Thursday, July 31, 2014

Why do I blog?

I have absolutely no idea. Normally just a way to stay creative, share what's going on with me, vent... it's really just all about me. Me. Memememememememe!

31 Days of Film Challenge

Wish I'd found this one in time for July, but August is good, too. It's close to our Disney trip and Disney films will no doubt be a big part of this challenge!

Day 1- Your favorite film
Day 2- Your least favorite film
Day 3- A film that makes you happy
Day 4- A film that makes you sad
Day 5- A film that reminds you of someone
Day 6- A film that reminds you of a certain event
Day 7- A film with your favorite soundtrack
Day 8- A film that you can quote every line from
Day 9- The best documentary film
Day 10- A film from your favorite Director
Day 11- The best sports film
Day 12- A film with your favorite actor/actress
Day 13- A film with your least favorite actor/actress
Day 14- A film that you used to love but now hate
Day 15- The best horror film
Day 16- A film that you totally didn't "get"
Day 17- The most beautiful scene in any film
Day 18- The worst script in any film
Day 19- The first film you saw in a theater
Day 20- The best political film
Day 21- The film that not only changed the way you saw cinema, but the way you saw the world
Day 22- The film you should like, but don’t
Day 23- The funniest film you’ve ever seen
Day 24- Your “guilty pleasure” film
Day 25- The film that makes you want to be a filmmaker
Day 26- The film that should have never had a sequel
Day 27- A film from your childhood
Day 28- Your “perfect date” film
Day 29- A film that you will never tire of
Day 30- The “smartest” film you’ve seen
Day 31- The “perfect” film

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Make Up?

Because of my sensitive skin, I rarely wear make up. When I do it's normally because I have my contacts in and I feel like I need to dress up my face. I have eye shadow, mascara... and that's about it. That's enough burning of my skin.

Besides, I have NO idea what I'm doing anyway when it comes to make up. Mom isn't much of a girly girl either so I've never had anyone explain it to me ha ha

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Where in the world has Tonichelle been?

Not as catchy as "Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego" but it'll have to do. Today's prompt is "where have you traveled?"

I haven't been many places. With 10 trips to Disney Parks under my belt that means I've skipped out on other trips, so far, but I'm hoping that will change... eventually.

But, other than Disney World and Disneyland I've been to 16 (maybe more that I'm forgetting?) states, drove through Canada, cruised to the Bahamas... and of course I've visited many spots in Alaska (and still haven't seen most of my state).

Monday, July 28, 2014

48 days till Disneyland 2014!

The prompt today is "what are you looking forward to" - and I think we all know what I'm looking forward to most - my Disneyland trip in September!

So what better way to celebrate that by giving you the "Cast of Characters" that will be going on this trip.

Probably my favorite set of Mickey ears EVER! Maleficent!
Tonichelle - aka, ME! This will be my fifth trip to Disneyland and 11th trip to a Disney park. The last time I went to Disneyland was in 2012 right after Carsland opened (we were there during summer vacation. Oh. My. Word. Do not recommend!). I'm pretty familiar with getting around the parks, but still haven't seen and done everything.

I am the trip planner/coordinator (by default). It's actually one of my favorite parts of a Disney trip - the planning. As much as it's stressful when trying to make sure everyone's wants/hopes get met or at least acknowledged, I just love doing all of the booking and coordinating. Crazy, I know. I have spreadsheets, and folders, and notebooks filled with the plans. It's the most organized part of my life!

I've been a huge fan of Disney my entire life, that I've gotten to go to the parks as many times as I have over the last few years (I only went once as a child, and once as a teen, the rest has been in adulthood!) has been a blessing. I love the history and nostalgia far more than the new stuff, so Disneyland holds a special place in my heart (as previous blog posts have shared). That I'm walking in Walt's footsteps makes Disneyland that much more special and I can forgive that it's less inclusive than Walt Disney World.

I am the first of our group that will make it into SoCal. I get in several hours before check in for the hotel, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that they'll have our room ready early, otherwise I'm going to be smelling like airplane in their very small lobby for hours.

Gotta admit, they are pretty adorable together. Disgusting.
Erin & Wess - My "beastie" and her boy. Back in 2010 on the Road Trip From Hell we decided that to celebrate our 30th birthdays we would do a Disney cruise. It was something neither of us had done yet, and so we wanted to try something new. We also decided that since we went to Disney World on my birthday (January 2009) that we'd go around Erin's birthday this time. Considering Erin does not do birthdays very well (think Joey in "The One Where They All Turn 30") I figured she'd have more fun with the Mouse and company. It'd take her mind off of it a bit.

But as time drew near for the trip, we began pricing it out and it we kept wanting the park experience again. Then Erin met a boy. *cue dramatic music* Things changed. The two quickly fell in love (disgusting) and before long there were wedding bells. I headed for Montana and watched my best friend marry her best friend. But, before their wedding day I made the announcement to Erin and Wess that I thought that instead of a girls only trip, that Wess should come along with us on the 30th birthday celebration. I think I shocked both of them as I had been pretty adamant that it needed to stay a girls only thing. But, the three of us were getting along, and Wess has never been to a Disney Park.

