Posts Tagged ‘vacation’

Easter holiday

laelene Posted in lifestyle glimpses,Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

For the first time in my life, I got Good Friday and Earth Day off (what a fabulously quirky company I work at) so Panda and I planned a little vacation for this weekend. I took Monday off so I’d have 5 days and his schedule is so odd with his travel that I’m not sure if he had to take any days off. Since he got solicited to sit in a timeshare presentation awhile back, we decided to schedule that for this little Easter break we’d be getting. The location we’d chosen was Myrtle Beach, because it’s about as far as we can drive in a reasonable time and we’d enjoyed it the first time we went. The timeshare offer was only for 2 nights, so we planned to spend a night in Charleston to explore a new place while we were at it.

As it turns out, he couldn’t make it back until the night of the first day of our trip (when we were supposed to be in Charleston), so we headed out in the middle of the night. He flew in at 5 pm, took care of some business, and we napped until midnight or so. We then crawled up and made sure Smokey had enough food and water laid out. I scooped her litter one last time to ensure the freshest box possible and we were off at 1 in the morning. We talked along the drive for the first two hours as it rained all through the night. I started to get tired between 3 and 4 and finally decided to sleep. I kept waking up paranoid that Panda would be too tired to drive, so I always asked him how he was doing before crashing again. We made a pit stop at a Chick-fil-a right as it was opening at 6:30 and I felt much better after eating. As it was getting brighter, I woke up again and finally felt somewhat refreshed. I offered to drive and took over for the last hour and something that it took for us to reach our first destination: Middleton Place.

green tree-lined road with little sky showing

As, such wonderful greenery!

panorama of middleton place near charleston south carolina

Welcome to Middleton Place!

small section of green rice paddy at middleton place

They have a mini rice paddy to give you a sense of what it’s like.

alligator laying on grass of bank and head of other alligator peeking out of water

Alligators were just chillin’! Can you spot the one in the water?

kneeling in front of giant bush of white and pink flowers

They usually have tons of flowers, but most didn’t survive the storm from the previous night.

crowd of kids and parents gearing up for easter egg hunt at middleton place

They were hosting multiple Easter egg hunts for kids that morning.

giant stork walking on path at middleton place

That stork calmly walked around like it owned the place.

brown water buffalo standing by water looking up

Was this water buffalo gazing up at the sky?

brown goat sitting on tree stump

When I first saw this goat, I thought it might be fake.

family of black momma pig and three baby piglets

Momma pig had some babies!

black piglet sniffing person's hand

This piglet was so hungry it tried to eat my finger.

brown and white water buffalo pair drinking water and staring

Getting stared down by the water buffalo.

brown and white water buffalo pair nuzzling

Aww look at them nuzzling.

group of different fowl including chickens, roosters, and geese

Such a pretty variety of birds on the farm.

petting farm cat walking on picnic table

Farm cats are always so bold.

giant white rabbit in cage with brown one behind it

Bunny rabbits for Easter! And check out my speckled egg nails. 🙂

peacock walking around farm near people

Peacocks just roamed around.

male peacock grooming feathers

A lady thought that this peacock grooming would actually spread his tail out.

male peacock with feathers spread out to groom himself

Such brilliant colors. Too bad this guy had no competition on the farm to give him a reason to show us his plumage.

white tents at middleton place for wedding

We were asked if we were the couple getting married here today. Do I look dressed for a wedding?! 😛

giant oak tree on middleton place property

A very large oak with plenty of character, even after some major branches fell.

pair of swans sitting in water by edge eating grass

As we headed out, we tracked down the swans.

two 2-piece meals of fried chicken with sides at bojangles

For lunch, we had Bojangles. We still prefer Popeye’s.

black and white bird flying in for piece of bread on ground

When I saw birds, I happily busted out the old bread I brought to feed animals on the trip.

parking lot in midst of trees with no paved roads or painted lines

The parking lots for the plantations were basically part of the forest.

charleston tea plantation america's only tea garden

The only place in America you’ll find them growing, harvesting, and making tea! Bigelow owns this one.

fields of tea plants and giant machine for harvesting tea leaves

Fields and fields of tea bushes that just look like a regular plant.

close-up of tea leaves of camellia sinensis bush

This my friends, is what you start with when you want a nice cup of tea.

