Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Thanks for the Memories

Happy New Year's Eve!  This past year has been such an odd whirlwind.  I'm tired.  When I look back at the last year it gives me the exhaustion.

At the start of 2014, I saw something on pinterest about keeping a yearly memory jar.  I loved the idea and put this jar on our mail credenza with a little tag that at one time read "2014 Memories."  Most of the writing has rubbed off because my dog keeps putting his nose on the tag.

Throughout the year whenever something fun or weird or terrible would happen, my husband or I would write it down on a little scrap of paper and throw it into the jar.  It was fun watching the jar fill up with these concealed moments of time.

Tomorrow we are going to open the jar up and read through all of the memories.  I'm hoping it will bring up a lot of "Oh yeah, I totally forgot that had happened!"  There are so many little things that happen in a year that seem really funny at the time but then you never think of them again.  I am excited to have this time capsule each year to remind us of the good times and bad.

I hope that everyone has a happy beginning of 2015.

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Curse of the Bodum French Press

My apologies for being so tardy in announcing my giveaway winner.  Our house has been hit with a sickness.  I love little babies, but I hate their germs.  Anyhow, congratulations to Anne B. who won the clutch purse.  Anne, I'll have it in the mail to you soon.

And now, a Christmas tale.

A few Christmases ago, I ordered a bunch of stuff from Crate and Barrel for Christmas gifts.  This huge box came filled with Christmas goodies.  Being that it was a few weeks before Christmas, I stored the box in a corner unopened.  That is online shopping mistake #1.  When you order something online, always, always, always open the box straight away.  You always want to check and make sure that you have the correct item or that the items aren't broken.

About a week before Christmas, I set out to wrap all of my gifts.  I opened the huge Crate and Barrel box and started pulling out a bunch of gifts.  I got to the bottom of the box and noticed two items that I hadn't ordered.  They were two Bodum french presses.

I was very confused as everything that I had purchased was already taken out of the box.  What were these extra french presses doing in there?  Also, I don't drink a lick of coffee.  I absolutely loathe the stuff so I had no need of a fancy coffee maker.  I immediately called Crate and Barrel.  The conversation with customer service went something like this:

Me: My order number is XXX.  I received everything in my order but also was sent two Bodum french presses that I do not want.
Customer Service: Let me look up your order.  No, there is nothing listed in your order that says you were sent a french press.
Me: Okay.  Except I just opened the box and there were two french presses in the box.
Customer Service: Really?  Are you sure they were in the same box?
Me: Uh…yes…I didn't take them out of another large Crate and Barrel box.
Customer Service: We have no record of sending them to you.
Me: Okay, well I have two of them that you sent me.  Is there a way that I can return them?
Customer Service: You can ship them back to us.
Me: I don't want to pay shipping for two items that I never ordered.  Can you have UPS do a pickup?
Customer Service: No, you will have to pay to send them back.  We will expect to receive them in 5 business days.
Me: What if I don't send them back?
Customer Service: Okay, that's fine too.  But if you didn't pay for them then you can't keep them.
Me: Okay so do you want to pick them up from me?  I just don't think I should have to pay to send them back to you when I never ordered them in the first place.
Customer Service: Well you can either not send them back and keep something you didn't pay for or you can send them back to us.

Leave it to Crate and Barrel's customer service to put me in a moral dilemma.  Do I unwittingly steal the french presses simply because I'm too lazy and cheap to send them back?  The answer to that question is yes.

I never sent them back and always felt bad.  One I gave away as a gift and the other I kept in my apartment because I had no other way of making coffee, and Mike liked to drink coffee.  I think he used it 3 times.  Now we have this french press box in our pantry cupboard that causes me a pang of guilt when I see it sitting there.

Fast forward to last week when I ordered a gift for my niece from Amazon.  I used our Amazon Prime account (which BTW, Amazon Prime sucks) and two days later this rather small box came to our door. I knew it had to be the aforementioned gift because I had not ordered anything else, but the box was so small.  I quickly opened it up because I no longer violate online shopping mistake #1 and gasped as I saw a Bodum French Press staring back at me.  It was like Bob Marley had come for me.

This had to be some sick joke.  I emailed with amazon's customer service and explained the mix-up.  They told me they were very sorry and would send me the item I ordered immediately.

"Okay, thank you," I wrote, "but what do I do with the french press?"

"You can ship it back to us," was their reply.

I still haven't decided what to do.  I definitely don't want another french press giving me guilt from the kitchen cupboards, but I also don't think that I should have to pay to ship something back to a retailer that I did not want in the first place.

What are the odds, though, that this would happen to a person more than once?  I understand that wrong items are shipped all the time, but the SAME wrong item?  This is a Christmas tradition that I could definitely do without.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Reflections of China

I'm coming to an end of my reviews of Epcot Center's attractions.  The only attractions I have left to review are movies.  Movies are a necessary evil at the WDW.  As Billy Bob Thornton tells the kid Thurman Murmon in Bad Santa when he replaces his advent calendar chocolate with a candy corn and Advil, "They can't all be winners."

So, hear me out.  Movies at Epcot Center are fine.  They aren't great, but they get you out of the sun and into the air conditioning and are usually visually beautiful.  But your kids probably don't want to sit through them.  Bribe them with a little bit of candy and you will be fine.

Reflections of China is the movie that plays in the 360 degree theatre in the China pavilion.  As I said above, the movie is fine.  It is visually stunning and the fact that you are immersed in the film because it's playing on all sides of you is entertaining.  The movie is a bit long, though.  And also outdated.  They updated the film in 2003, so almost 12 years have past.  It might be time for another update.

It's hard to judge the movies harshly because I don't think the film is bad.  It just is not what you and your kids are at Disney for, right?  But part of the World Showcase is learning about cultures, and so I think it is a good thing to expose your kids too.

If you don't see the movie, definitely venture back into the China pavilion.  Out of all the pavilions, I believe the China one has the best stores and restaurants.  Most of the stores have traditional candy and snack items from the country they are representing.  The snack section in the Chinese pavilion is huge and filled with lots of interesting treats.  It is definitely fun for a browse.  Plus they have really beautiful gardens and peaceful waterways in the back so it is worth the stroll.

I'm going to give Reflections of China 3/5 stars.  But the pavilion I will give 5/5 stars.

Monday, December 8, 2014

2014 Reading List

This year was a pretty good one for reading considering I had a baby in April.  If I had a nickel for every time someone told me I could forget about ever reading again after I had a baby, I'd be a rich woman.  I still read every night before I go to bed.  And when I first had Brigid, I actually read more because I would often read to her.  Since she had no idea what I was reading to her, I just decided to read her the books that I was reading.  Worked like a charm.

