Bucket List – ReDux

TraBlogger invited me to include my bucket list on his blog! I gladly accepted the offer, however I realized that it was horribly out of date.  My original list included 50 items, in which I accomplished 18 of them (go Me!), changed my mind about some things, and have all new ideas of what I want to do. As a result, I present Bucket List 2014!

  1. Learn to speak a foreign language (originally I wanted Italian, but now I’m leaning more towards French)
  2. Learn to play the organ (since I have one in my home)
  3. Visit the Grand Canyon – I’ve been to Vegas a bunch but have never venture out to the canyon.
  4. Solve a Rubik’s Cube
  5. Own a home

    Photo By Ricardo Liberato
  6. Attend the Opera
  7. See the Egyptian Sphinx and Pyramids
  8. Have a vegetable garden
  9. Ride on a gondola in Venice
  10. Try stand-up comedy
  11. See the Great Wall of China
  12. Get married in Vegas
  13. Win lotto
  14. Go on Safari
  15. Be a game show contestant, preferably Jeopardy, but I’ll take Wheel of Fortune or Price is Right (especially if it’s the Plinko round!)

    Plinko Board via http://www.priceistightinfo.com
  16. See an active volcano
  17. Visit all 7 continents
  18. Have a ‘day off’ in Chicago, Ferris Bueller style (Go to the art museum , Sears TowerWrigley Field, a fancy French restaurant, and of course, singing on a parade float!)
  19. Witness the running of the bulls – I don’t actually want to run, I just want to watch from a safe distance.
  20. Learn to make fancy garnishes (like a rose made out of a radish)
  21. Go on a Boston Duck Tour
  22. Attend the ballet (preferably Swan Lake)
  23. Achieve 6-pack abs (or at least a flat stomach)
  24. Attend the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (it happens in October)

    Photo from the Alburguerque International Balloon Fiesta website -
  25. Milk a cow and /or harvest freshly laid chicken eggs
  26. Be debt free
  27. Drink at one of those ice bars where they let you rent fur coats
  28. Do my own grape stomping for wine
  29. Be a member of a live studio audience (preferable for a sitcom, but I’d take a talk show)
  30. Visit the Ben & Jerry’s factory with Ka-Ka
  31. Toss pizza dough like a pro – I fail when I try it at home
  32. Sleep in the museum (in New York, you can do this, and I really want to!)
  33. Be a movie extra
  34. Eat Alligator – I hear it tastes just like chicken

    Yum Gator!
  35. Kiss someone under the mistletoe
  36. Buy a Louis Vuitton bag on the Champs Elyees
  37. Prepare a will – Not that I have a lot of belongings, but I wouldn’t want Cuff Turtle in an ugly custody battle if something should happen to me.
  38. Learn to Knit – I know how to crochet, thought I’d try my hand at another string art
  39. Visit the Statue of Liberty – I live in NY and have yet to do this. I don’t want to go up, but I would like to go to Liberty Island.
  40. Meet my valentine at the top of the Empire State Building (a la An Affair to Remember)

If you have done any of the things on my list, please share your experience in the comments below or on the Bucket List pages (find both my original list and the new one above). Of course, please go visit TraBlogger’s site and visit some other bucket lists. He has the most amazing photography from his trips around the world. His work will really inspire you to make your own bucket list of things to see in this lifetime!

The Liebster Award

Vivian over at “The Bloggette” nominated me for The Liebster Award while I was on vacation. She’s an adorable Canadian who uses “u” in the words favorite and color. She is training for the WDW Marathon in Jan 2015 and is an avid reader and social media magnet. I love reading her stuff and urge you to click on the link to her blog HERE and check out some of her posts!

liebster21

Rules:

  • Post the award on your blog.
  • Thank the blogger who presented this award and link back to their blog.
  • Write 11 random facts about yourself.
  • Nominate 11 bloggers who you feel deserve this award and who have less than 200 followers.
  • Answer 11 questions posted by the presenter and ask your nominees 11 questions.

