Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Epcot International Festival of the Arts Fun

Epcot is hosting their 1st International Festival of the Arts.  It started January 13th and will run until February 20th, on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays.  Throughout the park are exhibits by various artists, with plenty to look at and buy.  Disney photographers are out in masse for an amazing addition of life size pictures that you can step into and become part of the famous painting.
shhhh don't tell her this is here LOL
The food offerings are artistic and yummy, both pleasing to look at and taste.  I like the giant cookie that looks like an artist’s palette of paints. In the evening, they have the Broadway Concert Series to listen and enjoy.  There are also seminars and workshops to learn various things from. 
Since it was my mom’s birthday this week, I treated her, Staci, and me to the Artfully Blending Tea workshop with Karon Cannon of the Tea Craze shop here in Kissimmee.
  She is a tea sommelier and spoke about the difference in teas, health benefits, and how to properly brew a cup.  Then she helped us all blend our own tea called Tranquil Moments.  It had chamomile, lemon grass, lavender, passion flower, and mint in it.  There is a definite recipe with specific amounts, but Staci and I had fun just mixing all of it together LOL.  It smelled a bit iffy until we added the mint, then all was well.

Over the weekend the three of us had created our own mickey ears to Disney bound with.  Staci decided to go bounding as the Cheshire Cat, so after the workshop we quickly made our way over to the England Pavilion to meet Alice in Wonderland.
  Staci was first in line and was so excited.  Alice was completely delightful and precocious, which Staci loved of course. Staci also loved having Alice fawn over her Cheshire Cat ears and doll.

The most fun we have had at the festival though was Figment’s Brush with the Masters Scavenger Hunt.  Figment the Dragon is hidden in paintings all over the World Showcase, and you must find him.  In each painting, he has either replaced the main image (think Mona Lisa with Figment’s face) or has been incorporated into the painting somewhere.
  Once you find him, you match up the corresponding painting’s sticker to the correct pavilion.  The paintings can be challenging at times to find, the frames are what help a bunch.  Each frame has Figment prominently front and center.  After you find all the paintings, you take the completed chart back, and you receive one of four different magnets, each featuring Figment in a famous painting.  Staci and I love scavenger hunts, so this was great fun.

Only two more weekends left for the festival then all that fun is gone.  Hopefully it will become an annual event.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

I'm Celebrating Being Drug Free


Sorry for the long post, but I considered this a public service announcement.

