Category Archives: Lifestyle

RANDOM TIPS for UNIVERSAL STUDIOS, ISLANDS OF ADVENTURE AND THE WIZARDING WORLD OF HARRY POTTER!

Here are some of my tips for Visiting Universal Studios Orlando and Islands of Adventure!

For more tips or just fun stuff about this magical place, check out my other blog posts, and YouTube videos on the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Hard Rock Hotel, and other fun stuff at the parks!

RANDOM TIP #1: BRING SHORT PEOPLE WITH YOU.  THEY’RE FUN! 🙂

…if you don’t have any of your own, borrow some! Be the bestest Aunt or Uncle alive!!!

…and they FORCE you to ride the Hulk and other fun stuff like that…

…they also enjoy all the small details of the place 🙂  and seeing their joy is priceless

AND, if they’re under 56″ tall, you can join them (one adult per kid under 56″) on Pterandon Flyers and see super cool sights like these from above!!!!!

Skull Island, Reign of KONG…I took this while riding Pterandon flyers with my nephew (note: you’re not really supposed to take pix from up there, but….)
Super fun play area in Jurassic Park that is best enjoyed with the little ones

RANDOM TIP # 2: Head from Universal to Islands of Adventure during the sunset….soooo pretty!

Absolutely EVERYTHING at Toothsome Chocolate Factory is DELICIOUS, even the Brussels Sprouts!!!! …AND if anyone in your party has a peanut (or other allergy) the chef comes to visit your table to discuss your options and it certainly feels good to know that he’s aware of the allergy! it STAYS PACKED here, though, and always on a wait. The best time to come is right when they open. if it’s just one or two people, try sitting at the bar and eating.

yes…the above picture deserves posting twice 🙂

RANDOM TIP #3: DO THE RAPTOR ENCOUNTER! It’s so cool and well worth the wait…and you can watch the raptor attack children while you wait, which is very entertaining!  The “trainer” is hilarious, AND if you hand them your phone they will take video AND pix for you!!!

By the way, I challenge you to come up with a better pose than this 😉

RANDOM TIP #4: RIDE THE MUMMY!

WHAT a FUN roller coaster!!!!! its so cool how it gives you little breaks and scary interactions in between the screaming fast roller coaster!  Even my 7 year old nephew loved it.  Also, the line is usually super short (a hidden gem?) and I didn’t know it at the time that this picture was taken, BUT NOW I know that after you are in the room where there’s fire-literally- on the ceiling, then you go down a drop, that’s where the pic is taken -to your right…so you can pose for it!

RANDOM TIP #5: Buy some reflective sunglasses.  I mean, you’re in Florida, you NEED sunglasses….then you can take much cooler pix than this one that I took while waiting in line for the Flight of the Hippogriff (….the kids LOVE this ride, so be prepared to ride it like 26,397 times!!!!)

RANDOM TIP #6: STAY AT THE HARD ROCK HOTEL! The Hard Rock Hotel is one of the 3 hotels that gives every member of the family Unlimited Express Passes for their entire stay (including the day that you arrive, and the day that you leave).  Those suckers are worth $89 per person per day.  It’s worth it. period.  THEN you can spend the day RIDING RIDES versus WAITING IN LINES!!!!

The pool is super awesome, has a fun slide, AND has speakers under water so you can hear music underwater while you swim.
Watching a Harry Potter movie at the pool is just one of the many, many, perks!
Speaking of perks…for a deposit–that you get back–you can have an electric guitar during your stay!
so when your niece becomes a famous musician, she can give you all the credit for getting that guitar and she’ll probably buy you a house to live in when you’re not on tour with her band 🙂
the kids LOVE it…..and, dude…you only live once, and those Express passes are GOLD. (side note: my nephew Sebastian wrote this in his cute little 7-year old handwriting and signed his sister’s name…I’m sure she would want ya’ll to know this… )

RANDOM TIP #7: Visit the Knight Bus. Just because….

RANDOM TIP #8: Get the short ones to dial 62442 (M-A-G-I-C …on an old school phone…you know you remember those!) in this phone booth to reach the Ministry of Magic

(Is Sebastian not the CUTEST little Harry Potter EVER?!?!?!??)

