Throwback Thursday: Halloween Edition

When I was little, I dressed up as all kinds of things: a clown, Jem, Lady Lovely Locks, a 50s girl, “Miss Kitty” (which I later learned was basically a madam from the wild west – I’m sure that went over really well in my strict, Catholic elementary school – I liked it because it had a pretty pink dress and a feather for my hair), etc. Freshman and Sophomore years of high school I was too cool to dress up – I’m pretty sure I went trick-or-treating as a “Catholic School Girl” my Freshman year – really original, Er.

Then Junior year hit and my friends and I were borderline obsessed with the Spice Girls. We went to see the movie in the theater and everything, although I don’t have a clue what it was about – I must have blocked it out of my memory. We knew every word to every song on their CD. Naturally, we HAD to be them for Halloween. So, this totally happened:

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Obviously I was Baby Spice. I borrowed a too-short dress from my friend, V (Posh Spice in the green), and threw my hair into some pigtails with mismatched scrunchies and I was all set. V and I were at my locker after this picture was taken and our slightly-pervy-but-really-cool Freshman World History teacher was in the hallway. He took one look at us and exclaimed, “I’ll tell ya what I want, what I really really want!” Our jaws hit the floor and we booked it out of there laughing our butts off. Everyone loved our costumes and we even made it into the yearbook!

Flash-forward to Senior year. I really wanted to do another group costume and I had it stuck in my head that we should somehow do the Wizard of Oz. I told V and S my plan and they immediately agreed – V volunteered to be the Scarecrow, S said she wanted to be the Good Witch, and I claimed Dorothy since the whole thing was my idea. We asked our other friend, S (Sporty Spice above) if she wanted in and she reluctantly agreed but only if she could be Toto. Fine by us! That left us needing a Tin Man, Lion, and Wicked Witch. We knew we needed guys for two of the parts, so we turned on our girlish charm and begged persuaded my now-husband and his friend to help us out. Hubby said he would be the Lion and Friend said he would be the Tin Man – Friend said he would handle his costume so we let him figure it out. We asked our History teacher if she would mind being the Wicked Witch, and she thought it was a great idea, so we were all set.

The night before costume day at school (which was not actually ON Halloween, mind you), V, S, and I set off in search of costumes (nothing like waiting until the last second). We found mine and S’s right away, along with some lion accessories for hubby. We thought the Scarecrow would be super easy to find, but we drove all over the state (and by that, I mean that we tried at least three stores in our immediate area, but it took all night) and came up empty-handed. We finally ended up at a real costume store (i.e., NOT Party City) and told the lady what we were looking for. She said we were in luck because she happened to have one more Scarecrow! V tried it on and it was perfect. We were so excited, we were literally bouncing all over the store. We went to pay and our hearts broke when she told us it would be $50. Between the three of us, we had a total of about $38. The owner saw our disappointment and we explained the situation to her. She didn’t even think about it – she just handed over the costume for $38 and told us to enjoy it. She said that we seemed like “such nice girls” and she knew we really needed it.

We ended up with a blonde Dorothy (with purple platform Skechers instead of ruby slippers because we couldn’t find any red shoes), a Good Witch who was mistaken for a “pregnant fairy” by a teacher, an AWESOME Tin Man (Friend went all out and painted his face and hands silver!), a slightly-moody Toto, and a really, really good Scarecrow. We made the yearbook again (I know I have a color photo somewhere, but for the life of me I cannot find it):

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V and I left school that day and she had to go to the post office to mail a college application. She didn’t want to get out of the car looking like a weirdo, so after much arguing, I was nominated to be the one to go inside. May I remind you again that it was NOT actually Halloween yet and I was dressed up as Dorothy? I got a lot of looks and a few comments from people asking if I knew what day it was, but I survived and V got into that school so it all worked out.

While we were doing that, hubby, the Good Witch and Toto were stuck at a gas station attempting to put out a minor car fire. I wasn’t there, but I can imagine the looks that THEY got.

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Frankenstein: A Review

I like to read, A LOT. I’ve recently decided that I should try to incorporate some more “classical” works of literature into my reading list to help me with writing. I thought it would be good to read (or re-read as the case may be) some of the popular classics – I’ve read most of them in high school or college, but I didn’t appreciate them at the time (shocking, I know) and I feel like they deserve a second chance. I’ve downloaded a bunch for free on my iPad, and I have a handful of other sitting on the bookshelf. The first one I decided to tackle is Frankenstein, at my husband’s recommendation (he didn’t actually read the whole thing, but he thought I would probably like it).

