Ben & Jerry’s Free Cone Day!

I love ice cream, all types really, I’m not very picky. And you know what I love even more?  Free Cone Day at Ben & Jerry’s, which is TODAY!!!! I first fell in love with B&J when I tried their Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, a gazillion years ago. I became addicted, and luckily I was in my 20’s and was able to eat all the ice cream I wanted and still not gain weight. (I wish that were still the case..😦 ). Fast forward a few years (or decades) and by now I have sampled many of their amazing flavors, and while it was definitely hard to choose among them, here are my top 5:

1. Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough.  B&J knew they were onto something big when they made the world’s first batch of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream in 1984. Today the flavor still reigns among their all-time most popular concoctions. And how can it not be?  It’s not even one of their more complex or fancier flavors.  It’s quite simple. Vanilla ice cream with gobs (and yes, there are actual gobs!) of chocolate chip cookie dough.  My daughter LOVES this flavor too!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, introduced in 1984.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, introduced in 1984.

2. Milk & Cookies.  We also love this flavor.  It’s probably one of the best sellers for any cookie lover. Vanilla ice cream with a chocolate cookie swirl, chocolate chip & chocolate chocolate chip cookies.  Did you get that?  Yup, it’s chock full of cookies, and it’s heavenly!

Milk & Cookies, introduced in 2012.

Milk & Cookies, introduced in 2012.

3. Half Baked.  This is another one of our favorites.  Chocolate & vanilla ice creams with fudge brownies & gobs (yes again with the gobs) of chocolate chip cookie dough.  A little bit of everything, it’s just delicious!

Half Baked, introduced in 2000.

Half Baked, introduced in 2000.

4. Strawberry Cheesecake.  This is one of my all time favorite flavors, however, my daughter doesn’t care much for it (she doesn’t like cheesecake…gasp!).  Strawberry cheesecake ice cream with strawberries and a thick graham cracker swirl. Any cheesecake lover (like myself) will be thrilled with this flavor, and the graham cracker swirl, is just awesome.

Strawberry Cheesecake, introduced in 2005.

Strawberry Cheesecake, introduced in 2005.

5. Spectacular Speculoos Cookie Core.  Ah…the cores!  These are some amazingly delicious flavors that B&J came out with some years ago, which each have a yummy, chocolately, caramel or cookie core in the center of the pint. Dark caramel & vanilla ice creams with speculoos cookies and a speculoos cookie butter core.  Just absolutely amazing!

Spectacular Speculoos Cookie Core, introduced in 2015.

Spectacular Speculoos Cookie Core, introduced in 2015.

So, do you love Ben & Jerry’s as much as we do?  If so, which are your favorite flavors?  I’d love to hear!

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Sunday Night Blues

As far as I can remember, I have experienced the Sunday Night Blues. It all started when I was very young and I was terrified of going to school. Once Sundays came around, I would get very anxious and my stomach would start to rumble and I would ask my parents if I could sleep with them. Of course my mom would say yes, and once I was sound asleep my dad would carry me back to my own bed. This continued for a while. Eventually I got over the fear of school (heck, I even have a MBA), and I was always an excellent student, but my dislike and anxiousness for Sundays, sadly, still exists today. I can’t explain it, my favorite night of the week is actually Thursday, not Friday like most would think. This is because Fridays have always been fun days, whether at school (in college I would always try to take a very heavy load of courses Monday through Thursday just to have Fridays off), and even at work. People are always in such a great mood on Fridays, they go out to lunch, discuss weekend plans…

And of course I love Saturdays too, a fun day to spend with family and friends, doing just about anything you want. However, come Sunday morning, and it’s a completely different story. Something inside my brain starts to shift and the feelings of sadness and anxiousness begin. The pit in the stomach feeling. Dread. Even now, that I am a mom, and I am finished with school and I’m not currently working outside the house. So I ask myself “Why do I still feel this way?” And I just cannot come up with an answer.