horse-drawn cart with tour of charleston

Time to swing by downtown Charleston! Of course the first thing we see is a horse-drawn tour.

fragrance room at colonial candle store in charleston

At Colonial Candle, they had Fragrance Rooms where you could experience a candle.

fried green tomatoes atop bed of corn covered with cheese and sweet and sour sauce

For dinner, I tried fried green tomatoes for the first time. YUM

view of myrtle beach area inland from patricia grand hotel 16th floor

We arrive in Myrtle Beach and get a room at the Patricia Grand.

shrimp and grits, fried green tomatoes, hush puppies, and she crab soup at mr. fish

Lunch the next day consisted of all sorts of creamy options.

sea salt scrub made by fishermen in restroom of mr. fish restaurant

In the restroom they had a fabulous salt scrub that I almost wanted to buy.

store of all purple things at broadway at the beach in myrtle beach

Out to the Barefoot Landing area and I had to check out the Purpleologist.

wall of racks and racks of globe candles with many designs

Walking by another store, I saw someone making candles so I went in.

round candle with starfish and lionfish design

I loved the intricate look to them!

lady holdking candle while carving into it

I wanted a UCLA one, so the lady made it on the spot.

blue and yellow ucla globe candle hand carved

Check out that beauty! The yellow part will glow when I light it.

The final morning, I woke up just as the sun was rising.

The final morning, I woke up just as the sun was rising.

people down on beach and chairs with tents laid out

By the time we headed out, people were roaming the beach. I had no idea those crescent things became wind-blocking tent things!

flipped car on side of road

Along the drive home, we happened upon quite the accident. Yikes!

Good Friday

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , ,

Last night was the first time in a long while that I actually fell asleep unintentionally. I woke up at 2 something in the morning to find the lights still on, my laptop running, and the cat dozing away. I thought about getting in a blog post, but that required too much effort to wake up from a fog, so I turned off the lights and settled back to sleep. I’m pretty sure I had a dream in a world that I’d dreamed of before. It was like a hybrid of SF and Georgetown and (much like last time) parts of it were flooded. I even recall a house that I’d admired last time. This time I decided to sneak in with Panda and another friend (I think it might have been Ninja) to check it out.

Such was my exhausted state of mind last night, so I’m very glad that we get today off. I’ve got to say, I’ve never had Good Friday off (nor have I had Earth Day, which I also get this year). It’s quite nice and I hadn’t realized how much I was trying to cram in before my long weekend (I’m taking Monday since Earth Day is Tuesday, so I get 5 days!). I guess it all caught up to me last night as I finally got a chance to decompress from it all. It’s also the perfect time for me to be able to go pick up my volunteer badge for the Smithsonian. Their security office is only open weekdays so I haven’t had time to go all the way out to DC to get my badge.

I’m also looking forward to swinging by a macaroon shop that closed before Panda and I could go buy anything last time. I might just get some Georgetown Cupcakes or Sprinkles too.

UK Vacation Day 10 recap

laelene Posted in lifestyle glimpses, photo blog,Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Alright, finally wrapping up the UK vacation from this fall. Our last day there was just to pack and get ready to go. I managed to wake up before the alarm, shower, and get breakfast. We finished packing and then went off to Pizza Express so I could get a pizza to bring home. I was too freakin’ yummy to pass up. We showed up a little before they opened and I got to watch them bring up some dough they were going to make the pizzas with. On our walk back to the hotel, I decided I had to try the Malteser McFlurry and the Sweet Chilli Wrap, which are unique to the region. I didn’t know they had onion rings too! Why don’t they offer those in the US? Then it was off to the airport via the tube. We got a chance to hang out at the Star Alliance lounge for a bit before boarding our plane and heading back stateside.

