Wednesday, September 11, 2019

A Knitting Project: Swirl Hat with Flikka Yarn

This post contains affiliate links. 

A quick knit.  That's what I needed.  I wasn't feeling particularly well a little bit ago and I wanted a project to keep my fingers busy, but I wasn't in the mood to work on any of my current WIPS.  The Swirl Hat was the perfect solution.

I've used this pattern before, and I really liked it for its simplicity and uniqueness.  The first time that I knitted the Swirl Hat I was very much a beginning knitter.  (You can check out that knitting project here!)

The yarn is Lion Brand's Flikka in Wading Pool.  It was a clearance find at Hobby Lobby recently.  It's a thinner yarn, a 3, I believe.  The skien has just under 200 yards, so it's perfect for small projects like a hat. The yarn is soft and I think it will be lovely to wear.  My one complaint is that my fingertips did turn a little blue, so the dye isn't quite set. It is supposed to be machine washable, but I haven't tried that yet.  I will be sure to wash with a color catcher

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Galaxy's Edge: Grand Opening in Orlando and Quick Tips

This post may contain affiliate links.

I bounced at of bed the moment the alarm went off at 1:45 this morning.  Why? It's Star Wars Day!  Well, it's the official grand opening of Galaxy's Edge at Disney's Hollywood Studios, which basically means: Star Wars Day!

We managed to hit our goal leaving time perfectly, something that so rarely seems to happen.  I was glad that we had packed our cooler and bags the night before.  (You can find some of my theme park must haves here.)

We got to the Hollywood Studios entrance . . . and the cast members forced everyone to make a u-turn to exit back onto the highway.  That was unexpected and a little annoying.  We drove down a ways, made another u-turn and headed back to the entrance.  This time they let us all just wait in line until the parking toll booths opened around 3:30.  

The park wasn't scheduled to open until 6 AM, but they allowed the massive crowd to enter the main gates around 4 and then gradually funneled everyone back to Galaxy's edge.  The atmosphere was upbeat and cheerful despite the intense Florida humidity. There were frequent cheers and lots of lightsabers lighting the predawn darkness.  

All we really wanted to do today was Smugglers Run, so we immediately just hopped in line. The line for the ride began on the right as soon as you entered Galaxy's Edge and wove all around the land.  It was not a short line!  According to the app, the wait time hit 300 minutes! We were all off the ride shortly after 9 AM (and we had rider swap, so it took a little longer for us).  The experience of the line itself was fairly pleasant.  It was nice that the sun wasn't up yet.  There were many fans spaced throughout the queue.  There were also several water cooler stations.  In the heat of the day I do think it would be a bit more uncomfortable, despite the many umbrellas.

A note about the rider swap: the cast members in blue vests standing to the side of the entrance on the ramp will set up the swap.  You will need the band of any repeat riders and your own band, of course, and they will be scanned and you will be given a return time.  Unfortunately, a kind, but misguided, cast member was at the ride's entrance giving incorrect information about rider swap.  (It actually wasn't the first time today that we encountered cast members giving wrong info, so be aware.  It's new to them too!)  We were able to sort everything out without issue, but if we had followed her directions I don't think I would have been able to ride.  (And this would have been after waiting in line for several hours.)

My Super Brief Ride Review: I very much enjoyed Smugglers Run.  It's a good ride.  However, I do have to say, it didn't blow me away.  It is Star Tours 2.0.  It did not feel like a brand new experience.  All that said, I am looking forward to riding again.

We didn't really spend too much time exploring the rest of Galaxy's Edge today.  The lines to enter any of the other building were over an hour.  We were happy to ride Smugglers Run and get a basic overview of the area.  It was a great day, and it's exciting that there is still more for us to discover!

A couple of quick tips for your visit to Galaxy's Edge:

  1. Make sure you have the Disney Experience App downloaded if you have a smart phone.  Once Galaxy's Edge hit capacity today (at 6AM!) they used a virtual queue via the app.  When signing up make sure you include everyone in your party: including infants & toddlers that don't have bands/tickets! Just like they need to be included on restaurant reservations they need to be included on the queue.  (I believe it has to do with fire code: it's all about the actual number of people in the area.)
  2. If you have little ones that are too short to ride, Rider Swap is available!  Look for the cast members in blue vests off to the side of the entrance.  They will scan your bands/tickets and give you a return time.  You will go through the Fast Pass entrance when it's your turn.
  3. If a cast member tells you something that doesn't seem quite right it's best to check with a different cast member.  They are everywhere!  We were given incorrect information regarding rider swap and we witnessed the aftermath of incorrect information regarding those with mobility scooters.  
  4. Currently you can only enter Galaxy's Edge near Muppets and exit into Toy Story Land. There is no re-entry from Toy Story Land.  They were quite strict about this.