Well, I guess I am not alone in this after all. I recently read somewhere that even if you’re lucky enough to not hate your job, Sunday nights are rough. In a 2015 poll from the career site Monster.com, 76% of American respondents said they get Sunday-night blues…and 59% said they experience them “really bad.”

To me, Sundays feel the same as when I return from a great vacation. I always say that some of the best moments of a trip for me are the planning and anticipation. I always get very sad after returning from great trips and also feel this way right after Christmas, or when summer ends and my daughter goes back to school.  And I think that’s how I feel every Sunday night. The weekend is over. Back to the same weekly routine. Fridays are like the planning phase of a vacation, while Sundays are the end of the vacation. And I don’t know about many of you, but in my family, we all experience the Sunday Blues, so Sunday nights are not much fun. Everyone is anticipating the horrible Monday that is creeping up, sooner rather than later.

I’ve read many articles on this topic, which suggest strategies such as, identifying your triggers, better organizing your week ahead, meditation, finding a new direction and/or a new job, scheduling fun things for Sunday instead of Saturdays, etc, etc, etc…

Unfortunately, I can tell you that none of these things work for me. This is not one of those posts that will enlighten you on how to rid yourself of this feeling.  I will simply always feel this way on Sunday nights. I wish I didn’t, but I do.

Do you experience the Sunday Night Blues? If you do, what do you do to alleviate your anxiety, depression or worries? I’d love to hear.

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Leap Day Trivia

So today is February 29, and this day only comes around every 4 years!  I’ve always been a bit fascinated with Leap Day so I went digging and found some interesting trivia about Leap Years:

  • Every leap year features an extra day added to the end of February, giving February 29 days instead of the usual 28. This bonus day happens because there aren’t actually 365 days in a year, but rather 365.242190 days. To compensate for this extra time, an extra day needs to be added approximately every four years.
  • If you’re born on February 29, you’re known as a “leaper” or a “leapling.” Around 4 million people in the world have been born on February 29.
  • Leap year babies celebrate their original birthday only once every four years.
  • The chances of having a leap birthday are one in 1,461.
  • The Honor Society of Leap Year Day Babies is a club for people born on February 29. More than 10,000 people worldwide are members.
  • February 29 became the official leap day because of the ancient Romans, who added this extra day to the Roman calendar used during the Roman Empire. Roman emperor Julius Caesar also incorporated the leap year into the calendar he created, known as the Julian calendar.
  • In Hong Kong the legal birthday of a leapling is March 1 and in New Zealand it is February 28.
  • In Taiwan, married daughters return home on leap month because it is believed that lunar month can bring bad health to parents.
  • Greeks believe getting married on a leap year will only bring bad luck. However, other cultures like Great Britain and Ireland believe a leap year is the time when women should ask men to get married instead of the usual custom of men asking women.
  • The frog is the symbol associated with February 29.
  • Leap year is also called known as St. Oswald’s Day, named after the Archbishop of York who died on February 29.
  • Head to Anthony, Texas, or Anthony, New Mexico. Both claim the title of “Leap Year Capital of the World.” To celebrate the leap year, the town in Texas holds a large festival that features square dancing, fun events, and activities on a nearby farm, and it even offers a tour through an Aztec cave.
  • Astrologers believed children born on leap year have unusual talent, unique personalities and even special powers.

So, what are your thoughts on Leap Day, do you celebrate this day in any special way? Were you born on February 29?  I’d love to hear.

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Fun Facts…

Every once in a while I come across these fun and interesting blog questionnaires.  I am a sucker for those and I think it’s a fun way for bloggers to get to know each other better.  So, here it goes:

1. Something you will…
refuse to do for the rest of your life: Stop traveling. I know many folks feel that it’s not as necessary once you’re older, but I completely disagree. I love to travel, and some of my best memories are from my trips. God willing I will have the means and health to continue traveling into my golden years.
always do forever: Continue to work on my very elaborate scrapbooks! To me, they are the best reminders of family gatherings, fantastic vacations, and important moments in our lives. I not only enjoy working on them but also love to look at them often and reminisce.

