2018Back Home Again: 2018

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

2018 Holiday Home Tour

I cannot believe it's already mid-December! This month always flys by and before I know it, it's January and Ewan's birthday is upon us. So, I thought I'd give you all a little tour of some of our holiday decorations. 

I love wreaths and found this one on sale a few years ago. Then, when you enter into the foyer, you see our holiday decorations on the table just inside the door. These change out from season to season. 

Our family room is where we hang our stockings over the fireplace. Excuse the family photo minus Cameron...we desperately need to update! Third child syndrome...

In our kitchen we have this Melissa & Doug Christmas Countdown tree I found last year. We used to have a Mickey cling set but after using it since Ewan was a baby, it was starting to get gross. I'm glad I found this to reuse for years to come. 

These Christmas decorations sit on our end table in the living room. The little tree lights up, but I forgot to plug it in when I took this photo. The lantern came from Target's dollar spot and I made a printable to put in the frame. My latest addition is the little ceramic tree that I painted at a local paint your own pottery place a few weeks ago while Cecily was at a birthday party. 

Finally, our tree! We normally have two trees, this one, and a smaller tree decorated with the Holly Hobbie dolls my grandma made for me when I was a baby. I used to have a little tree of my own growing up since I have a December birthday and I have continued the tradition in my own house. When we were putting up our Christmas stuff, it somehow got overlooked and wasn't put up this year, unfortunately. I have written more in depth about this tree here.

I'm linking up with a few ladies to share my holiday decorations with you, Feel free to join us!

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Leftover Mashed Potato Soup

I know Thanksgiving seems like it was forever ago now that it's December and the holiday season is in full swing, but I posted in my Instagram stories about this amazing soup I made with the leftover mashed potatoes my mother-in-law sent home with us so I wanted to actually post the recipe. 

It's super easy to make and so so good. I made probably two servings, but I ate it all at once because it was fantastic on the super cold days we have had. So, here it is. I hope you enjoy as much as I did!

1 1/2 cups mashed potatoes
1/4 of an onion, chopped
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
2 slices bacon, cooked crisp
salt, pepper, garlic powder and celery seed to taste
I also threw in one of those Laughing Cow cheese triangles for extra goodness. 

Cook the onions until translucent then add everything else and heat through. 

See? Super easy!

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Disney 2018: Magic Kingdom

Our second day at Disney was spent at Magic Kingdom. The park opening has changed since we were there last, and you can actually get into the park, up Main Street and to the castle before it actually opens now. Since we didn't do a character breakfast super early we got there not too long before it opened and waited what felt like forever to have a family photo taken in front of the castle. As we started walking closer, we realized that the lines were much shorter the closer you get, so we kept that in mind for when we went to Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party later in the week. I personally loved seeing Main Street all decked out in Halloween and fall decorations.  

I'm not entirely sure of the order of what we did things, but I think the kids rode the carousel first, then we went and saw Mickey's PhilharMagic before riding It's a Small World. We had a fast pass for Peter Pan's Flight since we never rode it the last time because the line was always crazy. It was ok, but there are so many other rides I'd rather wait in line for. We had another fast pass to meet Cinderella and Elena of Avalor since we didn't get to meet Cinderella last time - I was the only one who would talk to Elena - I felt so bad because Cecily wanted nothing to do with her and only wanted to see Cinderella. 

Our next fast pass was for Dumbo and as we made our way over to it, we saw that the line for Journey of the Little Mermaid wasn't very long, so Ewan, Cecily and I rode it. When we got to Dumbo, the line for the Barnstormer wasn't long at all, so Alan rode it with the big kids while I fed Cameron before riding Dumbo. 

I think after that we grabbed lunch then went and got our spot for the parade. I waited with Cameron while Alan and the kids browsed the shops on Main Street. 

After the parade, we headed over to Tomorrowland and the kids met Stitch. Cecily loves him and we didn't tell her she could meet him so she was super excited. The kids rode the Astro Orbiter and we all rode the People Mover before Alan and I took turns staying with Cameron while we used a fast pass for Buzz Lightyear's Ranger Spin. After Cecily and I finished, those lovely rain bands from Hurricane Michael were coming through and it started pouring. So, we hung out under an overhang for a bit until it died down a little. 

