Circle of Life on an Airplane

Check out this awesome video of the Disney Broadway cast of the Lion King singing the Circle of Life to passengers of a plane. Cecelia and I will have to come up with comparable entertainment when we head to Walt Disney World next month for my Disney Wedding Planning session/runDisney Expedition Everest challenge. We sing like ANGELS.

Enjoy!

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Staying in Cinderella’s Castle Suite at WDW

Nothing in the world prepared four Double Duty Divas for the ultimate experience for any wanna-be princess.  Attending the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration a few years ago, I found myself the recipient of the key to Cinderella’s Castle. Renovated in 2006 for the Year of a Million Dreams, these days the exclusive (and elusive) suite is offered by promotion only to lucky guests such as ourselves.  With a night at the castle unable to be purchased for any amount of money, and we have it on good terms a whole lot has been offered, it truly is a once in a lifetime experience.

cinderella's castle suite

The Cinderella experience began as we were ordered to pack an overnight bag to meet the Suite Concierge promptly at 4 p.m. Taken by private vehicle to a back lot location behind the castle, the royal treatment began with a guided park tour as we jumped to the front of attraction lines. Once ready to see the room, the “Princess Crew,” a self-title moniker, was awed by the secret suite entrance, magic elevator and Cinderella’s glass slipper and tiara encased in the foyer. The suite itself left nothing to the imagination: magic television sets which appeared from mirrors, a whirlpool tub with twinkling stars overhead, fresh flowers in each of the three rooms and a crystal engraved glass slipped for the winner were just some of the amenities.

cinderella's castle

The Divas & Cinderella

After a quick freshening, the group made its way to dinner at Liberty Tree Tavern with the characters courtesy of the Castle Suite Crew.  After dinner, a viewing of the Wishes Fireworks Show in a private viewing area preceded a trip Hollywood Studios, again using entrances we could not have imagined existed.  One of the most magical moments came as we re-entered the room. Turn down service with chocolates on our pillows, a Mickey Mouse for the youngest member of the crew, princess bubble bath, Cinderella movie playing on both TVs, and the creme-de-la-creme…a platter of chocolate covered strawberries with a white chocolate horse drawn carriage. (br>

Later, another private viewing area for the SpectroMagic parade awaited until finally the Divas and their little prince turned in for the night.  Unable to sleep, they donned their Cinderella robes for a midnight picture in front of the castle.  The next morning we ate breakfast at Cinderella’s Royal Table breakfast as our time in the castle came to an end.  A night to remember for sure, the Suite at Cinderella’s Castle experience was one the Divas, headed back to reality today, will treasure forever.

Update: While I haven’t had a chance to return to #DisneySMMoms since the castle stay, I’m happy for my partner in crime @BridgetteLA who is returning this year and hopeful some pixie dust will make it’s way to me again in the future.

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How to Make Your Own Running Tutu

Princess Marathon Running TutuI still can’t believe it has been almost a year since Cecelia and I ran the Disney Princess Half Marathon. By far my favorite race today date due to runDisney’s entertainment and on course amenities. Best part is how everyone dresses in costume. Jealous of all those running in a few weeks, I thought I would share a cost-saving but fun way to stand out on race day.

Enter the race tutu. Thanks to the advent of theme races, more and more runners are wearing these to events. For crowded races like the Princess half, a race tutu ensures that you have plenty of personal space since other runners can’t get too close. And if you are running as a team like Cecelia and I, it was a great way to show we were in it together.

On Etsy, a race tutu could easily cost 30-50 dollars without shipping. Save yourself the money to enjoy a LaFeu’s Brew (or Grand Marnier slushie) at the Parks. You can buy the majority of the materials at your local fabric store for less than 20 dollars. The craft will take maybe an hour to finish and worth the time and effort. Here is what you do…

What You Will Need:

How to make a running tutu
1. 12-14 yards of tulle any color. Divide the yards by amount of colors. For example, if you want to alternate colors buy 6-7 yards of each color. For this skirt I bought 6 yards of blue and purple and 2 yards of silver as an accent color.
2. Pillow
3. Scissors
4. 1/4 inch elastic, 3 yards
5. Ruler

How To Do It:

1. Cut tulle into  2 feet long strips that are about 6 inches wide.

1. Wrap the elestic around your waist to determine how much material you will need. Make sure band is where you want the tutu to lay while you are running. The higher the better.

2. Cut elastic about 2 inches shorter than your waist size and tie ends together in a knot to make a loop. Place loop over pillow.

