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It’s All in the Bag

I have a confession to make.  I’m a bit of a bag lady.  No, not that kind.  I mean literally, bags. As in those fabric-covered treasure chests in which to stuff all of the various junk deeply important items that I think know I will need at any given time.  Not one for shoe shopping (that alone keeps the spouse happy), I can’t resist scooping up the latest pretty print in the form of a beach bag, travel tote, shoulder bag or cute cosmetic case.

Of course, I have my go-to bag for quick trips to the pool or water park, and ones for longer beach trips, but there is always room in the bag basket for at least one or two (or three or four) more.  This is my current go-to beach bag, just throw a few things in and you’re ready to go.  Of course, I also have one with multiple pockets and a gigantic interior for towels, goggles, cover-ups and such but this one is tried and true.

This is my current all-around go everywhere type of bag.  You can't go wrong with Margaritaville.

You can’t go wrong with Margaritaville.

Given that I also have a big, and I’m talking BIG, theme park obsession, this latest round of bags I’ve discovered is now at the top of my “must acquire” list.

The Dooney & Bourke company was one of the first to get in on the Walt Disney bandwagon  with their well-known name, high-quality materials and pricey price tag.  Dooney certainly does Disney well.  Take a look.

Dooney does Disney well.

Dooney & Bourke wristlet
Photo: ©Dooney & Bourke

DooneyToteMickeyDisney

Dooney & Bourke Mickey tote
Photo: ©Dooney & Bourke

I especially love this design and bag style.

DooneySatchelCreamDisney

Dooney & Bourke Disney satchel
©Dooney & Bourke

This cute letter carrier bag is tied as a favorite, as well.

DooneyLetterCarrierBagChipDaleDisney

Dooney & Bourke Disney letter carrier bag
©Dooney & Bourke

Being the paranoic that I am, I don’t know if I would trust myself to spend a day at the theme park carrying around one of those super cool, but super pricey, Dooney bags.  Water rides, slippery snacks and the chance of rain would all but have me worrying more about protecting the bag than having fun in the World (or Land as the case may be).  I would probably reserve it for a special occasion.  That being said, there is another great looking bag in town that I am currently drooling over.

Lesportsac has a very happy version of Disney in their “Small World” collection.  Based upon the classic ride and the artwork of Mary Blair, the patterns are taken from the various countries, or rooms, of the ride and feature colorful scenes and ride icons.  It’s a Small World is my favorite ride/attraction at Walt Disney World (Yes, really, it’s my ring tone.  Don’t judge), so I am particularly fond of these bags, which are a bit lower priced than the Dooney ones.

Photo: ©Lesportsac

Lesportsac Well Wishes bag
Photo: ©Lesportsac

Well Wishes is based upon the Holland room.  Happy young ladies peer out from pretty pink and pastel toned fabrics.

LeSportsacWellWishesCharmTote

Lesportsac Well Wishes tote
Photo: ©Lesportsac

I am actually torn between the girly pink pattern above and the one below.  I really like the iconic buildings and architectural elements depicted on the tote below.  I can definitely see myself using this as a beach bag or carry-on for books, sunscreen, snacks and what-not.

Lesportsac See the World totePhoto: ©Lesportsac

Lesportsac See the World tote
Photo: ©Lesportsac

The Fancy That pattern is from the England room of Small World.  The pattern features famous English icons and scenes.

LesportsacFancyThatBigDisney

Lesportsac Fancy That bag
Photo: ©Disney/Lesportsac

I love this bright, colorful Moroccan Sun pattern. It is, however, from the summer 2012 collection and is most likely not easy to find.  I just had to include it though.  You can also get an idea of what the backpack models look like.

LesportsacBackPackMorrocanSunDisney

Lesportsac Morroccan Sun backpack
Photo: ©Disney/Lesportsac

There is even a Lesportsac Small World diaper bag for the well-traveled baby and mom.

