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Category Archives: Traditions

Nerd Is The Word

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I wasn’t always a nerd. I mean, I suppose I was and just didn’t realize it. I didn’t attend conventions or read comics as a child, but I “geeked out” over so many things… Duran Duran, The Monkees, Wham, everything 60s, certain book series, and certain TV shows. Back when I was a kid, there wasn’t a great acceptance of being a geek or a nerd, so I guess I was less aware. But also, I’ve completely embraced it in the last 10 years. And now that there’s the internet, I can completely deep dive into things I love.

Things I’m a nerd/geek/fan of: Harry Potter, Star Trek, Star Wars, knitting, Superheroes, vampires, and more.

The first time we went to Comic Con was 2010. This was right before my first book was released, and my biggest motivation was that my publisher was going to be there, and they’d have some marketing materials for it.



We went in 2011 and then missed a few years, because we weren’t able to get tickets. In fact, we didn’t find ourselves with tickets again until last year.


Comic-Con 2016

It’s extremely hard to get tickets, and I know we’re lucky to get any at all, but one my goal is to get tickets for Saturday, where all the big panels I’m interested in take place. Nevertheless, Sundays are great for shopping and people watching.


What was under my Trek boots. 🙂


My youngest as Eleven.                                       The Trek couple.

My daughter and son’s homemade costumes – Batgirl and Clark Kent.


I visited the Outlander booth.


We bought some fun Star Wars art to hang in the house.


As cool as this coffee table was, I had to put my foot down.


We ran into Darth Trump


Heading for the train.

There seems to be more people attending every year, but I’m still going to try to come back next year. Maybe I need to find a way to volunteer, or work there, so that I can spend more than just a half-day there.



A Tale of Two Theme Parks

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Here in Southern California, we’re lucky to have a few theme parks to visit. If you love speedy roller coasters that get the adrenaline pumping, you can go to Six Flags Magic Mountain. (There are lots of kid-friendly rides there, too.)

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Picture from Batman ride. (side note: everyone’s wearing Chucks)

Then there’s Knott’s Berry Farm, which also has a lot of thrill rides, along with an Old West area, a Snoopy kids’ area, and a water park.

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This kind of ride scares the daylight out of me!

There’s Sea World down in San Diego, and Legoland in Carlsbad. The two parks I’m going to talk about today are Universal Studios Hollywood and Disneyland.

Disneyland is probably my favorite of all-time. I don’t know what it is, but it reminds me of my childhood, and makes me happy. We recently took a trip there on a day when we thought it wouldn’t be too crowded…

It took forEVER to just get into the parking structure. We got there at Opening, and I honestly think they just weren’t quite ready.


So many people at the gates.

Something you do not see everyday… cast members just hanging out on the ride.

Ready to take a trip through the jungle on a cruise

Waiting for “Small World”

Our artist, looking into an animator’s studio

The kids like this ride a lot better than the grown-ups

The ride that gives all kids a driver’s license – Autopia


Girls with Walt and Mickey

Obligatory Mickey picture with bonus climbing kid in background


Hanging out at the Cantina from Star Wars

There’s so much to do at Disneyland & California Adventure. It’s hard to get it all done in just one day. However, we managed to fit in 21 activities. On a good day, where there’s a smaller crowd, we’ve done probably 25. (maybe a few more) Let’s just say that for a day that was pretty crowded, we managed to squeeze a LOT into the day.

Now, once upon a time we did have annual passes to the Magic Kingdom, but living in the L.A. area, we don’t make it down to the O.C. as much as we’d like (and now that the AP is so much more expensive, we don’t make it down there enough to make it worth it). However, a theme park closer to us has much cheaper Annual Passes, so we got them for Universal Studios Hollywood.

A long time ago in a galaxy far away, I worked at Universal. First, as someone in the merch department, and then as a Studio Guide.

“Hello, my name is Genevieve and Ill be your Studio Guide today!”

After spending 5 days a week there for 3 summers and then working there full-time for a year in the VIP office, I stayed away for quite awhile. We took the kids when my son turned 10, but stayed away until they brought something magical – and one of our favorite series – to the park.

mmmmm… Butterbeer

We’d been to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Florida, and couldn’t wait to go to our local version.

Going down the Starway brings back a LOT of memories!

Transformers the Ride is in the very location I used to work…

I used to work at Backdraft and Cinemagic right in the same spot.


There are Minions now, and Simpsons, and Transformers.

There’s a mummy, and Walking Dead, and dinosaurs. All of them are fun or exciting rides, but I still have a soft spot in my heart for the Studio Backlot Tour. Even though it’s changed quite a bit – with it’s headset microphones and video screens and Jimmy Fallon – there’s still something special about going on a tram ride through real sets used in real movies and a few unexpected surprises along the ride.

