Monster Mountain

I get scared very easily. We all know now that death and sickness cause me lots of anxiety, but I am also just a jumpy, scream-easily, sort of girl. One of Husband’s favorite hobbies is hiding around every corner of the house and jumping out and scaring the bejesus out of me EVERY SINGLE TIME. I have nightmares after watching Pretty Little Liars and I will not go downstairs when I am home alone at night. (Although, it’s possible this is just my clever attempt to get out of finishing the laundry.)

I get scared very easily, but I LOVE scary things. Not real scary things (like cancer or bugs), but Halloween scary things, like Children of the Corn and haunted houses. I LOVE dressing up, carving pumpkins, holding the covers around my face as I scream at Michael Myers and running blindly through dark haunted houses. I love it so much that I am dedicating several October blog posts to reviewing local (and not-so local) Haunted Houses.

OMG, so scary!
OMG, so scary!

My first haunted house of the season was Monster Mountain, located just north of Nashville. Before my Monster Mountain experience I should tell you a bit about the attraction. The idea is that you are walking through multiple horror movies, which makes you the “star” of each scene. You roam through “the cabin of the dead”, walk to “Voodoo Bayou 2”, find a scary side to Santa in “Krampus: Home For the Holidays” and even get a taste of the Walking Dead in “Zombie City 2”. It’s an outdoor haunted area that spans 20 acres. You must walk uphill, through some brush, over a “swamp”  and through the woods. However, there are houses and shacks every 30 yards or so that house most of the actions.

My face before entering the clown themed movie scene
My face before entering the clown themed movie scene

*Disclaimer: Like all haunted houses, there are rules. One being, pregnant people should probably not attend. Before, I get several emails and calls from my concerned loved ones I want to make it clear that this rule is only because of tripping hazards. I am not quite to the point in my pregnancy where I am unable to see my feet and felt very comfortable walking slowly through the scary scenes. I also forced Husband and Steve to each hold an arm so there was no chance of falling. Promise.*

They had a large TV playing scenes from scary movies to entertain us as we waited in line.
They had a large TV playing scenes from scary movies to entertain us as we waited in line.

Now, let’s get down to business. Monster Mountain is scary, as it should be. We tiptoed around corners, ran from zombies who followed us and argued over who had to go first (never me). I have two favorite scenes. One being the first house (cabin?).

 

As we walked up towards the porch we seriously questioned whether or not we were walking towards a real person’s creepy front porch. Then right as we decided to keep going, the door opened and a giggly bald overweight beat-up man stood in the doorway. He appeared to be out of his mind. A second later he closed the door and when it swung back open, he was gone and the door was left opened, obviously inviting us to enter. My second favorite scene was the Zombie town. It was like walking through a combination of the wild west and The Walking Dead.

scared

The sets were great! A lot of work went into preparing each movie scene. I especially liked that it was not just a bunch of fake cut-up bloody body pieces, there was more detail and interesting set pieces than your typical haunted house. I also like the fact that the attraction covered such a big area. It gave us an opportunity to walk through by ourselves. If we caught up with a large group in front of us we could just wait or walk slowly, allowing them to get ahead of us. Or, if a group caught up to us we could simply allow them to go ahead. Haunted Houses are so much better and scarier when you can’t hear the people in front of you getting scared by what’s to come.

I do have a suggestion for Monster Mountain: more actors. The actors they had were good, good costumes and good acting. There just weren’t enough. I am sure this is largely related to the fact that it is a large and spread-out haunted attraction. It would be difficult and expensive to hire tons of scarers, but there were a few areas that seemed lacking in that department.

There is a dance club scene that appeared to be just a dance club. There are disco balls, colored lights, great dance music, poles, a huge floor…and nothing scary. Obviously, we decided to have a 5 minute dance party and danced our hearts out until we were sweating. FINALLY, as we left a creepy monster came running out of a hole near the exit door scaring the crap out of us. I can’t believe the monster waited, crouched in that little hole as we took our sweet time partying.

The scariest part for me was the guy with a chainsaw. There are two things that scare me most in a haunted house, one is a chainsaw, and Monster Mountain has two!

