Spicy Margaritas

A month or so ago, M&I were out to dinner, and the power went out in the entire Marina as we were about to pay. Our server basically told us he understood if we just left, but when we sat around and waited for the power to return, he brought us a flight of house-infused tequilas to thank us for our patience.

SpicyTequila2When the lights go out in the city…

It may have been the 2+ glasses of wine, the free tequila, or the excitement of the entire Marina in pure darkness, but we fell in love with the spicy tequila, and set out to figure out how to make our own.

We followed this recipe almost exactly, but here’s what we did:

1 750 ml bottle of Tequila Blanco
2 Cups chopped Pineapple
3 Jalapeños, sliced in strips, with the seeds

1. Put pineapple and jalapeños in a large jar (we found one for $2 on clearance at Target).
2. After 2 days remove the jalapeños.
3. After another 2 days, remove the pineapples, and strain the tequila back in to its original bottle.

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The first time we made this, it was perfectly spicy, full of flavor of both the pineapple and the jalapeño. The second time we made it, we forgot to take out the jalapenos for 4 days, so we left the pineapple in for another 2 days, and it was much sweeter with less of a bite. I prefer the spicier tequila, but you can play around with the length of time the jalapeños and pineapple stay in the tequila to find a blend that works for you. (We’re currently on Day 2 of our third batch, and I hope we get something closer to the first…)

We’ve also tried this with 2 cups of chopped Mango and 3 Habaneros, but we both preferred the Pineapple-Jalapeño tequila. And this is coming from someone who loves everything mango.

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Mike’s Spicy Margaritas:

3 oz Pineapple-Jalapeño Tequila*
2 oz Fresh squeezed Lime Juice
1 oz Agave
Splash Triple Sec
(Edit: I was just informed by my personal bartender that it was a splash of Cointreau)

1. Shake in a cocktail shaker
2. Serve in salt-rimmed glasses

*If too spicy, make with 1 oz Pineapple-Jalapeño Tequila, and 2 oz Tequila Blanco

SpicyTequila3Pairs well with taco night.

My Very First Blathering!

I’ve been watching The Blathering from afar, admiring all the amazing ladies that went every year, wishing I was cool enough to join their ranks. Then one year, just before Charleston, Jennie assured me that everyone was welcome and yes, really, that means me, and no, she promises no one will think I’m weird. But timing didn’t work out for Charleston, and when the time to register for Seattle rolled around, I was in the middle of a really shitty year, and I didn’t know where I’d be living in April of 2015. (Spoiler alert: I made it back to California)

When I heard that The Blathering 2016 would be in Vegas, I was excited! It was close enough for me to drive, and it was a city I’d visited dozens (if not more than 100) times, so I felt like I was going home.

As the day of the Blathering grew near, I began to panic. You see, when you spend 5+ years with someone and every single woman in his life despises you, it really messes with your self-esteem. I was told I wasn’t good enough, didn’t make enough money, wasn’t tidy enough, wasn’t smart enough, was too flighty, too emotional, too silly, not refined enough, wasn’t thin enough, didn’t wear enough makeup, didn’t have a PhD from Yale, my parents’ careers weren’t prestigious enough… and when this continued for half a decade, I really began to think there was something wrong with me. Something deep that was too far beyond repairing. Despite three different therapists telling me, no, it wasn’t about me, it was a reflection of their own insecurities projected on me, I still felt like I wasn’t enough.

Moving back home to California did wonders for me – I was with people who loved me for me, who remembered who I was before I was beaten to the ground and helped pull me from the pits. I excelled at my new job. I found someone who told me I was the nicest person he had ever met, and didn’t care that I wore silly hats to hockey games. And bars. I was loved, and treasured, and I began to feel like myself again. And I was happy.

But those 5 years of not being enough sat in the back of my mind. Would the people at The Blathering think I was weird? Would they be mad at me because I took the place of someone else they loved, who couldn’t come because I’m here. Would they perceive my occasional shyness as being bitchy? What if I was too tall? Or too short? Or my dress wasn’t fancy enough? Or my shoes not stylish enough? Or what if…

…and I let it consume me so much that I almost didn’t go.