Since moving to Kissimmee, Florida life has been great, but not without its stress. The weather is phenomenal. The balmy weather makes it so easy to hop in the car, short drive, and I am at a Disney par.  I love that!!!  I have spent many days just strolling through the various parks, trying to experience everything.  On average at the end of those days I have walked about four to five miles.  My feet hurt by bedtime LOL. 
The stressful part, however, has been trying to find a job to fund those adventures. With two kids and a mom depending on me to support them, I was stressed.  I did not want to dip too far into my savings, because that money is for me to buy a home this year hopefully.  I managed to stay out of that fund, but my regular account took a major beating LOL Finally, I got an offer for a job that I wanted. I was so incredibly relieved.
So, time came for the dreaded pre-hire paperwork and physical.  Twenty-three pages to fill out.  Some poor tree sacrificed its life so that I could get a parking decal and benefits. Went in first thing in the morning for the physical, fully expecting a drug screen.  This is almost the norm for any job nowadays, especially in healthcare. Everything going fine, then she says I have to do a breathalyzer test!!! Uh oh I had just binged watched White Collar, and with all the wine drinking they do, I had a glass of wine the night before LOL ok I know one glass of wine, drank over fourteen hours ago would not show up, but I still felt my blood pressure go up.  Guess what…it was zero LOL.  I laughed.  Now time for the urine screen. Only worry there was trying to remember not to flush.
Then came the results. The nurse doing the test said “it’s positive for THC” what’s that? THC is the psychoactive part of marijuana.  She was saying my urine test was positive for drugs!!!  I thought she was joking at first. When I realized she wasn’t, my blood pressure spiked, my pulse raced, and my mind went into shock. I said run it again. I have never done drugs in my life. She did, and second one said positive as well.  I was in shock and near tears at this point.  I felt humiliated, as I protested, saying it was wrong, I was innocent, in my head I knew she had probably heard all of that before.  I demanded better testing, my integrity was being attacked, and my career was in jeopardy.  She sent the test results and the urine out to a real lab for further testing.  I left barely holding it together, bawling once I was in car.
All the way home I kept trying to think of how this had happened. I never have done anything. I am completely boring.  The glass of wine was my first in over five years. I thought since I sleep with window open, did somebody outside smoke and I breathed it in while sleeping? Did one of the small local restaurants I have been to use it in a recipe as a prank? How did it come up positive??? So, I hit google as soon as I stopped crying.
I had no idea, but it turns out those urine drug screens they use in emergency rooms and doctor’s offices are notorious for giving false positives.  All because of simple, everyday items people consume.  So, I thought I would share what they are. 
Cold medicines: a lot of them have pseudoephedrine in them which will give a false positive for amphetamines.
Tonic water:  also known as quinine water, can lead to a positive result for opiates.
B2 (riboflavin): since some riboflavin comes from hempseed oil, it can show traces of THC.
NSAIDs: these are common, over the counter, pain meds. Examples are Ibuprofen (Motrin), and naproxen sodium (Aleve).  Treating pain at home can lead to a devastatingly false positive for marijuana, barbiturates, or benzodiazepines.
Poppy Seeds:  Eat too many of these and you might test positive for opiates like opium and codeine.
Snack bars: Some contain hemp seeds, which again could lead to them saying you are positive for THC.
            It was the Motrin and Aleve that got me.  All the Disney walking, and sore feet, had me talking some on a daily basis.  I was also taking a multivitamin, and a multi B vitamin since those are good for stress.  Those added up in my system, and were detected with the test.  For three days, I suffered and fretted, waiting for the results to clear me.  When they called me, and said I was cleared I was so elated and vindicated.  I made sure they knew it was the common, legal medications that had turned against me. My integrity was once more intact.  If you want the link to the web page that gave me hope for those days here it is.

            So now I can joke about my so-called drug problem.  I joke how it’s been eight days clean and sober with my family.  If you must do a urine test in your career, make sure to tell them all the medications you take, even if they seem inconsequential to you.  They can have a big impact.  I can tell you this though, no more Aleve or Motrin for me. I am totally Tylenol now. I even went out and got a bubbling foot bath and Epson salts to help after park days LOL.  

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Hooray for The Disney Diet!!!

         We have now officially lived in Kissimmee one month.  I love living here so far.  One of the best things so far is the Disney Diet I unwittingly found myself following LOL Since there is always a good reason (or no reason) to go to one of the Disney parks, it has been easy to stay active.  Staying active has made it to where a lot of days I only have time for one good meal.  Like I said we have been here only one month, yet I am already down around 12 pounds. That is so awesome and I love it.  I wear a Fitbit that keeps track of my steps daily.  If a person walked fully around Epcot it would be 2.78 miles.  Around the Magic Kingdom is 2.17 miles.  Strolling around Hollywood Studios clocks in at 1.39 miles.  Exploring Animal Kingdom adds up to 2.27 miles. Finally shopping Disney Springs will accumulate 1.83 miles.  That is straight up, purposeful walking.  It doesn’t account for the meandering that also happens back and forth LOL.  I’ve never gotten out of a park with less than 5 miles counted on my Fitbit.   Since moving here it has counted for me 158,125 steps which per Fitbit equals 67.13 miles. So, I thought I would share just a bit of Disney diet encouragement to any who might like it.  When we go to Disney it is not for the purpose of getting a workout, it is just a bonus.
           We still snack, but instead of Mickey Bars we get a Dole Whip which has less than 100 calories per serving, and is fat free. When we are thirsty instead of grabbing a soda or latte, we get free ice water from the restaurants.  When it is time to eat instead of a regular adult entrée, we chose a kid’s meal. A lot of times it has enough food to fill you up, plus comes with a free drink and these snack packs of apples, grapes, or carrot sticks. Each meal scores you two snack packs. We just throw those in my little cinch sack and off we go.  When we are standing in a que, and need a pick me up, one of those snack packs is great.  All around the park there are healthy options to choose from.
            Our newest favorite is pickles and the popcorn buckets.  My new goal is to find all the collectible ones. Being in my 40’s it has seemed almost impossible to lose weight, but the Disney Diet seemingly has changed all that LOL.  I am excited to see the miles and steps add up on my tracker, and the pounds and inches fall off this year.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Strangest Chocolate Cake Ever LOL