Frankenstein (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

I admit that I skipped the introduction with all the back-story and I stopped consulting the footnotes after the first chapter because I just couldn’t be bothered, AND I may have even skimmed through some parts of the actual book because I was losing interest. That being said, I really enjoyed the story and was surprised by some of the plot twists. Frankenstein, who is NOT the monster by the way (I knew that going in, but I know a lot of people don’t realize this), had a rough time growing up – his parents took in an orphaned girl as their own daughter, his mom died, he moved around a lot. He found comfort in reading about science and was super excited for college. But, when he got to college and told one of his professors what he had been reading and learning about, this professor basically told him he was a loser for believing any of that nonsense. This turned Frankenstein’s view of the world upside-down and he ended up bitter and jaded and decided to see if he could put a bunch of people-pieces together and make a person. Naturally this is what one would do in this situation.

Surprisingly enough, he was successful and then decided that maybe it wasn’t such a good idea after all. So, instead of taking responsibility for his actions or destroying his creation, he runs away and tries to ignore it. I get it, he was overwhelmed and didn’t want to deal with it. This turns out to be another bad move. The monster wreaks havoc on Frankenstein’s life and the two of them eventually run into each other and have to deal with their issues.

There was a ton of flowery description in this book, and that tends to bore me, so those are the parts I skipped. I feel like it would have been better just sticking to the point and forgetting about the mountains or the boat or whatever Mary Shelley went on and on describing. I can usually get through a book of this size in a weekend, but it took me FOUR WEEKS to finish this one – not because it was boring, but it was definitely not an easy read.

Next on my list is Pride and Prejudice, but first I need a break and will be diving into Inferno by Dan Brown.

Things I Hate That Everyone Else Seems to Love

I admit this is not my idea. I’ve seen it on at least two other blogs (Sometimes Sweet and Life of Love come to mind), but I’m feeling especially complain-y and odd today so I am blatantly jumping on this bandwagon.

This is a list of things that I don’t like, that everyone else around me seems to love:

  • Coffee, including all coffee-flavored things
  • Chocolate covered fruit (or any combination of the two)
  • Chevron
  • The mustache trend all over Pinterest
  • Those tulle tutus on little girls
  • Headbands and/or giant bows on little girls
  • Red meat
  • Modern Family, Arrested Development, the Housewives shows, pretty much any celebrity reality show
  • Shoes (I often feel like I am failing at being a woman because I live in flip flops, sneakers, and my furry boots. I don’t get the whole shoe obsession.)
  • Running
  • Mayo
  • Eggs
  • Anchorman
  • Jelly

So, what’s on your list?

Disney’s Polynesian Resort: A Review

As I mentioned on my Disney page, my hubby and I have stayed at several on-property resorts. On our first trip, back in 2004, we stayed off-property because I mistakenly thought it would be too expensive to stay at a Disney Resort. I looked at all of them and the only one that appealed to me was the Polynesian – the Hawaii theme looked so exotic and relaxing, and so different from anywhere we had ever stayed. It was way over our budget, though, so off to the Springhill Suites we went! (That hotel was awesome, by the way.)

Aside from hanging out at the Poly and eating a few meals there, we didn’t get to actually stay there until 2009. We were booked into Pop Century, but as a surprise to my hubby I booked our first night at the Poly on the club level. I figured if we were going to do it, we were going to do it right! When we arrived and started checking in, they informed us that we had been upgraded to the Princess Suite, which turned out to be a two-bedroom, two-bathroom enormous suite large enough for a family of eight or more. Seriously. It had a patio and a clear view of Cinderella’s Castle. We watched the fireworks that night from the comfort of our air-conditioned living room.

Last year we stayed at Pop Century again, and it just wasn’t how we had remembered it. Maybe we’ve just outgrown the over-sized icons and the non-stop party at the pool, but we decided that we would save all year so that we could stay at the Poly the whole time during this year’s trip. And that is exactly what we did! I booked it in May and I didn’t tell hubby that I confirmed a club level room. Hey, there was a 30% promotion and the club level ended up being only slightly more than what we had planned on paying for a plain old regular room, so I figured why not?

