2017 Wrap Up | 2018 Reading Challenge

With twelve minutes to spare in 2017, I completed my Goodreads goal of reading 50 books. Thanks to the diversity of those books, I also completed the Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge. Let’s recap the categories accompanied by detailed & extensive lists:

📚 A Book you Chose for the Cover – Before we dive into the list, I want to clarify that I define a cover buy as a book I picked up because the cover caught my eye, which doesn’t  mean I didn’t look at the synopsis:

📖 My True Love Gave To Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by Ally Carter, David Levithan, Gayle Forman, Holly Black, Jenny Han, Kelly Link, Kiersten White, Laini Taylor, Matt De La Peña, Myra McEntire, Rainbow Rowell, & Stephanie Perkins | I almost didn’t buy this book, but I couldn’t get the cover out of my head.

📖 The Messenger of Athens by Anne Zouroudis

📖 Wicked Autumn by G.M. Malliet

📖 Murder on the Cliffs by Joanna Challis

📚 A Book With a Reputation for Being Un-Put-Down-Able

And Then There Were None & Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie | Some people might also include Death on the Nile, myself included.

📖 Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

📖 The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

📖 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, …Chamber of Secrets, …Prisoner of Azkaban, & …Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

📖 Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

📖 Cinder & Heartless by Marissa Meyer

📖 The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

📖 The Rook, The Knight, The Bishop, & The Queen by Steven James ( bestselling author & series )

📚 A Book Set Somewhere You’ve Never Been but Would Like to Visit

🇪🇬 Egypt – Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie, Crocodile on the Sandbank & The Curse of Pharaohs by Elizabeth Peters

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 England – A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens,  And Then There Were NoneCrooked House, & The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding by Agatha Christie, Murder on the Cliffs by Joanna Challis, Mystery in White by J. Jefferson Farjeon,  & Wicked Autumn by G.M. Malliet

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 Scotland – The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan

📚 A Book You’ve Already Read – I did a lot of rereading last year:

📖 Miss Marple: The Complete Short Stories & Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

📖 Kristy’s Great Idea, Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls, & The Truth About Stacey by Ann M. Martin

📖 Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters

📖 Mind Over Monsters, To Catch a Vampire, & Death Takes a Holiday by Jennifer Harlow

📖 Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

📖 Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

📖 Tutu Deadly & Tapped Out by Natalie M. Roberts

📖 The Rook, The Knight, & The Bishop by Steven James

📖 White Christmas Pie by Wanda E. Brunstetter

📚 A Juicy Memoir In Such Good Company: Eleven Years of Laughter, Mayhem, and Fun in the Sandbox by Carol Burnett. The ending made me cry. No lie!

📚 A Book About Books or ReadingThe Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan & The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

📚 A Book in a Genre You Usually Avoid – These aren’t all genres I avoid on purpose; I just don’t reach for them often:

📖 My True Love Gave To Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by Ally Carter, David Levithan, Gayle Forman, Holly Black, Jenny Han, Kelly Link, Kiersten White, Laini Taylor, Matt De La Peña, Myra McEntire, Rainbow Rowell, & Stephanie Perkins ( contemporary )

📖 Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff ( science fiction )

📖 In Such Good Company: Eleven Years of Laughter, Mayhem, and Fun in the Sandbox by Carol Burnett ( memoir)

📖 The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern ( fantasy )

📖 Mind Over Monsters, To Catch a Vampire, & Death Takes a Holiday by Jennifer Harlow ( supernatural )

📖 The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan ( contemporary )

📖 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, …Chamber of Secrets, …Prisoner of Azkaban, & …Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling ( fantasy )

📖 Cinder & Glitches by Marissa Meyer ( science fiction )

📚 A Book You Don’t Want to Admit You’re Dying to ReadHarry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling. I’m not embarrassed by this series but rather ashamed that I didn’t pick it up sooner. I also read …Chamber of Secrets, …Prisoner of Azkaban, & …Goblet of Fire.