Here are the books that I read this year:

  1. The Bonfire of the Vanities (started in 2013)
  2. The Sleepeasy Solution
  3. Bringing Up Bebe
  4. The Ocean at the End of the Lane
  5. The Happiest Baby on the Block
  6. Out of Order
  7. The Black Dahlia
  8. Allegiant
  9. The Oath
  10. Scaredy Dog
  11. Atonement
  12. Crazy Rich Asians
  13. The Geography of Bliss
  14. Veronika Decides to Die
  15. Life After Life
  16. Iron Curtain
  17. A Clash of Kings
  18. Zeitoun
  19. A Visit From the Goon Squad
  20. The Light Between Oceans
  21. Simplicity Parenting
  22. The Fantastic Laboratory of Dr. Weigl (currently reading, but probably won't finish by end of year)
When I go through this list, I realize that I read some clunkers this year.  None of the books were the worst book I ever read, but some of them were pretty boring.  And none of them were great.  

Favorite Book: The Black Dahlia.  Although this was a hard one to pick.  I read The Black Dahlia fast and was really engrossed in the story.  One weird thing about reading this book was that I was about 3/4 of the way finished when I told my husband that I was reading this really great book.  He answered, "I'm reading a good book now too."  Then we realized that we were reading the exact same book.  We don't have the same taste in books at all, so this was super bizarre.

Worst Book: Out of Order.  I'm picking this one as the worst simply because it was so surprisingly bad.  Out of Order was written by Sandra Day O'Connor and is about the history of The Supreme Court.  It was the most boring book I have ever read.  No sense of humor, no good anecdotes.  Some other stinkers on my list are Allegiant, Iron Curtain, and Life After Life.  The book Life After Life got great reviews, but I didn't get it.  I would actually read it again, though.  The plot gets really confusing if you aren't paying close attention, and I read this while I was sleep deprived and pumping milk alone in the dark at 2:00 a.m.  I think it is definitely worth another read but for this first read-through it is on my worst list.

Best Parenting Book: The Sleepeasy Solution.  If you want a good book on how to get your baby to sleep, it is this book.  It is not preachy.  It is simply filled with valuable information about the science of sleep and why we need to take the time to teach babies how to sleep.  I really loved this book and often refer back to it when I have a question about my daughter's sleeping.  

I love to hear what other people are reading.  Let me know what your best and worst books of the year were.  I love to know what I'm missing out on or what I should skip.  

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Trunk Show & A Giveaway

A few days ago I had my very first Stella & Dot trunk show.  The afternoon was so much fun, and I was excited to show off all of the beautiful items that you can get from Stella & Dot.  You can still shop my trunk show at:

Here were some of my favorite items from the show.
I loved these two together.  This is the Somervell necklace in silver and the Rory necklace in black.  Normally I prefer a little bit of color in my jewelry, but these two dark pieces looked so sharp when paired together.  
I have always loved the Stella & Dot Pegasus necklace.  That was the first piece that I remember seeing at a trunk show and it got me hooked from day one.  It's a showstopper in person.
These bright pops of color had me thinking about spring.  The green necklace is the Linden necklace and the red and gold is the Coral Cay necklace.  Both would be so much fun to wear on a beach trip this winter…if there were a beach trip this winter.  
Here's a tray of lots of baubles.  Stella & Dot jewelry is not only adorable, but it is affordable too.  The average price of our pieces is $50.

I couldn't leave out the bags and other accessories.  I actually have multiple bags and love them all.  Some I use for work, some I use for going out.  The colors are so bright, and I always get compliments from other people. 

I am so excited to be starting this new business for myself.  And since it is the holiday season, I wanted to do something extra special and fun on the blog.  My first giveaway!  

That's right, starting today through Wednesday at 11:59 p.m. central standard time you can enter to win an Avalon Bracelet Clutch in Midnight Black.  Here's the beautiful clutch.

All you have to do is visit my trunk show at and leave a comment on the blog telling me your favorite piece.  For additional entries, anyone who books a trunk show in the months of January or February 2015 will get three additional entries into the drawing.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
I will announce the winner on my blog on Thursday morning.  Thanks to everyone for checking out my trunk show.  Send me a message if you have questions about Stella & Dot!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Maybe You Should Remove the Bin

I used to walk by this sign everyday at my former workplace.  I never understood it.  I'm sure there is a reason why there is an empty mail bin in that spot, but if so many people are throwing their mail in the bin that you need a sign to tell them to stop doing it…isn't the logical thing to just remove the bin?

Also, this seems like an overzealous use of the word WARNING!  What exactly would happen if you were dumb enough to drop your mail in this bin?  I always wanted to test it.  Would you be yelled at?  Would a piano drop on your head?  Would you be taken to jail?  Or would your mail just be stolen?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Thai Cashew Snack

I have been to pretty much every Thai restaurant in the Twin Cities area.  I have also been to many Thai restaurants around the country.  My favorite Thai restaurant is Supatra's on Seventh Street in St. Paul, Minnesota.  The restaurant is light and clean.  The staff is friendly and fun.  The food is fresh, spicy, and delicious.  I cannot impress upon you enough that if you are in St. Paul and craving Thai food, go to Supatra's!

When I go out for Thai food, I always have to get an appetizer.  Supatra's has great appetizers.  Some of the best are the Spring Rolls or the Stuffed Chicken Wings.  On their appetizer menu is one very simple dish that is perfect if you want an appetizer that is not going to fill you up too much.  I am referring to their Thai Cashew Snack.

After having this dish a few times, Mike and I decided to try it at home.  The recipe is simple (although not as good as Supatra's).  All you need are a handful or two of cashews, some fresh basil, cooking oil, and sea salt.  Here's what you do:

1. Get a frying pan nice and hot on the stove.  Then pour some (about a tablespoon) cooking oil into the pan.  Don't use Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  I recently took a cooking class and learned that you should not cook with Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  I know that everyone cooks with it, but when you heat Extra Virgin Olive Oil you cook out all of the good nutrients and actually make it worse for you than vegetable oil or canola oil.  Here's a rule of thumb, the more expensive the oil the less heat you put on it.  Rant over.

2.  Once the oil is heated, throw in your desired amount of unsalted cashews.  Normally I use a couple of handfuls for a tablespoon of oil.  Actually I use three handfuls for 1 tablespoon, but I have tiny, clown like hands.  So for regular hands it's probably 2 handfuls.

3.  After the cashews are getting nice and brown and covered in oil, sprinkle in some sea salt.  If you are using salted cashews then you can skip this step.  Do not over salt your nuts.  Normally I use about 1/2 teaspoon and then taste to see if I want to add more.  Remember you can always add, but never subtract.