We need to fix that. So the two of them are coming, and Erin and I just laugh like crazy evil people because we know Wess has NO idea what he's getting into with the two of us at Disney. The poor man. He'll need a lot of prayer this September for his sanity. But I have a feeling he will have a great time.

Erin and I met our freshman year of high school and became fast friends. We still don't know how that happened exactly, but Erin says it's too late for me to ditch her now. They say if you remain friends after 10 years you will always be friends. This year marks our 15th year of friendship. We're stuck with each other. And I am SO glad we are. I can't wait to celebrate with her. It's been over a year since we last gave each other a hug and smacked each other, we've only a month and a half left to go... the countdown is going to take forEVER.

Wess and Erin get in late on the 14th (many hours after me) so I will hopefully get to nap while I wait for them to make it to the hotel and then WATCH OUT ANAHEIM!

We've been great friends for 10 years, and we'll finally "meet!"
Aimee - my beautiful friend from Buffalo! We met online during our days as massive Star Wars fangirls (okay, well, nerds). It was about 10 years ago and it was through our greatestjournal accounts. It's crazy to think how much we've grown and changed and our friendship is soooooo unlikely, but thanks to "social media" and the interwebs here we are. I've made some pretty great friendships over the years online, but Aimee holds a special place in my heart. She's definitely one of the people I trust with a lot, and she keeps me honest! Ha ha. She definitely keeps me laughing.

Aimee coming on this trip happened rather... quickly... back in December. I blogged about it back in May. Aime and Erin share the same birthday so they will be the birthday twins on this trip. It will be Aimee's first time to the West Coast. We'd joked for years that we'd no doubt end up meeting for the first time at a Disney Park and now it's HAPPENING! I think I'm more excited for THAT than actually GOING to Disney!

Aimee is just as big a Disney nerd as I am, so I want to make sure that Disneyland is a special event for her. I'm sure it will be, but I have a feeling Wess and Erin will judge our fangirliness on all things Mr. Disney ha ha. Aimee gets in the day after the rest of us, and is only spending a few days (she has something called a job, psh!) but they'll be jam packed with Disney as well as the beach and a little bit of Hollywood. Gotta make sure that if she comes all this way she gets to experience the Pacific!

So there you have it! 48 days till DISNEY and BIRTHDAYS and FRIENDS!!!!!!!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Favorite Recipe - Cowboy Cookies

Since I've been asked for this recipe many times in the last week or so, I figured this would be the one that I'd use for today's prompt.

They are the bestest and biggest cookies EVER.

Laura Bush's Cowboy Cookies 

3 cups all-purpose flour 
1 tablespoon baking powder 
1 tablespoon baking soda 
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon 
1 teaspoon salt 
1-1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter (at room temperature) 
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar 
1-1/2 cups packed light-brown sugar 
3 large eggs 
1 tablespoon vanilla extract 
3 cups semisweet chocolate chips 
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats 
2 cups sweetened flake coconut 
2 cups chopped pecans (8 ounces) 

Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in bowl. In 8-quart bowl, beat butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy, 1 minute. Gradually beat in sugars; beat to combine, 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each. Beat in vanilla extract. Stir in flour mixture until just combined. Add chocolate chips, oats, coconut and pecans. For each cookie, drop 1/4 cup dough onto ungreased baking sheets, spacing 3 inches apart. Bake for 17 to 19 minutes, until edges are lightly browned; rotate sheets halfway through. Remove cookies from rack to cool. Makes about 3 dozen cookies. 

NOTE: For 6 dozen smaller cookies, use 2 tablespoons dough for each. Bake at 350 F for 15 to 18 minutes.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

An Old Picture of Me

In honor of Ted Stevens Day in Alaska, I'll share an old photo of me enjoying the best of Alaska. I was five, I'd broken my arm (hence the missing right arm and dad holding on to my sunglasses-that are really his glasses), and I am driving the boat while fishing on... I'm not sure if it's Eagle River or the Kenai. We still lived in Anchorage at the time, so anything is possible.

The late Senator Ted Stevens is still a powerhouse name in Alaska. He fought to get us into statehood and fought for our state until he was illegally prosecuted and thrown out of the senate a year before his death (on his way to a fishing trip, plane crashed). Uncle Ted is a true Alaskan Patriot, and a few months after his passing Alaskans began honoring him by getting out and playing in the state that he loved. Every year on the last Saturday of July we come together to remember the man who made Alaska into the state that it is today.

So, come on, Alaskans, lets GET OUT AND PLAY!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Favorite Blogs

I have to post my five favorite blogs today... I have a confession, I don't read too many consistently. I spend most of my time on twitter and facebook (which is kinda used like a blog by many, including me, even though it's "frowned upon").

But there are a few that I do enjoy when I read them, so here we go...

1. Disney Parks Blog - the official blog of Disney Parks. It keeps me going as I count down to the next Disney trip (51 days!).

2. Roots Before Branches (Casey Chappell) - I grew up with Casey's family. Casey is the oldest of 9 children, her dad was the pastor of the church that my family was saved and "raised" in. The Nichols' household was a second home to I think every kid at First Baptist Church of Kenai in those days. I love and miss all of them. Growing up as an only child their family was overwhelming and yet such a blessing at the same time. I love Casey's blog (when she has time to share, with 5 kids under 6 she has her hands full!) she is a gifted photographer and her work always inspires me.