RANDOM TIP #8: Get an interactive wand.  LOADS of fun (…and sometimes frustration when the little muggles can’t get the spells!). this map comes with it, and if you go to Knockturn Alley you can hold the map under the blacklight at the entrance to illuminate all the spell locations. It’s a blast. trust me.

The blacklight highlights all the spell locations in the area on the right…you can just barely see it in this pic.

 

While you’re in Knockturn Alley, check out the Vanishing cabinet in Borgen & Burke’s. You can hear what’s inside it!

RANDOM TIP #9: **ALWAYS** buy a “park-to-park” pass so you can ride the Hogwarts Express back and forth from Islands of Adventure to Universal Studios and vice versa…it’s a different ride each way and its just a MUST.  If you don’t get this you lose major brownie points and coolness status, just saying….squib.

RANDOM TIP #10:  The Hogs Head Pub has beer.  This is an important fact. Riding the Flight of the Hippogriff 10,567 times will make you want to visit this establishment.

This is my sister. She needs this place after riding the Forbidden Journey ride 🙂 Look how happy she is.

This is inside the Hogs Head pub. that hog is an Animatronic. super cool. Dragon Scale beer is good.

This is the wizards version of Immodium AD. I’d probably need this if you could ever get me to eat the black pudding they have at the Leaky Cauldron. black pudding! do you know what that is? google it. I.can’t.even.

Get your kids some robes. not Slytherin though. are you sure? yes. anything but Slytherin.
Random fun fact: Luna is one of my FAVORITE characters.
as a side note, THIS is how a Harry Potter book should look…

AND LASTLY….have fun and STAY SILLY!!!!  (or stay, silly)

Our “Haute Route” Mountain Bike trip- Day 5

On August 6, 2017, we began a 6 day mountain bike trip with Alps Mountain Bike Guide Company starting in the amazing, adorable, adventure wonderland of Chamonix, France and ending in Zermatt Switzerland.  The trip was tough and included lots of steep climbing and hike-a-bikes and super technical descents, but it was super fun.  The weather not always kind or  forgiving, but the scenery, food and little towns that we would have never visited otherwise were awesome! Apologies as this post is not full of bike porn pics, but the weather was so nasty-There will a link to some beautiful and gnarly GoPro footage a couple of paragraphs below as soon as Dave uploads.

This is what day 5 was like:

The weather was crap-nasty 🙁

My ankle was still swollen, but felt much better, but I still wanted to bail on this day so badly…but I didn’t!!!

(*pat on the back*)

Since the weather was so bad, we were dropped off on a peak in order to avoid a climb in the cold rain.  There were two restaurants there.  I went into one and it had amazing decor and ambiance.  I think a pic of the bathroom in this place was practically the only pic I took unfortunately, because we were in a rush to get started while the rain was still super light.

I wish I would’ve taken more pix but we were so rushed all the time it felt like…I mean, nobody wanted to wait in the cold rain, so I get it…

The riding was wet and cold.  even the easy downhill sucked for me because I got so much mud in my face, and dripping down into my eyes…not even my glasses helped.

It took us 2 hours to cover ~5.6 hours before we were finally picked up by the shuttle van and  were taken to St. Niklaus to our B&B for lunch.  Since the rain cleared up, Dave and Toumas and one of the guides went on a little ride after lunch while a couple of us toured St. Niklaus in search of an ATM and newspaper to help dry our shoes. Dave has some beautiful Go Pro footage from this, which i’ll insert as soon as it’s up!!!

PRO TIP: When I later told my chiropractor, (who was also a mountaineer who had spent most of his life from birth in Geneva),  how unkind the weather was to us on this trip,  he said that the trick was to ALWAYS PLAN TO GO TO THE SWISS ALPS DURING THE FULL MOON.  He said that the weather was always clear during that time frame.  Man, I wish I had consulted in him BEFORE we planned the trip!!!!

No pix riding, but at least i got some pix from St Niklaus, below:

HORMONE RESET DIET RESULTS

Well, the results are in!

