Christmas 2017 in Seattle…with an 8ft tall snow Olaf-Zilla!

28 December 2017

On our way to Seattle trying not to catch anything else! Did you know that the airport Menchies Frozen Yogurt just got Dole Whip 2 days ago?!? The sign says Dole Pineapple Sorbet but it is creamy just like at the Tiki Room!

We were picked up at the airport in style with a furry welcome! Made it to Grandma’s house and unloaded all the luggage and presents before dinner!

Merry Christmas from Diagon Alley in Ballard! Impressive amount of work in just a driveway and a constant line of people! We did our best Azkaban escapee faces, took advantage of the mistletoe at the “moving bricks” entrance, inspected the construction behind the scenes, spotted a holiday R2-D2 near a spare dragon, and even peeked through the window into his garage shop in back and spotted some new details in progress. Congrats to them for having creative fun and raising so much money for a good cause! #diagonalleyproject

It’s snowing just in time for a white Christmas! 😃No need to dream anymore! โ„๏ธ🎄🎁โ›„๏ธ

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night! Lutefisk, lefse, pickled beets & Swedish meatballs for our Christmas Eve dinner, all while snow continued to fall and a couple snowballs were thrown, then fun opening all our presents, including some challenging puzzle boxes for Glen that required group effort! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Merry Christmas! Do you wanna build a snowman?!? Our Olaf-Zilla is 8ft tall! I hadn’t built a snowman since I was 9, but Glen was on a mission to go big! Thanks to Diane for taking photos, thinking of the sweet potato nose, and mason jar rings & cut out leaves for eyes!

Our 8ft tall Olaf-Zilla is already leaning so some last photos before he melts away! Hope everyone is enjoying their Christmas Day!

Great to see my Peterson cousins today and the big brothers were all smiles! Thanks to Kathleen & Brian for hosting at their new house only one week after moving in! A bit of stress when we couldn’t get the van up the hill in the snow, so they drove us up in shifts…whew!

Singalong carols around the piano like the old Clouston Christmases! Of course we had to sing White Christmas this year with all the snow still on the ground!

Glen inspected the last pieces of Olaf-Zilla, we packed the RV, and said goodbye to Grandma out the back door for another snazzy ride to the airport as Gary & Diane keep driving to California! The Spaceneedle was peeking through the melting snowdrops on the window, but Mt Rainier was out today!

Home again! We got lucky with an open seat in our row, and Southwest has smartly moved the magazines to the top of the seat and plenty of knee room even for my long legs! When we disembarked, Glen immediately headed the opposite direction from baggage claim with a sneaky grin…it took me half the walk to figure out he was headed for some Dole Whip to go before we left the airport…hahaha! Even though there was no lid that fit, that giant container is now safely in our freezer. Both kitties are fine but Obsidian somehow lost both his normal collar AND his Christmas collar!

Beetle House LA in Hollywood & Disneyland 2017

20 November 2017

Since we had already been to Disneyland Hong Kong, Disneyland Shanghai and DisneyWorld in Florida all in 2017, Glen & I decided to use our only free weekend between Halloween and New Years for a quick road trip down to the original Disneyland to make it an even FOUR Disney Resorts in one year! On the way we had dinner at Beetle House LA, a Hollywood Blvd nightclub run by Tim Burton fans, complete with decor, themed menus, costumed actors, and even a freak show in the dining room that was all really fun!


We made it straight from Santa Clara to Beetle House LA on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and made it into 10pm dinner! The first actor I saw was a pitch-perfect Edward Scissorhands and Catwoman photobomed us! I’m drinking a Big Fish complete with dry ice and Swedish Fish candies and Glen is enjoying a fall spiced This Is Halloween cocktail! So many compliments on our Jack Skellington shirts from guests and employees alike! More photos after dinner…

Dinner at Beetle House LA was fun and we saw two rounds of the freak show!

We strolled to Hollywood & Vine where the Apollo moon landing crew’s “star” and the vintage round Capitol Records building are, and saw that Alec Baldwin’s star was one door over from Beetle House and Bela Lugosi’s star was across the street. Sadly Grauman’s Chinese theatre with the gilded pagoda designs and all the footprints & handprints seems to be walled in or rebuilt now, since I remember it being out in the open in 1990. This was Glen’s first trip to Hollywood and we couldn’t even see the Hollywood sign since it isn’t lighted at night!

Radiator Springs FastPasses acquired and now in our first line of the day…Guardians of the Galaxy!

We saw Groot leaving for a break and now we are at Haunted Mansion Holiday!!!

