Work Hard & Be Nice: Fighting Stress in College

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The beginning of the school year is finally rolling by. I’m set into a routine and classes are full speed ahead. I wanted to do a blog post to touch on a couple things I feel are really important to keep in mind as midterms creep up as well as a little life update!

Life is busy! I’ve been taking classes as well as working a Public Relations internship, weekend job, taking 17 credits in classes and freelance writing. Boy, is it a lot, but I love every single thing I’m involved in. I feel so thankful I have been given the opportunities and nurturing to thrive from both my university and my parents.

I’ve started freelance writing as a requirement for my Intermediate Writing and Reporting class. I was dreading this class before the semester began and really worried about managing my time. The class requires us to write a new story once a week and try to get it published. We must be published five times. It’s a daunting task, but I’m pulling through and doing much better than I thought I could.

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Hunter is doing very well! If you have been keeping up with me on Instagram, you know he made the ACHA D1 Hockey Team. I am beyond proud. Hunter is really proof that everything happens for a reason. If you’re smart and you work hard, you really can do anything. Seeing him play out on the ice every week makes me so happy! He’s already scored his first goal.

Fall Break is coming up, so there will be plenty of blog posts coming your way about all the fun things we will be doing with our days off.

Y’all… I need this break. I know a lot of college students deal with stress and anxiety, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I’ve been dealing with some stress lately. It’s not uncommon. According to a 2015 article by Jan Hoffman in The New York Times, “anxiety has now surpassed depression as the most common mental health diagnosis among college students.”

It’s something that is very hard to cope with. You want to give 100% to everything you do, but it’s difficult to balance everything without giving up the things that keep you sane (sleep, exercise, downtime). I created a little list of things I do when I feel the fear of failure creeping up and anxiety getting the best of me.

COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS

I can rest a little easier if I put my worry in perspective. Everyone in my family is healthy. I can financially afford continuing my education. I have a roof over my head. I have a warm bed. I am immensely lucky and blessed. Something that no bad test grade, stolen wallet, bad day at work or failure can change.

“When you’re worried and you can’t sleep, count your blessings instead of sheep.” – White Christmas (a.k.a the best Christmas movie ever)

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Have a Support System

Telling people what you’re going through can really ease the pain of worry. Having Hunter here has really been a blessing. He is patient and kind when I feel like the world is ending. Calling my mom always helps me too! She is pretty straightforward and reasonable, and I know even when she’s miles away, she’ll do everything she can to take care of me.tumblr_orr3vjeAwj1qgdclno1_540

Know What Calms You

I know, for me, a big hug can make me feel a lot calmer. It’s the same effect of holding a warm cup in your hand. That feeling simulates someone holding your hand. For me, hugs can ease my jittery body and squeeze out that worry.giphy (2)

Re-affirm Your Worth

Sometimes, just talking to yourself can help ease worries. Remember that you’re not perfect. You don’t know everything. One failure does not define you.

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Plan Something for the Future

Something as simple as a girls night or as big as a vacation can give you a motivator. When I get anxious and need a break, I plan my Disney trips. It’s a guilty pleasure of mine to figure out the best restaurants or rides with the shortest wait times. It keeps me distracted and happy. Like a reset button.

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Treat Yo Self

They don’t call it shopping therapy for nothing! Buy new shoes, bake some cookies, watch an episode of New Girl, get a pedicure…

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Get Out

Treat yo self part two. Try a new restaurant, take a class, study at Starbucks, it doesn’t matter what you do just go do something! Taking time away from your room can make you feel was less locked up. That’s something I had a very hard time with when I was living on-campus!

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I hope this list was somewhat helpful to y’all! In the end, blogging is incredibly therapeutic to me. I already feel better organizing my thought and feelings in a platform that makes me happy. I hope you’re taking some time to yourself as well. Remember that self-care is so important! Don’t blow off your responsibilities, but college students need to recognize when they need a break before they’ve hit their breaking point.

Stay tuned because I still have plenty of Disney World content to post as well as Disneyland and Disney Cruise Line trips fast approaching!

Stay happy! 🙂

Anything I missed? Let me know how your life is going and what tips you have for fighting stress and/or anxiety in college below!

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My Sophomore Year Dreamland

Hey there! Sorry it has been a while…

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Moving back to Arizona has been a bit of a whirlwind. Thankfully, my mom and sister came out for a long weekend to help prepare me with everything I could need to start off this heavily loaded semester. In a span of just a couple weeks, I’ve started a new job, 17 credits worth of classes, moved into a new apartment, set up my car and SO. MUCH. MORE. Life has been crazy.