But I went.

And I’m so glad I did.

I walked in to the cupcake party, and Jennie ran up to me and gave me a hug and said “I’m so glad you’re here!” And I introduced myself to one of the Sara(h)s, and she said “I know who you are, and I’m glad I get to know you this weekend!” And people I recognized only from their avatars on Twitter walked in to the hotel room and their faces lit up when they saw me.

It was enough that I was just there.

Blathering

I know this picture doesn’t include all of the women at The Blathering, but this picture represents everything that is wonderful about The Blathering. More than thirty women of all ages, sizes, and backgrounds, confidently rocking bathing suits in public, enjoying each other’s company, laughing , and not a single ounce of negativity or shaming. This is exactly the kind of world I want to live in. I’m so glad I found you. I wish I knew you all when I drove across the country by myself because those pit stops would have been epic.

2015: A Year of Adventures and Fun Wheels

Here’s 2014 in review.
 1. What did you do in 2015 that you’d never done before?
I started the year off eating collard greens and black eyed peas. This was a first for me, and let me tell you I will never tempt the New Year’s Day fates ever again. 2015 was one of the best years yet.
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I had a lot of other firsts, too. I rang in 2015 on the Queen Mary. I had a Disneyland Bucket List. I went to a taping of Dancing with the Stars. I watched Hocus Pocus and Breaking Bad. I went to D23 and Star Wars Celebration. I went to the Hollywood Bowl. Twice. I went to three movie previews. I moved in to my very own apartment without roommates. I made home-made donuts. I went to the Magic Castle. I ran a 10k.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I didn’t exactly have any resolutions, but I did tell someone early in the year that I wanted to run a 10k. He laughed at me and told me he didn’t think I could finish. I said some unladylike things to him, and promptly signed up for my first 10k. I crossed the finish line in November, a full 8 minutes faster than my goal.
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I’m already signed up for a half marathon in January. I’ve had chronic Achilles tendinitis for a while, that has turned in to knee/hip problems, and were all made worse after the 10k, so I’m not sure about that one. We’ll see!

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
YES! My best friend since kindergarten had a girl in January.2015inReview2

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Nope! This was the first year in a long while I didn’t have to attend a funeral!

5. Where did you travel?
In March, I went to PAX East in Boston with Miellyn.
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South Street Diner: A PAX East tradition.

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Billionaire Banshee shenanigans. 

In May, I went to San Francisco with my new PAX friends.
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In August, I joined Miellyn in Seattle for PAX Prime.
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DFFs (Droid Friends Forever)

In October, I went back up to Seattle to meet a stranger, and help him move to LA. It was easily one of the craziest things I’ve ever done, but also one of the best decisions of my life.
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He took me on a helicopter tour of Seattle for our first date.

And in November, I went to Vegas with M, and we stayed out until the Sunrise and I totally felt like I was 21 again.
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Sunrise from the Strip. 

6. What would you like to have in 2016 that you didn’t have in 2015?
2015 was a pretty great year, to be honest. I’d like to travel out of the country next year.

7. What days from 2015 will be etched upon your memory, and why?
June 1.
I moved in to my very first apartment without roommates.
October 10.
I flew to Seattle to essentially meet a stranger and help him drive to Los Angeles.
November 14. I completed my very first 10k.

8. What was your biggest achievement of this year?
Hanging my curtains. Seriously. It took 3 tries, lots of tears, and several bottles of wine before I could get those stupid pieces of fabric up on the walls. Huge thanks to Jessica for driving nearly 2 hours with a power drill and candy to get me through the task.
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These curtains were assholes. 

