Tag Archives: Adventures

Ms. DIY

10 Jul

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always had a crafty nature. As a small child, I loved to color and draw, although just like my mother, I soon discovered I was not artistically inclined. Still, that has never stopped me from creating little doodles on scraps of paper or along the edges of my school notes. Writing came naturally to me, which is probably what prompted me to begin journaling and writing fiction stories at the young age of eight. Over the years I’ve discovered other creative outlets as well – scrapbooking, photography, gardening, and music to name a few. 

This past week I have enjoyed a much-needed staycation. During this time off, I discovered yet another creative pass time I enjoy – home projects! I don’t know why exactly, but there is something so satisfying about creating something new out of dozens of mismatched looking pieces.

I had two big projects and one small decor project to tackle. In the year and a half of living in our apartment, I have used plastic shelving to store all of my clothes and felt it was time to upgrade to a more functional and astetically pleasing solution. So I ran to Walmart and found a four drawer Sauder dresser in espresso and a Better Homes & Garden eight cube storage unit also in espresso. Single-handedly (and quite awkwardly) I maneuvered those long, heavy boxes from our parking lot, up a flight of stairs and into our bedroom. 

Then the fun began – assembling each unit.       


Others, who are more furniture assembly inclined, probably would have been able to put the units together much faster than I did. In my defense, this was my first go round, and I had never before seen a hidden cam and cam dowel, let alone had any idea how to instal them. Luckily for me, my instructions came with detailed step-by-step pictures and links to online tutorials. I also looked up assemble reviews on YouTube, figuring I could learn from the wisdom and mistakes of other who have assembled before me. 

In the end, the dresser took me just under four hours to complete. The most time consuming part – the drawers! I tried to build two at the same time, doing one step on each before continuing, but that seemed to slow me down even more. The eight cube storage unit only took me about an hour and a half, thankfully! Hardest part turned out to be keeping the cross sections connected and straight while adding and fighting the side pieces. In the end, I am very please with how each piece turned out and I love the clean, finished feel they add to the room. The next big decision is what kind of curtains to get, but that’ll have to wait for another day!


My decor project is one I’ve had planned since Christmas. I saw a photo of a Roman numeral clock with the flying silhouettes of Peter Pan, Wendy Darling, Peter and Michael in an Etsy shop. Rather than spend $30 – $40 for someone else to make me the clock, I decided then and there to make my own! It took a few months to track down the right clock and the one I found had a gold rim that I decided to spray paint black. When it came time for the silhouettes, I lucked out because my mom has multiple Disney Cricket cartridges and had all of the characters in the positions I wanted. I even opted to add a tiny Tinker Bell to my design. We cut the characters out of scrap paper to get the sizing right before cutting the final pieces out of black sticky vinyl. The end result gave me chills – I think it looks like a clock you’d find in a Disney gift shop!

Look around at my projects, each piece, the colors, designs and shape help to express who I am as an individual. Already looking for new projects to occupy my time during my next chunk of free time (last week in August when my summer class ends and right before fall semester begins). What projects have you worked on lately?  

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Long, long ago….finish the story

10 Apr

I love how TimeHop provides daily blasts from the past from my various social media accounts for my enjoyment and amusement. Sometimes, like today it finds gems I had completely forgotten about.

Back in 2011 when I was still on the Disney College program I posted a status starting a story and asked my Facebook friends to continue the tale. My best guess is that I was working an evening shift at Disney Quest and wanted something entertaining to read during my breaks. My friends did not disappoint – their creativity knew no limits as they sent a beautiful princess on a dangerous quest.

Each line is by a different author. And now, for the first time in five years I am excited to present our Facebook Fairy Tale…

Long, long ago in a far off kingdom there lived a beautiful princess preparing for a dangerous quest…

…The very first thing before she set off on her quest was to be very sure that there were no toads lurking nearby…

…Even though it was a dangerous quest, she knew that she would be okay because she knew who she was and she had her family’s support and love.

