Tuesday, July 31, 2018

ADA28: Oakland For All Ramp Crawl

Last week, I made my first official appearance as Ms. Wheelchair USA in a very special way - at the Oakland for All's "Ramp Crawl" and celebration of the 28th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Oakland for All is a community organization that I've been a part of for about a year now - they work to make Oakland more accessible and inclusive for all people, including those with disabilities. Because Pittsburgh is an old city, and is built into the hills, there are many buildings that are still inaccessible and have one (or more) steps to get in. So the Ramp Crawl, a take on the traditional bar crawl, was designed as a way to highlight the places in Oakland that are already accessible. This year, the event highlighted one business owner in particular, who addressed his restaurant's inaccessibility by adding a ramp to allow wheelchair users access to his delicious sushi!

The Ramp Crawl was held on the 28th anniversary of the ADA, making it extra meaningful. While the ADA was certainly landmark legislation and did a lot to impress access for people with disabilities, it's also clear that we still have work to do to improve accessibility. The fact that a Ramp Crawl needs to be held shows that buildings being accessible is still the exception and not the norm.

The Ramp Crawl fell perfectly in line with what I'm hoping to do with my platform - increase inclusion and accessibility within the community. The Ramp Crawl shows that people with disabilities like to go out to eat and drink, just like everyone else, and brings attention to restaurants that are accessible to people with disabilities. It was the perfect opportunity for my first appearance, and I'm so glad that I could take part!

Monday, July 30, 2018

Ms. Wheelchair USA Recap

I know this post is overdue, but it has really been such a whirlwind since I was crowned the new Ms. Wheelchair USA last weekend - interviews, appearances, and many, many Facebook friend requests! But the week spent in Ohio leading up to the pageant, and the pageant itself, are things that I definitely want to share here.
As exciting as the pageant itself was, I don't want to neglect to talk about the rest of the week I spent in Ohio. I (along with the rest of my family, and my dog!) spent the whole week before the pageant in Stow, Ohio. My dad, sister, and dog mostly spent the week hanging out the hotel and exploring the area nearby (it took a while for my dad and sister to be able to leave the hotel room without Lily freaking out!), but my mom and I were kept quite busy. Each day, the 10 contestants plus their "companions" (in my case, my mom), made appearances all around the Stow and Akron area.

Everything that we did varied - one of my favorite stops was to the Hartville Marketplace - a huge indoor/outdoor shopping center, with everything from specialty food, to a giant hardware store, to antiques, to a "steampunk" hat designer, who designed our custom hats for the opening number in the pageant. We drove to Ohio in two cars, so that my dad and sister would be able to leave the hotel while my mom and I were busy... and I decided that there was enough room in the second car for a small end table they were selling at the market!

We also visited the local Ganley Chevrolet dealership, who sponsored a community service award given out at the pageant, and the Akron-Canton Food Bank. The food bank was one of my favorites, as a public health researcher/student - it was amazing to see the size of their operations, and how many communities they serve! Another favorite activity was when lawyer Ed Zwilling came to educate us about the Americans with Disabilities Act, our rights, and how to be advocates. It was a really busy week! There was also a painting night, where I bonded with my Girl Scout paint partner over Hamilton and Disney, and lots of rehearsing!
The best part of all these activities was the time spent getting to know and spending time with the other women in the pageant. We all had our differences, but all really enjoyed spending time with each other. Each woman had such an amazing story and platform, and I know that they will all continue to do great things.

I actually had to sit out an activity or two to make sure that I was taking care of myself and my health, and getting the rest that I needed, because the actual pageant started early Friday morning with private interviews with the judges. We were all incredibly anxious, but relieved afterwards - the judges were all very kind and supportive, and really did seem to want to learn more about ourselves and our platforms. When interviews were over, we did a quick final run through, and then got ready for the on-stage part of night one! We were lucky enough to have professional hair and make-up artists provided to us for free on both nights, which was incredible! They did a fantastic job and everyone looked so beautiful. And then we were off! The theme of the pageant was "A Celebration of Humanity," so we did an opening number to "Come Alive" from The Greatest Showman, and then moved on to on-stage interviews and our platform speeches. Before the first night ended, a few of the awards were given out.
Night two was similar to the first - we started with our opening number, and then did another on-stage interview question. Next, the top five were announced, and after that, we went immediately into our marketing speeches - what we'd do to market/publicize our platform/Ms. Wheelchair USA/The Dane Foundation if we won. The top five did one final on-stage interview question, and then we came to the nerve-wracking part - the announcing of the new Ms. Wheelchair USA.