Overall, I give Monster Mountain 4.5 out of 5 skulls.

4.5

 

I wish I had more photos to share but it’s not easy to take photos in a haunted house. “Excuse me, scary murderer holding a chainsaw, could you run out one more time, and uh look a little angrier this time, thanks!” It just doesn’t work.

Can’t wait to share more next weekend!

Cheers!

Who Carved it Best?

Every year Husband and I carve a pumpkin for Halloween. Most times it turns into a pumpkin carving competition. In fact, most activities Husband and I do together turn into competitions. This year we picked our perfect pumpkins from Gentry Farm and we carved them while catching up on missed episodes of Dancing With the Stars and eating homemade butternut squash soup. We’re a wild couple, I know.

MY pumpkin
MY pumpkin

We made sure to save and separate the seeds because I LOVE roasted pumpkin seeds.

IMG_20131004_075101

Duckie doesn’t understand the word “no” yet… We tried to shoo her away from the pumpkin guts, but at some point we gave up and assumed she would taste the pumpkin and decide not to eat it. We were very wrong. I guess pumpkin can’t hurt cats, right?

IMG_20131004_075232

After cleaning, drying off the seeds (and sleeping for 8 hours…seeds take a long time to dry!), I roasted them. I tossed them in olive oil, salt and pepper and baked them at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes.

IMG_20131004_074130 IMG_20131004_074725

Now for the grand finale…our pumpkins!

IMG_20131004_185723

Mine is clearly the crooked eyed Minnie Mouse and Husband’s is from the video game Minecraft.

So, what do you think? Who won?

Hint: Me

Cheers!

P.S. You have exactly 90 minutes left to win a free Mokuyobi Thread Bedford Bag, it’s so easy! Just do it already!

Picking Out Our Pumpkins

Apparently one day on a farm with my parents just wasn’t enough. After our gender reveal party, we took them to Gentry’s Farm. Gentry’s Farm is a very large family farm that offers a pumpkin patch and a myriad of other fall family activities. I have never actually picked my own pumpkin from a pumpkin patch so I couldn’t wait to see what all the fuss was about.

gentry farm

pay here

It was a rainy day, but not enough to keep us inside. The pumpkin patch on the farm was enormous! We walked up and down the rows and searched through hundreds of pumpkins to find the “perfect” pumpkin. There were orange, green and white pumpkins. There were lumpy, smooth, big and little pumpkins. I couldn’t quite decide what I wanted so I ended up with a wheelbarrow of seven pumpkins.

searching

"Uncle Steve" picking some large pumpkins.
“Uncle Steve” picking some large pumpkins.

all mine

(BTW, these “pick-your-own” pumpkins are a steal! It cost $17 for all seven pumpkins!)

pumpkins

After our pumpkin picking we decided to check out what else the farm has to offer. It costs to get into the rest of the farm, but it’s reasonable ($7/person). Our first choice of activity? The corn maze of course! My Mom, who’s claustrophobic and not quite as adventurous as her daughter, was scared of getting lost or stuck. So, being the bratty children we are, Husband and I took off running through the maze, losing my parents the best we could. It didn’t last long…turns out my parents can keep up.

corn maze getting lost butterfly

We spent the rest of the time walking around the farm watching the families play. There are chickens, goats, pigs and turkeys. My favorite were the goats simply because their names are Lucy and Ethel.

lucy and ethel

There are so many fun activities for kids and families. There is a hay bale maze, a mini-corn maze, a nature walk, tire swings, corn hole, treats and of course the hayride. They also have a little market that sells pre-picked pumpkins and gourds and all natural farm-raised beef too.

welcome outhouse corn hall barn

While walking around the grounds we actually ran into Mr. Gentry himself. Mr. Gentry is so friendly and warm. He immediately started up a conversation with us and ended up telling us about what it was like to grow up in the Great Depression, how he lived off of catching squirrels and rabbits and how his life has been now on the farm. He is a very interesting and entertaining man.

mr. gentry

I loved walking around the farm and couldn’t help, but imagine returning next year with our little girl. I am certain this will become a family tradition for us. Baby Girl is going to have blast picking out her own pumpkin every year!

quote

Three generations.
Three generations.
Husband and his Grandpa
Husband and his Grandpa

leaving

If you are interested in visiting Gentry Farm, then check out their site for more info. Keep in mind that the fall festivities are open on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays and be sure to pack your camera!

goodbye

Does anyone else have a fun fall family tradition?

