Square Life Round World

I'm navigating through this round world while living a square life, and it fits exactly as it should.

Freebies at Disney

The words “free” and “Disney” are not exactly synonymous with each other. Quite the opposite, in fact. Using them together in a sentence will often incite laughter among Disney veterans. However, I received several freebies last week when visiting Walt Disney World Resort, and I thought I’d let you know about them.

First off, when we entered our room at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, these little beauties were waiting for us.

These little beauties were waiting for us in our room when we arrived.

They are a set of pins as a gift for tolerating all the construction happening at the Lodge as they build new Disney Vacation Club cabins on the property. Mickey in a hard hat is just too cute! Wouldn’t you agree?

The next day, this was placed in our room along with an offer to receive a $100 Disney gift card for attending a Disney Vacation Club open house and tour.

This in-room gift was accompanied by another offer.

So, naturally I had to take them up on that offer. $100 Disney gift card for an hour of my time (which ended up only being 38 minutes)? Yes, please!

Thank you, Disney Vacation Club!

And at the open house, they gave me this.

I received this Disney Vacation Club tote bag at the open house.

I also attended a Mix It! Make It! Celebrate It! This is a new offering as part of the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. Attendees received this bamboo cutting board as a parting gift.

This parting gift was given to attendees of the Mix It! Make It! Celebrate It!

Technically, I did pay for this hands-on workshop, but I did not expect to receive a gift for attending and truly feel the cost of the workshop was worth it even without the gift.

Speaking of the Festival, as an Annual Passholder, I received this very nice glass tumbler for attending the Festival on three separate days.

Passholders can pick up this free glass tumbler for attending the Festival on three separate days.

In even more Festival news, all attendees can pick up a free Festival passport with stickers you can place on pages as you visit each location. In previous years, you had to wait in line to get a stamp, so I think this new method is much-improved.

All Festival attendees can receive a free passport.

Here are all of my freebies together as one big, happy family.

All the freebies I received last week.

Not pictured are the 3 extra fast passes I also received for each member of our party for attending the DVC open house.

And it didn’t end there! When I returned home, this gem was sitting in my mailbox.

I won this The Jungle Book combo pack from the Disney Parks Blog.

This was a Disney Parks Blog sweepstakes prize I won. They conduct a few fun sweepstakes throughout the year, and in the past, I’ve won several posters, a tote bag and now this!

What freebies have you received while visiting a Disney park?

Disclosure: This post does not contain affiliate links.

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runDisney Releases 2016 Race Schedule

runDisney released its 2016 race schedule, complete with registration dates yesterday. A few things to note are the races which have been the subjects of many rumors lately. 


The Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend is returning, thus squelching all rumors that 2015 is the last year. Almost certainly it will feature a new course due to the impending extensive construction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. One of the highlights of this race, the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, is in its last year, however, so it will be interesting to see what changes the organizers have in store.  

 Notably absent for the second year is the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10 Miler Weekend. Rumors continue that this will return at some point in the future as another half marathon weekend, possibly with a challenge. It makes sense, right? 13.1 miles for a 13-story drop.  

 Currently, my only runDisney race plans for 2016 include Princess Half Marathon Weekend. Some friends and I have a huge girls weekend planned around that. After all, runDisney races are perfect for that. 

What are your runDisney race plans for next year?

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2016 Disney Parks Moms Panel Search Happy News

  Hey, guys and gals! I told y’all I’d keep you informed of any news. Monday night just before the clock struck midnight EDT, many of the 2016 Disney Parks Moms Panel hopefuls (myself included) found their inboxes filled with Bibbidi Bobbidi magical news that they had advanced to Round 2 of the search. I knew my Round 2 notification was coming, but it was enchanted, nonetheless. 


So, what’s next? This Thursday morning, Round 2 begins with a short video submission and more essay questions, due by the following Thursday. My heart is a flutter with anticipation of what the video topic and essay questions will be. I only hope that I am inspired and can let my best shine through. 

Do you have news to share, too? Are you advancing? 


Hello October

It’s October! This is one of my favorite months of the year! So many fantastic things happen in October. 

