Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas To All

The holiday season always makes me feel giddy.  I love the idea of shopping or making gifts for others, putting up the holiday decorations, and getting together with family to celebrate the birth of Jesus.  Everyone is jovial and reaching out to others, especially those less fortunate.  If only every single human being could be this way every day.

My year has been a lovely one -- filled with lots of travel (Knoxville, Pigeon Forge, Appalachia, Smoky Mountains, Nashville, Memphis, and Oahu), making memories with my awesome grandson, Kyle, and lots of hang-out time with my kids and their loved ones.  My husband, Gerry, makes my days merry and bright. He takes care of me when I need to be taken care of, especially after my foot surgery.  That was a blast.

We did have one low moment this year when our cat, Quincy, left us.  It was a very difficult decision to have him euthanized.  My son and I didn't want him to let him go and I cried and cried when my husband, daughters, and the vet said we had to.  I feel better knowing that he's with his buddies, Big Paw and Yankee, on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge.  Run free, my furry babies!

I'm looking forward to new projects and exciting adventures next year.  It will be extremely busy! Thank you, friends, for following my blog and reading my posts.  It makes me feel good to share my thoughts and experiences.  I'm still learning blogging techniques and etiquette, and how to really get around on social media and to use it well, but that's what makes my days fun. Learning, always learning.

Happy holidays to you and your loved ones.  Hold them close, love them lots, and remember our special family and friends who have moved on to a better place, and to those soldiers who are serving our country. Furry friends count, too!

Remember the reason for the season.

Love ya lots.  Now let's celebrate!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Checking In: The Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

To kick off the holidays, my husband and I decided to play at Disneyland and California Adventures for a couple of days, and stay a night at the beautiful Grand California Hotel & Spa.


The main entrance features a set of beautiful stained glass doors.  The doors open automatically, but with all the people traffic going in and out, it's difficult to see the doors fully closed.  Be patient.  It took me about 15 minutes to get the chance to see all this gorgeousness.

The true story is that we accepted an invitation to a special Passholders event (we've never been to one and wanted to check it out) and decided this would be a nice holiday kick-off now that the Christmas decorations are on display throughout the Disney properties.  Gerry doesn't like to drive the one and a half hours home after a long day walking through the parks, and preferred to stay overnight.

We stayed at the Grand Californian a few times before, and it still doesn't disappoint.  The hotel is located next to both Disneyland and California Adventures.  Besides the grand main doors to the 19th-century Arts and Crafts hotel, there are two other doors.  One takes you directly to the Downtown Disney District where there are lots of shopping and dining, and it also takes you to the walkway to Disneyland Park.  The second door takes you right into California Adventures.  So convenient for hotel guests!

The stand-out feature of the Grand Lobby is the enormous hearth to the left.  Inside is a cozy nook holding several comfy chairs to lie back on.  It's first-come, first-served.  The best time to come and sit is when the final parades and  fireworks shows are happening in the parks.
Just me, my Toms slippers, Starbucks, and my Christmas ornaments that Disney passed out to the guests at the Passholders event.
I love the architecture and decor of this hotel.  It's grand, woodsy, warm and the staff is welcoming.  The lobby beckons you to come and sit for a long while, which we do, by the grand fireplace, of course!  Especially after a long day of walking and playing.  Where's that glass of wine or hot cup of coffee?  The rooms are great, but they're showing some wear and tear.  I think it's time for a new makeover.  We've stayed in rooms that face the Brisa Courtyard, which is lovely and quiet and lots of trees and foliage.  However, I prefer a room that gives me a view beyond the property.  The view of Paradise Pier was great! This time we stayed on the Concierge Level but refused the Concierge Experience.  It's expensive and we knew we wouldn't be using the perks like the continental breakfast, and snacks and drinks throughout the day and night.  I think it's great if you have small kids, and you need a nice respite from the parks.

What I loved:
  • Location is so convenient
  • The magic hour -- getting into the park an hour before the general public.  Hit your favorite rides first!
  • Loved sitting in front of the grand fireplace
  • The gorgeous Christmas tree
  • The Disney characters at breakfast in the Storyteller's Cafe.  How can you not love them?
  • Route 66 and Cars Land!!!!
  • Free WiFi -- a blogger's dream.  No special PIN or pass code needed.  Just plug in!
What I didn't like:
  • Our room was so cold.  Gerry and I couldn't get a comfortable temperature to stay constant.
  • No full-length mirror.  A lady wants to check her appearance before she leaves her hotel room!
One word of advice before I leave you.  Before you book your room online, first call hotel reservations to see what special offers they have.  You're more likely to get a better rate dealing directly with the reservation agent than booking online.

Where do you stay when you visit the Happiest Place on Earth?

Life is a Highway visited the Grand Californian as a guest; however, my opinion, as always, is  my own.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Bye-Bye November

I knew it was coming.  There was no way the sun would forever shine in San Diego through the end of December.  I had faith.  I prayed for rain, and finally it came!  Oh my gosh, I am so happy!  Does this mean the drought is over for the state of California?  Maybe not, but to see rain welcome the month of December just warms my heart and soul.

The month of November was busy.  Gerry, Gary Mike and I cleaned out closets, cabinets, drawers, and piles of stuff in the house, and in the garage.  While we did do our spring cleaning, there was more to tackle for a fall cleaning.  It felt good to see our good unused items go to people who can really use them, and our jumbo trash receptacle filled to the brim with the bad stuff.

We also got our house tented by a great pest control company, three days before Thanksgiving.  Yikes!  I did not enjoy the packing and taping of bags, and having things in our yards moved aside.  Too much trouble, but it had to be done.  I worried as we drove away from our covered house.  All I could think about was that crazy scene from the hit TV series "Breaking Bad", where Walt, Jesse, Saul and Mike break into a home undergoing fumigation and proceed to cook meth.  Why?  Because no one will bother them or question the strange smells.  They can hide in plain sight!  What if that happened in my house while we were gone??  Oh gosh, too much to worry about.

Thanksgiving Day was filled with laughter, food, and a myriad of thanks for the blessings we've been given. We woke up to see a clear, sunny sky.  Such a perfect day to be outside and spend time with Gerry's family, then to my side of the family in the evening.  Bringing family and friends together is the best!

Now that we're in the month of December, it is time to change my Thanksgiving tree, covered with golden glittery pine cones,  into a Christmas tree.  It is time to say goodbye to my sweet November, one of my favorite months of the year.

Happy Holidays, everyone!