[See all the rest: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, Day 7, Day 8 and Day 9 recaps.]

doubletree by hilton victoria hotel bed

From staying at hotels, I’ve learned that I definitely want a king-sized bed.

uk outlet with switch

US outlets should have switches too.

round bowl sink sitting atop bathroom counter with water running

Love these kinds of sinks on the counter.

large showerhead extending from ceiling raining down water

I need one of these showerheads at home!

giant white hotel towel

Wow, they may not have much space but they sure have giant towels.

doubletree by hilton victoria hotel toilet

Cool flushing buttons for the toilet.

two red british telephone booths on streets of london

Of course, those eye-catching phone booths.

front of pizza express restaurant in london


guy walking up stairs holding trays of dough for pizza express pizzas

Bringing up the dough!

girl happily holding pizza express takeout box

Yes, I brought it on the plane. No it did not smell up the place (was cold by then).

beautiful brick cathedral in victoria region of london

Lovely brickwork.

maltesers mcflurry ad on cash register at london mcdonald's

Ooo, malty goodness.

fruit stand on streets of london

Such a pretty fruit stand!

reflection in window of london tube underground

Pigging out even as I prepare to leave the country.

british mcdonald's choices with wrap and onion rings

McOnion Rings!

london tube underground oyster cards

Returning our Oyster cards for a refund on the balance.

guy carrying two suitcases one in each hand up out of order escalator

When the escalators become stairs, he becomes super strong.

interior of london heathrow airport

Oops, went to the wrong floor.

electronic collection station for bottles, sharp objects, and other banned goods at london heathrow airport

It’s so fancy I got distracted/confused and did it wrong. :-/

automatic airport security gates at london heathrow

Wow, who needs TSA when you can just use these cool machines to check IDs and boarding passes?

london heathrow airport seating area

The waiting game.

walking in airport hallway lined with stores towards departure gates

Wandering around looking for where to request a VAT refund.

sending off mail in large red royal mail box

Mailing off our VAT refund form! Never got it repaid, oh well.

entrance to star alliance lounge at london heathrow airport

One of the few times we get to use the lounge, might as well take advantage!

free candy jar with british flag shape

British candy.

barstools and tables in star alliance lounge

Entering the more casual part of the lounge.

bowls of chicken wings and pork ribs under heat lamps

Loading up on hot food.

trays of chilled food on ice

Had some chilled options too.

large heated pot of soup

Ooo, soup!

fridge with glass doors showing sodas and beers inside

I’m sure if we drank alcohol we’d be happy.

star alliance lounge area with single person couches and tables

A really nice seating area where we snagged a table.

schweppes bitter lemon drink can

Hmm… not sure if I like bitter lemon.

pile of pizza box, bags of chips, and mcdonald's bag

Stocking up on snacks for the road.

goodbye signs in london heathrow airport

Many farewell messages along the long walk to the gate.

gate b33 in london heathrow airport

Here we go!

two pairs of feet propped up on wall in airport

Propping our feet up for the ride.

sheet of white clouds viewed over plane wing

So bright and beautiful up here.

airplane meal with coca-cola soda, salad, chicken and vegetables, potato side, bread, and water

Meal time!

airplane meal with salad, beef and vegetables, bread, and orange juice

Panda of course gets beef.

airplane snack box with chips, candy, and sandwich

A snack to tide us over.

map of flight route on tv screen of airplane

Hey, we’re almost over my old town of Brewster, not far from Danbury!

bright glare of sun from window of airplane

The sun shining furiously.

reflection of front of united plane on engine off wing

Staring out, I noticed the reflection of the front of the plane in the engine.

sunset from airplane at washington dulles iad airport

Hello, Dulles.

rows of airplane seats from back

Not quite time to disembark.

bright blue virginia police lights viewed from back of taxi

On our taxi ride home.

UK Vacation Day 9 Recap

laelene Posted in lifestyle glimpses, photo blog,Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

I took my time with this post since it was one of the most touristy and there are a ton of pictures. This was our true tour day of London – we started off by Buckingham, went through St. James’s Park, checked out some house guards and stopped by their museum, went through Trafalgar Square, tried a Thai place, found an M&Ms World, explored parts of the British Museum, found some gifts in small shops and waited around for free wifi, crossed the River Thames, walked through the Southbridge Centre and Jubilee Park, fed pigeons, and got tons of pictures of the London Eye, British Parliament, Big Ben, Westminster Bridge and Abbey. For dinner we tried to find a Bella Italia but were unsuccessful so we had tapas at La Tasca instead. All in all a busy day filled with walking that allowed us to see a ton before we headed out.