First off, it’s my Birthday month! It’s the one day out of the year I expect the world to revolve around me. Ok, not really, but it’s a nice thought. Still, it’s a day when I do get to feel more special than normal. I’ll take it. I tried to find a photo of a birthday cake from years past, and do you know that I could not find a single one? This needs to be rectified! Who’s sending me cake?

It’s also the start of boots season.  


Yes, I’m totally wearing my boots today. I realize there’s no real fashion rule around when to begin wearing boots. I mean, I see them all summer long, even. However, I have a self-imposed rule about when to wear boots, and October 1 is when it starts. 

Halloween! Aside from the biggies of Thanksgiving and Christmas, Halloween has to be my favorite holiday. I love to dress up! I love candy! Plus, what’s not to love about glowing carved pumpkins and the colors of black, orange, green and purple? This year, I have several fun things planned for Halloween, so it’s sure to be a fun month!  

I’ll think about what I’m going to wear this year another day!


Did someone say sushi?

 It’s also Disney month! Yes, AGAIN!  

I’m coming for you!

This time I’m going primarily to visit a friend, who lives in central Florida. I can’t be that close to Mickey and not pay him a visit, right? 

Yes to Disney Halloween decorations

 One thing I don’t get into very much is pumpkin spice everything. As a food, I can take pumpkin or leave it. Most of the time I leave it.  

I may not care much for pumpkin spice, but I’m always up for pumpkin shaped sugar cookies. Yes, I made these.

 I am looking forward to so much this month! What are you looking forward to?

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St. Jude Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. All month long, you may have seen people changing their profile pictures on social media to #ShowYourGold or even superheroes.  

Showing my gold

On September 19 and 26, St. Jude Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer events happened all over the country to coincide with Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. I participated in the Memphis event, and it was unlike any 5k I’ve ever done. 

First of all, it was a walk/run, with an emphasis on walk. This made it perfect for beginners and even people who aren’t active at all. There was none of the “fast people in the front, slow people in the back” business. It was not about racing. It was all about everyone coming together for one reason and one reason only: to raise awareness for childhood cancer. 

There were also so many people participating in teams and staying together as a team. Many teams had matching shirts made for the event. All that unification was a really cool thing to see. 

There was so much gold, too! Gold signs, flags, pom poms, headbands, shoelaces and even socks were everywhere! My floor made gold and black tutus to sell as a fundraiser so those were all over the course as well. I even wore a tutu for the first time. 

Traffic was crazy getting to the event so I knew the turnout was going to be huge.  

Stuck in traffic but I couldn’t wait to get there!

Despite allowing myself what I thought was more than enough time, I got there just in time for a photo with my immediate work team before heading to the start. 

My work team

I also got a quick Periscope broadcast in (@myglasssneaker). 


Ready to Walk/Run

The weather was great. It was a mild, overcast day, although more humid than I expected. I absolutely love downtown Memphis courses. 

I love running by the famous M bridge.

The scenery is gorgeous, although I always forget how hilly it is.  

Does this look like a hill? Because, it definitely is one.


The Pyramid, which is now home to Bass Pro. Except, the hospital and finish line is in the opposite direction. Shouldn’t we be heading the other way?


Finally, we are heading back toward the hospital!


The finish is in sight.

As a chronic back-of-the-packer, I really enjoyed being with the pack for the entire course. Once I was done, I stuck around for a few minutes at the finish line to cheer people on. I also did another quick Periscope broadcast from the finish line. 

It was a great day, and I’m sure it will be even bigger next year. Did you participate in an event in your area? 

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Things That Won

I have had a week and a half, people. The week totally and completely beat me. Without a doubt, I can say the battle between the week and me was won by the week. That doesn’t happen often. As I sit here pondering my game plan for next week’s counter-attack, I’m reminded of a few other things that won this week as well.  

I did not win this week, so, Sadness!

The return of football is winning, for sure! While much of my news feeds are celebrating the return of the PSL (that’s Starbucks speak for Pumpkin Spice Latte), I’m loving that football is back. All is right with the world, or at least my TV.  

