Cinderella’s Royal Table

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It’s so stereotypical, I know, but the idea of living in a castle and wearing a big beautiful dress is simply enchanting! Cinderella has become my favorite princess. Her classic aesthetic and message of hard work and perseverance is timeless. When my mom and I decided to take a girls trip to Walt Disney World, she asked me what was the one restaurant we had to go to. I had no doubt in my mind Cinderella’s Royal Table was a must do.

If you’ve never heard of Cinderella’s Royal Table, I’m sure you’ll be adding this magical restaurant to your Disney must-do list after reading this post. The restaurant is located inside Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World in Orlando. Yes, you read that right. The castle itself is magnificent, but the opportunity to dine inside the castle is unparalleled.

You enter Cinderella’s Royal Table through the backside of the castle to the left. You will be greeted by a cast member at the entrance. They will confirm your reservation and call your party into the castle. You will then be ushered inside The Grand Hall. The room is adorned with suits of armour and crests on the walls. Like any good hostess, Cinderella is waiting in a corner of The Grand Hall to greet guests and take photos. She is positioned next to a beautiful fireplace. If you look up to the left corner of the fireplace, you might see some familiar faces!

After meeting the princess, you will need to wait for your party to be announced by a cast member.

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetOnce your party is called, you will ascend up the staircase, adorned with stained glass, to the dining room. There is also an elevator for guests who prefer or are unable to use the stairs. The dining room is equally as beautiful with towering ceilings and intricate architecture. My favorite spot is the wall of stained glass windows looking out over Fantasyland. You will feel like you’re towering above your own beautiful kingdom.

We had a 10:30 p.m. reservation, so we were able to watch the fireworks before our dinner. It was pouring rain, so when we arrived for our meal, we were soaked! Having a hot meal and a cup of warm tea in a beautiful castle helped to warm us up. Your meal comes with an appetizer, entree and dessert. I ordered the Charcuterie Plate, Chef’s Fish of the Day and The Clock Strikes Twelve dessert.

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetThe food is good, but the entertainment and experience overshadows the meal. Throughout you dinner there will be magical moments inspired by Cinderella as well as a personal meet and greet with her royal friends. At our dinner, we were visited by Snow White, Princess Aurora, Jasmine and Ariel. I believe this is the usual line up of princess guests, but they are subject to change.

Are you thinking about visiting Cinderella’s Royal Table for a magical, fine dining experience at Walt Disney World? Here are some things you should make sure you keep in mind to maximize your time.

  • Make a reservation in advance. Making a reservation is imperative. We waited until the last minute (a month out of our trip) to make a Monday dinner reservation. The only time available was 10:30 p.m. We were so lucky to snag it! If you have your heart set on a time, check for reservations at least 120 days out.

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  • Strategically schedule your meal. Want to see the fireworks? Make sure you know what time they are scheduled for and give yourself a buffer in case they are delayed. The night we went to dinner, it rained and fireworks were delayed. People who had a reservation right after the firework show decided to watch the show and arrive late to their reservation. This meant we weren’t seated until much later than our reservation to accommodate the late arrivals before us.
  • Dress to your comfort. There are lots of children in beautiful princess gowns, but adults still tend to dress on the nicer side as this is a fine/signature dining. There is no official dress code. This is a theme park, but especially for dinner, I didn’t see many people in track shorts or tube tops.
  • All ages welcome. This is certainly not just for children. The experience is not cheap or cheesy. We met a lovely retired couple in line during check-in. They had just come to the park to enjoy dinner at the castle together. If you want a more adult crowd, I suggest you go to a later reservation.
  • You don’t need to be home by midnight.
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    Mom and I stopped as we left Magic Kingdom for the evening. A PhotoPass Photographer caught this shot.

    I highly recommend scheduling a late reservation. We finished dining after park close, so as we were walking out, we got to experience Disney World after hours. I’m NOT saying go break into the Main Street Confectionery or beg a cast member to let you ride Mine Train, but strolling out of the park once it has all cleared out is really magical. There’s no one in the streets, and if you’re lucky, you may meet a kind PhotoPass Photographer. We stopped to watch The Kiss Goodnight, and a PhotoPass Photographer snuck up behind us to snag some pictures of us! The quiet of Main Street after hours is MAGICAL. You will also get to walk back through The Grand Hall while it is empty. This is a great opportunity for more photos (see album below)!