Were you at Galaxy's Edge with me on opening day?  How was your day?  What did you think of the land?  What did you think of the ride?

Friday, June 21, 2019

Summer Reading & Our Library Bag #7

This post contains affiliate links.

It's summer reading season!  I love that "summer reading" is such a powerful phenomenon.  Last night while organizing digital photos I listened to a Libromania podcast simply titled "The Summer Reading Episode".  It was quite delightful, and in it a question was posed that I'm curious how other book loving people would answer: 

Is your summer reading different from your regular reading?

I don't think my summer reading is different from my spring, fall, or winter reading in any remarkable way.  I have added quite a few more titles to my Want To Read list due to so many favorite bloggers publishing summer reading lists . . . but I think that I work through that list pretty equally throughout the year.  (Of course, there are times when I read more than other times.  I'm currently in a book heavy period of time and loving it.)

With all this talk about books, I think that it might be time for another episode of "Our Library Bag"!

Graphic including books, dragon, castle, frog, the earth, and more.

1.   I finished The Shadow Throne.  It's the third book in Jennifer A. Nielsen's Ascendance Trilogy.  It's really good!  Having said that, it might be the most predictable and least exciting of the series making it the weakest of the trilogy.  I think The False Prince was the best, it just seemed the most clever.  By the third book the "twists" weren't surprises.  Definitely recommend this series and I'm very sad to say goodbye to these characters. (The Shadow Throne is free right now with an Audible trial.)

2. & 3. I really enjoyed Renegades.  Marissa Meyer just knows how to tell a story.  The pages flew by and I eagerly dug into the second book, Archenemies.  The conclusion to the trilogy, Supernova, doesn't come out until November and I can hardly wait!  At this point, I give these a qualified recommendation.  It's targeted to a YA audience, but some of the themes are a little more on the mature side.  The first two books read very much as "part 1" and "part 2" of a larger whole, so while I enjoyed reading both books, a part of me wishes I hadn't begun until all three were available.

4. I checked out every single National Geographic Reader that is in our library system for the kids.  These readers are super simple, and vary in the quality of writing, but most have great pictures and some basic factoids.  My middle child loves the "Stump Your Parents" section.

5.  My daughter read Princess Academy and now I'm reading it.  This morning I set the kids up with play-doh and managed to read about 150 pages.  (Play-doh for the win!)  I discovered this positively delightful book via Read Aloud Revival's book list for girls 8-12.  I think both my daughter and I will devour the entirety of this list. 

6.  Once I finish Princess Academy I am going to start The Accident.  I added this to my list courtesy of The Modern Mrs. Darcy.

7.  This one isn't a library book, but since it is currently the most read book in the house it deserves honorable mention: Barnyard Dance.  As far as toddler books that are read on repeat ad nauseam, it's rather enjoyable.  It has a pleasant rhythm and watching the various dancing antics of the toddler are pretty adorable.

That's all for now, everyone!  I'm going to go read. Do tell me about your summer reading plans and habits!  I'm really curious. 

I'm going to link this little blog post of mine around the blogosphere. Some places that I like to link include: 

This Ain't the Lyceum

This is my Review of the Month for the review collection on

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

WIPS: Works In Progress

This post contains affiliate links. 

It's been a long time since my last WIPS post.  Life is starting to give me a routine where I can more easily work with yarn again.  I have a project list a mile long! 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Rachel Furlong (@philwife) on

I've cast on a Hylan Sweater for my daughter.  The pattern is from The Velvet Acorn.  The yarn is Caron Century Collection in Robins Egg.  I've made a couple of mistakes already, to be expected as a self-taught, sometimes impatient, knitter.  I realized I was doing my left slant increases incorrectly.  I decided that this time it didn't bother me enough to frog it -- so I am forging ahead!

I'm trying to keep track of my progress using Ravelry's Project page. How do you like keeping track of works in progress?  Sometimes I don't think there's a need to catalog every project, but I do like being able to look back.  Also, it's especially helpful to have detailed notes if you have to put a project on hold for a day . . . or year.

I also have a small pile of so-very-close-to-being-finished projects.  These just need tails woven in or buttons.  Sometimes the last step of the project is the hardest.

How about you?  Are you currently able to fulfill your creative needs?

Linking up with Small Things and Frontier Dreams

Monday, April 22, 2019

Disney World Adventures: My Solo Park Day at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Disney World isn't just for kids.

