Pinterest Pumpkin Muffins

I saw a super easy pumpkin muffin recipe on Pinterest that was so easy I didn’t even bother pinning it. All it requires is a box of cake mix and a can of pumpkin. Seriously. It’s basically this recipe: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/easy-pumpkin-muffins/.

A friend of mine recommended using spice cake mix instead of yellow, so that’s what I got. When I bought the ingredients last night, I forgot to buy a can opener so I had to wait until today to try them (By the way, don’t be cheap and buy the $2.99 can opener at Target because it doesn’t work. Now I’m going to have to go back and get the expensive one that I should have just splurged for in the first place.) I dumped the cake mix in a bowl, threw in the pumpkin and blended it together. It was a little too pumpkin-y for my tastes, so I added in some nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla extract. I baked them at 350 for 25 minutes and they are just about perfect. I think I’ll leave them in a couple minutes longer next time because they’re a little mushy, but they taste fantastic. I think they’re about 2 WW PP, so I plan on having one for breakfast along with my morning banana. Yum yum yum.

ETA: Apparently they are only 2 PP if you make 24 mini muffins. What’s the point of that? A mini muffin is just going to make me think I can eat multiple because they’re small. Anyway, I made 12 normal sized ones so they’re like 4 points each, which sucks because I can’t stop eating them.

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The Year of Being Sick

I don’t know what it is about this year, but the hubby and I both seem to constantly be ill. Cysts, MRSA, allergies, colds, you name it. I’ve used five sick days at work already and I still have more than three months to go!

My husband started back to work a couple of weeks ago and he just found out last week that there is strep going around one of the schools. He developed a sore throat the next day. It progressively got worse and worse, but I naively thought that there was no way I would catch whatever he had. Sure enough, I woke up Saturday morning with a sore throat. I was pissed, not only because I knew I was sick, but because it meant having to cancel plans to see my best friend’s little sisters (who are actually MY friends now, how weird is that?!). They were supposed to come over, but I was scared that we were contagious and I didn’t want to spread this to anyone else.

I didn’t realize how badly I felt until Saturday afternoon when we went outside to cut the grass. I was weak and dizzy and just felt awful. That evening I went to the store to pick up some necessities:

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Sunday was much of the same. We went to church and then slept most of the day. I couldn’t sleep that night, and when I woke up on Monday morning, I knew there was no way I was going to work. The two of us spent the day lying around watching tv, napping, and sucking on cough drops. My throat continued to burn worse and worse, while the hubby had progressed into a nice hacking cough and nonstop sneezing. Around 4:00 I decided I needed to go to the doctor. After consulting Facebook to find out if antibiotics are absolutely necessary for strep (yay nurse friends!) I realized I needed to give in and get them. I really wanted to avoid them since I’ve been on so many this year alone, but I couldn’t take it anymore. I convinced the hubby to come with me and off we went. It only took 3 hours (note: sarcasm) but we found out that we have regular throat infections (not strep! Yay!) that should clear up with five days of super strong nausea-inducing antibiotics:

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I ended up staying home on Tuesday as well since I was still running a slight fever and felt horrible. I spent most of the day snuggled on the couch with my favorite things: tea, pajamas, and my penguin blanket.

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Six days later and I am FINALLY starting to feel better. I can swallow without crying, my nose has stopped leaking, and I’m not sweating buckets anymore. I’m hoping that a couple more days of rest and medicine will put me back at 100%.

10 Days at Disney: Drinks!

My husband and I are not big drinkers and are definitely not experts by any means. I like wine and am not overly picky, while he prefers mixed drinks. I did a bunch of wine tastings in Italy when I was there for work, but I’ve forgotten most of what I learned and pretty much just remember that chianti classico is my favorite.

That being said, on vacation we like to try new drinks. People probably don’t think of alcohol when they hear “Disney World,” so they would probably be surprised to learn about all the different options available! We really wanted to try a drink in every country at Epcot this time, and we were almost successful.

Mexico
We are big fans of the drinks in Mexico. Hubby’s favorite is the margarita stand outside, while my favorite is La Cava de Tequila snide the pavilion.

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The “Fiesta Margarita” is available at the stand outside and is layered with lime, strawberry, and mango flavors. Later in the week, we got one that was just lime and mango, so you can mix and match however you’d like. These are pre-made margaritas in those big slushie machines, so they’re not particularly strong, but they’re cold and tasty!

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La Cava de Tequila makes margaritas made-to-order, and they are fabulous. I chose the pineapple one this time, and it was good, but not my favorite. I’ve also had the classic and the avocado – for someone who hates avocado, I think that is my favorite drink here!

Norway
Norway offers shots, beer, and wine. We pondered the choices a few times but nothing on it ever appealed to us.

Germany
Germany obviously has beer options, but neither of us drink beer. Before we left NJ, I heard about a wine flight offered in the back of the pavilion, so that was immediately put on my must-do list. You get a choice of 3 wines and they’re served on a map with a short description of each.

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The “Diva” Riesling was AMAZING. Even the hubby liked it and he doesn’t like wine. It was light and sweet and just perfect.