4.  At the very end, take a few handfuls of fresh basil leaves and tear them into small pieces.  Throw them into the hot pan with the cashews.  Toss them around and get them coated in some of the excess oils.  You don't want to overcook the basil, but you want it to fry up a little bit.

5.  Once the basil is starting to fry, but not turning black.  Take the nuts off of the heat and serve them warm and toasty.  *If you are my husband this is where you pour cayenne pepper all over everything.  But I'd skip that step unless you need your food spicy.

This is such a simple snack to make for yourself at home.  I've tried making the nuts ahead of time and then keeping them in the refrigerator, but they don't turn out as well.  This dish is best prepared fresh and served hot.

If you want the real thing, head over to Supatra's!    

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Flume Gorge

The Flume Gorge in Franconia Notch State Park, New Hampshire, is not something that I ever would have thought to go and see.  When I was planning a trip to New England during the fall time, however, a co-worker had just been on this same trip the year before.  The one thing she suggested to me was a trip to The Flume Gorge.  

It's actually difficult to find a lot of information on The Flume Gorge other than it is a big ravine with waterfalls.  I looked in three different guidebooks and all they gave the ol' Flume was a small paragraph.  It would easily be overlooked if you are planning a trip to New England.  But let me tell you, friends, do not miss The Flume Gorge!  It is nature at its finest.

Here's my first piece of advice.  The Flume Gorge is difficult to locate.  I had it mapped out, but essentially you are driving through a huge national forest and there are not that many signs saying turn here for The Flume.  Plus there is no navigational service.  We had two phone navigational services and a Garmin and none could get service.  Luckily we had a paper map, but even that didn't have a good location for The Flume.  So, follow the tour buses.  We drove past the entrance to The Flume, but noticed a few tour buses turning at this unmarked road.  We turned around and on the other side was a sign for the entrance.  We probably would have missed it had we not turned around!

Right off the bat The Flume had me falling in love with this cute sign.  I love a good pun.  
 In order to see The Flume in all of its glory, you do need to do some hiking.  It's not a difficult hike.  There is a pretty clear trail and much of it is boarded so you aren't just walking in the dirt.  You are walking a lot of the way through the glorious Franconia Notch park.  In the fall the sites are breathtaking.  Here's my favorite covered bridge.  It looks so picturesque with the leaves.

The Flume starts off with some slow rivers of water coming down large rocks.  One thing that really struck me about this hike was the sounds.  You know that beautiful sound of running brook water that you get on a sound machine.  Well, The Flume is that exact sound only live.  It's almost haunting listening to the water get louder and quicker as you get to the top of the Flume.

 I loved how the above picture turned out.  You can see the water rushing down the rocks.  When I look at this picture I can hear the sound and smell the clean air.  That was another beautiful thing, you could smell the fresh water in the air.  Is that weird?

What wasn't so great was the littering I found in the stream!  Listen peeps, when you visit a state or national park please don't litter.  Please.  It's so gross.  Let's allow these beautiful natural monuments live on forever by keeping them clean.  PSA over.
 Once you get to the ravine, you do have to climb some steps, but I promise you the hike was manageable.  You can stop at anytime to take pictures or just take a rest.  The views are mesmerizing.  You get to watch the water rush down this huge cliff.  You feel like you are part of the action.

 The above photo is the top of The Flume.  It's amazing how such a small beginning can turn into this huge waterfall and stream.  Nature truly is wonderful.

After you see The Flume, you hike back to the starting point.  There are a lot of different trails that you can go down with views of the mountains and fall colors.  My favorite were the tree roots.  It reminded me of the Ents in Lord of the Rings.  I'm not really a nature person, but seeing things like this puts this city girl in awe.
If you are ever planning a trip to New England, stop by The Flume Gorge in New Hampshire.  You will not be sorry!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Me On: The Movies

Does anyone have time to go to the movies nowadays?  The last movie that I went to see was Catching Fire.  That was almost a year ago.  I was pregnant and the movie was 2.5 hours long.  I went to the bathroom three times during the movie and decided that the inconvenience of having to walk to the bathroom three times during a movie wasn't worth the steep ticket price.  I never went to a movie since them.

My problem is that from the commute to and from the theatre, the painfully long commercials and previews, and the increasing length of the actual movie, going to the movies is a good 4+ hour investment.  I don't have that kind of time.  Even when I have that kind of time I feel so guilty using over 4 hours to do one thing.

First, I have to say that I actually love previews.  When I was in high school I was supposed to meet a couple of girlfriends at the movies.  They were coming together and I was coming from work.  I told them not to be late because I didn't want to miss the previews.  I literally NEVER wanted to miss the previews.  Long story short, they were late and showed up about 1 minute before the movie's start time.  I met them in the parking lot, bluntly said "You are late and now I will miss the previews", and maturely stormed off to my car.  I missed the entire movie and threw a temper tantrum in front of my friends because I was going to miss the previews.  That's love right there.

But today, the previews are out of hand.  It's not just previews.  I have to sit through the commercial about Coke, then a commercial about the movie theatre I'm in, then the preview for the A&E special coming this spring, then you get about 6 previews of terrible movies all of which you've already seen in television commercials.  What happened to those good old days where the only place you could see the movie previews was at the movies?

Second, the length of movies is unbelievable.  I just watched A Million Ways to Die in the West which is a comedy that is two hours and fifteen minutes long.  That is about 45 minutes too long.  I can tell you for certain that one way to die in the west is from boredom of the last 45 minutes of this movie.  I would say that most movies do not need to be longer than 2 hours.  There are some really good dramas that are acceptable when the go over the two hour mark.  But a comedy should never, ever, ever be longer than 1 hour and 45 minutes.  It's just not necessary.  Directors - I'll mail you a pin to pop your ego balloons.  No one wants to watch a bloated movie of crap that could easily have been left on the editing room floor.

Third, the price of movies is most definitely prohibitive.  Every single time I go into my movie theatre it seems as if the price has risen.  And they certainly aren't doing anything to improve the theatre, so I'm not sure where that money is going.  For two people to go to the movies and get popcorn and a soda you are paying the price of a nice dinner out.  I'd say one way that the theaters can really cut back is the size of the refreshments.  If anyone is drinking that much soda in three hours they should be bitch slapped.  

I used to love going to the movies, but now it seems like so much work.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

RAD - Olympic Speed Skating Uniform Makers

It's back!  Random Acts of Douchebaggery has a whole lot of new content coming your way.  This is an oldie, but one that's been stewing in my brain for awhile.

As you all know, I aggressively love the Olympics.  This past February, for the Sochi Olympics, I watched the coverage every night.  I was there with Bob Costas when he had the pink that was so bad they booted him from the air.  I was there when the heat wave melted all of the snow outside so the snowboarders were all falling and getting injured.  And I was there when the USA's speed skating team sucked it up big time.