I know it sounds incredibly cliche, but I honestly did not know that I was going to win. After spending so much time with all the other women during the week, I could imagine any of them going on to take the title and do great things with the platform! But I am very, very honored and excited to have won and to have been given this chance to really take my advocacy to the next level.

I was very lucky to have so many of my friends and family in the audience both Friday and Saturday nights to support me and cheer me on. My aunt and uncle made the trip to Ohio and stayed both nights, another uncle was able to be there on Friday, and friends traveled from Michigan, New York City, and Pittsburgh to be there for my crowning Saturday night! And of course, my mom, dad, and sister were willing to spend the whole week with me in Ohio!
It was truly a surreal experience, and one that I highly recommend to anyone considering it. I'll be sure to keep you posted over the next year on what I'm up to!

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Spotlight on The Dane Foundation

Since I've been sharing about my time at the national Ms. Wheelchair USA pageant, I thought I'd take some time today to talk about the not-for-profit organization that does the amazing work to put on the pageant - The Dane Foundation.

The Dane Foundation is headquartered in Cuyahoga Falls (where the pageant is, too!), and their work is centered around that area. They foundation is named for Dane, a boy born with cerebral palsy. He served as a spokesperson for the Foundation until his death in 2003, and helped raise education and awareness for those living with disabilities.

The Dane Foundation's mission is to "address the unique needs of individuals with developmental and physical disabilities." The foundation focuses on providing quality of life items for people with disabilities - things like personal care items, toiletries, household items, etc. These items are generally not covered by other support services (you'd be surprised how strict the rules can be!), but are obviously very needed!

They also have additional services they provide during the holiday season - help with Thanksgiving dinners, and gifts for children with disabilities during the Christmas season. The votes you cast for me in the People's Choice Award went towards funding the Christmas gift program, Project Elf!

I'm really looking forward to learning more about The Dane Foundation, and working with them this week. If you want to learn more about them, you can go to their website here.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Ms. Wheelchair USA 2018

Some of you may have seen this elsewhere, but I wanted to write a short post to officially announce that I was chosen as Ms. Wheelchair USA 2018! I am incredibly honored, proud, and excited, and just a little bit overwhelmed. I cannot thank you all enough for your support!

I will be back later this week or early next week going over the pageant week and pageant itself in more detail. The week was amazing, but also very busy and a bit of a whirlwind! I'm going to take a few days to catch up on things in my real life, and to think about how I want to get things started with the national platform that I now have! It's such an amazing opportunity, and one that I want to be sure not to waste.

I also just want to mention how grateful I am to have met all the other incredible women who came from all over the nation to take part in Ms. Wheelchair USA. Each and every one of them had such an amazing story, and I am sure that we will see great things from them.


Wednesday, July 18, 2018

My Favorite Acne Spot Treatment

I won't lie - I really hate when I have acne. I know it's (mostly) out of my control, and it's superficial, but it still bothers me! I think, more than the break out itself, I hate the unpredictability of it - not knowing when a zit is going to crop up, or how long it's going to take to go away. I also hate that no matter how careful I am about my skin, I can't avoid breaking out completely.

Which is why I got nervous when I started to break out before pageant week - I'll have enough to worry about while I'm there; I don't really want to be stressing over my face while I'm there. No matter how much make-up I put on to try to cover up a break out, it still always feels like it's all anybody is looking at. Obviously, rationally, I know that's not true - but that doesn't stop me from feeling like it.

I've shared my skincare routine before (here, here, and here) - I am pretty careful about my skin and taking care of it! But when I get a breakout, I turn to this potent 9% BHA solution from Paula's Choice. It's 9% salicylic acid, so it's strong and targeted - when I put this on a break out at night, it's noticeably smaller and less irritated in the morning. It still takes a few days to get rid of it completely, but adding it to my normal routine definitely speeds the process along. A little bit goes a very, very long way, so make sure to use sparingly!

(This post isn't sponsored, but uses affiliate links - I may earn a small commission from any purchases you make.)