[Catch up with Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, Day 7, and Day 8 recaps.]

pretty red flowers against green grass in front of buckingham palace

A beautiful day to explore London!

panoramic of buckingham palace and gates of green park

The fancy gates of Green Park.

guards on horseback riding towards buckingham palace

Queen’s Mounted Guards trotting off in formation.

queen's guard standing by gate

One of the Queen’s Guards standing watch by a gate.

pigeon mid-motion flying in to park and landing

A pigeon flies in to get fed.

holding out piece of food for goose to eat

It’s a battle of wills and I win if they’re hungry enough.

swan family swimming in single file line with four gray swans and one mature white swan

A swan family all lined up.

young gray swans with ducks and other birds

That little swan has a funky leg!

view across st. james's park lake with london eye in distance

From St. James’s Park, we catch a glimpse of the London Eye.

girl mid-talking in front of st. james's park lake with view of london eye in background

Caught me in the middle of saying something!

girl posing in front of st. james's park lake with view of london eye in background

A normal pose for posterity.

girl using iphone to take picture of lake

I grab a shot of the lake from the side.

view of st. james's park lake from bank

And here’s the picture I took.

churchill war rooms entrance

No time for the Churchill War Rooms, but maybe on the next visit.

mounted guard sitting on horse guarding gate

Quite a job, sitting still on a horse all day.

girl standing next to horse with guard sitting on it

I didn’t want to get too close in case the horse flipped out.

closeup of girl searching for wifi on iphone

Gettin’ up close and personal as I find some free wifi to use.

trafalgar square with nelson's column and the national gallery in background

We find our way to Trafalgar Square.

lazy pigeon sitting in middle of plaza not moving

The world’s laziest pigeon resides here.

national gallery across trafalgar square

Tons of activity in the square.

bright blue rooster at trafalgar square

What’s up with the bright blue rooster?

chalk drawings of international flags on plaza at trafalgar square

Carefully laid out grid of flags drawn in chalk in the plaza.

sidewalk chalk artist sketching face of diana princess of wales

This guy was working on a chalk portrait of Princess Diana.

t-shirt with sperm in place of nike logo and "just did it" messaging

We stop by a local store and find random t-shirts like this.

t-shirt with image of guy with heart at crotch and girl with heart near heart and "the simple truth" messaging

And another cheeky shirt here.

basaba eathai sign on street

Trying out a Thai place for lunch.

yellow flowers and floating candles on water

What a cute decoration idea!

spring rolls and noodle soup at busaba eathai restaurant

Food was pretty good and the place was very modern.

m&ms world london and sign with tons of crests

After lunch, we stumble across an M&Ms world.

shop fronts at london's chinatown

Our walk randomly brings us to a strip of Chinese establishments.

girl standing by starbucks holding out phone

Yet again standing outside taking advantage of free wifi…

entrance to british museum

Then it’s time to visit the British Museum!

shadows of seagulls seen standing atop dome from inside of british museum

Inside the museum, we look up to find seagulls.

seagull standing atop dome seen through from inside british museum

They sure seem to be enjoying the view.

storefront of amway in london

I had no clue Amway made it over here (and was still in business).

black british taxi on london streets

The taxis here look so funny.

view of london eye, british parliament, and big ben from waterloo bridge

Onto the Waterloo Bridge and we gaze over the River Thames for a lovely view.

view of eastern london buildings from waterloo bridge

On the other side of the bridge are all sorts of funky buildings.

sign on waterloo bridge detailing london skyline

Here you can pick out the attractions using the guide.

large statues and mural by waterloo bridge in london

We head into Southbridge Centre and find quite an artsy scene.

storefronts at the festival of neighbourhood area by river thames

A stroll along the waterfront includes plenty of restaurants.

festival of neighbourhood sign in london

What is this Festival of Neighbourhood??

street performers by the river thames

Street performers doing their thing.

brightly-colored merry-go-round in london

What a bright merry-go-round!

swing ride at jubliee park in london

A swing ride at Jubilee Park offers thrills.

feeding a pigeon a piece of bread

I sit down to feed some pigeons.

crowd of pigeons fighting over food

Gettin’ kind of crazy in here!

closeup of little brown bird with white specks

Some brave birds got super close.

view of people standing in pod of london eye as it slowly goes up

We watch as people pile into their pod on the London Eye.

set of condensed tank top and shorts that expand with water

I was so tempted to get one of these.

