Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Arthritis Cure?

I was diagnosed with arthritis in my right hip a couple of decade ago and was reminded very firmly by a doctor at that time, there would be little I could do to help make the pain bearable as the years crept on by. By in my early 50's the pain was downright debilitating. After numerable doctor's visits, they all boiled down to a handful of things I could do, unless I was willing to undergo steroid shots or hip replacement surgery. Basically prescriptions consisting of anti-inflammatories and ibuprofen. I was told to exercise more to help keep my joints moving.

Yet how can anyone move, stand or attempt any level of exercise when the pain I was dealing with was excruciating. I would rate my pain level some days as beyond 10 out of 10. Sleeping was almost an impossibility especially on my right side and the only thing that really helped was moving, all the time. Perhaps it was the moving that kept me from focusing on my pain.

I had talked to other people who had undergone the hip replacement option and others who opted for the steroid shots and most claimed that the surgery helped, I wasn't quite ready for that to happen just yet. I am a firm believer that holistic and natural options must exist somewhere and if so, did they really help? The steroid shots from all the people I spoke with did not much to minimize the pain and now with the recent pain addictions, not even my doctors would give me a prescription for Tylenol 3.

So armed with the internet, I was on a mission. Not only that but my step mom who is in her mid 70's was already undergoing the same things as me, but on a whole different level of pain. She was now reduced to taking pain prescriptions and just living out her days in between doses. I tried the anti-inflammatory diet but the pain still was not going away. Some days it was worse than others and I felt if something didn't happen soon, I would be joining my step mom on the couch and giving up my existence of being physically mobile anymore.

Now the good part....

I discovered through my research a regime by Dr. Oz about using a variety of supplements through a program to naturally repair, reverse inflammation, restore function and rule out and treat infections and food allergies. At this point, I had nothing to lose and everything to gain.

The first part of the natural therapy was repair using a combination of glucosamine sulfate, 750mg, 2 times a day for 6 weeks, MSM (2-3 grams a day) and if the arthritis is severe, Chondroitin,(less important 400 mg 3 times a day). It also is critical that you get a good multi-vitamin, powder supplement is best.

Next came reverse inflammation to prevent damage and decrease or eliminate pain. He recommended Boswellia (also known as Frankincense) In one study it was shown to decrease arthritis pain by over 90% and it is a powerful anti-inflammatory. Use 900-1000 mg a day.

Willow bark, the natural source for aspirin because it is proven more effective and has been show to not cause the stomach bleeding caused by arthritis medications.

Cherry because it does have significant anti-inflammatory properties and eating a dozen cherries daily can be very helpful. If you have inflammatory arthritis also take a teaspoon or more of fish oil daily which acts as an anti-inflammatory.

You can read the full article by Dr. Oz here for more tips. 

What I did find was adding Turmeric capsules twice a day also helps as an anti-inflammatory. So my daily regime was taking 1 Osteo Bioflex tablet, 1 Turmeric capsule and 1 Boswellia capsule twice a day with meals, preferably meals with protein. Along with this I added COQ10 tablet, prenatal vitamins, Krill Oil Capsules, Multi-vitamin for women over 50 along with lots of water.


In just two weeks, 90% of my pain in my hip was gone and I was able to function like normal again, with no side effects. I did notice if I failed to take the Osteo Bioflex, Turmeric and Boswellia pills for a day, the pain was immediately back again in full force. In fact, you can take these supplements while still taking your regular medication, but always verify with your own doctor. The one thing that surprised me was my own doctor and that of my step mom said these supplements would do nothing for us that a couple of Advil or Tylenol would do. I beg to differ in a strong way.

I tried prescription medications, ibuprofen, Aleve, Tylenol, Advil and nothing helped like these three did. I ordered mine online or through Costco and would highly recommend them to anyone who has suffered with limited mobility issues due to pain and arthritis.  

Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Stockings Were Hung by the Chimney With Care...

Finished all my indoor decorating about a week and a half ago, just before Thanksgiving Day we started and I thought I would share these pictures with you. Over time, as others have shared theirs I have borrowed a few decorating ideas here and there, so you just never know what you just might see. People ask if I decorate bathrooms for Christmas, and the answer is a resounding "Yes!!!"

I love adding things to our indoor and outdoor decorations each year and believe it or not the best places to get them are from yard, garage or estate sales. You truly get one of a kind decorations that they simply don't make any more. Even antique stores are my newest novelty. I don't want what the big box stores are selling anymore. It costs twice as much and isn't made anywhere near the quality of older things.