After trying several times to connect, we finally got ahold of my old friend Paul and rode his tram!!

Those who knew me in my guide days know that this is my favorite part of the tour. 😉

Universal Studios doesn’t have as many rides and attractions as Disneyland – this is true. However, it does have a lot you can do in a visit. We’ve been there a handful of times since February and we’re not bored yet. One of the best new additions to the experience?

VooDoo Doughnuts!

Believe me when I tell you that they’re amazing, and worth waiting in line for.

Obligatory photo with the marquee

Overall, both are great, though different, theme parks. Both have their pluses and minuses. If you have the time, money, and patience, I say try going to both. Especially if you are an out-of-towner visiting Southern California for the first time!

Halloween once again

It’s November 3rd now. Monday was Halloween and we’re speeding toward Thanksgiving and then all the winter holidays. I swear it was JUST the 4th of July yesterday.

Halloween is one of my favorite days of the year. Except when you’re a teacher.

It’s fun to dress up. It’s fun to pass out candy. It’s fun to eat candy. It’s not fun to wrangle 34 10-year-olds in their costumes and get them to do any sort of activities resembling learning while at school.

To top it off, Halloween was on a Monday. I repeat, a MONDAY. Not only does that suck because it’s Monday, but it sucks because we have a short day and there’s literally no time to do anything. And after a day with crazy kids, we had to sit through a staff meeting and actually focus and do work.

It was a beautiful day and we walked to the neighborhood senior community, who wanted to give our kids candy.


Our noon aides and behavior specialist were dressed for success.


After work, it was time to go home and do a few last minute preparations for one of my daughter’s costume. I also was worried about how much candy we had to give out, because this is our first Halloween here and we had no idea how many trick-or-treaters would come by. (Turns out, not a lot. We have a lot of candy sitting around here.)


This year Halloween was a little different. I guess that’s what happens when kids get older. The boy went to a party with friends. Luna stayed home and passed out candy. Only our little donut wanted to go trick-or-treating.

I wonder what next year will bring. I’ll still never forget their little faces when they looked like this on Halloween…



Road Trip Part One – Yellowstone I

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Summer in our family means it’s time to pack up our things and cram into the family car and head out on a great adventure. In the past, we’ve gone to National Parks, National Monuments, a great meteor crater, cute small towns, big cities, and many places in between. This year, my husband booked a trip he’d wanted to make for a LONG time, which included most of the above listed destinations.

Stop 1: Salt Lake City.


I can’t say too much about the place, as we were only there one night. It was clean, pretty, and pretty windy. Sadly, we didn’t see the actual Great Salt Lake. Hopefully we can make it back again someday in the future.

Stop 2: Yellowstone National Park, Old Faithful Inn

Our first stop in Yellowstone was at the Old Faithful Inn. My husband and I have wanted to visit Yellowstone for several years. Last year we weren’t able to go on a big trip, so he took matters into his own hands and booked our trip a year in advance. He didn’t ask advice from anyone we knew, but just tried to figure out what to see based on reading a book and searching the net. He did a pretty darn good job.


The entrance


Old Faithful


The giant clock on the giant mantle in the lobby


These people I love, exploring the hotel walkways.


lobby, from above

Old Faithful is just outside the inn. Just beyond Old Faithful are a few walkways to explore several geysers. I have to say that there are signs EVERYWHERE telling visitors to stay on the path for their own safety.


The paths keep you safe from wandering into a dangerous hotspot.


Castle Geyser. When geysers aren’t active, they are always emitting some gas and steam.


We walked up to this geyser JUST as it was going off.


The Grotto Geyser went off in waves, like the ocean. (Where’s Ariel?)


Just starting


Girls taking a break by the river

I’m going to make a confession right now. I thought that Yellowstone was JUST GEYSERS. And, of course, a National Park that would be pretty and have trees and trails and whatnot. My husband did his research. I did not. I was treading water all year trying to survive my first year back to work and let him take care of the trip planning, so I didn’t do my research.

Imagine my surprise when we headed to a basin filled with one the most beautiful sites I’ve ever seen.


Walking by the river on the way to the Midway Geyser Basin


I was always fascinated by the tiny flowers thriving among the treacherous landscape.




Reading the no swimming sign and discussing the landscape


Hot springs. The lighter blue the water, the hotter it is.


Beautiful but deadly


A waitress in Salt Lake City told us she’d never seen so many colors as in Yellowstone. Now I know what she meant.


My favorite of all, which isn’t done justice by my photograph. The Grand Prismatic Spring. Just amazing.

Click HERE to see a breathtaking overhead view of the Spring, from Getty Images.

