Dec 16, 2014

Holiday Gift Guide 2014: For the New Homeowner

We have officially passed the sixth month mark since we purchased our home in Albuquerque! With that in mind, my final Holiday Gift Guide for 2014 is for the new homeowner.

1. Mushroom Farm
There is nothing more fun than watching things grow. Even with my severe lack of a green thumb, I was able to grow my own mushrooms at home!


Back to Roots Mushroom Farm, from $19.99, available on Amazon.com

2. Bamboo Bath Mat
This isn't your average bath mat. Going from a bath rug to this sturdy bamboo mat is like night and a day and adds a little luxury to your shower routine.


Toiletree Deluxe Bamboo Shower Floor and Bath Mat, from $39.95, available on Amazon.com

3. Handheld vacuum
We added a significant amount of square footage when we purchased our house. Lugging the old upright vacuum around for small jobs is a total pain. Handheld vacs are the way to go, especially now that we have a little furball running around.


Dyson DC34 Hand-held Vacuum, from $159, available on Amazon.com 

4. Grill Set
A house is not a home for some until there is a grill set up in the backyard. Make sure you can grill to your hearts' content with all of the necessary tools.


Cuisinart CGS-5014 14-Piece Deluxe Stainless-Steel Grill Set, from $34.29, available on Amazon.com

5. USB Wall Outlet
In our constant need to keep our devices powered up, these USB wall outlets lets you and your guests stay charged without having to search out unoccupied outlets.



15 Amp AC Decor Duplex Wall Outlet with Built-In USB Ports, from $28.99, available on HomeDepot.com

Disclosure: I received a Bamboo Bath Mat from Toiletree Products in exchange for a review. 

Dec 3, 2014

Holiday Gift Guide 2014: For the Runner

People always say that running is a good activity to get into because all you need is a pair of running shoes. Wrong! I have drawers full of running gear to prove this point wrong. Here are a few suggestions for presents to give to the runner in your life this year!

1. Headlamp
With the daylight hours getting shorter and shorter each week, running either in the early morning or evening when it is already dark outside is the only option for many of us during the winter season. Make sure your runner can be seen by purchasing them a headlamp.


Petzl Tikkina Headlamp, from $16.98, available on Amazon.com

2. Running Socks
When I first started out with running, I had no idea there were so many options for socks. I found Balega Hidden Comfort Running Socks to be a must-wear on runs 10 miles and over and a definite must on race days. The seamless toes make all the difference in the world!



Balega Hidden Comfort Running Socks, from $11.99, available on RoadRunnerSports.com

3. Yurbuds
I had major issues with my earbuds falling out while running when I used my everyday earbuds. Then I discovered Yurbuds, which has a line of sport earphones designed especially for women. We do have smaller ears afterall. They also feature "TwistLock" technology that prevents the earbuds from falling out. Voila, problem solved!


Yurbuds Inspire 300 Earbuds, $39.95, available on REI.com

4. Massage
Right before I run a race, I think that I'm going to need a massage. Right after I run a race, I want a massage. After weeks of training and then finally completing a race, nothing makes your muscles feel better than a long, relaxing massage. I myself prefer Swedish massages, but some runners swear by sports massages. Either way, I am sure your runner will appreciate a gift certificate for a massage of their choosing.

5. Race Entry Fee
Being an active racer can put a serious dent in your wallet. runDisney races, in particular, are out-of-control expensive. Why not gift your runner an entry fee to one of your local races or if you can swing it, entry to an iconic race.

Dec 1, 2014

Holiday Gift Guide 2014: For the Traveler

Welcome to Gift Guide Week here on WillWrite4Travel.com! This week I will be bringing you a series of themed gift guides starting with my 2014 Holiday Gift Guide for the traveler in your life.

1. Portable Charging Station
Some hotels still don't get it. Today's tech-savvy travelers come bearing cords! It is so annoying when you can't find enough outlets, can't reach them or the only available outlets are scattered around your hotel room. Portable charging stations ensure your devices have enough juice and keeps all of your cable organized.


AViiQ Portable Charging Station with Cable Management, from $60, available on Amazon.com
Photo by AViiQ

2. Next Issue Subscription
Need some reading material but hate lugging around half-read magazines? Next Issue gives you unlimited access to over 140 magazines right on your tablet or phone. Titles run the gamut from Ski to Vogue and from Inc. to Travel + Leisure.


 Subscriptions start at $9.99 per month, NextIssue.com

3. Hard-Side Spinner Carry-on Suitcase
It took me long enough, but I finally found my match. My carry-on baggage match, that is. I knew that spinners make navigating through narrow spaces a breeze, but I did not realize until recently how much easier it is to pack a hard-side suitcase. For me, having the zipper in the middle of the body versus at the edge of one side makes a huge difference in terms of maximization of space.