They were terrible.  And speed skating is not that fun to watch unless your team is winning.

I have a theory for why they sucked.  Maybe the costumes had something to do with it?  Who did this to them?  WHO?  I want names and addresses because this is terrible.  I'm sure that there is some scientific reason for the gray circular patch of fabric right in the crotchal region, but science be damned that shit is not right.

So I'm RADding the uniform makers, but also every person who looked at a USA team member in this uniform and said "Alright, let's get out there!"  

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Favorite Things - Stella & Dot

Now that I am a Stella & Dot Stylist, I wanted to share a few of my favorite items just in time for the holidays.  There are some great sales on the website right now, as well as the Dot Dollars promotion.  Spend $50 now through December 15 and you will receive $25 Dot Dollars to spend on a purchase made from December 30 - January 7.  As I look at it, buy a gift now and something for yourself after Christmas.  A win-win!  Check out my site at

Here are some of my favorite items.

I love this little bracelet for a Christmas gift.  It has a great price point at $19 and comes with the cutest packaging.  It has it's own little envelope with a beautiful foiled gold pattern on it.  This would be great in a stocking.  It would be great for a family member who needs a little extra luck.  It would be a cute gift for a hostess or for your child's school teacher.  At such a great price you can buy more than one!

One of the first Stella & Dot items that I bought was a scarf.  Then I bought another.  Then another.  During the winter I almost never take the scarf off.  Their scarves are a great quality and are huge.  They are a full-sized scarf that you can style in multiple different ways or wear as a shawl.  The scarves come in multiple colors and patterns.  All are priced at $59, but right now a few are on sale at great prices!  You will not be disappointed with this purchase.  In fact, you will probably thank me for the suggestion.

I'm a bag lady.  Or as my husband would say, a bag hoarder.  I love a good bag.  The Getaway bag is amaze balls.  Look at it!  It fits an entire baby, and that's before it's extended.  Yes, that is right…this bag can be extended!  There is a zipper towards the bottom that zips out an extended part of the bag.  Bring it on a weekend trip in the smaller form, and then extend it to accommodate all of your vacation purchases.

The Devon Layering Necklace would be great as a gift or for yourself.  The necklace is OMGSOLONG.  You can layer it in multiple ways so you just wear it how you like it on that particular day.  It is so versatile, gets you many compliments, and is only $49.  It comes in both silver and gold.

The Petra Braided Bracelet is one of my splurge items.  This picture does not do it justice.  The bracelet is large, so it makes a statement.  That statement is "Hello, I am gorgeous and sparkly and just plain fabulous."  Mixed in with the chain links are multiple rhinestones, so the bracelet catches the light and really sparkles.  It would add a dramatic finish to a holiday outfit.

There are just some of my favorites.  It was hard to pick because I love it all!  Check out my website for more lovely items,  Let me know any questions that you have and happy shopping.  Act fast for Black Friday deals and Dot Dollars.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Babies Like Cheap Things

Brigid loves looking at and playing in the water.  She squeals with delight when you pour water over her hand.  I noticed awhile back that her daycare had this water-filled lily pad.  The kids always seemed drawn towards it, and I wondered if I could make something similar at home.

I found an idea for water sensory bottles and decided to try it out.  All I needed was an empty plastic bottle ($1.25), water (free), and something to stick into the water.  I had these crafting pom pom balls and thought they would be perfect.  I think I got the pom poms for under $2 at the craft store.

I cleaned out the bottle thoroughly since I knew the baby would be putting it in her mouth a lot.  Then I filled it up 3/4 of the way with water.  Don't fill it all the way, otherwise you won't get that sloshing effect that babies love to watch.  You could also put some food coloring in the water to give it a different color.

After filling it with water, I took a few handfuls of the pom poms and stuffed them into the top.  To my surprise, the pom poms actually float in the water as if they are suspended.  I would highly recommend using the pom poms as I'm not sure you would get the same effect with sequins or something like that.

To cap it off (PUNNY!) I put some hot glue on the cap so that it wouldn't come off the bottle.

Brigid absolutely loves this toy.  In fact, she prefers it to other toys.  She loves watching the pom poms float in the water and also loves when you shake the bottle so it all looks like it is caught in a windstorm.  The entire craft cost me under $3, but it's given Brigid hours of enjoyment.

I also love these bottles because they remind me of the popular 1990's drink, Orbitz.  Did anyone else get Orbitz.  I bought three bottles because I thought they looked so cool.  Then I tasted one.  It was nasty.  I almost puked.  The other two bottles remained on my bookcase looking cool for about 10 years.  Teenagers are so weird.

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Million Dollar Dog

Let me explain what you are seeing here.  This is a dog laying in a bed wearing a t-shirt and boxer shorts.  Here is the story of why our dog had to wear a t-shirt and boxer shorts.  Spoiler alert: he liked wearing clothes and he's allergic to everything (he's even allergic to the clothes that he's wearing).

At some point in our first year of owning Kirby we started noticing that he was chewing on his tail.  We tried to stop it, but we came home one day to find that he had chewed off a huge patch of hair on his tail.  Then we started noticing these sores all up and down his belly.  The first diagnosis was that he was bored or suffering from separation anxiety and that the chewing and excessive licking would stop eventually.

From that point on, the chewing and licking increased and the sores kept returning.  The pattern would start with us noticing an increase in licking and chewing, usually Kirby would run off to another part of the house so we wouldn't stop him.  Then he would get these dry patches or hot spots all over his skin.  Then those patches would start turning red and then black.  The sores would spread rapidly over his belly, groin, legs, thighs, and chest.  It was awful.  He was on medication all of the time.  He started learning that if he made a swallowing motion we would think he had swallowed his medication, and then he'd go spit it out in a corner somewhere.  We tried Neosporin on the sores, but he just ate most of it off of himself.  We sprayed him with hydrocortisone lotion and he hated it.  We tried fish oil pills and would hide it in his food.  If we hid the capsule he would simply eat around it, if we put the oil on the food he might not eat it.  Our last resort was to have Kirby wear clothes while he was in the house.  He actually loved it.

Finally this summer we were told that they were seeing a pattern to his itching and licking.  They thought it could be allergies and recommended we take him into a doggie dermatologist for an allergy test.  

We had his appointment set for this Tuesday.  Both Mike and I were anxious to find out what was wrong with the dog.  If it were allergies, then there was a treatment for him that is effective in 70% of dogs.  We had been warned that it could be expensive, but it would help him out in the long run.  

