Friday, October 30, 2015

Halloween Through the Years

Happy Halloween!

Growing up, we were not really into trick-or-treating or Halloween in my family.  As an adult, though, Scott and I enjoy putting together good couples costumes and hitting the town with our friends!

Here are some of our past costumes!

Halloween 2008- Joker & Robin: This was the first Halloween that we got dressed up and went out together.  We were invited to a party by one of Scott's co-workers.  The co-worker had a family member that was remodeling a home.  They went all out with the decorations!  It was a really good time. 
Halloween 2012- Daphne & Fred: Scott's brother and his ex-fiance used to have a party at their house each year.  There was always good food and fun!

Halloween 2013- The Mad Hatter & Alice:  We were headed to the aforementioned yearly party and then to meet friends.  I was miserably sick with tonsillitis for the SECOND time that fall.  But we already had the costumes, and I wasn't wasting the money!  haha

Halloween 2014- The Riddler & Bat Girl:   This is my favorite!  We had SUCH a fun night out with friends.  
This year, we weren't even sure if Scott would have to work or not.  As it turns out, he does have the weekend off.  So we'll be scrounging around for what's leftover in stores for costumes tomorrow!

What will you be for Halloween this year?

What's your favorite Halloween costume?

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

So you're going to Universal Studios??


I have some tips for you!

(I began writing this post MONTHS ago.  Scott and I visited Universal in early March.  I just finally got more of my pictures off of my phone for sharing.)

1) Wear sneakers.
Yes, I know it's hot in Florida.  Yes, I know that you may not like to have your feet stuffed inside socks inside of shoes when it's upwards of 80 degrees.  But trust me on this.  Your feet, legs, back, and entire body will thank you.  And me.

2) Make sure you grab a map.
On our first day there,  we left the parks a few times.  Every.  Single.  Time we left, we said, "We need to make sure we grab a map when we go back in."  Not until the end of the day on the first day did we remember to grab a map on our way OUT.

3) Speaking of which, that map will help you to do this step: Make a plan.
We had park to park passes for Universal Studios and Universal Islands of Adventure.  I had an idea of what I wanted to see HARRY POTTER WORLD .  I had been to Universal before, 14 years ago, and wanted to revisit some attractions that (recent high school graduate, me) enjoyed before.  However, it would have been helpful that first day to know where all of those things are actually located.  This would have saved us probably at least a couple of thousand steps and maybe would have helped (at least a little) my nearly dead body after walking around in flip flops our first day.  (See #1)

By the end of our first day, my FitBit stats had me at just under 20,000 steps.  If I could have moved at all, I probably would've taken a walk around the Marina where we were staying to hit that awesome goal.  

4) Two days is plenty.
We had park to park passes for two days.  Universal was running a deal that if you bought tickets for two days, you got the third day free.  We did not go back the third day.  The Universal parks are MUCH smaller than Disney's parks.  We actually did most of what we wanted to do on the first day (which we figured out after we looked at our map when we got back to our room....see #2), but there were still a few things we missed.  Some we missed quite literally.  In Universal Studios, we actually missed an entire section of the park!  Others we didn't want to wait in line for the first day and decided to hit up the second day.

It is possible that if you have kids, you may need that third day.  We were two childless adults so parts of the park (like the Dr. Seuss area of Universal Islands of Adventure), did not really have anything for us.  (Although, I would've ridden The Cat in the Hat ride if Scott wouldn't have made fun of me.... ;) )

5) Harry Potter World is CROWDED.

That's me.  With my interactive wand.  It's a replica of Hermione's.

Ok, you all know that I'm a Harry Potter nerd.  I thought that some of the hoopla (especially for the Hogsmede park, which has been open for quite some time) would have died down by now.

I was wrong.

These small sections of the park are fascinating, breath taking, and exciting, and you can barely move or do anything without someone being in your way.

In Diagon Alley (the dragon escaping from Gingotts)

Diagon Alley shops

It would also have helped if Scott appreciated it as much as I did.  He enjoyed the rides. (We rode Escape from Gringotts in the new Diagon Alley at Universal Studios and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey at Hogsmede in Universal Islands of Adventure.)  While he rode terrifying roller coasters, I was able to go back and explore the shops a bit on my own...again, hard to do with the insane number of people crowded into these small spaces.

This is the entrance to Dumbledore's office.  It is in Hogwarts in the Hogsmede Park as you wind your way through Hogwarts to the broomstick ride.

Gringotts chandelier as part of the line for the Escape from Gringotts ride.

6) Sometimes, it's worth being a "single rider."
Universal does offer express passes.  BUT you have to purchase it.  They do not offer an express pass for individual rides.  You pay an extra $80 for two people, and you can get right on rides.  I'm sorry, Universal, but after I paid you over $300 for tickets, I'm not giving you more money.  I'll stand in line thank you.

I tend to be a scaredy cat.  So even though I love all of those rides that make you feel like you are in the thick of the action, fun, and danger, I tend to jump and scream like a kid.  I am not a huge fan of riding a ride for the first time alone.  After I know what to expect, I'm much better.  So when we went back to ride a few rides for a second time, we took the single rider line.  This cuts down wait times tremendously.  We essentially got right on a couple of rides.  The single rider line helps the ride workers fill rows.  For example, if the ride seats a row of three and two people are riding together, a single rider will fill the final seat in the row.  Scott obviously used this option when he went on the roller coasters, too.

If you're not a big baby, and you don't like waiting in line, go for it!

