Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Let the Post-Christmas Depression Begin!

Hello there! Merry Christmas!!! I hope you all had a beautiful, safe, and happy holiday with your families.

Today is December 26th... anyone else feel a full blown post-Christmas depression coming on? I do! I love this season so much and all that is brings, it's very hard for me to adjust once it's over. There is so much fun and excitement and wonder, and I feel that it all ends so quickly! Anyone else wish Christmas would linger just a little bit longer? I hope I'm not the only one!

But fear not! If you, like me, want to squeeze a little more Christmas out of this season, you totally can! I decided that I will still be celebrating Christmas through the end of the year (as I usually do) with music, movies, light-looking and festivities galore! Nothing like a little denial to prolong the inevitable back-to-normal that is fast approaching :-) I think I will really dive in to celebrating all things winter and wring out every last drop of Christmas that I can.

Any don't forget, today is Day 1 of the 12 Days of Christmas! Epiphany is January 6th, so you technically have until then to celebrate Christmas (without the pressure of shopping and gifts) and not look like you are totally Christmas crazy :-) Or at least you won't look crazy to me, haha!

So with that, Merry 12 Days of Christmas and Winter Festivus! Enjoy!

Also, my apologies for not having more Christmas blog posting this year! It is my favorite season to enjoy, and I think combined with wedding planning this year, writing about everything kind of got away from me! I could barely make time to participate in everything this year, more over write about it. But I sure did want to! I might do some recaps or just wait a few months once I'm not so busy to start keeping up with the blog more. New Year's resolution?? Maybe! Not too early to think of that!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Happy Black Friday!!!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! If you were out for Black Friday, I hope you got what you wanted and didn't get trampled.

Oh, and Black Friday means.... THE CHRISTMAS SEASON IS OFFICIALLY HERE!!! Woohoo! Merry Christmas! It feels so good to be able to say that :-)

Have a great Thanksgiving weekend and be careful hangin those lights ;-)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

On a Christmas Cloud Nine!

Friday, November 16, 2012

OMG! OMG! OMG! OMG! Are you ready for this one?! Joy to the holy good world, 99.9 KEZ just kicked off their Christmas music!!!! AHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!! To say I am excited and overflowing with joy is a huge understatement!!!!! Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!! I AM SOOOO HAPPY!!!!! This is going to make for some terrible writing, but I just can't express myself enough if I don't use all caps, sound effects, and like one million exclamation points! So I apologize for this terribly written post, but I just can't help myself!!! It is so exciting!!!

Let's rewind a bit and I'll tell you how this all happened!

Earlier in the month, I had predicted a Friday November 16th 7:00 am start time for the Christmas music kick-off. I had been checking all month in November in case they started early, but to no avail. The week of the 16th comes. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday?! Nothing. Thursday?! Nothing. So Friday morning, I woke-up and looked at the clock. Shoot! 7:25. Did I miss it? I leaned over my bed and shuffled through my purse, scurried to grab my phone and immediately turned on the radio in anticipation for the magical sounds of the season. As much as I hoped the music had started, I also hoped that I hadn't missed the kick-off. That would be an epic Walking Holiday fail.