Cheers!

Brewery with the Boys

When our Tennessee friends were here a couple weeks ago one of them suggested going to the Brooklyn Brewery, to which I responded, “Brooklyn has a brewery?!?!” I cannot tell you how many times someone who does not even live in NYC has suggested a New York attraction that I have never heard of. That’s exactly why I love this city. I will never run out of new places to visit.

We happily hopped on the train and headed to Brooklyn one morning in search of this so-called brewery. It turned out to be a pretty cool place with a free tour, a bar, and an enormous sitting area. There were hundreds of people drinking locally brewed beer, playing card games, eating pizza, and just hanging out in the very laid-back atmosphere.

We had to purchase tokens in order to pay for the beers.
We had to purchase tokens in order to pay for the beers.

 

IMG_2805 (1)On the tour, which consisted of one big room, we heard the most entertaining and interesting stories about the history of this brewery. The guy giving the tour had a knack for storytelling. The room was silent as he skillfully described the history with impeccable comedic timing.

IMG_2798

IMG_2784

Now I’ll do my best to give you the cliff notes.

Two guys (Steve and Tom) started Brooklyn Brewery. Steve live in the Middle East for six years where he learned to make beer in his bathroom, and Tom (a business man) had lots of money and wanted to use it to start a new hip business. They founded the Brewery in 1988, and moved to the Williamsburg neighborhood in Brooklyn in 1996. It was the perfect place for their business, but it wasn’t easy to get their brewery where it is today. Williamsburg was a sketchy neighborhood during that time. They were held up at gunpoint by one of their regular customers, had a forklift stolen, and even a run-in with the mafia. Yes, the mafia!

Anyone who opens a business in Williamsburg apparently has to pay the mafia off. The Brooklyn Brewery boys somehow missed this little detail, and the mafia basically said, “Pay us, or pay the price.” After refusing to pay, getting a badass lawyer, and standing up to the mafia, Tom had a scary face-to-face with a mafia boss. They took Tom across the street, emptied a warehouse, locked the doors, and said “We’re going to have to hurt you.”

Tom obviously flipped out and begged to be spared. After a few minutes of freaking out, Mr. Mafia man said, “Just kidding. We actually like you’re brewery and think it’s going to be great for Williamsburg. We are going to let you slide.” Now, the mafia works security for the brewery at night!

I loved the stories, the atmosphere, and the beer!

IMG_2804

Cheers!

The Many Faces of Cinderella’s Castle

No matter how many times we have been to Disney World we still take exactly 452 pictures of the castle every single time. It never gets old, and it manages to look a little bit different throughout the entire day. Here’s a few shots we took during our recent trip.

If you get to Magic Kingdom early enough you can get a nice picture with NO ONE in front of the castle!
If you get to Magic Kingdom early enough you can get a nice picture with NO ONE in front of the castle!

IMG_1598

The castle from a distance.
The castle from a distance.
The castle at Christmas is the best!
The castle at Christmas is the best!
Getting our picture in front of the castle is a must every single trip.
Getting our picture in front of the castle is a must every single trip.
Pink!
Pink!

IMG_1786

What the castle might look like if it was exploding.
What the castle might look like if it was exploding.
Cinderella's castle has a hundred different looks throughout the day.
Cinderella’s castle has a hundred different looks during the fireworks show.
Wishes!
Wishes!

After working, vacationing, getting engaged, getting married, and honeymooning at Disney you would think we would tire of this place. Somehow, the magic has yet to fade. We still proudly sing along to “Wishes”, and annoy every single guest around us. Thank God I found a Husband who loves Disney’s cheesiness just as much as me!

Cheers!

