was so much calmer at school. I was less tired, more productive, less spastic, and more focused. Hopefully the kids see a difference. I kept telling them last week that I'm normally not so crazy. haha : )

Because things have been so nuts lately, I bring you my latest favorites from the Pinterest Humor board:

Have a good week everyone : )