The radio tunes in, I hear Beth talking, is that Christmas music in the background? I listen intently to hear any hint of a jingling bell or a 'Ho Ho Ho' in the background. Nothing. Sigh. Relief and disappointment. It was now 7:30. Will they start today? Maybe I was wrong. I decided to stay tuned in while I was getting ready for work to listen just in case they started at 8:00. The minutes tick closer. My eye is twitching at this point from having to suffer through what is, in my opinion, some of the worst music this world has to offer. So tempting to turn it off. But for some reason, I decided to trudge through. Finally, 8:00! Next song comes on... oh bloody hell. Another awful 80's tune. Maybe I really should turn it off at this point at save my sanity. Something inside me tells me no, just keep listening. The song draws closer to an end. I hover over my phone as if being closer to it will somehow allow me to grasp what is going on faster. There is a pause. Excitement grows. Where is Beth? She should be talking again by now. I hear background noise, and not the muffled type you hear at the radio station, but a distant, echoing sound of hustle and bustle, like you hear in a crowd. GASP! Is she out and about somewhere?! Finally, she says "Am I on? Are we good, am I on?" YES!!!!!!!!!! SHE IS DEFINITELY OUT OF THE STATION SOMEWHERE TO KICK-OFF THE MUSIC!!! I just know it!!! "Ok," she says, "I'm here at Scotts-" she doesn't need to finish. I know where she is. Scottsdale Fashion Square. "Omg omg omg omg omg" rattles around in my mind over and over and over again. I am at a loss for words. She continues, "...-dale Fashion Square, and, well, I'm here to do something very special." At this point I am in tears. Stop it right now, Beth McDonald! Stop teasing me! As much as I know what is about to happen, that would really suck if she was there for a store's grand opening or something. Rest assured, the next words out of her mouth confirm what I have been thinking, "It's something we do every year, something you all have been asking about." I gasp for air, then immediately cover my mouth so I don't squeal in a fit of joy and miss something. "I'm here with Cory McClosky from Fox 10 News." Oh stop it, the news is there?!?!?! Hell YES! I scramble for the remote. I wait for the TV to start up and it feels like time is standing still. I immediately tune in to channel 10. Beth says, "If you're at home and can turn on channel 10, you can simulcast here with us." Perfect. You and I are on the same page, Beth. I see Fox 10 come back from break with a graphic that says "Happy Holidays". YES! This really must be happening! They send it over to Cory at Scottsdale Fashion with Beth. I am stomping my feet in place as I can't take the anticipation any longer. They are in front of the mall's giant Christmas tree, rambling on about this being something they do every year and they look forward it, but I can't really concentrate as I am still searching for clues to make sure this is really happening. To add to the whirlwind of craziness, there is a delay between the radio and the TV so my eyes and ears aren't quite sure what to tune in to. Beth looks into the camera and says, "I love this time of year, I am so glad we are going this. This is something you all have been asking about since Halloween. So Cory and I are going to go over here," they both walk over to a candy cane lever placed in front of the tree, "and this lever right here is what we pull to start off what we're doing today... THIS WILL START OFF THE CHRISTMAS MUSIC!!! So Cory, without any further delay as I know everyone is looking so forward to this, let's pull the lever!" They give it a tug and my head follows the movement of the brightly lit candy cane all the way down and BAM! "Here it is!" Beth exclaims. "What you've been waiting for!" It starts, the uplifting instruments, the timeless voice of Andy Williams, "It's the most, wonderful tiiiiime, of the yeeeear"! Beth and Cory grab on to each other and start dancing in the mall with giant grins on their faces, and I hysterically start jumping up and down in circles, partially singing along, partially just screaming and getting out my built-up excitement! YES! It happened! I didn't miss it!!! It WAS worth listening to all that horrible music prior to the kick-off! I didn't sleep through it! I made it, I heard the kick-off! Aaand I got to hear AND watch it LIVE!!!!! A Walking Holiday first! My prediction was only off by 1 hour and 11 minutes! Hallelujah!

Ahh, yes! This time of year is truly my favorite. Why is the Christmas music on the radio such a big deal you ask? Bigger than everything else? For some reason, the music on the radio means that the Christmas season is here! It signifies the start of this whole holiday season. Every other Christmas milestone that happens is wonderful, but it's just not Christmas until the music is on the radio. There is something special about knowing there are other people out there listening to the same thing you are at the same time.
This event is more significant to me than some of the other "hints of Christmas" that start happening during the end of the year. I am always soooo excited when I see ornaments and sparkly things appearing in stores, red cups making their debut at Starbucks, Disneyland closing rides for holiday install, etc etc. but there is just something extra special about the day that the radio station starts its Christmas music. The music being on the radio means yes, the holidays truly are here! Alive and well! For me, once this happens, the Christmas season can begin as it finally feels complete. The only thing left after this is the finishing touch for it to be in full swing- the clock striking midnight on Black Friday!

I am so glad the music starts early, before Thanksgiving. This way I have some festive tunes to carol along with while I'm in the kitchen preparing my Thanksgiving desserts! Since Thanksgiving unfortunately has no music, I let it share with Christmas :-) This makes some people mad, but what would Christmas be without a few Scrooge's?? ;-)

If you don't live in Arizona, I'm curious to know if any of you have all-Christmas-all-the-time radio stations in your city and if they have started yet! I feel like this is such a special thing, I wish it could be shared with the world! I hope you all have something like this where you live!

I hope this got you in the mood to turn on the Christmas tunes! And such a perfect time since Thanksgiving is this week! I will be blogging about the parade and (hopefully) including pictures as well! Oh, and I may just go ahead and post the recipes for the Thanksgiving desserts I am making as well :-) I'll give you a hint: pumpkin!

OK, enjoy the Christmas music! If you don't have a radio station that does it, Pandora Holiday is up and running and Cox channel 933 has it until January. Happy caroling to you! Fa-la-la-la, la-la-la-la!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

In Case You Haven't Heard...

... only 2 weeks till we carve the bird! That's right! Today marks only TWO WEEKS until Thanksgiving!!! 

Thanksgiving is one of my absolute FAVORITE holidays! Actually, I think it is my favorite. It's basically Christmas, but instead of it being over, it's just beginning. The best holiday and time of year is ahead of you, not ending in a few hours, which is my only complaint about Christmas day. Once it starts, it's over shortly after. This is probably a plus for many people (you know, the ones who enthusiastically throw their trees in the garbage at 12 noon on Christmas day), but for me, it is a sad, sad time! Thankfully, I have New Year's, Valentine's Day and the spring holidays get me through my post-Christmas holiday blues. But Thanksgiving is the kick-off the holiday season! It's Christmas without the pressure of gifts and money! Just good food, family and cheer. And pumpkin. Lots and lots of pumpkin.