 

Friend Pictures

As an adult, I find it very challenging to make new friends. I have moved around quite a bit since high school, and only made a handful of close friends. This may have a little bit to do with the fact that I am still incredibly close to a handful of my high school/hometown friends.

A couple of my best girlfriends have also moved away from home, and we all stay as close as we can through phone calls, emails, and Facebook. A few more of my best friends still live back home, which is great for me! Any trip I make to Texas, I spend as much time as possible with these beautiful ladies.

We all somehow found each other as teenagers and have never separated. I don’t know how I manage to surround myself with the wittiest, most beautiful, and thoughtful group of girls, but I am so grateful to have them in my life. We are soul mates, just as close as Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha, closer even.

We are all married now, half of us have children, and life seems to be moving faster than ever. So fast, that I am afraid we will forget all these rare moments we get to spend together. In order to capture this time in our lives we decided to take “Friend Pictures”.

It wasn’t east to find time over a holiday weekend for all of us to get together with a photographer, but we worked it out, and the pictures turned out better than we even imagined. Chris Roach was our photographer. He was very patient. We had temper tantrums, tears, wiggle worms, and frowns, and that was just the adults! Somehow, he managed to make us all look great!

We LOVE these pictures so much that we may turn this into an annual event.

Husband took his own set of pictures during the photo shoot to catch all the candid moments.

Nothing’s better than baby hugs.

Way TOO cute!
I cannot get enough of my friend’s adorable kids!
This was all of us trying to get the babies to smile and look at the camera.

Has anyone else ever taken Friend photos? A few people thought I was crazy for wanting to take these, but my friends are family, and if we take family photos, why not friend photos?

Big thanks to my friends for being the best, and a very special thank you to Chris for capturing these moments for us!

Cheers!

It’s Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas

The weekend we went to Disney was the opening weekend of The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights! I have seen these dancing lights a handful of times now, and they never get old. The whole event is beautiful, magical, and topped off with artificial snow

 

Disney began this show in 1995 after getting the lights and the idea from the Osborne family. The Osborne family is a real family from Little Rock, Arkansas who spent God knows how long transforming their house into a crazy spectacle of over 3 million lights synced up with music every holiday season (I’m sure the neighbors were thrilled.) Their idea was so successful and unique that Disney had to be a part of it.

Look at this crowd!

After a few court cases from disgruntled neighbors, the Supreme Court actually shut down the entire display. Disney thought this was too magical to disappear so they talked with the Osborne family and decided to move the entire display to Hollywood Studios.

Now, 17 years later, Disney has added a couple more million lights and over 40 hidden Mickey’s.

Can you find the hidden Mickey???

It’s so magical to stand in the “snowy” streets of Hollywood Studios in the midst of thousands of people all staring at the dancing lights and singing along with the Christmas music.

I officially felt festive and in the Christmas spirit after seeing Disney’s famous lights. Let the Christmas shopping, constant carol singing, holiday movie marathon, and fattening food consumption commence!

Cheers!

Turkey Day in Texas

Spending Thanksgiving in Texas went as expected….lots of food, lots of family, and lots of new memories. My family is enormous. Every family occasion involves at least 40 people.

This is only my Mother’s side, and only half of us!

Having a giant family is fun because every event is like a giant party with way too much food. The downside is that there are so many of us its impossible to stay in touch with everyone. Most people I only see once a year (if that), and when I do see them I am trying to play catch up with everyone.

Turkey, ham, and homemade chicken and dumplings are all part of our Thanksgiving tradition.

Thank God for Facebook. I can at least stay half caught up by stalking everyone’s walls. With a family this big we have a new baby, new engagement, new divorce, or some other big occasion always happening.

Some beautiful cousins
The only way to have room for everyone is to eat in the garage!
Caught! ….and I was wondering how that dog was getting so chunky…

On Thanksgiving, for example, we were also celebrating my and my Mother’s Birthday, a cousin’s recent engagement was revealed, and my sister announced that she’s having a baby boy!

Yay!!!