So without further adieu, the tour of the Smith family household begins. We start where people enter our home. I have taken the liberty of collecting Christmas cards over the years because they hold so many memories and often times, people have stopped sending them. These are a few I have collected over the years.What you can't see is on most of my front facing windows are ice blue snowflake window clings I have held onto every year.

You enter the house and walk into our living room. It is where we have debates each year on where to put our 9 1/2 foot Christmas tree. We always have to be careful where it goes, because the base diameter is 6 feet round. This year my living room is all about snowmen, from my Hallmark singing snowmen to my Christmas book's I've collected over the years, these are feel like home to me.

Next you walk into my dining room which at the moment is lacking a dining room table. I have quite decided on what kind I want but I know I want it big. Seems odd, considering each year our family is downsizing and we have less and less people over but you just never know. I love hosting big family get together.

You notice the two book shelves my husband lovingly, okay was begged by me to make to house my growing collection of books that I can't part with. One day maybe but for now, when the kids move away I might just begin to reread my favorites. To me, these are my favorite places to visit. Perhaps I share a sneak peek at those titles tomorrow.

The little houses on the top of the shelves are ones that we have handpainted each year, a tradition of my husbands that we have incorporated into our Christmas celebrations. It is nice to be able to go back and look at them to see just how far we have come in painting them.

From there our home branches into 3 different directions. Walking under the arch, you enter our family room where we spend most of our time. From the mantle decorations and garland to the stockings hung with care. Our best tip was taking a curtain rod and cup hooks and attaching it to the underside of the mantle. I don't care how wonderful and weighted your stocking holders are, they will fall off the mantle when they are filled. This way, they don't fall off no matter how full you stuff them.

Our kitchen is decorated in what I am going for a vintage Christmas look. We added a Christmas plaid curtain over our kitchen window this year and some fun vintage placemats I scored at Big Lots for $2.50 each.

On top of our pot shelves are Christmas villages I have collected over the years. I have given 14 of them away to my girls to begin their own sets now that my oldest has moved out this year and has her own pot shelves which those 7 amazing buildings look right at home there now.

One set is from Christmas Valley that Target used to sell more than 20+ years ago and the other is a set of the It's a Wonderful Life with all the buildings for that.

Down one hallway is two bedrooms, our guest room and our daughter's room. This is the picture of our guest room. Feel up to stay sometime? I love the woodsie feel of this room and the painting above the bed is something my husband bought me before we were married because I didn't have the money at the time as a single mom and fell in love with the painting. It proudly hangs in our home year round.

The wooden train was something my dad built for me. The train comes off the tracks as it pulls into the station and has a watertower and ticket booth attached. For now it is carrying some of my favorite Christmas toys. My dad actually built this for me a couple years ago when I mentioned growing up I always wanted one of the wooden trains he used to build, never imagining it would be to this scale. He never knows how much it means to me. I love vintage old toys.

My daughter's bathroom comes next and it's all snowmen, icicles and lots of icy blue. It has to be my favorite bathroom of all. I have collected the snowman pieces through antique stores over the years and who knows maybe these will all go with her when she is ready to move out.

Back down the other hallway is our office and guest bathroom. I don't currently have enough right now to begin to decorate that office space but who knows what the future brings. For now I have decorated the cubby outside the office and just before you enter the guest bath. I have my favorite Gund teddy bears along with some old fashioned blocks and bears I have collected over the years. The advent calendar is something I longed for, but for now haven't done is awhile. Perhaps next year I will work on adding events to do as a family or couple to the box.

The guest bathroom is all about pines and pinecones. I even have a custom burned wood slice my dear friend, Niki made for me to remind me that "Today is a good day for a good day." It's all about the attitude. On the top shelf are my favorite Beanie Buddies that I collected and sold with my hubby. These are ones I bought and will not part with. Love the garland, ribbon and lights around the oval mirror.

In the final hallway it leads to our master bedroom. The thing I love most about our home is that there are bedrooms and bathrooms separated by the main living areas in our home and they are isolated so we are not bothered by guests or our kids when they are visiting. Our Master bathroom is now being filled with the toys from the Land of Misfits from Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. For now I have a Dolly and the Elephant. I hope to add to them over the years.