We got a castle photo then met Melanie & Mac for lunch at Carthay Circle…delicious food & tasty cocktails in a classy reproduction of the Carthay Circle in old Hollywood. Our waitress has been hiding a tiny Woody figure around the restaurant…heehee!

Melanie & Mac did their own thing while we used our FastPass for Cars Land Radiator Springs Racers…still some of the best animatronics in Anaheim!

Glen wants to make some miniature moving displays like in the windows on Main Street…really well done with even a mini-Peppers illusion for Cinderella!

We met up with Melanie & Mac again for Dole Whip then Pirates…still a classic at fifty years old!

We shopped a bit at the Haunted Mansion store, rode Roger Rabbit, then the Small World ride line was a full 2 HOURS (but has a cool projection overlay show every 15 minutes), so Melanie & Mac left for home while we found some dinner. Thanks for a fun afternoon catching up!

We squeezed in the crowd but unfortunately behind a tree for Fantasmic, then rushed to the fireworks in the giant crowd halfway down Main Street. We couldn’t see the castle projections as well but we saw the fireworks just fine…and there was “snow”! โ„๏ธ

We made it back to the Haunted Mansion after dark, and I took some photos and video this time, especially of the Hat Box Ghost which we had never seen before today! I still absolutely love the ice angels and the pumpkin chorus. This year the giant gingerbread house in the ballroom has motorized moving parts (I’ve done that before myself!), Sally is now full-size in the graveyard wistfully watching Santa Jack, and there is a cute spider holding a tiny wrapped present as the Doombuggies climb the hill…

We got on Indiana Jones with a Fast Pass from dinnertime, then with one hour left to closing, we stood in line for almost an hour for Small World since Glen had never seen it decorated for Christmas. The fancy Swedish Lucia Bride with candle wreath on her head is still at the end, and the mermaids sing Jingle Shells…haha…

On our way out of Disneyland we got a snack and saw the Concert Orchestrion, built in 1907 and inside the Penny Arcade since Disneyland’s opening in 1955…I’d never noticed it before but it started playing as we walked by…amazing it’s over a century old! I got artsy with reflections in a giant ornament on the Main Street Christmas tree, and new Frozen stuff is out from the new short opening Wednesday with Coco…sure wish that cute Olaf & Elsa sweater pattern was made for big people! Anna & Elsa’s Boutique in Downtown Disney, where I was mobbed for photos as Elsa in 2014, is now the Dream Boutique but with Elsa’s new winter outfit in the window. Glen already fell asleep still in his clothes, well-deserved after almost 19,000 steps today!

We needed the sleep so by 11am we were dressed, packed, checked out, luggage stored, and finally eating along the Festival of Holidays in California Adventure on our way to Disneyland for day 2!

We got a 4:30 FastPass for Space Mountain then strolled through Star Wars Launch Bay…almost exactly the same as Disneyland Shanghai but with enough people that we didn’t want to stand in line for photos for Vader, Kylo Ren or any Wookies, but the toy BB-8 photo op in the gift shop was pretty cute for kids.

We rode Alice in Wonderland because neither of us had seen it. New projections hidden between old-school moving figures are nicely done. Now in getting us Dole Whip while Glen gets a head start toward Haunted Mansion, since we still can’t get another FastPass yet but everything is assigning times after we have to drive home. Even more people today than yesterday afternoon!

It took about 80 minutes in the standby line but we got on Haunted Mansion Holiday again! Only 3 times this trip since lines have been sooo long and FastPasses are going so quickly.

Even 20 minutes before showtime the nosebleed balcony was all that was left for the hour-long live Frozen show, but we could still see the amazing effects, it was cool how the magic and scenery often extended onto the theatre walls, and the Olaf and Sven puppets were fantastic. Elsa changed her own dress on the ice stairs during Let It Go, and Anna’s heroic moment turning to ice was an extremely clever projection effect on white cloak. Definitely worth seeing!

Back into Disneyland to use our only Fast Pass of the day for Space Mountain, by way of a quick & relatively healthy dinner at Plaza Inn…Last ride of our last day, and sadly this was the only coaster we rode all weekend!