📚 A Book in the Backlist of a New Favorite AuthorPearl in the Sand by Tessa Afshar

📚 A Book Recommended by Someone With Great Taste – These are recommendations by bookstagrammers, booktubers & friends:

📖 Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

📖 The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

📖 Night by Elie Wiesel

📖 Mystery in White by J. Jefferson Farjeon

📖 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, …Chamber of Secrets, …Prisoner of Azkaban, & …Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

📖 Cinder & Heartless by Marissa Meyer

📖 The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

📚 A Book You Were Excited to Borrow or Buy but Haven’t Read Yet – Though I’m excited about every book I purchase, this list includes the titles I’d been dying to read but had yet to do so:

📖 And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

📖 The Curse of the Pharaohs by Elizabeth Peters

📖 The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

📖 Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire

📖 Heartless by Marissa Meyer

📖 The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

📖 The Queen by Steven James

📚 A Book About a Subject or Topic You Already Love – Another thorough list:

📖 And Then There Were None, Crooked House, Death on the Nile, Miss Marple: The Complete Short Stories, & Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie ( mystery )

📖 The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding by Agatha Christie ( Christmas & mystery )

📖 The Unexpected Guest by Agatha Christie & Charles Osborne ( mystery )

📖 My True Love Gave To Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by Ally Carter, David Levithan, Gayle Forman, Holly Black, Jenny Han, Kelly Link, Kiersten White, Laini Taylor, Matt De La Peña, Myra McEntire, Rainbow Rowell, & Stephanie Perkins ( the holidays )

📖 The Messenger of Athens by Anne Zouroudis ( crime )

📖 In Such Good Company: Eleven Years of Laughter, Mayhem, and Fun in the Sandbox by Carol Burnett ( The Carol Burnett Show )

📖 The Mystery of the Stone Tiger by Carolyn Keene ( mystery )

📖 A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens ( Christmas )

📖 Crocodile on the Sandbank & The Curse of the Pharaohs by Elizabeth Peters ( Egyptology & mystery )

📖 Wicked Autumn by G.M. Malliet ( mystery )

📖 Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire ( I already love the musical! )

📖 The Postcard Killers by James Patterson ( crime )

📖 Kingdom Come by Jane Jensen ( Amish life & crime )

📖 The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan ( books & reading )

📖 Mystery in White by J. Jefferson Farjeon ( mystery )

📖 Murder on the Cliffs by Joanna Challis ( mystery )

📖 Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder ( pioneer life )

📖 Cinder & Glitches by Marissa Meyer ( fairytales )

📖 Heartless by Marissa Meyer ( Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland )

📖 The Book Thief by Markus Zusak ( books & reading )

📖 Tutu Deadly & Tapped Out by Natalie M. Roberts ( dance & mystery )

📖 The Rook, The Knight, The Bishop, & The Queen by Steven James ( crime )

📖 Land of Silence & Pearl in the Sand by Tessa Afshar ( Bible times )

📖 Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen by Vicki Delaney ( Christmas & mystery )

📖 White Christmas Pie by Wanda E. Brunstetter ( Amish life & Christmas )

Total: 12 Categories & 50 Books

Here are links to my reading updates & 2017 Goodreads Challenge:

2016 Wrap Up & 2017 Reading Challenges ( V I D E O )

January Reading Wrap Up | 2017 Reading Challenge Update

BookTube-A-Thon

October 2017 Wrap Up | November 2017 TBR

Murder on the Orient Express Vlog

November Wrap + December TBR

📚 2017 Goodreads Reading Challenge 📚 

Due to reading fatigue, I am not officially committing to the 2018 Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge. However, I’m not giving up completely. I may join at any point during the year so I’m leaving the categories here for reference.

📚 A Classic You’ve Been Meaning to ReadA Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle

📚 A Book Recommended by Someone With Great Taste – TBD

📚 A Book in TranslationThe Time in Between by Maria Duenas

📚 A Book Nominated for an Award in 2018 – TBD

📚 A Book Of Poetry, a Play, or an Essay CollectionRomeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

📚 A Book You Can Read in a DayLittle House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

📚 A Book That’s More Than 500 PagesHarry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling

📚 A Book by a Favorite AuthorMurder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie

📚 A Book Recommended by a Librarian or Indie BooksellerThe Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

📚 A Banned BookTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

📚 A Memoir, Biography, or Book of Creative NonfictionTalking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls, and Everything in Between by Lauren Graham

📚 A Book by an Author of a Different Race, Ethnicity, or Religion Than Your OwnHarvest of Gold by Tessa Afshar

Last but not least, I pledged to read 55 books on Goodreads. I’m not going to push myself because reading should be fun, not a competition. Regardless of whether or not I read a certain number of books, I’m doing something I love. Happy reading!