Alan got the kids a fast pass for the teacups so he rode it with them while I waited with Cameron. I get horrible motion sickness so there was no way I was getting on that ride! 

Since MNSHP was that night, we had to be out of the park by 6, but we saw that the line for Haunted Mansion wasn't too long so we decided to ride it before leaving. As we were walking over there, the sky kept getting darker and darker and right as we parked the stroller the sky opened up again. Luckily, we had umbrellas and were able to wait almost the entire time under the covered portion of the line. We didn't ride it the last time we were there and I was sure that we never did when we went in 2010 as part of the Higgins Family Vacation. But, once we got on the ride, I realized that we actually had been on it. 

All the parks were somewhat crowded because of all the fall breaks going on at the time, but we still got to do a ton of stuff. I know a lot of people go to the Halloween party after spending all day at Magic Kingdom, but since you can just go at 4PM with your MNSHP ticket, we did that on another day. So, stay tuned for more of our trip!

Monday, November 19, 2018

Disney 2018: Animal Kingdom

Like our last Disney trip back in 2016, our first day at Disney World was spent at Animal Kingdom. We were there the week Hurricane Michael was coming through and while the Orlando area didn't get directly hit, we did have to deal with rain bands the first few days we were there, yay. The day we were at Animal Kingdom happened to be the day it was open for extra magic hours, but we didn't get there right as they opened so it was already a little crazy. 

Our fast passes were later in the day so we first headed to Dinosaurland so the kids could ride Triceratop Spin. Then Ewan and I waited for what seemed like forever to ride Primeval Whirl while Alan took Cecily and Cameron to play in The Boneyard, which is a playground. Once we all met back up, we did rider swap for Dinosaur, although the line was still pretty long so I waited with Cameron for probably an hour then rode it with Ewan since Cecily didn't like it that much. Ewan loved it. I can't remember if it was before Dinosaur or after, but we saw that Launchpad from Duck Tales was out so we met him. Scrooge was also out but the line was crazy and our fast pass for Kilamangaro Safaris was ready so we couldn't really wait.

Animal Kingdom is my favorite park because it's basically a zoo and theme park all in one and my favorite ride here is the safari. It started raining while we were in the truck and we got to see all kinds of animals. My favorite was the baby elephants swimming. So cute!

We were on our way to get some lunch when we saw that Timon was out and Ewan wanted to meet him. 

After lunch we went over to check out Pandora and use our fast pass for the Na'vi River Cruise. It was really cool, but there was no way I would wait over two hours in line, which was the standard wait when we rode it. Nope, nope, nope!

Pandora was a really cool place to wander around. It was early October and still super hot so the kids and I all enjoyed a glowing frozen drink to cool off and rested our tired legs for a bit before we walked over to Adventures Outpost to meet Mickey and Minnie. 

We weren't sure how Cameron would do meeting the characters but he loved Mickey and just wanted to boop his nose. I figured he would cry so it was a nice surprise! Afterwards, we caught the last Festival of the Lion King show of the day. The last time we were here, we saw the Finding Nemo show and Lion King is SO much better. I will admit that I was a little teary-eyed at it all. 

After the show we just wandered around the shops, killing time until we could use our last fast pass for the Rivers of Light evening show. I was really excited that Animal Kingdom has an evening show since it wasn't around when we went before. However, I was a little disappointed. I don't know if it was because we had grumpy kids or what but it just didn't live up to the extravagance of Disney in my opinion.

When we were walking back to the park entrance afterwards, it started thundering. And before we could get the stroller cover on and get to an overhang, woosh! the sky opened up. Alan and Ewan ran for cover and I gave Cecily my phone and told her to keep it dry while I finished getting the cover on the stroller for her and Cameron. I got totally soaked. It was kind of comical, like the park was like ok, get out! 

There are a lot of characters you can meet at Animal Kingdom and more things to do, but we focused on the things we didn't do and characters we didn't meet last time. It's probably still my favorite park but I can see how once you've done everything at least once why people say it's a half day park. Still great though!

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Run LBL 10k

At the end of October I ran the Run LBL 10k. It was supposed to be my sixth half marathon, but I decided to drop down to the 10k the morning of the race. I still feel like I let myself down for doing so, but I wasn't really trained to run 13.1 miles and had gotten maybe four hours of sleep the night before thanks to a crappy hotel room and a 16 month old who didn't sleep. I knew that in my heart of hearts it wasn't happening that day. 