Some cute items while shopping on the way out of Disney tonight…Star Wars “poodle” skirts, blueprint mugs, cute phrase tees, and a glass dragon over a cute castle…

Before turning the corner back to our car, as I was sighing in the Dream Boutique that they never have anything for big princesses, the door greeter said just a few shops down was the Disney Dress Shop…hooray! The tiki dress, stripey pirates, Tower of Terror bellhop and apple dresses from the Orlando May launch were all there, including my Haunted Mansion dress I wore yesterday, plus new designs! I had to try the most princessy dress even though it wasn’t my color, and you must pay attention to the embroidered slippers and pumpkin carriage that are echoed on the bottom hem. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Glen really liked the Cinderella dress on me but agreed “where would you wear it?” I tried on an aqua teacup dress and Belle’s bookshelf which didn’t fit my body type at all, but I bought the new blue & black ghostly ballroom Haunted Mansion dress that the shop said was only released a couple weeks ago…and that one has POCKETS! ๐Ÿ˜€

Thanks to our Costco Travel package we got a full digital PhotoPass collection plus some free prints, so we actually stood in lines this trip and got some really cute photos, many posed by the photographer. I figured this was practice taking direction for wedding photos? ๐Ÿ˜‰ I won’t be able to access the full digital set until we get home, but we are already almost to Bakersfield so that won’t be too much longer. Thanks to Disney for another fun trip! We made it to 4 different Disney Parks around the globe in 2017 and enjoyed them all! ๐Ÿ˜€

Grandma’s 103rd Birthday in Seattle

8 November 2017

A 2 hour airport delay means shepherd’s pie & bangers & mash meals at the SJC airport Britannia Arms with a teal margarita, sticky toffee pudding, and a friendly Lab from Germany, then finally in the air with a pretty pink moonrise over the clouds. Safely in Seattle now for Grandma’s 103rd birthday party tomorrow!

Happy 103rd Birthday to Grandma! Another great house party with mimosas plus bakery quiche & several cakes all courtesy of of cousin Stephen! Loved the toddler birthday card modified with an extra century, the Scrabble tiles card, and the world record plaque for most buckets of weeds…haha!

We visited Grandma at rehab today so I played piano for a small audience in the lobby and Mom sang with me for a couple songs. :)

Fun afternoon with my Peterson cousins!

We should have brought the giant birthday balloons to rehab yesterday in the van…haha!Southwest SeaTac’s Halloween decorations are still up with a cute Seattle skyline painted on a real pumpkin, and both our San Jose and Sacramento flights are at the same gate…haha! Goodbye to Seattle but we will see Grandma again for Christmas!

Midsummer Scream & the Queen Mary

3 August 2017

In July my Halloween Scream Team spent the weekend on The Queen Mary ship hotel in Long Beach while we attended the Midsummer Scream Halloween Festival! We also took a couple paranormal investigation tours onboard the “haunted” ship, so the full report is over on Britta Blvd where my other Halloween and party stuff lives…

MS2017-ScreamTeamMy Eerie Elegance Halloween Scream Team decided to take a road trip to a new Halloween festival in Long Beach! This was only the second year for Midsummer Scream, but we had seen good reviews of last year and we had a great time. Interesting panels, good instructional demonstrations, lots of inspiration, I had fun wearing a pinup girl style spiderweb dress I barely finished before driving down plus a graveyard skirt mashup outfit, but we actually didnโ€™t buy anything since I had just received my new Hot Wire Foam Factory electric knife set and foam MS2017-IMG_1431coat products the night before for my birthday! It was fantastic to be able to quiz the company owners and see products in use! Since the costume ball was on board the Queen Mary, we decided to stay the weekend there in the vintage ship hotel and also attend a couple of their ghost hunter tours, with me wearing my Madame Leota dress with crystal ball earrings for Dining with the Spiritsโ€ฆand I thought for sure something gory would win the costume contest at the party packed full of hundreds of people, but guess what?!? Keep reading for the whole story and photos





Weekend Camping in Yosemite…with snow in June!

14 June 2017

We knew we wanted to camp in Yosemite, and later in summer or September is always so warm for me, we thought we’d try for June, which meant getting online before 7am in January when the campsites become available 5 months ahead. We were trying for North Pines but half that campsite was closed for possible flooding, wise since we drove through and several sites were indeed still flooded mid-June! We ended up with the last spot in Upper Pines next to the bathroom & dumpster, but we still had a great time…who knew after such a gorgeous hiking day to Nevada Falls that it would SNOW in JUNE?!?