My master bedroom was just finished this year. We always pour our best efforts into where people will meet and often times neglect our bedroom but we struggled to find something that really felt like us until this year. While my husband will argue that we still missed out on the Christmas plaid quilt set that was on clearance, our love our Red and White Snowflake quilt.

We added some vintage items to our shelves and of course a wreath above our bed. Now I look forward to spending my quiet evening hours in here.

I truly hope you enjoyed my home tour and perhaps these even gave you some ideas for your own home.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Christmas Card Exchange Requested

It's Christmas time again! My favorite time of the year. I live for this each and every year that rolls around because it means for me, not only the Savior's birth which we celebrate, but it genuinely seems that most people are a little more kind than they usually are. More giving perhaps. More willing to be charitable and pass along a kindness or two.

Just the other day, my brother Mike and I talked about our Christmas growing up. Great memories even though we lived with my mom, who divorced was working two jobs just to make ends meet, so we didn't get a chance to see her that much. But we lived for the day we knew she wouldn't be home for a while so we could climb up to the rafters and get all the Christmas boxes down and begin decorating as a surprise for her.

We would use EVERYTHING we found in the bins. We added colored garland to each of the beams in our house and some sparkly snowflakes hung on fishing line or even left over glass bulbs that didn't find a home on the tree between the swags. It was never decorated the same twice. We would turn on Johnny Mathis' Christmas album and get to work. It took us all day working together, singing beloved Christmas carols. If we had time we would climb up on the roof and add our traditional Santa and two lighted reindeer along with the traditional glass bulbs. None of these icicle lights or LED's but the old stand by's you had to screw into the sockets. They were great cause when one burned out, you simply replaced that bulb.

It was such a joy to see the surprise on my mom's face when she got home and was immediately filled with the Christmas Spirit and a whole lot of love from her kids. I miss that. Traditions are important. They need to be passed along to our kids who may or may not pass them along to their own kids.

One of the traditions I see disappearing are Christmas cards. The old fashioned kind you wrote in. Not pre-printed ones, but ones you went to pick out and added your own Christmas wishes for whomever you were sending it to. Now a days, you get photo Christmas cards, with pre-printed messages on them or the Christmas letter telling you what someone's family accomplished all year. Those are great because things are so busy these days, but I miss Christmas cards. The old-fashioned kind that fill your mailbox with something other than bills or advertisements.

I love pulling out some of the one's I have kept over the years because they still mean something like Christmas decorations. They hold memories I want to hold on to. So today, I sit and write out Christmas cards because I want the person I am sending them to, to open them, smile and know that I cared enough to send them a bit of Christmas Spirit. Do you still send Christmas cards? This is one Christmas tradition, I hope never dies out.

If you want to join in a Christmas card exchange with me, I'd love to send you one if you'll send one back. Email me at and lets exchange addresses and get them in the mail. Perhaps I share them on my blog but know this, they will all be treasured in my heart.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Cancer Sucks!

What do you do when you hear news that your best friend has cancer?

As a believer, the first thing I do more than ever anymore is pray first. I open up the communication hotline with the only wireless provider in the world and ask for His help and guidance. Why now? What plans do He have in this? How can I help? Then the most important part of that prayer, "Please God, there isn't anything You can't do and she has already fought this battle twice before. Not again. Please remove this cup from her. Please! You are the only one who can help."

Yet it was the same thing I told her today when she asked, "Why?" Because she is exactly where she is supposed to be on God's timeline. It is where her and God's timeline met today. It certainly didn't come as a surprise to Him as it did for her. Yet God knew that even though this battle feels like it is hers, it is His. He has already won this battle and I am confident that He will do it again. She only needs to follow in His footsteps one day at a time. And today is a pretty bad day.

Oh how you want so much to be able to do something. Offer a cure. Pop a pill and simply wake up and hope this was all a really bad dream. But that is not how life is for anyone, even a great Christian wife, mom and sister in Christ. We still have to deal with things like cancer. Even three times if need be. Yet we have hope. We have hope in a God in whom anything is possible. He takes the impossible, and makes it "I'M possible." The Great I AM! Nothing is a stretch for Him and as far as the CT pictures proved there is something there, He can simply remove it.

I pray that that will be the case. Until then, you sit in the present. Crying with her if that is what is takes. I told her she can cry today. Today is that official pity party of crying, sobs and everything else that happens when the worse possible news smacks us in our otherwise normal days. You stand by them. You assure them, they will NOT go through this alone. You find ways to keep them busy. Busy starting up her home business that we believe God has blessed her with. You continue to make plans for her daughter's wedding in January. You keep moving forward.