LesportsacBabyBagWondrousJourneyDisney

Lesportsac Wondrous Journey baby bag
Photo: ©Disney/Lesportsac

There is a great review of the Lesportsac Small World bags at Onezumiverse.com.  Check it out.

Next up is the big bag announcement of the week.  This was all the rage in my Facebook news feed the other day.  Yeah, I subscribe to a lot of Disney blogs, sites and pages.  It’s a weakness.  Now, without further ado….

It is none other than Vera Bradley, the queen of the widely popular and equally beautiful quilted bag.  Disney and Vera have joined forces, and these fabric designs will eventually be found in the form of the usual selection of Vera Bradley bags, totes, pouches and cosmetic cases.

Photo: ©Vera Bradley

Disney and Vera Bradley team up to bring a bit of the World to the quilted bag.
Photo: ©Vera Bradley

Here is a close-up of the pattern.  I wish they had done more of a “Hidden Mickey” type of design with the pattern, but that is just my opinion.  The colors are great and I can’t wait to see the completed product.

Pink design:Black design: Midnight with MickeyPhoto: ©Vera Bradley

Pink design: Just Mousing Around
Black design: Midnight with Mickey
Photo: ©Vera Bradley

Visit the Disney Park’s blog for more detailed information on the Vera Bradley Disney bag, which will debut this fall at Disney parks and will eventually be sold online.  I have not seen any information on price point but I’m thinking that they will be along the lines of the current Vera Bradley items.

That is my roundup of Disney-themed bags.  Please let me know if you know of any that I have missed, including non-Disney characters and patterns.  I’m always on the look-out for a useful and great looking bag.

Carry on.

SandySignature

This sounds better than any pancake I’ve ever had. Lemon and blueberries. How amazing is that?

Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast

STOP!

If you are hungry and haven’t had a good meal in a few hours…

You don’t want to read this blog!

You have been warned!

Tonight I made a new recipe. It’s not anything out of this world or dramatic in appearance.

They just came out so good that I had to share them! 

They are….

IMG_4983

Blueberry and Lemon Pancakes!

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups All Purpose Flour

1/4 Salt

1 tablespoon heaping Baking Powder

1/3 cups Sugar

1 1/2 cups Milk

1 Lemon (juice and zest)

1 large Egg

1 1/2 teaspoons Vanilla

2 tablespoons melted Butter

1 pint of Blueberries

Directions:

Heat your griddle or skillet to medium.

In a large bowl, mix your dry ingredients (not blueberries). In a separate bowl, mix your wet ingredients (not blueberries). After mixing, add your wet ingredients to you dry ingredients. Mix until smooth, but may have a few limps in…

View original post 219 more words

Hoofprints in the Sand

I’ve always been a horse girl.  Posters, figurines and Black Beauty books surrounded me as a child, preteen and beyond.  While I don’t decorate my walls and shelves with equine icons anymore, I do still have an affinity for a soft mane and a friendly whinny.

Hi there.

Hi there.

When I can combine my love of horses with the sand and surf of the beach, that is just an added bonus.  We’ve ridden horses on the beach, or close to the beach, in Bermuda.  That was an awesome experience and, until recently, I’ve never seen beach horseback riding offered in less tropical locales.  Now, though, you don’t have to go all exotic to ride horses on the beach. From October through Memorial Day, Virginia Beach Horseback offers the uber-cool equine adventure of horseback riding along the sandy strand of Virginia Beach.

Giddy up.

Giddy up.

HorsesVABeach

Hoofprints in the sand.

This is a great activity even for a beginner.  No experience is necessary and the operators give helpful tips on riding.  My eight-year-old has never ridden a horse by herself and she looked like a pro.  These horses are super gentle and practically walk themselves.  They even know at which point to turn around and head back to the corral.  Horses gotta eat too, ya know.  They know what’s important.

A horse girl in the making.

A horse girl in the making.

Once a horse girl, always a horse girl.