…So she picked up and put one foot in front of the other and headed out the door…

…Along her quest, she met a talking squirrel named Charlie. After spending a few moments talking, Charlie and the princess discovered that they were both heading in the same direction and decided to continue on their path together. They walked for hours and talked about…

…everything  under the sun, from how to survive without your momma and papa, to what exciting adventures awaited them ahead in the magical land that they were traveling to. Now, what the princess did not know was that Charlie was a magical squirrel and he was able to…

…cast a love spell to make even your enemies love you!!…

…Also, he makes the best ice cream sundaes on the planet, but you have to…

…provide your own chocolate syrup! Anyway, the princess knew what dangers lay ahead even just outside of her castle…

…The wicked witch lived, who never wanted her to find love, so she…

…had a plan to get the princess far, far away from everyone she loved including her family and friends. However, the princess was unaware of this evil plan, because she thought she was going on an awesome adventure until…

…the wicked witch, along with her sidekick Prince Humperdink, unleashed their army of toads…

…The only weapon the princess had was her kiss, but there were sooo many toads so she closed her eyes and…

…began to whistle. The whistling brought a variety of birds to the area. And you know that birds naturally prey upon toads, so…

…all of the toads disappeared. And the birds began to chase the princess around the castle so Humperdink then…

…fell into the river of doom where…

…the evil spell that had been cast on him was broke because he was really a…

**note to you all – Humperdink is a bad guy, he is the head toad!

…Master manipulator, and although he tried to trick the princess into liking him, her common sense told her there was someone better for her so she and Charlie ran to the nearest river to get…

…refreshed. The princess and Charlie were exhausted, too much stress, ya know. Once they took a moment to themselves, they decided to continue on their adventure. After walking several hours, they finally ended up…

…back at Charlie’s  house where the beautiful princess kissed him and he turned back into the handsome prince!…

…NO SIR!!! She baked him an apple pie and they spent time together and she found out what his middle name was and what his favorite color was and that he is truly princely BEFORE SHE EVER KISSED HIM!!!…

…Which she already had because at night after their questing they had hung out eating nachos and talking for hours on end, so when they did kiss…

…they wore just engaged buttons…

…and then they went out again on their path that lead to the place where the quest all started and before you knew it all the toads were on the path and looking at the beautiful princess wishing they had become the prince who won the prize of the princess.

The End.

Bridal Shower, Wedding Prep and the Chicago Skyline

12 Mar

Last weekend, Scott and I had the chance to spend two and a half days with his family in Chicago celebrating the upcoming wedding of his younger sister, Abbey.

After a six and a half hour drive through two states that started at 6:45 a.m. Friday morning, and a (terrifying, for me) journey on the Chicago Skyway, we’d arrived. Thankfully Scott was driving when we hit the city because 1. They are crazy drivers coming at you from every which way and 2. It was necessary that I take as many photos as the bumpy road would allow since the only other time I had been to Chicago, I’d flown, and it was an overcast day, which blocked the beauty of the skyline.

But before seeing family, being the hungry-driven travelers we were, we made a quick stop for food at Portillo’s. This was only my second time eating there, and it was just as delicious as I remembered. You MUST try the beef and cheddar croissant… as Scott once told me, it’s something you cannot visit chicago without trying.

Portillos food in Chicaog

Once our bellies were full, there was no rest for the weary! After quick hugs and hellos, we were put to work, the reason for this trip after all!

I had the honor of being asked to do Abbey’s hair for the wedding, along with the bridesmaids, so we started practicing all the different styles she’s sent me over the last few weeks. We tried two different updos and a half updo with curls. All three were beautiful on her, but as we were putting in the last style, I just kept telling her how it was going to be my favorite, and as it turned out, her favorite, too! But I’m not telling what it is until her wedding day, even though her fiancée, Dan, saw her Friday night with the style in. (He approved, too!)

After hair and a yummy dinner, it was on to cutting purple tulle and decorative ribbon to decorate balloons at Saturday’s bridal shower, followed by folding invitations while Abbey and her mom addressed the envelopes. With three of us folding (Dan, Scott and myself) it took no time at all! And not long after that it was thankfully time to hit the hay, I mean pillow!

Saturday morning started with Scott and his mom arranging a sweet photo collage of Abbey and Dan that included baby photos and pictures of the happy couple through the years! I loved seeing all the old photos! Then it was off to Party City to pick up some special balloons and then off we went to the church to decorate!

The room turned out lovely decked out in purple and silver, the wedding colors, and Abbey’s mom did an amazing job arranging cupcakes to look like a wedding dress!

The shower was a blast – she received many lovely gifts and we all had a wonderful time laughing and talking. I felt so at ease and at home and comfortable with these people, which was so special for me as it was only the second time I’ve been around Scott’s family, and he wasn’t even with me at the shower, because, ahh-hem, no men allowed, minus the groom of course.

Scott’s family is a lot like mine, on more than one occasion there were those no-so-subtle comments about when he and I would tie the knot such as “maybe we’ll be celebrating you and Scott next” or “have you thought about what colors you’d like for your wedding?”