But what about tomorrow?

You don't dwell there. As believers, God has promised His provisions for us to meet our daily needs and He has asked us not to dwell into tomorrow's worries because it robs of us of our blessings today. Sure you might ask, well how is cancer a blessing? I don't have the answer, but I know God does and while that answer might not sit well with others, I know God is still on the throne and still in control. We all need to continue to pray for this amazing woman of God in whom I know there is a Jesus because she has shown Him to me in what she says and does. Her life is that perfect mirror of what Jesus looks like. Even while crying and wiping away our tears. So please pray with me, that God will walk through this journey with her and remove this from her as of 4:11pm today. I still believe in miracles and if anyone deserves one it is this woman.

Please feel free to include her in your prayer groups, prayers and prayer chains. We know prayer works and will keep you updated on how it goes. Tomorrow she will have more answers than today and would appreciate you continuing to lift her up in prayer tomorrow for strength, clarity and above all the best peace she could possibly ask for.

For now... the best thing you can do is bring her some flowers and let her know she is not alone!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Evacuation Orders

You know when you see disasters on the news it doesn't really impact you until it happens to you or someone you know. Then you begin to live in this alternate reality of the life you're having to deal with and the life of everyone else who is going on without you it seems. This time, it impacted us to a degree as we made plans on Tuesday, August 16th to have lunch with my oldest daughter Caitlyn who lives in the small mountain community of Wrightwood. It was her day off and like any other day, my daughter Kailee and I offered to drive up to Wrightwood to have lunch at the Evergreen Cafe.

When we arrived nothing seemed out of the ordinary until we began to hear the conversations of those around us, from the cafe owner to other customers who had just received warning of a fire off the 15 freeway and Kenwood Avenue. The chilling part came after that, that the fire is headed towards Wrightwood. Looking outside the window we could see the layer of smoke beginning to build over the treelined mountains to the east of us, and it seemed like it might be a good time to simply forgo our lunch and head to her home to begin packing up. However the employee and other customers, Wrightwood residents, didn't seem at all panicked. They offered us drink refills while we waited for our food. We opted to stay put for the time being and enjoy lunch while Caitlyn texted her fiancè who was working in Apple Valley at the time to give him an update.

After lunch we headed to her home and began the process of preparing to evacuate just in case it was needed so she wouldn't leave anything behind if she needed it and it couldn't be replaced. Since her wedding is in a few months, October, we opted to grab everything in the event the worst happens. From packing up boxes of wedding preparations, suits and accessories as well as important papers and files, pictures and other sentimental items all while the television broadcast the latest updates on the fire. Pretty intense sitting up in the mountains watching the skies to see the smoke plumes rise and darken.

She was able to reach her fiancè and his aunt who are also residents of Wrightwood and they were leaving Apple Valley headed home. Meanwhile the 15 Freeway was closed in both directions and that would mean a long detour for them without taking the freeway. So we continue to pack, watch the news and wait. We were informed we would be notified by the fire department or sheriff's office in our homes if we needed to leave or either a reverse 911 call so we continue to wait it out. After a couple of hours we got the news we dreaded to hear from a text message from a friend of mine informing me that Wrightwood was under a mandatory evacuation order and it was time to leave before the routes out of town became crowded or impassible.

So the work began of loading both my car and hers while we watched neighbors across the street and next to us begin to do the same thing. There was a sense of unusual quiet in the town that was a bit unnerving, no birds or the chatter you would normally hear. I opted to head to the village to top off my gas tank just in case we got diverted over Angeles Forest Highway into Little Rock. The line at the only gas station in town was long but everyone was extremely helpful. The owners were even outside helping people pump gas and taking gas payments so customers didn't have to go inside to pay to make the transactions run smoothly.

We finally headed out of town by around 5 pm when Steven made it home, packed up the final things and grabbed the cats in their carriers, and made our way home to the horror of seeing what you had been watching on television now become a reality. The thick wall of smoke hovered like a wall determined to keep us out as we made our way out of Wrightwood.

The smoke was so thick and black that it seemed to float over us all the way to Victorville as ash continued to rain down on us.

I can honestly say, living in the High Desert I had never seen it look so ominous in the 13 years of living here and dealing with the fires that seem to erupt every fire season in the Cajon Pass.