2. Something you think is…
certifiably disgusting: Oh, wow, where to start? I find many things disgusting but I must admit I really hate it when people look like they have not showered in days (and no, I am not talking about the poor homeless). I mean seriously, how hard is it to brush your hair and brush your teeth everyday, and let’s not forget some deodorant too!
absolutely amazing: My faith. It has kept me going through some tough moments in life and I am so thankful for it.

3. A compliment you’ve been given that’s made you…
feel on top of the world: That I am very creative. I love to work on many projects and have been told many times that I should start my own party planning business. I love to hear that because I put a lot of effort and time into all of my projects, and I love to see people happy with my creations.
pretty upset: Not really sure about this one, if it makes me upset then it’s not a compliment, right?

4. A name you…
hate: Ofelia. My apologies in advance to any Ofelias out there who may be reading this, but it just sounds like an old granny name. Have never liked it😦
love: Aside from Carolina and Isabel (my daughter’s names) I also love Olivia. I always said that if I had another daughter (which I did not😦 ) I would name her Olivia Marie.

5. Something people say about you that you…
know is entirely false: That I am very tough. Definitely not true…if anything I am one of the most emotional and sensitive people I know, I mean, I cry watching TV commercials and listening to certain church songs…many things can actually set off my waterworks!
think is on point: That I am the most organized person they have ever met, and I probably am!

6. A taste you…
can’t stand: Not sure about this one either…hmmm
can’t get enough of: Condensed milk, really, I can have it every single day, right out of the can!

7. A movie you always…
turn off immediately: any westerns, sorry, just not into them at all!
watch a million times: ooh, so many movies I love, but what the heck, I am a die hard Sound of Music fan, and I also love The Devil Wears Prada, Pitch Perfect, The Object of My Affection and Love Actually (yeah, I love my movies)!

8. Animal you…
fear: Oh I think I would hate to come across a bit rat. Just thinking about it is making the hairs on my arms stand!
need in your life right this instant: truly, none. I am just not an animal person, although who can resist a cute tiny puppy?

9. Something you…
will never ever eat: There are many gross things I have seen people eat but I don’t think I could ever put a fried tarantula in my mouth…UGH!
would eat for every meal if you were given the chance: Pasta, any type really!

10. To enhance your looks you…
would love to, but would probably never resort to: getting laser surgery to correct my vision, but would absolutely never have the courage to have someone work on my eyes! I have a huge fear of being blind and heck, I have a hard time putting on my contacts everyday!
just stick to: My regular mani/pedis. I think it’s so important for people to have nice looking hands and feet. I have been getting manicures on a regular basis since I was 16!

So, how would you answer some of these questions?  I’d love to hear!

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Valentine’s Gifts for Him

Many of you are still in New Year’s mode, but January has come and gone (I think I missed the entire month this year) and in just less than a week, it’s Valentine’s Day!  While I myself do not make a huge deal on this holiday, I know many of my readers do.  So this year I decided to round up some pretty nifty gift ideas for that special man in your life. I hope you like the goodies I came across, take a look:

  1. Ray-Ban Folding Wayfarer Sunglasses, available at Bloomingdale’s, $155. Great gift for any guy on the go.
  2. Hugo Boss Polka Dot Dress Socks, available at Bloomingdale’s, $15. Very stylish and elegant socks.
  3. 50 Cars to Drive by Dennis Adler, available anywhere books are sold, hardcover $33. A perfect gift for the car lover.
  4. Fitbit Charge HR, http://www.fitbit.com, $150.  Available in various other colors too.  Perfect for the man who likes to stay fit.
  5. XO Boxers by J.Crew. http://www.jcrew.com, $18.50.  A fun pair of boxers for this day full of love.
  6. The Art of Shaving Pro-Glide Power Shave Set, available at Bloomingdale’s, $175. Another great gift any guy would enjoy.
  7. Men’s Long Sleeve I Whale You Pocket T-Shirt, http://www.vineyardvines.com, $48. This is a really cool t-shirt for the preppy guy in your life.
  8. Ralph Lauren Polo Red Gift Set, available at Macy’s, $89. Everyone loves the classic, clean scent of Polo.
  9. Ermenegildo Zegna Dot Silk Tie, available at Nordstrom, $205.  A bit of a splurge but Zegna ties are always beautiful, they’re my hubby’s favorites.
  10. Single Malt Scotch Cordials, available at http://www.sugarfina.com, $20. The gentleman’s cordial, imported from Germany. A rich dark chocolate shell holds a mini dram of Scotland’s finest.