Once a horse girl, always a horse girl.

Hello.  Nice to meet you.

Hello. Nice to meet you.

The corral is usually set up somewhere around 31st street.  Just look for the King Neptune statue.  You can’t miss it.  If you do, you probably shouldn’t be riding a horse.

King Neptune

King Neptune

It’s a good idea to call ahead to check on their exact whereabouts.  If there is a festival or special event going on, they may be set up at another location.  For example, I was there last year during spring break and the horses were around 27th street, but last week there was a lot of dredging and such going on in that area and the horses were at 31st street.

Reservations are not necessary, but are suggested.  When we were there during spring break, we just managed to get a spot before they filled up.  We’re not real up on the thinking ahead.

HorsesCorral

Virginia Beach Horseback.

Virginia Beach Horseback has been in operation since 2006.  They offer half-hour and hour rides.  Special occasion rides, proposals and wedding packages are also available.  During the summer beach season, when it’s way too crowded for beach back riding, they offer trail rides.

According to the website, Virginia Beach Horseback will soon be offering an experience where you can ride while the horses swim through the water.  Now, how cool is that?

I’ve compiled a list of a couple of other locations that offer horseback riding on the beach.  I’m hoping to get the chance to try out some more of them.  Let me know if you’ve been to any of these, or if you know of any that I’ve missed.  I would love to add on to the list.  Have fun and hang on!

Horseback riding on the beach venues:

Where's my carrot?

Where’s my carrot?

Another bonus of off-season beach excursions is the abundance of seaglass.  My up and coming horse girl is an expert seaglass searcher.

SeaGlass

Seaglass

SandySignature

The Night I Became a Zombie – Kings Dominion’s Halloween HAUNT

I became a zombie for the night last weekend.  No, it wasn’t the zombie apocalypse.  I’ll be sure to give you plenty of notice when that time comes.  This was a Zombie Invasion dance party to open Halloween HAUNT at Kings Dominion.

Zombies in all shapes and sizes ripped up their clothes, painted their faces and rolled around in dirt and detritus to get that perfect “zombie ambience.”  Or maybe that was just us rolling around in the dirt and detritus.  You be the judge.  Here we are:

Us in all of our zombie glory. Yeah, we go a bit overboard.

Here’s a shot of me and my zombie child beneath the glowing eyes of the Eiffel Tower.

Striking a pose beneath the eyes of the Eiffel Tower.

The zombies did a little dance number and enjoyed some gruesome goodies (which were quite tasty).

Zombies do love their cake.

We then lumbered and stumbled off (zombies do that) to enjoy all of the haunted houses, scare zones and shows the park has to offer this year.

This was my first official visit to HAUNT.  We had been there several years ago, during the day, when the youngster was, well, younger. The haunted happenings were just beginning to get underway so we decided to try out a haunted pirate maze.

Okay now, let me remind you that the child was maybe four-years-old at the time.  She is not a scaredy-pants by any means and decided that she would like to try this maze.  While she seemed to enjoy herself – she was given the go-ahead to scream as loud as she wanted (a rare treat for any child, let me tell you) – that was the last time for that experience.

Yeah, we didn’t make Parents of the Year that year.  This time was different.  Maybe it was the zombie attire.  I don’t know, but she (and I) had a blast.

My zombie children. I’m so proud.

Now, I enjoy a good scare (while holding on for dear life to the nearest non-creature I can find), but I need a storyline to go along with it.  Blame it on the writer in me.  Kings Dominion definitely has the scares and the storylines.

Cornstalkers was a favorite.  As you wind and weave your way through a decaying cornfield (who doesn’t love a good cornfield?), the creatures of the corn come out to visit.  As the twisty, turny rows of corn confuse and distract your path, all kinds of mangled and dangled objects deter your journey.  This is one maze where you want to make it to the end.  And watch out when you get there.

Come this way to the creatures of the corn.

The glowing entrance to Cornstalkers.

