Monday, April 28, 2014

PHOTOSET | Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives Exhibit at Museum of Science and Industry Chicago


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Friday, April 25, 2014

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party | Walt Disney World | Orlando, FL


Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party is a special ticketed event at the Magic Kingdom in the weeks leading up to Christmas. It's a steep price that changes every year, so some people may not find it worth it. The only con to this party is the price, which might be an issue for the budget minded, but I think it's a great event to go to, even just once. A quick note: you're able to enter the park at 4:00 PM with MVMCP tickets without regular park entrance tickets. If you have park tickets already, no need to worry and you can spend the entire day. We actually split up this day and went to a different park that morning. 

Here are the pros:
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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Pop Century Resort | Walt Disney World | Orlando, FL


We stayed at Pop Century Resort in early December 2013 on our latest Walt Disney World trip. It was our first time at a value resort. (See here for differences in Disney Resort hotels, for reference.)
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Gatorland | Orlando, Florida



We visited Gatorland in Orlando, FL back in November of 2013. I (Magen) wasn't expecting to have a ton of fun. Ashley picked this one because she has some weird obsession with gators after marathon watching Gator Boys on Animal Planet. This place beat out my expectations tenfold. Here's a quick Gatorland Review.

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The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change


While driving from Chicago to Orlando, we visited the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta, which includes his birthplace and resting place. The center is more of a large area experience than a museum, since it encompasses Ebenezer Baptist Church, an educational center, the grave site, and birthplace. While we enjoyed our time, we both agreed this was more of a "paying respect" attraction than the National Civil Rights Museum. Both are important and noteworthy, but if you're choosing one- our top choice is the Museum in Memphis. If you're in Atlanta, this is a great spot to spend an afternoon and reflect.

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Road Trippin' | Chicago to Florida



In November & December of last year, the girls from The Brown and The Blonde road tripped from Chicago to Orlando. What a drive. The trek down took two days with an overnight stop in Atlanta.

As your masters of driving-instead-of-flying, TB&TB has compiled a list of road trip requirements.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Street Festival | Chicago

This is a past post from Magen's old blog from June 2013.


It appears that my first terrible experience of chicago festivals was the exception, not the rule. The Taste of Randolph Street was fun. The food was good (I had a cheeseburger... surprise, surprise), the music was good, the vendors were cool (Bare Minerals!) and some drunk lady went on and on about my pretty lips. So, um, thanks? cool? Anyway... PHOTOS!

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A Day at the Beach | Chicago

This is a past post from Magen's old blog from June 2013.

While Chicago certainly isn't Key West, how cool is it that we have beaches? Sure, the water was freezing, and sure, the "sand" was really kind of just dirt, but it kind of felt like an afternoon vacation. I'll take it!Chicago Beaches 
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Snapshots | Chicago

This is a past post from Magen's old blog from June 2013.

Chicago Street Photography

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Chicago Blues Fest

This is a past post from Magen's old blog from June 2013. 

Chicago Blues Fest 
The Chicago Blues Fest has most definitely put the festivals I've attended thus far to shame. It's large, it has multiple stages, there are SEATS at the main stage, and the music was amazing. Oh, and it's FREE. I've paid $50 or more to go to festivals that aren't even this good. So i feel silly for that, but yay city of chicago and all the sponsors for this fantastic festival. The first time at a festival is always a learning experience. Next time, I'll a) eat before i get there (they have the whole buy-tickets-for-food-and-drink-situation which you always buy more tickets than you use because you don't want to stand in that huge line again later, therefore money wasted. i hate that.), b) bring snacks and drinks (coolers and even tables are allowed! i saw people with absolute buffets out there), and c) bring festival chairs (i saw some amazing ones out there!).

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Snapshots | Chicago- River North

This is a past post from Magen's old blog from May 2013. 

 
i could walk around the city for days. DAYS i tell you! probably not in the shoes i chose this particular day- but nonetheless... i love to walk. i walked a few miles to a restaurant last week on the first really warm day. it was spectacular and you could see the joy of the warmth and sun on everyone's faces. including the dogs.

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Snapshots | Chicago

This is a past post from Magen's old blog from May 2013. 

The Chicago River is my most favorite thing to look at when i walk. i love crossing those shaky bridges on foot.


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White Sox Game | Chicago

This is a past post from Magen's old blog from April 2013. 

CHICAGO WHITE SOX

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Geja's Cafe | Chicago

This is a past post from Magen's old blog from March 2013. 