3. Take one tulle strip and fold in half.

How to make a running tutu 2

4. Slid tulle under elastic band with folded over part on top.

5. Slid ends through top folded part and pull ends through until knot forms

6. Alternate colors and repeat process.

7. ENJOY: I know we did :-)

photo (3)

 

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Princess Dress Shopping: Bridesmaid Style

The cards I asked my girls to be bridesmaids. I made them think I was going all themey but instead my goal is for them to look classy with a dash of magical.

The cards I asked my girls to be bridesmaids. I made them think I was going all themey but instead my goal is for them to look classy with a dash of magical.

When it comes to wedding plans, the last couple weeks have been spent trying to decide on what bridesmaids dresses we should order. No real rush (thank god we are still 8 months out) but fate helped us find it. At the end of January I traveled back to Alfred Angelo’s bridal salon in White Hall, PA to confirm the dress I loved my first visit is THE DRESS. Since the only reason I didn’t purchase the love of my dress life was due to not having my lovely sister Cecelia there, I decided not to go empty handed this time. I called the recruits: not only my matron of honor sister but also my bridesmaids that lived close by, long time best friend Gina and more recent friend and future sister in law Laura.

It didn’t take long for them to thumbs up my dress and since we were already at the salon, we decided to do an impromptu bridesmaid dress hunt. I chose my girls well because it didn’t take them long to pull on some dresses and have me laughing in stitches over their antics.

Alfred Angelo Bridesmaid Dress Shopping

Left: Cecelia, Gina & Laura ready to go have fun in the dressing room. Center: Gina & Laura put on a Belle dress.    Right: Laura practicing her dancing moves.

Although I love all things Mouse, the Disney Bridesmaid dress line was what I envisioned for my big day. When we moved into the other Alfred Angelo bridesmaid dresses, soon Cecelia tried on a dress that Gina and Laura agreed they loved. I am aiming to be as un-Bridezilla as possible and even though asymmetrical hems have never been my favorite style, I agreed that this is the dress my other two bridesmaids needed to check out. I love the chiffon material and could envision the girls out in the October Florida weather and not roasting. So after both Sara and Amanda confirmed that this dress made them comfortable (and I heard reports that one significant other gave his thumbs up for zestiness), it has been officially decided to be the one.

Alfred Angelo Bridesmaid Collage

Three different locations but all my girls (Sara, Gina, Laura & Amanda) look great in this dress.

The next problem came down to color. This battle may have been brewing longer than Josh and I have been engaged. We both agree that we want blue to be a feature. But that is where our understanding stops. I have been pushing for a blue/purple marriage. I mean, both are prominent on Cinderella’s castle in Walt Disney World. I felt it would give us that fairy-tale atmosphere with out being to childish. Even though Josh wears purple pridefully as a Minnesota Vikings fan, thought the colors did not go together. He also seems to think that if he approved a touch of purple, by the wedding day it would look like a Barney explosion. I have a reputation of taking my inch and running 26.2 miles with it.

Blue Wedding Colors Disney

Left: I may be a cupcake fiend.. nothing wrong in picking my wedding colors after a frosting container? Right: Mediterranean Blue or Navy.. which color looks better with my sapphire engagement right? Hmmm

Trying to be respectful of Josh (since he agreed to have our wedding in Florida even though he hasn’t been to Walt Disney World since he was in sigh school), I decided to choose just blue. When it became my only focus color, I thought the more lively Mediterranean blue would fit the bill. My mother (and Cecelia) fell in love with the classic look of the navy blue especially with silver and white accents.

What is a girl to do? RESEARCH!

After many hours on pinterst I discovered something troubling. With either blue I did not like what I could do with floral. I mean white is nice, but if I am paying a huge bill for live flowers I want them to have the most impact. Ugg. But then an acquaintance mentioned the obvious choice. Flip the colors.

So my girl Amanda did me a favor with this revelation and tried on two dresses in the grey/silver range that Alfred Angelo carried to see if I would like how they photographed. I mean, what could be more horrible if the dress my girls loved came in a color the designer didn’t have.

Amanda in the Grey

Amanda in the silver/grey chiffon that Alfred Angelo carries Smoke (left) and Moonlight Waltz (right).

But it did! So without further adieu, here is the color pallet for our Disney Wedding….

Silver bridesmaid dress with blue flowers

TADA: I can have all the different shades of blue and white I want to pop against this chiffon Moonlight Waltz dress. The color even sounds magical.

The floral will be the focus without my girls looking like cartoon characters. Win.

Josh agreed. My mom agreed. My bridesmaids agreed. And they all lived happily ever after….

purple and blue flowers

I mean, just a little purple never hurt anyone right?