My roommates and I moved into our spacious, four bedroom apartment a little while ago, and now that we’re settled in, I’m so excited to finally showcase my sophomore year bedroom! I think it’s a dreamy mix of happy and homey. My room is small, but it is nowhere near as small as my freshman dorm! There’s a really lovely attached (and private) bathroom with a single sink and granite counter space. I even have a real closet with doors! It’s certainly an upgrade from the shared dorm. Although our apartment is spacious for city living, it conforms to the urban area with a very industrial design. Think concrete, black and sleek. Not exactly my style at all.

So how did we do up a preppy and cozy bedroom in a space where grey, black and white reigned supreme? We wanted to make sure we were being as temporary as possible, so when move out came, we weren’t too overwhelmed. We steered away from paint and wall paper, but we knew we somehow had to bring in color. Pink wasn’t planned, but when I stumbled across this Kate Spade, hot pink, gingham comforter for $60 at Home Goods, I couldn’t resist. This queen bedspread brings in a large amount of color and pattern to brighten up the room.

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Next we fluffed up the bed. I had this white ruffle comforter set from last year. Folding up the comforter on the end of the bed as an accent added volume. The set came with the white pillows pictured. The gold bow pillow was my mom’s find at trusty Target. Ruffles and bow? We’re already off to a good start! Having a comfortable bed is my priority when I apartment/dorm decorate, and I’m very happy with my cotton candy cloud of a bed!

After the bed was set, we played around with the standard issue furniture. My apartment came furnished so we had a bed, two sets of drawers, a table/desk and a chair to work with. We threw the drawers under the bed, but there were only so many spots the plain black and grey desk and chair would fit. After much debate, we ditched the chair under the bed. It was hideous and uncomfortable. We decided to move the desk from the nook in my room and placed it by the door. We slid two cubes ottomans under the table to function as seating for the desk, a foot rest and storage. I keep tons of trinkets and memorabilia, so I made sure to display all my favorite memories on the desk as well as my brand new television.

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Honestly, the TV was one of our best buys (tehe). We bought the small Roku Insigna TV at Best Buy for $109 as a part of their Open-Box deals. If you’re not familiar with Open-Box, it’s when display or returned products are put back on the shelf to be sold at a reduced price. You have to make sure you check the Open-Box tag before purchasing. Some products are in nearly new condition (like my television was), but other products may be missing parts or have superficial damages. I HIGHLY recommend you buy a Roku TV. It’s a pretty smart cookie. Setting up my TV was a breeze!

Now what to do with the nook… This blank, gaping space is about four feet across and looks out towards the head of my bed. By my mom and sister’s final day in town, we still hadn’t decided what to do with this random corner. I told them to go nuts with it while I went to my first day of work.

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When I came back, they had given the space a complete Target makeover.They threw a grey, gemstone shaped chair in the corner with an adorable “Sparkle” pillow. Next to the table is a scalloped side table I am freaking OBSESSED with. It’s the perfect height and placement to function as a side table for both the bed and the chair. On top of the side table is an adorable castle box lamp. We mounted an extension cord for chargers on the wall and the pineapple lamp lights up the space once the sun goes down. It’s an extra cozy spot once you pull over a ottoman.

I always make sure to use my Kate Spade coasters when placing anything down on the side table. I ran into a lot of issues with the side table being damaged. I had to go to three Target stores to find one that wasn’t scratched, missing paint or dented. For $79.99, I wanted my table to look polished and preppy.

Finally, we placed the wall hangings. This was a bit of a task. My mom and I very carefully pulled pages out of my Thomas Kinkade wall calendar, mounted them to the back of Ikea frames and displayed them on the wall. The payoff is lovely. Now Aurora and Snow are sitting pretty in beautiful displays. They look like $100 bucks (instead of barely $20).

I could not be happier with the room. For a sophomore year apartment, it fits my needs, is super functional and is a really comfy place to come home to after a 12 hour day. I can’t thank my mom and my sister enough for schlepping to Target and all around kingdom come for three days straight putting it together.

Teamwork makes the dream work!

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Let me know if you’d like a bathroom or apartment tour! I can’t say they rival my bedroom, but they are fairly pretty.

Keep an eye out for more updates on college and life! Big things are happening, big dreams are forming and I can’t wait to share it all with you.

P.S. Make sure to check out my freshman year dorm here to see how I recycled a lot of the decor from last year!

Two Years Later…

VSCO Cam-2Hey there! I hope everyone is enjoying their beautiful vacations, family time or raking in some summer moolah this weekend. I’m having a blast traveling to one of my favorite places in the world, but there will be more on that in a later post. This one is important!