I recently had the opportunity to spend some time at Hollywood Studios all by myself.  I had a great time!  Yes, I missed my family, but it was nice to have a little Mom time.  It was rather fun to be the one completely in charge of the itinerary.

Below is a breakdown of my day with a few tips at the end for single travelers. 

I am a big proponent of getting to the parks early, and today was no different.  In fact, without any kids to buckle into car seats or strollers to push, I scanned in quite early, about 8:15, despite leaving at our "regular" departure time.

The park didn't officially open until 9 AM, but they've been unofficially opening Toy Story Land early and I was hopeful that they would do the same today.  I was not disappointed.  At exactly 8:45 the cast members began walking the massive crowd to Andy's Backyard.  The crowd can get mob-ish with hundreds of people trying to be the first to get to the same place.  Since I was all by myself this wasn't a big deal, but it could be stressful with the kids and a stroller.

I waited in the line for Slinky Dog Dash for about five minutes.  The line moves pretty quickly first thing in the morning, but it doesn't take it long to back up.  The line was out the door and around the bend by the time I was off.

After Slinky Dog I quickly walked over to Toy Story Mania and waited about 10 minutes.  I was so hoping to break the 200,000 mark, but I failed.  I had a great time anyway and I was "Best in Vehicle"!  (This is a rarity for me as my wonderful husband usually is the one to claim this honor.)

My first FastPass was Rock 'n' Rollercoaster, which I picked up using the app while in line earlier, so I headed over there and had a blast.

The lines were getting pretty long at this point, and I couldn't modify my FastPasses to get anything better, so I hopped into the single rider line for Rock 'n'.  I waited only about 20 minutes, which was great since the posted wait time for Stand By was 65 minutes.  (While in line I was able to modify my second FastPass to a better time.)

After the roller coaster thrills, it was time for a quiet show and food.  I love the live Beauty and the Beast show!  It's a Broadway style show with singing and dancing.  I found it really relaxing to watch the show alone.  I used this time to eat some of the snacks that I brought with me.  (Food is allowed in this semi-outdoor theater!)

My second FastPass was Slinky Dog Dash, so I skipped on back to Toy Story Land.  At this point the park was packed and Stand By wait times were quite high.

As I was exiting Toy Story Land, I realized the Indiana Jones show was about to start, so I quickly worked my way there.  The cast members warned that it was standing room only by the time I got there, but being a party of one it was pretty easy to get a seat on the edge.  (Then the family in front of me left after about five minutes, so I ended up having a great view, even if it was a little off center!)

My third FastPass was Tower of Terror.  I'm a little bit unique in my perception of this attraction.  I find the theaming to be excellent, but in all honesty, a little creep-tastic; while the ride itself is a blast and not even a little scary.  I do really enjoy it though, so I was really thankful to have the FastPass as the Stand By line was at 105 minutes!  Even the FastPass line was a little backed up, but that gave me the opportunity to take a few photos.  I have to say, I'm pretty happy how this one turned out!

At this point I was thinking about heading out, it was crowded and I already had been able to do many of the big attractions, but decided to see what was available.  I refreshed the app a few times and to my amazement scored another FastPass for Slinky Dog in ten minutes!  I couldn't pass that up, so back to Toy Story Land I went.  (You might not know it from this blog post, but Slinky Dog Dash is currently one of the most difficult to obtain FastPasses.)

At about 1:30 I decided to call it a day.  It was a great day!  Being a local passholder is so much fun, but it is a little disjointing to go from the magical World of Disney in the morning to running mundane errands in the afternoon. (I'm looking at you, Sprint.)

Photo courtesy of Disney's PhotoPass System.

A few tips for a solo Walt Disney World Disney park day:

  1. Use the My Disney Experience App.  The smaller the party the easier it is to score great FastPasses.  Keep in mind that you might need to refresh the page often.
  2. Pack light.  I wore a sling cooler (older and not as cool as this KAVU Ropesicle Insulated Cooler Rope Sling Bag).  This was plenty big for my lunch, snacks, phone, wallet, keys, and portable cell phone charger.  I realize many people wouldn't consider this "packing light", but since I typically also have diapers, wipes, baby blanket, a change of clothes, sippy cups, pins for trading, a camera, three kids, etc., this was light for me.  
  3. Utilize single rider lines when available. Only a few attractions in Disney World have them, but when they are available they are almost always better than Stand By.    

What about you?  Have you enjoyed a Disney park solo?  What are you favorite things to do?  Have you been able to ride Slinky Dog Dash?  What are some of your favorite things to do at Hollywood Studios?

You also might enjoy:
 Mickey and Minnie Runaway Railway Review