Fall Fun Fridays: The Failing Grade Edition

Tree Collage

Good morning, friends, and welcome to another beautiful autumn Friday!  As of late, the weather around my neck of the global woods has been quite uneven – one moment it’s so cold, we’re all breaking out our toques and parkas, and the next it’s so dank and humid, we’re firing up the air conditioners for one last summery go-round.  But there’s only one way this all ends, and that’s with snow.  I suppose that’ll be here soon enough.

So being the end of the work week and all, it’s time for another edition of Fall Fun Fridays, the casual little blogging challenge I’ve been, let’s face it, whiffing hardcore with my friends Jay of The Scented Library and Julie of The Redolent Mermaid, who are decidedly not whiffing it.  Excuses, excuses, but my Fall has been rather disrupted by ongoing renovations to our apartment.  They’re not going super well, I keep injuring myself (I’m looking down at a throbbing cut on my thumb right now for which I probably should have sought stitches) and I haven’t been able to put out any of my usual decorations, including my beloved Halloween town.  Here, let’s take a peek at it from two seasons ago; that’ll make me feel peppier.

Halloween Town

Anyhow, all that to say I haven’t exactly been feeling the Fall this year, as the kids might say.  Looks like it’ll take another emergency infusion of Disney’s absolutely bonkers approach to the season to set things right – fortunate, since we’ll be back in about two weeks’ time. 🙂

This week’s prompt contemplated hands-on activities – your favourite Fall recipe, craft or some other DIY-able.  I’m actually right in the midst of putting together some fortifying chicken stew for dinner tonight with my parents – that seems like a very autumn dish.  But it won’t be ready for – *checks time* – oh, another five or so hours!  So until the timer goes off, I’d kindly direct you on over to my friends’ blogs, where they’re sure to have pulled out all the seasonal stops.  Happy weekend, friends; hope you get a few moments to get out there and enjoy all it has to offer.

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Pests Be Pestin’

“Sandra,” you are most likely not thinking, “it has been an eternity since you’ve yammered in our faces about Disney.  Why so taciturn?”  Or something to that effect. 😉 Well, that’s because I’ve moved the majority of my Disney blindness over to both Instagram (find me at park_or_perish, or click on the IG link in my sidebar) and YouTube.

I’m particularly proud of our little YouTube channel, Park or Perish!, because I am notoriously tech-unfriendly.  I have accidentally destroyed more expensive electronics than my parents definitely would have preferred (on our wedding day, my dad pulled Mr. Finger Candy aside and, in his usual droll manner, said, “Well, she’s “yours” now.  But you do know she destroys electronics, right?”) and in university an emergency infusion of McDonalds was the only thing that held off a complete breakdown during the Online Editing Session From Hell, 1999 edition.  Holy crap I’m old.  Anyhow, I’m bad with tech.  Basically, if it deals with “stuff,” I will find a way of accidentally trashing that stuff and, I dunno, stapling it to myself or something.  I’m really kind of an incredible klutz for someone who took dance lessons for 20 years.

But I digress.  As always.  What I was trying to say is for someone so inept at the “business” side of blogging, and just generally anything having to do with tech, I’m super proud of myself for learning a little video editing program so I could launch our YouTube channel.  I’ve pulled off some not totally unfortunate edits, and I love to edit sound – it’s nitpicky work, but so satisfying when your timing finally snugs into place seamlessly.  YouTube also represents its very own particular little publishing quagmire; it took me more than a couple of test runs to work out the bugs.  None of this stuff comes naturally to me, so I’m really quite pleased that I’ve been able to jump in with both feet regardless.

So that’s where the Disney has scampered off to – it went off to seek adventure in the great wide somewhere known as Instagram and YouTube!  I made this video this weekend, and I thought I’d share it with you.  It’s all about the Disney nevers you know we’ll probably never actually respect; Disney has a particular knack for dulling one’s sense and reason, or at least our sense and reason.  I hope you’ll check it out, and thanks so much for being a great virtual neighbour!