9. What was your biggest failure?
I don’t actually think I had any major failures this year. Every challenge that was thrown at me this year, I came through.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I had a pretty nasty cold for most of December (that’s still lingering ugh). Also, the aforementioned ankle/knee/hip thing that just won’t go away.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
I bought my very first ever couch. It has a pull out bed, so let me know if you want to come visit!
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12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Jessica Fox.
She spent the first few months of 2015 listening to me vent and cry as I recovered from 2014. She met me for breakfast and Fun Wheels and other Disneyland fun. She saved my sanity with my curtain debacle. She convinced me to take a really huge leap which led me to meet M. 2015 would have been a lot less fun with out her, and she’s the best.
2015ReviewJF

13. Whose behavior didn’t merit celebration?
Rob sent me more than one box of dirty dishes, so that was pretty shitty.

14. Where did most your money go?
My new apartment. It’s weird when you move in to a place by yourself for the very first time, and you discover all the things you never had because former roommates had everything you needed. Like a microwave. And an iron. And a couch.
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I still don’t have the iron.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
I get excited about a lot of things, but the thing that was really the most exciting was meeting M in Seattle for the very first time. I was so nervous, my friend had to circle the airport a couple of times before I calmed down, and I had to have a Bloody Mary (or two) at the airport bar before I was calm enough to board the plane. Still the best decision I made in 2015.
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God bless Bloody Marys and friendly airport bartenders.

16. What songs will always remind you of 2015?
I don’t listen to a lot of new music, but Delirious came on my running station quite frequently, so I’d say that was a recurring theme in my training runs.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) better hair or worse hair? b) more organized or less organized? (This question used to be happy/sad, thin/fat, rich/poor, but A’dell switched it up, and I like these better, too.)
A. I haven’t changed my hair style in years. I’ve been growing it for 4 years, and it’s the longest it’s ever been. I go through phases of wanting a major change, but then I do a perfect fishtail braid, and can’t imagine changing it up at all. Eventually I’ll need to go shorter, but right now I just can’t decide.
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My hair is out of control.

B. I like to refer to it as “organized chaos”

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Travel.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Laundry. Cleaning. Packing/unpacking (moving totally sucks).

20. How did you spend Christmas?
I went to Disneyland/DCA in the morning. I only stayed 4 hours, but I had a highly efficient day. I had peppermint beignets from New Orleans Square, rode Jingle Cruise, went on Radiator Springs Racers three times in a row (god bless the Single Rider line), picked up some last minute presents for friends, chatted with no less than three children about how awesome BB8 is, ran in to an old friend from my Disney days, and finished the day out with going on Soarin’ over California.
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Those Disneyland Candy Canes though…

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Season’s Speedings from Cars Land! 

21. Did you fall in love with 2015?
Sure. It was a pretty great year all around.

22. What was your favorite TV program?
Mike discovered I had never seen Breaking Bad, and after we watched all of the episodes, I can say it definitely lives up to they hype! I also loved Agent Carter.

23. What was the best book you read?
I devoured Red Rising, and immediately followed up with Golden Son. Seriously, if you haven’t read them yet, stop what you’re doing now and go read them.

24. What was your greatest food discovery? (Last year this question was musical discovery, but I don’t listen to a lot of music, but I do eat a lot of food. So we’re going with this.)
Mike introduced me to black cod, calamari steak, and vegetarian shellfish-free ramen bowls.
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While I technically had my first Fun Wheel at the end of last year, I definitely had my share in 2015.
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25. What did you want and get?
On January 1, I wrote on Instagram that I wanted Adventure for 2015. Between Boston and San Francisco and Seattle (three times!) and helping someone move to LA, and falling in love, I’d say my year was full of adventure.

26. What did you want and not get?
I wanted to go to NYC, but I just couldn’t find a free weekend to sneak away.

27. What was your favorite film of 2015?
The Force Awakens, of course.
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28. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 34. The night before my birthday, my friend Jason came over for dinner and took some really nice pictures of me. As a photographer, I almost never have pictures of myself, so this was really great.
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Photos by Jason Michael Hammond Photography.