Speaking of football, the Denver Broncos won this week. I’ve loved Peyton Manning since his days as a UT Vol. His season has started out as rocky as the mountains that surround his home field, but this week Peyton showed up and silenced his haters.  

Go Broncos! (photo credit: Denver Broncos)

My dog won. She got to see her grandparents twice this week. She loves her grandparents. She’s the queen of the house when they come to visit. Let’s face it. She’s the queen of the house all the time. She always wins.  

Jasmine always wins.

Finally, my dad won. My lawnmower died last week. I was ready to lay it to rest, but my dad was not. He and my mom came down on Monday to pick it up. I was fully prepared to spend my weekend lawnmower shopping. Can we say, snoozefest? However, my dad truly is the best. For about the 4th time in the last 10 years, he brought the thing back to life.  

Dad of the Year

So, no lawnmower shopping for me this weekend. That will free up my time for football while snuggling with my pup. Who’s winning now? 

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Remembering 9/11 Through Facebook

I struggled to think of a way to properly address today.  The events of 14 years ago still leave me just as speechless today as they did then.  That’s why I shared a single photo of the 9/11 Memorial on all my social media channels today.

9/11 Memorial

9/11 Memorial

I had planned to leave it at that since I just couldn’t find the words.  However, sometimes the words find you.  I found inspiration on Facebook from a few of my friends, and I had to share.  With permission, here are a few of my friends’ stories.



Aimee: “This morning, as I do on every September 11, I asked the boys what today is and why it is significant.  Gavin told me he has to wear red, white and blue and asked if I got today off like the 4th of July.  Brendan said it was when the bad guys drove airplanes into buildings, and Declan said it was when the first responders saved as many people as they could from dying because of terrorists crashing into the twin towers and that some people were able to save the President by taking over a plane before it could crash.

No matter how they remember, I am glad they do.  Our country needs to remember, and our kids who were not even born in 2001 need to take this memory to their children.  As I told my boys, we remember three things: 1) those who lost their lives and the families who miss them; 2) the heroes who did all they could, many losing their own lives in the process; and 3) the bad guys–let’s not forget them because we need to remember that they are out there and that if we don’t do all we can to work toward good, the bad guys are out there waiting for a chance to do harm.  We have to remember them, too, and do all we can to make sure good wins.”



Jennifer:  “So it’s been 14 years and I feel ready to tell this story.  Apologies in advance if this is long or too horrible to read.  I won’t be offended if you don’t.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, I took the PATH train into the World Trade Center on my way to work.  My company was in the Woolworth building, across the street from the WTC.  I never went to work early but that day I was there to catch up on some school work before the day began.  We felt our building shake when the first plane hit the World Trade Center but thought nothing of it.  Then we got a phone call from some colleagues who were supposed to be at the Top of the World for the Oracle conference that day, that something awful had happened.  We put on CNN and were watching when the second plane hit the WTC.  At that point, we knew that this was not an accident and that we were under attack.  The Woolworth building is the third tallest building in NYC and we did not feel safe staying put so we all decided to leave.  I called Paul who told me to stay put but, of course, I didn’t listen.  That was the last he heard from me, since all cell and phone landline signals went out afterwards.

Leaving the building was total chaos, and on the street it was even worse.  There were people standing in the street crying and screaming.  I remember one woman in particular who was inconsolable because she calculated that the airplane was sticking out of the building near her company’s floor and she thought all of her coworkers were probably dead.  I grabbed a colleague who was visiting from Japan and had no idea what was happening, and we started to walk uptown.  We tried not to look back because if you did, you saw a complete horror movie.  The one time we stopped, we could see people jumping from the buildings.  And all of the pieces of paper and building floating down looked like confetti against that sky.  Along the way, people were truly helping each other.  Taxis that couldn’t move anyway pulled over and opened their doors and windows and blasted the radio so we could get updates on what was happening.  We kept a man company who was very disheveled.  He had escaped from one of the towers when the plane hit.  He couldn’t believe that he survived the first WTC bombings and now this.  He vowed never to go back again.