Fall Fun Fridays: Autumn Dreamer

Another Mansion Collage

Today’s prompt in the blogging series I’m doing with my friends Jay of The Scented Library and Julie of The Redolent Mermaid is to discuss how we’d  put together our perfect Fall event or vacation.  For our dreamer purposes, the real fun in this hypothetical planning process comes from the fact that we are unencumbered by any real world concerns – money (or a lack thereof), professional and personal schedules, ANY of the usual obligations.  So please do check out both Jay and Julie’s blogs to see what sort of autumn shenanigans they’d get up to completely off the chain!

As for me, come on, you know it all begins and ends with Disney’s Haunted Mansion!  A wedding – hmm, a Halloween vow renewal for two Disney nerds coming up on their 14th? –  the actual ceremony of which takes place in the lobby, in front of the fireplace, beneath the changing portrait of Master Gracey.  Afterwards, guests (and did I mention I have a team of makeup artists and costumers on hand to garb our guests in the finest of the Mansion’s moldering fashions?) will pass through the Stretching Room before boarding Doom Buggies draped in swags of jet black roses.  Upon reaching the diningroom reception, guests will disembark (please don’t ask me how they’re going to climb down, particularly encumbered by dusty, gothic fashions; this is my crazy, impractical dream!) and enjoy a sumptuous feast of, well, this (this being a strip loin steak topped with balsamic shallot butter on a bed of four cheese pancetta and arugula pasta from Mama Melrose’s in Disney’s Hollywood Studios.)

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And for my husband and our other vegetarian guests, there will be a plant-based option that tastes EXACTLY like a steak.  Actually, come to think of it, if that were an option, the entire meal would be veggie.  I ultimately kind of hope that if such a thing actually existed, the entire world would be veggie, but I digress.  No one will drop even a crumb of food down their fronts, and everyone will remain on the responsible, pleasant side of intoxication.  Because there be margaritas a-plenty!

Tequila!

After dessert (my mom’s homemade apple pie, 13 tiers of it and miraculously calorie-free) my new-old husband will waltz me around the dance floor, weaving in and out among the ghosts, to the strains of twenty one pilots, who are there because we’re personal friends and I can just call them up like that.  Josh will NOT be wearing a shirt with sleeves.

This actually reminds me of the ever-so-hopeful exploratory phone call Mr. Finger Candy placed to Disney event services when we were planning our wedding nearly 14 years ago.  He had asked me at one point shortly after we got engaged what my dream wedding looked like, and I gave him pretty well all of the details I laid out above (minus the twenty one pilots stuff, although then – and now – I’d also accept Green Day.  Mike Dirnt’s got nice arms for a bassist.)  So one day he rang them up and asked real casual-like how much it would cost to actually rent out the Mansion, or a portion thereof, for a private event.

Later on that evening we both nearly laughed ourselves into asthma attacks as he recounted the very pleasant and also very delusional Disney rep who quoted him a figure just north of 50K, including a whole host of guarantees we had to make regarding room, food and alcohol sales.  And that was for a two or three-hour event, at best, held in the dead of night after park close, and without any access to the actual ride itself.  I suppose if you had REAL money, you could close the entire ride down just for yourself (hell, close the entire park down just for yourself) but for us regular plebs “just” looking to shut down a small portion of a beloved ride in the most popular theme park in the world (!!) we were looking at a solid $75,000 investment.

So it might have taken 13 years to get there, but I’m feeling really quite positive about our decision last year, on our Halloween anniversary, to ride the Haunted Mansion 13 times in one day.  It’s the most fun we’ve ever had on our anniversary, a total bucket list item, and it didn’t cost us 75 grand!

Grim Grinning Ghosts

Finally, just to keep it wax-relevant, here’s a bit of the Melting Duck’s Foolish Mortal, a Haunted Mansion-inspired blend I picked up some weeks back.  It smells like peppermint-vanilla gum, herbal and a little bit tingly, and the shapes and colours are perfection!  Love everything about this ghostly lovely.

Foolish Mortals Collage

Disney Girl Challenge: Oh Look, Another Glorious Morning

Hocus Pocus Collage 2

…Makes me sick!  As Winifred Sanderson of Hocus Pocus might say, here represented in tiny lacquered form alongside her witchy sisters, toady Mary and nitwit Sarah.

