Sweet and Savory Eats of Disney World

20150202_153609936_iOSWhen going to Disney World, there are so many things to see and do. But one of the most exciting things to do in Disney World is eat the delicious food. And in a place so large, you can believe me, there are a ton of great places to eat.

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We started our Disney World journey this time around at Epcot. We were so hungry that I think we stopped to eat at the first restaurant we saw at the World Showcase—La Cantina de San Angel. I tried the nachos—which were the best nachos I’ve ever tasted! What a great meal to start our trip with!

 

 

For dinner, we had a delicious dinner at Kimonos—a sushi bar located in the Swan and Dolphin Resort. Honestly this was the best sushi I’ve ever had too. 20150201_015823251_iOSKimonos offered wonderful and beautiful drinks—like the Kimonos Dragon, which had Bacardi Dragonberry Rum, passion tea syrup, fresh strawberries, champagne and flower petals. It didn’t stop there, though, the sushi itself was absolutely phenomenal.

We were huge fans of the rolls, but my favorite was the Jalapeno Roll. It was just so unexpected and unlike any other sushi roll I have ever had. If you’re looking for great sushi, a fancy atmosphere and maybe a little karaoke, this is the place for you.

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While they don’t serve dessert at Kimonos—when you’re at Disney—you can request everything. Our waitress found us dessert and brought it to the restaurant. We had a raspberry cheesecake, chocolate mousse cake and key lime pie. The key lime pie—in my opinion—was by far the shining star.

 

Our second day on the trip we headed to Hollywood Studios. We had a quick breakfast at our hotel and went for coffee almost immediately after getting to the park. The tastiest drink I had at Disney World was found in a little Joffrey’s Coffee stand called the Shakin’ Jamaican. We all agreed that frozen drink was one of the highlights of the trip.

One thing people talk over and over about are the Pretzels in Disney. Let me tell you—they are overrated to say the least. Last year, I had one in Germany in Epcot and I could have taken it or left it. Since then I’ve read over and over to try a Mickey Mouse shaped pretzel from the parks, so we decided to have one of those for lunch while in Hollywood Studios from Anaheim Produce.

Again, I wasn’t too impressed. The cheese cup that came with the pretzel was cold and odd tasting, and the pretzel itself was hard and unappealing. While the pretzel wasn’t very tasty, the margarita I had there was the best I’ve ever had. I wouldn’t recommend wasting your cash on a pretzel but if you’re in Hollywood Studios, you should definitely try out the frozen Margarita from Anaheim Produce.

For dinner, we hit up Planet Hollywood in Downtown Disney. This is the kind of place you go for a pretty good meal and a really great environment. Everyone was happy with their meal, the service and the experience overall. It also offers a huge menu, which makes it a great spot for families who all like different things.

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For dessert we headed to Goofy’s Candy Company down the main street. They offer chocolate covered fruits, cookies, ice cream, popcorn, apples and a variety of candies. I chose a chocolate and Butterfinger covered Rice Krispie treat. Even if you don’t have any plans in Downtown Disney, you should definitely take the trip just to visit the store. You can even build your own treats. It’s such a fun spot for children and adults alike.

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Magic Kingdom isn’t just the biggest park at Disney, but it offers some of the yummiest food too. My absolute favorite thing I had to eat on this trip was the Cinnamon Roll from Gaston’s Tavern (which I am pictured with at the start of this post). This delicious treat was about the size of my head and probably contained about a billion calories or so, but it was divine. If there’s one area in this life I know a lot about it cinnamon rolls, and this one cannot be missed!

All day long, I could smell the cornmeal in the air. Sometime that afternoon one of the girls and I decided we had to hunt that smell down because it was clearly corn dogs. We walked around for the longest time finding them with no prevail. Finally, though, we got smart and Googled “corn dogs in the Magic Kingdom”. Sure enough, we found out Casey’s was the place to go—and boy, was it. They sell mini corn dogs that are both greasy and delicious. The French fries are nothing to really write home about, though.

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I’m realizing as I write this, we ate a lot of food Magic Kingdom day. I can’t skip talking about one of the most nostalgic eats in all of Disney, though—Dole Pineapple Whipp from Aloha Isle. I will be the first one to say that the Pineapple Whipp is definitely worth all of the hype. Both of the trips I took in the past year this was a must stop place. I don’t even know what Whipp is. It’s like an ice cream sorbet cross breed. I don’t even need to know the mechanics, I just know it’s good.