Random Stuff: 

  1. I have three tattoos – I feel like this is something I just assume people know about me, but then some one will catch a glimpse of one and say, “I didn’t know you had a tattoo!”
  2. I have 24 race related medals (virtual and live race medals)
  3. I’ve lost the nail on the second toe of my right foot twice due to running
  4. I prefer green mint chocolate chip ice cream
  5. I will not eat Oreos that have colored cream or a cream that is flavored
  6. I drive a manual transmission car
  7. I like chunky peanut butter
  8. I am an impulsive magazine buyer. I just grabbed the new copy of People with the Big Bang Theory cast on the cover while on line at the grocery store yesterday
  9. I love taking surveys
  10. I can not drink a straight glass of milk. I can do chocolate milk, milk in my coffee, but not straight from a glass. The only time I get close is if I have cookies and milk, and even then, I usually only have a sip.
  11. I don’t really like blog awards, but since The Blogette nominated me, and she and I have many serendipitous similarities, I wanted to oblige her :)

Questions from The Bloggette:

  1. What is your favourite pastime? I love people watching. I wonder where they are from, what they do, and usually, who let them out of the house like that!
  2. Are you a beachcomber or a homebody? I think I am a bit of both. I love sightseeing, traveling and exploring new places, but I’m very comfortable sticking close to home. I mean, I live about 3 miles from the home I grew up in!
  3. If you could travel to one place in the world today, all expenses paid, where would you go? This is a very hard question to answer, because there are so many places I’d like to go. Maybe I could take a trip around the world ;-)
  4. If you could change one moment in your life, what would it be? Nothing. Every experience, good and bad, have brought me to the place I’m at right now. I wouldn’t change it, it is where I am supposed to be.
  5. What size shoe are you? 7 in regular shoes, 7 1/2 in sneakers
  6. What brands are you currently wearing on you? Old Navy jeans with a Calvin Klein top and an Express Blazer
  7. Are you Apple, Android or dare I speak it, Blackberry? Apple
  8. Can you eat only one Lays chip? Yeah, I’m not a huge chip person. If I do go for chips it is Tostidos
  9. Which TV show character are you most like? Kelly on The Office, Rachel from Friends, DJ Tanner from Full House or Rory from Gilmore Girls? – I don’t really think I am like any of these women. Maybe Rachel towards the end of the series when she got her act together after years of working in the coffee-house and finally getting together with Ross (ok it was ten years ago, this should not be a spoiler alert!

My Nominees - (I’m only nominating 5 bloggers, I know a few of you are participating in Blogging 101 this month, so if you choose not to participate, I understand). I chose bloggers who I’ve enjoyed reading in the past few weeks and I am interested in getting to know more about. Souzapalooza readers, please visit them!! Come on, you know I have good taste, I wouldn’t steer you wrong!

My Questions – 

  1. What’s your favorite meal?
  2. How do you deal with stress?
  3. What is your favorite book?
  4. Who has been the most influential person in your life this far?
  5. What is your favorite game (board, card or recreational)
  6. What is your all time favorite TV show?
  7. If you could have one super power, what would it be and why?
  8. Other than your blog, what is your favorite form of Social Media?
  9. Which family member are you most like?
  10. If salary and skill set were not an issue, what would your dream job be?
  11. What’s your biggest vice?

Halloween Horror Nights

As I mentioned yesterday in my post about Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween, the whole motivation for our trip to Orlando was that Irish Kat and I wanted to attend the Hollywood Horror Nights at Universal Studios. Halloween Horror Nights is a night-time event at Universal Studios Theme Park that takes place on specific evenings during the weeks leading up to Halloween. The park sets up eight different haunted houses through out the park, each with their own theme, as well as four different street experiences, two shows, as well as a few rides that are left open for the evening.