I am a late, late convert to the Cult of Hocus Pocus, much to the chagrin of a number of friends (hi, Jessica!) who swore up and down that I’d absolutely adore it.  Except the first time I really sat down and attempted to watch it early last Fall, I couldn’t; it was goofy, shrill and shrieky in a way that just doesn’t ring my chimes.

Then we went to Disney World to celebrate our Halloween anniversary, and that’s where we both fell in love with Hocus Pocus.  At this time of year ’round the parks, particularly the Magic Kingdom, it’s nearly impossible to avoid the reach of this movie.  Disney has leaned into their also-also ran Halloween hit (the first being The Nightmare Before Christmas) in a big, big way, creating an entire stage show – the Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular – around Winnie, Mary and Sarah Sanderson, complete with a raucous, audience-“hypnotizing” version of I’ve Put a Spell on You.  It probably doesn’t need to be said that there’s also an absolute ton of merchandise available.

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The thing that nabbed us, though, was a 24-hour Hocus Pocus marathon that ran on Halloween itself.  It was one of those things we just sort of absorbed via exhausted osmosis – too tired to even reach a hand over to change the channel on the remote, we lay there, collapsed on our beds, and gave ourselves over to the Sandersons.  Compounding our confusion somewhat was the fact that over that weekend, we were seldom in our room, out pounding the theme park pavement from dusk till dawn instead.  So we’d return to our resort room just in time to catch wildly out-of-order snippets of fake cops, dead man’s chungs, flattened cats, the chocolate-covered finger of a man named Clark and mortal busboys.  Having never seen the movie from start to finish, it was a complete mindf**k, like wandering into somebody else’s Hocus Pocus-tinged acid trip.  It was really so much more engaging – if not utterly confusing – that way!

And so after that, Hocus Pocus just became one of “those movies” – a film you love more because of the events that happened around it, and less because of the actual movie itself (which, over many repeated viewings – linear ones, too! – has really endeared itself to me.)  On our most recent Labour Day trip, the “too exhausted to change the channel” pick was Die Hard 4: Live Free or Die Hard (a nearly necessary bit of gratuitous violence and snarky Justin Long to balance out the relentlessly saccharine sweetness of a day spent at the Magic Kingdom; I love the place, but Disney truly has precious little edge.)  Pretty sure we’ve watched it a dozen times since returning home, because it conjures up sweet, pleasantly exhausted memories of our great trip.

Hocus Pocus Collage 3

Just like Hocus Pocus!  You guys already know that when I really like something, I put it on my nails, and the Sandersons have proven to be no exception.  I’ve also added these manicures to my casual, year-to-year Disney Girl Challenge, wherein I attempt to do a manicure for every Disney character bearing two X chromosomes.  In hindsight, I probably should have added Dani and Allison to the list, but I thought I’d start with the main draws.  Besides, do the Sandersons look like reasonable women who like to share?  No, not particularly!  But I’m sharing, because I’m not a witch…or am I? 😉

Sweet Tracking Tech

MagicBand Collage 1

WordPress was kind enough to just remind me that today is this blog’s 5th anniversary!  And here I am, shamefully red-faced and bearing no gift to, uh, myself, because whoops, I completely forgot/had not even remembered in the first place.  I believe this qualifies me for any and all bad blogger awards, does it not?  All the same, happy blogiversary, Finger Candy, you’re a wee trifle of a thing, but you make me so very happy. 🙂

Also making me happy is this bit of Disney wrist candy, a gift from myself to myself during our last trip, which I could certainly repurpose as a blogging gift from myself to myself right now, no?  This is a MagicBand, one of those RFID-enabled doojiggies that you’re tagged with the second you step on Disney property.  Once upon a time, in a Magic Kingdom not so terribly far away, the technology was used primarily to allow guests admittance to the rides.  Today your MagicBand is the next best thing to an actual key to the Kingdom – you can use them to pay for your purchases, bypass the front desk at your resort, open up your hotel room door, and access your dining reservations and FastPass selections.  They also have a range of over 40 feet, and occasionally do crazy things like allow you and your husband to completely sweep the goodbye boards on It’s a Small World despite never tapping your MagicBand at the front of the ride.  If you’re a believer in the Deep Disney Surveillance State, a MagicBand is probably your greatest nightmare.