Of course, all of this good news is accompanied with gossip, secrets, and a little bit of awkwardness, but what’s a family affair without an ounce of drama?

and a lasso contest

Let’s not forget the family games!

We aren’t the most athletic family, but we enjoy our volleyball tournaments.

Keep in touch Texas; I’ll be back in January!

Cheers!

My Smudge Proof Nails

During Miss Sandy I had so much free time that I did my nails…twice. Since it was Halloween weekend, and I love dark nails during Fall and Winter, I chose black and black with glitter. The first polish I used was Sally Hansen’s Insta Dry in black. This was my first experience with “Insta Dry”, and about 30 seconds after polishing I accidentally bumped my nails on my keyboard (this is a common occurrence immediately after painting my nails). I sighed, rolled my eyes at myself, and lifted my hand to assess the damage.

Shockingly, there was not even a smudge! It was dry…Insta-dry!

Not only did it dry instantly, but it was super easy to use. The brush is wide and the polish is thick so application can be done in basically one swipe. It doesn’t even need a second coat! I was positive that this polish and I were destined to be soul mates. It goes perfectly with my impatience for drying time, and my tendency to always be in a hurry.

Sadly, our love affair proved to be a fling, a one-night stand even. Not even 24-hours later I had some serious chips on a few fingers. To be fair, I am really rough on my nails, but this chipped faster than most. On the bright side, it only takes 30 seconds to touch up the chipped nails.

After a couple of days, I was tired of the chipping and the touching up, so I tried Sally Hansen’s Salon Effects Real Nail Polish Strips in Lust-Rous.

I love these nails for the same reasons I love the Insta Dry polish. It’s fast, easy, and I don’t have to worry about smudges.

Step 1: Select the right size sticker for your nail and apply. (It comes with several sizes.)

Step 2: Use this pointy stick thing to press down and get off any edges that hangover. The stickers will not be a perfect match to every finger, but it’s really simple to remove the sides that hang off your nail.

Step 3: Use the nail file to file down the ends, which removes all the extra sticker hanging off the end of your nail.

Step 4: Put on a clear top coat and marvel at your fancy new manicure!

I love how simple these nails are, and how professional they look after application, BUT (like Insta Dry) these didn’t last for too long. A couple of days later I caught the edge of one in my hair, and another in my pocket and it peeled the sticker right off. The good news is that the box comes with extra stickers! The bad news is I’m an idiot and threw all mine away.

Currently, my nails are 4 different colors as I’m trying to decide which shade to try next…any ideas? tips? challenges?

Special thanks to Sally Hansen for sponsoring this post! Keep those awesome colors and quick drying polishes coming!

Cheers!

P.S. I also helped Zoey with her nails, which turned out much better!

Hurrication

In case you haven’t heard, Hurricane Sandy is currently hitting NYC, and several other cities. We are very fortunate that we live on the Upper East Side and therefore are not in any danger….yet. I have a feeling it will stay that way too. This hurricane has caused a lot of problems already, like canceling LOTS of flights, including one from TX that is supposed to be carrying one of my best friends and her husband. Boo.

Sucks…BUT the bright side is that I get at least one extra day off work AND I get to spend all day inside in my pj’s! I LOVE days like this! All there is to do is eat, drink, paint my nails, watch TV, read, and relax. Husband, however, can’t stand to sit still (and neither can his Father), so the two of them spent the day walking around the virtually empty city before the weather gets too rough.

The East River, not flooded yet…

Almost every store and restaurant is closed, so there is really no reason for anyone to be outside.

Even the parks closed
My gym is taking advantage of the storm by offering “hurricane deals”.
A few of the local bars are going to stay open and have their own Hurricane party.
Sad…no Starbucks
I guess they figure they’ll get a lot of business since there’s nothing else to do…

The stores that did close took precautions by taping up their windows and lining the doors with sandbags.

So odd to see the steps of the MET completely empty.

Tonight we’ll have a little Hurricane party complete with cookies and pumpkin carving!

Stay safe NY and anyone else being affected by the hurricane! Also, thanks to the many people who have called, emailed, and messaged us to make sure we are safe. We feel so loved!

Cheers!