And of course, 2 weeks until Thanksgiving also means only 2 weeks until one of my favorite things of the entire year... the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade!!! That event has to be top on my list of nationwide events that happen through the year. It is just so magical : ) After all, it is brought to you by the magic of Macy's!

Just a few hours after Thanksgiving dinner, once everyone wakes-up from their turkey coma, my other favorite nationwide event happens... Black Friday shopping!!! Parade, Thanksgiving, Christmas shopping... back-to-back awesomeness! There is no other event or time of year where people all across the country wake-up hours before the sun, bundle up, and wait in line at their favorite stores to grab some great deals on gifts for their loved ones (and if we're being honest, a few for themselves!). The energy is really pretty amazing. Even if I don't end up buying anything, I always enjoy going out and being among the festivities. I just love the atmosphere! This can be overwhelming for many people, but I think the hustle and bustle really adds to the holiday spirit. It is quite an incredible thing to be a part of and experience!

Alright, I'm off to get a fabulous Caramel Brulee Latte! All this Thanksgiving talk got me craving one :)  Get your gobblers ready, Thanksgiving is on its way! Can't wait!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Christmas Music on Pandora!!!

Attention all Pandora users: Christmas music is officially HERE! Christmas stations are now available from the "Browse Genre Stations" page! Woohoo! You can find it by browsing by genre and selecting "Holiday". There, you will find an assortment of Christmas tunes that everyone is sure to love! The stations they have built are as follows:

Christian Contemporary
Classical Christmas
Country Christmas
Family Christmas
Indie Holidays
Jazz Holidays
Navidad Latina
Peaceful Holidays
R&B and Pop Holidays
Rockin' Holidays
Swingin' Christmas
Today's Christmas

Which ones will you be listening to?

Speaking of places that have Christmas music... Bath & Body Works started playing their Christmas music on Monday, November 5th!!! I took it as an early birthday gift for me on my Birthday Eve :-) It's so festive in there! If you haven't been this week, pop on over and get an early fill of holiday cheer!

Hope you enjoy rockin out with some Christmas tunes a little early! Just another sign that the holidays are upon us :-) This is truly the best time of year! Enjoy it!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Rekindle, Rejoice... RED CUPS!!!

You heard right- the beloved red cups are back at Starbucks!!! I would say you have no idea how much joy this brings me, but I think you have an idea how much joy this brings me. A sleighful might be an understatement : )

What a way to ring in the season and start November off right! For my first red cup drink of the season, I kicked it off with a Soy Caramel Brulee Latte, which, if you haven't tried one before, now is a good time to scoot your boots into a Starbucks near you and grab a cup! If you aren't famil with what it is, it's basically what I consider the perfect Thanksgiving drink. And, being November, I think it's necessary to celebrate all things Thanksgiving in full force while sprinkling in Christmas along the way until Black Friday. By the way, in case you haven't looked at a calendar lately, Thanksgiving is only 3 weeks from TODAY. Huh?? Is it always so soon after Halloween? To answer my own question, and if any of you are still listening at home, no, it isn't usually this soon lol! It varies based on when the month starts/October ends (which is Halloween), and I believe we generally have 3.5 weeks in between, sometimes four. I may be wrong, but I think this is the shortest time in between Halloween and Thanksgiving that we can have! This is all fine by me. Keeps me on my toes : ) Next year we will have 4 weeks in between, which means 1 more week for Thanksgiving, but 1 less week for Christmas. A little holiday give and take!

Anywho, I have deviated from my original thoughts quite a bit. Back to red cups! I am really liking this handwritten cursive-y type of font that I'm seeing used by Bath & Body and now Starbucks for Christmas. The Starbucks sleeve has the word "Rekindle" written on it (hence the title of my post) and it is in this ribbon-like festive font. BBW is also using that on their nostalgic Christmas candle collection. I'm a fan. I really don't like simple block letters that have been used so much for the past few holidays- it's just too boring and ordinary, and this season is nothing but! "Rekindle the season", I very much like the sound of that!

Alright, here is my drink breakdown for the holidays, in case you needed some guidance on what drink to get when ; ) Ahem: I think the perfect drinks for fall and Halloween are the Pumpkin Spice Latte and Salted Caramel Mocha. As I stated for Thanksgiving, I like the Caramel Brulee best! It's festive, still fall-ish and doesn't scream Christmas to me like the others do. My all-time fave holiday/Christmas drink might be the Gingerbread Latte... mmm. It is soo good! That one borders with Thanksgiving and Christmas, I think it can be versatile. I'm not a fan of the Eggnog Latte, it just is too bland for me. Maybe I haven't had it made right! And if I'm really in the Christmas spirit, nothing beats the Peppermint White Mocha... nothing. O.M.G. Plan on wearing sweatpants for the rest of the day if you get it though- that thing is loaded with calories, lol! And of course, the original Peppermint Mocha (not white) is a great drink if you want the cool peppermint flavor but a few less calories : ) Or, you can get a PWM with 1/2 the normal pumps of the white mocha sauce. That will actually make a big difference in calorie reduction! So there you have it, my Starbucks holiday drink breakdown. You're welcome!