On my actual birthday, I headed to Disneyland. I met up with some friends. I got separated from my group. I ran in to other friends. I drank Fun Wheels. I watched Fantasmic! I watched the Fireworks. I got VIP seats for the Paint the Night parade. I stayed from park opening to park closing. It was a blast.
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I got separated from my group, but I still had fun.

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Birthday Sunset.

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Birthday full moon.

29. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
I’d actually say this year was pretty great. I wouldn’t change a thing!

30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept of 2015
Fangirl Chic? I somehow ended up with a lot of fun skirts.
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31. What kept you sane?
Jessica Fox. Susan. Fun Wheels.

32. What political issue stirred you the most?
Let’s not get into politics here.

33. Who did you miss?
For the first year in forever, I didn’t get to have dinner with Melissa on the roof of her amazing apartment building.
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As much as I miss those NYC views, I miss Melissa more. 

34. Who was the best new person you met?
Michael, duh.
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But I’m going to go ahead and say that Josh, Corrine, and John Denver were close seconds.
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35. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015.
I didn’t realize how hard it is to live alone. I’ve learned a lot about myself and how much I’m actually capable of. There was one afternoon where I had just finished painting my walls, and I sat down on the drop cloth with leftover pizza and a beer. I had never in my life felt more independent.
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36. Show us one of your favorite photos from the year.
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2015 was definitely the year of the Fun Wheel.

 

An Evening with “Anna” and “Elsa”

I’ve been dreading July 3 since THE BIG MOVE, and earlier in the week had a few meltdowns about it’s impending doom. I decided to plan some fun things to keep myself busy. Most of my friends already had plans (Three Day Weekend/Holiday/Family time/etc) so I decided to take myself to Disneyland.

The highlight of my morning was when Peter Pan spotted me walking through Fantasyland, chased me down yelling “YOU HAVE MY SHADOW!”, and asked if I wanted to take a photo. He told me how to pose:
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He even noticed my Second Star to the Right tattoo behind my ear, and told me to keep it hidden else people would think I’m a pirate.

Then I had breakfast with Huey, Dewey, and Louie
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Had a Fun Wheel
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And enjoyed a concert from The World Famous Disneyland Band
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It was a great morning. I hadn’t seen the Paint the Night parade yet, nor the new fireworks, and I dithered about whether or not I wanted to stay. Parking at my new place at night is a challenge, it was a holiday weekend so it’s extra busy, and I was simply tired. I found a curb on Main Street, nestled between a bench and a pole, and figured no one would bother me there. I pulled out my kindle, and thought I’d spend the next couple of hours reading while I decided if I actually wanted to stay. Worst case, I’d watch the sunset over the castle and leave before it got too crazy.

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But soon, a little blonde girl dressed like Elsa, and her red-headed sister dressed like Anna sat next to me and asked me what I was reading. This began one of the best conversations I’ve ever had. I was live-tweeting some of the adorable things they said, but I wanted to put them here to keep everything together before they get buried in my Twitter feed.

***

Anna had Ninja Turtles on her shoes, I asked if she like turtles and her face lit up. I told her I had a pet turtle, and both girls thought I was the coolest thing ever.

***

Elsa: What’s your name?
Me: Emiliy
Elsa: Is that with an “E” or with an “M”?
Me: With an “E”
Elsa: MY NAME IS EMILY WITH AN E TOO!

(note: I didn’t mention the extra “i” because it’s confusing enough for adults. I later found out Elsa’s real name was Brooke, and she sometimes says her name is Emily because that’s her best friend’s name)

***

Elsa: What did you eat for dinner?
Me: Popcorn
Elsa: What did you eat for Lunch?
Me: Ice cream
Elsa: Well then what did you eat for breakfast?
Me: … a cookie…
Elsa: YOU CAN NOT EAT ALL OF THOSE THINGS FOR YOUR MEALS

I got schooled by a 6 year old dressed as Elsa.