For fondue in the chi... please make your way to Geja's Cafe. (NOT WITHOUT RESERVATIONS, THOUGH. YOU'LL BE DISAPPOINTED.) At Geja's you'll be treated to delicious cheese fondue complete with apples (yes, apples! just try it.), pretzel bread (oh-my-goodness good), and grapes? (The grapes were kind of weird to me, but hey- what's a little food adventure between friends?)

 
Also, at Geja's, you'll be dounced in reddish-pink light (there is quite literally NO white light. none, i tell you.) which actually kind of worked with my skin tone so that was cool.

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Chicago's Home of Chicken and Waffles | Chicago

This is a past post from Magen's old blog from March 2013. 

comfort food is the ultimate for me. major. i understand that nearly everyone has a different definition of comfort food. it's almost always unhealthy, but something about indulgences make comfort food that much better, right? chicago has every food choice a person could ever think of. ever want. ever hate. ever try. seriously. there are raw food restaurants, bbq restaurants, polish, greek, indian, ethiopian, casual, fancy, hot dog stands, burger joints, steakhouses, mexican... you know what they also have? chicken and waffles. score.
chicago's home of chicken and waffles to construct an absolute perfect comfort food plate, one must always include macaroni and cheese. cornbread is also a necessity.

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The Butcher and the Burger | Chicago

This is a past post from Magen's old blog from March 2013. 

I like burgers. Like, a lot. I also like beignets. I also like places with cute decor and tub chairs. I found all three at The Butcher and The Burger. Oh, and it tasted good, too.

They had several meat, seasoning, side, and bread choices to craft your most perfect burger. I love a good variety of choices. So many places nowadays won't allow substitutes or customization and I don't particularly like that. This is completely, 100%, how you want it. Excellent.

The Butcher and The Burger

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Lillie's Q | Chicago

This is a past post from Magen's old blog from February 2013. 

Last weekend, I treked over to Bucktown to check out the LUSH store and buy myself the lip scrub I've heard so much about. (spoiler alert: it's awesome and edible so... yeah.)

I also stopped and ate at Lillie's Q. If there are grits served, I'm there.

My food was yum. I loved the grits and the Carolina sauce the best. The ribs had a wonderful flavor, but could've been a little more moist. (raise your hand if you hate the word "moist"?)



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Art Institute of Chicago

This is a past post from Magen's old blog from March 2013. 



When I saw the Picasso exhibit at AIC, I also caught a quick glimpse of a section of the modern wing. And I mean a tiny section. This place is seriously the size of Rhode Island. I can't wait to go back!

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Picasso and Chicago

This is a past post from Magen's old blog from March 2013. 

Picasso and Chicago

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Lincoln Park Conservatory

This is a past post from Magen's old blog from February 2013. 



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Lincoln Park Zoo

This is a past post from Magen's old blog from February 2013. 

When you need to just walk around in the sun, you go to the local free (!!!) zoo. Even if most of the animals were hiding :).


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Disney Cruise (October 2012)



 

while on my blogging break, i went on a cruise! yes, it was a Disney cruise. i'm not completely obsessed with Disney.

well.... kinda....

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Dallas Zoo (July 2012)

This is a past post from Magen's old blog from July 2012. 


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Carnival Cruise (August 2009)

This is a past post from Magen's old blog, posted in Summer of 2012, chronicling a trip taken in August of 2009. Excuse the poor writing style. She was still figuring out her groove.

I've been on two cruises before. 1) A Norwegian Cruise when I was 11. I don't remember the year and I'm too lazy to count backwards. We had an incredibly large group of our extended family + a lot of their friends. (Like 50 of us and we chartered a bus to get to the port...) It was SO incredible. 2) A Carnival Cruise in 2009 for my college graduation gift. It was also super amazing. I got really crazily sunburned and my head was so swollen by the end of the cruise that I contemplated skipping one more day of work. But it was really great none the less.

I don't have any photos from my first cruise because it was a gajillion years ago... but I DO have my 2009 cruise photos on my computer so I decided to share because a) it's summer and b) it makes me excited for my next cruise. These were all taken with a Canon Point & Shoot. I forget the model name because this camera was lost in a fire.. boo... I didn't have a DSLR back then and I was just starting to notice different shots and angles for photographs... You'll probably be able to see a difference.

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Mannatees, Downtown Disney, and Animal Kingdom Lodge (October 2011)

This is a past post from Magen's old blog, chronicling a trip taken in October of 2011. Excuse the poor writing style. She was still figuring out her groove.

Ashley and I both really love water, we decided to take one day (from our Disney World week) and do some kind of water activities. We decided to drive out to Crystal River (nearly a 2 hour drive) and swim with the manatees! This was a very early morning, since we had to be there at 9:00 AM. EEK!
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The Windy City (February 2012)

This is a past post from Magen's old blog, chronicling a trip taken in 2012 (before moving to Chicago). Excuse the poor writing style. She was still figuring out her groove.