Megan's Cake (Yummy looking huh?)
          So my friend keeps posting pictures of this chocolate cake she makes for all birthdays, special occasions, and days that end in "Y" LOL  needless to say I have been teased with images of this yummy looking cake a lot.  Finally I had enough, I begged for the recipe, and she gave it to me.  I was so excited.  I was finally going to make me this scrumptious looking chocolate cake.  I grabbed my daughter and off to the store, bubbling to her how I was going to bake her the most amazing chocolate cake ever.  What did I get in return??? "Mom I don't like chocolate, can we make vanilla instead?" now just imagine me banging my head repeatedly against steering wheel and you know what I looked like at that point LOL  it was either make that amazing chocolate cake and eat it all by myself (tempting) or just figure out how to tweak the recipe and turn it into a vanilla cake.  So that is what we did LOL  The base for the cake is really a chocolate cake mix with chocolate pudding mixed in. This new one was made with vanilla selections.
Staci & my Tropical Vanilla Cake
 The cake also called for veggie oil, well I am trying to do things a bit healthier so I substituted coconut oil. The recipe wanted sour cream so what did I use? Mango greek yogurt LOL For moisture it called for plain water, so of course that meant pineapple flavored coconut water. My decadent chocolate cake had morphed into a tropical vanilla cake. I still baked it in a bundt pan, and then made real buttercream frosting. OMG that stuff is too sweet. Since I was making it up at this point I swapped out vanilla extract for orange extract in keeping with the tropical flair LOL. Now my cake was my first attempt at doing things the homemade way, so it is far from perfect looking, but the important thing is: MY STACI DECLARED IT TASTED AWESOME!!! So I am happy.  I guess one of these days I will run a marathon and be able to make and eat the chocolate cake all by myself.  Until then it is doing things Staci's way, which ended up being a lot of fun.  If my friend ever posts her recipe I will update this post and link to hers. Hear that Megan???? I need a blog post with recipe now LOL

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Disney Springs Christmas Tree Trail - A Picture only Blog


          All of these trees were beautiful, I wish I had better camera skills to do them justice.  There were 15 trees by where I think the buses used to drop off people.  They were so cleverly decorated. As a bonus there were Christmas songs playing in background, and it was snowing!!! Disney is amazing, they can make it snow in Florida, even when the weather is in the 80's LOL
Mickey and Minnie tree