Now we sit at home and the waiting begins.

Will the town that has managed to remain unscathed continue to do so, or will this fire consume the small town of only about 4500 residents? Will my daughter have a home to return to? How will she start over again if they lose everything? What will happen to the wedding venue that they booked in Wrightwood? For now, we sit and watch the news. Read all the social media sites in our area and of course, pray. We pray for our first responders and the town and everyone affected who will return to some of the surrounding areas only to find out they have lost everything. If you can continue to keep us in prayer that the freeways will open so they can get to work down in Redlands, that the fire is contained for them to go home and remain safe, and for those that continue to battle this blaze whose cause yet remains unknown.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Let the Wedding Preparations Begin!

Hard to believe the first of my two daughters is getting married and wedding preparations have been in effect since last year but now that the October 8th day is creeping ever closer there is a frenzied pace that begins to set in. When you realize you might not always have enough time to ensure that everything goes as well as it can be. I am that person who is organized and loves to have it all ready, weeks before it all begins and actually plans for things to go wrong. Of course, I can't quite catch everything but I am trying.

To share with you some of these moments and perhaps even help you plan some of your own weddings in the future, I wanted to take some time to catch up on on what is going on, now that school is over and I am officially not doing much of anything except getting the wedding ready. The dress was purchased back in February and while I can't share it just yet, because the groom can't see it, we are good there. Just got back from getting the alterations in the works and a note to future brides, plan to do this about 2-3 months in advance as your wedding alterations person might not be able to get it done in time. Thankfully she is able to get ours done in about 2 weeks before her final fitting.

The groom has purchased his suit and shirt and bow tie and made arrangements for the remaining groomsmen to get their suits sometime in the next week or so, and they will get a discount on an amazing suit they can use later. Their colors for the wedding are Maid of Honor and Best Man will wear Teal, with the exception of the groomsman will wear a Charcoal Silver Suit with Teal accents. The remaining bridesmaids will wear their choice of style dress in mint green, with the groomsmen wearing grey suits with mint green accents.

Budgets are always an issue and this one was no exception. I mean how can a bride and groom get married without breaking the bank and charging up the credit cards unless you want a Las Vegas drive through wedding or your standard courthouse wedding. I guess if you have contacts in all the right places, you could do it pretty affordably, but of course that is not the case here. The wedding venue is set and thankfully that has been arranged at a local campground that decided wedding venues would help offset those costs of managing and running a camp in the off season if they rent out the facilities for an entire weekend. The rate is really affordable over your standard local wedding venue which would NOT be possible for us.

My daughter wanted to get married in the forest, so this is our affordable option and I think it is going to be exceptional, once we get all the decorations down. It really helps too to have the campground site on Facebook so you can get ideas from other weddings they are hosting there to what looks good and what doesn't. Pinterest is every brides saving grace. It really does help to envision what you want and how to pull that look off.

Amazon is my best friend although one of the vendors we purchased tulle from wants us to pay to have it shipped back when I informed them it wouldn't work in the venue site. NOT good on their end and hoping to resolve that issue with them soon as most vendors don't like unfavorable reviews on their site. HINT! HINT!

We just got the invitations in this weekend and spent Saturday evening addressing them and getting them ready to be mailed out today. Also got to try out my old high school calligraphy skills once again. What do you think?

Over this weekend, we spent Sunday working on building a wedding arbor for my daughter as the site doesn't offer anything and we found out that for about $20.00 more, my husband could build one for them. They agreed and will reuse it at their mountain cabin when the wedding is over. Win! Win!

Now we are simply waiting for the remainder of the items we have ordered to come in, and the final details on purchasing table linens and the cake will be more closer to the wedding, so stay tuned for more updates on wedding preparations.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Christian Voter's Guide for 2016 Election

I believe that this election of 2016 will be the one that causes more division among this nation than any other in this nations history. We have people voting based on their beliefs, their feelings, their political parties and just about everything in between. We see hate campaigns waged on both sides to slander the other in hopes of turning our vote to their side, while the nation as a whole becomes undone.

I have well meaning "Christian" friends tell me they will sit out the vote because their candidate is no longer in the running and they can't vote for who remains. That is just as bad as simply voting for the other candidate. What I want to know, is what are you really looking for in this next President. Forgo all their gender issues, and them as a person, based on what you have read from the media, (because we know how truthful they are) and look at what is really important to the next president who will run this country for the next 4 years.