Medieval Macabre tells the tale of a plague-ravaged town.  The survivors are holed up in a decrepit castle just waiting to take revenge on those that have taken their loved ones.  This was my zombie child’s favorite.

A daylight scene of the Medieval Macabre that overtakes the bumper car venue every year.

Some more daylight scenes…

Welcome!

Nimble skeletons climb the walls of International Street.

New to HAUNT this year is a haunted hotel called No Vacancy.  I would have to say that this was my favorite. Remember, I like a good storyline.  This maze takes travelers through an abandoned hotel where the housekeepers and staff have managed to stick around, long after everyone else has passed on (so to speak). Creep through the library chamber and inch past the kitchen, but don’t accept any “snacks” from the staff. Left-behind luggage, bags and bodies fill up the rooms and hallways of this hotel where the no-vacancy sign has a whole new meaning.

While the wait is expected, the Blue Ridge Bloodbath is always one to check out.  The Antique Cars provide the transportation through a “scenic” drive in the mountains.  This drive isn’t your grandma’s Sunday sojourn. Hop aboard and prepare for the ride of your life … if you’re lucky.

Blue Ridge Bloodbath.

What awaits in the covered bridge?

Outbreak: The Evolution is located at the Flight of Fear ride.  We were a bit worried that we were in line for the ride instead of the maze – it’s an indoor, dark coaster (with four inversions) somewhat like Space Mountain at the Magic Kingdom.  Or so I’ve been told.  I’ve never been on it myself.  I don’t do coasters.  Go figure.  Anyway, it was the maze (we checked) and it is all about the aliens and other test tube creatures of a medical facility.  Walk along the hallways and try not to become part of the experiment.

A few missed mazes include Club Blood (you guessed it, vampires), Camp Killauee and The Doll Factory (ya gotta have a doll house).  Since we have season passes (and the youngster loved the scare fest), we will be back for more Haunts.  See you there.

Of course, there are lots of daytime activities for those not into the haunting.  Roller coasters, thrill rides, family fun rides and Howl-O-Fest all make it a great day at Kings Dominion.  Check this one out…

The Crypt always makes for good entertainment.

To read more about HAUNT, go ahead and click here.  I dare you.

Blogging About Blenders

Move over Hamilton Beach and Cuisinart, there’s a new blender in town.  It’s big and it’s colorful and it goes by the name of Margaritaville.

The Margaritaville Frozen Concoction Maker.

Now, I’m not one to wax poetic about kitchen appliances.  Or cooking in general, for that matter.  You will rarely see me writing about recipes or anything that requires me having to prepare my own food.  Aside from the occasional baking of a key lime pie or the pushing of a button on the microwave, I try to stay out of my kitchen.  We’re all safer that way.  I do have a thing for celebrity-chef inscribed products, and admit to owning a couple of them, but they generally stay nice and neat (and safe) in their respective spots.

Bringing a bit of the tropics to my kitchen counter.

The Margaritaville Frozen Concoction Maker (Bahamas model) is the one exception.  I LOVE this thing.  This blender practically thinks for itself.  It’s smarter than I am.  I like that in a kitchen appliance.  Just fill it with ice, pour in your favorite liquid concoctions and flip the switch.  That’s it.  The machine does everything else.  You don’t have to stop it and stir and scrape globs of stuff off the sides of the pitcher.  It shaves ice perfectly and I have yet to receive an icky drink.

Tropical concoctions just waiting to be consumed.

I had been wanting to purchase this brilliant blender for quite some time.  At around $200, it was a bit out of my price range.  Imagine my surprise when I found it on a clearance shelf marked down to $139.  Still a little high, but it was my birthday (well, close enough to my birthday…) and I decided to just go for it.  At the counter, it rang up at $64.  After my mouth dropped to the floor, I happily paid and left.  Talk about a birthday bonus!

My deal of the day.