3. Nelson Family Journey (Amanda & Darryl Nelson) - Friends from my days at Anchorage Baptist Temple, Darryl and Amanda recently adopted their daughter. Amanda is the main author of the blog, and I LOVE her heart in this journey! Adoption rocks!

4. Disney Tourist Blog - Photography in this blog is so inspiring. They share some of the best photos of the park and considering that's one of my favorite things to do in the parks, too, it really helps get my creative brain working in how to better my shots.

5. Kristin Shyla - Kristin is one of Casey's best friends. I met her in 2010 when we visited the Chappells for a few hours on our road trip to Disney World (aka the Road Trip From Hell). Kristin is a fellow photographer and another inspiration of mine. She shares her heart so openly. She's a beautifully creative person.

And there you have it! My five favorite blogs.

Support Setnetters and be declared UnAlaskan

So apparently if you support the setnetters in the great salmon debate currently being duked out on the Kenai, and you DARE to suggest Anchorage fish IN ANCHORAGE when it comes to Dipnetting, then you are declared a "lower 48 scumbag" who needs to "move back to where you came from". I just got told that several times by internet idiots.

To them I say:

I was born and raised here. The media is reporting that 90% of those that are dipnetting on the Kenai DO NOT LIVE ON THE PENINSULA. Knowing what I know, that means 90% are from Anchorage and the Valley (anyone further North most likely dipnet in their rivers). 15,000 people are reported to be dipping this year ON THE KENAI. Not total in state, but IN ONE LOCATION. To suggest that THAT is not a factor in the smaller salmon runs is to be in denial. The crowds have gotten out of control, when my family dipped it was not HALF this size peoplewise. That was just a decade ago (if that). The numbers are growing exponentially.

Setnets have been around far longer than dipnetting. Between Dipnetters not following the rules, and more guides and commercial fishermen there is going to be a smaller number of fish returning. It's simple math. But as always the setnetters are the ones that the people focus on. Why? Because it's easier.

I am SO done with this debate. Dipnetters need to GO HOME, and ADFG needs to get a grip on the situation. The Kenai King is DEAD because of piss poor management that was more about the dollar than about sustaining ANYTHING. Now look where we are.

CSI: San Antonio

We all have the horror hotel story. Where you book a room, get to the hotel and check in, walk to your room after a long day of travel only to realize - this place is a hole.

If only our experience in 2010 was that good.

Erin and I traveled, basically across country and back in 2010 for our yearly besties trip. Originally we were going to head for Canada and take in a bunch of the sites they had to offer, but because of scheduling conflicts, we couldn't go during the summer and we didn't want to roadtrip in the winter time. So, Erin suggested we head back to Disney. We'd visited WDW in January of 2009 and she'd gotten hooked on Disney travel.

I still wanted to road trip, so we compromised. I'd fly to Seattle, she'd drive over from Montana and we'd head down I-5 and across the southern states to end up in Disney. Though we never finished our blog posts/trip report you can kinda get an idea as to how that went from our travel blog.

Anyway, on our return trip we managed to make it into San Antonio - we wanted to stop there (okay, I wanted to stop there) because our pastor (well, the pastor we had while were growing up) calls me "San Antonio" since when I was little I hated when people called me Antonio (for the record it's "Antonia"). So I wanted to visit the Alamo and get a picture of me under a "Welcome to San Antonio" sign. We did both (and have nothing to show for it because Erin lost her camera!), but not before we had a nightmare of a night at San Antonio Travelodge - Alamo.

So, why am I sharing this now? It all started with a conversation started by a friend sharing this satire piece. It reminded me SO much of Erin and my experience. We "lovingly" refer to it as CSI: San Antonio and we're still convinced there was a dead body in one of the rooms.

So, let me set the scene. We pull into this hotel that looks nothing like the promo pictures they had on their website (or gave to Trip Advisor). It was in desperate need of paint, half of it was taped off, the pavement was shoddy at best... this should have been our clue to get outta there, but we were tired and we didn't want to get hit with a cancellation fee. So instead we drove up to the office, got out and checked in.

Check in was difficult, the man at the desk was no where to be found so we stood around for several minutes before he came walking in. Check in was simple enough. He gave us a key, told us about the complimentary continental breakfast (that was found in the same area as the pool, which was closed for renovations. Yeah, seems legit.), and where we needed to park. Off we went to the room.

We walk in and it looked like a brawl had just taken place in the room.The tv sat on not just a rickety old dresser, but one that was falling apart in front of our very eyes. There were stains on the carpet, and a fresh wet stain of something coming from the bathroom. I wouldn't venture into the bathroom itself, but Erin said the sink was very dirty/disgusting.

Dissatisfied with where they put us, we walked back to the office to get them to switch our rooms. The guy at the counter looked at us in disbelief when we told him what we'd found. He apologized and then had the nerve to ask "and you don't want to stay in that room?" Um, no, we want a CLEAN and well kept room. So with a huff, he switched out our keys and told us what our new room number was.