My boyfriend, Hunter, is getting some extra special attention on the blog today because we celebrated our TWO YEAR anniversary last week! Unfortunately, I couldn’t see him on our actual anniversary, so we had to push up our date night a little. If you follow me on Instagram, I’m sure you saw we had a wonderful little afternoon with mermaid donuts and lobstah (that’s how the New Englanders say it). I’m grinning ear to ear thinking back to two years of hockey games, day trips, brunches, and a whole lot of love. I am so thankful to have Hunter in my life. He is an incredible blessing to me, so I thought I’d share some fun stuff about how we met and why I think we’ve been able to make it to two years together.

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17-year-old Catherine and Hunter dressed in Hunter’s hockey jerseys for Homecoming Spirit Week.

Hunter and I met our junior year of high school in history class. I remember instantly thinking he was really cute with his blonde moppy hair, chiseled face, blue eyes and towering stature. Hunter is a whopping 6 foot 3 inches, so he was easy to spot in the hallways because his head bobbed above the rest of the kids. He also played hockey which was adorably attractive. He may of been a quiet kid, but he sure was an eye-catcher! Although we met junior year, our little love story didn’t start until a while after.

When I was in high school, I wrote for the school paper. The hockey team was doing really well in their summer series of 2015, so I pitched a story to write about the team for the paper. Although I’m pretty proud of the story, it was also a perfect excuse to talk to Hunter again. I had his number from history class, so I asked him to do a quick interview with me at a local coffee shop. After we finished his interview, he asked me out to the movies! That’s how it all began. Nothing glamorous. I don’t know if we knew how special our relationship would become.

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We love going to Allen Americans games! It was one of our first dates.

I wouldn’t say our relationship was love at first sight or anything. Sure, he is my Prince Charming NOW, but when we met, there wasn’t a super magical moment where everything fell into place. Once we started dating, our relationship just grew stronger. Now, he’s the first person I talk to about everything. I bounce ideas off him for the blog, cheer him on to victory in all his endeavors, and he comes over almost every night to binge Halo Top, Hawaii Five-0 and catch my dog every time he slips out of the house.

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This is my favorite picture from Prom. We never took a perfect one because the wind was so strong!

I’m really proud of our relationship. We try to eliminate judgement, support each other and speak very honestly. It took some time for Hunter to open up to me, but we communicate much better nowadays. We talk openly about things that make us nervous or things we want out of our relationship. It took both of us some time to learn that clamming up is not a way to get what we want. I think long-distance made us stronger because we were forced to say what was making us anxious about the situation. Our communication has improved, but we are still pretty bad at deciding on a place to eat.

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This picture was taken in March 2017 while I was home from college!

Hunter is a very classic gentleman. From the way he dresses to his manners and his outlook on life, he has a very level head on his high shoulders. He’s thoughtful, mature and kind. He cares for me, and he always does his best to make me happy. Hunter is very supportive of me and what I want to do. His quiet and easy-going attitude balances out my active and creative mind. We’re very different, but we compliment each other very well. I know it’s a bit cliche, but he really is my best friend and one of my biggest blessings. I couldn’t ask for anything more.

A-DAZE-ing Donuts

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I have always thought “beached mermaid” is the perfect description to sum up my love of the beach. I love the sand, scales, shells, untamed hair, salty smells and the sound of waves crashing on the shore. When I was younger, I loved the movie Aquamarine. It’s a major throwback, I know, but I would have done anything to don an aquamarine tail like Sara Paxton’s fishy character or live on the beach like Emma Roberts and JoJo’s characters did. Don’t we all just want to dance to “Island in the Sun” at a beach club with a cute lifeguard? The beach is such a tranquil place. Unfortunately for me, I don’t get too many beach days since I spend a majority of my time in Texas and Arizona.

Thankfully, my beach withdrawals are near over. In a couple days, I’ll be packing my sandals and sunscreen to head north to the brisk and beautiful Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Until then, I needed some nautical nonsense to TIDE myself over.

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Galaxy Donuts (top left), Mermaid Donuts (bottom left), Unicorn Donuts (center), Cereal and Milk Donuts (top right) and Black Hole Donuts (bottom right) all ready at the beginning of the day to go out to excited customers

Sweet Daze Dessert Bar is a bakery serving up artistic creations you can eat. Located in Richardson, Texas, it is home to tasty treats designed with the mythical and magical in mind. People are all abuzz about this bakery, and it hasn’t even opened yet! This sweet stop has yet to announce their Grand Opening, but you’re in luck. Hunter and I were able to stop by for one of their limited Soft Opening days to test their treats before the shop is officially ready for business.