Monday, July 16, 2018

Amazon Prime Deal Day 2018

Greetings from Ohio! I'm out of town for Ms. Wheelchair PA USA this week, so I'm not sure how much I'll be around on Twitter/Instagram/Facebook, but I'll have posts here like usual! I'm sure I'll have some time throughout the week to post updates on social media, and then of course, I'll be sharing all about my trip here once I'm back.

Like almost everyone else, I have an Amazon Prime addiction. I love being able to order things and then have them arrive 2 days later - for a procrastinator like me, that's ideal! Today is Amazon Prime Deal Day, when Amazon shares a whole bunch of amazing deals. I thought this would be the perfect time to share some of my favorite Prime products.
AmazonBasics Microfiber Sheet Set
I have tried more expensive sheets, and honestly, these feel just as nice. They're soft and comfortable, and obviously, a great price!

Laptop Case
I think it's genius that this case has pockets for cords built into the case, and the case itself is really nice and protective.

Fire HD Tablet
I'm actually an iPad Mini user, but my sister just bought this Fire HD 8 Tablet and loves it. It's lightweight, and you can read, watch TV/movies on it, and surf the Internet, too.

iPhone Charging Cable
Nothing crazy here - just a basic charging cable for an iPhone. Mine always break and get ruined so quickly, so I don't need anything crazy.

Dog Shampoo and Conditioner
I know... no dog needs CHI shampoo and conditioner. But they leave Lily silky soft, and they smell soooo good!

Echo Device
I actually have a slightly different one, but this is too great of a deal to pass up. I use my Echo every single day, and I love it!

(This post uses affiliate links; I may earn a small commission from any purchases you make.)

Friday, July 13, 2018

Friday Favorites

I can't believe that I leave this weekend for the Ms. Wheelchair USA pageant - this week has really flown! I am so grateful for all of your support through this process, and I'm so excited to share more with you once I'm back home.
This wasn't planned, but all of the links I have to share with you this week are almost all  disability/accessibility related in one way or another. I think of it as my subconscious helping me to prepare for the pageant.

  • The comic with cerebral palsy
    I hadn't heard of the comic Maysoon Zayid before I came across this article, but I'm looking forward to listening to more of her sets. This interview with her was amazing to read. She talks about how she ended up in comedy because Hollywood "rejected" her - as a woman with a disability, there were no roles for her. She also talks about how it was a struggle to convince people it was okay to laugh at disability.
  • NPR takes on the straw bans
    I've been dipping my toe in engaging on social media about the straw bans, and trying to explain why people with disabilities NEED plastic straws. It's been frustrating, to say the least. I'm really glad to see the issue getting national attention on NPR, and I think the article does a really great job at laying out the arguments that people with disabilities are making, and captures our frustration at not being heard.
  • Aerie's inclusive ad campaign
    American Eagle is actually headquartered here in Pittsburgh, so I love seeing good things about them in the news. I've heard about their Aerie Real campaign before - they promise no airbrushing, to show real people modeling their clothes. This time, they also featured people with disabilities or chronic illnesses as well! The interview notes that many people pointed out this was the first time they'd seen someone who looked like them represented, and I completely agree.
  • ASOS jumpsuit designed by a woman who uses a wheelchair
    I'm not a jumpsuit-wearer - they remind me too much of the Juicy Couture jumpsuits that were popular when I was in middle school/high school - but I am still so happy about this. After having to leave a music festival early when it started to rain, a woman who uses a wheelchair reached out to ASOS about designing something specifically with wheelchair users in mind. The final result may not be my style, but is definitely music festival friendly, and makes me hopeful about more collaboration in the future.
  • The Power of Positivity
    I have talked about how important I think good friendships are before, and this article just confirms my thoughts on their importance! It talks about how the people who we surround ourselves with shape us and our attitudes - so if you surround yourself with positive people, you will in turn become more positive yourself. Having people around you who care about you and support you is so important!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

#Inclusive by Abby and Kristen

One of the best parts of blogging and being on social media is the connections I've made to others. It's been great to connect with other people with disabilities (and in this case, other people with SMA), who are interested in the same things that I am. I'm really excited for you to read about what Abby and Kristen are working on, and I hope that you'll support their #Inclusive campaign and their goal of starting an inclusive fashion line!
The idea for creating an inclusive and adaptive clothing line sprouted from a shopping trip with my best friend/co-founder Kristen.  I had just graduated college and needed interview clothes. I was struggling to find dress pants that looked fashionable, fit nice, and were comfortable sitting in my wheelchair. It was Kristen who actually brought it to my attention that there were no brands really making or marketing clothes for people who used wheelchairs. We realized after that shopping trip that we needed to do something to fix this. This is where the idea of an inclusive clothing line came about.

