Ultimate Pumpkin Vacation

Is anyone surprised that we’ve already started planning our Fall/”Pumpkin Eatin’ Season” activities?  This year we are planning something big, really BIG!

We’ve spent a couple of month discussing where to go on vacation this year.  Last year we didn’t do a real vacation because we had a tiny little baby to take with us. The small vacation that we did do last year was kind of a disaster.  So, this year we are beyond eager to do something new.

For awhile we talked about doing something small and saving money for a Disney cruise to Alaska.  I have to see Alaska!  It’s numero uno on my bucket list but the price is high and the children are young.  So we decide to kick that can down to the summer of 2019.

We tried to come up with some place cheap but new and exciting. We came up with nothing. Instead, we resigned ourselves to a mediocre summer vacation and dreams of Alaska in 2019 but it just wasn’t enough.

Two months into the vacation “where should we go” discussion, we pulled into the In-N-Out drive-through and somewhere between placing our order and paying for our burgers and “round grilled cheese,” we knew for certain where we were going to go.  We got on our phones and searched Disney Cruise itineraries leaving out of San Diego because not having to fly with a baby and a high-energy child is a big plus.  When we saw a “Halloween on the High Seas” cruise we were immediately S.O.L.D!

Watch the video and see how much pumpkin fun there is to experience.  We can’t wait!

Spring Break Adventures -2017


This past week was Carter’s Spring Break at preschool.  To offset the cycle of clean the house in the morning and then spend the rest of the day trying to keep it clean, we would leave the house for fun adventures and then come home to a house that was miraculously still semi clean.

***Disclaimer:  What follows are pictures of our kids looking sweet and somewhat compliant.  Our kids are super sweet and even compliant SOMETIMES.  I did not take photos of meltdowns or “bad attitudes” or strangers’ faces filled with judgment or the many stern “talks” that included the phrase, “Do you want to go home right now because you’re acting like you want to go home right now.”   I’ve unfollowed Instagram accounts and blogs that only present the photogenic side of parenting because it’s just way too easy to look at the perfect photographs and feel like a bad parent.  If you’re similarly inclined, just know that these are the pretty moments and the other, not so pretty, moments were there too but we chose not to document them for posterity.

We started our week at Disney’s California Adventure for the Food & Wine Festival.  Also, we’d recently started back on Weight Watchers and a food festival seemed like a great place to get our minds off food. HARDY HAR HAR!  The portions are small and when shared they are just a couple of bites so Oprah would approve.

I had great ambitions to take pictures off the food at the festival but when faced with the food we would scarf it down before I could take a picture.  This is the one picture that I took.  It’s even nicely styled on our stroller seat!  It’s the French onion mac and cheese topped with parmesan crumbles and chives at The Onion Lair booth.  It was topped with too too many French onions.  Once you got rid of some of the onions you could taste just how good the mac and cheese was but you had to sacrifice the parmesan crumbles to get rid of the onions and the crumble was an important element.  Everything else we tried was great but the Sweet corn nuggets with beef chili, spring onions and sour cream was my favorite.

It’s not like the Disneyland parks aren’t normally packed but with the Food & Wine Festival it is too infinity and beyond busy.  We managed to still have lots of fun anyway.

Then, we tried the children’s museum, Discovery Cube in Santa Ana.  We’ve been there before but Carter didn’t seem to enjoy it because he was too young to really interact with the exhibits.  Now he’s at a really good age and he LOVED it.  I would say that kids between 5-9 are at the target developmental age to really enjoy it.  Carter’s favorite part was the outside dinosaur exhibit where he met a kid even wilder than himself so the day was a win.  I even got some cute pictures of both of the kids.

To end the week we took a trip to downtown LA for the Discovery Science Center for the, soon to be gone, Disney Pixar exhibit.  I’d forgotten how great that museum is and … wait for it …it’s free!  The special exhibits aren’t free but the rest of the 3 story museum is free.  We saw an actual space shuttle, a giant aquarium with sharks and several other kid-friendly exhibits.

The Pixar exhibit was the highlight for all of us (except maybe for the baby who needed a nap BAD).

He’s back a preschool Monday and then we register him for Kindergarten on Tuesday! And then we rest?  Probably not!

The Great British Baking Show – Pumpkin Edition

Great British Bake Off

While a big chunk of the country has been riveted to the Olympics, I am obsessed with The Great British Baking Show (also known as The Great British Bake Off).  The final episode was a little over a week ago and I am sad to see it gone for another year.

We recently upgraded our cable tv package because we needed more election coverage and with the new baby it became easier to watch tv than to leave the house. Our old cable package did not have the Food Network but it seems like they are still running the same shows that we were watching two years ago.   I’m just not sure if I’m watching reruns or if the shows are “new” but follow the same exact formula as the old shows.