 

20150203_015806085_iOSIf you’re looking for a delicious ladies night out, I strongly recommend Bongos in Downtown Disney. That is where we had our last big dinner. This restaurant—owned by Gloria Estevan—serves exciting Cuban food in a pineapple-shaped restaurant.

This place is full of fun food and fun drinks in a fun atmosphere. I highly suggest trying something new and checking this place out. 20150203_021737438_iOS

The calamari and sweet plantains are out of this world, and you get so much food it’s insane. You will definitely get your money’s worth. The mixed drinks are crazy good too. I am so glad we tried something new.

At Animal Kingdom, we ate at Pizzafari. It was pretty mediocre pizza, honestly. But as my husband always says, pizza is pizza. It doesn’t matter how good or bad it is, it’s still good. I actually agree with that. I’ve heard a rumor all the pizza in Disney World is the same. I don’t know if that’s true or not.

Instead of pizza, I’d recommend stopping at Yak & Yeti instead. I went here my trip last year, and I regret not doing this time around. They have a sit down restaurant, as well as a quick service feature. Here you will get the best value for your money I’ve seen in Disney with large portions one person can barely finish. Plus, the food is really good.

20150203_205305223_iOSOur very last stop on the trip was at the Banana Cabana pool bar at the Caribbean Beach Resort. We wanted to try their world famous Pina Coladas while sitting by the pool before getting on a plane and heading back to the snow. These frozen drinks were such a treat and a great way to end our awesome vacation!

While I didn’t get a chance to go this time around, for breakfast, you should stop in at the Kona Café in the Polynesian. This thick toast is covered in cinnamon, stuffed with bananas and drizzled with strawberry sauce. How could that not be good?

2014-02-03 21.12.48If you’re looking for more fine dining options, I’m a huge fan of a couple of places from my previous trips that deserve to be highlighted too. Fulton’s Crab House at Downtown Disney. Not only do they have wonderful fish dishes, but they have a seafood tower that is life changing filled with crab legs, lobster, shrimp and oysters.

While I’m not an oyster fan, everything else was to die for. Another great option for fancy seafood is Nacroossee’s at The Grand Floridian. Not only is the food perfect, but you can watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks from the restaurant. Both of them have great atmospheres that are perfect for a romantic night out. For steak, Shula’s at Dolphin & Swan is a must. While all these are great options, they are very expensive.

Places I would recommend staying away from are Be Our Guest Restaurant in the Beast’s castle and Sci-Fi Dine-In. These places jack up the prices for the experience you get in the restaurant. The Sci-Fi food was okay, but I’ve had better burgers at Five Guys and only paid a fraction of the price. The food at Be Our Guest, though, was pretty gross for the amount of money we spent. Yes, the Beast’s castle is quite pretty, but it isn’t worth having a less than mediocre meal.

In Disney World there are endless options on things to see and do. From the parks, to the spas, to the pools Disney is filled with countless options. When it comes to the food, there’s endless options there too. These are just my suggestions on places to go, but I promise if you do end up at one of these spots, you’ll leave with a smile on your face and a full belly.

 

*Photo Credit and a big thanks to Lindsay Duran who took many of the food photos

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When you wish upon a star…you just may win a free vacation

20150201_155407788_iOSLooking back, that first phone call doesn’t even seem real. I can remember bits and pieces of it, but I can’t even remember the whole conversation, because it was such a blur. How often do you get the best news of your life? How often are you completely taken off guard?

A few months ago, that exact thing happened. The phone call I received was from a sweepstakes company telling me that I had won an all-expense paid trip to Disney World for myself and three friends.

At first, I didn’t get too excited—I just couldn’t believe something like that would happen to me. As soon as I began receiving legal documents, though, I knew that it was for real. I had really won.

The Sweepstakes was called the “Coffee to Castle Sweepstakes,” and it was hosted by Joffrey’s Coffee (the company that provides most of the coffee in Disney World). Not only did we get 16 park hopper tickets, but we received free air fare, a hotel room and a gift card for coffee while on the trip.

The months leading up to the trip were miserable—we were all just so excited about the trip. No one was more excited than me—I couldn’t take it.