The dessert bar is best known for their magical and creative donuts. These designer donuts are made at Paris Donuts and beautified at Sweet Daze. Donuts are topped with creative figures and sprinkles to bring their specialty products to life. Their staple designs seem to follow all the popular trends with names like the Unicorn Donut, Mermaid Donut, Galaxy Donut and more! Flavors do go fast though. At the moment, donuts are made right before opening and no more are made after the store has opened. If you have your heart set on a Unicorn Donut, gallop your tail over to the shop right when it opens to snatch one up!

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The creativity carries over into their soft serve ice cream options too. Current flavors include Ube, Fruity Pebbles, Black Velvet and Dole Whip. Yes, I said DOLE WHIP! Disney lovers rejoice. The Dole Whip soft serve is totally vegan too. Unfortunately, there are no vegan donuts, but they have stated they are working on offering vegan donut options in the future. Sweet Daze recently announced on their Instagram that soft serve flavors will be rotating.

We ended up ordering a Mermaid Donut and Black Velvet soft serve, and these were probably some of the most aesthetically pleasing treats I’ve ever devoured! The Black Velvet is super creamy like cream cheese frosting, and the donut is just the right amount of sweet. I really like how the specialty donuts aren’t over-glazed. The donut and decor is sweet enough! The are topped with details that were simply picture perfect down to the gold star sprinkles. Hunter inhaled our Mermaid Donut because I felt guilty eating a piece of art!

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The designers of Sweet Daze were smarties. They must of known people would want tons of pics of their beautiful creations. This shop was clearly designed with the Instagram lover in mind. Although the outside is a rather monotonous shopping center, the inside of the store is well thought out. Decorated with only white and black, the simple chic of the store really makes the creations shine. The decor is a clean canvas for photos. Don’t worry about lighting either! The front of the store is all windows, so there is no shortage of natural lighting. What did I tell you? Perfectly designed for your picture taking pleasure.

Want your own snaps of these delicious delicacies? Even though Sweet Daze Dessert Bar isn’t open yet, try your luck at their Soft Opening days. They will be hosting customers between 3 p.m. and midnight until July 10. I recommend getting there early because once the donuts are gone, they are gone for the day!

I hope you find a way over to Sweet Daze Dessert Bar to try their mythical treats and live out your dreamy fantasies whether they involve tails or human legs!

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Showing off the beautiful Mermaid Donut in the lovely Sweet Daze store.

Good News!

If you know my boyfriend Hunter, you know he is pretty fantastic. He is supportive, easy going, patient and his subdued personality is a good balance to my very bright and energetic ways. He cares for very few things, but the things he cares for, he cares for fiercely. I think that’s one of the reasons we were some of the lucky few to survive a long distance relationship.

While the distance was challenging, Hunter has been doing some amazing things since then. He played in the Western States Hockey League with the Dallas Snipers, so I have a hefty collection of postcards from his travels (postcard collecting has now become a tradition). He was also taking classes at a local community college, hoping, one day, he’d be able to transfer those credits to a four year university.

Well I’m thankful to say that day has come. Hunter has committed to coming out to Arizona State University next year on a full academic scholarship! He was recruited by a couple different schools including University of Washington, Texas A&M and Dallas Baptist, but he is really passionate about being in Arizona and the amazing opportunities they have offered him.

Hunter was 1 of 20 transfer students to be accepted into a program at ASU called Next Generation Service Corps. NGSC is a program that promotes leadership in all three sectors of business including private, public and non-profit. It’s a leadership academy that will build his skillset and resume enormously. This program is a select group of students that are focused on becoming leaders in their field to enact monumental change. Needless to say, I am beyond proud and excited. This is an incredibly impressive program that will be integral in his growth, learning and his career. He has faced so much frustration and disappointment, but now he’s moving forward with an amazing school, influential organization, and a not too shabby girlfriend. And don’t worry, he is already working hard to nail his ASU hockey tryout in the Fall.

I think Hunter and I are still in a little bit of disbelief that this is happening for him. ASU is home to incredible, door-opening opportunities. They make giving everyone access to an innovative education, even if they can’t afford it, a priority. Arizona State does this through programs such as their partnership with Starbucks to create The College Achievement Plan, which provides free undergraduate education and degrees to Starbucks employees, and various scholarships including the New American University Scholar awards (the scholarship I received). ASU faculty does the impossible and inspires its students to do the same. I am so proud of my university, and I’m proud Hunter will be joining me.

If you’d like more advice or information regarding programs and/or scholarships offered by Arizona State, please reach out to me! You are welcome to comment or send me a message on Instagram. I’d be happy to help in any way I can.