China
We didn’t get anything from China this time, but I have tried the green tea plum wine slush in the past – I didn’t like it.

America
We’ve never seen anything worth trying here. On one trip when we were attempting to drink around the World, we ordered a beer and ended up throwing most of it out.

Japan
I’ve tried the hot sake from the kaki gori cart before and it was ok, but not the best choice for the middle of summer. They’ve expanded their options and I figured I would try a plum wine.

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It was… OK. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it either. It was nice and cold and fruity, but not something I would get again.

Inside Mitsukoshi, they have a sake bar. I’ve always wanted to try something here, but I’ve been too shy. I don’t know why exactly. I was buying candy and happened to notice that they had a sparkling sake which instantly grabbed my attention. I loooove sparkling anything. Next time we were in there, I ordered one and it was fantastic. It was light and bubbly and really fruity… Almost like a super light champagne. I would definitely get this again, or even search for it at home.

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Morocco
They serve beer and mixed drinks here, but nothing piqued our interest enough to try.

France
This is another one of our favorites. They serve this great Grey Goose lemon slushie at the wine kiosk outside, and we usually make multiple stops here on every trip, but the price is now over $10 per drink and it’s just not worth it. We each got one for tradition’s sake, but this is no longer our favorite Epcot drink.

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I had heard about a wine flight here too, so I ventured off in search of it and found a little wine store I never knew existed. They also give you a choice of 3 wines, but don’t offer the fun map like Germany does. We had the Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Reisling, mostly because those were the ones I knew I could pronounce without embarrassing myself.

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They were all ok, but Germany won hands down.

UK
We’ve always skipped the UK because we assumed all they offered was beer. We actually ventured inside the Rose & Crown Pub this time and I discovered my New Favorite Drink: the English Rose. It’s probably not authentic at all, and was just created by some Imagineer somewhere, but for only $7.00, it’s a great deal and super delicious. It tastes like fruity Sprite, but actually has quite a bit of gin in it. We got another one later in the week that was considerably stronger, so it really depends on who makes it.

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Canada
Canada is another pavilion that mostly serves beer and an invented cocktail (the “Torontopolitan”) so we took a pass here as well. Having eaten at Le Cellier multiple times and enjoyed the Inniskillen ice wine, nothing else was good enough 🙂

Animal Kingdom
We’ve never tried any drinks at AK before, but saw a margarita cart this time and decided to get their version of Epcot’s Fiesta margarita: the Triple Yeti Blast. Same concept, but not as good.

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Polynesian Resort
I have always wanted to visit the bar here, but we never have time or always put it off and forget about it. We had some extra time before our dinner reservation at Chef Mickey’s, so we decided to go have a pre-dinner drink. I knew I was going to get the Lapu Lapu because even though it gets so-so reviews in taste, I NEEDED to have a drink in a pineapple.

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I wouldn’t order it again, but it was fun and I’m glad I got it. Hubby ordered the habanero lime margarita and WOW. We will definitely going back there to get more of those! I would even dare say that it is my favorite margarita in WDW.

10 Days at Disney: Pop Century Resort

As I mentioned in my introductory post, we opted not to stay on property during our first Disney vacation because the Value resorts didn’t appeal to us. After that trip and a LOT of researching, I realized that staying on property is SO much better, so we decided on Pop Century for our December 2005 trip. Pop got great reviews and I liked that it had its own bus service, whereas the All Stars resorts shared buses.

During that trip, we were assigned a room in the 70s section – the room itself was perfect for what we needed, but the 70s was too far from the main building where the food court, shop, arcade, and bus stops are located. After staying there, we knew that next time we would request a room in the 50s section. In 2006, 2007, and 2009 we got our requested section. In 2008, we were traveling with my best friend and we required an accessible room for her that connected to ours. Because of this, we were assigned ground floor rooms in the 60s – most people would probably love this since we were super close to the main pool, but we discovered that we enjoy being close to the parking lot since we drive ourselves to the parks most of the time. I also despise ground floor rooms because of all the little lizards and other critters running around.

In 2010, we thought we would try one of the moderate resorts and chose Port Orleans Riverside because it got such wonderful reviews. It was ok, but we didn’t really think we got much more for our money. The room was in serious need of refurbishment and we just don’t spend enough time at the resort to make a moderate worth it. We knew that we would definitely be back at Pop for our next trip.

Pop was refurbished in 2010, so we were looking forward to seeing the updated rooms. We didn’t notice much of a difference except for the flat screen tv (which didn’t work very well – almost none of the channels came in clear during our stay). They changed the dresser so now there is less storage space, and they repainted the walls and changed the bedspreads.

When we checked in, we were assigned a room in the 90s and immediately asked if there was anything in the 50s instead. The cast member found us a room and we were on our way shortly after that. After unpacking and showering, we headed out for dinner. When we got back that evening, our card wouldn’t open the gate, but that’s not all that unusual. However, when we got to our room, we couldn’t get the door open either. We tried both cards several times with no luck, so I headed down to reception. The cast member there gave me two new cards and sent me on my way. When I got back up to the room, I saw the hubby was talking to a cast member and the door was open. There was another guest a floor below us who told us that when his family checked in, they were given our room first. I tried the new room keys, but they didn’t work. I called the front desk and explained the situation and the cast member I spoke with told me that the room wasn’t ours. I told her that yes, it is ours – all our stuff is here and our keys worked just fine before – but all she could say was that it wasn’t our room. She put me on hold for awhile and then transferred me to someone else who explained there was a “computer error” and someone else had been assigned to our room and all of the keys had been deactivated in the process of sorting things out. They sent someone else up with another new set of room keys, that thankfully worked for the remainder of our trip.