silhouette view of british parliament building across river thames

Against the glare of the sun.

girl posing with view of london eye and aquarium

Nice view from the bridge!

choppy waters of river thames

Rushing waters of the Thames.

closeup of big ben clock tower

There are so many points to the clock tower.

panoramic view of westminster from side

Westminster Abbey was closing for the day so we just looked.

boat-shaped tour bus of london

What a fun tour bus look.

pedestrians walking on streets of london

Blending in with the pedestrians.

metal map of london attractions

Another map of attractions.

tapas dishes at la tasca restaurant in london

A dinner of tapas.

churros with chocolate sauce, strawberries, marshmallows, and powdered sugar at la tasca restaurant in london

Ending the day with churros!

UK Vacation Day 8 Recap

laelene Posted in lifestyle glimpses, photo blog,Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I can’t believe it’s been nearly four months since this trip and I’m still updating on it. Only two more to go after this one!

Day 8 was a chill day, with a late checkout and leisurely stroll from the hotel to the train station. We swung by the Co-operative, a grocery store, and the House of Fraser, a chain that reminds me of Macy’s. We wandered along the quiet of Rose Street and found ourselves some cookie tins commemorating Prince George at the train station. The train from Edinburgh to London took most of the day and once we were settled back, we got dinner at Nando’s. Since we got drink vouchers at the hotel, we stopped by the bar to get drinks (sodas) before calling it a night.

[Miss some? Read about Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, and Day 7 recaps.]

breakfast spread at hilton edinburgh with hash brown, tomatoes, mushrooms, fried egg, and fruit

I think the only time I eat breakfast is at hotels.

girl guiding scotland headquarters and shop

A random sighting in our way to the train station. Girl Scouts, anyone?

strings of small red flags stretching across rose street walkway

I love the small streets like these.

east coast train car at train station

Onto the train and back down to London we go.

view of landscape in united kingdom from train window

It’s so picturesque!

girl grinning with bag near end of train station platform

Excited to be back in London!

london king's cross sign on train station platform

Which way to platform 9 3/4?

spacious interior of london king's cross train station

Looks rather futuristic in here.

entrance to king's cross underground tube station

Taking a pit stop to use the wifi before heading down to the tube.

doubletree by hilton victoria

Back at our hotel in Victoria!

girl sitting at table at nando's victoria

We found this chicken place called Nando’s.

seasoned nuts covered by plastic dome with metal spoon

Grab some nuts while you wait.

nando's garlic peri-peri sauce and medium peri-peri sauce in glass jars with metal tops

They have all kinds of tasty sauces.

nando's chicken in pita with sides of mashed potatoes and garlic bread

I opted to try their pita, mashed potatoes, and garlic bread. Delicious!

nando's grilled chicken dark meat with sides of rice and garlic bread

Panda got the grilled dark meat, rice, and garlic bread.

rear of modern red double decker bus in london with lots of windows

The newer double deckers look so sleek.

365great Day 250: parasailing

laelene Posted in 365great,Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

365great challenge day 250: parasailingWhen my parents and I were in Cancun, my dad and I went parasailing. It was so amazing to be up in the air like that, floating above the ocean with insane views of the gorgeous waters and coastline. It was very serene, since there wasn’t much to hear except the rustle of the gentle breeze. I hardly felt like we were moving at all and it really just seemed like we were sitting in midair. Everything was so picturesque and perfect that I wouldn’t have wanted to come down were it not for the fact that my feet were getting cold after being still for so long in that harness. It was a lovely experience to share with my dad, whose love of adventure and fun like this shone on his face. I must have gotten that from him, because we were both grinning ear to ear during and after the ride. Not only was it fantastic to try that activity, it was great to share it with my dad.

On My Mind, episode 9

laelene Posted in on my mind,Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I’ve got so much on my mind it’s a perfect time to link up with Jennifer again for Thursday Thoughts!