20150131_135407687_iOSBut then, finally, January 31st rolled around. At the early time of 2am, we rolled out of bed and packed up the car to begin our journey to the Columbus Airport. Two hours later, we were landing in beautiful Orlando Florida where the temperature was about 40 degrees warmer than Ohio and the sun was actually shining.

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I can’t believe how wonderful of a trip we had and how little we had to pay for. It was so great to go all out at Disney World with little expense. We even got to stay at the Caribbean Beach Resort on Disney property which provided us with some of the most beautiful pools at Disney World, along with free transportation wherever we wanted to go.

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While the package alone was amazing, the best part of the trip was spending it with three ladies I love so incredibly much. My recommendation for any woman out there is that every once in a while, you would treat yourself and take a girl’s trip. There’s nothing like having some girl time with ladies you truly love. I haven’t laughed that hard in so very long. I will cherish the memories I made with these gals for a lifetime.

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People ask me all the time how exactly I won a free vacation. Well for those of you who are interested, I recommend the site www.sweepstakesfanatics.com. I actually check the website every day to find sweepstakes to enter into. The other great place to look for specifically Disney trips is www.mousesavers.com.

I know it sounds completely crazy, but now if you ever find yourself wasting three hours of your life filling out applications, you can use the excuse that you actually know someone who won once. That should give you the motivation to press on. I know I’m not giving up on the sweepstakes anytime soon.

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I am so glad I took a crazy chance and entered in the “Coffee to Castle Sweepstakes,” because I defied some odds and got to take a wonderful trip with my girlfriends.

Joffrey’s Coffee helped make my dreams come true and gave me an opportunity I’ll never forget. If you find yourself in Disney World, take a break and grab a cup of coffee from Joffrey’s. You may not win a free vacation, but I can promise you, you’ll have a great cup of Joe.

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I’m late to the party, but I finally read “Divergent”

divergent picI know I’m late to the party, but I finally read the “Divergent” series.

Even more annoying than that, I actually watched the movie before reading the book. I absolutely hate doing that.

Why did I make this regrettable decision? Let’s just say, I had been judging a book by its cover for far too long.

When the “Divergent” series first hit the shelves I had heard that it was a knock off Hunger Games, and of course, I believed it.

Fast forward to March 2014. It’s my birthday weekend. I always go see a movie on my birthday. There were very few things I was interested in seeing though. I read a few reviews and decided “Divergent” was probably my best option. images Long story short, I loved it. I thought divergent was an excellent film, and completely underrated. I put it on the list of about 599 other books I wanted to read.

Fast forward to about a month ago, and my husband had purchased me the entire “Divergent” series from Costco. So here I am finally getting into them and I am pleasantly surprised.

To go back to my first point, “Divergent” is not a poor man’s “Hunger Games”.

Are they both about young strong girls living in a dystopian society? Sure, they are. That doesn’t mean they are anything like each other though. If that were the case, I wouldn’t have seen any Tom Cruise movie that’s come out in the past five years. I’ve probably seen them all and enjoyed each one of them even though they basically have the same concept. He’s fighting aliens and/or saving a civilization. Similar yet entertaining and original—that’s how I see the two book series.

While you can find many similarities throughout (like the concepts of factions and districts), there are also a lot of differences. Those differences are what makes each story worth reading.

But we’re not here to talk about “The Hunger Games”.  “Divergent” deserves to be discussed on its own.

The story follows our hero Beatrice Prior who is living life in a dystopian society.  In the beginning of the book she must take an aptitude test to decide which faction, or society, she will belong to.

Ultimately the choice is hers, but most people choose the faction the test tells them they were made for. If you leave the faction you’re raised in, you must leave your family behind and take on a new identity and faction.

When Beatrice takes the test, though, her results are inconclusive and she finds out she is among a group she never ever heard of—the divergent. To stay alive she must join another faction and pretend to be someone she is not.

Of course, things are not as easy as she hoped. I’ll stop right there when it comes to synopsis. You should pick up the book if you’re interested in finding out what happens next.   This book has a lot to offer a variety of different readers. There’s action and suspense. There’s blood and there’s gore. There’s even love and romance.