Friday June 9th

We made it to Yosemite just at sunset, and I had to bring my own rock from home, but I have finally made egg in a hole on a rock on a campfire and it was perfect! 😃 red wine, Brie fondue with crackers, sweet potato salad, and s’mores rounded out tonight’s campfire cooking. Hiking tomorrow since there’s a chance of SNOW on Sunday! 😳โ„๏ธโ˜ƒ

Saturday June 10th

Tons more photos and videos later, just a quickie post now since not enough signal…almost 10 miles in 8 hours today starting at 4035 ft above sea level climbing up to 5607 ft at the top of Nevada Falls and back down, walking through a bonus snowmelt waterfall, drenched by mist from Nevada Falls, and the Vernal Falls Mist Trail was truly epic even with double rainbows “all the way!” Glen is already asleep in front of the fire after dinner and I’m pooped too! Rain and/or snow forecasted for tomorrow so we will hang around the Yosemite Valley floor checking out as many waterfalls as possible…good night!

Here is the full album of our 10-mile 2000ft up & down Saturday hike on the John Muir Trail to Nevada Falls & Mist Trail along Vernal Falls. Truly epic amounts of water were amazing to see!

Sunday June 11th

It was already raining before 10am at our campsite, and tiny hail or sleet in the valley with clouds all around the peaks, but we decided to drive to Glacier Point anyway. By 5000 ft up we were driving though snow flurries and some snow was still on the ground! When we got to Glacier Point we laughed since we couldn’t see anything through the clouds, but we stayed long enough for enough clouds to blow away and back again to have some stellar views after all! We could see our full hike to both waterfalls and even zoom my iPhone through Glen’s binoculars to see people at the top of Vernal Falls! Halfdome was never completely clear since the clouds stuck to its face, but I got to pet a gorgeous adorable friendly Malamute dog! We found new tshirts for each of us at the gift shop, and then it started snowing again!

As we headed downhill from Glacier Point, the weather started to clear, so Tunnel View was absolutely stunning! We got drenched in the mist of Bridalveil Falls, got moody and sunny photos of Halfdome, and walked to the base of Lower Yosemite Falls where we stood in more waterfall mist. Definitely a difference when you’re already chilly from snowy weather rather than overheated from a sunny hike! Glad we had a clear afternoon since more rain due this evening, plus maybe even snow again by 5am…

Thankfully the canopy we set up this morning kept our table and wood dry, and it was clear long enough this evening to start a roaring fire and cook dinner, but by dessert the rain started winning so we moved the canopy to the fire’s edge, and waited out the rain. After all our cleanup we moved the canopy over our tent since it might snow by 5am! Sure glad we have wool socks, fleece, and down comforters in our little tent since it’s already 37F! Isn’t it almost midsummer? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Monday June 12th

Two deer strolled right through our Upper Pines campsite Sunday morning right by me! Before we needed the rain fly over the tent, we could see Glacier Point through our tent window, but Halfdome was through the trees over the bathrooms. At least running water, mirrors, and flush toilets were much better than the San Simeon portapotties! It was an annoying campsite because so many people kept walking right through our site to the bathrooms or dumpster, but at least we were actually camping in Yosemite Valley, which is an online crapshoot 5 months in advance! It was really cold last night, but thankfully it was dry enough this morning by the time we got up that we had an easier time packing, but we will still need to set up the tent at home to dry out completely.

We checked out from our campsite, spotted other people taking my wildflowers on front of Halfdome photo, were amazed at a giant log perched on a rock midrver, and spent about 30 minutes looking for parking by Yosemite Village…even Monday traffic was crazy! We saw a little of the visitors center, then walked to the hotel for our fancy lunch reservation. The trademark name issue is still under dispute so most signs have been updated to The Majestic Yosemite Hotel, but the paper maps and some trail signs still say The Ahwahnee.

To end our camping weekend we splurged with a sit-down meal in the grand dining room of the Majestic Yosemite Hotel, originally the Ahwahnee Hotel. They asked if we wanted to sit in the area where Queen Elizabeth sat, so of course we said yes! Sadly you can barely see Yosemite Falls through the giant window anymore because of a young tree growing and covering the view, so I took a photo of the painting showing what the view used to be. It was a lovely lunch and a delicious dessert!

Since we left later on Friday than we hoped, we took Hwy 140 into Yosemite since Google Maps claimed it was almost an hour less due to rush hour traffic leaving the Bay Area. I’d never driven that way so I missed my traditional first valley view vista point, plus there’s no big park entrance sign, so we already had planned to take Hwy 120 home. Good thing since Hwy 140 was closed today due to a new rockslide! We got the photos I wanted, and Glen wanted to start a travel sticker collection on the car carrier, so we ceremonially put on our first sticker at the big entrance sign! We made it all the way home by 10:30pm but are exhausted, so full unpacking will be tomorrow. Good night!

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