I took a trip to Chicago back in February. It was cold, ranging in the 30s and 40s. (Locals assured me that it was warm for that time of year....) but to this Texas girl... it was freezing. I love that city, though- snow or sun!
 
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Stax Museum of American Soul Music (May 2012)

This is a past post from Magen's old blog, chronicling a trip taken in May of 2012. Excuse the poor writing style. She was still figuring out her groove

StaxMuseum14-1
Another great Memphis museum, the Stax Museum of American Soul Music chronicles not only Stax Records and their historical short run, but all other American soul music. When I say Memphis has some very well executed museums, I'm not kidding. (See the National Civil Rights Museum post here.) This was another fantastic, fun experience. I also saw this photo while in the lobby before they restored the building to it's original glory. Did they do a great job or what?
stax-records-50th-birthday17-1

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Beale Street Music Festivals (May 2012)

This is a past post from Magen's old blog, chronicling a trip taken in May of 2012. Excuse the poor writing style. She was still figuring out her groove

I love music festivals, even if they are tiring! Its awesome to see so many performers in a short time span. It was hot in Memphis for the Beale Street Music Festival- but I didn't let it bother me. I put on my hats and lipstick and let the sweat come! Here are my favorite photos from the three day festival. 
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Beale Street (May 2012)

This is a past post from Magen's old blog, chronicling a trip taken in May of 2012. Excuse the poor writing style. She was still figuring out her groove.

Hello, Memphis. The first night there, we just walked around the famed Beale Street. Beale Street is sometimes referred to as a mini Bourbon Street. When I say mini- I mean mini. Its only about 3 blocks but they have lots of great music playing everywhere! It isn't quite as scary as Bourbon, in my opinion. There weren't any naked ladies here.

BealeStreet04-1




This ice cream was from the road trip to get to Memphis. I didn't snap many photos on the way up there because the trip consisted of East Texas and Arkansas. Both completely boring whilst on the interstate. We did get some Dairy Queen, though! There aren't very many DQs in urban areas, so I love to grab some soft serve when I'm driving through smaller places. I grew up with a DQ in my small town so it's definitely comfort food. :)

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The National Civil Rights Museum (May 2012)

This is a past post from Magen's old blog, chronicling a trip taken in May of 2012. Excuse the poor writing style. She was still figuring out her groove.

While in Memphis, we made a stop at the National Civil Rights Museum. This is located at the Lorraine Motel, which is the location that Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot. While a large portion of the museum revolves around MLK, there are various other civil rights movements portrayed. I can't recommend this museum enough. I am an avid museum lover, and I try to visit museums every place I go, and around Dallas. This is one of the best historical museums I've ever visited. I won't divulge too much information other than photos, because it's an experience that words can't explain.   
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Memphis Snapshots (May 2012)

This is a past post from Magen's old blog from May of 2012.



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Universal Studios Orlando (October 2011)

This is a past post from Magen's old blog, chronicling a trip taken in October of 2011. Excuse the poor writing style. She was still figuring out her groove. 

I had only been to Universal Studios once, when I was 15. At that point, Islands of Adventures wasn't open. I remembered that I had a lot of fun and they had really great thrill rides. My main reason for wanting to go there this go 'round was the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, of course.

We packed up and checked out at Disney World (sad faces all around). We managed to get parked at Universal by 9:00 AM. It was the hottest/sunniest day we’d spend in Florida with the fewest amount of breaks and downtime. We had two parks to cover in one day! We purchased Express passes so we could make sure to ride as much as possible. (P.S. It was so incredibly sunny this day. Nearly all photos have a bit of sun flare- bummer!)

We went to Universal Studios park first and caught a few characters, then headed towards the Simpsons area. We both love the Simpsons, and it was really fun to see the Simpsons themed buildings and rides. We rode The Simpsons ride, the the Men In Black ride. We headed over to Disaster Movie ride. While it seemed that a lot of people liked this ride, I thought it was entirely too long and a bit boring. We had pizza for lunch (it was pretty good!) Then we caught the Twister attraction (another snoozefest...).

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Walt Disney World: Animal Kingdom (October 2011)

This is a past post from Magen's old blog, chronicling a trip taken in October of 2011. Excuse the poor writing style. She was still figuring out her groove. 