Universal Halloween Horror Nights
Universal Halloween Horror Nights

Irish Kat and I got to the park around while it was still light out and walked straight through MASKerade – Unstitched, one of the street experiences where actors in masquerade ball attire pull of their masks so reveal hideous deformities underneath. We jumped on to the first line we saw, the queue for the From Dusk Till Dawn Haunted House.  This house was based on the TV series about a biker bar infested with a race of vampire-esque creatures who don’t drink with, but rather from their clientele.

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Walking out of the first house, we saw the queue for The Walking Dead House stretching out pretty far, so we decided to hold off on joing that line and work our way back towards it when it (hopefully died down). We walked through the Face Off In the Flesh and Bayou of Blood Street preformers and made our way to do back to back house of Roanoake the LostColony and Dollhouse of the Damned. The Roanoake house was based on the lost american settelment of Roanoke, Virginia, which Universal Studios believes to be distroyed by canibalisim based on what I saw in the house. Dollhouse of the Damned was super creepy with all these dolls staring at you with missing limbs, dead eyes just staring at you and life size “dolls” jumping out at you.

Outside the "Dollhouse"
Outside the “Dollhouse”

After the “dollhouse” we waited on line for an hour to walk through the Halloween House. Halloween the 1978 classic about Michael Meyers escaping from a mental institution to return to his hometown to kill again. This house was worth the wait. Taking place on the actual Halloween set, you walk through the house with Michaels coming out at you when you least expect him. Is that a statue or a live Michael?!? We needed some drinks after that one.

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We got on line for “The Walking Dead:End of The Line” the haunted house based on the hit AMC TV show. The wait said 60 minutes, and if it was, it flew by! The line for this attraction was right in from of a perfromance stage so trivia questions about season 5 kept popping up which was a great way to pass the time. This house is set up some what like the way the 5th season unfolded, bodies quarintined in the Cell Block C’s make shift hospital ward, walking through an old market full of walkers, walkers popping out from overgrown ivy walls, and of course, ending up in Terminus. Thankfully Irish Kat and I escaped both the walkers and the Terminus folks, we will have to see if our group escapes from Terminus in the upcoming season starting October 12th.

The Walking Dead : The End of the Line
The Walking Dead : End of the Line

Screaming and jumping out of your skin can really work up a thirst, so we took a little break from the Halloween action and walked over to Moe’s Tavern to have a Duff Beer and a snack. Then it was back to see if we could fit in the last few houses before the park closed. We knocked Dracula Untold – Reign of Blood off the list when we walked through with three frightened teen girls, one who grabbed my hand thinking I’d offer some sort of protection from the undead. Then we ran over to Giggles and Gore, Inc., a haunted house for those afraid of creepy clowns and we managed to squeeze in AVP: Alien Versus Predator full of creatures and set from the movie franchises baring the same name.

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If you are in to horror, gore, and like the hairs on the back of your next to stand up in fear, there is no better place than Universal Studios for Halloween Horror Nights!

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Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party

The idea behind our Orlando trip originated when Irish Kat posted an item about Universal Studio’s Halloween Horror Nights on Facebook and spured a decison that this year, her and I would attend and enjoy some true frights (and don’t worry… you’ll hear about it; im saving the best for last!). Ka-Ka wanted to join us, because she has wanted to go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter since its inception and we invited The Flash to come because we thought she could use a little break from all her NYC marathon training to do something fun. However, since The Flash isn’t a huge fan of things that go bump in the night, she wanted to skip HHN and attend something a little less grosome, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. Unfortuntatly, they weren’t happening on the same night, but we all decided to go to Mickey’s party anyway. Tickets were only $62 and you get to enter the park at 4pm and stay untill Midnight which is eight hours of fun in the Magic Kingdom!