Finally, we made it up to NYU, where I was attending school at night.  The staff let everyone in and made the computer labs and the study labs open to whomever needed them.  I had lost track of all my colleagues, except the woman from Japan. By now, all cell service was gone, and we were only able to check in via email or AOL Instant Messenger to make sure everyone was safe.  That was when Paul finally heard I was ok.  We watched the plane hit the Pentagon on the TV at NYU and watched the buildings fall. I was so glad that I didn’t listen and left the downtown area.

A friend of mine got in touch and graciously invited us to her apartment where I stayed for a very long day until we got word that the PATH trains were running and I could go home.  Those PATH train workers probably lost quite a few friends that day but they were heroes, getting the service running again so people could finally go home to their loved ones.  That colleague from Japan came home with me, since we thought her hotel was probably destroyed.  She had to stay for almost a week until NEC chartered a flight to bring all of its employees home.

I know people who are far better writers could express some big life lessons that came out of this experience.  I never truly felt safe after that day.  Things do change in a heartbeat, and everything is temporary.  I am grateful that all of my friends and colleagues made it through the day, and I am grateful to have these 14 years to get over this experience.  Oh, and the other lesson learned is to listen to your gut and do what makes you feel safest.  And if you wear heels to work, bring sneakers to change into.”

Please share your 9/11 thoughts in the comments.

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Palo Inspired Snacks

Earlier this year, I visited the Eastern Caribbean on my 3rd Disney Cruise Line cruise aboard the Disney Fantasy.  This was my first time on the Fantasy and the first time on a 7 night cruise.  It was also my first time in the Eastern Caribbean.  You could say it was a trip of firsts, for so many reasons, but one of those firsts was especially yummy.  We dined in Palo one night for dinner.

Palo aboard the Disney Fantasy

Palo aboard the Disney Fantasy

It was not my first time dining at Palo.  In 2011, we enjoyed a most delicious brunch in Palo aboard the Disney Dream.  You can find a snippet of that here.  However, it was our first time having dinner at Palo.

Palo is 1 of 2 adults-only restaurants aboard the Fantasy.  It features upscale Northern Italian cuisine, and it is outstanding.  It requires advance reservations and comes with an extra charge of $30 per person.

I’ll share more about this meal later but for now, I wanted to tell you about one of my favorite parts of the meal, the antipasto.  Shortly after we were seated and our orders were taken, our waiter wheeled a cart to our table containing an assortment of Italian meats, cheeses, olives, roasted veggies and flavored olive oils.

This cart contained an assortment of Italian meats, cheeses, olives, roasted veggies and flavored olive oils.

This cart contained an assortment of Italian meats, cheeses, olives, roasted veggies and flavored olive oils.

He placed a generous amount of each on a plate for us to share and drizzled it all with aged balsamic vinegar and the flavored olive oil of our choice.

The waiter placed a generous amount of each item on a plate for us to share.

The waiter placed a generous amount of each item on a plate for us to share.

It was a great way to start the meal!  One of my favorite things about it was the simplicity of it.  It’s something that I can easily replicate at home and feel like I’m right back on board the Fantasy anytime I need a mini staycation.

A few weeks later, I was at our local farmer’s market and spotted a new vendor selling locally cured meats.  One of the meats caught my eye.  It was bresaola, which is an aged, cured beef.  For my southern friends, think country ham, only beef.  I was planning to attend an outdoor concert that evening with friends and needed to make snacks for us all to share.  A light bulb went off in my head, and I decided to let that be the inspiration for my contribution to the night out.  On the way home from the market, I picked up a nice chunk of parmesan cheese and some olives marinated in Italian herbs.  I cut the cheese into chunks and since everything is better on a stick, I skewered all the components into my Palo-inspired antipasto bites.

My finished Palo-inspired antipasto bites

My finished Palo-inspired antipasto bites

No outdoor concert is complete without wine or champagne so I also picked up a bottle of Italian Prosecco, which paired perfectly with my antipasto bites.  One of my friends brought orange juice for mimosas, and we had a great evening.