And of course, no post about Starbucks red cups being back would be complete without proof, so without further ado, here they are! In all their festive glory!

Well hello there, snowman! ; > D

Rekindle the red cup

Caramel Brulee sprinkles... mmmmm!

Doesn't the black & white make this look super cold?
Brr, winter chill in the air!
I love this time of year. I talk about transitions a lot, but I almost enjoy them more than the actual events themselves. Being November 1st, I feel like I can celebrate the holidays in my own way a little earlier than everyone else does. It's totally appropriate to celebrate Thanksgiving and gear up for Christmas, but people aren't as outward about this on November 1st as they are in the middle to end of the month... I get to have my own secret holiday club. While everyone else is dreading this time of year, I'm having my own party 24/7 until the New Year rolls through, haha! Maybe it's selfish, but I really like this time where I can have the holidays to myself and anticipate things to come! While we're on the topic of changes and new things, I thought I'd share one more picture. These leaves capture the transition from Halloween spooks and thrills, to a wintry forecast of magical things to come:

Twinkling leaves over a glowing sea of enchanting lights
signify a seasonal change is on its way
I just love the myriad of colors in this photo. Alright, that's it! Thanks for reading! Have a festive day!

Happy November!!!

Well hello! And happy November to you!

Life has been a whirlwind of mostly overwhelming crappy events the past 7 weeks or so (and I don't say this to complain- life is good and I am very, very blessed!), so I haven't been able to write and I've missed it so much! In my personal life, I was celebrating each holiday milestone and countdown, from the first day of fall (which was awesome!), to October 1st, to Oktoberfest music being on the music channel, to all-Halloween-all-the-time on the music channel, to "only 2 weeks until Halloween!", to "only 1 week until November!", to "just 1 week until my awesome Election Day birthday!", to "Starbucks red cups have shipped to stores!", to "Omg, less than 1 week until all-Christmas-all-the-time on the music channel!", to Halloween last night (which was simply amazing), and now to November! Here we are!

Ay yi yi, how is it that we only have 2 months between us and the new year?! I know, I know, time flies, gets faster as you get older, yadda yadda, but I swear, no matter how much I prepare for all of this stuff it still leaves me in disbelief once it's here!

Halloween last night was really, just.. magical. I had very low expectations going in to it since everything leading up to the day had just been crazy, but somehow it all worked out once the bewitching hour was upon us. We got a record number of trick-or-treaters, which was a really nice surprise! Even though the holiday (and really entire fall season) has been very rushed, everyone seemed so festive and in the Halloween spirit. There was a chill in the air, chili in the Crockpot, a wood fire outside, the warm, ambient glow of candles burning sweet and spicy smells of fall, orange and purple lights shining bright, jack-o-lanterns lit on porches, and plenty of Halloween hits coming from the Walking Holiday household :-) Kids seemed to get so excited when they looked across the street and saw our house lit up- our windows open just enough to peer in and get a glimpse of the festivities inside, with the promise of candy to reward their trick-or-treating skills! One little trick-or-treater even stuck her head inside to peek around at our Halloween house! I was so flattered. After our last trick-or-treater (Ketchup) around 9:00, we turned all the lights off, leaving only our Halloween lights on and watched Hocus Pocus with a little Pumpkin Pie Spice coffee nightcap :-) It was perfect. We wrapped things up just before midnight, where I walked outside and said goodnight to Halloween, and thank you for the magically spooktacular evening. As it turned midnight, I welcomed the cool, crisp November air with its harvest tidings ahead.

As I sit here now, I'm anticipating all the warmth and joy of the season ahead, and also my trip to Starbucks in a few minutes for my first red cup of the season :-D  Yay! Must. Be. Patient..... OK, I think I've waited long enough- off to Starbucks I go! Pictures to follow, I'm sure!

Have a fabulous November and don't forget, it you are in AZ with Cox Cable, channel 933 will be playing the last of the Halloween music today and Christmas will start tomorrow!!! Tune in! Have a hollie day!

Also, props to my future hubby for making things so extra special yesterday. It would not have been Halloween without everything you did- from making what I think is the best chili I have ever tasted, to going out and getting a fire pit for the backyard and lighting a real wood fire, and turning on all the Halloween lights and lighting all the Halloween candles, I could not have asked or dreamed of anything better. I am so lucky to have you! Thanks my dear! Next Halloween, we'll be married!