Before we go any farther, yes, we have talked about it, yes, it will happen someday, no, I don’t know when that will be, no, we aren’t already secretly engaged, and yes, I have thought about what that special day will look like, what girl hasn’t?!

Now that we have that out in the open, I love knowing that his relatives are excited about me joining their family one day! And to answer one of their questions, I have thought about it, a lot actually, over the years, and it’s entertaining to me to see how my mental picture of that day has changed since I was a little girl.

As we’ve kept it no secret, Scott and I met while working at Walt Disney World in 2010, so naturally, people expect us to have an EPIC Disney wedding. Take a quick look at my Pinterest album, and you’ll see all the parts and pieces of a fairy tale wedding are there waiting to come to life!

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Bet you can’t tell what my favorite Disney movie and Princess is….anyways, the Disney ideas are endless! There’s the overall Disney wedding, the themed attraction wedding, or limiting it to the specific locations we’ve worked, or limiting it still to Disney’s Animal Kingdom since that’s were we met! The cake could even be “dino themed” since we were working at Dinoland all those years ago! Or maybe, we recreate our first date and do an EPCOT themed wedding with all the countries represented! How fun would that be!  Of course there would be hidden Mickey’s everywhere and how about Dole Whips for everyone, one of our favorite Disney treats!

And thank goodness there are sites like Paperless Post that provide dozens of invitation ideas – browsing quickly I found these two which screamed Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast! And of course, they also offer the option to create a style using your own photos, what’s not to love about that?!

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As you can see, so many fun ideas out there should we decide to go the Disney route when it’s our turn to plan a wedding. The only thing I know for sure that I want Scott to be the one standing at the end of the aisle waiting for me to get to his side. Nothing else matters, not the month, colors, theme or the cake. Just the two of us madly in love ready to start living our own happily ever after.

 

Thank you to Paperless Post for suggesting I dream about my future wedding for this post. I was not compensated in any way. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

 

Leap into a good book!

29 Feb

Happy Leap Day, readers! With February gone in the traditional sense, what are you going to do with your extra 24 hours this year?! I’ve got a fantastic idea, LEAP into Julie Garwood’s book Shadow Music for an adventure of a lifetime in the Scottish Highlands!

Requirement: A book you’ve read at least once.Shadow Music, a novel by Julie Garwood

Princess Gabrielle of St. Biel, Scotland, daughter of an influential english baron, is beautiful, kind, brave and stubborn. She is also a valuable asset to King John. When the king arranges for her to marry a gentle Highland laird to secure peace between England and the Highland, her life will forever be changed.

While Gabrielle and her guards travel to the abbey where her wedding will take place, they come upon a murder in progress. With one arrow, she takes a life and spares another, unknowingly setting a war in motion amongst the Highland clans.

Through a series of events outside of her control, Gabrielle and her guards find themselves accepting the protection of Laird Colm MacHugh and his glansmen. Meanwhile, an english baron hatches a plan to draw her out of hiding in the hopes of forcing her to tell him the location of an elusive treasure of St. Biel, a secret he believes was passed on to her by her late mother.

This story features a strong female lead, who feels it is her duty to protect others, be that her father, a helpless stranger, her guards or the warriors of her new clan. When everything she’s known in life is taken from her in the blink of an eye, she does not cower, she thrives in this new challenge.

If you are looking for a page-turner, action packed story sprinkled with murder, lies, romance and treasure that takes place in the Scottish Highlands, Shadow Music won’t disappoint. This is the third time I have read this story and I discover something new each time!

A Season of Love, Laughter and snow

23 Feb

It’s funny how words can have so many different meanings. Season for example, could mean “what’s the weather like” or “what phase of life are you in?”

For this week’s photo challenge, we were asked to share a photo that exemplifies season. I found a photo that captures both the weather and my life, I’m just that good!

Right now where I live in mid-west USA we are experiencing winter. I really can’t complain that much though, Old Man Winter just found us last week and the 8 inches of snow he dumped on us melted three days later. We had one or two days of flurries in November, 50 degrees and green grass on Christmas day and in January there were days I left work and didn’t bother to put my coat on. I hope we are almost done with winter though, I’m ready for shorts and sandals.

On the flip side of the season’s coin, my life has entered a new season. Scott and I are no longer in a long distance relationship, THANK GOODNESS! For the first time, we are living in the same place! It has been exciting coming home after work and finding him there! And learning new things about each other. It’s so wonderful to have him here every single day! I have never felt so happy and full of possibilities. We are also excited because we’ll soon be looking for our own place and traveling to see his family in Chicago in the coming months for his sister’s wedding! So many exciting things in store – I have a feeling it’s only going to get better from here!