Alice in Wonderland tree


Beauty and the Beast tree


Cinderella tree


101 Dalmatians tree


The Princess and the Frog tree


Frozen tree


The Jungle Book tree


Mary Poppins tree


Villains tree


Lilo and Stitch tree


Tangled tree


Muppets tree


Mulan tree


The Little Mermaid tree



Sunday, December 11, 2016

Toy Story Mania Birthday


          Another year around the sun has passed.  I turned (gulp) 48 years old this weekend, and because of moving I felt all those years.  After unloading the truck, and finding the floor, I decided enough was enough.  It was time to celebrate birthday at Disney.  First was lunch at Chevy’s Mexican Restaurant.  I haven’t had their chips and salsa since Staci was an infant.  They were delicious as I remembered.  Afterwards it was off to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  For the first time, I got to park my own car and ride the tram.  It was kind of cool to show my annual passholder band and just get told to have a great day as they waved me through. No parking fees for me now.  The tram was fun and arrived quickly.  It dropped us off at the entrance.
  I am used to hiking from the resort bus stops LOL the giant tree out in front of the park was beautiful. Once through bag check I guess I looked suspicious because of course I get randomly picked to go through metal detectors.  I seem to always get randomly picked LOL finally I was in my element.  The décor at Hollywood Studios was glamorous of course.  Star garlands and lights lined the streets and Christmas music was heard all over the park.  We only had one fast pass for the day, so we just leisurely strolled around.  My son had not been there in years, so it was special for me to have him there with me that night.  Staci and I always go, and he always declined.  He even got into the spirit and wore a Donald Duck shirt and got one of the lighted necklaces to wear.  We explored and window shopped until it was time for our ride.  I had scored four fast passes for Toy Story Mania!!!
  Staci and I had been on it only once a few years ago, and my son and mom had never been on.  I was so happy to get passes for it.  For those who have not gotten to experience this treat, it is great.  For the ride guests wear 3D glasses, and ride in a 4-person car, that spins around from game to game.  The games are reminiscent of classic carnival midway games.  The ride que is filled with life size games that take a person back to the toys of their childhood.  Mr. Potato Head, View Master, Barrel of Monkeys, and Etch-a-Sketch were a few.
Lee and I took one car side, and Staci and my mom took the other seats.  The shooters had a string attached that you just pulled back on to shoot your targets.  The first game was a practice round to learn what to do.  In it you threw virtual pies.  Next up was Hamm & Eggs where Hamm and Buttercup invite you to knock down both moving and stationary barnyard animal targets using hardboiled eggs.  Then on to Rex & Trixie’s Dino Darts to pop balloons in front of a bubbling volcano in this game starring Rex and Trixie. After that was the Green Army Men Shoot Camp where players tossed baseballs to break plates at a green army men firing range. Next up was Buzz Lightyear’s Flying Tossers where he urged players to toss rings and make them land atop the Little Green Men.
 Finally, to score major points it was time for Woody’s Rootin’ Tootin’ Shootin’ Gallery where you shoot suction-cup-tipped darts at a variety of mine-cart targets in this game inspired by the “Woody’s Roundup” television show.  I scored 92,000 points, which I thought was good until I saw Lee had scored over 140,000 points LOL.  We all left laughing, smiling, and happy.  They all loved the game, which made me feel warm and fuzzy inside.  In addition to the warm fuzzies my old body was aching as so were theirs so we decided to call it an early night.  We stopped for a Frozen lollipop for Staci on the way out to the trams, and then made it back home, only getting lost once LOL.  Ten minutes after we got back home there was a knock at the door. Not expecting anybody, so nervously opened door, and lo and behold a gorgeous yummy Edible Arrangement from my friends RJ and Megan.  It was a perfect ending to the day.  I had a great birthday.



disclaimer:  I took none of these pics, all were borrowed from google LOL I was having too much fun strolling around, and did not take a single picture.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Enchanted Christmas Village

          We went to the grand opening of the Enchanted Christmas Village here in Jacksonville, Florida.  Staci loved it.  This is just pictures, I am too tired to make actual post, but wanted to still share.  Once the sun set the place lit up with Christmas lights everywhere.  I wish my iPhone could have captured the night pictures.  Nothing I snapped did it justice.  It is definitely worth a trip if you are within driving distance.
All Aboard!!!

Staci named him Jinglebell Rock

too much sweetness

free face painting

my beautiful snowflake princess

the decorations were gorgeous

free cookie decorating

also free to make gingerbread house

finally got her on a carousel 

still doesn't do the lights justice

hayride through a magical forest of lights