Spooooooooky trees


Is this not the coolest train you have ever seen??

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Rainy Days and Feeling Like Fall

Today is just the most perfect day. I've decided I like to write the best when it's raining, as I think the rain is cleansing for my soul. And anything cleansing usually reveals something beautiful beneath it.

Today is a rainy day. It's a rainy day unlike most rainy days we've had. This one is special. It's the most calm rain I've seen in a very long time. Rain during the monsoon season usually means high winds, or at the very least, a gentle breeze, but not today. The trees are standing completely still, only moving to let the raindrops delicately kiss their leaves and then trickle down to ground. There is a calmness outside that is so soothing. It looks as if someone put the whole world on pause, just to let the rain come out and dance, uninterrupted.

The only sound you hear is the soft pitter patter of rain touching rooftops and gracefully landing on the ground, the occasional car driving by, lightly treading through the newly formed puddles in the street, and quiet rumbles of thunder off in the far distance. I feel so present being here among the stillness of nature allowing the gentle rain to come down and cleanse the earth. Today, the world just feels balanced, centered and like everything is just the way it needs to be.

It is so rare that we get a day like this in early September. The temperature is in the 70's, a cozy gray blanket of clouds is wrapped around the sky, soft raindrops are effortlessly falling down, and there is a clean, fresh humidity in the air. The kind of humidity that your skin and hair soak up but doesn't stay behind. The kind that makes every breath of air you take feel as if it is refreshing your body and renewing your soul. The kind that when you walk outside, the air instantly wraps around your body and fills you with comfort and peace. The best kind of humidity.

All of this has really put me in the mood for fall. It only seems appropriate to use this wonderfully rare day to get out my boxes and get some fall decorating done, so that is what I will be doing for the rest of the day :-) We are so lucky to have a day that feels like fall before the season officially changes, so I will be taking advantage of it. Thank you, rain, for being here today and making everything feel so cozy and warm. You are welcome here anytime.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Christmas Marathon on QVC Today!

Have you been missing the holiday joy and merriment that was spead during Christmas in July? Well then, great news! There will be a mini-Christmas marathon on QVC starting TODAY!!!

It will run from August 23rd at 8:00 pm AZ time (11:00 pm Eastern) and will last all day through Friday, August 24th until 9:00 pm AZ (12:00 am ET). A whole 25 hours of Christmas cheer! I will be watching and making merry! Hope you get to tune in as well :-) Have a hollie day!

I was missing this!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Beach and Cars Land!

Guess who just got back from the happiest place on earth?? This girl (I say this as I'm taking both thumbs and pointing them towards myself while open-mouth smiling and shaking my head 'yes')!!! Oh yeah!!! This is one happy blogger today! I am so thrilled to come back and reminisce about my wonderful beach day and Disney trip. I will include some pictures of the new additions to California Adventure and give you a full re-cap of all the summer festivities that were going on at the parks.

We kind of spontaneously decided to go on this trip as one last hoorah before the summer ends and the hubby starts his new job. We thought a long weekend in California for a beach day and a day at Disneyland would do the trick. Can you think of a better way to end the summer?? I can't! It was seriously perfect. We needed one quick trip before the hectic holiday season approaches and some quality time together before our schedules have us both tied down to full-time jobs. So, we booked our hotel Thursday through Priceline (got a sweet deal for the Hilton, by the way) and left on Sunday!

July 29th - Beach Day

We woke up nice and early Sunday morning and hit the road. Off to California we went! We arrived in Newport around three o'clock and unwound at one of our favorite places to eat, Cafe Rio. After some much needed food and rest, we headed down to my sister's house a few blocks away. We spent the rest of the day at the beach together. It was so perfect... the cold salt water was a great contrast to the warm, soft sand, which was a nice, gentle exfoliant for my tired feet (hello free pedicure). It was so relaxing listening to the waves calmly crash along the shore and feeling the gentle, moist, ocean breeze that balanced the mild warmth from the sun. The cool, fresh air left me feeling revitalized after months of the harsh Arizona heat.

After the beach, we made our way to the hotel. As soon as we parked the car, the Disneyland fireworks started going off! We stood in the parking lot together and watched the show in anticipation for our arrival there the next morning. Seeing the show from a distance is really neat because you hear the booming sounds of the fireworks long after they have gone off. You can actually hear them rumble past you, section by section, until the sound waves trail off in the distance.

View of the Disneyland fireworks from our hotel parking lot

When we checked-in for our stay in the lobby, I noticed these spooky little candelabras adorning the walls.

Were we checking-in to the Haunted Mansion or the Hilton?
We got to the room and it was sooo nice! The bed was big, fluffy and cozy and gave us both a good night's sleep. This is necessary when you're pulling a 16-hour, 8am-12am day at Disney ;-)

July 30th - Disney Day!