Thursday Thoughts

a. ~I’m so happy that I got the job I really wanted! For awhile I was getting all stressed out because every day that passed felt like weeks and it seemed like I’d never reach the point of getting a job offer. It’s funny how time drags on like that when you’re waiting on something that’s important to you. I mean, from the time I applied to the time I got the offer was really only 2 weeks but I seriously felt like 2 months had gone by. Now that I know, I feel like a weight has been lifted. As they say, the worst is not knowing… then you’re stuck in a limbo not sure of what the next step will be or where it will take you. Oh, and I’m really glad I no longer have to remember to use my debit card 5 times a month to avoid a fee on my checking account. I will have direct deposit again, which will waive that requirement! The small joys of employment…

homegrown collective july box coconut theme

I’ll get Homegrown Collective boxes like these now!

b. ~So since I’ve settled the job thing, now I’ve got a ton of things to hone in on. I’m looking to get a car and a new laptop and maybe some clothes. I’ve been meaning to get a pair of sneakers (I can’t even remember the last time I wore sneakers and it’s high time I use them again!) and I promised myself I could get the Homegrown Collective subscription when I landed a job. There are a ton of other subscription boxes I’ve been eyeing and I want to pick up yoga classes again, but I don’t want to go crazy spending money so I will need to phase these items in slowly. There’s so much stuff to purchase in the coming months! Not only all this stuff I’ve put off until I got a job (I figured that would help motivate me), but also the things we’re going to want for our new home. I can’t wait to get some fun home items like a reed diffuser and some more furniture.

c. ~Once again I checked the mail late yesterday and I was so surprised to find another Ipsy bag! I double and triple and quadruple-checked that both were addressed to me and I didn’t see a second charge on my credit card, so it looks like I got lucky this month! I got identical bags so I’m going to put some items up for trade, like the lip balm and nail polish, since I really don’t need two of those. Hopefully I can find the second bag a home as well, since I’m fond of collecting the variety of bags and have no need for a dupe.

inside of kia dealership

Lovely experience at the Kia dealership.

d. ~Panda and I checked out a Kia dealer last weekend and today I headed to a different one just to see if they had better rates or something. They ended up offering me a price that is close to what I’m looking for, so it’s looking very promising. I can’t wait to share the car I end up getting, which will almost definitely be an Optima with the EX premium package. There are so many cool features in it that it really feels like a luxury car. In fact, it can rival the Lexus that my parents have (though that one is nearly 10 years old now so it’s probably a bit outdated by now). Still, for the price point, I’m getting a lot of nice stuff. I have a few more questions I need answered and a bit more negotiating to do, but I love that it ended up being easier than it might have been. The original price they quoted was so far from my desired price that I wasn’t sure I could come to a good compromise. I’ve had my heart set on getting a Kia for a long time now, so I would have been disappointed if it didn’t work out. Fingers crossed there are no unexpected surprises!

e. ~I’m slated to start work next month since I had a vacation planned already, so in the mean time I get to go home for a bit! For some reason I feel like I’ve been out east for a long time when it’s only been a month and a half. I think it might be because this is the first time I came intending to stay long term; every other time was just a 2-3 month visit. When you relocate, it feels different from just staying awhile. I do have training to attend next week for the first two days, but then I’ll be flying back to SoCal for a few precious days at home. I’m looking forward to going back since there’s a lot of loose ends that I didn’t really get to tie up yet. I hope I can get some nice rest in as well. For some reason I’m always tired here even though I’m not really exerting myself. Maybe home will be the recharge I need.

f. ~YAY our second annual summer vacation is coming up in less than two weeks! We’ve had this trip planned for months now and I’m so excited that it’s nearly here. Panda and I agreed that we would alternate choosing destinations each year. Last year was our first major trip and he chose Hawaii; this year I chose the UK (which works out nicely since the Uni of York where I studied abroad is celebrating their 50th anniversary this year). It’ll be so nice to go back and share some of my life out there with him. This vacation had to be later in the year (our Hawaii trip was June/July) due to ticket prices and trying to catch a holiday weekend – in this case, Labor Day. It’s the first time he’s leaving the country, which should be quite the adventure.

g. ~Since I have to use my debit card 5 times a month until I get direct deposit again, I went out to Target for some shopping today. I was hoping to get the fuzzy nail polish that Sally Hansen has, but the sale was gone and I wanted to wait for a deal again. Instead I found some ointment for my burns, which aren’t healing as well as I’d want. I also got some food items that I had coupons for, which I’m pretty excited about. Finally, I purchased office supplies – these clear reusable double-sided sticky pads that you can mount pictures or hold things in place with. When I was visiting Brandy (check her out at MommySplurge) a few days ago, she showed me how she used them to ensure things didn’t roll away when she was trying to take pictures. Brilliant! Now I don’t have to waste tape. 🙂

What’s going on in your life?

