The Top FOUR–Disney Songs

Since we’ve had our new minivan, we’ve had a trial of SiriusXM Radio, which I’ve really been enjoying. We’ve had it from time to time before, and I also like flipping through the stations. One that we found that I’ve really enjoyed listening to is “Disney Hits,” which has music not just from the expected places (the classic animated movies and Disney Channel shows), but also from the parks, and newer Disney acquisitions such as Star Wars. I especially enjoy the “Be Our Guest 4 The Day” segment, where listeners get to pick their top four Disney songs to be played. I decided to come up with my own list, but of course I had to add a fifth song…but for once, I actually have five items on my list!

  • “Part of Your World”–This song from The Little Mermaid is my favorite from the Alan Menken era, and the one I most associate with the Disney of my childhood. I can’t tell you how many times I sang it in the shower (bathrooms have excellent acoustics, even for those of us who can’t sing a note!), and I still really relate to Ariel wanting to explore the unknown when she sings this one.
  • “Little Wonders”–I still haven’t seen the movie (Meet the Robinsons) that this song is from, but as it came out in the winter of 2007, I remember singing it to Ladybug when we were up in the middle of the night when she was a newborn. Danny Elfman’s music is almost as much a part of my Disney memories as Menken’s, so it’s only fitting that one of his songs has a place on the list.
  • “Hakuna Matata”–My children informed me that my list wouldn’t be complete without this song from The Lion King because I love singing it so much…when I see a warthog at the zoo, I’m always tempted to start belting it out!
  • “It’s a Small World”–I know this a controversial choice because the song has a reputation for being annoying, but I love it because it brings back such happy memories of riding the eponymous ride at both Disney World and Disneyland. It may be repetitive, but the sentiment is spot on, and you can’t have a top five Disney songs list without including the Sherman Brothers, can you?
  • “When You Wish Upon a Star”–For my bonus song, I picked what is arguably the most iconic of all Disney pieces, famous not just from Pinocchio, but also from the intro to classic Disney TV shows and films…it even won the Academy Award for best song in 1940!

What are your favorite Disney songs?

Caravan Memories

On Thursday, we said goodbye to our faithful Dodge Caravan. It was a good car, and we made a lot of memories in it, but it was nearing 100,000 miles, and we really wanted to make the transition to a hybrid, so we traded it in for a Chrysler Pacifica. Now it’s time to take a look back at the fun times we had in our old minivan, Stormy:

  • Family Vacation to Florida–We went on our second big family vacation in the Caravan. Unlike the first big trip we took in our Volkswagen, we didn’t have car trouble along the way, and it was a much more relaxing trip! Not only did we get to stay at Cabana Bay for the first (but not only) time, we also spent a day at both Legoland and Universal Studios, saw the ocean for the second time (and tracked a beach’s worth of sand into the car!), and visited Castillo de San Marcos.
  • A Weekend Getaway to Michigan–The summer before the pandemic began, we got to go on a road trip to Michigan, and I’m so grateful we had that opportunity before our extended period of staying at home. Not only did we get to meet Ryan’s parents in Southgate to celebrate the retirement of their former pastor, we also drove to Frankenmuth, a place I had long wanted to visit, and enjoyed a nice German dinner and a visit to the World’s Largest Christmas Store! Long trips are fun, but I also really enjoy exploring the midwest.
  • The Four Months that Weren’t–Some of the memories I have of the car are of the four months we went almost nowhere. I filled the gas tank at the beginning of March 2020, and didn’t fill it again until the end of June. We took staying home very seriously, so my once-every-two-weeks trip to go grocery shopping was A Big Deal, and I won’t lie…it felt a little weird driving after so much time of not!
  • Commuting to College–When Turkey and Bunny started at the community college, it was the first time in their educational experience that I had the privilege of driving them to and from school. I really enjoyed the opportunity to hear about their days on the way home, and Chickadee, my constant companion, would often read whatever her current book was out loud to me when we were going to and fro.
  • Epic Family Vacation–Last summer was our epic, never-to-be-repeated trip to Washington D.C., Myrtle Beach, and Disney World. It was a bit different from our first big family vacation in the Caravan (although we did get to stay at Cabana Bay again!), because we did have car trouble along the way…specifically, the brakes, which started giving us trouble in the mountains, again (just like when we went to Charleston). More specifically, the rotors, again. Even more specifically, we had the brakes replaced in South Carolina, again…our track record in South Carolina is not great! But, that was the only glitch on the trip, and we had so much fun driving through the mountains, to the beach, to all of the Disney parks and to Kennedy Space Center.

Now it’s time to make memories in our new van, and we already have a summer road trip planned!