We woke-up early and left the hotel by 7:00 to grab breakfast at Starbucks and make it to Disneyland for the park opening. It was a cool, overcast morning, perfect for a hot cinnamon dolce latte! I really love groggy, cool mornings... the day kind of wakes up with you instead of blaring bright sun in your face. I enjoy the gradual transition. All in all, it was the perfect morning. After that, it was on to Disneyland we went!
Happiest parking garage ticket on earth- hands down!
We got to the Mickey & Friends parking structure by 7:30 to be in the park for the opening at 8am. The Daisy parking section was our calling, and from there we walked down and waited for the tram. First in line. Booyah. The tram driver was really fun and added some extra magic to our day. He got on the speaker and was interactive with the guests for the entire drive. He was funny and Disney all rolled into one. When the tram finally approached the main gate, I could barely contain my excitement as I jumped out and ran towards the security checkpoint. Once they checked my purse and we were in, I had to hold back tears. I was so overwhelmed with pure joy... I looked to my left, and there was the Disneyland main entrance in all its magical glory. I looked to my right, and there was the brand new, reimagined California Adventure in all of its wonder and excitement. Our Disney day was here and I could not have been happier!

We took a right and our journey began in California Adventure. Starting the day in Cali Adv is a really, really fun way to kickoff the morning! I had never done it before, mostly because the entrance to that park was very non-Disney prior to the refurbishment, and I like to start my day with Disney magic. This always led me to the Disneyland Park. But let me tell you, the new Cali Adv Park has finally captured the Disney magic that it was missing. I could spend all day in that park and not feel like I was missing that "Disney" feeling. I have always said that Disney does a really great job with time-period pieces, and that's exactly what they did with the entrance to California Adventure. Buena Vista Street is this park's Main Street USA, and it really does feel like you've been taken back to California as it was when Walt arrived in the 1920's. Good job, Disney. Hats off to you!

Our original plan for the morning was to get a FastPass for Radiator Springs Racers (RSR) as soon as we entered the park and then come back to ride it later. The Disney gods had other plans for us. Once we got there, we saw that was not going to happen! I had anticipated that there was going to be a pretty decent line to get a FP for RSR, as I have been checking my wait time app throughout the week and noticed that FP's were running out by 9:30am (limited guests in the park at 7am, open the the public at 8am). But I could never have imagined the absolutely insane line that swallowed up nearly half of the park. I'm not talking about the line for the ride, this is the line for the FastPass. It started at the FP station (which is located near the entrance to Cars Land), wrapped around Carthay Circle, travelled all the way up Hollywood Boulevard, went down past the Tower of Terror, and finally ended in bug's land. Here is a link to a map of the park if you want to see what I'm talking about:

Insane right?? Yeah, that's what we thought, too. I think the wait ended up being about two hours. So since the original plan wasn't going to happen, we decided to just follow the crowd and stroll through Cars Land to check it out. We really wanted to ride RSR, so we walked over to see what the wait was. We turned the corner and it said 45 minutes! This is amazing compared to the 240 minutes (yes, typically 4-5 hours) that I usually see on my wait time app :-) We decided 45 minutes was worth it and we got in line. The wait queue itself is pretty cool, they did a great job with it. It's very Big-Thunder-Mountain-esque, with Arizona landscape throughout.

Fun fact: Did you know the movie Cars is based entirely out of Holbrook, Arizona? Even the characters- Sheriff, Mack, Flo- everyone is based off of real people that live in the town. Sheriff is actually a real retired sheriff of the town of Holbrook! Even Flo's Cafe and the Cozy Cones... all of it is based off of the exact places in Holbrook, all the way down to the floor plan. Google Image 'Holbrook, AZ' to see for yourself!

Anyway, back to Radiator Springs Racers. So the wait queue takes you through Ornament Valley, and it's themed to the max. Very creative, very Disney. I would expect nothing less :-) We were so happy with our decision to just wait in line for the ride because we ended up getting on in only 35 minutes!! AMAZING!!! And that was our longest wait for any ride the entire day! Such a great day to go. Pretty impressive for going during the summer, if I do say so myself :-)

As soon as I took this picture, the wait time changed
to 60 minutes, but like I said, it only took 35.
In line at 8:07, on the ride at 8:42. Oh yeah!

Disney does desert right!

Stanley's Oasis:
The eight and three-fourths wonder of the world!

Sign at the entrance of the bottle building
Glowing bottles!

Close-up of bottles
Sunlight capturing half of the bottles
Don't you just want to climb this mountain?
It looks so similar to pictures from a hike in Sedona!
Wishing well- but of course!
There are coins that are already
completely rusted and calcified to the stone...
did not think that could happen in just six weeks!
Hazy sunshine radiating down on
Radiator Springs- pun intended :-)

Kind of hard to tell from the pic above, but if you look close,
the street at the bottom of the picture is
the one that tilts up almost vertical.