I was very excited for Ashley to see Animal Kingdom because she really likes animals. I knew she’d love this park. It was our last day at Disney, and I wanted it to be super great! We had reservations at Tusker House for Donald’s Safari Breakfast. Quick Tip that I always forget: For some reason,the buses to Animal Kingdom come less often than the other parks. I've never waited less than 20 minutes for a bus to Animal Kingdom in all of my trips to Disney World. If you have reservations or want to be there at a specific time for any reason, plan to be at the bus stop very early. And get a seat in the shade, because let's face it: it is always smoldering down there.

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Walt Disney World: EPCOT (October 2011)

This is a past post from Magen's old blog, chronicling a trip taken in October of 2011. Excuse the poor writing style. She was still figuring out her groove. 


  

 A late night at Hollywood Studios prompted another sleepy morning. We made it to EPCOT right at 11:00 AM. That was fine with us because we were there for the Food and Wine Festival. We walked around the entire World Showcase and ate the little snack-sized meals. It was really fun to try things I probably wouldn't normally try. Some yummy spots were: Mexico, Morocco, and Italy. We also stopped inside the Mexico pavilion to cool off and rode the Gran Fiesta Tour Staring the Three Caballeros. It really does feel like night time inside that pavilion. They also have great Mexican inspired gifts, including really cute handmade figurines.

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Walt Disney World: Disney's Hollywood Studio (October 2011)

This is a past post from Magen's old blog, chronicling a trip taken in October of 2011. Excuse the poor writing style. She was still figuring out her groove. 


We woke up and walked outside to see nothing but blue skies and sunshine! We took a few pictures of ourselves basking in the sun, we were so glad! Then, we made our way to the Pepper Market just in time for lunch rather than breakfast. I think we probably ate too much food (because we tend to really love food when we travel). After feeling beyond full, we caught a bus to my favorite park- Disney’s Hollywood Studios!

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Walt Disney World: Magic Kingdom (October 2011)

This is a past post from Magen's old blog, chronicling a trip taken in October of 2011. Excuse the poor writing style. She was still figuring out her groove. 


We had a very late night the night before, we slept in a little. We got up about 9:30, put on our rain gear from Wal-Mart, and headed to the Pepper Market in the hotel (Coronado Springs) lobby. Being that it was still forecasted to rain (on and off at least, rather than a continuous pour), neither of us looked that great. We didn't do much to look cute since we thought we would have our ponchos on all day, and we were both in men’s too-big wind pants (not many cute options at Walmart) and t shirts. It was one of those days.... you know, those ones where you're just too tired to care?

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Road Tripping & Walt Disney World (October 2011)

This is a past post from Magen's old blog, chronicling a trip taken in October of 2011. Excuse the poor writing style. She was still figuring out her groove. 

We got up bright and early for our very long drive (10 hours) from New Orleans to Orlando. This day was pretty much a travel day. We left around 9:00 AM. First stop was breakfast at the first Cracker Barrel we saw.

Cracker Barrel is a must on all road trips. It is non-negotiable.

We drove through Mississippi and Alabama and into the Florida Panhandle in a very short amount of time.

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New Orleans, Louisiana (October 2011)

This is a past post from Magen's old blog, chronicling a trip taken in October of 2011. Excuse the poor writing style. She was still figuring out her groove. 



Road trips are the best, right? I mean, you really get to travel to several places. I think it's half the fun. On our Epic Road Trip of 2011, Ashley and I drove the whole of Louisiana (starting point was my family farm in Northern LA.) It was glorious and delicious. 

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Fort Walton Beach, Florida (October 2011)

This is a past post from Magen's old blog, chronicling a trip taken in October of 2011. Excuse the poor writing style. She was still figuring out her groove. 


Our last vacation destination was Fort Walton Beach, Florida. The drive from Orlando to Fort Walton Beach was pretty far, but I was looking forward to a day of sand and sun so I was able to keep my exhausted eyes open. We ate at Coach-N-Four Steak House because it had good reviews. It was a small, modest restaurant, with not very many customers which might turn some people off. But it was slow season so I thought we'd give it a try anyway. The steaks were so delicious! They also give you lime sherbet to “cleanse the palette.” I don't care why I got the sherbet, but that shit was legit and delicious. I guess it "cleansed" my palette. Whatevs.

We woke up the next morning and drove to get what-a-burger breakfast and snacks, then we spent the entire day on the beach under umbrellas and in the water. We saw dolphins four times! We both read books, and looked at magazines. It was the perfect relaxation day after so many theme parks and so much traveling. My feet really appreciated it. And October is the PERFECT weather for the beach in Florida.

This beach in the Florida panhandle was so relaxed and quiet. I'm sure it's an entirely different story in the summer, but the fall is an amazing time to visit. We stayed at the Best Western (mostly because I had Best Western gift cards, but I'd stay there again.) 

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