After the 21 Day Hormone Reset Diet, I lost 9.4 pounds, and 1.5” off of my waist and hips!!!

I also lowered my average fasting blood sugar results to a safe level (from a pre-diabetic level)!

I have quit caffeine for good, and continue to stay off of sugar and fruit, and have cut way back on dairy and alcohol/gluten.  I have to keep my net carbs (that’s total carbs in grams, minus fiber grams) low , in order to try to keep my blood sugar low to avoid Type 2 diabetes, which runs in my family.

During reintroduction (the phase of the diet after 21 days where you start adding things back, one at a time), my Hormone Reset Diet buddies and I chose to meet for drinks to celebrate, soooo of course our first introduction was to alcohol,  lol.

The impact of my two celebratory beers?

NOT.

SO.

GOOD.

Wow, I hadn’t realized how incredibly WELL I had been sleeping without alcohol and caffeine (and possibly other factors)!!  DURING the reset, I was sleeping like a BABY; no waking up, no night sweats/hot flashes, just pure cozy bliss.

My reintroduction of beer/wine led to night sweats, waking up at 2 & 3 AM, and just an overall REALLY crappy sleep, which takes days of not drinking to recover from! Not only did I notice the major impact to my sleep, and blood sugar (it went up!) but I also learned how bad it is for post-exercise as it prevents your liver from making glutathione, a powerful antioxidant, and HGH to help build and repair muscles.

So, although it’s not completely off the table, I’ve cut way back on that too.

My second reintroduction was to dairy.  The results of goat cheese: automatic sinus cloggage….not so great either.  The results of blue cheese dressing on my salad: way worse….and it’s TMI for sure.

For dairy, since I love it so much, I’m just trying to use moderation and limit to a couple of times a week.

I’m SO THANKFUL for AWESOME Paleo recipes like this AMAZING creamy avocado sauce, which, paired with Zoodles, will be my new substitution for Mac ‘N’ Cheese!!!!!

 

As I wrap up this VERY time consuming, but EXTREMELY rewarding diet, I will start trying more and more new Paleo friendly recipes to help keep dairy and carbs low, so I’m excited about that!!!  

All in all, I’d say that this diet was greatly successful, not only in helping me to lose weight, but in improving healthy habits, gaining MAJOR body awareness , including first-hand awareness of the impact of everything that I put in my mouth or on my skin (things tend to “stick” way better when you can really SEE/FEEL and correlate the difference!!!), and improving overall health.  

The experience also GREATLY expanded my knowledge on health and diet, as I feel I learned SO DANG MUCH!  Finally, the private group on Facebook was amazing and supportive, as well as Dr. Sara’s private blog and helpful supplemental information and Q & A calls.  I will likely join again in the Fall, for the Fall Group Hormone Reset which starts October 5th, with a preparatory start of September 22nd!

 

7 Areas of Focus

A bit over a year ago, after learning about Ben Franklin’s 13 virtues, I decided to do my own little twist on it, called my “7 areas of focus”.

Every week (well, almost every week!) I’d concentrate on one of these seven areas of importance to me:

  1. Improving the way I think: mental toughness, willpower, being in the moment, being relaxed versus stressed, confidence, being priority-focused, and self-aware…this could probably be broken into a couple of weeks!
  2. Having a positive attitude: This is the subject I happen to be on this week.
  3. Improving my physical health: diet and exercise, including Yoga
  4. Improving Career: Focus is on both finding dream job and improving current career
  5. Focus on FUN: The focus during this week is finding ways to make EVERYTHING (including meetings, chores, etc.) FUN! …..my favorite week!
  6. Focus on Relationships: Friendships, family and spouse
  7. Focus on Adventure and Learning NEW things: another fave

Problem was, HOW did I focus on these things?

I started off by trying to learn more about each area, which led me to then writing affirmations for each.

I wrote how I WANTED to be (even if I was far from it!) and then would read each morning, depending on what week I was on.

That was not enough…and starting to get boring…hence this blog.

In order to give each subject full focus, the plan is to write something on each of the subjects every week!