Back across the parking lot to the door. Erin puts the key in the lock and turns the doorknob and... the door wouldn't open. No amount of pushing would get it open. So back in the car we go and we drive over to the office. Yeah, we weren't doing any more walking in the heat. Besides, we figured we'd be doing this at least one more time.

Once again he is shocked, and this time walks over to the door with us to make sure we weren't pulling a fast one on him. He tried several times, even trying to kick the door in. Nothing. So he said something about the hotel being remodeled and perhaps that was the reason the door wouldn't open. Okay....

Finally the third room we walk in and... well... while it wasn't what we'd consider a GOOD hotel room, it was fairly clean, everything seemed to be in working order, and we were done trying to get a decent room. As long as the beds looked semi-clean we were in for the night. We brought in the bare essentials and hunkered in. But, not before we documented the more humorous parts of our room (which was a handicapped room at that).

Oh the irony! An ashtray in a non-smoking room.
Gotta love Texas, eh?

Erin having fun in the handicapped shower.

They spared no expense with the furniture.
This one was in the bathroom.

...and this was the chair by my bed.

I was super excited to be in this room.
(note we slept on top of the bedding.)

We watched Skating With The Stars on TV (making fun of judge Johnny Weir because, well... he was pretty ridiculous)... and then the news broke in. Highways headed to Salt Lake City were closed due to a snow/ice storm. I was planning to fly out of Salt Lake. So Erin did some quick travel agent work and got our hotel booked in Dallas Ft Worth and we changed my airline ticket and we were going to head that way instead.

As we got ready for bed, talking of the plans of the next day (Alamo and Riverwalk), the door started to open. Someone was trying to get in! So we shoved all remaining furniture, suitcases, and what not against the door (the latch and lock were a joke)! The rest of the night we drifted in and out of sleep as a bajillion pizza flyers kept coming through the crack in the door.

And that's my horror story of the night. MUWAHAHAHAAHAHA! Stay away from San Antonio Travelodge.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Updated Itinerary

No big changes, just adding times as I get them... Disney doesn't have its hours up for our part of September, but the other parks we're visiting do. So I'll go ahead and add those as well as the times for our reservations.

September 14, 2014 –Travel Day!!!
Fly into SoCal

September 15, 2014 – Lazy Day and Disney!
9am - Erin's Pedicure - Mandara Spa (Grand Californian)
Aimee arrives ~ 2pm-ish
4:30pm  - Dinner @ Crossroads at the House of Blues (Downtown Disney)

September 16, 2014 – Disneyland!!!
9:40am - Breakfast @ Carnation Café (Disneyland Park)  
Tour parks
6:30pm - Erin & Wess Date Night - Steakhouse 55 (Disneyland Hotel)
6:30pm (ish) - Aimee & Toni - Dinner at Flo's (Disney California Adventure)

September 17, 2014 – Disneyland Birthdays! (Aimee & Erin)
5pm - Birthday Dinner! - Goofy’s Kitchen (Disneyland Hotel)

September 18, 2014 – Beach & Hollywood
Pick up Rental Car early.
Hollywood first? Beach?

September 19, 2014 -- Disneyland

September 20, 2014 – San Diego Zoo (Aimee leaves :’()
Park Hours: 9am - 6pm
7am - Head for San Diego (Erin, Toni, Wess)

September 21, 2014 – Universal Studios
Park Hours: 9am - 7pm
BubbaGump Lunch/Dinner

September 22, 2014 – Disneyland

September 23, 2014 – Travel Day :’(

"My favorite book!"

I've gushed about my all time favorite children's book multiple times. Danger The Dog Yard Cat was my favorite book to read when I was small. Libby won the Iditarod in 1985, and this book came about 5 years later. Libby won the year I was born, and I was a huge fan of all things Iditarod. To have the first woman win the year I was born meant I was instantly a huge fan of Libby. She was one of my sports heroes as far back as I can remember.

I had the audio tape that went along with the book (it's now on CD, I need to get me a copy!) and I wore the book and the tape out. I knew the book by heart, and could sing the songs without the music. I was obsessed. Danger looked like my cat, Scooter, and Mudshark was an interesting crosseyed dog. That these characters were all "real" (though the story is pretty near made up) made the story that much more fun.

I think every child from my generation living in Alaska had a copy of this book (as well as others written by Shelley Gill, one of the best children's authors EVER), it's so popular it's still in production 25 years later. If you have a youngster (past 2nd grade it's too easy a reading level) this is definitely a book worth having in your personal library!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

"A dream is a wish your heart makes..."

My dream job since high school has been to be a tv/film director. I've pretty much given up on that dream as really I have no way of really learning the craft (or maybe I just don't have the drive it takes to learn). I have a lot of creative ideas and what not, I just don't ever have the focus to get something done.

So my other dream job is the one I have at present. It's not going to make me millions, but I get to tell stories through my pictures and I get to watch families grow and change through my lens over the years. So that's a joy in and of itself.

Still, if I ever could make a movie... it'd be a "biopic" of the First Iditarod. I'd want to do something Alaskan, and hey, the Iditarod's a great subject... I've had a few ideas for casting in my head for years... though I'm pretty sure the actors I have chosen would be very anti the project (Hollywood is the home of PETA afterall) but it's still fun to dream.

