Friday Favs – December Shenanigans

Happy Friday, friends! I have so much catching up to do, as usual. Tis the season to be super busy, I guess!

 

Here’s what I’ve been loving lately:

 

Harry Potter Sorcerers Stone in French book cover

 

1. I found a French copy of the first Harry Potter book at a thrift store, and I’ve been having SO MUCH FUN trying to read it! I’m far from fluent so I have to look a lot up, but it’s really neat to see what changes and what stays the same.

 

 

One of the weirdest things to me was that they changed the house names. Hufflepuff is now Poufsouffle! 😂

 

 

 

2. I had the opportunity last weekend to attend a celebration of Rumi that included whirling dervishes. SO FREAKING COOL. Before the actual event, I got to take a turning class. I have always been TERRIBLE at doing any kind of turns without getting dizzy and this was no exception. But it was still cool to learn! At the end of the class, we each took turns (no pun intended) turning in the center of a circle created by the other participants. Somehow, I was able to turn without getting dizzy for that brief moment in time. Super cool.

 

 

The woman in yellow taught the turning class – I was totally captivated by how she managed to look totally blissful no matter how long she was whirling. (I’m off to the side with the yellow scarf and a black skirt loaned to me by the dancer in blue, who I randomly met earlier that day. It’s that kind of group.) If you ever get the opportunity to watch semazens (whirling dervishes) – GO. It’s fascinating and mesmerizing.

 

 

During one of the last dances, we all had the opportunity to join in twirling in the center. Despite not being great at it, I had to give it a go – How often do you get the chance to spin in the center of a chanting group to live music in a stunning setting?

 

 

I didn’t take any photos that night (the two above are courtesy of friends on Facebook) but I found this photo of the church on Instagram to give you an idea of the space we were in:

 


(Side note – I’m not Sufi, but they’re a super welcoming bunch. It’s so cool to experience the ceremonies and rituals of a totally different group.)

 

 

 

 

3. I finally gave in and did the free 7-day trial of Disney+. Today is my 3rd day and so far, I’ve watched…

*The first 6 episodes of the Mandalorian (Obviously.)

*Moana (SO MUCH CRYING.)

*Free Solo (OMG insane.)

*I just started watching the Imagineering Story series. Started with the second episode – SO much good Haunted Mansion stuff and vintage Epcot! Everything I love in one place! And again, so much crying. I miss home and the company SO MUCH. Even though I hated working at Magic Kingdom, I cried seeing the Tunnels again. (Ok, I didn’t *hate* working at MK, but compared to working at the resorts, having to travel so far from the parking lot to your work location is a huge hassle. We actually got paid for “walk time” there.)

 

 

4. I needed a hotel for my KC trip, and discovered the total magic of booking a last minute Priceline deal. As a former concierge and absolute hotel nerd, you have NO IDEA how hard it was for me to book a room not knowing which hotel I was going to end up with. THE HORROR. But when I saw that I could get a 4-star hotel RIGHT in downtown KC for $100, I had to do it. I wound up at the Westin (I will probably do a whole post about it soon) in a corner room with amazing panoramic views of downtown. I looked it up and that room is usually about $190/nt, so I did in fact get a great deal!

I totally recommend going the Priceline mystery hotel route if you’re booking a same day stay. It tells you how many stars the place is, and most of the ones I looked at show you three hotels it might be. (I think mine showed me brands – I was getting a Hilton, Westin, or the 21C.)

 

5. And finally, a reminder as this year draws to a close:

 

 

A question for you guys: Are there any rituals or habits you do to finish up a year? I’ve picked up the practice of trying to clear up my email inbox and phone photo folder to go into the new year with a little less clutter. I wish I had the time and energy to do the same with my house and car – leave all of the last year’s mess in the past – but I’ll settle for emails and photos!

One year I tried ringing in the new year with green juice instead of vodka, but I ended up in the ER the next day so I decided that trying to be healthy was just not worth it.

I’d love to hear your end of year stuff!