Frolicking in Orlando

laelene Posted in photo blog,Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Many months ago, I was trying to change a hotel reservation for my uncle when I unwittingly agreed to a discounted vacation in exchange for a timeshare presentation. I chose to go to Orlando since it had been so long that I don’t remember last time I was there. Everything actually worked out really well – Panda and I got a nice little vacation out of it and right before we went, he was able to earn some free Disney gift cards that we could use on our trip. Plus, he actually had some training out there a few weeks before we went so he got to scout out the area first. Here’s a picture tour of our trip:

annie's mini hot dogs wrapped in pretzel bread

Our trip started with a snack I’d never tried before! Hot dogs + pretzel bread = delicious!!

old school united plane design

Our plane had a cool retro look.

rainbow arching over planes at iad dulles international airport as seen from window seat of plane

As I buckled in for takeoff, I saw nearly a full rainbow!

planes stuck on tarmac waiting for storm to pass

After leaving the gate, we found ourselves stuck waiting for a storm to the south to pass.

sitting waiting on plane with other planes on tarmac grounded due to storm

We waited for nearly three hours! I was lucky Panda gave me his first class seat so I got served drinks the whole time.

united first class meal collage with shrimp salad and hot tea

Once we finally took off, I got a nice meal to tide me over. The pattern in the tea reminded me of cirrus clouds!

collage of dragonfly on ground right side up and upside down

The first thing we saw upon arriving at the hotel was this dragonfly! I went to poke it and it flew off only to land upside down. That can’t be good.

tiny frog blending in with wood chips

Then we nearly stepped on this little guy as he hopped on by!

bright moon over hotel in distance

The moon was super bright and our parking spot was rather far, but it was a nice walk.

collage of anole lizard on porch

The next morning, I found myself a new pet!

square outline created by mirror light in pupil of eye

The mirror in the bathroom made square outlines in our pupils. Fun!

lush green grass growing thickly

I haven’t seen such thick grass in years! I miss that.

downtown disney marketplace entrance

Off to Downtown Disney!

taking a go at the t-shirt designing machine

The first shop we stopped in had these t-shirt designing machines! We just had to play around with one.

giant mickey face rice crispy cake

Goofy’s Candy Shop included all sorts of yummy sweets.

giant world of disney store at downtown disney orlando

Here we go into the Disney store, gift cards at the ready!

testing out the basin lip scrubs

I loved the Basin store with all its skincare goodies, like these lip scrubs that I tried.

collage of basin store products

Panda knew right away I would love this store! Can I bring it all home??

collage of various bath bombs at basin store

They had so many bath bombs, including adorable mini ones!

basin sinks with body scrubs and body butters to test out

Everyone enjoyed the sinks the middle, where you could try out their body scrubs and butters.

caffeine and mosquito fighting soaps

I found some pretty cool soaps with other purposes too – one with caffeine and one to ward off mosquitos!

large soap logs stacked up

I wonder if they ever sell their soap by the log.

basin products including solid shampoo, conditioner, and facial soap

I got two solid shampoo bars, two solid conditioner bars, and a charcoal facial soap.

bird standing by waterfront with wings outspread

That random bird stood motionless with wings spread out for so long I started to think it might be fake.

collage of fulton's crab shack in day and night

Panda made a reservation weeks ago so we could eat here. 🙂

view of sunset, clouds, and water from fulton's crab shack

A great view where we sat!

collage of bread, crackers, seafood pasta, and crab leg meals

The bread and crackers with dip were delicious! I also gobbled up my crab legs. NOM

collage of bird on tip of pointy tree and bird poo on table

The area was plagued by birds. They even attacked a squirrel!

string of lights at dusk on boat

These lights are so nice; I want some for my own home!

collage of pleasure island area of downtown disney

The Pleasure Island part of Downtown Disney is much more adult-oriented.

la nouba cirque du soleil mug

Love the pattern on this mug. If we actually saw La Nouba I probably would have gotten it.

twinkling lights in trees at downtown disney

They had twinkling lights in the trees to make it feel like there were fireflies. I wish there actually were some!

