Cherry Blossom Mickey

Cherry Blossom Mickey 1

Again with the Disney stuff, I know!  Yeah, yeah, I’m a broken record.  But a busted clock is right twice a day, or something like that.  Besides, our little customized vacation booklet (for our vacation in six months’ time; Disney are masters of the slow jam tease) arrived today and I’m getting ex-ci-ted!  We made up a list this week of all of the food items/experiences we’d like to try on our next trip, and the somehow incomplete list is 46 items strong.  And one of those I have listed as “Eat everything at Epcot Food & Wine.”  So.

However, you needn’t worry too, too much about my dieting motivation in light of all this gorging talk – the Disney Force is still very strong with my workouts, as evidenced by this pre-workout shot of me in my favourite Turkey Leg varsity tee.  Yes, that is a lot of Stephen King on the shelf behind me – things you already knew. 😉

Turkey Leg Workout

Anyhow, these cherry blossom nails with not-so-hidden Mickeys are in celebration of the fact that I may be able to stop griping about the other thing I’m always banging on about, and that’s the crap weather we have been, um, enjoying this protracted winter.  Because with temperatures predicted to be in the mid-teens this weekend, it looks like spring might actually be here to stay.  So cherry blossom season, just ever so slightly delayed.

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I say that now, of course.  I mean, I’m sure it’ll snow in July or something, just to spite me.  Yes, just to spite ME, I’m sure. 😉

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They Say it’s Your Birthday

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It’s my birthday, too!  No, actually, it really is – today I am *giant sigh* 41.  I won’t dare complain about it, though, as the alternative is pretty darn grim.  I’m just not feeling the celebratory thing this year, although I’m sure that will change once I’m half a whisky sour into tonight’s birthday steakhouse dinner; a lot can change once you add whisky sours to the mix. 😉

And so this afternoon, for my 41st, I’m enjoying a few of my favourite things – Dirty Dancing on the TV, pretty springtime Mickey nails and a thoroughly inedible birthday “cake.”

As always, my mani’s got me thinking about Disney.  I think this is the part where I’m supposed to say I want to be there RIGHT NOW, but I so don’t want to be there right now – right now is spring break, and spring break at Disney occupies its very own circle of Hell.  I saw photos yesterday of the lineup for Space Mountain that just about gave me a panic attack – it extended all the way out of the attraction and down to Auntie Gravity’s.  For those perhaps not as well versed in the Magic Kingdom’s geography as I, that’s a gigantic, four-plus hour lineup, easy.  Ugh, what a nightmare.  I’ll take this simple, springy mani over that any day, thank you, but especially on my birthday!  Ain’t nobody got time for that nonsense.

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And as has been my little tradition now two years running, I blew out a candle and made a birthday wish on a decorated wax sheet cake from Sniff My Tarts.  I don’t have much of a sweet tooth – plus there’s that whole sure-to-be-indulgent dinner thing coming up – so this custom cake (featuring a blend of Peppermint, Coconut Cream Pie and Sticky Marshmallow) really fits the birthday bill.

BDay Cake

So happy birthday to me, and happy birthday to you, too, should you also be celebrating on this Friday the 13th.  To another great year!

Pretty in Pandora

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Unlike virtually everything else in my life, I assure you that this manicure did not start out life in a Disney place.  I KNOW.  I didn’t know it was possible for me to not be yakking about Disney either, but — oh.

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Anyhow, I was going for a neon-on-pastel-on-holo sort of floral look, which is definitely quite Pandoran in look, and I think I mostly (quite unintentionally) succeeded, although were I to attempt this design again, I’d do it over top of a dark purple or blue base polish, as opposed to this lovely, but detail-obscuring, lilac from Enchanted Polish.

And out in the sun, it looks like vintage wallpaper.  So very shiny and sheen-y.

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The Haunted Mansion’s Lost Soles

HM Shoes Nail Collage

Eh, I don’t know how lost they are – the Ghost Host himself, whilst casting about for new recruits, accounts for 999 of them.  Oh, wait, I said SOLES, not souls.  My bad!

And they’re not lost either, because I found them, the shoes to put all other shoes to shame, my Haunted Mansion New Balance running shoes.  Yeah, I’ll let that sink in for a second – Haunted Mansion running shoes.  That my head hasn’t simply blown up from delirium over their mere existence is nothing short of a miracle; it’s kind of amazing I’m still standing now that I actually possess them!

At the recommendation/enabling of a Disney-obsessed friend, I stopped by the Fit2Run store in Disney Springs during our Christmas trip and found these bad boys.  And at a whopping 75 percent off, no less, on account of the fact that they were a 2017 Run Disney release, and there was at that time just one week left in the year.