 

 

Friday Favs – Liquid Diet Edition

Happy Friday, friends! I had some pretty major oral surgery two weeks ago, so I haven’t exactly been out and about much to acquire regular favorites. Not being able to chew for over a week is not the most fun thing, so I have a whole new expertise in what to eat when you can’t eat! Sharing a few things that helped me survive today, as well as a few more traditional favs. I’m just saying, I will never, ever take chips and salsa for granted again. Chips! Delicious chips! (I got Mexican food for my “Last Meal” before surgery but I was too nervous to eat much, so the chips and salsa sat around taunting me afterwards until I finally threw them out.)

*This post contains affiliate links because this is the internet and I just went many thousands of dollars into debt to get my teeth fixed. Whee!*

 

 

1. I don’t like yogurt, but I was browsing the yogurt aisle for a sippable probiotic to balance out my antibiotics. Didn’t find that, but I did find this vanilla maple Powerful Drink instead. Wasn’t sure if I would like it since it’s Greek yogurt-based, but IT WAS SO GOOD. It’s very thin in consistency, and the flavor gets a big thumbs-up. It has 20g of protein, which was the big selling point for me. Plus it’s only $2, which is totally reasonable. 

 

 

chicken and cheese for liquid diet after oral surgery

2. This is going to sound really gross, but trust me. I knew that after a few days of living on smoothie drinks alone, I’d be wanting FOOD really badly. Turned out that happened the day after surgery, so I was glad I had these on hand. 

I got the store brand Great Value organic chicken broth and microwaved a cup full for about 30 seconds, then stirred in a little bit of Frito’s mild cheddar dip, which melted right in. Like I said, I know this sounds horrible but when you’re craving something savory SO MUCH, it really hits the spot. Warm and chickeny and cheesy! I went through three (small) cups in a row once I figured out that it solved my craving for food. Please don’t judge me.

As a side note, Campbell’s Cream of Tomato is also pretty satisfying, but omg after these last couple of weeks if I never see tomato soup again it will be too soon.

 

 

3. Okay, so Lindt truffles aren’t exactly liquid, but they do basically melt in your mouth so they’re making the list! The Snickerdoodle truffles ones that are out right now have crunchy little bits of cookie embedded in the outer chocolate layer so they’re not entirely sore mouth friendly, but they’re so yummy! The milk/white chocolate combo ones are also totally magical. 

 

4. Ok, on to non-food things! I spotted this mug at Target the other day and knew that it must be mine:

 

5. And I wasn’t planning to buy any new Christmas ornaments this year, but I saw this guy in the Dollar Spot and that totally went out the window. I wish there had been a black one, too, but c’est la vie. (I don’t think kitty here is on the Target website, but he’s $3!)

 

 

Linking up with A Little Bit of Everything and Bright on a Budget.

Step Into History at the Titanic Museum in Branson

 

If you’ve ever driven down Highway 76 in Branson, Missouri (something I do several times a week), you’ll know it’s impossible to miss the Titanic Museum Attraction as you pass.

 

Branson Titanic Museum

 

I visited once waaaaay back when it first opened (about 10 years ago, I think?) and then again recently. They’ve definitely added a lot to their collection since my first visit, and a few things have changed. I’ll fill you in on all of it!

 

One note before we begin – Photos and videos are not allowed inside the attraction, so pardon the lack of photos taken by me in this post. (I have borrowed a few from the media section of their website so that you will have some visuals!) They said that it’s for copyright reasons, and it does preserve the reverent atmosphere, but it did lessen my enjoyment a little bit. There are a few spots that would be fantastic for a photo (the Grand Staircase and Captain’s Wheel, for example), so I wish that they at least allowed photos in select spots. If you’re a curious sort like me, you may want to bring a pen and paper along. Since I couldn’t take photos of things and people I wanted to look up more info on, I jotted down notes instead.

 

 

Titanic museum branson grand staircase

Image via the Titanic Museum Attraction media page.

 

(As a side note, I think the no photography rule is a newer one, since I remember being able to take photos the first time I visited. There are quite a few photos on TripAdvisor, but I’m a rule follower so I didn’t take any during my visit.)