My favorite thing about the book, however, is the vulnerability within the main character. When reading “The Hunger Games”, I never once questioned Katniss Everdeen’s ability to do anything. She’s a beast.

Beatrice is a whole different kind of animal. She’s fierce, but she’s vulnerable. It’s an endearing quality for a hero to have. Telling the story in her voice was great choice on Veronica Roth’s part. Because you get a look into Beatrice’s thoughts, you can see that she isn’t as tough as she may put on to everyone else. Her life may be completely different than every person reading the book, but she has the same thoughts an insecurities we all deal with.

I really enjoyed the first book and have already started reading the next one. Despite what I’ve heard, I’m looking forward to seeing how this series ends. It’s gotten some negative criticism, but that only makes me want to read it more. I think I learned my lesson this time around going off of what other people said.

This year I’ll be spending my birthday the same way I did last year—seeing the newest installment of the “Divergent” series, “Insurgent”, in theaters. The difference is, this year, I’m super excited about it.

 

*Photo courtesy of Summit Entertainment

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What I learned in 2014

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When you think of life’s milestones, you generally think about the obvious milestones everyone experiences. At 16 you can legally drive a car, at 18 you can buy yourself some cigarettes, and at 21 you can head to your local liquor store and buy some PBR. You think about going to college, getting a job, buying your first car, getting married and having children.

If we’re being honest, though, while most of those things are a huge deal, so many milestones happen along the way that teach us a heck of a lot more.

For me, 2014 was full of life lessons and sticky situations that have taught me to see the good and bad in human existence. I am grateful to look back on the last year in my life.

I learned that to accomplish something beautiful, you have to put in an insane amount of work. You have to lean on your partner in life to hold you up when you feel like breaking. You have to trust each other in those moments you feel like the stress is too much to handle. I also learned some things take a lot of paperwork.

I learned that when life gets too busy, you have to take a break. Take time for yourself, get a massage, go see a movie or bake a pie. I learned sometimes I need to put “date night” in my schedule so that I actually make the time to do it.

I learned sometimes you just have to put yourself out there. Do something absolutely insane. You just might win a sweepstakes and be that one in a million statistic.

I also learned sometimes going after something with everything you have doesn’t actually mean you will get it. It doesn’t matter how badly you want something or how much effort you put into it. There’s always a chance someone will be more talented or more lucky than you. It’s okay to grieve and feel sorry for yourself for a few days, but eventually you have to forgive yourself for just being you and embrace the qualities you do have.

I learned that death can bring people together and break them simultaneously. The death of my grandma left me with a void like most deaths do, but being with her, my mother and my aunt when it happened was beautifully tragic. Spending her last week of life living in her home with her was challenging but also something I will cherish until the end of my own life. I learned in a way I had never before how family really is the most important thing I will ever have. Sometimes you just have to drop whatever is going on in your life and be with the people you love most.

I learned to cherish the lives of my family through both health and sickness. I learned to be thankful to God when health scares turn out to be treatable. I learned to not take the lives of my family for granted.

I learned that your family doesn’t have to be through blood or through marriage. Your extended family can be the people you work for, believe it or not. They can have your best interest at heart. I learned that the smile of two little girls can put me in a better mood than anything else can.

I learned that people you worked with and considered friends can be incredibly caddy, delete you from Facebook and “talk smack” for absolutely no reason. I also learned how to not give a damn about it. Girls will be girls, but I am a woman and I can rise above.

I learned that relationships are fragile. You must be careful with the words you say and how you say them. You have to be willing to apologize and even more willing to forgive.

I learned that sometimes people really are just plain horrible, and there are people out there who truly just want to hurt you. They will lie and deceive to bring you down. Usually these people are the ones that are closest to you. Heck, they may have even been a bridesmaid at your wedding. But I learned life is too short and fragile to hate anyone. You just have to move on. I learned how to do that—to move on and to leave the toxic people behind but do so in a graceful way.

I also learned how beautiful my remaining friendships are and how each and every one of my close friends is special in her own way. I learned no one is blessed with more loving friends and that none of these women are replaceable. In all honesty, I’ve learned who my true friends are.

I learned that being a perfectionist is hard work, and I need to stop trying so hard. I’m not perfect, no one is. I’ve learned to relax and not care so much about the way people perceive me. (If I’m being honest, I’m still working on learning this one).