This beautiful lime-green, cream, and silver-accented tropical contraption sits on my kitchen counter just waiting to shave ice and blend magical mixtures into delicious frozen concoctions.  Sure, I love my Paula Deen steamer pot (“smell those shrimp, they’re beginnin’ to boil…”), but my Buffett blender is the prize of my kitchen (“… and soon it will render…”).  Thank you Mr. Buffett.  Fin’s up.

“…and soon it will render…”

Howl-O-Scream and #FrightNight 2012 – The Dark Side of the Gardens

A couple of weeks ago, I received an invitation to a social media event, #FrightNight, scheduled for the opening weekend of Busch Gardens’ annual Howl-O-Scream event … read more… The above link will take you to the rest of my … Continue reading

Standing up to Paddleboarding

Sound-side at Kitty Hawk Watersports.

A while back, I was pondering the art of stand-up paddleboarding, or SUP to those in the know.  Watching those who glide seemingly effortlessly through the water while standing atop a sturdy, floating board just made me want to give it a try.  Since I am a bit of a wimp when it comes to adventurous stuff, I decided to test my stamina with something that seemed fairly safe and peaceful.  Goodness knows, the word “peaceful” doesn’t often come up in the world of outdoor sports.

The Sound behind Kitty Hawk Watersports and Miller’s Restaurant.

Kitty Hawk Watersports, in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, sits on the Sound side next to Miller’s Restaurant (which is a-may-zing, just so you know) and offers a great spot to practice and try something new.  Plus, they have these awesome water bumper boats that the husband and child took advantage of while I was enjoying my SUP experience.

The art scene at Kitty Hawk Watersports.

I decided that I did not need an actual lesson.  For once, that turned out to be a good call because the employee that helped me did a really good job of explaining the basics.  Now, for more advanced techniques, I would recommend a lesson or two.  But to just start out, it’s kind of nice to just “wing it.”

Practicing kiteboarding skills.

I discovered that paddleboarding is both easier and harder than I imagined.  Balance was my worry (I can trip over air).  Turns out there was nothing to worry about in that department.  Those boards are really wide and very sturdy.  If you can stand up, you can stand up on a paddleboard.

Now, the hard part was to be found in the rowing.  Yes, rowing.  As in with a paddle (hence the name, paddleboarding).  Let’s just say I am more spaghetti arms than rower’s arms.  I did not do too bad, if I do say so myself.  Which I do, as there is nobody to dispute my claims.  But boy were my arms tired.

If you’re wondering why there are no photos of myself actually on a paddleboard, remember that my traveling companions were soaking themselves on the water bumper boats.  They have their priorities.

Jet ski rentals at Kitty Hawk Watersports.

Bicycles, Bonfires and a Trip Around the Sun

…I’m just hanging on while this old world keeps spinning / And it’s good to know it’s out of my control / If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from all this living / Is that it wouldn’t change a thing if I let go…

This is one of my favorite lines from one of my favorite songs, which just so happens to be sung by two of my favorite people.  If you’ve been reading this blog for very long, you’ll already know that one of those people is the baron of the beach himself, Jimmy Buffett.  The other one owns one of the sweetest and most powerful (have you heard “Whatever You Say?”) voices in country music, Martina McBride.

Here’s the video.  I love the bicycles and bonfire on the beach.

“Trip Around the Sun”

I’m celebrating my own trip around the sun today.  That would be a birthday in case you weren’t paying attention in science class.  I know I wasn’t so it’s nice to have Buffett and McBride remind me.  And maybe it wasn’t science class…astronomy?  See, what did I tell you?

I also won’t be mentioning exactly how many trips it has been.  Some things can be left to the imagination.

Reflection, revelation and the making of resolutions seem to be the “grown-up,” things to do on a  birthday but, like the song says, I prefer to “just enjoy this ride.”

If I must have a goal of some sort for the coming year, I’ll just say that I resolve to do more bicycle riding, attend more bonfires and go on a diet eat less s’mores.  It’s all about the little things.