Especially since I got Josh to agree that a little purple in the flowers would be ok since the dresses were not as bright… Let’s see how far I can go with this now :-) Kidding!

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Disney Dream Review/5 Top Disney Cruise Tips

Anyone following my blogs (Mom?) since 2007 knows how rarely I share the kids. Call me overly protective, but I’m breaking my rule to share the video below. I did take non-kid clips on our first Disney Cruise to share, but it doesn’t do the experience justice. Seeing their pure joy was part of the reason we booked our 2nd cruise on the ship for 2015 at a 10% discount + $200 onboard credit. I dare you to watch the video and not consider a Disney cruise!

Tip#1: You WILL want to book another cruise so do some prep work. I had to book my mother without even asking her opinion since you’re able to get up to two rooms on the discount. Pre-plan!

As Disney Vacation Club members we’re no stranger to the Mouse, but Disney Cruise resides on a whole new level. We started small with a four night, five day Disney Dream cruise from Port Canaveral to Bahamas and Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island. And while the Castaway Cay outing was spectacular filled with character dance parties on the beach, crystal blue water and ocean water slides, we decided against a tour during the Nassau stop, getting off for a brief jaunt but mainly taking advantage of the ship’s lighter traffic.

Tip #2: If it’s your first Disney Cruise, take advantage of the ship’s activities while others are exploring the island, or at least don’t rush off. Spend the morning onboard, grab lunch and then explore the island a bit as other passengers are beginning to return.

When I heard about the Disney’s Oceaneer Club having registered the kids online before the cruise and receiving our wristbands before boarding the ship at Port Canaveral, I had NO idea how much they would love it. Nor how fluid it would be as they visited at different times of the day–after breakfast one day, after lunch another, after dinner most nights. They begged to go back and play, dance, explore, and even interact with Disney characters. We used the alone time to talk about future cruises lounging at Waves and even catch Monday night football at 687 (sports bar).

Tip #3: The youth clubs, with trained counselors and more security than Fort Knox, will be your kids’ highlight of the trip. Even if you don’t typically utilize babysitters, seriously consider and use the time to sit by the adult pool, schedule a spa service or shop uninterrupted for souvenirs.

disneycruise

Disney Dream

Once the cruise was booked I searched blogs and forums researching insider Disney cruise tips trying to get a handle on how to be 1st time Disney cruiser. While I may have left the highlighter home (to highlight preferred activities on the daily “navigator” of activities) and the scotch tape (to hang pics kids made in Oceaneer Club) took up more space than it was worth, I did learn a few valuable pre-trip tips.

Tip #4:  Buy a pillow case for each kid and some fabric markers. Put them in a ziploc and give to Guest Services on the ship. They will have all of the Disney characters sign and return on the last day of the trip. I purchased these Disney pillowcases from Etsy and also grabbed some personalized magnets too which we placed on our cabin door which is magnetic. Many people do this to distinguish their doors for fun.

disney cruise tips

When we disembarked, it was a sad morning. The best vacation in memory was over, and even months later we have the post-Disney cruise blues a bit. The only bright spot? Rather than boarding a bus to the airport, the family extended our trip with a good ol’ WDW vacation. As DVC members, we make the trip once or twice a year and even though the cruise was unparalleled, there’s nothing quite like Magic Kingdom or seeing “Welcome Home” as you enter a WDW Resort.

Tip #5: Plan a few day WDW vacation to  mitigate those post-Cruise blues. For this trip we stayed at Fort Wilderness Lodge and loved the ambiance, pool slides (kids must have gone down them 200 times) and view of the Water Pageant from the beach. Take a bus directly from the cruise to your resort and make it a 2-for-1 Disney Dream vacation.

  Get more Disney tips news by visiting and share your best Disney cruise tips too!

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Jena’s Goodbye to Her Long Time Travel Companion: Her Car Gabby

I am 99% sure my Facebook friends think I am crazy. Reason: I am horribly upset that my car died this past Friday. Like, just driving down interstate 81 and she decided to stop going. Even her flashers gave up. AAA saved me and got us both home. My long time family mechanic gave me her prognosis– if I replace her alternator she may last a few more months, but don’t count on it. I had to face the facts- it was finally time to day goodbye.

So why am I so sad?

Well, Gabby (short for Gaberiella) has given me many memories over the last 7 years. Bear with me, but this car deserving of a found goodbye.

Green Mercury Cougar

Gabby looking shiny as we drove down the Pacific Coast Highway in Summer of 2010.