The Top Five–Things I’m Looking Forward to in 2023

After last year’s “Top Five” list of things I was looking forward to, this one seems pretty tame…there is no big trip to Disney World on the horizon, after all! But there are still things I’m anticipating in this new year…let’s take a look!

  • That 90s Show–I know it’s silly, and I really hope they don’t screw it up, but I’m really looking forward to Red and Kitty being on my TV screen again…hopefully I’ll like the rest of the characters, too!
  • Elizabeth: An Intimate Portrait–I can’t wait for this biography of Queen Elizabeth II to be released in the US! Yes, I could have just imported it, but I figured I could wait a few more months. I’m pretty choosy about what biographies of the Royal Family I read (I don’t want anything too tabloid-y), and this one is from an author I feel comfortable supporting. Hopefully I’ll learn something new!
  • Coronation of King Charles III–This is a bittersweet one for me, because part of me still can’t believe Her Majesty is gone, but I am looking forward to seeing what the pomp and ceremony of a coronation looks like in the modern day!
  • Graduation–Turkey and Bunny are both graduating from community college with Associate’s Degrees this spring. This is another bittersweet thing for me, but I’m so proud of them and how hard they’ve worked, and I can’t wait to see them accept their degrees!
  • Trip to Toledo–The boys and I have talked about taking a trip to Toledo to see the Mudhens play and eat at Tony Packo’s (it’s a M*A*S*H thing), for several years now, and hopefully this summer we’ll make it happen! If we’re really lucky, we’ll also stop in Cincinnati and see Fritz the Hippo before he gets too much bigger!

So, there’s a look at some of the things I’m most excited about in the new year. What are you looking forward to?

The Top Five–Photos of 2022

Since all of my other 2022 in Review “Top Five” photo lists have six photos, this one had to also, right? Right?!? I’ve already looked at food, drinks, desserts, and our trip…these are my favorite photos from the past year that aren’t food or vacation related.

I’ve taken hundreds (thousands?) of photos at the Missouri Botanical Garden over the years, but there was something special about this one featuring Henry Shaw’s final resting place in front of his country house:

This photo taken in downtown St. Louis in May reminded me how much I love an urban environment:

Speaking of urban environments, this spring was the first time I’ve visited the Chicago Water Tower in many, many years, and I discovered just how photogenic it is!

That’s a quality shared by the entire city of Chicago…I loved having a bird’s eye view of the city from the Centennial Wheel!

A little closer to home, I really like the beautiful gingko tree outside of our town library, especially in the fall:

Our town is also especially pretty at Christmas:

That wraps up what ended up being my top 30 photos of the year. In light of all of the fun things we did in 2022, I think I should get at least some credit for keeping the number that low!

The Top Five–Vacation Photos of 2022

I took so many photos on our vacation this summer, and so many of them turned out better than I hoped, so it was almost impossible to choose a selection for this “Top Five” list. Yes, there are six photos, and no, I’m not sorry…the fact that there is only one bonus photo is a miracle, and I refuse to apologize for it!

We’ll start at the beginning of our trip with this photo of the Washington Monument as seen from the German-American Friendship Garden. It’s probably not my best photo of the landmark, but I love the lighting, I love the fountains, and of course I love the monument standing tall in the background:

This photo captures that boardwalk feeling in Myrtle Beach, SC perfectly!

Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge is such an immersive experience…you actually feel like you’re in one of the movies when you’re there! Also, this may be the best picture I took on our trip.

I took many, many (MANY) photos of the castle at the Magic Kingdom, but there’s something special about seeing it lit up at night:

I know it’s kind of silly, but this picture I took at Disney Springs just looks so good! It has a real Rodeo Drive vibe:

On our final day at the parks, Bunny and I did a speed run through EPCOT looking to add 50th anniversary pressed pennies to our collection. We did pause to admire the view here, though, and it was a perfect moment, with the puffy clouds against the bright blue sky reflecting in the water and the colorful flowers in the foreground. The only thing that could have made it better would have been a monorail going by on the bridge!

Tomorrow I’ll wrap up my “Top Five” photos lists from 2022 with a look at everything else!

The Top Five–Drink Photos of 2022

Between our Disney Dinners and other special events this year, I’ve made a lot of speciality drinks, and some of them were really pretty! Here’s a look at my my favorite (and prettiest!) creations from 2022, starting off with a concoction I created for Kirby Day:

I think the pink salt rim is what really sells this Kyyyalstaad Fizz (lemon and lime juice with sparkling water) we had on May the Fourth:

I created a nonalcoholic version of the Monorail Yellow…I love how summery it looked!

If the Monorail Yellow looked like summer in a glass, the Lava Smoothie looked (and tasted) like the tropics in a glass!