 

 

Upon entering, you receive a boarding pass (Mine is above) with the name and brief story of a real passenger, as well as a listening device for the audio tour. As you tour the museum, you can keep an eye out for photos and stories about your passenger, and find their name on the memorial wall at the end to see if they survived or not. For the audio tour, most exhibits have a number that can be typed into your device to play information. The audio content expands on the written descriptions, and sometimes includes stories from survivors. Some exhibits and artifacts have a second number, which is for the kid’s version of the audio tour.

Most of the exhibits are permanent, but they also have temporary ones that last for a few months. During my visit, there was a collection of fashion designed by Lady Duff Gordon, one of the first class passengers.

 

 

The second one from the left reminded me a lot of this dress from the Titanic movie:

Not the same cut, obviously, but similar colors and the same thick ribbon empire waist. I’d guess that the movie’s costume department took a lot of inspiration from Lady Duff Gordon’s designs! You can check the Titanic Museum Attraction’s website to see what the current rotating exhibit is before visiting.

Touring the museum takes about 90 minutes for the average visitor – someone who stops to read a fair amount of the info and examine the exhibits and artifacts, but not to read and listen to every word. You’ll find life-size recreations of the accommodations, including a third class cabin with tiny little bunk beds, authentic recovered artifacts including life jackets, and an interesting display that shows the difference between the first, second, an third-class dinnerware and menus.

 

Image courtesy of the Titanic Museum’s media page.

 

Image via Titanic Branson’s media page.

 

In addition to the artifacts, you’ll find some interactive exhibits. In one area, you can try to balance on the sloping surface of the deck as the ship tilted to steeper angles while sinking, while another spot offers the opportunity to see how long you can hold your hand in 28-degree water, which is the temperature the water was when the ship sank.

 

Sloping Deck at Branson Titanic Museum

Image via the Titanic Museum Attraction media page.

 

As you exit the museum, you’ll find a small gift shop with an array of memorabilia and an impressive selection of Titanic-related books.

Books about the Titanic in the Titanic Museum the gift shop

 

A few cool notes about the Titanic Museum Attraction in Branson:

*They offer early admission for guests with autism once a week so that they can have a more comfortable touring experience.

*There’s an education guide on their website with ways to incorporate lessons in almost every subject around the Titanic. It would be a fantastic resource for home schoolers! There’s also a scavenger hunt you can print out so kids can search for the answers as you explore.

*They just started a podcast that tells the stories of the passengers.

*While most of the museum is kept at a comfortable temperature, when you walk across the starlit promenade deck outside of the captain’s quarters, you’ll notice a distinct chill in the air. I noticed that a nearby thermostat was set to 52 degrees to create the feeling of actually being out at sea on a cold night without making visitors uncomfortably cold. Just a cool example of attention to detail.

*I was surprised to learn that a lot of the crew members were very young – like 14 or 15. Makes sense since this was long before labor laws, but that’s definitely not how I’ve ever pictured the crew.

 

 

Be sure to take a moment to pose for some photos outside of the museum before you leave! It’s built to scale and looks so realistic that you can almost forget you’re right in the middle of the Branson 76 Strip.

 

Overall, this is a sort of difficult experience to describe. I can’t call it “fun” given the tragedy that it comes from, but it is definitely interesting and worth doing. To learn more, visit the Titanic Branson website or visit the Titanic Museum Attraction Facebook page, which posts the latest info and photos from both the Branson and Pigeon Forge museums.

 

Home2 Suites in Springfield, MO

 

As a huge travel nerd, I would definitely take a week-long vacation several times a year if I could. Long trips aren’t always practical, but one night away can feel incredibly refreshing, so that’s what I did this summer!

 

I wanted to spend a night somewhere that wasn’t too far from home, but far enough away that it felt like a little getaway. This little overnight trip came together perfectly!

 

Home2 Suites Springfield MO

 

One of my writing jobs is doing hotel and suite descriptions for Suiteness.com  I recently wrote descriptions for something like 50 different Home2Suites hotels and started thinking that it would be interesting to check one out in person to improve my writing. I mentioned it to the Suiteness team, and they hooked me up with a free night! It was perfect timing because I wanted to spend some time car shopping in Springfield, so spending the night there would make it easy to test drive a bunch of cars in one trip.