The doggie dermatologist gave Kirby a light sedation and then shaved a patch of his fur off and proceeded to prick him with about 70 different allergens.  After 30 minutes we had our results…Kirby is highly allergic to everything.  Okay, not everything but almost everything.  The vet said she had only ever seen a couple of dogs be as highly allergic as Kirby.  Here is the list of things Kirby is allergic to: dust (he's living in the wrong house for that), cotton (so his clothes were actually hurting him when we thought it was helping), all weeds, all grass (so all of that grass eating and rolling was killing him), and all trees (he also likes to eat leaves).  Basically it's hard for him to be indoors and outdoors.  As if he wasn't high maintenance enough!

We left the vet with this fun assortment of items:
This consists of two different sets of allergy shot serum, ear flush, ear drops, prednisone, multiple different types of needles, and a biohazard container for the needles.  All for a dog.  Oh, and remember how they told us it was going to be expensive?  Because Kirby is allergic to everything they had to double the allergy serum and so it will be double the expensiveness.  Oh Kirby.  Since Brigid has been born he has reminded us that he will always be more work than a baby.  But we love him anyways.

And after his big day, he got special cuddles from his favorite gal pal.  
As you can see, these two are working on their relationship.  Kirby looks thrilled, right?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Monster's Laugh Floor

Disney loves people with senses of humor.  They like to do a lot of audience participation gags, and so love to call out random people in the audience and poke a little fun at them.  They love it when they get show boaters who can take the joke and have fun with it.  I am absolutely not one of those people.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you the one Disneyworld attraction that I will never again go to.  In fact, I'd call this the most horrible of the Disneyworld attractions.

Fun fact about me: I am really great at public speaking.  I can rock any kind of prepared speech or presentation.  But I hate being called out in front of a large group of people.  It actually makes my blood run cold and my bones go rigid.  I can't move, think, or speak.  It's the most awful feeling in the world.  You can imagine how I felt about the socratic method of teaching that law schools use to question you during classes.

When Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor first opened in Tomorrowland, I was excited to try it out.  I loved the movie Monsters, Inc.  It's still one of my favorite Disney movies.  I remember going into the theatre the first time completely unaware of what was going to happen.  I thought it would be a fun little movie where the seats squirted water at you, like Mickey's Philharmonic in Fantasyland.  I was wrong.  Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor is nothing like that.

Here's the setup, Monsters, Inc. needs to collect laughs to refill their power source.  So they are going to do this comedy show to get the crowd laughing.  Comedy is great, but this comedy was at the audience's expense.

What transpires in the 15 minutes that you are in the theatre is horrific.  There is a camera somewhere that randomly selects people in the audience and puts their picture up on a screen in front of HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE.  Then they make fun of you.  I'm not even joking.  Everyone in a room is laughing at a joke made at your expense.  It's absolutely terrible.  You never know if your ugly mug will be the next one projected onto a screen the size of a movie theatre screen.  The anxiety that swept through me during my one and only time at the Laugh Floor attraction probably took a year or two off of my life.

I walked out safe because I didn't make it onto the big screen, but I vowed to never again step foot in the Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor.  This attraction is truly terrible.  Skip it.  Always skip it.  It's my dream to give the Laugh Floor its final and eternal shepherd hook.

Zero stars.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Last Dance

Last Friday was my last day at work.  I loved my job, but my boss retired and my employment was tied to hers so I had to leave.  I have never been good with change, so my plan was to just deny that it was happening and break down when I got home.  This would have been a great plan except on your last day of work everyone wants to remind you that it's your OMGLASTDAY.  So, I couldn't really deny. Luckily my makeup held up through the day.

I decided that I wanted to treat myself on my last day.  The biggest treat at work was going to lunch at The Saint Paul Grill.  "The Grill" is a fancy restaurant attached to the fanciest hotel in the city, The Saint Paul Hotel.  I'm a bit partial to SPH as our wedding reception was held there, but I have actually loved it for years.  I often went to lunch at their more casual restaurant, Mike and I have gone there to celebrate special occasions, the bar has great champagne cocktails, and they have a fabulous tea service.  If you have never done their high tea service you are really missing out!

I had made a plan, I was going to lunch by myself (avoiding anyone who wanted to talk about my last day) at the Grill.  I was going to have their glorious Landmark Salad and probably a side of french fries.  Don't judge!  A last day at work deserves french fries.  I was also going to have a glass of Diet Coke.  At the Grill you get your Diet Coke in an adorable little glass bottle.  It makes me feel like I'm in a commercial.  This plan was the only happy thing in my last day of work.

I got to the Grill just a smidge before noon to beat the Friday afternoon madness.  I asked the hostess if I could sit at a table in the bar.  "Is it just you?" she asked.  Yep, just me.  She told me to pick a table in the bar area then.  I went to one of the high-top tables.  A waiter quickly brought me a glass of water and asked if I needed a menu.  He quickly came back with a bread basket and a menu.  My lunch hour was off to the perfect start.

Then I waited.  You know how terrible it is to eat alone at a busy restaurant.  I mean it's super horrible. You feel like people are looking at you.  Even though no one actually is looking at you because no one cares about you, you still feel like you are the center of every one's world and they are all wondering why you are dining alone.  That is the self-centered but glorious truth of eating by yourself.

I persevered.  I didn't care if people were looking.  I just wanted my salad, fries, and Diet Coke.  But as I sat alone I started to think about my job ending and I got a few tears in my eyes.  The couple next to me definitely looked over as I tried to sniff them away.

Then I had that moment.  That awkward dining moment where you realize that everyone sitting around you was seated after you but has already received their entrees.  I don't handle this moment well.  I have hanger issues.

I realized that I had been sitting at the table by myself with only a bread basket to talk to for 35 minutes.  But I had eaten an embarrassing amount (read: all) of the bread.  I wasn't sure what the bread basket etiquette was.  I had to be back at work at 1:00 p.m. for a meeting, so didn't have time anymore to order.  Did I leave a few dollars for the bread?  Where the hell was my waiter?!  I couldn't hunt anyone down to give them my last three dollars for eating a half loaf of bread!  But if I just left I didn't want to look like a thief.

I ended up going up to the bar and waiting for a bartender to come out of the kitchen area.  When one finally did materialize I tried to had her $3 for the bread and she said "You don't have to pay for bread and bad service."  So I left a carby, bloated, teary mess.  I was also hangry.  Luckily Mike had gotten me donuts that morning, and I still had one left.

And that, my friends, is how I will always remember my last day of work.  

Friday, August 29, 2014

How the Media Was Dumb

I went through a long period of my life where I did not watch the news or read the newspaper.  I was embarrassingly uninformed.  When I started to get interested in the news again, my main source was from the internet.  I would scan my local newspapers and read the articles that were of interest to me.  I can say that I probably had not watched the news for a good 5 years. 