7) There really is something there for everyone!
While these parks seem to be geared more toward adults, they do have areas and attractions that are great for kids.  If you do have kids, be sure to check size recommendations before you get their hopes up.  (I have a student who went to Hogsmede when she was in third grade and was not tall enough for the Harry Potter ride...).

I am NOT a roller coaster person, as I have already stated, but they do have a couple of (what looked to me) like absolutely terrifying, death defying roller coasters. So Scott was happy.

We both LOVED the Transformers ride.  Our first day, we walked in, and the wait time was only 10 minutes.  We actually wanted to ride it again before leaving the park, but our first day, it was shut down for the day when we went back (it was near closing time), and the second day, the wait times were insanely long.  They didn't have a single rider line, or we obviously would have taken advantage of that (see #6).

So there you have it!  My super expert tips to maximize your enjoyment of your Universal vacation!

Have any of you been to Universal?  Any tips or favorites things to share??
Don't forget that your Pumpkin Swap packages should be mailed to your partners today!  :)

Monday, October 26, 2015

Music Monday: Paul McCartney

At the beginning of the month, I started sharing a Paul McCartney/Beatles song each day in preparation for the once in a life time opportunity of going to see Paul McCartney perform live.  Then I got sick, and I gave up.

BUT that doesn't mean that I love Paul McCartney any less.  On October 15, 2015, my cousin and I who have been Paul McCartney fans for most of our lives, got to see Paul McCartney in concert at the Bryce Jordan Center at Penn State.

Jaime and I waiting in line to get into The Bryce Jordan Center.  It was a chilly evening in PA, but luckily, we didn't wait too long!

Our seats were farther away from the stage than I originally thought.  I think Ticketmaster had the map wrong.  At least we were there!

SO excited!!

The screens began scrolling video and pictures, and the moment had almost arrived!

Animated Beatles in the background

Paul on the piano

Seeing him was easier with the big screens


Just a little snippet of the song from a video I took

Paul played "Something" (one of George Harrison's songs) as a special tribute to George.  They showed pictures of George and Paul and the other Beatles in the background.  Cry much?

Here are a few other videos that I took at the concert:

I was so worried that he wasn't going to sing "Yesterday."  It is one of my most favorite Beatles songs!  Luckily, he did it during one of his encores.  
This concert was seriously such an amazing experience and opportunity.  I am so glad I got to share it with someone who loves and appreciates Paul McCartney as much as I do!  I am also very proud of myself for not crying through the ENTIRE concert.  I certainly shed some tears, but I was worried that I would sob the whole time.  This was definitely a once in a life time opportunity.
Have you ever gotten to see a musical idol in concert??

ALSO, don't forget to mail your Pumpkin Swap packages by tomorrow!! :)

Monday, October 5, 2015

#obsessed (Day 5)

So in case you've missed it, I am going to see Paul McCartney this month!  Each day, I'm sharing one of my favorite Paul McCartney or Beatles tunes!  :)

To kick of this week, here's "Listen to What the Man Said"

Also, don't forget to sign up for The 4th Annual Great Pumpkin Swap with Kristin and me!  Sign-ups end on Friday, October 9th, and we'll be emailing you this weekend with your partner!  

Sunday, October 4, 2015

#obsessed (Day 4)

I've got to go back to a Beatles song today!

"Can't Buy Me Love"

Saturday, October 3, 2015

#obsessed (Day 3)

Today's Paul McCartney song is "Silly Love Songs"

Friday, October 2, 2015

#obsessed (Day 2)

Day 2 of my favorite Paul McCartney/Beatles songs:

"Let it Be"

September Books

This is a sad, but true story.

I have not finished any books for the month of September.  I suppose it's a good thing that I am 6 books ahead of schedule on my Goodreads Book Challenge!

It's just so much harder to find time to read during the school year.  Between work, the gym, and trying to do the odds and ends around the house, I may get to read for 30 minutes or so before bed.  IF I even feel like cracking open a book.

I should certainly have something to contribute for October.  I am currently rereading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone along with one of my classes that chose to read the book.  I am also reading a nonfiction selection for a class that I am taking, and a book recommended by my blog friend Sarah (Outlander by Diana Gabaldon).  Finally, my Audible credit comes in near the end of each month, so I will get to listen to a book into October.

So tune in next month for what will hopefully be a more exciting post than this! ;)

Any reading recommendations?  I'm certainly open to suggestions!

(Don't forget to sign up for The 4th Annual Great Pumpkin Swap!!)

Thursday, October 1, 2015

#Obsessed (aka I love Paul McCartney!!!)

Back at the end of August, I caught a commercial on TV stating that Paul McCartney was coming to play at the Bryce Jordan Center (at Penn State).  I nearly fainted.

If you've been around here for any length of time, you may know that I love the Beatles, and Paul McCartney is my favorite!  I never thought that I would get the chance to see him in concert.

I clearly lost my mind, but I HAD to buy tickets.

This is a once in a life time opportunity.

Tickets were NOT cheap.

But this is a once in a life time opportunity!!!!

The best part is that I am going to the concert with my cousin, and life-long friend, Jaime.  We have both been #obsessed with the Beatles and both love Paul McCartney!

In honor of this momentous occasion (happening on October 15th!), I am going to post some of my MOST favorite Paul McCartney songs!  I will post one a day until the concert!


P.S. Did you sign up for The 4th Annual Great Pumpkin Swap yet? 
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