Cheers to a lovely evening with great friends.

Cheers to a lovely evening with great friends.

Have you ever made a vacation-inspired dish?  Tell me about it in the comments.

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2016 Disney Parks Moms Panel Search Day 1

Today was quite exciting as the search began for the 2016 Disney Parks Moms Panel. It didn’t exactly go as I thought it would, but with Disney things rarely do. They certainly like to keep things interesting.  I can honestly say I felt all of the emotions from Disney-Pixar’s Inside Out–Sadness, Fear, Disgust, even Anger, and finally Joy.  

Today’s the day!


Here’s how it went down.  I, and many of the other finalists from last year, mistakenly thought we would get to coast through round 1 of the search. No such luck! In fact, it appeared from the way the application looked, that our FastPasses into round 2 would not be honored.  Finally, someone was brave enough to submit her application and was rewarded with a beautiful sight.  



This was very encouraging, and I got my head in the game. Due to my schedule over the next week, I knew I had to get my essay questions answered and submitted today. So, I did. And I, too, was rewarded with a beautiful sight.  

Just because looking at it never gets old


Once I got over all the negative emotions, I actually really enjoyed the questions.  More importantly, I really enjoyed my answers.  That’s all I ask of myself out of the process, that I do my best and submit work I’m proud of.  If I do that, I can be at peace with the outcome. 

The rest of the day was really fun, too. The Twitterverse and Interwebs were all a flutter with #DisneyMP chatter.  I wish Twitter could be like that all the time!  

Best of luck to all of my fellow 2016 hopefuls!  Here. We. Goooooooo!!!!

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2016 Disney Parks Moms Panel Rope Drop

Disney Parks Moms Panel

Disney Parks Moms Panel

Today’s the day!  It’s rope drop for the 2016 Disney Parks Moms Panel search.  For my non-Disney peeps, rope drop is what is lovingly referred to by Disney nerds as park opening.  How is today rope drop when I’m hundreds of miles away from the nearest Disney park, you ask?  Today and for the next few days, applications are being accepted for the 2016 Disney Parks Moms Panel, thus rope drop.

Last year, I didn’t talk about the search on here until the process was over.  I think I had a fear of “jinxing” myself.  I’m not sure just how much I’ll have to say about the search this year, but as there are updates, I’ll share them.

What is the Disney Parks Moms Panel?  It’s a group of people who share a love of Disney and a desire to help people plan their trips.  Each year, a new group of Panelists is selected to represent the Disney Parks brand in their declared specialties and answer trip planning questions submitted by other Guests.  Basically, the Panel is an official place to go to get your Disney questions answered.

What is involved in the process?  We won’t really know for sure until the process begins and each stage is reached.  However, most years round 1 has included a few essay questions, round 2 has involved a video submission and more essay questions, round 3 has been a phone interview and last year, we were surprised with a super secret round 4 immediately after the conclusion of the phone interview, which consisted of one final question.  It’s a process, folks!

Why am I doing this again?  Easy!  I want the gig!  The search is like a roller coaster ride, and because it’s 2 and a half months long, it can take up quite a bit of one’s attention, if you let it.  I’m determined to once again submit work I’m proud of, but this year, I intend to not let the search be as big of a personal distraction as it was last year.

Why do I want the gig?  Truthfully, I’m not sure that I have a good answer to that question.  I love to plan.  I love all things Disney.  I love having an excuse to keep up with all the new things happening at the parks.  I love writing.  I love helping my coworkers and friends plan their trips.  Everything about the job is appealing to me.

As a finalist from last year, I am thrilled to have a FastPass to round 2 this year.  So, even though I still get to submit an application this week, I’ll have approximately 5-6 weeks of peace knowing I’m advancing to the next round.

It’s such an exciting process, and I’ve met so many lovely ladies along the way.  I can hardly wait to see this year’s process unfold and get to know the new Panelists.  Hopefully, I’ll be among them.  If not, I’ll try again next year, because as always, “There’s a great big, beautiful tomorrow shining at the end of every day.”

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