Joe Redington Sr. - John Krasinski

Dan Seavey - James Marsden (I've thought he'd be perfect to play a Seavey since 2007 lol)

Dick Mackey - Michael Raymond-James (and not just because I'm an obsessive fangirl)

Dick Wilmarth (first champion, controversial history lol) - Eion Bailey

That's all I've got so far in my dream cast ha ha... tell ya what, it'd be a good cast of good lookin' guys, that's for sure (a whole lot better lookin' than the actual group LOL). It'd be a whole lot of fun filming it in Alaska with actual sled dogs... stunt coordinator and stuntpersons would be real mushers... it'd be just... yeah... awesome.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Best thing to happen this year?

 Hmmmm, well... maybe it happened today? When one of my favorite actors retweeted one of my tweets (granted a gush tweet about the tv show he starred in, but still).

It's been a pretty lackluster year, don't judge me. It'll get better come September though! 54 days to go!

Monday, July 21, 2014

"I love a story with food in it..."

My waistline proves that I like to eat. I just don't like to eat healthy (healthy = no taste... at least none that I like). I'm not a foodie because I'm extremely picky. I like to cook even if I won't eat what I make (not because it isn't good, I just don't like it lol). But I do like good food, and I don't like exercise... so I'm a fatty. Ha ha.

So what are my top 10 favorite foods? (in somewhat random order):

1. TACOS/Taco Salad - I've said it several times now. I love tacos. I'd eat them multiple times a week if they'd let me. Taco Bell will do when I can't get a good ol' homemade taco. Mom craved them when she was preggers with me, so I guess that's where it comes from?

2. Biscuits and [Moose] Sausage Gravy - OMG, another one that I would eat all the time if they'd let me. But we only get so much moose sausage made a year, so that's a no go. Ha ha. Besides, I'm lactose intolerant. It's not good for me to eat so much dairy all the time. Which my body reminds me at the most inopportune times.

3. Pizza - I finally have a recipe that I like for pizza dough, so I don't always have to order for Pizza Hut or one of the other delivery services. I'm not super picky on where I get my pie (it's easier for me to list where I don't like than where I do). St. Elias in Soldotna, Alaska is one of the best... as is Moose's Tooth in Anchorage... but Pizza Hut or Pizza Boys works just as well.

4. Steak - Give me a good rare to medium rare steak and I will be your best friend. I love me some beef. It doesn't have to have fancy marinades or anything. Just season that puppy and put it on the grill. Serve it up with some steamed broccoli and some sour cream and Parmesan noodles and I've got one of my favorite meals of all time.

5. French Dip Sandwich - it's a toasted, hot sandwich that you dip in meat juice, what's not to love?! Chances are if we're eating out and this is on the menu, that's what I'm getting. I love me a good French Dip... heck I even love me a substandard French Dip. You really have to be trying to make a bad one.
Pioneer Woman's French Dip Sandwich
6. Pumpkin Pie - this is the dessert that I request for my birthday. I love pumpkin pie. Mom normally makes two of them any time she makes it so that I can just have my own and I don't have to share. There was only one time I didn't eat a pumpkin pie, and that was when Erin forgot to put the sugar in it. It was disgusting. Other than that, I'd eat a whole pie in one sitting if you let me.

7. Lasagna - Lalala-lasagna! I do love me some Lasagna! My absolutely favorite is the Lasagna that our local restaurant Paradisos serves. I rarely order something else there - not because their other stuff isn't good (their French Dip is bomb, as is their fettuccine!) but because the Lasagna is all I ever wanted in life! Ha ha! Dang, now I want me some Lasagna... they *do* deliver... hmmmmm....

8. Hamburger - I'm pretty picky so just mayo, ketchup and lettuce on my burger. Make sure to toast the buns (just a little, no charcoal on my bread) and don't over cook the beef. Interestingly enough I don't like fast food burgers, and I rarely order one when eating out. I do LOVE Burger Bus in Kenai, though. Yet another thing I'm craving right now. Whoops.

9. Soft Serve Ice Cream - I don't know what it is about soft serve that makes ice cream that much better, but I love the stuff. The 50 cent cones at McDonalds are a go to treat any time of the year. And if I'm feeling extra special I hit up DQ for a chocolate dipped vanilla cone.

10. Fried Chicken - I think I've figured out what I'm having for dinner to night. Fried Chicken. There's just something about that. It's wrong to fry it without the skin, though. Mom rarely keeps the skin on, and that's such a waste. What's the point of chicken without the skin?!

Man I should not do something like this when I'm hungry.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

You seem angry, are you okay?

I've gotten that comment a lot in the last year or so - closer to 18 months, now that I think of it. 2013 sucked on a lot of levels, but the biggest issue was one that I'm pretty much forbidden from talking about (by both the court system, apparently, as well as my parents). But, at the same time, I feel it's my right to let it out. So without naming names or going into too much detail, here it goes. I've been wanting to talk about this for a long time.

Late in 2012 the cops came to our door looking for my younger sibling. Considering his track record, they pulled him in for questioning. My parents had been completely in the dark as to what he'd been up to - the sneaking out of the house at all hours of the night that was keeping me up wasn't a big enough red flag. His angry outbursts and threats to harm me and others around him wasn't a big enough red flag. They were stunned when they found out what he was being charged with.