I’ve learned holding the hand of my husband is one of life’s most fulfilling things. I learned that our relationship is most important one I have here on earth, and I need to treat it as so. I learned no matter what, he’s going to be there for me. I learned how pure and unconditional the love he has for me truly is.

The most important thing I learned, though, was that through all of the good and all of the bad, God never left me. I learned that even when I felt alone, His presence was there, I just didn’t see it. I learned that not every prayer gets answered, but in your desperation, many will be. I learned that what they say is true, it is always darkest before the dawn. I also learned that the dawn always comes though—you just have to wait for it patiently.

This past year was far from perfect, and at times, 2014 was tough. While there were many tears shed, there were also more moments of happiness and laughter than I can comprehend. Sure there were heartbreaking times, but there were even more beautiful times that I cling to. You must take something positive from the bad times and the injustices you’ve felt and not put anything negative into the innately good and wonderful things that have come your way.

I don’t know what you learned in 2014, but I learned a lot. This was my life. This was my year.

 

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Cinnamon Roll Monkey Bread

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You may have noticed I’ve been a little MIA recently. Believe me, sooner or later I will update the entire world about the crazy exciting things going on in my life, but now is not the time. Now is the time to get back into the kitchen—which I’ve been doing a ton these last few days to get ready for the holiday season.

As we all know, Christmas is right around the corner. There are many exciting things that go on during the season—but for the most part people young and old are most excited about Christmas morning.

There’s the tree, the lights, the presents, the family, the festivities and for some, the breakfast.

I don’t know what your family traditions are or what you’re planning to make, but let me suggest adding Cinnamon Roll Monkey Bread to the Christmas table in 2014.

Anyone who has had monkey bread knows eating it is a divine experience, but imagine adding frosting and extra cinnamon to the mix—obviously it’s going to take it up a notch. Not to mention, it’s easy as pie—literally.

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WHAT INGREDIENTS DO I NEED:

-1 Cup Brown Sugar

-3/4 Cup Butter

-1/2 Cup Sugar

-1 Tablespoon Cinnamon

-2 Cans of Refrigerated Cinnamon Rolls

 

HOW DO I MAKE IT?

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray a Bundt pan with Canola Oil or Vegetable Oil Spray.
  3. Open both cans of cinnamon rolls and cut each one into fours.2014-12-13 09.44.05
  4. Take a plastic freezer bag and fill it with the cinnamon and sugar. Shake each of the cut pieces in the bag until they are completely covered, and place them into the Bundt pan evenly.2014-12-13 10.03.09
  5. Melt the butter and mix it with the brown sugar.2014-12-13 09.35.33
  6. Pour the butter mixture into the pan over the cinnamon roll pieces. (For extra gooey bread, layer the cinnamon roll pieces and butter mixture.2014-12-13 10.05.10
  7. Bake for 20 minutes.
  8. Let it stand for about 5 minutes, then add the frosting from the cinnamon roll tubes.
  9. Eat your heart out.2014-12-13 10.38.36

 

Don’t buy premade cinnamon rolls at the grocery store or make frozen waffles this year. Take just a little extra time to create a breakfast your family won’t soon forget—and trust me—you won’t either.

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A Holiday Treat: Pumpkin Crunch

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Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and one of the staples on every Thanksgiving spread is pumpkin pie.

While you could stick to the same old boring pumpkin pie you have at the table every single year, you could switch it up and make something easier and—believe it or not—more delicious.

What I’m talking about is Pumpkin Crunch—my absolute favorite dish to make during the holiday season.

 

WHAT INGREDIENTS DO I NEED?

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-1 yellow cake mix

-1 16oz can of pumpkin

-1 ½ cups sugar

-2 teaspoons cinnamon

-1 teaspoon nutmeg

-1 12oz can of evaporated milk

-3 eggs

-1 cup crushed pecans

-2 sticks of melted butter

 

HOW DO I MAKE IT?

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 13×9 inch pan with Canola Oil.

2. Mix together the pumpkin, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, eggs and evaporated milk using a stand or hand mixer. Pour the mixture into the cake pan.

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3.  Sprinkle the cake mix on top of the pumpkin mixture until it is covered completely and evenly.

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4. Sprinkle the pecans evenly on the top of the cake mix.