While my candidate is not in the running, I have to look at what matters to me as a voter, do my own research and vote based on which of the candidates left line up biblically for me as a Christian voter. I suggest those of you that are considering a write in candidate of your cat, the candidate you had hoped would win, or sitting it out would reconsider. In fact, that is just what got us into the mess 8 years ago, and I shudder to think the same thing might happen again, if apathetic, self-righteous "Christians," "Conservatives, and every one in between doesn't do their own homework and vote.

Sure it's your right to sit it out, but honestly do you want 8 more years of what we have had or for that matter even worse? What would our Founding Fathers have to say? I fear, they would shake their heads at the American people and those we have let run this nation into the corrupt and economic bankrupt nation it is becoming. A nation not united but divided.

Here are the things I am weighing my vote against on whom I will vote for and hope you might consider the same issues when it boils down to it. By the way, those writing in Carson or Cruz, they won't win and by doing so you are voting for none of the above and again, that is your right in the end.

1. Marriage - Does either candidate support or oppose legislative and/or judicial actions necessary to reverse the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which imposed same-sex marriage on all 50 states? (Trump - Unknown    Clinton - Oppose)

2. Abortion - Does either candidate support or oppose taxpayer funding of elective abortions? (Trump - Oppose    Clinton - Support)

3. Planned Parenthood - Does either candidate support or oppose giving tax dollars to Planned Parenthood? ( Trump - Oppose    Clinton - Support)

4. Religious Liberty - Does either candidate support or oppose legislation, like the First Amendment Defense Act, which will protect from government discrimination against Christians and others who have orthodox religious beliefs or moral convictions regarding marriage, sanctity of human life or human sexuality? (Trump - Support     Clinton - Oppose)

5. Stem Cell Research - Does either candidate support or oppose federal funding of embryo-destructive stem cell research? ( Trump - Unknown     Clinton - Support)

6. Estate Tax - Does either candidate support or oppose the repeal of the federal estate tax, also known as the "death tax"? ( Trump - Support   Clinton - Oppose )

7. Natural Marriage - Does either candidate support or oppose an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that protects marriages as the union of one man and one woman? (Trump - Oppose    Clinton - Oppose)

8. ENDA/Equalilty Act - Does either candidate support or oppose federal legislation that creates special protections for LGBT categories, such as the ENDA or Equality Act? (Trump - Unknown    Clinton - Support)

9. Obamacare - Does either candidate support or oppose the repeal of ObamaCare? (Trump - Support    Clinton - Oppose)

10. Education - Does either candidate support or oppose Parental Rights in public and private education (educational choice)? (Trump - Support    Clinton - Oppose)

11. Military - Does either candidate support or oppose efforts to repeal the social policies of President Obama within the military, such as trangenderism, protected status based on sexual orientation, and the push the place women in frontline combat-units, which compromise readiness and have restricted religious liberty? (Trump - Mixed    Clinton - Oppose)

12. Women in the Draft - Does either candidate support or oppose a policy change that would require women to register for Selective Service when they turn 18 years old? (Trump - Unknown    Clinton - Unknown)

13. Veterans - Does either candidate support or oppose policies that would help garner benefits for health and others services for our veterans? ( Trump - Support    Clinton - Oppose)

The information I researched was provided as of 3/17/16, based on information the candidates campaign was able to provide with public documentation, be it on the candidate's website or a reputable news source. and I hope you will do the same to find out which of this issues matters to you and vote for the candidate that is at least willing to follow most of what you expect as a President and also lines up with what the Bible commands. For me, I believe, this is the only way we can best select a leader, not based on media fluff, or based on what I feel at that moment but who will best lead our country with the support of our prayers for the next 4 years. Feel free to pass this along to whomever might benefit. I hope and pray that you will continue to pray for this next election, above all else, God already knows how it turns out. They could all use our prayers.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Bucket List Item Complete

As a book lover since I was old enough to read, there is nothing more exciting then to be able to see an author's vision of their book world come to life. For years, I have been telling my husband I wanted to go back to Universal Studios. I haven't been since they used to offer 3 hour studio tours and much to my excitement in early May, my hubby managed to plan both a Mother's Day gift and fulfilling our Bucket List for California item all in one. I wanted to take the time to share some of that with you today.