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetThank you so much for reading about our visit to Cinderella’s Royal Table. I’d love to know what you think! Do you want to visit Cinderella’s Royal Table? What’s your favorite part of the experience? Who’s your favorite princess? Leave any other questions you have for me down below!

Please keep in mind, according to the Disney Parks website, Cinderella’s Royal Table will be closed for refurbishments February 28 through March 2, 2018. You can make a reservation online here.

Stay tuned for more Disney blog posts to come. We have a Disneyland and Disney Cruise Line trip coming soon that I’m very excited to write about!

P.S. I apologize for the poor picture quality. Cinderella Castle is dimly lit, and I didn’t bring my DSLR due to the rain!

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Halloween & Pumpkin Date Night

Hey there, pumpkin!

Happy Halloween. Honestly, I’m not a big fan of this holiday. I’m all for dressing up and free candy, but I’m such a scaredy cat! I do love that Halloween means we’re getting a bit closer to the holiday season. Bring on the sleigh bells! I hope Santa thinks I’ve been good this year. I can’t believe it’s nearly November already!

There are so many exciting things to look forward to until we kick off 2018. Hunter turns 20 on Saturday, and I’ve been so excited to celebrate the big 2-0 with him! I’m also super excited about his presents, but more on that another day. If you follow me on Instagram you are already in the know 😉

My froomie (friend + roommate) Liesl and I visited a pumpkin patch last week with our boyfriends. First off, I LOVE DOUBLE DATES. There is nothing more fun than being with all the people you love doing new things and taking cute pictures. It was such a nice night. In college, it can be hard to find time to spend with your friends or loved ones, but I’m so glad we took the time to be together with the people we love. We had “visit a pumpkin patch” on our fall to-do list forever. It took us a while to get around to it, but I’m so glad we did.

The beautiful Liesl on the left at Mother Nature’s Farm in Gilbert, Arizona.

Our pumpkin patch of choice was Mother Nature’s Farm in Gilbert, Arizona. We went back and forth one which one to choose, but Mother Nature’s ended up being our cheapest and closest option at $5 for adults. We took tons of pictures, played with piggies, went on a hayride and roamed the farm. Is it weird the smell of horses is actually kind of nice? It’s so nice to be in a homey environment. The city can be so harsh sometimes. Getting into a community with families can be such a breath of fresh air. It was a romantic date too!

IMG_3608.JPGI was THRILLED to have the chance to wear my new dress from Bella Ella Boutique. It’s the perfect fall plaid with soft brown trim on the pockets and neckline. The pockets are so convenient and the dress is super soft. My only qualm is I don’t think the shapeless style suits me super well, BUT to be fair, I bought the dress a size larger because it was all they had in stock. The total? $12.99! What a steal! Bella Ella Boutique offers free shipping, but you can pay for expedited shipping for just $1.49. I bought a couple more products from their boutique, so expect to see those in upcoming blog posts. I love it when shopping small and local pays off! Be wary… I’ve had some bad small shop experiences before. Let’s just say, make sure the company is a legit business like Bella Ella Boutique.

After our pumpkin picking, we were getting chilly and a bit hungry. We all went out to Joe’s Real BBQ in Downtown Gilbert. It was a perfect way to cap off the evening.

Their barbecue is Texas good, and the people there are so sweet. I had a pulled pork sandwich and potato salad. We also tried the mac ‘n cheese. I heard they make it with crumbled Cheez-Its! We finished it off by splitting an ooey gooey cookie. It was the perfect way to end a fall night. Hunter was in BBQ  heaven. It was like a little slice of our southern home.

This weekend, the pumpkin madness continued! It was Arizona State University Homecoming weekend! ASU’s Homecoming is the longest running homecoming parade in the United States. There were booths, floats and plenty of families participating in the activities. If you’re an Arizonian, and you didn’t come out to ASU Homecoming this year, I highly recommend you pencil it in for next year. The block party is a huge event that is perfect for kids and totally free! School set up booths and give away fun swag. Even Cinderella’s Carriage made an appearance at the ASU Gammage tent.

What did you do to celebrate fall? Are you waiting until the barely appropriate time to put up Christmas decorations like I am? Any more double date ideas you think we should try? Send them my way!

May your Halloween be happy, safe and scare-free…

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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!

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.

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  • 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*