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Misadventures in Babysitting

I recently reread the first three books of The Baby-Sitters Club series, and the nostalgia was overwhelming. I remember being inspired back in the day to make my own “kid kit” and be the best babysitter EVER. I’ve been blessed to care for children of all ages, and I like to think that I made some kind of positive impact on their lives. This is starting to sound heartwarming so let me put on the brakes because this is not about the good times. Be honest; you’re here to laugh at my expense. 😂 This is a more accurate description of what you’re about to read:

Just to be clear, I am a responsible babysitter, and nothing dangerous has ever happened in my care. The tales I’m about to reveal weren’t directly my fault, just a handful of humorous and unfortunate events.

– Board Game Gone Wrong –

The brother & sister I was babysitting suggested we play chutes and ladders, and I eagerly agreed because I thought it would be fun to relive my childhood. I have to be honest and tell you that I got beat fair and square. I didn’t come in first place nor did I come in second; I was dead last. This particular board game is meant for kids, and even though I had no intention of beating my young companions, I didn’t think I would be so terrible. We hadn’t been playing long before the sister turned to me and said with a straight face: “You’re really bad at this game.” There is nothing quite as humiliating as an insult from someone who is less than half your age. I haven’t played that game since.

– Late Night TV –

This particular situation was mostly my fault, but have no fear because it had nothing to do with my young charges. For an extended period of time, I had a steady babysitting job with a family who lived in my neighborhood. One night while sitting at their house, I decided to watch some television after the kids were sound asleep; of course I had the parents’ permission. It was late at night, and there was a thunderstorm brewing. Of all the things I could have watched, I settled on a crime show. That was my first mistake. I eventually decided TV was a bad idea, and picked up the book I brought with me which just so happened to be a mystery. That was my second mistake. My third and final mistake was leaving only one lamp on. I’m not sure why, but I never turned on the room light to make myself feel safer. It was a tense few hours. I didn’t know nighttime could be so noisy! I can’t even tell you how many times I checked the doors and windows to make sure they were locked ( once I built up the courage to do so ). When the parents arrived through the garage, I naturally thought they were murderers until they stepped into the house and greeted me by name. That was the last time I ever watched a crime show or read a mystery while babysitting.

– I Cry Fowl –

I will ease you into the fourth and final story with the typical babysitting story of a bird in the garage. It happened while I was outside with the “chutes and ladders siblings” for some fresh air and playing time. While taking a brief break from the sun, a curious bird joined us. He was harmless, but I couldn’t help panicking. The brother’s personality was unpredictable, and I pictured him opening the door and accidentally letting our new winged friend inside the house. Of course I had to cage (get it?!) my fear so the kids wouldn’t panic and do what I just described. I spoke softly and encouraged them to stay still so the bird wouldn’t feel threatened. He explored a little more and flew away, never to bother us again. Crisis avoided! I swear the animal kingdom is out to get me.