I was just shocked with how I was going to be treated.

I became the fall person. I had absolutely nothing to do with the crimes he committed. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. But I became the "reason behind it". Because I didn't "love him enough" as his older sister. That I went away to college and was not around enough "forced" him to act out. This excuse came to light only after the courts didn't buy his "my parents never taught me right from wrong" crap. Gotta hand it to his lawyer, he tried everything to save his client's neck. To hell with the truth or the people it hurt.

His crimes are of the unspeakable kind, but because he was "under age" when they started, they ignored that they continued after he hit 18. The courts basically bent over backwards to protect HIM and not the victims or people around him. They slapped him on the wrist, and put him on probation mandating that he had to live with us. At the time I was running my business out of the house - my "family portrait studio" was no longer SAFE to be there.

We are a small town, news spread. They weren't rumors, they were true. Not only was he (rightfully) vilified, but so were my parents... and me. I lost ALL of my summer and fall business. I'm still trying to rebuild. I am still convinced that I will never be out from under it. Our last name is forever going to be tied to his crimes. And that pissed me off.

Still does.

Family and friends took sides. A lot of people that are friends with my parents bought into the sob story the boy told - and because they aren't allowed to know exactly what he did, and it was whitewashed by my family, I became though of as the unloving, selfish sister. That I wasn't ignoring what he did, or what he continued to do (the sneaking out continued until finally my parents couldn't turn a blind eye and turned him in to his PO), was the biggest sin a person could do. I should just forgive and forget was the message I got over and over. Nevermind he was STILL DOING IT... nevermind that he threatened me daily, coming at me with his fists several times, and spent several afternoons telling my mother in detail how he imagined he was going to beat me until I was bloodied and dead.

It was so bad that several times I ran to a friend's house just to get away. I stupidly always came back once dad came to the door with a hurt puppy expression promising things would change. They didn't until the cops once again came calling because someone broke the court mandated curfew and had no explanation for it.

He's been gone about 9 months now. There's talk that he'll be out soonish. I'm not looking forward to it. At this point I do not trust what I've been told as what it all means for me. EVERY time I was promised that I would be safe, that he would not be a threat, it was untrue. Every time something new came to light or he got into more trouble I became the fall person. I was either declared a liar, "mistaken", or it was my fault because I was "acting like a victim".

I don't trust that anything will be different because I haven't been shown anything that suggests that it will. His therapists demand that I talk to him - I refuse. So he has to send letters. They are pretty much textbook apologies. They are just words he's basically been fed, because they're words I've never heard him use. EVER. And it's all laced with the whole "maybe if you loved me better" theme that he played out all through his trials. There is nothing sincere about them. So I do not respond.

Yes, I think this is my right. No, I don't care to hear you tell me otherwise. Because you don't know the story, and because we have to protect the predator, you never will.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Look at this stuff, isn't it neat?...

Wouldn't you think I'm the girl, the girl who has... everything?!

I collect a few things, I could easily be a hoarder as I do put emotional attachment on most of my things. I get that from my mother, who got it from her mother. For as much as I tease mom about it, I definitely can see the signs within both of us! Haha!

I try very hard not to collect an insane amount of things, but what I do collect is good stuff! No trashy trinkets for me. And, unlike my fishy nonfriend referenced above, I know what they are and how to use them.

I have a collection of:

Mickey ears - dating back to my first pair I got in 1990 (though I think mom has that hoarded away somewhere, I haven't seen them in years). I typically get one to two pair each Disney trip. Though, come to think of it, I didn't get a new pair last year. I think because I was trying to conserve money knowing it was going to be tight all of 2014 and I was still trying to pay off the trip I was on! LOL

Disney Trading Pins - I buy a lanyard and fill it with pins on each trip. The pins never get traded. I am not going to spend the kind of money those things cost to then trade it for a pin I don't know the value of. Besides, each pin holds a memory with it. I get pins of the new rides we went on, or one that was particularly fun for whatever reason, if we stay on disney property I make sure to get a pin from the resort. That sort of thing. And I always look for a new Maleficent and Donald pin.

Steven Speilberg Movies - If I had my own house I'd have memorabilia, too. But I am building my movie collection of his as I can find them. I've blogged about my obsession before. I own movies of his I've only watched once and never opened my copy because I was emotionally scarred in some way after my first viewing. I will not be satisfied until my collection is complete!

Disney's Animated Classics - I don't have all of them, yet, as Disney likes to "vault" movies. If you count both DVD and VHS then yes, I have them all. I'm trying to get them all on DVD. Disney is not cooperating, though. I'm mainly focused on the animated films and Pixar. Anything more than that would break the bank, and most of the old school live action films they did aren't really my style.

Donald Duck - I've got several Donald Duck dolls, I've begun my figurine collection, a few other things. I love Donald... so this should come as no surprise. I really wish I had my own place so I could display it all!

Scrapbooking Supplies - I have a lot of scrapping supplies. Not just paper and stickers. I have tools and inspiration books... I LOVE to scrapbook. I don't do it as much as I really should. I need to finish my 2010 book so I can start Haille's 5th birthday book (kid's half way to nine and I haven't even begun her 5th bday book. I'm awful!)