A couple laughing in the snow

Photo credit: Photography By Constance

Wordless Wednesday- 5/13/15

13 May

Traffic jams while babysitting. #Girlslikecarstoo

 

2015 Hershey 10K Race Weekend Recap

20 Apr

Hershey 10K 2015Standing at the starting line in the early morning hours of Saturday, April 11th, all I could think was this seemed like a much better idea in January when I signed up for it. But there I was, at 7:30 AM in somewhat chilly weather with my Disney sister, Catherine, waiting for the Hershey 10K to begin.

Actually, I’m getting ahead of myself in this story, let’s start with the drive to get there on Friday. I live roughly 5 hours from Hershey Park where the race was taking place, a drive that would consist of nearly 300 miles on the Toll Road through the winding mountains, and decided to use my Easter holiday at work so I could make the trip earlier in the day. I planned to arrive around 2:30 PM, which meant I would need to leave around 9:00 AM, which meant that my family had already left for work and school when I came downstairs around 8:00 AM. but much to my surprise, my little sister had left this very sweet note for me to find taped to the kitchen cabinet.

good luck letter from my sister

I have driven through the Pennsylvania mountains only once before when Catherine and I met up with a third Disney sister, Lisa, while she was attending Penn State a couple of years ago. From the trip, I already knew mountain driving terrified me as I live in the relatively flat mid-west. Now, to add to my anxiety about this long drive, as soon as I cross the state border I enter into a torrential downpour that does not let up until I am 10 minutes from my destination, Catherine’s boyfriend’s (Matt) parent’s house. It was raining so hard, I could hardly see five feet in front of my car while twisting and turning around these mountains and because that just wasn’t scary enough, there was this section that according to the signs is a terrible fog area. I felt like I was driving blind. I could see nothing to my left or right, nothing in front of or behind me. I have never held so tightly to the steering wheel before.

At this point, I would say my stress level is a 7 but it quickly rose to a 9 when I had to drive INTO the side of the mountains. Typically I’m not a claustrophobic person, but driving in those tunnels (and there were 6 total) my heart was pounding so hard in my ears I could hardly hear anything else. Deep breathing and pep talks got me in and out safely. Reflecting back what I find interesting is that I have driven through mountain tunnels before as the passenger and I’ve never had a problem with them so I wonder why being the driver in a tunnel makes me so nervous.

Just when I was beginning to think I was never going to get to Matt’s house and that I would be driving around lost in the Pennsylvania mountains forever, I heard the most beautiful words coming from my GPS “arriving at destination on right.” In that moment I could have cried I was so grateful to be done driving and to see Catherine waiting for me in the driveway!

Excitedly she tells me she has a surprise! Much to my amusement and Matt’s dismay, we found ourselves at a Disney outlet store, because where else would two Disney sisters go for entertainment?! We had a blast looking at all of the Disney merchandise, and as you can probably tell, we did not leave empty-handed! She walked away with some cute pjs while I bought an adorable Duffy pillow-pet that was 50% off – I couldn’t believe it! Mickey Ear hats

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After the Disney store, we drove around a bit looking for the Amish farm that sold milk and cheese, then it was dinner and back to Matt’s for some much-needed shut-eye. At dinner we determined that because the race started at 7:30 AM, we wanted to be at Hershey Park around 6:30 AM since Matt and Catherine had pick-up or packets already. We allowed for 45 minutes to get there from Matt’s house, which meant leaving at 5:45 AM. To make sure we didn’t sleep through the race, I set a first alarm for 4:45 AM and Catherine set a second alarm for 5:00 AM. And when that terrible sound pierced through my dream and startled me awake, I really wasn’t excited to be a runner, all I wanted in that moment was to be a sleeper. But I pulled it together, checked the weather like the non-newbie runner that I am and decided on pants and a jacket for the morning’s race.

Amazingly, Catherine and I stuck to our time schedule very well and only had a tiny bit of excitement in our journey to Hershey Park when my GPS apparently got a bit confused and started sending us in circles. But not to worry, we found our way and made it to the starting line with plenty of time to spare. And before we knew it, it was race time!

All 3,000 runners packed into the starting corral. It was exciting for me to see that some of the other runners were wearing race shirts from runDisney races I had also done in the past! I felt connected to these people, like we shared a bond of not only racing, but of Disney as well. Silly what your mind thinks about at different moments.