Later:

Elsa: Mom, her name is Emiliy with an E not an M. She had a cookie for breakfast and popcorn for dinner!
Mom: That’s what you get to do when you’re an adult
Elsa: (jaw drops)

***

Elsa: So, it’s just you and your turtle?
Me: Yup.
Elsa: That sounds like the life.

***

Anna and Elsa’s dad brought pizzas. 
Elsa: This pizza is OK, but my dad stole all of my pepperoni.
Me: (laughs, looks up at her dad)
Dad: (shrugs) She stole my pizza. It’s fair.

(this began an argument between Elsa and her dad about pepperoni. Elsa is full of sass. I decide I like her)

Me, to Anna: Is your pizza good?
Anna: (sighs) It’s ok…
Me: Did your dad steal your pepperoni, too?
Anna: (eyes get really big) THERE WAS PEPPERONI!?

***

The girls climbed in to my lap and asked to see photos of Edgar.
Dad: Girls! No! Get off of her!
Me: It’s ok, I don’t mind. I have a pet turtle and they asked to see photos.
Dad: You have a pet turtle? Turtles are [Anna]’s favorite. It’s all she ever talks about.

***

A Cast Member came by and told the girls that the real Anna and Elsa would be in the parade. The girls nearly lost their shit. They were screaming and jumping and it was adorable.

***

Playing an iPhone trivia game to pass the time.
Me: In the Hunger Games, who was “The Girl on Fire”?
Elsa: I KNOW! It was Snow White!
Anna: NO! It was Olaf!

***

During the Parade, THE Anna waved at “Anna” and I thought she might faint.

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***

The girls asked me if I was going to watch the Fireworks “because tomorrow is the 4th of July and we need to watch the fireworks together”. During the Frozen/Let It Go scene, it started to snow on Main Street, the girls looked at me, then at each other with the most perfectly excited look filled with awe and wonder. I was able to catch a photo of it, and will be emailing it to their parents. I don’t want to post a photo of someone else’s child on the internet (I’m still essentially a stranger to them) but trust me when I say it was magic.

***

Despite all the somber and emotions that July 3 was meant to bring, this ended up being one of the best days I’ve had at the park. I dithered about staying all day, but I’m glad I did. From Peter Pan chasing me through Fantasyland all the way to my two little guardian angels in the evening, it truly was a day filled with Disney Magic.

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Second Star to the Right and Straight on ’til Morning. Jupiter and Venus watch over the Disneyland Fire Dept while Walt looks over the Park.

It always makes sense in the rear view

Rearview

Have you ever been driving somewhere, change your mind or take a weird detour you weren’t expecting, but then end up where you were headed all along?

Maybe that doesn’t make sense.

Four years ago this week, I was offered a pretty significant promotion with my (then current) company. It would’ve been huge for my career, but I would’ve had to move to Upstate NY. This wasn’t exactly the end of the world. I spent 6 months working out of that office while someone was on leave, and made friends in the area. I was on a kickball team, and people who only knew me for a few weeks threw me a surprise birthday party. While the winters were worse than Connecticut, summers in Upstate NY are one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen. Plus, Fingerlakes Wineries. However, it was a 6 hour drive from my family in NYC, and no direct flights back to California. Plus, did I mention the winters?

On the other hand, taking the job would mean leaving R. We had been together for 2 years at that point, and I wasn’t sure I was ready to leave him. I also wasn’t sure I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. The one thing I knew for sure was I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life in Connecticut.

I figured my plan would go like this: take the promotion, spend 3-5 years getting killer experience, use new experience to find a job back in California.

But R had other plans. On July 3, he begged me not to take the job, proposed marriage, told me we’d be together forever.

I turned down the job to stay with him.

His parents didn’t approve. We broke up. I slept in my car for a while. We got back together.

And then it all fell apart.

But in another sense, maybe it all fell together.

In my mind, taking the promotion was a temporary means of escape. I’d work in Syracuse for 3-5 years, gaining enough experience to get a job in Los Angeles or Orange County.

