Thursday, November 22, 2012

So Thankful

Today is Thanksgiving and as I write this, I am sitting in Wisconsin with my family watching football after a delicious turkey dinner. I am so thankful for everything that I have been blessed with and that I get to enjoy this day with my family. While some things change, it is always comforting to come home and enjoy the holiday traditions from childhood.

There are a number of people who thought we were crazy for traveling 1,200 miles for 3 days, but I am very thankful that I am able to do it. I am also thankful for a full table, a wonderful and supportive family and an amazing husband that supports me and my crazy ideas.

To say that this year has been a roller coaster would be an understatement to say the least. There have been times when I have been discouraged, but overall, I have truly been blessed with many good things.

Wishing everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving. Enjoy the food and your family.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Wining and Dining

One of my favorite Orlando fall traditions is the annual food and wine festival at Epcot. It is a combination of some of my favorite things—food, wine and Disney World. This was one of the events we went to every year when we lived in Orlando before. I was super excited that we would be able to go again this year.

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I headed down to spend the day at the festival. It seemed like everyone was going that day. In addition to sampling the deliciousness of the festival, we had signed up for a seminar with Hollis Wilder, the founder of my favorite cupcake shop Sweet!
Easy access gift card

We got to the park at about 1 p.m. and the parking lot was packed. I figured it would be busy, but didn't realize how busy. We started out at the festival center where we picked up a gift card (to make payment easier and stay within our budget for the day), enjoyed some Girhadelli pumpkin chocolate and checked out the Chase lounge.

After the welcome center, we headed to the World Showcase to start snacking around the world. Over the course of the day, we tried a number of things over the day. After trying many things over about 8 hours, I can't even begin to pick a favorite. I am also a terrible blogger and do not have a single picture of what we ate or drank while there.

Waiting in line for something delicious
In addition to the food, we tried a number of beers. I know it is called the food and wine festival, but this year they had a large beer selection and I though it was really cool. We had a number of delicious beers, but the Schöfferhofer Grapefruit, was muy favorite. I was a little hesitant about a grapefruit beer, but it was delicious.

One of our main reasons for going to the festival that weekend was to see Hollis from Sweet! She was there promoting her new book and showing off some of her new recipes. She made a chicken apple hand pie. It was delicious and even better when accompanied by cupcakes.

Miss Holly Cooking Away
After eating and drinking the day away, we hung out and watched the fireworks. Those always make me happy!

The Food and Wine Festival is one of my favorite fall traditions. What are some of yours?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Coming Home

Homecoming for the University of Central Florida was this weekend and for the first time since 2008 I got to celebrate. Living about 10 minutes from campus really has its advantages.

I did not do my undergrad degree at UCF. That was done at a small state school in Wisconsin where most students commuted to campus for classes and then left. Needless to say, while the education was good, the student experience left a lot to be desired. 

In 2004, after realizing that I chose the wrong major, I came to UCF to get my Masters degree and change my career trajectory. Over the next two years, the education and opportunities I received at UCF did just that. I even met my husband through one of my internships during grad school. Because of this I consider UCF "my school."

The festivities started on Friday when I took a late lunch to take part in one of the coolest homecoming traditions ever—Spirit Splash. It is a very unique pep rally that takes advantage of the fact that November in Central Florida has beautiful weather. In the center of the UCF campus there is a fountain and during Spirit Splash students and others get to play in the fountain. I have never gotten in, but it is fun to see several thousand people in the fountain.

Saturday was gameday. We had gone back and forth about going to the game this year, it has been a busy fall, but a friend of mine offered us tickets, so we couldn't refuse. Since going to the game was a last minute decision, we didn't tailgate, but did hit up the indoor tailgate at the alumni center. We hung out for a bit and ran into a number of people we knew.

We headed to the staduim to make sure to see the pregame festivities. They had some fun things going on outside the stadium, including samples from Mellow Mushroom, one of my favorite places. I also got a chance to hang out with Knighto.

The game was good. UCF kicked some butt and won 42 to 17. We actually left about a third of the way through the fourth quarter. UCF was up by 32 at that point, and if they would have lost, I wouldn't have wanted to see it.

It was great to attend UCF homecoming this year, and I think it will be a tradition now that we are back in Orlando. I felt like i really was coming home.

What do you consider "your school"? Was it the school you attended for  undergrad or somewhere else?