2014-10-19 09.21.555.  Pour the melted butter on top of the dry cake mix evenly.

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6. Bake for 40 minutes or until the Pumpkin Crunch is golden brown.

7.  Top with whipped cream and enjoy.

This delectable dessert is best served warm, but you can enjoy it in whatever way you wish.

Don’t make the same old pumpkin pie this year that you have every other year before—switch it up and try Pumpkin Crunch! You won’t be sorry!

 

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A different perspective in “Room”

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As many of you know, I’m currently a part of a book club which I absolutely love. It seems like such a mature adult thing to do. We read a book, and then get together to eat, drink wine and discuss what we read.

The way we pick a book is very intricate. I’m actually being sarcastic with that—we literally just draw the name of a book out of a hat. This month, our book was one that has been getting a lot of feedback all over the place. We read the book “Room” by Emma Donoghue.

“Room” has something going for it though—it is unlike anything I’ve ever read.

What’s so different about this novel, you may ask? The main difference between this book and every other one I’ve read is the fact that this book is told in the perspective of a five year old boy named Jack. For the first time ever a child of only five years is the narrator. The innocence of the child makes the chillingly eerie plot hard to take in.

The thing about Jack’s story is that it isn’t a happy story about living in a two story house with a white picket fence and a mother and father taking him on trips to Disney World. Instead, this is a story of captivity.

Jack and his Ma are being held captive by a man named Old Nick who keeps them in a shed behind his home. The only life Jack knows is as a prisoner. Jack has never been in the outside world.

I would give a synopsis of the book, but honestly if I say anything more than I have said, it would completely give away important elements of the book.

What I can say is that this book was well crafted in its originality. I think writing a book in the perspective of someone so young was a bold choice. It could have gone very wrong, but instead it somehow works.

While I will admit it took some getting used to, once you get past the first twenty pages or so, it gets easier to understand the voice the story is written in. When you identify with the character, it isn’t too hard to get into. However, I could understand this being a real road blocker in reading this book.

I think using the voice of a child also makes the reader connect with the character instantaneously. While I’ve read many books in my time that had characters I couldn’t relate to, despite my 21 years on Jack, I could familiarize myself with him. Mostly because he was such a young boy. The moment I began the story, I was on Jack’s side because he was a child. I also think it made it easier for the author to write about horrible circumstances but not make a completely depressing book. Had this story been told in his mother’s voice, it would have been hard to read and very emotional throughout.

I can also say that the book’s plot kept me very entertained. I wanted to know the entire time if Jack and his mom would ever escape and if so, where life would take them from there. While I can’t say the book had me on the edge of my seat the entire time, I can say it intrigued me in a way I haven’t been intrigued while reading a book. For the entirety of “Room” all I wanted was for Jack and his mom to be okay.

I try to use humor in all my book reviews to show that no matter what I’m reading—good or bad—I still have my sense of humor. This book, though, is nearly impossible to crack a joke about.

I can’t promise you that you will love this book. It’s creepy in the worst kind of way, but I can promise you that if you read it, you will experience a type of literature you have yet to.

I’m grateful to have read it because it was so original and I respect that. Most books are written in first or second person and generally narrated by someone between the ages of 16-60 years old. As I writer, I really loved reading something completely different. It pushes me to want to think outside the box in the works I create too.

I do recommend “Room,” but I recommend getting it from the library and not buying to read whenever you want. Even though I enjoyed reading “Room”, I probably won’t be dusting it off the shelf anytime soon for a second read. I just found it a little too disturbing for pleasure reading, but for a thought provoking discussion piece—“Room” is perfect.

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Mindy Kaling is my Spirit Animal

mindy2My latest book to finish was “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me” by Mindy Kaling. Not only did I become completely obsessed with Mindy Kaling in general from her nonfiction book about her life experiences, but now I’m in love with the book and a huge fan of her TV show “The Mindy Project”.

 

That’s right, pretty much as soon as I started the book, I rented the series from the library and started watching that too. In my honest opinion, it’s the funniest show currently on television. Mindy Kaling writes and stars in the comedy about a quirky gynecologist living and looking for love in New York City. 

 

Not only does everything she does on the show bring a smile to my face, but the rest of the cast is awesome as well. Chris Messina (Danny), Ike Barinholtz (Morgan) and Adam Pally (Peter) are hilarious as costars. 