Disney Cakes with Character

Mickey Mouse is the face of The Walt Disney Company and beloved by the young and young at heart. Mickey is on thousands of Disney products including a variety of park foods. There are Mickey Waffles, Mickey beignets and even the most delicious and adorable Mickey cakes you’ve ever seen/tasted/smelled!

Armorette’s Patisserie, located in Disney Springs, is home to the most gorgeous Disney and non-Disney themed treats. From mini cakes, macarons, cookies and full sized signature cakes, the Patisserie churns out handcrafted goodness only in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Famous for it’s classic aesthetic and Disney desserts, the patisserie was on the top of my to-do list at Disney Springs.

We decided to purchase a couple different treats to try. My mom ordered a Key Lime Macaron Cheesecake. The circular key lime cheesecake sat on top of an oversized macaron and was topped with the tiniest macaron I’ve ever seen! I did try a bite. It was sweet, light and delicious. It was a unique dessert and the perfect portion size. I adore cheesecake, but the presentation of this little guy was unlike anything I had ever seen!

My cake of choice was their mini Mickey Mouse shaped cake. The half sphere cake was glazed red with Mickey’s signature ears, yellow buttons and a precious (and delicious) curly tail. The cake itself was filled with a chocolate mousse with little balls inside that added a crunch to the cake! To be perfectly honest, I only chose the Mickey cake because I was mesmerized by the presentation and decoration, but he ended up being super yummy!

Overall, Amorette’s Patisserie was a delightful experience and a highlight of our trip to Disney Springs! We loved our treats, and the people working at the patisserie were extra sweet! We loved watching the artisans craft the desserts, and I heard you can even take a class on how to make your own full sized, Mouseketeer themed cake. These creations are well worth the trip and the dough! Make sure you give their treats a taste and stop by Armorette’s next time you visit the magical Disney Springs shopping center.

Until next time…

See You Real Soon!

A Preview of Pandora- World of Avatar

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Walt Disney was famous for dreaming up ideas that seemed impossible and finding a way for them to become reality. The Walt Disney Company’s newest addition to its many breathtaking lands is called Pandora- The World of Avatar. And we got a sneak peek.

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Standing on the walkway underneath the floating mountains

Located inside Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom, Pandora is a stunning world dreamed up in partnership with the talented people who worked of the 2009 film “Avatar”. This land is set in a time after the movie. Humans, Na’vi and Avatar all work together to preserve the beautiful land of Pandora and the Valley of Mo’ara.

In Pandora, you can hike amongst floating mountains, beautiful bioluminescent plants and ride atop banshees. Human visitors can eat food from Pandora, try their hand at the drums and even learn a little bit of the Na’vi language. Pandora is a world where fantasy reaches new heights and theme park food and technology is otherworldly.

Two new rides in Pandora are utilizing this technology. The first is Avatar Flight of Passage. This is an incredibly immersive experience where you go through the traditional Avatar rite of passage by flying on a banshee. You enter the ride by hiking up the mountain, through cave art riddled tunnels and finally into the Alpha Centauri Expeditions lab where you will enter a linking chamber and link to an Avatar. The queue immerses you in the storyline. You have the opportunity to see ACE research and Na’vi artwork as you wait. A cast member informed us that the queue is designed to hold up to five hours worth of people and can be adjusted to add additional posts and ropes outside the queue to lengthen the line. Along your journey to the ride you will also come across an avatar. We were informed that he is not a famous avatar from the movie, but the cast members working in Pandora have taken to calling him Hanes (pronounced “Hahns”) because he is wearing Hanes brand boxers.

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Hanes the Avatar in the ACE lab ride queue for Flights of Passage

The linking process is not difficult, but it is lengthy. You will enter three different chambers. The chambers will brief you in safety, prepare you for linking, find your Avatar match and finally instruct you to board your linking bike. On the bike, you will officially be linked, restraints will be placed on your legs and back, you will put on some super stylish flight goggles and then you will be off and flying through Pandora on your very own Banshee.

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We ended up going through this rite of passage three times. I was blown away. I can securely say this is one of the best rides I have ever been on. I can not do justice describing it to you. It is similar to the Soarin’ experience in Epcot, but… a million times better. I urge you NOT to watch point of view videos of this ride on YouTube or any other platform. Although Disney has been fairly strict about recording (there is a camera on your bike facing up at you and two cameras mounted on the walls of the linking chamber), people have still managed to get video of the experience. Please go live it. This ride is best enjoyed in person. The magic is not so much the visuals, but the way you can feel your banshee breathing, smell the different areas of Pandora, dip vertically down mountains, and feel the water and wind on your face as you glide across waves. It’s the magic and immersion Disney does best.