 

Home2 Suites is a chain by Hilton that offers all-suite accommodations that are pet-friendly and perfect for extended stays. Having researched so many for my writing, I can tell you that they all have a few things in common. At every Home2Suites property (they’re all over the country!), you’ll find a complimentary breakfast buffet, a combination fitness and laundry center called Spin2Cycle, a patio area to relax on, and either an indoor or outdoor pool. In short, all of the basics for a nice stay! While I can only speak personally about the one I stayed at, this post should give you a pretty good idea about the brand in general. 

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Friday Favs – Happy November!

Happy November, friends! Life has been so busy this past month that it feels like October flew by. I’m in a time of huge, crazy changes – scary but mostly awesome!

This is my last month of trail rides for the season, but since the weather has been SO COLD I think I’m very ready for the break. I just got a text that they don’t need me tomorrow and I’m not sure if I’ll be up for working the weekend after that, so I may only have 2 or 3 days left! Eep!

Side note – Ever since the WordPress update it has been smooshing my paragraphs together. Anyone have a workaround for that? I threw a few *’s in to ensure line breaks, but I hate how that looks. Help!

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Here’s what I’ve been enjoying lately!

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1. I wasn’t planning to buy any of Target’s Halloween birds this year…

…but then I spotted this one-eyed guy.

Could not resist! The missing eye just makes him inexplicably charming to me.

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2. This song is fairly old, but it’s been my jam lately. Perfect for a kitchen dance party when you need to feel better.

3. I first tried CBD oil a couple years ago and had great results. The brand I was using became unavailable near me, and none I’ve tried since have worked quite as well. I was looking up companies that offer sample sizes, since I’d rather not spend $30+ on a bottle I’m not sure I’ll like. I came across Erth Hemp on Google and wound up ordering two sample bottles from them. They offer a cool feature where you can fill out a survey in exchange for a code that makes a sample size free. You can choose drops, drops for pets, or soft gels. You do have to pay for shipping, which is like $3, but totally worth it if you’ve been wanting to try CBD without dropping a ton of $! (This isn’t sponsored, btw. Just wanted to share!) You can access the survey that gets you the free sample code here.

4. I am pretty sure that I posted back in August when my Bear cat had to go to the emergency vet? Well, he was sick last weekend and it was SO SCARY. He didn’t want to eat on Thursday or Friday, so I had to syringe feed him on Saturday & Sunday while stress-texting my vet friend. We made plans for me to bring him in first thing on Monday morning, but he woke me up at midnight the night before asking for food. THANK GOODNESS. He proceeded to eat five meals on Monday. I guess it was just a random bug or something? But oh man am I thankful that we didn’t have another vet bill when I’m still paying for the last one, and especially thankful that he’s okay!

5. Speaking of fun medical things, I learned something this week that I wanted to share since it might be helpful for one of you guys! As I mentioned, I’m getting some major dental work done on Monday. I thought I knew what I was going to do because I was on a serious budget. I was financing part of it through Care Credit, who had approved me for a $1,500 loan. However, while discussing my options with the manager of the dental clinic, he was able to pull up my account and request a credit limit increase, and they upped it to $7,000! I’m not using all of that, but y’all… if you need something medical done and can only get approved for part of the financing you need, this is worth trying. I never would have guessed that they would be able to get my limit raised that much! It’s going to make a massive difference in the quality of dental work I’m getting. (Although I’m going to be paying it off for YEARS, I think it will be worth it. EEP.)


I have the “Wisdom of the Oracle” deck by Colette Baron-Reid and this is one of my favorite cards, and it sums up how my life feels right now 100000%.

“It is human nature to yearn for certainty and resist change – to want the world to remain consistent like a zebra’s stripes. Yet nothing in human experience is black and white, nor will anything remain static. The one thing guaranteed is change. Now is a time of transformation as outer conditions are temporarily moving out of sync with your desires and expectations. Stay the course and remember that even storms serve to clear the air, scatter the seeds, and nourish the soil for better things ahead. Life is about to get interesting. Anticipate it with curiosity as you wonder what is coming in on the shifting winds. The unknown is where the magic lies.”

Did you know I’m on Poshmark? I have quite a few new items with tags, and I’m planning to add more soon!

Linking up with Bright on a Budget and A Little Bit of Everything