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I suppose the real question is will I ever be able to wear them?  After seeing what a beating my Asics took this year, I don’t relish the thought of subjecting them to my daily workout routine.  I actually suspect they will become a pair of my parkin’ shoes – when at the Magic Kingdom and all that. 🙂

And as always, a bit of matching or co-ordinated nail art, because how could I not?

HM Shoes Nails

Although I’ll take this moment to note that the mint green, orchid and royal purple hues on my fingertips are really more in keeping with the actual colours of the shoes.  Owing to that bizarre colour-match thing that tends to happen with greens, blues and purples, these shoes are registering as WAY more indigo blue than they actually are.  And, like, neon indigo blue, too.  In real life they’re much more in keeping with the actual purple hue of the Mansion’s iconic damask wallpaper, or these cool Mansion MagicBands we picked up during our Halloween trip.

Magic Band Collage

Right you are, off to stare at them for a bit while imagining the next time I’ll be able to take them out for a spin down Disney way. 🙂

Weight-Less: A Dieting Story

Blue Lips in Ottawa

Good morning, and welcome to the final day of February!  Do you know what else today is?  It’s the one-year anniversary of the sweeping changes I implemented to my diet and exercise habits, which as of this post has netted me an I’m-so-proud 80 pound weight loss!  I’d love to say I lost 100 pounds in one year, or even 85, but January and February have both been stinkers – despite the amazing progress I know I’ve made, I’ve really had to fight to find the motivation to go down to the gym every day.  Coupled with some not so stellar dietary habits I picked up down Disney way (sure, it’s fine to eat a massive entree with no real thought as to its caloric content when you’re walking seven-plus miles a day, but not so much when it’s just you working on your blog at home) I haven’t seen any real movement on the scale.

Ah, but all the other nice little perks are there, the things I fought so hard for this year and that I’m only now really getting around to appreciating.  The somewhat shapely curve of my biceps (I even have biceps?!  Neat!)  The extra spring in my step.  The expanded clothing choices.  A return to fun makeup and hair care.  Little to no exertion sweat.  Physical endurance, flexibility and a newfound ability to play casual games on my phone whilst nearly breaking out into a run on the treadmill.

And every day – no really, every single day, and I know you believe it, because I never friggin’ shut up about Disney any more – I think back with no small degree of wonder to our back-to-back trips to Disney World.  This time last year the thought of going to Disney – hell, the thought of even getting an airplane seatbelt cinched around my bulk – was incomprehensible and deeply terrifying.  Like, I may as well have just proposed a quick jaunt to Mars, such was my disbelief that I was ever going to be in good enough physical shape to tackle a trip to my favouritest place in the world.

But I *did* have the confidence to know that if I just kept plodding away at things, I’d get there.  And then one Fall day my husband said, “Let’s go to Disney World, this weekend” and with no small degree of wonder, I realized that we could.  I wasn’t at my “goal weight” (I actually don’t have one; I think they’re counterproductive) but I felt physically strong, and like I maybe wasn’t going to have a problem with that seatbelt after all (and I didn’t!)  And without getting too hippy dippy on you here, the whole trip (and its Christmastime follow-up) did wonders for my dieting spirits (so long as I can shake that mega-entree-and-a-cocktail habit I fell into whilst Disneyside.)

So the diet and exercise thing and my obsession (it’s okay, you can call it an obsession) with Disney kind of go hand-in-hand.  Because aside from just wanting to do something smart for my body and soul, IT’S my motivation – I want to continue having fun in the Happiest Place on Earth, as many times a year as I can, and I can only do that if I’m feeling strong and healthy and well.

So yay, me am proud!  Of, um, me.  Also rockin’ the Disney athletic wear these days – easier to stay motivated when that motivation is stretched across your bod or supporting your arches.  Here I am down in my building’s gym in my new favourite Turkey Leg varsity tee.  I have no idea what that odd humanoid creature is painted on the wall behind me, but I do know that it’s freaking me the crap out.

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And thanks to an awesome heads-up from a cool Disney blogger friend, I nabbed these Haunted Mansion New Balance running shoes.  Yeah, I’ll let that sink in for a moment – Haunted Mansion running shoes.  I really love me some unconventional, novelty footwear, but these might be the best shoes I’ve ever purchased.  I’m ecstatic to be their owner (and at a 75 percent discount, no less, as they’re a 2017 release and I purchased them with just one week left to go in the year.)  I’ll have some inspired-by nail art up on these guys soon, but for now, let’s just bask in their incredibleness.  Haunted Mansion running shoes, yo!