I don’t think we will ever be able to stay anywhere else again. We arrived to the main building and were escorted over to the Hawaii building to check in. Our room wasn’t ready yet, but we were told to head upstairs to the lounge and enjoy some snacks while we waited. They took my cell phone number and were going to text us when the room was ready. We sat in the lounge munching on cheddar Goldfish, cookies, and drinking our weight in various juices. After about two hours of that, one of the Cast Members asked us if we were still waiting. I told her we were, and she informed me that sometimes the texts don’t go through, so I went back downstairs and sure enough, our room had been ready for quite some time. Oh well.

I had requested a room on a high floor and with a balcony. I was secretly hoping for some more Disney magic, but we weren’t so lucky this time. We did get a room on the second floor, but no balcony. It faced the quiet pool and a bunch of trees, which actually didn’t turn out to be so bad. We discovered as the week went on that the resort was swarming with mosquitoes, so we spent as little time as possible outside anyway. Our room was right down the hall from the lounge, offering easy (maybe too easy) access to the goodies. All of the rooms have recently been redesigned:

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The lounge was fantastic. There were a variety of muffins, bagels, toast, and cereal available in the morning, along with milk, water, and juice. Then at mid-day they put out snacks that rotated daily: gummy bears, yogurt-covered pretzels, Goldfish, some kind of snack mix, cookies, etc. In the evening, they had appetizers and drinks – one night was bacon-wrapped chicken (YUM), one night was mini beef wellingtons, another night was meatballs and crab rangoon. Each night there were veggies and fruit, along with a cheese and cracker tray, plus kid-friendly snacks (PB&J, mini corn dogs, pita bread and hummus). There were always at least three different kinds of wine, several varieties of beer, a mixed drink that was to die for (I asked for the recipe, but there was so much in it I can’t remember it all.), plus sodas, water, and juice. THEN, after that, they would put out desserts. There were mini cheesecakes, cookies, fruit, mousse, tarts, etc. We stayed for nine nights, and we never got tired of the snacks. We actually wished we had stayed longer so that we would have had some of the offerings more than once!

Snack Time:

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Breakfast:

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Appetizers:

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And Dessert:

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Overall, the Poly was fantastic. The Cast Members went above and beyond, it was quiet and relaxing, it is super convenient (the waterlaunch to Magic Kingdom might be our favorite “ride” in the whole World!), and we can’t wait to go back. I don’t know if we’ll be able to afford to go again next year, but we’re doing our best to save our pennies and cross our fingers for another summer promotion! I realize that this review focuses primarily on food, but that is one of the highlights of Disney for us, and one of the main reasons we wanted to stay club level. If we do end up being able to do it again in the future, we will definitely plan fewer meals at restaurants because it is so easy to just grab something in the lounge and make a meal there. I don’t know if we got our money’s worth, but we certainly tried and we definitely enjoyed ourselves!

Sometimes It’s OK to Be a Quitter

I took a big step last week and I quit something I’ve been doing for awhile now: Weight Watchers. In theory, this sounds like a bad thing, but I think it will be good for me. I haven’t tracked since sometime in mid-July and I’ve basically been throwing away $20 every month for nothing. Now, that’s not to say that WW doesn’t work or it’s a waste of money. It most certainly does work and I am proof of that. I’ve been and on-and-off member for the past 10 years and every time I join up again, it works. This most recent time, I went from 166 pounds to 134 – it took me a few years and a lot of work, and the numbers didn’t always move in the right direction, but still.

Before:

 

After (July of this year):

The problem is that I get bored and then I plateau. I need to change things up and keep my metabolism on its feet. I decided to give My Fitness Pal a try. I signed up for it way back when, when it first debuted and there was nothing in the database. I thought it sucked at the time. Now? Well, now it’s hugely popular and I have friends who use it and it has a TON of foods in the database (I’ve only had to add a couple really obscure things, but it even has most everything from Trader Joe’s already in there!).

I like that it gives me a breakdown of my carbs, fat, and protein intake per day and per week. It also shows me a breakdown of a variety of other vitamins and such so that I can really get a feel for where I need to cut back and what I need to include more. It provides a graph just like WW does, so that I can visually see my progress.