Samsonite Winfield 2 Fashion HS Spinner 20, $111.99, available on Amazon.com
Photo by Samsonite

4. Portable Humidifier
My skin has a habit of going crazy when I am in a new environment. This tiny portable humidifier allows your hotel room to have just the right amount of moisture to help keep your road-weary body from losing it.


Air-O-Swiss Portable Travel Humidifier, $39.99, available on Amazon.com
Photo by Air-O-Swiss

5. Packing Cubes
My family members are always amazed by how I can fit all of my belongings into a single carry-on suitcase. Packing cubes are the reason why I am a packing genius. They also allow me to keep my stinky clothes separate from my clean clothes when I am bouncing around from city to city.



Eagle Creek Pack-In Cube Set, $26.50, EagleCreek.com
Photo by Eagle Creek

Nov 27, 2014

Christmastime at Walt Disney World

There is nothing like Christmastime at the Walt Disney World Resort, and luckily, Christmas started early enough for us to enjoy all of the festivities. We spent our last full day of this trip at the Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios.



Here are a few of the day's highlights:

Meeting Marie from The Aristocats

As we entered Main Street USA, I spotted my favorite fluffy white kitty: Marie! My sister and BIL were kind enough to wait in line with me to get a photo with her. Meow!


Lunch at Be Our Guest
My sister somehow got us Fastpasses for lunch at Be Our Guest. Yes, they have Fastpasses for a restaurant. It is just that popular! Disney did a beautiful job bringing the Beast's Castle to life.







We pre-ordered our meals prior to our trip, so we just needed to confirm that we did not have any changes before we headed inside to find a place to sit. 

Finding a place to sit actually takes some decision-making skills because there are three distinct dining rooms within the restaurant. We took time exploring each one. 

The Grand Ballroom

The first room you entered after you have put your order in is the Grand Ballroom. It is also the largest of the three dining rooms. 


The ballroom was decorated in its Christmas-best with adorable Beauty and the Beast themed ornaments on the tree and wreaths. 



We thought the room was a bit too noisy, so we headed to one of the two side rooms. 

The Rose Gallery

We decided to enjoy our meal in the gorgeous Rose Gallery. The room was filled with tapestries and paintings of the characters from Beauty and the Beast. 




But the centerpiece of the room was a huge music box in the center of the dining room.


Our meal arrived a few minutes later via this rolling cart. 


We shared a potato leek soup, which was rich and creamy. 
 

 I had the roast beef sandwich with pomme frites and was quite happy with my choice. My dining mates had the croque monsieur and were not impressed.
 

For dessert, we spilt three cupcakes: Triple Chocolate Cupcake (chocolate sponge cake, chocolate mouse filling and chocolate ganache), The Master's Cupcake (chocolate sponge cake topped with Lumiere's special "Grey Stuff") and Lemon Meringue Cupcake (vanilla sponge cake, lemon custard filling and flamed meringue icing). Yum!
 

 The West Wing

The final room is The West Wing. It was entirely too dark in that room for us to be able to eat our meal, but it was so cool to walk into. I watched Beauty and the Beast 900 times when I was in elementary school, and loved seeing this room in "real life."





I highly recommend Be Our Guest for a unique dining experience while you are at the Magic Kingdom!


Hollywood Studios


We spent the rest of the afternoon and into the evening at Hollywood Studios. We got to ride on my three favorite rides: Toy Story Mania, Tower of Terror and Aerosmith's Rock N Roller Coaster. 

I also got to meet another one of my favorite characters! James P. Sullivan/Sulley!! I love him. 



I also got to show Sulley his minature self, which he was very interested in.


Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights

Although we ran through the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights on the Wine & Dine Half Marathon course, it was very different seeing them during park hours. First of all, during the half marathon, the lights were not synced to music, thus they were not dancing. 

Second of all, it was raining during the race instead of (fake) snowing! Whee!






Stockings with the Osborne Family's names on them

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

We headed back to the Magic Kingdom after dinner to attend Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. On those nights, visitors need a separate ticket to attend the Christmas party. We arrived too late to see Elsa from Frozen light up Cinderella's Castle, but it was still a sight to behold. So sparkly!


The Christmas Parade was underway just as we got there. We saw all of our favorite characters dressed in their winter best. Of course, there were some Frozen characters making their first appearance this year.








Along with the parade, there was also a fireworks show.


Since the park was not as crowded as a normal night, it was the perfect opportunity to hop in some shorter than usual lines. We rode on the Seven Dwarves' Mine Train for the first time, and also rode the Jingle Cruise.


Christmas Party guests also had unlimited access to hot chocolate and cookies. Once we were cookie-ed out, we asked for the "healthy" alternative, which were apple slices. Perfect!


Well, that marks the end of my recent journey through Walt Disney World. As always it was a lot of fun for this kid at heart!

Thank you, Walt and Mickey!

I wish you all a happy Thanksgiving! I will be spending the weekend here in Albuquerque with friends and family. I hope you have a wonderful and safe holiday!