Shoes Collage

So there we have it, my One-Year State of the Weight address.  I hope to have just as great news, if not better, to share with you again next year. 🙂

Life on Pandora: Exploring Disney’s World of Avatar

Pandora Collage 1

Kaltxi!  And welcome to what I’m sure you are hoping is going to be one of the final posts you have to endure on the subject of my Christmas trip to Disney World.  Except I still have so much to say!  Particularly on the subject of a very special (and very, very busy) place we visited at the Animal Kingdom on the final day of our holiday, Pandora – The World of Avatar (I’m sold already; gotta love a title that contains a hyphenate.)

The World of Avatar opened in June 2017, and just seven months on, it remains THE hottest ticket in the entire Walt Disney World Resort.  And I do mean that literally – FastPasses were not to be had for Flight of Passage, the most popular ride in any of the Disney parks, although I did manage to nab early evening FPs for Na’vi River Journey, a stunningly gorgeous dark boat ride, and my pick for the better of the two attractions anyways (hard not to go with the one that didn’t make me want to hurl all over the back of a banshee, but more on that in a second.)

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Right, so before I get to the breathtakingly beautiful landscape and design work (Disney calls this “Imagineering”) let’s get to what I know you’re really here for, TIPS AND TRICKS ON HOW TO TACKLE PANDORA – THE WORLD OF AVATAR WITHOUT LOSING THREE-QUARTERS OF YOUR DAY AND/OR YOUR SANITY.

First, stay on property at a Disney resort.  This gives you the ability to book FastPasses 60 days out from your vacation.  You may be able to get a FP for Flight of Passage this way.  I was not able to get any, but I was on the hunt “just” 30 days out.  You should be able to get a FP for Na’vi River Journey with little to no trouble 60 or 30 or even 10 days out.

Staying at a Disney resort also gives you access to Extra Magic Hours, extra in-park time extended to guests of Disney resorts either first thing in the morning or last thing at night.  Find out which day the Animal Kingdom is offering their Extra Magic Hours (owing to what I’m assuming are the actual animals’ nocturnal schedules, they tend to offer them first thing in the morning) and get there early with a mind to hitting Pandora.

No, really, get there EARLY.  Earlier than you think reasonable.  If you’re taking Disney transportation, you’ll find yourself sitting at a dark and foggy bus stop at 6 in the morning with 100 other stressed out people (and that’s just your resort!) also all fretting  about how quickly they can sprint through the Animal Kingdom and directly onto Flight of Passage.

I actually really wish that my fellow guests would not do this.  Moods at Disney are highly contagious, and listening to some teenager joke-mock his walker-enabled grandmother about the hustle she’s going to have to put on the second they step off the bus is dispiriting.  Listening in on other people’s neuroses leaves me feeling highly anxious and unnecessarily fretful.

So it turns out my very best tip is actually to calm the eff down.  Please.  With our ultra early start to the day, we were on and off Flight of Passage in a little under 45 minutes.  And our evening FP for Na’vi River Journey freed us up to then explore the rest of Pandora, and indeed the entirety of the Animal Kingdom.  So no need to go all wackadoo.

Having said all that, I am so freaking glad we got that jump start to the day, because by the time we exited the ride 45 minutes later, the wait time had climbed to three hours.  An hour later the estimated wait time had vaulted to five incomprehensible hours and the lineup stretched all the way to the front gates.  When we took this picture, roaring in front of the Tree of Life, we were feeling quite pleased with ourselves for having conquered at dawn what everybody else was now going to spend the entire day slogging to complete.  Mean?  Maybe!  But the early bird rides Flight of Passage with only a 25-minute lineup. 🙂

Morning Animal Kingdom

Less roar-worthy is the fact that Flight of Passage KICKED MY ASS.  It’s a motion simulator, and a deeply immersive one at that – the screen wraps from top to bottom and then side to side.  The story is that you’re riding on the back of a flying banshee through the alien landscapes of Pandora.  Sounds incredible, and I can confirm that the minute or so of ride I actually experienced was next level amazing.  But oh sweet Jebus, the plummeting dips and drops and that nauseating thrusting motion of takeoff and the gigantic, sloshing wall of water…oof, I may need to stop talking about this, right now. 😦

So yes, I closed my eyes through roughly 60 percent of an attraction that I waited half an hour to ride and that some people waited up to five hours to ride.  But I felt myself begin to break out into a cold sweat, my number one tell, and decided to instantly bow to the warning signs I was too daft to heed on Star Tours.  You’re welcome.