So we all got dressed up in our Disney character costumes, and headed over to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. The Flash was Russel from Up, Ka-Ka was Princess Aurora from Sleeping Beauty, I was Mary Poppins, and Irish Kat was Snow White.  MNSSH (as I will be abreviating it going forward) really is a fun time! Guests are allowed to dress up as their favortie characters and go trick-or-treating through the park. There is a special “Boo to You” Halloween Parade and It’s a chance for your favorite villans to take over the park and special characters come out to play. It is the one time during the year that all seven dwarfs leave the mine and get together for a group photo with park guests.

I had attended the MNSSH before, in 2012 when The Other Sister and I ran the Tower of Terror 10 Miler. We added MNSSH to our itinerary as a treat for completeing the race. Some things were the same (we did get to see the dwarfs when we were there) but in true Disney form, it was a unique and magical experience. I think that is something that people forget about Disney. Every trip is an experience. Those who go often, forget about the wonder, magic and surprises that Disney weaves in to every fabric of the experience. The smells on Main Street, the lighting, the queues for rides, all reflect tiny details that make the experience that much more special. I feel that everyone’s trip should be unique and if you rush through to stick to a schedule, check things off a list or go through the park the same way every time, you can miss out on so much of magic. In a place like Magic Kingdom, to not have your mind and your heart open to the experience of just strolling through the park, you may as well just stay home.  You’re on vacation after all, why not make it a jolly holiday!

If you want to read more about other’s experiences in Disney at Halloween, check out these Blog Posts:

Why I Run Disney – Visiting Disney California Adventure at Halloween Time in 2009 for this Throwback Thursday 

Living in a Grown Up World – TGIF Pic of the Week – Enjoy Some “Not So Scary” Halloween Fun at WDW!

Theme Park Princess – Happy Halloween in September

Anyone Hungry? Food and Wine Time at Epcot

Our trip was fortunate enough to fall with in the most delicious time of year at Walt Disney World, Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival Time! Each year, the World Showcase in Epcot hosts a Food and Wine Festival bringing culinary delights and a wide array of beer and wines.

Epcot’s World Showcase represents eleven countries year round – Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, United States of America, Japan, Morocco, France, United Kingdom, and Canada. The Food and Wine Festival brings in foods from all these place in addition to items from New Zealand, Australia, Africa, Singapore, Poland, Belgium, Brazil, Ireland, Greece, Puerto Rico, and Scotland.

The Ladies and I worked our way around the booths (and through the rain) tasting some of the delicacies offered. Some of our favorites included the following:

  • Grilled Beef Skewers with Chimichurri Sauce – Patagonia
  • Garlic Shrimp with Roasted Tomatoes – Australia
  • Grilled Lamb Chops with Mint Pesto – Australia
  • Grilled ‘Yard Bird’ with Braised Greens – Farm Fresh Stand
  • Chicken Potstickers – China
  • Ravioli alla Caprese – Italy
  • Baked Lobster Alfredo – USA
  • Ice Cream Sundaes with Ghirardelli Sauce – USA
  • Crispy Pork Belly with Black Beans – Brazil
  • Pao de Queijo (Brazillian Cheese Bread) – Brazil
  • Cheddar Cheese Soup – Canada
  • Seared Rainbow Trout – Canada
  • Wild Mushroom Beef Filet Mignon with Truffle Butter – Canada
  • Spanakopita – Greece

and of course Dole Whips (which are usually only served in Adverntureland, however for the food and wine festival they are served at the Refreshment Port)

Some of our (and by our I mean me and Irish Kat… Ka-Ka and The Flash are teetotalers) favorite drink offerings were:

  • Florida Orange Groves, Key Limen – Key Lime Wine – Farm Fresh Stand
  • Schofferhofer Grapefruit – Brewer’s Collection Stand (also available in Germany year round and soooo good!)
  • Prosecco, Bosco del Merlo – Italy
  • Frozen Margarita with Limoncello and Tequila – Italy
  • Sam Adams Octoberfest – USA
  • Frozen Caipirinha featuring LeBlon Cachaca – Brazil

and of course, my favorite from France, the Grand Marnier Orange Slush (I never leave Epcot with out one!)