We are creating a brand that is truly inclusive and starting with a focus on jeans for individuals who use wheelchairs.  These jeans will be different from the normal denim because we are thinking about a seated body when creating these them. From the cut, fit, and materials we are utilizing to develop our products - these are just a few of the adaptations making to create a jean that fits and feels comfortable for people who use wheelchairs. We hope to create not only the best fitting, most stylish jeans you own - but also a community that accepts and allows individuals to connect and engage to the fullest 
-->.
We have been in the research and product development stage for about a year now - with most of that time being research. There are many challenges that we are confronted by as we build an emerging brand in a space and industry that has not been successfully scaled before. But those challenges are also what give us drive and determination we couldn’t get anywhere else 
-->.
Our first project is a t-shirt campaign that focuses on inclusion, with a hope to spark conversations about what being inclusive means and how to join the movement. We were really excited to launch t-shirts, tanks tops, jerseys, and sweatshirts with our Inclusive logo last month. You can view and buy them here, but only through Saturday! We want the world to be an inclusive place for people of all abilities, and this campaign goes directly towards making that dream a reality! We are enrolled in Factory45, a sustainable fashion accelerator program that takes us from idea to product development to launch. This also means that we have access to suppliers and manufacturers who are based in the US, which is very important to us growing up in the textile communities of Valdese and Hickory, NC! Our #inclusive campaign is providing the resources for us to be able to participate in this program.

We have been blown away by the support we’ve seen so far! We are excited for what the future holds for our first adaptive denim line and Inclusive Brand. To get the latest updates, visit our Instagram page here.  
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Tuesday, July 10, 2018

What I've Been Reading

I wasn't joking when I said that I spent a lot of time in the summer reading! It really is one of my favorite things to do outside, and I spent a lot of my down time on vacation reading. I'm not someone who really likes to just sit outside doing nothing, so reading is the perfect outdoor activity for me.
I say this every time I post something like this, but I mean it - tell me what you've been reading lately! I am always on the lookout for something new.

Here's what I've been reading...

  • When Life Gives You Lululemons by Lauren WeisbergerThe Devil Wears Prada is one of my all-time favorite movies, and I love the book, too. So of course, when I heard that the author had written a follow-up about Emily's life, I knew I had to read it. It's a fun, light read, and it was interesting to hear Emily's story rather than Andie's - although it was hard to not hear the story told in a British accent in my mind!
 
  • Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur JaswalThe title makes this novel seem a lot more "erotic" than it really is! It's actually a really good look at different cultures and different takes on relationships. But it also really underscores the similarities across generations and across cultures, and how storytelling can bring people together and create a sense of belonging.
 
  • The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liz ConstantineThis is a psychological thriller, of sorts - it shoes you how relationships can look very different from the outside than they do to the people actually in the relationships. It's a dark look at relationships, and how people can seem happy and like they have everything, but may actually feel trapped and miserable.
 
  • Something in the Water by Catherine SteadmanThis book was another pick of Reese Witherspoon's book club, which hasn't disappointed yet! This is another psychological thriller, about deception and lies and how people aren't always who they think you are. It's not a positive, uplifting read, but it is a captivating one.
 
  • The Hopefuls by Jennifer CloseThis novel is a close look at relationships in DC, and how political relationships there can take precedence over personal ones. I love DC, and think the power dynamics of the city are fascinating, so I really enjoyed reading it. But this is a good read even for people who aren't into politics at all - it's much more about relationships than politics!

Monday, July 9, 2018

Ms. Wheelchair USA: Pageant Preparation

I cannot believe that a week from today I'll be in Ohio for pageant week! Back in April, this week seemed so far away, but as usual, it came quickly and I still have a few things left to do before I pack up my crown to take on Nationals.

I love that the Ms. Wheelchair USA pageant puts a spotlight on your platform, and I've had a great time making my public appearances so far (read about my time at the CTAA Expo here and the Brentwood Fourth of July parade here). I'm excited to keep spreading the word about increasing inclusion for people with disabilities, because it's something I'm so passionate about, and I really love connecting with others who feel the same way! So I've been practicing and honing my platform speech, and am really looking forward to sharing my message at the pageant.