Snowmen - This was something that started when my grandfather (mom's side) died. My aunt thought I needed all of my g'parents' Snowdens, so now everyone gets me snowmen. Wasn't really something I planned on collecting, but it makes for great winter/Christmas decor in the bathroom every year!

Collections down in the basement that I don't know what to do with - Star Wars, horses, etc... if I wasn't so lazy I could see a good garage sale in my future.

We're 57 days from Disneyland and I got our last ADR made this morning. Goofy's Kitchen for Aimee and Erin's birthday dinner! w00t!

Friday, July 18, 2014

What's in a name?

"Thoughts By Tonichelle", not all that original or creative. I couldn't come up with something quirky that fit what my blog would be - which was just basically the random thoughts that I would have in the years to come. This blog has had many things, with no real concise focus or theme. I'm sure it would drive most bloggers mad as it's just not a well thought out blog (I admit it).

All one has to do is look at my menu at the top of the page and can see that the topics I have are many and they ebb and flow as to how much I talk about any one topic. Speaking of which, I should really update those pages.

So is Tonichelle my real name? No. It's a combination of my first and middle name. I've been called Tonichelle since I was a toddler learning my name. I couldn't say my full name, it came out Tonichelle (Toni-shell) and it stuck. When creating my blog I went with Tonichelle so that it would click with my Twitter and message board accounts. Now it matches my twitter and instagram accounts as I really don't do anything on message boards anymore.

In other (read Disneyland 2014) news, I've booked our next two ADRs - one for all four of us for a breakfast at the Carnation Cafe (my favorite!), and the other is a table for two for Erin and Wess to get away and have a hot date. They're eating at Steakhouse 55. I have one more ADR to book tomorrow and then I'm done with that! Whew!

58 days to go, baby!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Most Proud Moment

Gee I'm having a hard time picking one. I'm not trying to be humble or any such nonsense... I just can't think of anything that I was super proud of myself for.

I think any time I taught Haille Rae something new and she was able to benefit from it would be it. Her teaching her friend/cousin/not sure what she is relationship wise Hailee Elizabeth all about Disneyland was definitely a proud moment for me. So many of the things that I'd told her the year before, she remembered/retained and then passed it on. Hearing her say "Mickey doesn't talk when he meets you because he has to save his voice for his shows and movies," warmed my heart (and kinda embarrassed me that she remembered I told her that).

I am so proud of that kid. It kills me I'm not able to spend more time with her. She's just the most awesome person.

Happy Birthday Disneyland!

Disneyland turns 59 today! 59 years of the Happiest Memories in the Happiest Place On Earth! And the really cool thing is - our countdown has hit 59 days! It's a sign! Haha!

Walt Disney opened his dream park to the world on July 17, 1955. They had their share of issues, rides breaking down, a jerk who counterfeited tons of tickets so that the park was over flowing, the concrete hadn't fully set so women in heels were sinking through... it was a mess. Critics believed it a failure. Well, just take a look at them now!

Next year marks Disneyland's Diamond Jubilee - 60 years of magic. And my Aunt wants to spend her 60th at Disneyland. So I might be headed that way a little sooner than I realized. So much for 2014 being the last trip for a while. Ha ha! (I'm not really complaining.) We'll see if it happens. A lot can change in a year.

In other Disneyland news - I made our first ADR today. We decided to go ahead and book a meal at Downtown Disney our first full day there. Aimee gets in in the afternoon so we're going for an early dinner at "Crossroads at House of Blues"! One ADR down, three more to go!

Tomorrow I get to book our breakfast at the Carnation Cafe! Mickey Waffles all around! w00t!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

My Bucket List

The prompt today asked what was on the top of my bucket list. I've got the travel planning bug now because the top travel bucket list item is a road trip through New England focusing on the historic sites of the American Revolution. One of the things stopping me from going and doing it is that I don't drive in big cities or big bridges... and no one I know wants to take this trip with me. *sad face*

I am a huge US History nerd. I fell in love with the subject in 8th grade in Mr. Summer's "Origins of US Democracy" class. He really made history come alive and I'm forever grateful to him. I'd always loved learning about the Civil War and Lincoln, but it wasn't until his class that I really paid attention to the Founding Men and Women of our Nation. Sons of Liberty, George Washington, the First Continental Congress, stamp acts, tea acts, tyranny, terrorism. It was a wild time to be alive!

Anyway I'm now looking up different places and trying to come up with a time frame on how and when to do this. Yup. Trip Planning is an obsession of mine.

I know I definitely want to do DC (yes I know it's not Revolutionary, but while I'm over that way...), Boston, Philadelphia, "Old New York", etc...

With what little reasearch I've done so far I really like this suggested touring plan - at least for part of the time.

Gah, now I have no desire to do anything but research this trip that isn't even going to happen for a few years yet! Dang!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A day in the life of Tonichelle...

So what does my typical day look like? Well, let's see... (prepare to be extremely bored)

Between 7am & 8am (if I'm lucky) - I wake up. This is normally me grumbling about the light that manages to get through the mounds of curtains and blinds that I have to black out my room. I'll typically lay their for a few minutes hoping I fall back to sleep for a few more minutes (rarely if ever happens), and then I unplug my phone from the charger, and let the dog out of my room.