– Dino and the Popsicles –

I realize that the title sounds like a cool band name, but the following events are anything but cool. Literally! I was once again babysitting my neighbors, but this time it was during the day. The parents provided popsicles and told me the kids could play outside. Simple enough, right? WRONG!! When the time came, the siblings grabbed their cold, refreshing popsicles, and we ventured outdoors into the unbearable heat & humidity. After some quality playing time with their dog Dino, the sister informed me that she had to use the restroom. I thought nothing of it until she went to turn the doorknob, and nothing happened. I thought the door was stuck because that is normal in Texas, and I gave it a try. Nothing happened, and my heart started to sink into my stomach. I took some deep breaths and reminded myself that I had to stay calm because I was in charge of two kids and one dog. I made my way to the front of the house to try the garage door; I brought along the sister because she was old enough to stay calm and help me with the code to open the door from the outside. I managed to get the garage door open, but the door to the house was locked, and we had no luck finding the spare key. Trust me, I searched high and low. I had told the brother stay in the backyard with the dog; thankfully the garage wasn’t far from the gate so the sister and I pulled double duty keeping a close eye on them. Unfortunately that didn’t work. The little boy gave in to his curiosity and opened the gate before we could reach him. That wasn’t my main concern. Remember who he was with!! I spent the next 10-15 minutes running up and down the street yelling “DINO!!” No, this is not an unaired episode of The Flintstones. I desperately tried to shepherd him into the gate held open by the sister while simultaneously keeping my eye on the brother because, as you already know, he was very unpredictable (typical at his age). He tried to help by joining in with his small but mighty voice, but really it was just more noise and extra stress. Finally I got that darn dog into the backyard and locked all of us in. I had a mischievous dog and two sweaty, sticky kids in my care, and I felt helpless. I hated to pull them away from something important, but I had to inform the parents of our predicament since I had tried every other way to get back inside. Thankfully I had my phone on me so I called and left a calm, collected message. I spent the next hour or so keeping the kids distracted on the trampoline until their parents came to our rescue. I profusely apologized and fully expected to never work for them again. The parents shocked me by apologizing about their faulty lock, which they forgot to tell me about before leaving, and applauded my ability to stay calm in a stressful situation. I did indeed work for them again, and thankfully the preceding story was the worst experience I ever had, both with them and with babysitting period. It was a tough experience to go through, but I learned a lot.

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– Lauren Michele <3

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Kingdom Hearts Rant

First of all, I am not a gamer so I realize that this rant is laughable to those who have mastered the gaming arts.  Second, I don’t care.  I have actually played Kingdom Hearts twice in the past.  I beat it with help the first time, and I did not finish the whole game the second time around due to my family’s big move.  I am determined to complete the game by myself.  That is proving to be way more difficult than I expected.  After a year of on and off attempts, I finally beat the Wonderland trickmaster last week and moved on to the Deep Jungle.  Tarzan is my favorite animated Disney movie so I was pumped to get started.  My balloon was immediately popped when I met a nemesis from my KH past: THE VINES!!  I cannot for the life of me swing from vine to vine for more than one minute, and I’m starting to resent Hippo’s Lagoon because that’s all I ever see due to the number of times I fall.  I know my lack of experience is a large part of the problem, but I also think the controls for this game are infuriating.  Perhaps that’s a defensive statement, but I have a little evidence to back it up.  My brother, who is a gamer, tried to play it and had to walk away.  He said the controls are different from other games, and he doesn’t understand why.  I don’t understand the details, but I do trust his judgement because he’s been playing video games since he was a little boy.  Why is this rant important?  It isn’t.  Just now I attempted to advance in the game and failed miserably.  The vines were once again my undoing, and I wanted to blog with fresh anger burning within me.  Hopefully someone somewhere can commiserate with me.  I can’t be the only who hates KH now that I actually play it!!

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D.N.A.

Normally I steer clear of discussions involving ethnicity, but I saw a video the other day that frustrated me and can keep my mouth shut no longer.  The whole point of talking about prejudice is promoting appreciation and respect for people from every corner of the world.  No one ethnicity is better than the others.  This world is so large and diverse and intriguing.  I constantly find myself searching the internet for hours learning about different countries.  Cultures are fascinating to me, especially those that make up my own heritage.  I’m proud of who God made me to be therefore I physically hurt when I see people ashamed of and unhappy with who they are.  I was watching a group of people take DNA tests on YouTube the other day, and one man was upset with his results.  He wasn’t upset in an explosive way, just disappointed.  His results showed that the majority of his ancestors came from different parts of Europe.  His exact words were “I’m just a… basically just a white guy.  I’m a little disappointed.  I thought I might be something cool.”  Of course he has the right to be disappointed, and it’s not like he flipped out or overreacted.  I don’t want to blame him directly because he didn’t do anything wrong, but I do want to make a point.  Europe consists of more than 40 countries and shares a land border with Asia.  It is anything but boring, and labeling European as “white” is a disservice.  Aside from my Sephardic heritage, I am European (as far as I know).  I am Jewish and Spanish on my mom’s side and English, Irish, and Scottish on my dad’s side; additionally, there is a possibility of Arab ancestry on my mom’s side and French on my dad’s side.  I have no problem identifying as Caucasian, but it isn’t a label I use often because my heritage deserves much more than a shallow adjective.  I encourage each and every one of you to dig beneath the surface and learn as much as you can about your heritage.  If you feel pressure to be ashamed and not care, don’t give in to the pettiness.  Set a good example by appreciating where you come from and respecting where others come from.  If your attitude and heart are in the right place, that is the best you can do.