As I began my maternity leave, I started to watch a lot of television.  And finally I was home and awake in the mornings, so I wanted to start my day off with a dose of what is happening in the world.  I tuned into the morning news show that I grew up watching, Good Morning America.  If you asked me in one word to describe that news program today it would be: dogshit.

I tried out every morning news program and they were all the same.  They were chock full of stupid, insipid, candy-ass content and for maybe 30 seconds they'd tell us about some fighting going on in the Middle East.  There was not one ounce of quality news reporting going on in those morning programs.  Watching those shows really got me thinking about the dumbing down of American media.

Then a few weeks ago, I listened to a wonderful program on NPR's The Diane Rehm Show.  The program was titled Judging the Credibility of News in the Digital Age.  It's definitely worth a listen if you have the time.  The takeaway from the program was that we really need to be careful about where we are getting our news from and whether it is accurate reporting.  Because today we can get "news" from anywhere, but we don't necessarily know the value of that news.  Was it fact-checked?  Who are the sources?  Was the story typed out by a unicorn in Westeros?  In the digital age, we can never be sure.

One of the most fascinating statements made on a show was by a journalist who was providing commentary.  She stated that in the last few years her most fact-checked story was a story that she wrote for O Magazine.  Do you get your hard, important news from O Magazine?  The journalist said this was a stark contrast from years prior when journalists had to back-up everything in painful detail.  But, now, in the digital age, we don't always have that luxury.  People can upload a photo to Twitter or Instagram in a second and *BOOM* it goes viral and they have scooped the  newspapers.  But no one fact checks that shit.  No one.

I've been thinking more and more about this in light of the story out of Ferguson, Missouri.  At work, during a criminal jury trial, one of the questions that is always asked of the jurors is: Have you had experiences with the police that make you unable to fairly weigh the testimony of a police officer?  In other words, do you hate the police because of a past experience or love them because of a past experience.  What we are looking for is a neutral juror.  A juror who can hear the testimony of a police officer and judge the credibility without allowing their past experiences to cloud their judgment. 

I would say the media is not a neutral juror when it comes to the police.  I would say the media loves to tell us shocking stories.  And it's more shocking to be stating that "police shoot unarmed man" than it is to say "we don't have all of the facts and are going to reserve judgment at this time." 

I miss those days in the media when we could really rely on what we were reading and seeing.  I miss hearing sweet Peter Jenning's voice tell me about what is going on in the world.  That might be less about the state of the media today and more about how much I loved Peter Jennings.  Ultimately I just miss having good news programs to keep me informed about the world and my community.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

A Wedding Color Story

Photo Credit: Erica Loeks Photography
I got married kind of a long time ago.  But I still love poring over photos of weddings, especially photos of my own wedding.  One of my favorite parts of planning my wedding was choosing a color scheme.  I had a lot of different ideas floating around in my head ranging everywhere from all white to all black to everything in between.  Then one night I had a full vision: bright green and royal blue.  A week or so after my vision, Emerald green was named Pantone's color of the year.

Because I was going with such bold colors, I knew that the reception could get tricky.  How do you use  the colors without overusing the colors.  Here's where I think it's crucial to work with a wedding planner.  Wedding planners have seen it all, and they have a great knack for reigning in the crazy.  I had a fabulous wedding planner, Stephanie Johnson of Park Place Planning, who helped me see my vision without overdoing it.  I cried a lot on my wedding day, but I have to say that walking into the reception ballroom took my breath away.  It was months worth of effort and agonizing over every single decision.  When I walked into that room I saw my very vision come to life.  It was one of my favorite moments of my wedding day.

Photo: My Own
Flowers: La Petite Fleur
There were two areas of wedding planning where I really wanted to see my vision shine through: the flowers and the linens.  I am lucky enough to be friends with an amazingly talented florist, Carra Otten of La Petite Fleur.  The flowers were actually easy because I went into a meeting with Carra, told her my color scheme, told her I like sequins and shiny things, and asked her to work her magic.

Photo Credit: Erica Loeks Photography
Flowers: La Petite Fleur
The flowers were nothing short of perfection.

Having nice linens at your wedding is worth it.  It ties everything together.  I went back and forth on where I should spend my money and where I should add color.  I have one major tip for spending money on linens.  I wasn't going to do chair covers at first.  I talked to multiple people who work in the wedding industry and the answer was emphatically and unanimously the same: chair covers are a must. They can get expensive, but weddings are expensive.  And nothing can ruin all of your hard work in decorating than a gold and teal chair clashing with your pink and white color scheme.  For the love of Pete, people, use chair covers.  Or don't, whatever, it's your wedding.

I went with chair covers, and I never looked back.  In the end I chose a kelly green tablecloth for all of the round tables, white chair covers with royal blue sashes, and royal blue napkins.  Then for the head table, I decided on an all white look.  White cloths, white chair covers, and white sashes.  I think it turned out sensational.

I know this look is not everyone's cup of tea.  It's definitely bold, but that was what I wanted.  I loved the brightness and the clean lines and thought it was the perfect mix of preppy and modern.  Speaking of modern, when I was at the linen rental showroom shopping for linens, I stumbled upon these clear, acrylic candelabras that I could not live without.  We used three of them on the head table and they literally made my entire night.  Every time I see photos of them I talk about buying one for my home.
Photo Credit: Erica Loeks Photography
If you want to plan a colorful wedding, I say go bold or go home.  I also say hire a wedding planner because nothing is worse than decor that is ugly because someone took the expression go bold or go home literally.

I leave you with one last image of how color can really beautify a wedding.
Photo Credit: Erica Loeks Photography

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

What Does the Pump Say?

Before having a baby, I knew one thing for certain.  I was not going to breastfeed.  Save me your speeches on why breast is best.  I don't care.  While I wasn't going to breastfeed, I was all for pumping.  Once I was pregnant, my decision was set.  I would pump out gallons of milk and my child would be fed breast milk until she was six months.  Life had other plans for me.

First, right after I had my baby I was told to try breastfeeding.  I was too tired to argue and had a sudden change of heart.  Why not just try it?  Try it I did...and failed.  I ended up having a c-section and no matter what anyone tells you there is absolutely no comfortable breastfeeding position after a c-section.  They all cause pain and discomfort.  But every few hours I would try and wind up crying and frustrated.  Multiple times I asked for a lactation nurse to come in and help.  She never came.  Then I started asking to pump.  This request was quickly granted. 

This was how I became a pumper.  Although this post isn't actually about breastfeeding or pumping.  It's about how getting very little sleep does strange things to your mind.

When we left the hospital, pump in hand, I had no idea how weird the act of pumping was.  But it's really weird.  If I was lucky and no one but my husband was in our house, I could pump in front of the TV and watch Southern Charm.  That was my favorite.  If I was unlucky, I'd have to sit alone in a darkened room bawling out my post-pardum tears while my child cried in another room.  It's as awful as it sounds.