Princess Souzapalooza and her Grand Marnier Orange Slugh
Princess Souzapalooza and her Grand Marnier Orange Slush

Have you been to the Food and Wine Festival at Epcot? What are your favorite items?

Making Fantasy A Reality; My Adventures in the Wizarding World Of Harry Potter

I’m sure you have been wondering where I have been the past few days since I haven’t done any real posting since last Friday. Well, Ka-Ka, The Flash and Irish Kat took a trip down to Orlando for a little break from reality. We partook in a few different events, but today I am going to share a bit about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios and Universal Islands of Adventure.

Hogwarts Express
Hogwarts Express

Now, for those of you who have yet to check out this amazing new addition to the Universal Theme Parks, let me give you a quick run down. Universal has two theme parks: Studios and Islands of Adventure (aka IOA). The original wizarding themed area was an interpretation of Hoagsmeade, the town where Horwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is located. Earlier this year, Universal opened a second Harry Potter themed area in the Studio Park which was an interpretation of Diagon Alley, located in ‘Muggle’ London. These two areas are connected by the “Hogwarts Express Train Ride” which transports witches and wizards from King’s Cross Station in London, to Hogsmeade (or vice versa… the two trips are unique experiences) if you have a Park to Park ticket. This is the ONLY WAY to ride the Hogwarts Express ride, so make sure you buy the correct ticket.

Ka-Ka & The Flash about to enter Platform 9 3/4
About to enter Platform 9 3/4
and there they go!
and there they go!

We entered from the Studio side and took the Hogwarts Express from King’s Cross to Hogsmeade. The attention to detail on the station is amazing. You even get to see “students” walk through the wall to platform 9 3/4. Everyone gets on their train car and in to their compartment and head off to Hogsmeade. I do not want to give away to many details of the ride, but it is pretty cool!

Souzapalooza Sisters working their magic
Souzapalooza Sisters working their magic

Upon disembarking in Hogsmeade, Ka-Ka, Flash, Irish Kat and I headed over to Olivander’s Makers of Fine Wands since 382 BC, because all ‘first years’ need wands. This was probably the most exciting part of the day because Ka-Ka and I were both chosen by wands in Olivander’s! Who knew two muggle borns like us were destined for greatness!?! We practiced some magic with our wands, drank frozen butter beer (which we found to be much tastier than the regular version) and went on to ride The Forbidden Journey (the ride with in the Hogwarts building) and both sides of the Dragon Challenge.

The Dragon at Gringotts
The Dragon at Gringotts

We rode the Hogwart’s Express back to King’s Crossing and explored Diagon Alley. Diagon Alley has more of a city feel, which is fitting since it is located in London (well at least the Universal Studio’s version of London). Diagon Alley is home to lots of well-known shops like Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes, Magical Menagerie, The Leaky Cauldron and of course Knockturn Alley’s Borgin and Burkes. The big attraction in Diagon Alley of course is Gringott’s Bank, the location for the newest ride, Escape from Gringotts and home to a fire-breathing dragon.

Overall, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is an impressive feat by the creative team at Universal Theme Parks. Their attention to deal has made both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley a feast for the senses. If you are a fan and have the means to visit, take a trip. You will not be disappointed.

The Flash, Ka-Ka, Souzapalooza & Irish Kat outside Hogwarts
The Flash, Ka-Ka, Souzapalooza & Irish Kat outside Hogwarts – One of my favorite pictures from the trip

 

New Look, Same Blog

Those of you who log on to read the Souzapalooza Blog regularly may notice a change today. I am taking a WordPress class on-line to improve my blogging and today’s assignment was to try out some of the themes available on WordPress.  The theme is the layout and design on your blog.

Changing my theme had been something I had been tinkering with for a while. I loved the Contempt Theme I had been using however, I did choose it over four years ago. I am not the same person I was four years ago, so why should my blog be stuck wearing the colors of the past?

So, what do you think of the new look? Take the poll below?

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