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January 2016 Favorites

Hello readers!  Today I’m going to be sharing my favorite event & products from January 2016.  Feel free to leave comments down below. :)

– Riverdance –

Being the totally awesome parent that he is, my dad bought tickets to a 20th anniversary performance of Riverdance.  The seats were one row back from the stage!!  Unfortunately he got sick, but my mom sacrificed and took his place. ;)  It was my fifth time seeing the show, and I still got emotional.  It was absolutely incredible sitting so close and seeing the emotion and camaraderie between the dancers.

– Seared Ahi Spinach Salad –

After the performance, my mother and I had a lovely dinner at Claim Jumper.  Having said that, NEVER eat dinner at a mall on a Saturday.  The restaurant was across the street from the theater, and by the time we ate, the show had been over for three hours.  However, the salad I had was amazing and worth the wait.  Here is a list of ingredients for those of you who desire such details: ahi tuna, crunchy noodles, red onions, tomatoes, mandarin oranges, dried cranberries, feta cheese, glazed pecans, sesame seeds, and balsamic vinaigrette dressing.

Everybody in my church subconsciously decided to make tamales and give them to my family at the same time.  I dove in headfirst and never looked back.  I want to clarify that my newfound appreciation is directed towards one specific variation: tamales with olives.  My Mediterranean blood compels me to love olives, and I do.  Tamales with olives are muy delicioso!

– Plantain Chips –

Plantain chips are the bee’s knees, and I want the world to know it.  They are crunchy like dried banana but savory like chips.  I recommend the lightly salted Pampa plantain chips because I strongly dislike heavily salted foods.

– Winterberry Wonder Lotion –

This delightfully scented concoction was a Christmas gift, and it has been my go-to lotion ever since.  The keynotes are red winterberry, ruby apple, sparkling cranberry, snowkissed camellia, and crystal vanilla.  It smells mostly floral with hints of berry and apple.  Call me crazy but I almost always smell a hint of watermelon in Bath & Body Works lotions, this product included.

– English Lavender Linen Spray –

I struggle with insomnia, and one of the commonly known remedies is lavender.  I researched and found several different products but ultimately decided to give the spray a try.  Even though this spray from Bed, Bath, & Beyond isn’t made specifically for insomnia, it works.  The scent is distinctly lavender and very fresh.  I spray it all over my pillow and bed right before going to sleep.  Sometimes I read a book post-spray, another helpful trick for treating insomnia.

– Fragrant Jewels Candles –

I bought these candles to review the company for my Youtube channel.  Even though the draw of this company was the rings hidden inside the products, I ended up loving the candles.  The Frosted Gingerbread candle is spicy, and the Winter candle is woodsy.  They can burn for up to four hours at a time, and the scent is detectable within a few minutes.  For more information, watch my video:

– Soda Scribe Womens Booties –

I wore these boots to work on New Year’s Day and received so many compliments.  They are comfortable and look great with or without socks/tights.

– Adult Coloring Book & Colored Pencils –

 

I’ve been wanting an adult coloring book for a long time and used a recent family trip to Barnes & Noble as my chance to get one.  It was a little embarrassing paying for a coloring book and colored pencils, but I got over my pride and did it.  I can already tell this book will last me a lifetime because I haven’t even finished half a picture yet.  Coloring is relaxing and a great creative outlet, and I highly recommend you give it a try. :D

– “Sisters of the Quilt” by Cindy Woodsmall –

I’ve already discussed this series on this blog so all I will say is this series is fantastic and impossible to put down.