disney institution graduation mickey ears cap with tassel

We brought along Panda’s graduation cap that he got just a week or two before.

minnie mouse red and white polka dot bow tank top

One of the very first items I decided to buy. So cute! See what else we got.

comparing murano glass on tous ring to disney mickey ears

I just had to compare my Murano glass to theirs. I like mine. 🙂

sonic's chili cheese tater tots and hot dog

I love all things chili cheese. I’d never had chili cheese tots before and they are my new fav!

bright sun shining over dark cloud

You never know when you’ll get sun or clouds around here.

red car with crazy air fresheners

That red car strung up like 50 of those tree air fresheners. Can you see it? Hilarious.

disney boardwalk lake

We arrive at the Boardwalk area and explore the stores overlooking the lake.

small turtle in lake among plants

I found some fish and a turtle to feed!

disney tugboat on lake

As we crossed a bridge, this tugboat came scootin’ along.

collage of girl feeding ducks bread

On the tiny beach they created, there were ducks eager to eat my bread. I had so much fun feeding them!

mickey golf globe

These fun globes tested your ability to get the ball to balance on the peg.

disney character pens with ends bent into head shapes

Such cute pens!

disney credit card swiping machine

Even the credit card machines have Mickey’s head on them.

collage of handicapped room features including automatic door, bars in restroom, and no closet doors

We got a handicapped room, which I quite liked – our door had an auto open button!

collage of buena vista palace rooms

We stayed at the Buena Vista Palace and our suite was nice and spacious.

collage of buena vista palace public areas

Here are some of the public spaces at the Buena Vista Palace.

collage of exterior spaces at buena vista palace

And here are some of the exterior spaces at Buena Vista Palace.

large three-row golf cart outside buena vista palace

That golf cart is practically a tour tram!

ming court dim sum

Before heading to the airport, we stop for some dim sum at Ming Court.

anole lizard blending in with sidewalk

Tons of lizards around here (or anoles). Masterfully blending with the sidewalk.

silver tea pot with spill-free spout

This tea pot’s spout is perfect for spill-free pouring!

long escalator going up multiple floors

After returning the rental car, we took a super long escalator up to the gates.

collage of disney character-shaped crayons and green turtle t-shirt

We did a little more browsing at the airport before checking in.

disney tron-themed airport tram terminals

The tram terminals were Tron-themed, I believe.

hangers in first class seating

If you need to hang up your coat in first class, they’ve got that handled.

reflection of sunlight on ring

As I wait for takeoff, I admire how my ring catches the light.

jetway outside airplane viewed from window of plane

Back in Dulles, I actually see the jetway from my seat. And soon enough we were home!

365great Day 59: Del Sol

laelene Posted in 365great,Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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365great challenge day 59: del solI was on a cruise ship when I first encountered Del Sol and I was fascinated by their color-changing products, especially the nail polish. In fact, I bought a bottle of the nail polish as a souvenir. I wanted to get more items, but held back until I came across their store in Myrtle Beach. At that point, I found this cool t-shirt design that I loved, so I got that. I love the look of both the plain outline when I’m indoors and the bright colors when I’m out in the sun. Watching the colors emerge or fade never ceases to entertain me. It’s so much fun! I was given a nice tote bag for the t-shirt purchase, which I proudly carried around the beach. Over the years, I’m sure I will continue to collect a variety of Del Sol products. I love when science can be put to fun use like this! It’s so great.

365great Day 52: solid shampoo

laelene Posted in 365great,Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Learn more about 365great here.

365great challenge day 52: solid shampooI discovered solid shampoo on a vacation at Myrtle Beach. A very helpful sales clerk was showing me a bunch of the cool products they had in their store and solid shampoos and conditioners were one of them. I really loved the idea of something that eliminates the water from the product so you add it in as necessary (like powder detergent vs. liquid). It saves a ton of space! Maybe even water too, depending on how you use it. Plus, with solid shampoos, you no longer have to find those 3-oz containers to put your shampoo in when you travel (nor do you need to hoard hotel shampoos that you could use instead). After happily using up that first bar, I decided to try out this LUSH one that’s pretty good as well. I’d love to get more of the original one though! Either way, not having to worry about travel restrictions is pretty great.

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