Next stop is the bathroom where I blast my iPod and try to wake up. Typically a long shower does the trick... if not I have been known to just stare at the sink trying to figure out why I even bothered getting up. The iPod helps because I have an ecclectic taste in music and when you set it on random it can really be entertaining with what it comes up with for a playlist.

Next it's back to my cave to get on facebook/twitter/my blog and stare at the screen - still trying to wake up (it happens in stages). I catch up with my East Coast friends, stalk a few actors/athletes on twitter, and figure out what - if anything - I'm going to write in my blog. Chances are I won't actually get anything out on my blog for hours, but I at least get it started by staring at the screen.

After about an hour or so of trying to wake up I'll go out to the kitchen and get some toast or leftovers from dinner. Depends on how hungry I am. Sometimes I skip breakfast entirely. Just depends on how loud the tummy growls. I almost always end up with a Sprite or an OJ to start my day, though. Though lately I've stuck to water...

Around 10am I start to move about and if I have errands to run I do. If not I am typically over to the church to hang out with Kassy (she works, I vent/gripe/come up with hairbrained ideas). If it's later in the week I have the church computer to get it ready for Sunday services (music lyrics and any other multimedia we need shared that week).

Actually I'm not the only one that complains. Typically Kassy whines about being cold, or that it's cold outside, or both. Doesn't matter if it's winter or summer. That girl is ALWAYS cold. Typically we are reorganizing, or creating things to keep occupied. It's a pretty simple job for Kassy, so it means we can get crazy creative in the "spare time". We've painted rooms, reorganized rooms, deep cleaned rooms. Moved rooms. We take pride in what we do... or at least we get bored and need to do something.

Sometimes Delaney is there at the office and that makes things more interesting. Trying to do anything with a four year old underfoot means things take way longer. That's why I'm an "auntie" and not a parent. I wouldn't survive!

Once Kassy's done for the day I take off for home - it's lunch time! It's more leftovers or a sandwich. Maybe mac and cheese... whatever I feel like really.

Then it's back to the computer. If I've had a photoshoot I'm editing, otherwise it's just facebook and what not. I really have no life, and I'm okay with that. I also start my binge watching of a favorite TV show, or a movie marathon.

I've recently become more active on my twitter account, it's been fun to interact with friends that way - and actors/athletes/celebs. I blame my Once Upon A Time obsession for that one. The cast is just so entertaining on social media!

Dinner is normally around 6:30pm and then it's back to watching my favorite shows (in the regular season) otherwise it's Netflix or a movie.

And then, it's back to bed. Lather, rinse, repeat. And, really, it's more Netflix as I don't sleep without some sort of white noise. And so it's normally Terriers, or CSI New York, or Arrow to cap off the night. On occasion I'll switch to Law & Order, or SVU.

And that's a typical day.

61 days till Disneyland.

Monday, July 14, 2014

If I won the lottery...

Not sure how I'd win the lottery since we don't have one here in Alaska, number 1, and number 2 I don't have a whole lot of money to throw away at something so lame. But it's the daily prompt so I'll try to play along. (besides it's a good excuse to find and use MRJ gifs ha ha)

It would really depend on what the prize was that I won. With my luck I'd win a quarter. But if I won the jackpot of a bajillion dollars the break down would be pretty simple.

I'd pay off the credit cards (not that I don't already, but my Alaska Air card has a continual balance these days...), pay off my parents house (it's close enough that I wouldn't feel the pinch), pay off my truck - sell it - and then get a Ford Escape. Then I'd most definitely buy some primo land on the Kenai River and build me a two story home. "Spare no expense."

I'd also join the Disney Vacation Club (their version of a timeshare). I mean, this is the first thing I'd probably do if I'm being honest with myself. I'd be getting a timeshare so quickly that I wouldn't have time to think about my other options/obligations! LOL

Oh and with my external hard drive crashing on me and none of my files being retrievable... yeah... I'm gonna go with I want a super duper computer system that can't crash no matter what I do. There has to be one available somewhere?!

So, that's some of what I'd do with my Lottery Money that I will never win but it's nice to dream.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Disneyland 2014 Tentative Itinerary

It's still a work in progress, can't really be sure what we're going to do time wise until we get the ADRs set and the park hours 

September 14, 2014 –Travel Day!!!
Fly into SoCal

September 15, 2014 – Lazy Day and Disney!
Erin gets her feet done tour parks after
Aimee arrives ~ 2pm-ish
Early Dinner @ DTD?  

September 16, 2014 – Disneyland!!!
Breakfast @ Carnation Café (Mickey Waffle!)  
Tour parks
Erin & Wess - dinner date

September 17, 2014 – Disneyland Birthdays! (Aimee & Erin)
Early Dinner @ Goofy’s Kitchen for bday girls

September 18, 2014 – Beach & Hollywood
Pick up Rental Car early.
Hollywood first? Beach?

September 19, 2014 -- Disneyland

September 20, 2014 – San Diego Zoo (Aimee leaves :’()

September 21, 2014 – Universal Studios
BubbaGump Lunch/Dinner

September 22, 2014 – Disneyland

September 23, 2014 – Travel Day :’(

5 days till I can make our first ADR. 63 days till we head to DLR.