“I live in a home full of strict rules, even for an Old Order Amish family. My Daed doesn’t believe in allowing our tradition of a rumschpringe. At its best, the running around years is meant as a time of extra freedoms that gives singles an opportunity to find a spouse. But sometimes young people take advantage of it, so my Daed all but forbids.  Still, I have found love, and even though Paul isn’t Amish, I know that if I spent a lifetime looking, I’d never find a better man. He’s gentle and kind, and his sense of humor is every bit as strong as his sense of responsibility.  But if my Daed knew of our friendship, he’d put an end to it, and I’d be grounded from stepping off the farm for even a stroll for months, maybe a year.  Paul leaves Owl’s Perch each fall, and even though he writes me letters and sends them to his grandmother’s house, he’s never hinted at how he feels beyond friendship.  Despite my Daed, despite that I’m only seventeen, despite that Paul goes away to a sea of girls each year, I choose to believe that he cares for me like I do him, and that love will find a way for us.”

– “Child Genius” –

Does anyone else love this TV show?  I have been watching it since the first season, and the kids never cease to amaze me with their knowledge.  The premise is children with high IQs competing for the title of “Child Genius.”  Every episode features two rounds, each focused on a different subject such as math, history, or logic.  For more information, follow this link: http://www.mylifetime.com/shows/child-genius

– “The Bletchley Circle” –

I am in love with this miniseries!  Netflix recommended it to me.  The show follows a group of codebreakers post-WWII.  Once the war ended they were required to move on with their lives without telling anyone what they had done.  They find themselves brought back together by circumstance in order to solve a crime; this occurs three times.  For more information, follow this link: http://www.pbs.org/program/bletchley-circle/

– “Dance Academy” –

I have watched this show at least three times all the way through.  It is definitely one of my favorite TV shows of ALL time.  WOW!  That’s a bold statement.  I relate to this show on a deep emotional level because of my dance background.  I understand the family-like bonds that develop and the struggles that come with being an aspiring professional dancer.  On top of all that, it’s a great show.  All three seasons are currently available on Netflix.  For more information, here is the IMDB page: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1551948/

– “Gossip Girl” –

I realize that I am way late to the “Gossip Girl” party but better late than never.  I’m not that far into the first season, but I like it.  It’s a good show to turn on when I have hours of work to get through.  The show follows the drama surrounding a group of wealthy teenagers living in Manhattan.  It is currently available on Netflix.  For more information, here is the IMDB page: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0397442/

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– Lauren Michele <3

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Florida Travels Part 3 – The Highlight Reel

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Part 1: https://laurenmichelelifestyle.wordpress.com/2015/10/11/florida-travels-part-1-vacation-woes/

Part 2: https://laurenmichelelifestyle.wordpress.com/2015/10/12/florida-travels-part-2-disneyland-vs-disney-world/

The time has come.  Let’s look at the highlights from my trip to “The Sunshine State.”

1.  Leading up to the trip, I was freaking out due to the constant rain in Florida.  I knew my family desperately needed a vacation and didn’t want anything to go wrong.  Praise Jesus hallelujah!!!  It barely sprinkled while we were there.

2.  For the first time in my life, I got to stay in a resort.  The experience was not perfect, but overall it was really nice and relaxing.

3.  Me and my brother love to swim.  Unfortunately, we do not own a pool or live near a pool.  It felt great to have a pool nearby for 7 days.  The hot tub was the cherry on top, especially after walking all day at Disney World.  ;)

4.  My family ate at Freddy’s and Shake Shack for the first time, two places that have delicious burgers and to die for frozen custard.

5.  Staying with the theme of food, we also ate Brazilian food at Gilson’s Brazilian Restaurant.  YUM!

6.  Seeing Disney World for the first time was pretty special.  I rode/visited the following attractions:

• Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (Magic Kingdom)

• Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin (Magic Kingdom)

• Kali River Rapids (Animal Kingdom)

• Kilimanjaro Safaris (Animal Kingdom)

• Pirates of the Caribbean (Magic Kingdom

• Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (Magic Kingdom)

• Swiss Family Treehouse (Magic Kingdom)

• The Magic Carpets of Aladdin (Magic Kingdom)

• World Showcase (Epcot)

7.  Hearing foreign accents and languages for 3 days straight was music to my ears.

8.  While in Hollywood Studios, I noticed a group of kids lining up to meet a Disney Junior character.  Thinking of my niece, I walked over to see who the character was.  I was so excited to discover it was Doc McStuffins.  I immediately recorded a video and sent it to my sister so she could show my niece.  Hearing that my niece was watching the video over and over again made my day.  :)

9.  My family has endured a lot over the past three years.  Finally being together, relaxing, and laughing, the experience is indescribable.  My heart was and is very happy and satisfied.  <3

10.  Last but definitely not least, this is the highlight of my year.  Mom, John, and Lauren are standing at the entrance of Reebok waiting for dad to make a purchase.  A man walks in looking for a friend.  He yells “Marco!”  Mom promptly yells back “Polo!”