I actually have precious little footage from the exterior or interior of either ride; we really hustled through both lineups, and there was no time to stop and smell the alien roses.  But Na’vi River Journey was definitely the more palatable of the two rides for me, a return to those classic, ultra detailed dark rides that have always set my Disney-loving heart aflutter.  Plus, Na’vi River Journey just looks like the best rave you’ve never been to.  Kind of sounds like it, too.  Gosh, I wish I had pictures of this one – it is a boat ride through a black lit, neon alien jungle, and that’s just as pretty as you might imagine.

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We quite shamefully made incredibly poor use of Pandora’s other amenities.  We didn’t go to Pongu Pongu for refreshing Night Blossom slushies and we also didn’t get to Satu’li Canteen for what is some of the only vegetarian food in the Animal Kingdom (for a place devoted to caring for all manner of wildlife, I find their reliance on BBQ to be quite odd.)  I blame Flight of Passage – my best laid Pandoran food plans went out the window the moment I emerged from the ride whiter than a ghost and (as always) cursing James Cameron’s name.

This is the part where I should probably mention that I hated Avatar, the movie.  Like, LOATHED it.  And I will never not be boggled by its inexplicable (clearly just to me!) popularity.  I remember when I first heard about the blue kitty person movie that James Cameron was making, I said to Mr. Finger Candy, “Mark my words, this thing is going to make, like, $17.38 total.”  And I was wrong.  So very, very wrong!  Wrong to the tune of about $2 billion, but hey, you can’t have $2 billion without $17.38, right?  Anyhow, my seeming ineptitude at making box office projections aside, I really, really hated Avatar and I’ve watched maybe just 35 minutes of the stupid blue kitty people total (side note: Do you know how hard you have to work to get me to hate a cat?  Even an 11-foot tall blue cat with a pervo tail?  HARD!)

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But I was neither too nauseous nor so much of a hater that I couldn’t appreciate the outstanding Imagineering at work in Pandora – The World of Avatar.  Holy cats (11-foot blue cats?) this place is incredible!  And no matter your area or areas of interest (horticulture, set dressing and design, food, music, computer tech, storytelling and world-building, architecture and engineering or simply the films themselves) there’s a little something for everyone to be dazzled by in Pandora.  I was particularly taken with the floating mountains, which I know are no such thing – I watched enough videos of them going up to know they’re engineered marvels of rebar and concrete designed to look like a craggy, levitating precipice.  But when you’re standing beneath a giant, floating chunk of earth, out of the top of which is growing a massive alien tree, its gnarled roots draping down over the edges and bursting through the underside of the rock, it’s hard not to be impressed.

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I kept thinking how much my grandfather, a lifelong gardener, would have loved the seamless blending of our real world flora with Pandora’s Imagineered alien blooms.

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Ah, yet another way to tell you’re getting on in years – when the behind-the-scenes, technical aspects of a theme park are more interesting to you than the actual attractions (see also the Seed Tour at Epcot’s The Land, where you take a mini class in Disney agriculture.)

Pandoran Pond

It’s really just the most stunningly gorgeous world, and so very beautifully executed.  I wish we had been able to stay into the evening when Pandora begins glowing under black lights, the “bioluminescent plants” throwing off alien neon light.  Even the splatter effect walkways (already super cool in the daylight) glow after dark!

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And the waterfalls!  Oh my gosh, so many waterfalls!  I feel like this entire post has been me excitedly pointing out yet another thing that blew my mind about Pandora, but that’s exactly what exploring the World of Avatar was like in the first place – what gorgeous, infinitely clever marvel will I find around this next corner?

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It seems the World of Avatar also brought out the Pepe Le Pew in Mr. Finger Candy, who laid a giant one on me as we stood in front of a lush Pandoran pond, prompting the cast member taking our photo to mock-admonish that “this is a family park!” and for a nearby group of Japanese tourists to spontaneously burst into delighted applause. 🙂 Apparently Pandora is for Lovers.

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So would I go back, even knowing what I know about my ability (or lack thereof) to handle Flight of Passage?  Yes, if only to cover myself with about two dozen anti-nausea patches to see if that makes a difference.  But also to check out some of the food and beverage offerings, and get a glimpse of Pandora after dark.  It’s also just a lovely and beautiful spot to chill out and people-watch for a bit; all those waterfalls make for a very relaxing place to wile away a bit of time.  Big recommendation on the World of Avatar; Disney, not too surprisingly, done good. 🙂