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If you stay on Walt Disney World property at one of their resorts, as we do, you will automatically be given new, basic model MagicBands at the start of your trip; you can even customize them with a bit of engraving on the back.  Or, if you have a specially purchased MagicBand, like, say, this adorable Disney treats one I picked up at Hollywood Studios when we were there at the end of August, you can use that – the (Disney) World is your trackable oyster!

MagicBand 1

And because this is me, and because it’s only fitting on my blog’s quinquennial anniversary, here’s some inspired-by, matching nail art.  And here’s to tracking five more perfectly sweet blogging years. 🙂

MagicBand Collage 2

Poison Apple Cauldron

Poison Apple Cauldron 3

I got this nifty refillable popcorn bucket at the Magic Kingdom some weeks back, and like my Gaston ears, it was one of those things that people would just shout their appreciation for from distances both great and small (nearly wrote that as “smell,” which is quite apt, as that Disney popcorn scent – real and/or enhanced – is utterly intoxicating.)  One morning a woman with an incredible Scottish accent demanded to know where I got my “fabu-losh buh-KIT” and I decided right then and there that whatever it cost ($15 filled with popcorn, with unlimited $2 refills) it was worth it just to hear her awesome pronunciation of “bucket.” 🙂  There’s also a small battery inside that powers cool burbling light effects in the lid, like you’re brewing up some wonderously witchy creation and not just 1,800 calories in snack food.

Poison Apple Cauldron Me

Poison Apple Cauldron 4

This fun new parkin’ accessory was calling out for a bit of matching nail art, so I obliged.  I think the skull on my thumb is terrible and I had a real mis-fire with some topcoat that smudged up quite a bit more than usual, but overall, I like the Nickelodeon-type sludgy slime.  Like the popcorn that goes into the bucket most of all, but simply carrying the thing around, and wearing it on my nails, is pretty fun, too.

Poison Apple Cauldron Collage

Poison Apple Cauldron 2

Passholder Pride!

Passholder 1

So here’s that thing I was so very proud of that I wanted to show you, but first needed a something to show, but the something got caught up in transit, and so I had nothing to show.  Thing thing thing, show show show!

*Ahem* So the thing I was so very proud of – the physical proof of which was indeed caught in a sort of transit – is that thanks to our year-long diligence in cutting back, watching our spending and enjoying that which we already have, we were able to become Disney World annual passholders!  That’s kind of big deal, right, it’s not just my imagination? 🙂  But for what we have planned for the next 365 days, it made the most financial sense, and that’s on a cost-of-tickets basis alone; the extra little perks like money off dining, merchandise, entertainment and accommodations and special, passholder-exclusive offers are just that – extra little perks (and already well-used, thanks to our Labour Day long weekend trip!)

Passholder 3

Anyhow, it’s been a donkey’s age since I’ve done any nail art, and so I thought I’d do a manicure celebrating this awesome – and awesomely fun – financial milestone.  I am so, so proud of us for making this happen, as silly as it may seem.  Which I bet to many of you is very silly.  And I’m cool with that; the Peter Pan approach to life is not for everyone.  But consider that Mr. Finger Candy and I have decided to just get out there and fully immerse ourselves in the Deep Disney State – anything we can do to save money while we’re out being dorky dreamers is going to be a help.

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TL;DR: While year-long passes to four of the world’s most popular theme parks may seem like a gigantic financial leap, it’s a chasm we easily crossed thanks to our very best efforts in reining in our spending and dedicating everything extra to this one financial goal.  I love that we worked toward a goal and met it.  Gotta say, it feels pretty darn great!  Just like these nails – I’ve missed doing nail art, must really aspire to feature more of it here on this, uh, nail art blog. 😉

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