Have you bought any Valentine’s Day gifts yet?  I hope you can get some ideas from my list. What would you like to receive?My Signature

Be Our Guest…

We like to visit Disney quite often, my daughter loves going there, she considers it her second home. I’ve always had a special place in my heart for the Magic Kingdom, as hubby and I would drive up and spend the day during our early years of dating, and living in Miami, it makes for an easy weekend trip.  I will say however, I have never been a fan of the food options at Disney.  I get it, people don’t visit the parks for the food, unless you’re at Epcot, which is an entirely different experience. However, I have always felt that the parks should have more options than the stale sandwiches (I recently had one that was absolutely awful) and the same boring hamburgers and plain salads offered at most of their eateries. The only other place where we have had a decent meal at times is when we have reserved at Cinderella’s Royal Table. Well, someone must have been listening because the dining experience at Be Our Guest, the recently opened restaurant inside of the Beast’s castle, is exactly what I was looking for.  So much so, that on our last trip a month ago, we decided to just call them up on the same day and see if any reservations were available, and sure enough they were, at 10:15 PM.  Well can I tell you, that we grabbed that reservation right away, and the restaurant was completely packed with more people coming in for dinner after us.

Be Our Guest Entrance

Be Our Guest Entrance

The beautiful stained glass window at the entrance.

The beautiful stained glass window at the entrance.

You see, we had already had the pleasure of dining at Be Our Guest on our trip last summer and we loved the entire experience.  First and foremost, the restaurant offers 3 meticulously “imagineered” dining areas, each designed to immerse diners in the heartwarming mystery and romance of Beauty and the Beast.  The first is The Grand Ballroom, which is where they always seat us. It’s absolutely gorgeous, you really feel as if you have actually stepped into the movie, with its high, domed ceiling, the beautiful chandeliers and snow-laced Gothic arches. The second room is The West Wing, which is a bit darker, may even be a bit scary for the little ones but this is where you can catch a glimpse of the enchanted rose. And the third is The Castle Gallery, resembling Belle’s private library, with the enormous figures of Belle and Beast dancing.  As far as I know, you cannot choose which room to dine in, but you are invited to walk around and take a look at the entire interior of the restaurant.

The main dining room

The Grand Ballroom dining room

The gorgeous 12 foot chandeliers

The gorgeous 12 foot chandeliers

The West Wing

The West Wing

The enchanted rose in hte

The enchanted rose in the West Wing

Figurine of Belle & the Beast Dancing.

Figurine of Belle & the Beast Dancing in the Castle Gallery

Now on to the food…

When we first arrived at our table, we saw the beautiful red napkins, folded like roses, my daughter (and I) loved that.  Then came the yummy hot bread rolls (keep in mind we were starving).  Of course my daughter fell for the tourist trap of the Souvenir Castle Goblet, a light-up castle-themed souvenir goblet with choice of fountain beverage, for ONLY $16.99, typical Disney.  I started off with a cup of the Potato Leek Soup and it was one of the best I’ve ever had.  Next came a menu full of divine options, including dishes like Sautéed Shrimp and Scallops with seasonal vegetables and mushrooms served in a puff pastry with a creamy lobster sauce and Layered Ratatouille, oven-baked zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms, tomatoes, and caramelized onions sliced and layered on quinoa served with a bell pepper sauce.  Well, we all decided on the Grilled Strip Steak with garlic-herb butter and French fries.  All I can say is that my daughter devoured hers. It was absolutely delicious! Important to note that the kid’s menu also offers items such as Mickey meatloaf, seared mahi mahi and whole-grain macaroni with marinara sauce. This is also the first restaurant in the Magic Kingdom to offer a variety of beer and wine (this has actually caused some controversies with some die hard Disney fans). I’m not a big drinker but who doesn’t enjoy a nice glass of wine with a late dinner?