There's lots of other behind the scenes things going on, too! Little welcome gifts for the other pageant contestants, reading (and re-reading!) the schedule, working on my "About Me" display, and packing! This is going to be quite the busy week.
While the pageant is clearly about more than the clothing, I'm won't lie - I'm really excited about my evening gown, and I wanted to share a sneak peek with you here. I don't think I'll have many occasions in my life to go all out like this (although, fingers crossed there are more - I love dressing up!), so I decided to just go for it. I got some accessory advice from Stacy London on Twitter, and I love how everything came together.

Almost as soon as I found out that I'd made it to Nationals, I started looking for my evening gown. It's hard for me to find things that fit, and I knew I'd need the dress to be altered, so I wanted to make sure I found something in plenty of time. I checked Nordstrom and Bloomingdales first, but as usual, everything I liked was way out of my price range. But then I remembered The RealReal - the online designer consignment store. That's where I found my perfect dress. I love the color and how sparkly it is! I also got it altered to change the back from the zipper it had to a lace-up corset-style back, because that's so much easier for me to change into than a zipper - which was really important to me, because I'll be changing into the dress in the middle of the pageant.

Shoes were the next thing I was worried about, because I wear a size 2 - they're not easy to find! Kids shoes are an option usually, but I wanted something that didn't look too young, and I was worried that I wouldn't be able to find what I was looking for in the kids section. So I turned to Shoes of Prey - they offer so many sizes, and let you customize the shoes so you can find exactly what you're looking for. So I was able to get the perfect pair of black sequin flats, that don't look young but also fit!

And then, there's the jewelry. Stacy London was kind enough to offer me some advice on Twitter, and I found the perfect vintage cocktail ring on Etsy, and these sparkly, dangly BaubleBar earrings on Shopbop.

I'm so excited to wear everything during the pageant and show you the finished product!

(This post contains affiliate links; any purchases you make may earn me a small commission.)

Friday, July 6, 2018

Friday Favorites

As strange as it was to have the Fourth of July holiday fall in the middle of the week, it definitely made the second half of the week go very quickly!
If you didn't catch it on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram, I got to spend my Fourth walking in the Brentwood Fourth of July parade as Ms. Wheelchair PA USA. I used to go to this parade every year as a kid, so it was really exciting to be able to actually be in it! It was a crazy hot day, but really fun nonetheless.

 I wasn't online as much as usual this week because of the holiday, so today's post is shorter than usual.

  • The Handmaid's TaleI don't have a link to this one, because it's a Hulu series, but if you haven't been watching it, you should start ASAP! Season 2 is currently airing, so you don't have too much to catch up on. It's a dark show, based on the Margaret Atwood novel with the same title. It was written years ago, but still feels relevant - it can be rough to watch, but I really think it's worth it.
 
  • Exfoliating for the Best SkinI loved this article in The New York Times about exfoliation, because using a chemical exfoliant has made such a difference in my skin. My favorite is this Paula's Choice one, but the article does a great job about talking about the different types.
 
  • Jacqueline Kennedy's Notes Found
    My favorite parts of history are the personal touches - the everyday things that come to have historical significance after the fact. Jackie Kennedy's packing notes for her trip capture all of that - they mean so much now, but surely she never would have imagined they'd mean anything to anyone at all as she was writing them. This article shows the notes, but also talks about ownership of historical documents and who is allowed to see them.
 (This post contains affiliate links; I may earn a small commission from any purchases you make.)

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Vacationing in Orlando, Part 2

Lately, it's seemed like it's not a vacation for me unless something goes wrong. I've been to the Hilton Head ER because of nosebleeds, been to the ER in NYC and also have my feeding tube start to come out while traveling there on a different trip... it's always something!

This trip seemed to be off to a good start - the plane wasn't delayed, and there was no damage to the wheelchairs during the flight. But when my parents went to go pick up our rental van, that's where the issues began.

Because my sister and I both use wheelchairs, our rental van needs are pretty specific. We can't go to Hertz or Avis or any of the normal car rental places - none of them stock accessible vehicles. So we have to rent through a business that specifically deals with accessible vans and minivans. And because we need one that can fit two wheelchairs, we're even more limited. It might not seem like that big of a deal, but many rental companies are not able to accommodate two wheelchairs. So we made sure to stress, in writing, that there were two wheelchairs, we gave the dimensions, and said we'd need two sets of tie-downs.