Good ole Butte Gas ;-)

Lovely desert landscape to view in queue!
Here it is- the Radiator Springs Racers loading queue!!!
When we got in our car, I noticed all the cars have license plates with different words on the back. The car in front of us was red and the plate was "Rubberneck". I tried getting a picture but it drove off before I got the chance. Bummer! Once we were buckled in, our car started up and we rolled outside. I thought the ride was all outdoors, but it actually starts out as a dark ride! I love rides that have both- Matterhorn, Big Thunder, Splash, Alice, you get the idea. It is very reminiscent of the Monsters, Inc. ride- the type of technology, the lighting they used and the overall feel on the inside. The part right before you go outside reminds me of Toy Story Mania. So if you are trying to get a feel for what the ride is like, I think it's a combo of Monsters, Toy Story and Big Thunder Mountain. Once you get outside, the car starts going pretty fast! It's really fun. The track doesn't stay on flat land- it has hills, curves and in one part, the street is tilted almost vertical! And of course, you do get a picture at the finish line :-)

Cars Land itself is really nice. I like it in person better than the pictures. The pictures make it look like a hot, dry desert, but it's California, so it's actually really nice. The Cozy Cones are based off of the tepee hotels in Holbrook, but these aren't hotels, they are little food & drink stands! A great place to go if you need some refueling- yes, another great pun ;-)  Everything from popcorn to drinks is served in an orange construction cone. We didn't get a chance to look at the entire area, but when we go back during a less crowded time we definitely will!

Here's the order of the rides we did for the day:

California Adventure

Radiator Springs Racers
Tower of Terror

Over to Disneyland

Grabbed FP for Star Tours
Space Mountain
Star Tours, using FP
Grabbed FP for Big Thunder Mountain
Food break & character sighting!
Grabbed FP for Indiana Jones
Big Thunder Mountain
Pirates of the Caribbean
Haunted Mansion
Grabbed FP for Splash Mountain
Winnie the Pooh
Indiana Jones, using FP
Main Street Cinema: Steamboat Willie

Back to California Adventure

Grabbed FP for Soarin' Over California
Blue Sky Cellar
California Screamin'


Grabbed FP for Big Thunder Mountain
Splash Mountain, using FP
Food break at Rancho del Zocalo

California Adventure

Grabbed FP for Tower of Terror
California Screamin'
Soarin Over California, using FP
Tower of Terror, using FP


Pirates of the Caribbean
Big Thunder Mountain
Fireworks- viewed from Rivers of America
Fantasmic!- front and center, literally!
Food break- steak gumbo in New Orleans Square
Haunted Mansion (at night)
Splash Mountain (at night- this is magical to ride at night!!)
Big Thunder Mountain (at night- I also love to ride this and Matterhorn at night, it's like a whole new ride)

Sleeping Beauty's Castle at night;
Walt & Mickey "Partners" statue
We were able to do a lot of rides despite the fact that it was the middle of summer. We also took several very, very long food and drink breaks (two hours at Starbucks!) and lots of time for pictures. We were pretty leisurely on this trip, but if we were at our normal pace, I'm sure we could have fit more rides in. But I'm glad we took a relaxed approach this time around. It was a good change of pace!

One one of our food breaks for Bengal Barbecue and a turkey leg, we decided to eat in the additional seating area in Aladdin's Oasis. As we were finishing up, guess who we saw? Yep, Aladdin! He came out looking for his monkey... silly Aladdin. So of course we got a picture with him, and he was so interactive! One of my favorite character experiences I've ever had. He pointed to my future hubby and said "This must be your guard?" Haha. I told him it was my fiance and then he asked if he proposed on a magic carpet... I get so star struck when I see these people that I cannot come up with anything good to say. My responses are so lame! I can't help it! I should have said something fun but I just told him we didn't have one. Then he told us that Disneyland was a great place to honeymoon (already planning on it!) and a great place to spend your anniversaries, which is what he and Jasmine do every year. He said they didn't know about Disneyland when they got married so they just spent their honeymoon in the desert, which was nice too, but if they did know about Disney, they would have honeymooned there. Oh, Al! You crack me up!


Genie lamp display from World of Disney store
I should write an entire new post about this, but I'll try to fit it in here... two words: Starbucks. Disneyland. Do I have your attention? I nearly peed myself when I found out this little treasure was opening in the park. O.M.G. And I was THRILLED that we were able to go during our Disneyland day! It's located inside the Fiddler, Fifer and Practical Cafe across from Carthay Circle, very close to the entrance of the park. It's not a traditional Starbucks like I thought it was going to be (no merchandise either!). Maybe it's the stained glass, or maybe they are based out of the same time period, but this cafe gave me a Village Haus-type feel. Despite its untraditional looks, it is still a full Starbucks with lots of registers, food options and any drink you can get at a regular Starbucks. The prices are not bad either. A normal cake pop is $1.50, there it is $1.99. not a terrible markup if you ask me. And no, the other items are not marked up the same percentage as that one is, so it really is just a $0.49 difference!