We bought me a pair of earrings and necklace that were inspired by the Grand Prismatic Spring.




An example of the boardwalks everywhere to keep everyone away from danger


Bubbling in the water


On the left, you can see where some runoff from a spring is making a little waterfall, altering the ground around it and heading into the river.

The next day we drove to the Lake. We saw more geysers and springs right on the lake, stopped to get a closer look at the lake, and had dinner right on the lake.


pools next to the lake


Beautiful but deadly, part 2


Touching the lake


boy on a log


Enter a caption


taking in the beauty


3 kids in front of the giant fireplace


the lounge of the Lake Hotel


beautiful view



That night, when we got to our lodge, we took a silly picture. 🙂

Since there are so may photos and I want people interested in Yellowstone to be able to see as many as possible, I’m splitting up the blogs into pieces. Stay tuned.


Yesterday, In A Galaxy Not So Far Away

I wasn’t always a Star Wars fan.

When I was 7 years old, my family went to see Star Wars in the theater. I remember thinking Luke was cute and wanting to be like Princess Leia, because she was both pretty and pretty strong. Yes, she did get captured, but she led the rebellion, knew her way around a gun, and wasn’t going to let any handsome scoundrel give her orders.

We saw The Empire Strikes Back and I know I was affected by it – I started writing a baseball parody called “The Umpire Strikes Back.” I lamented that my hair wasn’t long enough to put in braids like Leia. And at the age of 10 I could appreciate both Han Solo and Yoda. (I was a big Muppets fan.)

I honestly don’t remember much about watching Return of the Jedi as a child. Maybe I skipped that one? Maybe I just didn’t like it enough to remember it later on. When the movies were re-released in the 90s, I missed that one, because I was working when my husband (then boyfriend) saw it with friends. And when we were finally able to buy it on DVD, I couldn’t remember a lot of it – especially anything having to do with the Emperor.

When the prequels came out, I saw the first one with my husband. He was really excited about it, and I was curious to see how the Darth Vader story unfolded. When Episode II came out, I wasn’t super gung-ho to see it, as I was a mom of a toddler and was basically always tired. My husband really wanted to see it, so I welcomed him to see it without me and I saw it when he bought it on dvd later on. I saw Episode III on my own. I was pregnant with my youngest child and had one of THOSE days with my toddler and preschooler. My husband took one look at my tear-stained face and shooed me off to the movies and handled the kids while I ate popcorn and watched Anakin take his final steps to the Dark Side.

I liked the movie, but I didn’t fully embrace Star Wars until my son was 5 years old. (Side note: my husband’s plan was to show him episodes 1-6 in order. I suggested he start with the originals like we did. He showed my son Episode I and then agreed with me. 😛 )

Seeing the movies through your child’s eyes makes everything seem more exciting. Jedis, Darth Vader, ships, The Force, lightsabers… all of it! My daughters loved Princess Leia and Queen Amidala. In fact, for many years, Star Wars was well represented in our Halloween costumes.


My son as Anakin


One daughter as Leia, one daughter as Padme



My son as Jango Fett


My son as Anakin again and my husband (in mirror) as a Jedi


My husband as Han Solo and my son as Luke (with Yoda)

We have really embraced Star Wars in our house, as you can see. We’ve been to conventions like these and seen Star Wars in 30 Minutes, and seen Star Wars Exhibitions and I spend time thinking about Star Wars.

So, you see my background. The Force is with our family. So of course we were all excited (and a little apprehensive, truth be told) about the new Star Wars movie – The Force Awakens. Each time a new trailer came out, we got more excited. My faith in JJ Abrams grew with each new peek at the movie.

We finally saw it on Tuesday, and we were NOT disappointed. I will not give any spoilers, but WOW. The new characters are great, but it’s so wonderful to see some old friends. I think young girls will want to be Rey just as I wanted to be Leia as a child. Young boys will think Finn and Poe are awesome (because they are), just as my husband and brothers thought Luke and Han were cool. And the bad guys are scary, just as they were in the original trilogy.

No movie is perfect, but boy oh boy – props to JJ Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan! Well done. I can’t wait to see the next episode.

Have you seen Star Wars? Did you love it? Did it live up to your expectations?




Thanksgiving and Finding Old Recipes

Yesterday was Thanksgiving and we had a great time with my family. We always have good food and good conversation.


As I was peeling potatoes, my older daughter asked if she could help. 🙂


My brother & my husband deep in conversation


Everyone at the table (but me, taking the photo)IMG_0158

Since the women did the cooking, the men did the dishes. (Yes, I know, we were very old school.)IMG_0194

Some photos from my youngest child’s perspectiveIMG_0195IMG_0208

Double thumb war!