I’ve been using it for about a month now and although my weight is fluctuating, I’m seeing slight decreases. I haven’t been tracking religiously like I know I should, but I’ve been trying my best. I get frustrated when I go to the diner, for example, and I can’t figure out which “chicken quesadilla” to add from the list on MFP – so I give up and start over the next day. That’s probably a sign that I shouldn’t be going to the diner, huh?

I’m sure that at some point I’ll be a WW member again; I always go back to them. For now I’m taking a break and I think that’s OK.

When a Sandwich Is More Than Just a Sandwich

Whenever Christina and I used to go to Friendly’s, I would always order a tuna melt. Most of the time she would, too. On our second road trip up to Maine in 2004, we drove my car and we took turns driving the 10 hours. We stopped for lunch at a Friendly’s somewhere outside of Boston, and we had our usuals. I don’t know why this meal stands out to me; we didn’t talk about anything special and nothing out of the ordinary happened. We sat in a booth and we chatted like normal, laughing and excited about our week away in exotic-to-us Bangor. We had big plans to lounge around her grandma’s pool and go hiking at Arcadia National Park and just relax.

ImageYesterday at work, we were discussing what to have for lunch today for my co-worker’s birthday. For whatever reason, I had a feeling she would choose to order from the diner and I thought to myself, “Ooh, I’ll order a tuna melt.” Immediately I was back in that Massachusetts Friendly’s with Christina and this overwhelming sense of longing hit me in the middle of the workday. I haven’t seen her in almost two years and sometimes it just gets very lonely.

I have plenty of friends, and a loving husband and family, but a best friend is someone who cannot be replaced. She and I could finish each others sentences, and I knew that no matter what, I could talk to her about anything. She always offered the best advice and seemed to just instinctively know when I didn’t need anything more than an ear to listen and a shoulder to cry on. In my experience, those people come along only once in a lifetime and they are to be treasured.

It seems as though I constantly have something I want to tell her, or ask her about, or reminisce about. It’s very weird for me to think that those times it was just she and I hanging out are now my memories alone. I can no longer say to her, “Hey, remember when we…?” and laugh about whatever stupid thing we did. I can tell the stories to others, but it’s not the same as retelling the story together with someone. Just last week, we were talking about Sweet Sixteen parties at work and I was thinking about my own 16th birthday. I didn’t have a party. My parents told me I could invite some friends to dinner and the movies, so I chose four friends and we went to the Olive Garden and to the movies to see “The Game” (with Michael Douglas, remember that movie?). I was trying to remember who was there and I realized that Christina wasn’t. I thought to myself that I would have to ask her why, and in that same moment, almost at the exact same time I was planning an email or a phone call, I realized that I couldn’t ask her anything anymore. Like I said, it’s been almost two years, yet my brain still sometimes forgets.

Change Is Good (Or So They Say…)

Wow. When I wrote the previous post, it was after a few high-anxiety days and I didn’t think much of it when I clicked the Publish button. I’ve been toying around with the idea of writing more lately, so I figured I would post it over at Blogher as well. I thought that maybe a handful of people would read it. Maybe one or two of them would find their way over here.

My entry has been read over 1400 times and has been shared over 500 times on Facebook. I realize that to the experienced bloggers these numbers are probably minuscule, but to me this is HUGE. Last Friday night I received an email from the Executive Editor at Blogher telling me how much she liked what I wrote and that she was going to feature it on the homepage. I may have actually jumped up and down and squealed while I told my husband. Aside from two not-quite-negative-but-not-quite-positive remarks from people on FB, everyone has been so nice and supportive. One person suggested that maybe I have some form of Autism (I don’t) and someone else thought I made “it” (Being introverted? My life? I’m not quite clear.) sound depressing. Normally that would be enough to make me give up and quit entirely, but instead I’ve enrolled in a creative writing course. I realize I have a lonnng way to go, but I think I can do this.

Anyone who knows me or has read more than a couple entries here can probably figure out that I do not deal well with change. At all. I like routine. I am terrified of making the “wrong” decision anytime I need to make a choice. This time is a little different, though. I’m scared of this class (What if the instructor tells me I’m a horrible writer? What if everyone else is better than me? What if I realize this isn’t what I want to do after all?), but I’m also really excited. It’s online, so I can hide behind the anonymity of the Internet and even if I do royally suck, no one will know who I am anyway! I’ve reached the point where I realize I have to take the chance and try to make a change in order to maybe, possibly, find work that will make me happy.