The menu and the rose napkin...nice touch.

The menu and the rose napkin…nice touch.

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Potato leek soup.

Grilled strip steak with french fries!

Grilled strip steak with French fries!

On to the dessert trolley….where do I start? They all looked amazing!  My daughter of course ordered The Grey Stuff, a chocolate shell, cookie crème topped with Lumiere’s special “Grey Stuff”. We had heard about this and boy are we glad she ordered it, it was really yummy. I decided on a Strawberry Cream Cheese Cupcake, yummy vanilla sponge cake, strawberry mousse filling and cream cheese icing!

The dessert trolley...YUM!

The dessert trolley…YUM!

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The famous light-up castle themed goblet and the yummy desserts!

Well, we almost rolled out of this place, but the best was yet to come. Everyone has a chance to meet the Beast and have their photo taken with him on the way out (too bad Belle is not available too).  Even though our daughter is already a teen, this was probably her favorite part of the night.

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Meeting the Beast!

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Dancing with the Beast…priceless!

All in all, we love this restaurant and will probably continue to have meals here on our visits to the Magic Kingdom.  Next time I think I’d like to try breakfast! But make sure you make reservations WELL in advance, as they are extremely busy all the time.

Have you been to Be Our Guest?  I’d love to hear what your thoughts are on this restaurant?

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Be Our Guest Restaurant
Magic Kingdom Park, Fantasyland
(407) 939-5277

Breakfast
8:00 AM – 10:00 AM
Lunch
10:30 AM – 2:30 PM
Dinner
4:00 PM – 9:30 PM (although they take reservations past 11pm)

Winter Garden

For many of my readers currently stuck indoors due to the severe snow storms up north, here is another one of my book reviews that I think you will definitely enjoy…

Winter Garden is another magnificent story from one of my favorite authors, NY Times best selling author, Kristin Hannah. As some of you may already know I have read all of her books and have reviewed a few of them before on the blog (Firefly Lane, Night Road).  I promise, here’s another one that will not disappoint.  And make sure you give it a chance, as this is the type of story where you may find yourself a bit frustrated at first (I did), finding the book a little slow and maybe even disliking the characters. Don’t let that worry you, it is necessary for the story to be told this way, and as it evolves, you find yourself yearning to find out what happens, as it starts to reveal many interesting secrets from the character’s past. Truly beautifully written.

Winter Garden, photo courtesy of Kristin Hannah

Winter Garden, photo courtesy of Kristin Hannah

Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah (synopsis)

From the author of acclaimed national bestseller Firefly Lane comes a haunting, heartbreakingly beautiful novel that illuminates the intricate mother-daughter bond and explores the enduring links between past and present.

Sometimes when you open the door to your mother’s past, you find your own future…

Meredith and Nina Whitson are as different as sisters can be. One stayed at home to raise her children and manage the family apple orchard; the other followed a dream and traveled the world to become a famous photojournalist. But when their beloved father falls ill, these two estranged women will find themselves together again, standing alongside their cold, disapproving mother, Anya, who even now, offers no comfort to her daughters. On his deathbed, their father extracts one last promise from the women in his life.

It begins with a story that is unlike anything the sisters have heard before—a captivating, mysterious love story that spans sixty-five years and moves from frozen, war torn Leningrad to modern-day Alaska.  The vividly imagined tale brings these three women together in a way that none could have expected.  Meredith and Nina will finally learn the secret of their mother’s past and uncover a truth so terrible it will shake the foundation of their family and change who they think they are.

Every once in a while a writer comes along who navigates the complex and layered landscape of the human heart.  For this generation, it’s Kristin Hannah.  Mesmerizing from the first page to the last, Winter Garden is an evocative, lyrically-written novel that will long be remembered.

So, pickup a copy of  Winter Garden and grab a cup of hot chocolate, and enjoy a great read.
Have you read any good books lately?  I love suggestions!

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