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The Shaman of Songs on Na’vi River Journey ride

The second ride is an easy river boat experience titled Na’vi River Journey. You board your boat, in very Pirates of the Caribbean fashion, and you are taken on a boat ride on the Na’vi’s river. You encounter bioluminescent plants, different creatures, and Na’vi heritage. Although the ride is very subdued compared to Flight of Passage, the technology is impressive in a different way. The Shaman of Songs is overwhelming. She is an incredibly beautiful audio animatronic. Watching the way her face twitches and moves as well as the fluidity of her arms and body is really jaw dropping. She makes the ride what it is. We found loads of new details every time we rode this ride.

Disney isn’t just innovating its rides. The dining options in Pandora are out of this world. When we think of theme park food, our minds often go to corn dogs, funnels, churros, and sodas, but Pandora is truly a different planet, so the food is very advanced.

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Night Blossom (left) and Mo’ara Margarita (right) held in front of the famous Pandora Floating Mountains

Pongu Pongu is a beverage stand in between Windtraders (a shop) and Satu’li Canteen (a restaurant). Pongu Pongu offers various beverages both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. I ordered the Night Blossom, a sweet and unique frozen beverage with flavors of apple and pear with passion fruit boba. The colors of this drink were stunning! My mom ordered the Mo’ara Margarita, a strawberry and blood orange flavor drink with what my mom reported to be just a small amount of tequila. My non-alcoholic drink rang up at $4.99 while my mother’s margarita was $9.25.

Next stop was the Satu’li Canteen. This quick service dining was located inside a former Resources Development Administration (this was the company that worked to drain the resources in Pandora) mess hall. A cast member informed us that the Satu’li Canteen is designed as quick service dining with a sit-down restaurant feel. Chefs are often cooking your meat in the Satu’li show kitchen. Cast members walk around to help you clear your plate, and often offer to get you refills on beverages.

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Cheeseburger Steamed Pods (top) and the Chopped Wood-Grill Chicken Bowl (bottom)

My mom ordered the Chopped Wood-Grill Chicken Bowl. The cast member checking us out hooked us up and gave us all three different sauces to try on top of her bowl. Each was more unique than the last. I ordered the Cheeseburger Steamed Pods served with crunchy vegetable slaw topped with boba and veggie chips. Yes, the pods actually taste like cheeseburgers. I was amazed with how seasoned and fresh my beef was. There were bits of onions inside and everything. It was incomparable to other theme park food.

Before you hurry yourself out of Pandora, make sure you take a look at all the wonderful things it has have to offer. Try a hand at the drums (over between Na’vi River Journey and Colors of Mo’ara), get your face painted like a true Avatar at Colors of Mo’ara, pick out your own Banshee at Windtraders, gain two very special badges for your Wilderness Explorers book and take loads of Instagram pictures under the floating mountains. Also, this may not be super special, but the bathrooms are really pretty in Pandora.

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Our t-shirts from Windtraders

Pandora is officially opening tomorrow, May 27, for public viewing. But how did we get private access to the unopened park? Well, it’s quite a magical little story. We were entering Animal Kingdom for our half day of wild adventure when we noticed a gigantic line wrapping along the side of the park. My mom and I were wondering what everyone was waiting for. Our best guess was a new drink or limited edition merchandise. We went up to a group of twenty-something girls to ask them. She informed us they were in line for a private invitation to Pandora- The World of Avatar. My mom and I looked at each other and nodded. Yeah, I’d wait in that long line to go to Avatar too. Unfortunately, my mom and I are not important enough to have received an invitation to check out Avatar. As we turned to leave, one of the girls stopped us and asked how many we had. When we told her it was just us, and she insisted we jump in line with her. She had guest passes for eight and was only using three, so she invited us to join her as her guests to her Pandora Preview.

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A very happy Catherine taking a very unique picture in the very empty ride queue for Flight of Passage

It was one of those moments where everything falls into place. I am so grateful to those former cast members for inviting us into their special day. We had the most magical time in Pandora. We gallivanted across empty roads, ran up and down the mountains like crazy people and took pictures I will remember forever. I now have photos and memories that no one else will have because of those lovely girls! I am so honored we had the opportunity to experience this magical land before it opened. It was pixie dust and Disney Magic working at its finest.

I’m so glad I could share my experience with you. Be on the look out for my next couple blog posts about our trip to Disney, and I do hope you get to journey to Pandora to experience it for yourself. You may just have to, as the Avatar say, “Sivako” or “rise to the challenge”!