 

I seriously watched the first two seasons in a matter of days because I just couldn’t stop. Thanks to a beautiful thing called DVR I’m all caught up with the current season too. I would have written this blog about the book a lot sooner, but I just didn’t have time with all the viewing I needed to do. 

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But enough about TV. I’m really here to review books. Let me tell you, this book is hilarious. If you are a woman or you enjoy laughing (which should be everyone in the world) you should definitely pick up this read.

 

There’s something for everyone: stories about romance, stories about work, stories about childhood and stories about friendship.

 

 I’ve read a lot of humor books (like those written by Tina Fey and Chelsea Handler) in my day, but this one is my favorite. Mostly because Mindy Kaling and I are essentially the same person, and I’m pretty sure Mindy Kaling and Mindy Lahiri are the same person too. Mindy is my spirit animal. 

 

If you don’t believe me, here’s some comparisons between myself and my new favorite person.

 

  1. We are both writers. She is obviously much better at writing than I am. She’s published, I’m not. She writes for a television show, I write for 10 readers if I’m lucky. But we both want to be writers and that’s what’s most important.

 

  1. We both think we are constantly on the verge of being murdered. Mindy (at least on TV) sleeps with a knife under her pillow, while I used to keep shoes, pants, sweatshirt and car keys next to my window in case I needed to get free.

 

  1. We both “fluctuate between curvy and chubby” on a regular basis. No explanation needed on that one.

 

  1. We both lose our phone constantly. She said on the Mindy Project, “I mostly just think about where I left my phone.” Story of my life.

 

  1. We both seriously hate exercising. Thanks Mindy for just being honest. Now I don’t have to pretend anymore because you’re beautiful, famous and not a size two. 

 

  1. Both of us have a serious problem with romantic comedies. By that, I mean we watch a pathetically overwhelming amount of them and we aren’t ashamed of it. We’re proud. 

 

  1. Neither of us have a filter, and we say what we want when we want to say it. We also own our self-confidence and tend to think we are always the coolest person in the room. Let’s just face it, we generally are. 

 

  1. As writers, we both have beautiful desks to do our work at and choose to do all our work in the comfort of our beds. I wrote this blog in bed. No joke. mindy3

 

  1. We’re both Indian. Okay, that one I completely lied about. I am a white girl. But I do work for an Indian family, attend cultural events and constantly watch that cartoon about Krishna, so I’m about as Indian as you can get without actually being Indian right?

 

       10. There are like a million little things to so I’ll highlight just a few her character on the show and I have in common. We have the same ring tone (it’s Fancy by Iggy Azalea), we both picked a man with incredibly long eye lashes to fall in love with and we both wear  bright and non age appropriate clothing.

 

I’m completely convinced that if Mindy and I ever met one day, we would instantly become best friends. We’d probably go get a pizza and eat the entire thing rather quickly.  

 

Then we’d end up at the nearest movie theater seeing whatever Michael Fassbender movie was out at the time. We’d probably spend a good portion of the time discussing Shonda Rhimes television shows and dissecting the people on reality TV.

 

Then we’d somehow eventually end up at a karaoke bar singing duets by Miley Cyrus and Nicki Minaj. At the end of the night we’d find ourselves at a 24 hour donut shop eating bear claws and reminiscing about all the crushes of our past. It would be the best day ever. 

 

Her book and show are hilarious, and I recommend both to anyone who believes they have sense of humor. If you don’t find her funny, then you probably aren’t funny at all yourself. 

 

In all honesty, I recently got a new Twitter account just to follow her. I have no other friends or whatever they call it in the Tweeting world. I just really wanted to know what was going on in her life. 

 

The best thing about Mindy isn’t how funny she is, how much like me she or how great of an actress she is. The best thing about her is simply just who she is as a person. Even though some of what she may do on her show is a little scandalous, she really is a great role model for girls. She exudes confidence and shows the world it’s okay to just be yourself and own it.

 

After reading her book, she’s probably my favorite celebrity. I mean, other than Justin Timberlake. But if she’s anything at all like me, I’m pretty sure she would respect that. 

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Golden Oreo Layer Cake

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Recently I wrote about how much I love to create desserts using cake mixes. You put a few delicious ingredients together and make something magical without saying goodbye to your whole day. This past weekend, I created a dessert that took little time but gave great reward—it was delicious.