And here I am, 3-5 years later, working in the exact job I would’ve been working towards, and I never had to endure an Upstate NY winter.

Life is so weird, right? It is so good to be home.

Disneyland Bucket List

In September, my parents promised me an Annual Pass to Disneyland if I moved back to California before Christmas.

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I became one of “those”

The majority of 2015 has been me meeting up with my girlfriends (who also all happen to be former Disney Cast Members) once or twice a month for Fun Wheels and Disney adventures.

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Fun Wheels are indeed quite fun.

A few weeks ago, while chatting over Fun Wheels, we discovered there were a number of things at least one of us have never done in the Parks, and our Disneyland Bucket List was born. I’m pretty sure we were at least one Fun Wheel in, but the best ideas come about when you’ve been drinking. And so far we’ve been having a lot of fun knocking things off the bucket list:

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Animation Academy (because drinking and drawing is safer than drinking and driving)

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Riding the Golden Zephyr

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Breakfast in the Park (that cinnamon roll french toast will be served in heaven)

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Attending an Annual Passholder exclusive advanced movie screening (Inside Out! Go see it!)

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Riding in the driver’s seat on Radiator Springs Racers (and being in the park early enough to snag a RSR Fastpass before they sold out.)

We have several things planned for the summer, but we need some more things to add to our list. What have you always wanted to do at Disneyland? (or Disney’s California Adventure. Or Downtown Disney…)

R’s Nerdy Thirty

This post has been sitting in my drafts folder for more than a year. R didn’t want me to post it, but considering (1) I no longer give a shit and (2) I’m attending my very first Blathering, I need to get this little blog up and running again. I’ve been explaining what I did for this party to people for years, so this post seemed to be pretty perfect to get back in to it. I’ll try to contain my snarky digs at R and his folks (who hated the party, btw) (ok, that will be my only dig, promise) (but seriously. They HATED this idea)

***

R turned 30 and I wanted to do something big for him. I knew that I wanted to throw a surprise party, and I wanted there to be a theme. I tried to think of themes to include his favorites: Muppets, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Video Games, Robots – and they all came out looking with varying degrees of success. I didn’t want it to look like a child’s party – He is an adult turning THIRTY. But I did want it to be fun, a little punny, and include all of his interests. And then it hit me – NERDY THIRTY

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Address/phone numbers removed for privacy’s sake. The QR code opened a map, but altered slightly for same reason.

I had a lot of fun putting together the themed menu, and it was basically a big hit. Some of the references were lost on most of the guests, but that was OK. R got everything, with the exception of the Legend of Zelda reference, because I didn’t realize he had never played the game before (UNACCEPTABLE!)

Anyway, here’s the food table, referred to as Admiral snAckbar:
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Computer-y things:
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hardware (utensils) | software (napkins) | pi (mango pie) | chips (get it? like computer chips!) 

Lord of the Rings:
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lembas bread (pita chips) | council of elrond (e.l. fudge cookies) | second breakfast (pastries) 

Star Wars:
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dagobah swamp (spinach artichoke dip) | bantha fodder (popcorn) 

Legend of Zelda (sortof) | James Bond (sortof) | Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy:
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be square (triscuit) | lon lon ranch cheeses | broccoli | babel fish (goldfish crackers)

This one was a bit of a stretch. One of R’s favorite snacks is Triscuit with sliced cheeses. The tagline on the invitations was “Be Square” so I kindof used that as the them for the Triscuit. As I mentioned before, R didn’t get the Zelda/Lon Lon Ranch reference. But not all references can be perfect. Same with the broccoli as a reference to James Bond. We had just finished watching every James Bond movie, so I wanted to include 007 in the party somehow. Bonus points if you get it without clicking this link.

Ninja Turtles / Muppets / Star Trek:
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pizza | cup labels | rainbow connection (fruit salad) 

Cake:
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It was NOT a lie, and it was delicious. 