Blueberry Coffee Cake: Mug Recipe

I love baking, but living in a dorm makes it so difficult. You either have to haul all your supplies down to the community kitchen or maybe you don’t have access to a kitchen (I’m so sorry if that’s you). First semester I baked like crazy, but I was really sick of taking two totes of baking sheets and supplies down 11 floors. That spurred this wonderful recipe.

I was inspired by dozens of recipes online. I must of tried five to ten different types of mug cakes, cookies, pies, breakfasts and more, but this recipe is by far my favorite. It’s sweet, but not guilty sweet. It also includes tons of ingredients you have (or should have) around the dorm. So pull out two mugs. One for your cake and one for the cup of Keurig coffee you’ll drink with it.

Shopping List:IMG_1148.jpg

  • 1/2 cup of Bisquick
  • 1 Tsp of sugar (or substitute)
  • 6 Tbls of non-fat milk
  • 1 Tsp of coconut oil
  • Handful of Blueberries
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • Splash of Vanilla
  • Brown Sugar to taste
  1. Grease your mug and stir together Bisquick, sugar, milk, coconut oil, cinnamon, and vanilla.
  2. Fold in blueberries.
  3. Mix some brown sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle the mixture on top of the batter. This will make a light and crunchy streusel topping like on a bakery muffin. SO GOOD.
  4. Microwave for 2 minutes and 30 seconds. This part gets tricky. Stop every so often to make sure batter isn’t rising over. You may need more or less time in the microwave depending on your wattage. The brown sugar and cinnamon should be melty and crystalized and the batter should be cooked through.
  5. Make coffee and enjoy!

This cake is perfect for Sunday mornings. You can also cut the Bisquick, sugar, and milk doses in half if your mug is smaller or you’d like less cake. Hopefully all these ingredients are handy in your dorm. Coconut oil is such a good investment (especially when you run out of makeup remover). Maple syrup can be substituted for vanilla if you don’t have any handy. I hope you enjoy this recipe. I certainly have been.

*CHEERS*

Hello Seattle

I’ve never been one for the spontaneous. It’s not that I don’t like adventure, it just never works out for me. Except for last weekend when everything alined. $100 round-trip tickets via Southwest, a generous best friend going to college in the city, and an unplanned holiday weekend. Destination of choice: Seattle, Washington.img_0715

I flew into the city Friday evening around midnight. Little did I know that was the clearest the weather would be all weekend. I didn’t mind. Although the rain and fog may deter many tourists, I was thrilled to have an excuse to wear cute rain boots, cozy sweaters, and drink tons of coffee (which there’s certainly no shortage of in Seattle). I’m sure I annoyed the other delightful women in my uber pool as I bounced in my seat giddily as we drove over the hills and through the bright, big, beautiful city. The two older ladies I shared a ride with were staying at a gorgeous hotel in the heart of the city, so I got the opportunity to drive through and gaze at all the lights like a four year old.

The next morning we were up bright and early. I was staying with my best friend at the University of Washington, so we got up early to run some errands down University Way. We ate a big breakfast at the campus dining hall before embarking on our adventure. After a couple minutes on the quick and surprisingly clean subway, we landed at the pinnacle of all things touristy in Washington: Pike Place.

I adored everything about Pike Place. The cheerful people playing music on the streets, warm food, endless rows of the most beautiful flower arrangements I’ve ever seen, and authentic Seattle artistry in many different forms. We made sure to hit every tourist spot you can imagine at Pike Place. We stepped foot inside the first Starbucks store, stuck our gum to the Gum Wall in Post Alley, and ate crab cakes at Lowell’s Restaurant and Bar with “three floors of water view seating” to gaze out at the harbor.

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Sunday morning was a slower start. We started off with another big breakfast then headed into the city to visit the Seattle Center(near the Space Needle) for the Day of the Dead festival. Although we attended this event as a requirement for my honors class back in Arizona, I’m so glad we had that experience. I loved seeing even more of the artwork and culture that emerged from the woodwork of the city. The latino community was very vibrant, and the event reflected that.

From there we hopped on the monorail and made our way back to Pike Place and the piers. We walked along to the Seattle Great Wheel where we took some Instagram-worthy pictures and saw panoramic views of the city. If you decide to go, don’t be afraid to go up on the wheel while it’s raining. It’s still a beautiful view, and I felt very safe. If the line isn’t too long, they may let you go around more than three times!