When I first tried pumping, I couldn't help but marvel at the odd sounds the machine made.  It was loud and rhythmic.  It almost had a certain melody to it.  I quickly noticed there were two distinct noises.  There was an initial noise that was made up of longer, drawn out notes, followed by a second noise that was short and staccato.  These noises haunted me because I felt like they were saying something. 

Then one day in a sleepy stupor, I heard the pump speaking to me.  At first it was saying "Grab hold! Grab hold! Grab hold! Grab hold!"  Then after the letdown it appeared to say "Pump! Pump! Pump! Pump!"  I thought I was going nuts.  I asked my husband if I was losing my mind, or if he could hear the words as well.  The concerned look on his face let me know he thought I was crazy but was too sweet to say it to my face.  I love that guy.

For days I would sit with my pump hearing these words: Grab hold! Pump!  Then some days I would hear different words.  One pumping session I disturbingly heard the words Grandpa! and Mom!  I googled it multiple times to see if other women heard these words being spewed from their breast pumps, but to no avail.  I was the only nut who swore her breast pump spoke. 

Once I started sleeping a little more, the words went away.  I realized that the noises were just the mechanical iterations of air being sucked through a tube.  It made pumping that much more lonely. 

Those first few weeks of sleepless days and nights with a newborn are no joke.

An Aside: Alternative title post: "This is What it Sounds Like When Pumps Cry"

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Tights Can Be Tricky

A few years ago, I was fresh out of law school and had just passed the bar exam. I was also unemployed. On top of all of that, my grandma had been sick and in the hospital for a couple of weeks. It wasn't the best time of my life.

I had gone on a few job interviews but really wanted to spruce up my resume. I promptly made an appointment with my law school's career counselor. It was set early on a Wednesday morning. Long story short, I ended up at the hospital with my grandma into the wee hours of that Wednesday morning. I went back home, got a couple hours of shut eye, and then had to get up and go to my career meeting. I was stressed, tired, and frazzled. Not the best combination, but I needed the help with my resume and decided that I should keep the meeting.

As I was getting ready, I realized that I was almost totally out of black tights. It was freezing cold out, but my most professional looking suit was a skirt suit. I was too tired to find a pants option, so I decided to just pull out a pair of tights, throw on the suit, and go with it. Because what could go wrong?

After getting dressed, I hopped into my car and drove the 20 minutes to my law school. The law school that I went to is in the city and has limited parking. The best parking options are on the street, but you are lucky to get a parking spot that is less than a 5-minute walk. At -20 degrees, even a 5-minute walk can be brutal.

It was a particularly cool and windy morning, so I decided to drive around the blocks a few times to see if I could manage to snag a spot close to the school's main entrance. As my terrible luck would have it, the closest I could get was four whole blocks away. I expertly parallel parked my car and braved the elements for my walk into school.

Here's where the story gets a little interesting. As I begin walking towards school, I begin to feel the top of my tights creep down my stomach. It was just a little slip and slide but definitely noticeable. The faster I walked, the more I noticed the tights slipping around. Damn, I thought. I must have grabbed a pair of tights where the elastic at the top was wearing out. I made a mental note to stop in the restroom before my meeting to readjust myself.

As I got closer to the school, I was getting panicked about my tight situation. They were no longer on my stomach, and they weren't even covering my belly button. Nope. The only thing that was holding up these tights was my rear end. But my gluteus was proving to be no match for the slippery nylon as I could feel the tights moving down my rump.

Luckily I was extremely close to the school entrance, and there was a restroom right inside the front door. I ran a few steps and dashed into the restroom. As I got into a stall, I assessed my situation. The tights weren't as far down my butt as I had originally thought, but the elastic was completely gone from the top. At first I thought about ditching the tights, but it had been a few days since my last leg shave. As long as I could get through the meeting I thought I'd be fine. And the tights weren't going to fall off while I was sitting down.

I made it through my meeting just fine. My resume was polished up and shiny as a whistle. I was feeling empowered and ready to attack my job search with gusto. But first, I needed to once again brave the cold Minnesota air and get to my car.

I walked the first block without noticing much movement from the tights. Everything seemed kosher. I can totally make this, I thought. The second block proved more difficult as I could feel the tights moving. At this point, they were basically riding right along the largest peak of my ass. I thought if I walked with my butt sticking way out, then maybe the tights would stay where the were. Gravity, right?

Wrong. At the start of the third block I could see my car pretty far in the distance and my tights were no longer around my ass. They were hitting at my upper thighs and had a mind of their own. These tights wanted off my body. I spread my legs out real wide and started walking like one of those green army men from Toy Story. I was definitely attracting some attention from passing cars, bikers, and those crazy St. Paulites who love to walk in the winter.

But I was so close to my car, I just couldn't give up. And even if I wanted to give up…where would I go. I couldn't just take my tights off in the middle of the street. No, my only option was to make it to my car.

My wide-legged walk worked for about half of the third block. By the second half, the tights had beaten my walking game and were now inching down my thighs with each step. It was getting embarrassing. My skirt was about an inch above my knee, so by my calculations I only had another inch before the top band of my tights was actually below my skirt line.

To make matters worse there were two women walking towards me with a dog. They were going to see all of my embarrassment. Then I turned around and a couple blocks back I saw a guy jogging towards me. Great. An audience just when I need it most.

With my tights just an inch above my skirt line, I make a crucial decision to start running towards my car like a maniac. I figured that maybe my speed could beat the tights' speed. So, I run. In 3-inch heels and a tight skirt. It wasn't pretty. By the end of the third block, my tights are around my knees. I am just a couple of feet from the ladies with the dog, a few feet from the jogger, and many more feet to my car. But I keep running. I was committed.

As I start up the fourth block, there was no denying what had happened. My tights were now around my ankles like shackles holding my feet together. I couldn't really run in full strides due to the tightness of my skirt, the height of my heels, and now the tights around my ankles. The ladies with the dog stopped to gape. I think they thought I had been attacked. The jogging man slowed down as he passed me and asked if I needed help? Sir, I thought, I'm an unemployed law school graduate who is standing on the sidewalk in the middle of winter with her tights around her ankles. So, yes, clearly I could use some assistance.

I stopped running when I was about two car lengths away from my vehicle. I slowly walked the rest of the way, all of that vim and vigor from my meeting completely washed out of me. This is an important lesson for a woman in the workplace: always check your tight bands for elasticity.