We gave Cupcake Wars another try and found out that we still hate it.  When Food Network first started advertising the show I was super excited but I was also quickly disappointed.  The contestants and the judges are consistently unlikeable and the format of the show is annoying.  The contestants are aggressively confident which only serves to highlight that this is a show about baking CUPCAKES and nothing earth shattering.  I don’t need every show to be NOVA but I want to be told an interesting story or I want to have learned a little something.  Cupcake Wars tells the exact same story every freaking time:  a cupcake store owner REALLY NEEDS the $5000 to expand their business and they also happen to make THE BEST CUPCAKES IN THE WORLD!

The actual cupcake baking part of the show is a hot freaking mess.  I don’t really care if they can bake a cupcake in 5 minutes.  The focus on speed means that the viewer never really gets to see any technique or learn helpful tricks.  As a viewer we just see people panicking and running around the kitchen. Also the “surprise” of giving people tricky ingredients that have to be incorporated into the flavor of the cupcake is SOO OVERPLAYED.

The Great British Baking Show is the polar opposite of Cupcake Wars: the contestants are likeable and humble; judging is on skill, knowledge, and flavors; contestants help each other; the judges are respectful; and it’s simply a good watch. The show is sweet and you end up wondering if maybe the world isn’t such a horrible place after all .  I also end up feeling like I learned a little something.  It is a show where ALL the contestants end up being your favorite because no one ever says “I’m here to win! Not make friends” and none of them think that they are going to “win it all.”  How is everyone so damn likeable?   The show is filmed in a giant tent on Mr. Darcy’s estate (not really but possibly)  with windows that look out on to an amazing garden.  Often times you can see it raining through the windows.  What is better in life than baking delicious treats while it’s pouring rain outside . . . maybe baking delicious treats with your friends while it is raining outside and it feels like every contestant could be your new best friend.

When was the last time you watched a reality show and the producers weren’t trying to make the show something other than a mirror of “reality”?  Maybe season 1 of the Real World?  The show doesn’t put on airs.  It just is what it is: a show about baking and not about “man’s inhumanity to man.” This attitude is also reflected in the prize.  There is no prize other than a nice looking cake stand that says “the Great British Bake Off.”  It doesn’t event say “WINNER of the Great British Bake Off.” As an added bonus there is a strict NO ADVERTISING rule.  You don’t know what brand anything is—not even the oven or the fridge.

And the final reason to watch the show is for the adorable “Rachel Maddowesque” host because all the best tv shows have lesbians in them.

The only thing wrong with this show is that there isn’t enough pumpkin used.  I could only find 3 recipes that use pumpkin at all:

Even if you think that you’ve seen it all, in terms of reality and cooking shows, the Great British Baking Show is a breath of a quaint British garden’s fresh air.

Starbucks Pumpkin Spice K Cups



I feel like August is autumn’s appetizer.  It’s just a nibble of all the joys that the fall season has to offer.  In August my Pinterest newsfeed starts to fill up with pumpkin recipes and stores are starting to get some pumpkin items shelved.  It’s a welcome transition month.

I even saw a brown leaf fall to the ground and got ridiculously excited because it was a tangible sign that FALL IS COMING!

Last week, we got a small autumn package in the mail from Starbucks.  It was a K-cup caffe latte sampler with pumpkin spice!   There was a caramel one too but who cares and it was not good.  I’m not a huge Starbucks pumpkin coffee lover but the Pumpkin Spice Latte is iconic in the cache of “Pumpkin Eatin’ Season” items.

A quick review is that it was totally drinkable but I would never purchase it and there were lots of grainy bits at the bottom of my mug that were unpleasant to drink.


Prepare yourself for the onslaught!

Pumpkin All Things

Harry Potter’s Pumpkin Juice










Not many people have a long pumpkin juice story but I do:

I am a long time Harry Potter fan. When I started reading the books there was only a book# 1 and a book #2.  I had to pace myself and do a lot of waiting.  This was back when J.K. Rowling wouldn’t allow the books to be turned into merchandise.  You couldn’t find a single shirt, pez dispenser, Funko Pop doll,   Hermione Granger American Girl doll clothes, Hufflepuff scarf, or anything else.  There were the books and that was it.  The world of Harry Potter existed on the pages of the books and in your head ONLY.  When the movies came out there started being more Harry Potter stuff but it never looked like I thought it should. I still don’t own anything Harry Potter but the item that I have most wanted is pumpkin juice.