Gabby is responsible for me being a lawyer. Prior to my decision to go to law school, my mother refused to let me take a car to RI where I attended college. I braved 3 years of bus transportation and lots of walking due to her fear. But the moment I decided to take the LSAT the summer before my senior year, my mom lost her fear when she found out I needed reliable transportation to take me to Providence 3 times per week for my prep course. (As a double major in too ‘useless’ majors, my mom was thrilled that I may be able to have a job some day).

I graduated college with honors and a ticket to law school thanks to Gabby!

I graduated college with honors and a ticket to law school thanks to Gabby!

Enter Gabby. This 2000 Mercury Cougar became my tool to so many adventures. Boston, California, and so many states in between. We survived a tractor trailer accident, some curbs, and a busted alternator in Iowa. She stuck by me when I had to live away from home my first year out of law school and helped me maintain my four hour drive long-distance with Josh. I left everything inside her, so I always had something in an emergency. She even knew that sometimes I just needed to drive around to work out my problems with Backstreet Boys blasting. Behind her wheel I never felt alone.

San Francisco, Disneyland, Fresno for a solo Backstreet Boy concert, my feet swinging while we made a road stop in Iowa, and the coast of California.

San Francisco, Disneyland, Fresno for a solo Backstreet Boy concert, my feet swinging while we made a road stop in Iowa, the coast of California, and a Penn State football game.

Good bye dear friend. You shall be missed.

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2014 Running Rambles & Aspirations

Jena here. Let me tell you a story about the athlete that never was…

When I was in 5th grade, my elementary school had track meet against a couple area schools. Since we had no actual track team, us young ones had to try out. Me, hearing about winning medals, tried my darnedest to make the team. I went to every practice and pumped my chubby little legs and fell over countless hurdles. My enthusiasm didn’t go unnoticed– I was hired on as the mini ‘assistant coach.’

Whomp Whomp.

That was the beginning/end of my  school athletic career. I decided selling (and eating) girl scout cookies was a better use of my time.

Jena Disney

Running… Can’t I just stand here and look awesome instead?

That’s a long winded rambling (had to earn my twitter handle somewhere) to say for the majority of my life no one would ever accuse me of being athletic. Smart- yes. Funny- depending on your humor. Nerdy- oh yes. Athletic… ehhhh more like excellent paper pusher.

Until I graduated college. Then my oh so wonderful/athletic/high school cheerleader/marathon runner sister Cecelia convinced me to try to go running with her.  First it was only a half mile, but some how she convinced me to keep on going for a mile. I felt elated, that I have done the impossible, and I probably didn’t want to do that again. And then she got me.

“Wouldn’t be great if we ran a half marathon together someday?” she said.

Yes, I replied. In my head I was thinking it would be as since as when I won a million dollars or finally managed to get a Backstreet Boy to marry me. She was thinking that next September, less than 16 weeks away.

Did I mention I rarely worked out before that moment?

She signed me up for the Philadelphia Half-marathon before I knew any better. Since I was a poor-soon-to-be-law-student, she made a deal. I run the race, she pay my fee. I don’t do it, I pay her back.

I ran the race. And 6 other half-marathons, 1 Runner’s World Hat Trick, a 10 miler, a 15 k, 2 10ks, and countless 5ks. Even a marathon last November. Let’s just say if she told me the majority of long distance races would give you a medal at the end, I would have done this AGES ago.

So what’s on this year’s running agenda? Since I am getting married and I have found out running a million miles in a year DOESN’T mean you will lose weight if you don’t eat right, I am sticking to 2 races right now. And both are with Cecelia.

94345h_logo_scrantonhalfHow could the Scranton natives NOT run this inaugural Scranton half marathon? This race is far enough in advance for me to get back to racing shape after a much needed post marathon break. The good part is I already ran the majority of the route when I was training for my full last fall. The bad part is ALL THE HILLS!

runDisney Mount EverestThen Cecelia and I will be doing the runDisney Mount Everest Challenge in May. How could I help it if this race just HAPPENED to correspond with when my Disney Fairy tale Wedding planning session was… coincidence right? Since there are some obstacles, I am going to be focusing on strength training to get me through this event. Cecelia as a former Tough Mudder should be a strong asset. I will be the brains in the scavenger hunt portion.These are the goals and I shall keep you all updated on our training.

And if I can convince Josh to let me do a spooky runDisney event the week before my wedding…. it is another coincidence that we will already be there… :-)

 

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Wedding Dress Shopping: Disney Princess Style

Jena Wedding Blogger

Yes, I brought my iPad dress shopping. Need to keep the readers updated!