Things I Don't Understand: Blogs

I read a lot of blogs.  A LOT.  I actually would consider myself a fine analyst of blogs.  I'd brag about it, but it actually is not an amazing feat.  Bloggers tend to be pretty transparent.  I have a laundry list of things that I do not understand about blogs.  Allow me to share a few with you:

  • Unoriginality.  I am going to rant about this.  I would say 85% of the blogs out there are completely unoriginal.  Go through your blogroll (if you have one) and count how many blogs mention the word "pumpkin" today.  And in a week, note how many talk about those GD Pumpkin Spice Lattes.  Just do it.  I totally dare you.  Because it's a lot, and it's totally boring.  Also, remember the bubble necklaces.  They all had one and yet for months after J Crew's bubble necklaces became popular people were still wearing them in every outfit photo and talking about where they got the latest knock off.  It's like we get it already!  One blogger starts to mention something they like, and the rest glom onto it like little zombies until they suck all of the life out of that particular item.  The next big thing is the Kendra Scott necklace.  I don't even have to look up which necklace I'm talking about because you all know.  You've seen it on 40 different blogs already.  Here's a tip bloggers, be original. 
  • Giveaways.  I don't understand how some of these blogs have so much etsy crap to giveaway.  Are these people from etsy contacting them?  Do they even test out the products?  Or are bloggers so excited about getting free stuff that they will put any product on their blog to giveaway.  Because I will be honest and tell you that there have been giveaways that I would not sign up for if you paid me.  I mean, honestly, where do they find some of this crap? 
  • Always Positive Sponsored Posts.  I don't have a problem with sponsored posts.  If a company wants to send you their product to test out, and you end up loving it, go ahead and blog about it.  I have actually gotten some of the best product recommendations from blogs.  But when you are posting more than once a week with a sponsored post using totally generic positive phrases to tell me how great the products that you received for free were, you become inauthentic.  It's kind of gross.  And I would pay someone to have a sponsored post where they said that the product was pretty average.  For instance, I recently saw blogs talking about how great and amazing some brand of paper towels were.  They said they used them "all the time."  First, snoozeville.  Second, were they really that much better than any other paper towel?  In the hierarchy of paper towels, is any 3-ply paper towel really better than the next?  Or does a paper towel really clean up a spill better than a plain, old dish cloth? 
  • Recipes.  I love a good food blog.  Getting recipes from blogs is actually the number one thing I love about blogs.  But I will tell you what I cannot stand, blogs that give you a recipe that isn't actually a recipe.  For instance, everyone in the world knows that if you take a vegetable and toss it with some oil, salt, and maybe a little pepper, you will have a roasted vegetable.  That's not a recipe.  That's just what I do in the kitchen everyday.  How dumbed down can we get?  I also love a sandwich recipe that tells me to buy ingredients and put them on bread.  Or they get really fancy and tell me to put it in a tortilla wrap.  WOW!  What a completely sucky recipe. 
I could go on and on.  I love blogs, but I also love to hate them. 

Friday, June 6, 2014

Conservation Preservation

When I'm planning a trip, I always love to look into concerts or theatre shows.  I knew that New Orleans had a great music scene, so hearing some jazz seemed like a no brainer.  Most of the guidebooks I read said that Preservation Hall was the best place to hear New Orleans jazz.  The one downside is that the line to get into Preservation Hall is unbelievable.  Everything I read warned me to grab some snacks and camp out for at least an hour before showtime to guarantee that I would get into the concert.

Here's how it works.  Every night there are three concerts at Preservation Hall.  I believe the show times are 8:00 p.m., 9:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m.  A line forms outside the concert hall and right before the show (like literally 2 minutes before) the doors are unlocked and they pack people into this tiny little room.  There is limited seating available, so it's likely that you will be standing for the concert.

That is unless you purchase yourself one of these:

I read about the "VIP" ticket that you could purchase for the concert.  The tickets are about $30 (don't quote me on that price) and allow you to enter the concert hall before everyone else and get a seat right in front of the band.  It is an amazing deal.  Especially if you are short and claustrophobic like me.  Mike and I were able to see the musicians up close (we were probably a foot from the saxophonist) and we were able to have a somewhat comfortable seat for the entire show.

Whether you just stand in line or get the VIP ticket, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band is not to be missed.  In all of my travels, this is maybe one of my most favorite experiences.  There are no words that can describe the music.  It's not just the music, but it's the feeling that jazz gives you from the tip of your hair all the way down to your toes.  Hearing it live in this hot, old, cramped room just amplified the experience.

A couple of tips if you do purchase the VIP ticket.  Number one is that you can totally bypass the line and just wait right at the front door.  My Midwestern values told me that cutting in front of this long line was super rude even if we had bought the ticket, so we actually stood in the line for awhile because the front door is totally locked up until right before the show.  The second tip is that once you are seated, make sure to really take up your entire seats.  Mike and I were being all cute and cuddly and then a man decided that we had enough room on our bench to seat another person and he just sat down.  I would have been all hey, the more the merrier, except we actually paid for that seat and this man got in for free.  We had to enjoy the concert on a bench made for two with three grown ass people.  It wasn't all that VIP.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Seas with Nemo and Friends

I call this ride, The Ride Formerly Known as the Dumbest Ride in Disney History.  If you remember The Living Seas of Epcot old, you know what I am talking about.  The Living Seas used to be a big whatever in Epcot Center.  I guess if you were really into fish it could have been somewhat interesting.  I enjoyed a good aquarium, but that was really all there was to see in The Living Seas.  It wasn't even that great of an aquarium.  Although I think there was maybe a manatee.

After the success of Finding Nemo, Disney people came up with the brilliant idea to make The Living Seas a themed area with the theme being the characters in the movie Finding Nemo.  It has greatly improved the fun factor of this area and was a much needed renovation.

In order to access the exhibits inside The Seas building, you first need to get on a cute little ride with Nemo and all of his pals.  You board a "clammobile" (Disney's term, not mine), which essentially takes you through a shortened recreation of the Finding Nemo movie.  Nemo swims along with you and takes you through the sea complete with sharks, jellyfish and turtles.  Towards the end you are shown a live aquarium where you can see real fish swimming along with the Nemo characters. 

This ride is the cutest, just like the movie.  They stay pretty true to the Nemo story and bring it alive in a creative way.  It's a neat ride because I enjoyed it, but I also noticed that very little children were excited to find Nemo, so it's entertaining to people of all ages. 

My one piece of advice is to have a sweater when you enter the ride area.  For some reason the queue to the ride is super long.  Not long as in you will wait a long time in line, but long as in from where you enter the line to where you board the clammobile is a long distance to walk.  And it's always really cold in the queue area.  I am such a baby about being in the cold in a tank top or sundress, so I always reach for my cardigan before heading into the ride.  You will thank me for this tip!

I love this ride as much for it's cuteness as for the fact that it is so much better than before.  4/5 or 8/10 stars!