However, it was a really good race for me. I felt good the entire time and ended strong, not feeling like I was going to die. It took place at Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, which is located between Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley in Kentucky and Tennessee. It's a really beautiful area and in the fall with the leaves changing it was awesome.

And HILLY. Holy cow the hills. It's pretty flat where I live but I did incorporate some hills into the training I did do leading up to the race so I thought I would be somewhat prepared. Ha! Once we got off the highway and onto the roads in the recreation area, I gave up the timing on my intervals and just ran the flats and downhills and walked uphill. 

I had my phone on me, but I didn't take many photos since I was, you know, running. Once I reached the road to the finish, it was downhill and I ran all out to the end. I had texted Alan to let him know where I was and didn't see him until right at the end and almost missed the chute. If they people at the finish hadn't called me over I would've kept on going oops! Oh and when I took my shoes off to change afterwards, I discovered that my shoes had eaten holes in the heels of my socks. They were my favorite running shoes and needed replacing so I'm taking it as a sign that I was not supposed to run that half. Can you imagine how much my feet would hurt running another 7 miles?

I've run faster 10k's as part of another distance, but this was my fastest 10k race. I'll take it! 

Friday, October 19, 2018

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Over the kids' school fall break we took a trip to Florida to visit Disney World...but first Alan surprised me with a trip to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal!!! This was my third trip to Disney since Harry Potter opened and it was going to be the third time I wasn't going because of the expense of buying multi-park tickets for the family. Well, as Alan said "You're not going to Disney three times and not going to Harry Potter." And let me tell you, it was amazing. As we walked into Diagon Alley, I was teary-eyed. It looks JUST like the films. 

Diagon Alley is at Universal Studios Florida and Hogwarts and Hogsmeade are at Island of Adventure. If you get the multi-park ticket, you can take the Hogwarts Express between the two. There aren't a lot of rides in each, in fact only Escape from Gringotts is in Diagon Alley, but it's so worth it to just walk around and pay attention to the details. From the Howler, to the Firebolt to Gilderoy Lockhart's book, it's spot on. 

We got our wands (Bellatrix for me) and some butterbeer and just explored Diagon Alley before taking the Hogwarts Express. Cecily got an interactive wand so at certain places throughout, you can make various things happen, like water spout out of an umbrella or frogs to come to life. Very Cool. 

Once we got to Hogsmeade, Cecily and I rode Flight of the Hippogriff and got to see Hagrid's Hut. Unfortunately for us it started pouring right as we got on so we got soaked!

We had read that you could do a walking tour of the castle and not ride the ride so we decided to do that since the rain wasn't stopping anytime soon. Unfortunately they got rid of the touring line so we had to wait through the huge line to see the castle. At that point I should've just have ridden The Forbidden Journey but the kids were over it so I didn't and we went on to explore the Dr. Seuss stuff. Waiting so we could see the castle was so worth grouchy kids though. You got to see Dumbledore's office, the stairwell, Defense Against the Dark Arts, the Fat Lady, The Gryffindor Common Room, Herbology...too much to name. It. Was. Awesome!!!

If you are a Harry Potter fan and have not yet been here, this is a must when you come to Florida. I am so glad I finally got the chance!

Have you been to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter? If so, what did you think?

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Western Kentucky Botanical Garden

Back in August we went to Owensboro to go to the Western Kentucky Botanical Garden. When Alan and I lived outside Philadelphia we had a garden pass to Longwood Gardens and I loved it. Flowers and gardens and my thing and it was so nice to be able to visit an amazing one 20 minutes down the road from us whenever I wanted. So, when we moved back to Indiana I was hoping we would be able to find something similar relatively close. I have been wanting to visit garden in Owensboro for years and finally made it happen. 

It's not a big garden, in fact we only spent about an hour there, but it was nice. I think it's maintained mainly by volunteers so parts of it weren't planted or were in transition. 

I really like that it had different types of gardens, from a formal rose garden, to an herb garden to a children's garden. Plus all sorts of sculptures and a few water features. 

It's definitely no Longwood, but it's nice to know that there is something similar nearby. Now if only Evansville would create a garden like this!
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