Unfortunately, my parents got to the parking lot and saw that the van set aside for us had only one set of tie-downs, and wasn't large enough to fit both of our chairs (they were lined up one in front of each other, rather than side-to-side like our normal minivan). Because it was a Saturday afternoon, it took a while to get the manager to come to the office, and for us to find out that luckily, they did have a minivan in the lot that would work for us. By this point, it had already been four hours since our flight landed, and we still had to check into the hotel, unpack, and get dinner! And if there hadn't been a minivan that worked for us, I really don't know what we would have done.

Because things can never be too easy, we did have one more issue. I don't want to get into too much detail on this one, because things aren't completely resolved, but the breathing machine I use overnight stopped working. When we called our local medical supply company back in Pennsylvania, they weren't able to find a replacement machine for me. I was getting nervous, but my sister had the idea to call Give Kids The World Village. I've talked about Give Kids The World in this post - they're a village located outside of Orlando where all of the Make-A-Wish kids get to stay. They do accessibility so well - they make every aspect of their little community accessible (the pool, the merry-go-round, everything), and make every guest feel so special. Less than five minutes after calling them, they had referred us to a local supply company in Orlando, and we had scheduled a drop off of a rental piece of equipment to our hotel that day. I am so grateful that they were able to help!

These are the things that make traveling with a disability so stressful. No matter how much you try to plan and prepare, there are always things that can go wrong. And when they do, it's not always a simple, quick fix. When the rental van isn't right, we can't just go to the counter and ask for a new one. I'd love to see regular car rental companies stocking accessible vehicles, as well! We still have a ways to go to make traveling simpler for people with disabilities.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Vacationing in Orlando, Part 1

I know I talked about the hotel we stayed at in Orlando, but I wanted to share more about the trip itself. I'm going to split it into two posts, because as usual on any trip I take, there were some minor disasters that I want to take some time to talk about. But today's post will be disaster free!

I know when people hear Orlando, they think Disney. And we did spend a day of our trip at Disney, but we didn't want this trip to be Disney only. Not only is Disney expensive, but it's also exhausting! You're spending long, hot days at the park, and you're not getting back to your hotel until midnight (or later). It's so magical and fun, but it's a lot! So this time, we decided on a day at Disney, a day at Universal, and a day at Sea World (at my dad's request).

I could talk about Disney forever. They do such an amazing job at making every single guest feel welcome at their parks, including people with disabilities. I was actually noticing that I saw more people who use wheelchairs in one day at Disney than I do in a month in my day-to-day life! This really says something to me - Disney is so well-known for making people with disabilities feel included that those people feel like it's worth it to travel there (see my post here for traveling with a disability). Across the parks, there are some rids you can actually ride your wheelchair on to, there are accessible viewing areas for each and every show and parade, their online dining reservations have a checkbox specifically for accessibility, and most of all - the cast members are unfailingly kind and friendly.

This trip, we only did Animal Kingdom, which is definitely a smaller park. We were a little bit disappointed that the new Pandora section didn't have any accessible rides (rides that you don't have to transfer out of your chair), but we still enjoyed walking around the area and looking at the cool theming - Disney does immersive so well! We also had a delicious Father's Day dinner in the park, and got to see the relatively new nighttime show, Rivers of Light, which was incredible!
Our day at Universal revolved around Harry Potter world. We knew ahead of time that none of the rides at Universal other than the Hogwarts Express were ones we could ride in our wheelchairs, so we mostly went to look around and shop. We'd been once before, but they expanded the Harry Potter part since then, so we got to explore Diagon Alley too this time, which was fun! A lot of the shops are the same in the two areas (Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley), but we still had a great time exploring them all. And the Hogwarts Express was really fun - I don't want to give away details, but they make the ride between parks a fun one.

I haven't talked about this much here, but I'm a huge Food Network fan, and I love watching Iron Chef. So when I found out that there was a Morimoto in Disney Springs, the Disney-owned area with restaurants and shopping, I knew I had to go. The meal was so delicious, and the service was incredible! I will be dreaming of going back until my next trip to Orlando.

I spent the rest of my time relaxing on the screened in porch, reading a lot, and just enjoying the time off! The week felt like it went so quickly, as usual - I think this time it felt even quicker because of the few hiccups at the beginning of the trip... which I'll talk about in tomorrow's post!