My mom showed me a cookbook that belonged to my great-grandmother. She bought it in 1924 and someone in my mom’s family rebound it, as it was falling apart. I love that it’s really well-worn, complete with coffee stains.


I’m guessing my great-grandma used this page a lot – I can see her putting her coffee cup down on the one side to keep the book from closing. 🙂IMG_0165

This Mystery Cake recipe is interesting to me. I’m wondering why it’s called mystery cake. So many of these recipes have no actual measurements (this one actually does) and often there’s no specificity with temperature of the oven and baking time. This one says “bake in a moderate oven” which perhaps is the mystery.


I’m surprised to see that they were discussing calories back in the 1920s! I guess some things never change.


This page seems to be very well-worn as well. I’m so curious about the “Butter Gebackenes” – something I’ve never heard of that sounds perhaps German. What I’m most curious about is the “XXXX sugar” and the “two knifepoint of hartshorn” (both about what on earth hartshorn is and how on earth you’d add “two knifepoints”). It also says to “bake” but gives no indication of the temperature, the time, or what to look for when it’s done (i.e.- when a toothpick comes out clean). I’m wondering if bakers were more intuitive back then, or if we are too busy these days to sit and watch an oven so we need very specific directions (or if we are just dumber).

Either way, I’m so curious about some of these recipes! I think I’m going to attempt to make one “old” recipe a week and maybe blogging about the results. Would you as my reader be interested in this? I’ve also got a cookbook from the 1960s that’s got some really interesting recipes in it. 🙂

Well, I hope everyone is having a great week and my fellow Americans had a great Thanksgiving. I’d love to hear from people about their own OLD recipes.

In the meantime, here’s my daughter with one of my favorite cake recipes. She turned my cake into a turkey with her creativity.



I Don’t Blame Disneyland for the Price Hike

I grew up in Orange County, just minutes away from The Happiest Place on Earth. I went back when there were E tickets.

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A Disneyland book of tickets

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E tickets always had the best rides.

Even though we lived close, we didn’t go all the time. We would make a BIG deal about going to Disneyland. We would pick our favorite rides that we HAD to go on. We ALWAYS started with Pirates of the Caribbean – not sure why. It was just a tradition that stuck. It always got us in the mood for more Disneyland!

And there were always things we’d do – like have a Frozen banana, go to the Tiki Room, eat lunch at the Tomorrowland Terrace, hit It’s a Small World… We’d stay all day and wear ourselves out and have the best time after getting the most of our day there. We’d sucked every last drop of fun we could out of the Happiest Place on Earth, and it would hold us over until our next visit a year or so later.

Disneyland could get crowded, but not insane. An hour wait was a unique experience rather than a common occurrence.


6 years ago, when we celebrated my daughter’s birthday at the park.

These days, there are SO many people who have annual passes. I know my point of view won’t be very popular with a lot of my friends, but I sometimes think that the whole annual pass idea takes away some of the magic of Disneyland. When you can go after school any time you like, or you go for just an hour because your kid wants to go on one certain ride, or your kids come to expect it as a common occurrence, I think it’s too much. When as many people have annual passes are going to the park as are the people coming in from all over the world, that creates a problem. I can’t imagine traveling hundreds or thousands of miles to see Disneyland only to be thwarted by too-big crowds and hour-long lines at every ride. That’s not magical. It is no longer the happiest place on earth at that point.

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And I get it – I really do! Every time we DO go to Disneyland all I want is MORE Disneyland! We actually did buy annual passes one year, when the price of an annual pass was paid off by the second visit.

I just think there has to be some middle ground. Perhaps a pass when you could go on whatever day you wanted, but you were limited to 20 visits a year. (Good lord, 20 visits a year is an awful lot!) Maybe 12? Once a month? That still seems like a lot.

I’ve also worked at a theme park. I was working at Universal Studios the day we broke records. It was the year Jurassic Park, the Ride came out and everyone got a t-shirt commemorating the occasion. As someone who works at a theme park, I can tell you that while it’s nice the park is making money, the employee doesn’t get anything more except more work. More crowds. More inane questions and more cute kids. More nice visitors and more rude ones, too. More of everything. More attempting to rush as many people through an attraction as is possible. More trash. More people complaining about how long everything takes because it’s so crowded.

So, I know a LOT of people are upset with Disney right now. I am hearing a lot of threats and “maybe this is it for us” status updates.

Maybe we can all go back to going to the happiest place on earth once a year and truly making it our happiest day of the year. Or maybe Disneyland will have to revisit some of their policies. Whatever the case, I hope that Disneyland can remain such a wonderful place for old and young, and the crowds can perhaps thin out a bit, so that everyone entering those front gates will have a truly magical time.