Are you done laughing???  I’m not!!!  We had to walk out of the store because we were laughing so loud.

I hope you enjoyed this 3-part series about my first trip to Orlando, Florida.  I have one more Disney-themed post coming your way so keep an eye out for that.

Check out my first Disney World Vlog:

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– Lauren Michele <3

Previous Post: https://laurenmichelelifestyle.wordpress.com/2015/10/12/florida-travels-part-2-disneyland-vs-disney-world/

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Florida Travels Part 2 | Disneyland vs Disney World

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Let’s get ready to rumble!!  Although it has been a little over a year since I visited Disneyland, I was able to determine differences between these two parks and decide my favorite.

– Weather –

In this category, Disneyland is the winner.  The dry air makes for a much better experience when one is on their feet all day long.  The Florida humidity was miserable to endure, and it brought back awful memories from my time living in Texas.  Sweat?  No thank you!

– Size –

Disneyland is at a disadvantage in terms of “wiggle room” therefore when a new ride is opened, more often than not an existing ride has to go.  Sometimes the change is good, sometimes it is bad.  Disney World has plenty of room for expansion; however, more room also means larger crowds.  Because I am most definitely not a people person and both parks get ridiculously busy, I am calling this a category a draw.

– Accessibility –

Disneyland is the winner of this category because its two parks, Downtown Disney, and the parking lots are close together and within walking distance.  Disney World is so big that a significant part of the day is spent catching a bus or the monorail to visit another park or leave.  This requires extra walking/running, and it takes up park time.

– Rides –

Most of the rides I went on were different in a subtle manner, specifically “Space Mountain” and “Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.”    The one ride I went on that was unique to Disney World was the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, which was really fun; however, much like Radiator Springs Racers at Disneyland, it was disappointingly short.  The changes that caught my attention at Disney World were Pirates of the Caribbean being short and the lack of an Indiana Jones ride (there is only a show).  Those are two of my favorite rides therefore Disneyland wins this category.

– Cleanliness –

The bathrooms and a few of the park areas were dirty, and, in certain areas such as Animal Kingdom, the tables only had two chairs therefore if a family took chairs to accommodate a larger party, others would not have seating.  I understand that it is hard to keep up with such a large crowd, but it is very much noticeable and inconvenient.  However, I am not picking a winner because I do not recall the state of Disneyland.

– Animal Kingdom –

Animal Kingdom is unique to Disney World.  I love going to the zoo so I was really excited to visit this park, but it exceeded my expectations.  I had the pleasure of seeing numerous gorillas, watching a hippo swim from an underwater point-of-view, and coming closer than ever to zebras, my favorite exotic animal, on a safari ride/tour.  This park was a pleasant surprise.

– Pricing –

One more thing I would like to discuss regarding both parks is the ticket and pass prices.  I am outraged that the pricing continues to rise.  Disney makes MILLIONS of dollars per year.  Why do people have to go broke in order to enjoy a fun day at a Disney park??!!!  I guarantee that the prices could be significantly lowered, and income would remain steady.

– The Results –

There are many more categories to debate such as castle size (FYI, I don’t care), but I chose only those that directly affected me and/or caught my attention.  Disneyland is the obvious winner based on both the categories and my California roots.  Disney World is a fun adventure to plan for and experience at least once, but Disneyland is much better in terms of frequency.  Once again, keep in mind this is my personal opinion, and I am a biased California girl.  ;)

Stay tuned for part 3 A.K.A. “The Highlight Reel.”  :)

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– Lauren Michele <3

Previous Post: https://laurenmichelelifestyle.wordpress.com/2015/10/11/florida-travels-part-1-vacation-woes/

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