And of course, the star of the show: The Death Star Watermelon
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We told R that you can’t have a Death Star without destroying it using The Force. His response was “Well, clearly this is the first Death Star, and there isn’t an exhaust port” so we handed him a blindfold and a baseball bat and told him to improvise.

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Food stuff I had planned, but forgot to take photos of:
Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster (adult beverage, Hitchhiker’s Guide)
Vaderade (fruit punch, Star Wars)
Felix Felicis (lemonade, Harry Potter)
Goldfingers (chicken fingers, James Bond)
Edgar Food (salad, named of course for Edgar)

Lastly, I found a company that lets you design your very own robot, so I made the little guy on the invitations:
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The RobBot liiiiiiives

Good Riddance to 2014.

1. What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before?
I drove across the country. In my car. By myself (mostly). I’m still pretty shocked I did that.

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My Connecticut car in Huntington Beach.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
On December 30 2013, R’s dad threatened me and told me I was no longer welcome in their family. On January 1 2014, I knew I would need to leave CT for my own safety (and sanity). I told myself I would have it figured out by October, and on October 14th I was offered a job in California. So, while I didn’t exactly make an official resolution, I set a goal on New Year’s day and followed through with it.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Yes! My aunt (she’s a year older than me), Miellyn (although we didn’t really get close until this summer), and my BFF is currently pregnant (due in a few weeks!)

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Sadly, yes. My aunt passed away the day I was asked to come to California for a job interview. I couldn’t tell R or my job why I needed to travel to CA, so I feel like even in her death my aunt was protecting me. So lame, I know, but just interesting how the timing worked out.

Also, my dear friend’s brother passed away a few days before Christmas.

5. Where did you travel?
Well, I drove across the country, so I went through several states and knocked a few things off the old bucket list (Grand Canyon, Four Corners). I also went to Orlando in February, Atlanta in March, PAX East (Boston) in April, and California in September for my cousin’s wedding (and October for the interview)

FeetMap
My route (more or less)

6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you didn’t have in 2014?
Honestly, 2014 was so painful and stressful, I’m just happy to be heading out of it. I’d like another tattoo, does that count? I’m also planning an international trip for the fall…stay tuned!

7. What days from 2014 will be etched upon your memory, and why?
September 21: The day I took (and passed!) the AFAA Group Ex test
October 14: The day I was offered the job and broke up with R.
November 13: The day I left Norwalk CT for good
November 29: The day I arrived back in California

8. What was your biggest achievement of this year?
I still can’t believe I got a job in California while living in Connecticut and keeping it a secret from virtually everyone.

Also, getting my AFFA Group Ex certificacte, which was my backup plan to get me out of Connecticut.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Is it ok to say R? I believe everything happens for a reason, but I’m still having a hard time figuring out what the point was for me to need to be on the East Coast for so long when I just ended up back here.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I had chronic tendinitis in my ankle, which is common in group exercise instructors. I had panic attacks for most of the year thanks to R’s folks. But other than that nothing major.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
I moved all of my shit from CT to CA and that was pretty great but also expensive.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Melissa. She invited me to stay with her several times this year, fed me tea and wine, prayed for me, listened to me, comforted me.

Cheryl. My mentor at my last job who taught me everything I needed to get the new job. She gave me life advice and work advice and kept my looking-for-a-new-job secret, even from her husband.

Sarah Sq., Sarah Sh., Sarah M for listening to me and not judging me and being patient while I figured things out. And Brooke for the same reasons but also for the buddy pass to get me to and from the interview.

Miellyn. She’s a friend I met indirectly through R, but has been one of the greatest friends I could ask for. I spent my birthday with her and stayed with her for three days at the beginning of my trip. In all honesty, if the entire reason I needed to spend 5 years wasting away on the east coast was to meet her, then it was worth it.

And of course my parents who planned a trip to CT to help me move out before I even knew I would be moving out and also helped to fund the move.

13. Whose behavior didn’t merit celebration?
R’s parents. But mostly his father. And R himself for letting his dad say some really horrible things to me.