Let me be honest. I have been dreading wedding dress shopping since the dawn of time. Growing up not a tiny girl, I have shed many a tear in a dressing room. Some of my “favorite tear moments” include struggling into prom sample sizes, last minute semi dress shopping, and having my high school custom rent me a dress to wear in our school play. I  even have painful memories of my communion dress when I was so young. I can’t look at the photo remembering being sunburned, curling ironed pulled, and uncomfortable dress shoes. Needless to say, I have been dreading wedding dress shopping. All I could imagine buying the dress for the happiest day of my life causing me to have a mental break down. 

Jena First Communion

This smile is filled with pain and awkwardness.

Even though the holidays were a good distraction, you can only go so long avoid looking for a dress. So, when my mom asked if we could go this week, I bit my lip and managed to make the best of the experience…. BY TRYING ON DISNEY INSPIRED DRESSES!

Alfred Angelo

Not thinking this was a “real” trip, I brought my mom and my step-dad (who you can see in the background of this photo).

I don’t think it may be illegal to have a Disney Fairytale Wedding without at least trying on the Alfred Angelo Princess inspired line. I did some googling and found out I would have to travel to a Signature Store to see these babies in person. I will be honest. I didn’t expect to find a dress I would like yesterday. My attitude was just to have fun and avoid buying a dress as long as possible.

So how did it go?

Jena Cinderella Dresses

These are the Cinderella dresses. Both skirts feature a sparkling glitter tulle skirt and fun beading. The one on the left was a serious contender before the “One” knocked it out. The one on the right is the newest Cinderella in the line and I was hopeful. But the bow on the side made my step-dad say I looked ready to go to a Disney kid party instead of my wedding so it didn’t last long.

Jena Sleeping Beauty Wedding Dress

Next, I tried on the newest Sleeping Beauty inspired dress. I loved the bodice and these were the first flower detail I didn’t think was cheesy. My mom even voted I get the flowers in the purple option so that I can sneak the color in. Unfortunately though, with the staggered layers of tulle skirt, I felt more like the cupcakes I liked to eat and less like a pretty bride. But the side view is perfect if you want some dramatic photos.

Jena Belle Inspired Wedding DressBelle is my FAVORITE Disney Princess. However, since Alfred Angelo has taken over the Disney line, I can’t say I have loved what they did with the actual Belle inspired gowns. However, my sales consultant picked a near winner with this gown from their Sapphire collection. With the pick ups and sporadic beading I felt as if I could get hired as a Belle wanna-be. Pretty as it is, it still wasn’t the One.

Jena Wedding Dress 2

Also not the one, but we are getting closer.

Exiting the character inspired dresses, Christine, my sales consultant pulled some great gowns. She listened to what dresses I thought would work while also looking ahead and taking elements I liked to find the “One.”

She also said many magic words like, wow you look great, I don’t even have to clip you in, and your body was made for this. It was satisfying every time I slipped into a dress without having to pull, squeeze, or be pinched in. I felt fabulous every moment.

So without any more adieu…TADA!

Jena Snow White 1

Ok, not the one either. This is my gag dress since many people know I am not a Snow White fan but my facebook friends were a little too thrilled with this. I am awesome but the one I picked does not have a cape.

Because yes, without even trying to find it yesterday, I am 99 percent sure I found my dress. But since Cecelia was busy celebrating her 17th wedding anniversary, I couldn’t make my final decision. So we shall return in three weeks and I am sure I will be one step closer to my big day! Now it feels so real.

Some final thoughts,  I recommend highly going to a bridal store that carries your size (or a size bigger) without an issue so you can shine, body conscious free. Additionally, ask ahead of time before you order how much altering the dress can take so you don’t waste money or stress yourself out you last months as a single woman. Wedding planning is stressful enough!

Only good tears were shed yesterday. Especially after I realized that my body was designed to wear ball gowns. Happy surprise and glad to know I have a future as being a princess.

What tips do you have for wedding dress shopping?

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“Recreating” LeFou’s Brew: Smoothie Recipe

The “recreation” is less of a copycat recipe–the original is frozen apple juice with marshmallow– and more of something to fill your mug from Gaston’s Tavern in the New Fantasyland in Magic Kingdom Park we visited last month. And since it’s confession time, the “recipe” is more of a list of ingredients we use to make orange smoothies.

Come to think of it, this post is only really useful if you already know how to make smoothies and are looking for something orangy or if you’re visiting Disney World and wondering if LeFou’s Brew is worth the price. (Yes, it is. The mug is quite cool. And we actually have Belle’s cup from a previous visit but give a slight nod to the mug.)

Or maybe you want to make a confession too in which case feel free to comment, and we promise to be sympathetic.

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