Other issues we had were that the toilet would not stop running after flushing it unless we jiggled the handle around, the hair dryer broke when I was in the middle of using it, and there were tons of flying insects hanging around outside our door (and everyone else’s) and it was impossible to stop them from coming inside the room. I realize we could have complained about any of these problems when we were there, but I just didn’t care enough. I did call housekeeping when the hair dryer broke and they sent up a new one within about 5 minutes.

We still love Pop, but I think we’ve graduated to a new kind of vacation. We realized that we’re not Park Commandos anymore, and that we would enjoy a couple of stay-at-the-resort-and-relax days. We could do that at Pop, but it wouldn’t be nearly as enjoyable as staying at, say, the Polynesian 😉 We’ve decided to save up our money and stay at the Poly next time, doing less park days, and more relaxation days.

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As If I Needed Another Reason to Dislike Yardwork

We’ve been putting off doing something with the flower beds in the front yard ever since we moved in 9 months ago. The farthest we’ve gotten was raking some leaves out. Since we haven’t done any kind of maintenance, the two beds have become completely overrun with weeds.

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You’ll notice the railing is still broken. I think we’re going to have to call someone to replace the whole thing. Ugh.

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I hate this stupid plant. It flowered for, like, a week and then shriveled up and died and has looked like this ever since. Spiders love it, and they build webs between it and our cars. Unacceptable.

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I decided that I wanted to rip out everything except for the bushes and fill in everything with mulch. I figured I could do that on my own, while the hubby spent the day getting ready for the new school year. My dad offered to come over and help me, and we planned to start at 9am on Saturday morning.

I woke up a little earlier and went downstairs to get started. I had most of the weeds pulled out by the time my dad got there, so he worked on digging out the rose bushes and the larger roots. We were done with the right side by 10:30am but realized we were a little short on mulch. When the hubby and I originally bought it a couple months ago, we thought three bags would be more than enough to cover both sides. Ha! Three bags barely covered half of the right side. We went over to Home Depot, bought nine more bags, and headed back to the house.

Finished product:

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I think the angel statue has to go, but for now it does a good job filling in space.

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No more ugly plant! Soon there will be grass there!

After a short break, we got started on the left side. It should be noted that before we went on vacation, we discovered a yellow jacket nest over there. My dad poured boiling water down the hole and it seemed to do the trick. When we got home on Friday afternoon, however, we noticed that they were back. This is foreshadowing.

I started ripping out flowers and weeds on the side closest to the neighbor’s house, while my dad started cutting down the rose bush. I went inside for a minute to put some sunscreen on my face and when I got back outside, I started to wonder if maybe we should have done the boiling water thing again. Just as this thought entered my mind, my dad started yelling and jumping around. He ripped his gloves off and threw them down, while some very colorful words I had never heard him say before came flying out of his mouth. He was stung, so I tried to usher him inside the house to wash it out and get it taken care of. Those little bastards were swarming all around him and about five of them followed us into the house. He ended up getting stung three times: on his finger, on his arm, and on his hip (one of them got stuck in his shirt). I got stung on the back of my thigh. It was the first time I’ve ever been stung by anything and WOW. I had no idea how much it would hurt! We both downed a couple Benadryl, put some frozen vegetables on our wounds, and killed the remaining culprits flying around in the kitchen.

He ended up going back to Home Depot to get some spray while I sat inside and got progressively more drowsy from the medication. We cleaned up outside and called it a day. I took a shower and went to bed to sleep off the medicine. I slept from about 1pm until 6:30pm. By 10:00 that night, I could barely keep my eyes open. I had called my dad around eight to see how he was doing and he was also complaining of feeling unusually tired. We talked about going to the ER but ultimately decided we were ok for now and we would see how we felt the next morning. I was in bed by 11 and slept straight through to the next morning. After church I went back to bed and slept for the entire afternoon. The pain had mostly subsided by that point, and I was just left with some annoying itching.

We went over to my dad’s for a Labor Day BBQ and we were both a mess. He was so tired that he said he was nodding off while sitting down watching tv, plus he was complaining of aches and pains all over. The hubby consulted Dr. Google and we determined that we weren’t having an allergic reaction, we would take more medicine and regroup in the morning. I talked to him a little while ago and we both feel SO much better. I’m still itchy, but not nearly as bad, and my fatigue has reduced to my normal level. He isn’t as achy and isn’t tired at all anymore.

The spray doesn’t seem to have slowed down the little buggers at all, so our plan tonight is to flood them out with the hose. I read some other suggestions online involving gasoline and homemade flamethrowers, but the nest is a little too close to the house for us to start playing with fire.