14. Where did most your money go?
Most of my money went to the big moving adventure – from the movers themselves to the gas stations and the hotels and all of the adventures on the road.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
The first thing I was really excited about was Disneyworld/Wizarding World of Harry Potter in February, followed by PAX in April, and then finally getting to move back home in October/November

16. What songs will always remind you of 2014?
Hm. I’m not really sure actually. Can Serial count as a song? My original plan was to listen to one episode a day during my drive, but I ended up listening to the first four episodes between NYC and Baltimore. Also, how creepy/weird/awesome was it to drive through Baltimore while listening to Serial?

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?
a) definitely happier
b) about the same, actually (hooray for teaching fitness classes)
c) right now? Poorer because I haven’t gotten a paycheck since I quit my job in October. And also I’ve maxed out my credit cards in the move. But in a few weeks I’ll be back in the black.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Honestly, I wish I took more photos on my cross country trip. And spent more time sightseeing through some of the cities I was passing through. My original plan was to have ice cream in every state, but once I was on the road I just wanted to get to my next destination ASAP.

Route66_OK
One of my favorite photos of the trip. Eventually I’ll write about it.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Crying. I know that the timing for the move was just perfect, but I spent nearly every day in tears until October 14.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
We went to the beach on Christmas Eve and watched the sunset. It was 70 degrees.

HBChristmasEve

Christmas Day we had a lazy morning at my parents’ house, and then went to see Into the Woods with my cousins at Downtown Disney. We snuck in wine and cheese. It was great.

ChristmasRebels
We’re rebels. 

21. Did you fall in love with 2014?
NO.

22. What was your favorite TV program?
I don’t watch a lot of TV, but I never missed an episode of Game of Thrones, Agents of SHIELD, and DWTS.

23. What was the best book you read?
Reading in general got put on the backburner once I started the big move. I’ve been trying to read Dance with Dragons for more than a year, but I keep getting stuck in boring chapters (I’m looking at you, Danerys). I loved Gone Girl, Hyperbole and a Half, and Timebound.

24. What was your greatest musical discovery?
I didn’t really discover any new music, but in Nashville, my brother and I recorded a record together in a little music booth. It was fun

25. What did you want and get?
I wanted to move back to California.

26. What did you want and not get?
I wanted R to stand up to his parents on my behalf.

27. What was your favorite film of 2014?
I didn’t see a lot of movies this year, but I did see Mockingjay in a fun little movie theater in Austin, and that was pretty cool.

28. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 33. R took me down to see the Angels play in Baltimore. The next day we went to Miellyn and Shaun’s house for dinner (the best Thai food I’ve had in my life), beer, and tabletop games. It was perfect.

BAL33

29. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
See number 26. But that didn’t happen, so I got to move home, which was perfectly satisfying.

30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept of 2014?
I wore a lot of gym clothes because I was teaching a lot of fitness classes. And Nadia Tarr / Butter dresses. They’re the closest I can get to wearing pajamas in public and I love them.

31. What kept you sane?
Honestly? I have no idea. I remember counting down the weeks until October and just focusing on how short that was.

Also, a lot of wine.

32. What political issue stirred you the most?
To be honest, I’m not entirely sure what’s going on in the world right now. I sort of lost touch with reality once the big move was put in motion. Also, I don’t like to talk about politics.

33. Who did you miss?
Miellyn and Shaun. Melissa. My students at the gym. And NYC. I know that’s not a “who”, but NYC is pure magic.

34. Who was the best new person you met?
I don’t think I met a lot of new people this year – but I have a handful of people I got closer to and reconnected with.

35. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014.
Not really a lesson, but the last day at my job, a dear coworker and friend said this:

BetterVersionOfYourself

36. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
“It’s a comfort to know / When you’re singing the hit the road blues / That anywhere else you could possibly go /after New York would be a pleasure cruise” -Santa Fe (Rent, Jonathan Larson)

Also, not a song lyric, but this passage is quite fitting:

WhyDoYouGoAway