I am sure you have seen pictures of the Starbucks cups from the park, no? Well if not, you're in luck, because I took an obscene amount of pictures of them. The drinks pictured were what we usually get when we go to Starbucks. I don't know if it was just me, but I thought I tasted a little extra magic in them. I got an iced grande, two-white mocha, five-coconut, soy latte. Like a day on the beach in a cup I tell you. Hubby got an iced venti peppermint mocha. Christmas in July served up in a happy Disney cup. What's not to like? We also got our usual venti ice waters as well. They have the best water. I also treated myself to a tiramisu cake pop :-) Yum!

Like the ticket says!

Refreshing little cup of magic :-D

Hi, I'm Tinker Bell.
I'll be adding some pixie dust to your day!

Happiness floats in the graphics on these cups

Great view while sippin' a Starbucks :-)
The happiest coffee on earth? I think so!
FF&P Cafe Menu

Starbucks portion of the menu
Hey, look! It makes Mickey! :-D
Ok, just one more, I couldn't resist!
Happiest cups on earth!
See, I told you I took an excessive amount of pictures lol. And these are just a few that I thought I should post... trust me, I have many, many more!

We ate at Rancho del Zocalo for the first time on this trip. We LOVED it! We have always been intrigued by this somewhat hidden little place. It really feels like you've been taken away somewhere. I'm not exactly sure where, but somewhere. It's in Frontierland, which is one of my absolute favorites. It's a really nice little escape. And it's affordable, too! You get a lot of good food for around $10. I got the Chicken Burrito Senora and it was so big we were able to share it. It came with a side of rice, refried beans, lettuce, and a scoop of salsa, sour cream and guacamole- all of that for only $10! I thought it was a great deal, and the atmosphere was tough to beat.

Chicken Burrito Senora from Rancho del Zocalo.
Doesn't this look simply phenomenal?? It was!
This restaurant is also really fun during Halloween Time. Skeleton mariachis, need I say more?

I also got some pictures of landmarks on Buena Vista Street. I really like the time-period they chose to represent. It has a classic feel to it and just seems like it belongs.

The lovely Carthay Circle restaurant

Buena Vista Street Trolley
Walt & Mickey arriving in California in 1923

Storytellers plaque to the right of the statue
I really enjoyed spending time on Buena Vista Street. They have street cars that drive around carrying an Ella Fitzgerald-like singing star, belting out classic tunes from the Sinatra era (which happens to be my favorite!). Classy, cute, fun and magical. What more can you ask for??

Here are some other pictures from the adventures on our trip:
Blue Sky Cellar where we checked out
"The Road to Cars Land"

"Disneyland will never be completed as long as there is
imagination left in the world." -Walt Disney
Walt next to his quote inside Blue Sky Cellar

Model for Cars Land

Shovel used for the groundbreaking of Cars Land
 July 8, 2009 - Ka-chow!

Easier to read :-)

Hidden Mickey!
{Character meet-n-greet on the boardwalk at Paradise Pier}
It is a known fact that if you go to Disneyland, you will be crop dusted like a mo-fo. People have gas at that place that is out. of. control!!! And I, unfortunately, always seem to get crop dusted the absolute worst out of anyone I know! This is why I thought this sign in front of the bathrooms in Condor Flats was soooo funny! Thanks for acknowledging it, Disney! At least we can laugh about it ;-)

Actual sign in front of the bathrooms across from the
Soarin' Over California attraction in Condor Flats,
California Adventure Park
Leafy, green vineyards in the Golden Vine Winery
California Adventure Park
Bunches of real grapes

C3PO- one of my favorite robots ever :-)
Animal graveyard in front of Haunted Mansion
Mmm... the cozy glow of a Splash Mountain lantern
The beautifully mysterious Hollywood Tower Hotel.
Balcony above Pirates for the Disney Dream Suite

Fun facts
Gold letters on the left: WD for Walt Disney
Gold letters on the right: RD for Roy Disney
Tilly, our ticket teller at The Main Street Cinema.
Two for Steamboat Willie, please!

Thanks, Tilly!

Small-scale replica of the Disneyland Railroad;
located at the Main Street Station
That about wrapped up our day, but you can't leave Disney without grabbing some magic to take home with you. In my case, I cannot leave Disney without adding to my coffee mug collection :-) Here is some of our loot:

Mad Hatter Mug. How cute is this?
I'm not sure if I should drink out of this or wear it as a hat!
Drink me... OK!
We're all a little Dopey in the mornings ;-)
 And the hardest part about a trip to Disneyland is saying good-bye...

Good night, Disney!

Back up to Daisy to get our car and drive home!
All in all, it was a practically-perfect-in-every-way trip :-) I can't wait to go back! I really could live there... sigh. Hope you enjoyed and thanks for reading! Have a magical day!