The Witches Cauldron Brew from The Nightmare Before Christmas cookbook was the perfect drink for fall:

Keeping up with the theme of six photos in my “Top Five,” here’s one that’s definitely not like the others…hot chocolate from our first snowfall of the year in November!

Tomorrow I’ll be taking a look at my favorite vacation photos…let me tell you, that was a hard list to narrow down!

The Top Five–Dessert Photos of 2022

As promised, here are my top five dessert photos from this year, starting with a King Cake I made for Mardi Gras…I just love the vibrant colors, and the fact that I was able to come up with enough beads from around the house to make it a little extra fancy!

This cupcake photo just came out perfectly…I don’t think I could have staged it better!

These Easter cannoli tasted as good as they look!

I really like how I embellished this chocolate malt cheesecake:

And finally, a cake from The Nightmare Before Christmas cookbook that was decorated by Ladybug and photographed by yours truly:

Also, because I’m not me if I’m not trying to sneak a sixth item into a “Top Five” list, a bonus photo of a Rainbow Cone at the lakefront in Chicago, which is honestly more about the setting than the food itself:

Stay tuned for my top drink photos from this year!

Tasty Tuesday: The Top Five–Food Photos of 2022

It’s time to take a look back at 2022, starting with my favorite food photos of the year (minus desserts and drinks)!

Let’s start in February, with this beautiful quiche I made for the tea party we had to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne:

A lot of my best food photos this year occurred during our “Disney Dinners,” like these Moana’s Motunui Sliders:

Some of my other best food photos came from my adventures in German cooking, like this Bavarian Obatzda with homemade pretzels:

We had a lot of fun with The Nightmare Before Christmas cookbook…I love how colorful this “Snake and Spider Stew” was!

More German cooking…this time, a whole dinner plate featuring homemade schnitzel:

And a bonus picture, because nachos at the ballpark just photograph so well!

I took a lot of food photos this year, so stay tuned for specialized lists focusing on desserts and drinks, too!

Five Pieces of Wisdom

I don’t know how much actual wisdom I’ve shared with my children, but I have realized that there are five things I tell them regularly, and that’s probably as close to passing on wisdom as I get!

  • “It’s nice to be nice.”–This is probably my most-repeated phrase, and I think it’s also the most useful. I hope I’ve taught my children to be kind to others, even when others aren’t kind to them. And I hope they never decide to finish the saying à la Frank Burns in M*A*S*H…”to the nice.”
  • “Ganache covers a multitude of sins.”–I came up with this saying once when a bundt cake I baked (probably our favorite Guinness cake) stuck to the pan, resulting in a less than attractive-looking cake. Luckily for me, the recipe includes a ganache that is poured over the top, and I realized that once I did that, you couldn’t tell that there had been any problem with the cake at all!
  • “Measure garlic with your heart.”–If ganache covering a multitude of sins is my number piece of baking wisdom, then this is my best cooking advice. A recipe can call for a certain amount of garlic, but in my experience, it’s almost never enough, and even if it is, your cloves may be a different size than used by the recipe’s author. This is one of those things where you just have to trust your instincts and measure from the heart.
  • “Lake Michigan is an inland sea.”–I am very protective of my favorite Great Lake, and I really hate when people act like it’s “just” a lake. When you look at its size and the way it behaves, it is hardly a simple lake, but actually a large inland sea, and should be respected as such.
  • “Look up.”–My final piece of advice is usually given regarding architecture, although it applies to lots of other things as well. There are so many amazing details, especially on historic buildings, that are higher than eye level, and if you don’t look up and really pay attention, you won’t ever notice them. Looking down or even straight ahead can cause you to miss out on some really great things, so take the time to look up and really see the world!

What wisdom do you share with others?

Sartorial Saturday–The Top Five Favorite Fashion Purchases of 2021

Time for one last “Top Five” list for 2021!

2021 was a year where I explored new options for my wardrobe, found some new favorite retailers, and really discovered what I like and I want I don’t in my clothing and accessories. I added some special pieces to my collection, starting with this Erstwilder brooch inspired by Animal Crossing:

Speaking of Animal Crossing, I have never been as excited about a makeup collection as I was about the ColourPopxAnimal Crossing collaboration!

Miss Candyfloss quickly became my favorite vintage-inspired clothing brand in 2021, and I think the Myrtle-Sun dress was my favorite out of the ones I purchased (although, everything I have in my closet from their brand is simply amazing!):

I explored my heritage in a sartorial way this year by adding two dirndls from Rare Dirndl to my wardrobe. They’re both beautiful, but I’m sharing “Die Heimat” because the other was a gift, so not technically something I purchased myself.

And finally, a look at a few pieces from Splendette’s Christmas line…this is my favorite Christmas collection they’ve offered to date!

I’m looking forward to discovering what new things all of my favorite brands offer in 2022!