Something I hate to admit, but that is absolutely true, is that my husband and I pretty much always keep Oreos in the house. We have a mutual respect for that delectable cream filled cookie.

When I found out my friend Beth loved Golden Oreos, I honestly was filled with excitement because I knew that meant for her birthday I was going to concoct some type of Golden Oreo Layer Cake. The problem is I was also making a dinner for five people and I needed to clean the house before guests came. I had time to make a cake, but I didn’t have multiple hours to spare.

Here’s how I made the best cake I’ve ever made (according to my husband at least) quickly and easily.

 

 

WHAT INGREDIENTS DO I NEED?

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-Two 9 Inch Cake Pans

-One Duncan Hines Golden Yellow Cake Mix

-One Stick of Butter softened

-Three Large Eggs

-One bag of Golden Mini Oreos

-Two Cans of Hersey’s Cookies and Cream Frosting

 

 

 

 

 

 

HOW DO I MAKE IT?

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 and grease your two cake pans.
  2. Make the cake as instructed. Mix the cake mix, eggs and softened butter togetheFullSizeRender (1)
  3. Microwave half a cup of the frosting and pour into the cake mixture.
  4. Pour the mixture into the greased pans—half in each pan.
  5. Bake the cakes for 24 minutes until golden brown.
  6. While the cakes are baking, crush up a cup of the Mini Oreos and set aside.  FullSizeRender (3)
  7. When the cakes are done, allow them to cool for at least 20 minutes.
  8. Microwave the remaining pre-opened frosting for 30 seconds, and pour the top of one of the cakes (this will be your bottom layer). Spread the frosting out evenly on the top of the cake.
  9. Place the second cake on top.
  10. Frost the entire outside of the cake.FullSizeRender (2)
  11. Add whole mini Oreos and crushed pieces on the top and around the cake to decorate.

 

 

 

When you’re done, throw some candles on top, sing the birthday song and enjoy.

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If you like butter, you’ll love this

 

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Just because you love to bake, doesn’t mean you love the entire process. So many times I have had the urge to bake, but I haven’t done it because the time it takes to do so.

These days, though, people are figuring out more and more how to take out an entire step by using a cake mix to make an element here or there.

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Recently I had pumpkin spice cupcakes made by a friend at church that tasted absolutely divine and homemade. Then I found out that the baker had used a spice cake as the base of the cake. She added all sorts of things to make the recipe her own, but eliminated a lot of the strenuous work involved.

One of my favorite “cake mix recipes” is Ooey Gooey Butter Bars.

This delicious piece of buttery goodness takes only a few minutes to prepare, and is an excellent dessert for fall. It’s the perfect comfort food—or in my case the perfect dessert to eat during a new episode of “Grey’s Anatomy”.

 

 

WHAT INGREDIENTS DO I NEED?

-1 Yellow Cake Mix

-3 Eggs

-2 Sticks of Butter

-1 Teaspoon Vanilla

-16 Ounces of Powdered Sugar

-8 Ounces of Cream Cheese

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HOW DO I MAKE THE CRUST?

  1. Grease a 13×9 inch cake pan, and preheat your oven to 350.
  2. Mix together 1 stick of melted butter, 1 egg and the cake mix together using an electronic mixer.
  3. In the bottom of the greased pan, press down the crust mixture.

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HOW DO I MAKE THE FILLING:

1. Make sure the cream cheese is softened and whip it

2. Mix in 2 eggs, 1 stick of butter and vanilla until it is well mixed

3. Slowly add the powdered sugar

4. Spread the filling mixture over the crust

5. Bake for 35 minutes

6. Sprinkle on powdered sugar

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You do not want to overcook this yummy concoction. Remember, these bars are supposed to be gooey, so once the crust starts to brown, you will want to remove the bars from the oven.

They taste yummy straight out of the oven, and they taste great after being refrigerated. They’re pretty scrumptious no matter how you eat them. The best part about them is how easy it is to make something so delicious.

If you like butter (and aren’t insane) I have a feeling you’re going to really enjoy this recipe.

I can’t promise you that you will love them, but I can promise you every person I’ve made them for has. ooey6

 

 

 

 

 

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