After our ride we walked down to Ivar’s. By then I was getting fairly chilly, so I warmed up with a hot cup of white clam chowder. What I didn’t know was Ivar’s claim to fame wasn’t just their delicious chowder. We sat on the deck on the pier and within five minutes we were swarmed by birds! While most places discourage guests from feeding seagulls, Ivar’s encourages their guests to share their food with their feathered friends. The seagulls are treated really well at Ivar’s, so we got in on the fun and threw french fries at them to catch in mid-air. It was a terrifyingly hilarious experience.

Our last trip for the weekend was a little closer to campus. We ubered to North 45th Street to visit Meowtropolitan. This quirky coffee shop is known for being Seattle’s First Cat Cafe. For $10 an hour, you can get cozy with some coffee and cats. We went around 7 p.m. on Sunday evening, and it was another unique signature Seattle experience. I can’t come close to expressing to you how much coffee I drank on this trip, but Meowtropolitan was a very different experience from my hourly Starbucks.

Around 4 a.m. Monday morning I said my goodbyes to University of Washington and took the most cheerful uber back to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. I fueled up with my last Starbucks of the trip and groggily made my way to the gate. My heart was tight as we took off. It only took me 48 hours to fall head over heels with the city, yet I was hopelessly in love. There’s still so much I want to experience there, so I know I’ll be back.

My best friend and her friends went above and beyond to make it the best trip ever. They showed me the best sweets, bought me the most exquisite bouquet of flowers I’ve ever held, and blew Texas hospitality out of the water offering to show me as much as they possibly could in one weekend. No matter where you’re traveling and what you’re doing, amazing people can really change your adventure. I’m so glad I had some of my own to bring me along on mine.

Autumn at the Arboretum

Happy Fall Y’all!

Like most everyone, I love fall plaids, flannels, and all things Pumpkin Spice. My roomie just got a wax warmer that smells like a clean sweater! There are lots of great things about fall, but my favorite festivity has to be the pumpkins! Instead of a typical pumpkin patch this year, we kicked it up a notch and through some magic on our pumpkin picking, so Hunter and I visited The Dallas Arboretum on a day trip during my Fall Break visit.

The Dallas Arboretum’s annual Autumn at the Arboretum is a pumpkin spectacular! Noimg_0420 I mean it. The Autumn at the Arboretum features a Cinderella village made out of over 90,000 pumpkins. These pumpkins make up patches, houses, small mazes and even sit
atop the beautiful Cinderella carriage. The exhibit runs until November 23, so there’s still time to see the gorgeous display and take your own Cinderella themed pic.

General Arboretum admission is $15 per each adult and includes admission to the Autumn at the Arboretum display. Keep in mind that parking is an additional $15. You may also save a couple bucks and buy parking online for $8 instead. Make sure you have a copy of your receipt to prove parking payment to the front desk. If you’re looking to save a little more, take advantage of BOGO Wednesdays.

As I’m sure you know, Hunter and I are picture takers. We document all our adventures and love capturing moments together. If you want those amazing, magical pictures (especially in the pumpkin patch), you should arrive early. I can not stress that enough. We arrive 45 minutes after the arboretum opened on a Sunday, and it was img_2332crazy. We went back to the pumpkin patch a little later and were amazed by the amount of people in the space. It’s really a beautiful exhibit, but if you care at all about pictures, go early.
Another good tip is to look at the map. The arboretum is a maze in itself. Our favorite part was the scavenger hunt of sculptures of famous influencers in history. There’s plenty of reflection pools, charming details, and estates to admire on the property. Make sure to take advantage of all the beauty. One of our favorite places on the grounds was a little tunnel near the Water Walls and Monet’s sculpture. It felt like Ariel’s Grotto. You could walk through and see a little waterfall as well as little gems and shells encrusted inside the “grotto”. Another highlight was the Rose Mary Haggar Rose Garden. It was such a magical little grove to take pictures. Although hard to find and often crawling with quinceanera portrait takers.


My last piece of advice would be to bring snacks. We got so hungry by lunch time, and I only brought a couple of packages of my favorite Graze snacks. There are a couple of restaurants on the grounds, but we opted for the Children’s Adventure Garden Cafe by Two Sisters catering. It was perfect for picky eaters who forgot to pack a lunch (turkey and cheese sandwiches, bottled drinks, and more).

Overall, it was another wonderful day trip in Dallas. The city is full of amazing things to do, photo ops, and places to make amazing memories. I feel so lucky to have people in my life who indulge me in all of these fun adventures. I’m glad that my photographer also happens to be Prince Charming. I hope you all make your own magical memories turning pumpkins into carriages as The Dallas Arboretum this season.

And from my loved ones to yours…

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Happy Fall!


XOXO