Our first trip in so many years commenced with the official opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in April of 2016 at Universal Studios Hollywood. To be able not only to walk into the book of J.K. Rowlings but for all the employees to stay in character as well. Just walking under the arches of Hogsmeade almost brought tears to my eyes. Once you step within the borders, you are immediately transported to the world of Harry Potter. You begin with the Hogwarts Express, and even though it is merely a prop, it is still amazing to see it all in living color.

The first thing I noticed was the attention to detail in every place you looked. From the smoking chimney's to the props lined within the windows of all your favorite places in Hogsmeade. The soundtrack of the Harry Potter movies is consistently playing in the area, and it is hard not to believe you are walking around a imaginary world.

From seeing all the candy delights in Honeydukes, from Sherbert Lemons, to Bertie Botts every flavor Jelly Bean, and even Chocolate Frogs. I knew I had to bring these home.

The first thing I really wanted to do was try both Pumpkin Juice and Butter Beer. Pumpkin Juice is like a blend of Apple Juice with pumpkin pie spices added. You can get it cold off a cart in the area or getting it carbonated at the Three Broomsticks Restaurant. Butter Beer is served cold or frozen, and my recommendation is frozen. Kind of like an icee with a buttery caramel whipped topping. You can get it with a commemorative cup or simply in a plastic cup. I opted for just the plastic cup.

The cost of the commemorative cup was around $6.00, I believe. The only way to describe Butterbeer is that it tastes like cream soda topped with a buttery caramel topping on either the cold or frozen drink choice. I am still craving them. They also sell Gilly Water, which is simply their Bottled Water. Still it's fun to pick one up to keep for a souvenir. 

There are only 2 rides currently at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the Flight of the Hippogriff and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.  Both of the rides employ a brilliant use of movie props to engage you while waiting in line. The Flight of the Hippogriff is a roller coaster ride for the whole family as long as you are 39 inches tall. It allows you to capture a breathtaking view of Hogwarts Castle set high on the hillside and gives riders a peek at seeing Buckbeak. It was my favorite ride of the park.

Harry Potter and The Forbidden Journey requires one to have a pretty strong stomach and not subject to motion sickness. I was feeling pretty poorly once I got off, but hey, I can say I rode it. For me, the best part was the ride queue. You get to venture into Herbology and see mandrakes keep behind their cages.

Then its off into Hogwarts castle, where you get to see the Hall of Portraits.

They actually talk and move just like in the movie. You get to go inside the Gryffindor common room, see the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom, hear and see the Sorting Hat, along with the mirror of Erised. It is worth it just to walk through the line queue.

The ride takes riders of 4 into a 4D experience, where you get to follow Harry Potter riding his broomstick through the grounds of Hogwarts, battle a Dragon, and wrestle with both Dementors and the Whomping Willow. For me, I would recommend taking a dramamine before riding it to keep down the queasiness. All guests are required to check in their bags before riding as it really does twist you all over the place while watching the screen, like most motion sensor rides.

For meals, there is only one amazing place to visit and that is the Three Broomsticks. The prices are amazing for the quality and quantity of the food you get. Since we had a large party of 4, we opted for what is called the Feast, which garners you 4 spareribs, 4 chicken breasts, roasted potatoes, steamed vegetables and 4 ears of corn, along with a giant bowl of salad for about $50.00.

Drinks are extra but you can get Pumpkin Juice, Butter Beer and even Sparkling Pear Juice here. This is the only place you can get fizzing Pumpkin Juice. The food is brought out to you and you can sit inside, which is pretty loud, or sit outside where you can view the Hogwarts castle and enjoy the music.

For entertainment, there are a wide variety of things to do, from visiting Ollivander's wand shop and picking out either a wand from the movie's characters or one of your own. You can even get an interactive wand which comes with a map to let the users cast spells from the movie in the windows of the storefronts and cause things to move. It is pretty tricky to get it to work just right, but there are plenty of employees to help encourage you.

You can see a Tri-Wizard show or even listen to the Hogwarts choir during various times in Hogsmeade. I would recommend seeing them both, Afterwards, you can get pictures with both groups.

There are so many amazing opportunities to buy all your favorite props and apparel from your favorite house cloak, scarves, hats, and even Quidditch attire.

You can even purchase collectible autographed items like movie scripts, broomsticks, Deatheater masks and more, but simply just sitting in the area and watching the movie come to life was well worth the experience. I can't wait to go back in the fall and during Christmas to see how they bring it all to life in a unique way.