And just like that, we’re off! Now for those of you who may not be familiar with different race distances, a 10K is 6.2 miles – half the distance of a half marathon, which I completed in November. So with my music blaring in my ears, Catherine and 2,998 of my running buddies at my side and chilly mountain air in my lungs, I felt ready to tackle the course. However….there was one thing I forgot to plan for in my not-so-decent training for this race (hey, we had multiple blizzards this winter, made running outside a bit challenging!), ALL THE HILLS NEARLY DEFEATED ME!

I mentioned it once, where I live is really pretty flat in the grand scheme of things, sure we have some hills, but they are NOTHING compared to running on the side of a MOUNTAIN!

Hershey 10K 2015 course map

Catherine and I started off together, but eventually the hills and the chilly air got the better of me, and so I told her to go ahead, I’d catch up. I ran when I could and walked when I needed to, but I never once stopped moving. I knew that I needed to keep a 14 minute/mile pace or I would get detoured around the park and wouldn’t be able to run through – I wasn’t about to let that happen. About 2 miles in I settled on a rhythm – jog a little, walk a little, just keep breathing, jog a little, walk a little, just keep breathing. I had found “my people” – runners who shared my pace, runners who fought with every step to be runners, runners who didn’t “look like runners” but were, runners who kept me moving forward.

By the time we came to the first of two water stations, we had already gone under an over pass, up a small hill and crested a large hill to get up onto the main road. My energy levels and my spirits were beginning to drop. but then I heard someone cheering my name, telling me specifically great job, you’re almost halfway there. At the time I couldn’t figure out how they knew who I was – I was 5 hours from home, I didn’t know these people, it wasn’t until after the race it dawned on me, my race bib had my name printed under my number! Those volunteers with the cups of Gatorade and water will never know how much they encouraged me to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Up another hill, around a corner and through a shopping plaza. I was beginning to wonder if I’d ever see mile 4. Just as I was losing hope I spotted a fellow runner who had finished cheering us on! From her Minnie Mouse ears and Sparkle skirt I wondered if she was also a fellow runDisney fan! As I went past her I heard her say one more turn and you’ll be in the park! One more turn, just one more and I would get my first glance of Hershey Park. I pushed a little harder and by golly if there wasn’t ANOTHER hill once I passed through the back park gates! Ugh! But the coasters – holy cow!!

With only 2 miles left on the course I was doing good until, you guessed it…MORE FREAKING HILLS and would you believe it, the beginning of a terrible Charlie Horse! But, at least the race photographers got some great photos of me in action! So glad I bought these!

With only a quarter-mile and two turns between me and the finish line, there was Minnie Mouse ears and Sparkle skirt again! How did you do that?! Didn’t I just see you about a mile and a half ago?! Once again she cheered “Mariah, two turns and you’re there! You’ve got this!” I was so tired and emotional I almost burst into tears! With pain shooting through my leg and the finish line in sight, I dug a little deeper and gave it my all as I completed my race with an official time of 1 hour 29 minutes and 34 seconds! It was great having Catherine, her boyfriend Matt and his dad there cheering me on at the end! This is what complete exhaustion and accomplishment look like!

And so, yet another race is in the books – this one however I have dubbed a one and done kind of race. I’m not meant to be a mountain race kinda girl and that’s okay! Finally it was time for some much earned breakfast (Catherine and I had split an English muffin before leaving for the race, but it was long gone by now!) I had the pleasure of enjoying the most delicious sourdough french bread at this cute little diner while we waited for Hershey Park to official open for the day.

Since I had a long drive home ahead of me that evening I wasn’t able to spend a lot of time exploring Hershey Park, but I did have a chance to go on the Hershey Chocolate World Factory Tour ride, Skyrush, Lightning Racer, and Wild Mouse. All day long I had been wearing my Fitbit Charge HR so it was fun for me to see what my heart rate was when we go off each ride!

And before I left on my long journey home, Catherine and I took a couple of celebratory photos with our shiny new medals!

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On the road again by 2:45 PM, this time in beautiful, sunny weather. Still hate mountain driving and tunnels, but way less stressful when you can actually see the winding roads you’re driving on. One insensitive to get home quickly was the large chocolate chip cookie that was in the snack pack bag racers received at the finish line. When I finally got home at 7:30 and went to take a big bite, much to my disappointment I discovered it to be a RAISIN COOKIE masquerading as a delicious Hershey Chocolate Chip cookie. What a let down! But cookie mix up aside, the weekend was a blast on so many levels! I got to add racing in a new state to the list, hung out with one of my wonderful Disney sisters, explored a theme park I’ve never been to before and once again proved to myself that while running may not come as easy to me as it does to others, with a little determination, training and a supportive running community, there’s nothing that will stop me from crossing the finish line of any race I commit to!