My obsession with this beverage started simply.  I purchased some pumpkin flavored Torani syrup and added it to seltzer water for a pumpkin Italian soda.  That was okay but I didn’t think that the Harry Potter version would taste similarly.  Next, I tried to find some recipes but none of them sounded appealing.  I randomly found some pumpkin juice at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian food court and it was pretty amazing.  I felt like the Smithsonian’s version was the closest that I would ever get and I was satisfied enough to check “drink pumpkin juice” off of my mental bucket list.

When Universal Studios Orlando opened the Wizarding World of Harry Potter I just knew that they would have pumpkin juice and so pumpkin juice went back on the bucket list.  It seemed like a far fetched goal; I’d never been to Florida and did not have any plans to go.  5 or 6 years ago a friend of ours went and brought us back a bottle of pumpkin juice.  It was such a cute bottle and it seemed so special that we put it in the fridge with the intention of drinking it on a special day.  It sat in our fridge for a few years.  The day just never seemed special enough or we would forget about it until the fridge was cleaned out and then the cycle would begin again.  Eventually, I looked at the bottle and there was no expiration date so I put it in the freezer where it stayed for many more months.  I realized that we were never going to drink it because it was old enough and had passed the expiration date of our willingness to ingest something that old.  I risked a quick lick of the now frozen pumpkin juice and threw it away.

We eventually did visit Universal Studios Orlando and bought another bottle of pumpkin juice.  Guess what happened!  We brought it home, put it in the fridge, forgot about it and eventually had to throw it away.

A closer Wizarding World of Harry Potter was recently built at Universal Studios Hollywood and so we began the pumpkin juice hunt again.  We got annual passes and visited on the second day of the soft opening.  We intended to get pumpkin juice every time we went but the butterbeer always lured us in first.  While it is yummy, butterbeer is soo sweet that pumpkin juice just never sounded appealing afterwards and we didn’t want to purchase it and take it back to our refrigerator of pumpkin juice doom.  It wasn’t until our 3rd trip that we bought one. We refused to take it home and we drank it right there.

Finally!  I now know that Pumpkin Juice from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter tastes exactly like you think it would.  It’s a little too sweet.  It strangely tastes like pumpkin pie would taste if it was magically turned into a liquid.  The juice itself is a little too thick and textured…almost grainy.  It’s still really good and it’s even almost worth the splurge of $7 but it is certainly worth checking another item off of the mental bucket list. It’s just not super great.

We saved a small amount for me to take home so that I could take pictures.  I later noticed that the Pumpkin Juice from Universal Studios Hollywood does have an expiration date of only a few months.  Both times that we opened the super old Pumpkin Juice from Orlando it smelled fine and the lick from the old pumpkin juice popsicle also tasted fine.  It’s weird that one place would have an expiration date and the others none, right?

Anyway, our fridge is now a little less magical with no pumpkin juice inside but I can now say that I have tasted it and that you should too!

Rating for Pumpkin Juice: Rating of 4

Life Update


In trying to resurrect this blog, I feel compelled to post a rambling update on where we are at. There are lots of big projects going on and our time has been consumed by preparing for a new baby.  It’s so weird to announce it on the blog because the preparation stage is almost over.  The little guy (yes, it’s a boy!) will be here in about 6 weeks.

It’s true that second children are a whole different ball game but it’s in a good way.  This time we are more confident.  We have a deep understanding of what we are getting ourselves into but we’re pretty sure that it’s not going to kill us.  We weren’t so sure the last time around.

I’ve been spending most spare moments getting the kids’ room ready.  The decorations and theming, that we originally had in the Carter’s nursery, had gone by the wayside long ago as he developed his own likes and interests.  For several months, the room has been “decorated” in a strange buffalo, pirate, old west, Mickey Mouse, tiki theme.  It was eclectically ridiculous.  We settled on a retro Disney theme but it’s mostly just stuff that we already had on hand.  Once it’s complete, I will share pictures but keep the expectations low.  No magazines will be featuring this room in its lovely glossy pages.

Then, there is circus.  UGH!  Carter is in a parent participation circus class at our local YMCA.  The circus is a REALLY big deal in this town.  There are tight ropes, tumbling, juggling, unicycles and a bunch of other acts performed by local kids and the whole things runs for 3 hours, 3 nights a week for the entire month of May and almost every night is a sold out show.  We have been practicing for an hour two days a week for this since June of 2015.  His part is actually only 5 minutes long but it ends up taking a huge chunk of the day with costuming and warm ups and lots of time spent sitting around doing nothing.

I’ve also started planning for our next Disney World trip in 2017.  It might seem a tad early, especially since we wouldn’t be going until October at the earliest, but it actually isn’t for a bizarre set of reasons.

There’s also a baby shower to plan, a million trips to Goodwill to make some room for all the baby stuff, a garage to clean out so we can get rid of more stuff, and a back patio that needs to be finished before the baby shower.  April is crunch time!

Now you are up to date!