Saturday, April 30, 2011

Harry Potter World: Hogwarts

I realize this is my third post about Harry Potter World, but I have had a lot of requests to share in detail so I figured the more images the better.  You of course, always have the liberty of skipping to the next post!

After spending most of the day in Hogsmeade we loaded the Hogwarts express to "Harry Potter's Forbidden Journey" located at the Hogwarts castle.  We had to wait forever to get on the ride, but it was totally worth it.  The line was pretty amazing too, besides the whole having to wait in a line aspect, because it led you first through the herbology classroom and then inside the castle.  We were led through hundreds of talking portraits, Dumbledore's office, the defense against the dark arts classroom, and then the Gryffindor common hall.  It literally was amazing walking through the halls of the Hogwarts Castle!
The main ride "Harry Potter's Forbidden Journey" was pretty incredible.  It was a good mix of virtual and reality.  The goal is to make the person on the ride feel like they are truly on a flying broom in all the different situations (i.e. a quidditch match, escaping dragons and dementors, etc.)  It was such an amazing ride, we couldn't just go on it once, so we went on it another time along with a castle tour.
The outside of the castle was also amazingly designed.  It made me feel like I was back at Disneyland outside Sleeping Beauty's castle, especially when the lights came on at night.  

While relaxing in the sun, we were able to see a replica of the TriWizard tournament from the fourth book.

I'm so glad I got the chance to visit Harry Potter World, especially with Tracy since she is such a big fan as well.  We had an incredible time, even suffering through the sweat and heat with our Butterbeers. If you get the chance to travel to Orlando, make sure to visit Islands of Adventure and give yourself lots of time to live it up in Harry Potter World!

Harry Potter World: Honeydukes

While visiting Harry Potter World, we spent a lot of time at Honeydukes, the Hogsmeade sweet shop.  It was amazing to walk in and immediately feel like you were five years old again with the excitement of colorful candy everywhere you turned.  I thought about all of my adorable nieces and nephews and how much they would have loved to be there with me.  I figured it was the perfect place to bring home souvenirs.  Every Flavor Beans (jelly beans in yummy and disgusting flavors packaged together) was a perfect option for everyone back home.  I also brought back dark chocolate mint frogs and told the kids they had to bite the heads off quickly or they would jump away.  Last night Dallas and I had dinner with my brother and his family and had a blast watching the kids be soaked up in the magic of Harry Potter.  They were so excited to try the candy from Honeydukes and kept waiting for the frogs to come to life.  I "forgot" to tell the kids that some of the jelly beans tasted horrible and Lincoln ate one tasting like bogies...needless to say that spawned a mission for him to try and get someone to taste the vomit flavor ones!  I sure do love my family!
Thank you, Honeydukes, for helping us have so much fun!

Harry Potter World: Hogsmeade


I mentioned in my previous post that I spent the past week in Orlando, Florida with one of my closest friends, Tracy.  Our main purpose for our trip was to explore Harry Potter World at Universal Studios' Islands of Adventure.  We are both huge Harry Potter fans and couldn't wait to walk the streets of Hogsmeade!  It was amazing to see all the details.  The streets were lined with all the different shops described in the book; it was literally like having my imagination come to life...I loved every minute of it!
I loved the girls restroom, indicated by the witch symbol above the door; Moaning Myrtle even talked to everyone while using the stalls!  There was an Owl Post Office for delivering letters, a book store featuring Gilderoy Lockhart's novels, a sporting goods store with all the quidditch equipment you would possibly need, and Hagrid's house was located right next to one of the roller coaster rides.
 One of my favorite shops had to be Ollivander's.  Before you can enter the wand shop they take you through a quick show where the wizard Ollivander picks someone from the audience and matches them with a wand.  It was such a cute show and got us super pumped about picking out our very own wands...yes, I'm 30 and I spend at least a half hour picking out my own wand...
 For lunch, we decided to eat at the Three Broomsticks.  The ceiling was incredible and had moving stair cases leading to no where.  To be honest the best part of lunch was the air conditioning.  I'm pretty sure I would never get used to the heat and humidity that is Florida!
 But by far, the absolute highlight of Hogsmeade was the Butterbeer!
On a scorching day in the 90's with 80% humidity, nothing tasted better than this yummy drink; we even got it twice, just so we could get the collectors cup.  It tasted like a butterscotch candy with caramel and in a slushy form.  I wish that description could do it justice.  Let's just say it was a little piece of heaven on earth...definitely worth fighting the crowds for!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Universal Studios Orlando


Last Thursday I flew from San Francisco to Orlando.  My close friend from Utah, Tracy, invited me to come with her to Florida for a week long adventure with the sole purpose to visit Harry Potter World at Universal Studios.  I jumped at the opportunity!  I have been a huge fan of the Harry Potter series for such a long time.  I've loved watching it motivate my struggling readers be excited about books.  I've been inspired by the emphasis on friendship and bravery within the story line.  Needless to say, when I heard that Harry Potter World was opening, I have been wanting to go for nearly a year!

Universal Studios Orlando is made up of two different parks (for those familiar with the West Coast Disneyland, it's like having Disneyland and California Adventures.)  The sister park of Universal Studios is called Islands of Adventure and this is where Harry Potter World is located.  We spent all of Friday here.

While waiting to get into Harry Potter World, we spent most of our time wandering through Jurassic Park.  I hate to admit this, but I have loved and feared Jurassic Park since it came out in the early 90's.  I remember reading the book, listening to the soundtrack, and then having reoccurring nightmares about dinosaurs attacking me.  I may still be deathly afraid of velociraptors...

We had such a fun day exploring.  After leaving the park we ended up eating at a cool Italian restaurant in downtown Universal Studios with an amazing live band.  It was the perfect way to end an incredible day!

Harry Potter World will be another post :)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Will's 2nd Birthday

Last week my little nephew, Will, turned 2.
There is a special place in my heart for little Will.  I love all of my nieces and nephews, sometimes to an unhealthy degree, but there is something very special about Will and I's relationship.  He was born while I was finishing my first year of teaching here in California.  Dallas and I had almost been married for a year and were facing frustrations of my job laying me off, Dallas's stressful work hours, and trying to start a family.  Over the course of the next two years, Dallas and I have continued to struggle with starting our family; having two miscarriages along the way.  I wish I could put into words how much little Will has helped me through all of this.  I have spent hours rocking him to sleep; loving all the snuggling.  He loves me in return and will light up when he sees me walking up to the house.  I've watched him learn how to crawl, walk, run, and now talk.  Much of my healing has come from his hugs, kisses, and smiles.  I'm so unbelievably grateful to my brother, Erik, and sister-in-law, Heather, for letting me spend so much time with their kids and for allowing me to love them as my own.

Will's birthday was pretty entertaining.  
His older siblings, Lincoln, Rulon, and Ellis are obsessed with this little guy and tend to smother a bit.  So you can imagine how excited everyone was for Will's big day.  Lincoln proudly made the birthday cake/brownies, while Ellis and Rulon helped with setting the table and decorating.  

Will loved his "choo-choo" pajamas from Grandma and Grandpa Rundle, his Diego dancing tools from "Kiki" and "Bunda" aka Grandma and Grandpa Adams, and bubble machine from Dallas and I.
Here's a little glimpse of our adorable little Will...

Monday, April 18, 2011

Photo of the Week 13

Is it odd that this monkey totally reminds me of my brothers?
Being the only girl out of six children, our home often felt like a zoo...and my parents may have mentioned something about how we always acted like monkeys... What do ya think, mom and dad, any resemblance? 


The other day I got to photograph my friends' two adorable boys.
I had a blast watching them interact and dig up worms from the dirt.
At one point they each carried two worms in both hands for over 30 minutes...I'm pretty sure the worms didn't survive!  
Thanks Aubrey for letting me steal your gorgeous boys for the afternoon.  

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Cold Sunset at Baker Beach

To end our day, Janelle, Jason, and I decided to watch the sunset at Baker Beach.  We arrived about 15 minutes before the sun went down, luckily we brought blankets, because the wind turned very cold.  It was a perfect way to end our day full of photography.

Streets of San Francisco

After the Palace of Fine Arts we drove to some of the more "colorful" streets of San Francisco.  All I can say is that I'm glad I don't have to drive a stick shift through the city!

Images of the Palace of Fine Arts

While my friends, Jason and Janelle, were in town visiting, we spent a day exploring the city.  Jason's an amazing photographer and helped me with trying out different settings on my camera.  We spent most of the day photographing the uniqueness that is San Francisco; starting with the Palace of Fine Arts.

Here are some of my favorite shots from the day.

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