How-To: Make a Towel Bunny

If you've ever been on a cruise (and even if you haven't, now you know), each time you enter your room, you will find a towel animal hanging out on your bed. This summer, one of the classes on the ship was how to make some! So I thought I would share with you all how to make one! I'm not as good as the staff on board, but I tried my best. It's hard to explain in words how to make these, but hopefully the pictures help. Please leave a comment if you have any questions! 

Things you'll need:
1 large towel
1 medium-sized towel

Step 1: Place your large towel in a landscape position and roll the left and right ends to the center.

Step 2: Fold towel in half so that the crease is on the outside

Step 3: Twist the ends out a little bit (this will be the feet of your bunny). 

Step 4: Take 2 legs into each hand and pull outward (this part is hard to explain, try to follow the picture!).

Step 5: Put large towel aside. Now take your medium-sized towel and fold in half, landscape-wise, and have the folded side facing away from you. 

Step 6: Put your finger in the center of the top of your towel, take the bottom right corner of the towel, and pull straight down. Do not fold, just pull. 

Step 7: Repeat on the right side, and you will have something that looks like a bat. 

Step 8: Fold the top corner underneath, a couple of inches. 

Step 9: Fold the sides of the "bat" towards the center, like you did with the large towel. 

Step 10: Flip over the towel, and it will look like this! 

Step 11: Pull the ears down a little bit, and you have your bunny head! Place it on top of the large towel. 

Step 12: Accessorize! 

The class was provided as part of a campaign to sell their how-to book, Towel Creations. The campaign is part of a larger effort for Carnival Cruiselines to raise $1,000,000 for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital! I ended up buying it on the ship for $14.95, and 100% of the proceeds were donated.


Cook-venture: Jalepeno Poppers

My pharmacist gave me her extra jalepenos from her garden, so I made a classic with them. Poppers! I've made them a couple of times before, and adjusted the filling a little bit each time. This time, I added feta cheese and used chives instead of green onions. Adaptation at its finest. 

Half the jalepenos and scoop out the seeds and white membrane.
*Tip: Wear gloves or create a Saran wrap barrier.  The spice WILL stay in your fingers if you don't*
Cream cheese, feta cheese, extra sharp cheddar cheese, Frank's buffalo wing sauce,
and chives (you can use green onions if you have them)
Spoon the filling into each jalepeno, and top with chopped bacon bits. 
Bake at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes. 
I'm sorry the final picture isn't very pretty, but some of the bacon slipped off too because the jalepenos were so small (only about an inch and a half long!).

There are lots of variations you can do with these poppers, but I would definitely always have at least the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, and buffalo wing sauce.

What have you tried?


Summer Travels: The Final Vacation - Wizarding World of Harry Potter (tips and pics)

As previously mentioned, I have been to Harry Potter World 3 times now. Each time, I have learned something new about taking advantage of all your time there. 

Tip #1: Get to the park right when it opens. It officially opens at 8AM, but you can park starting at 7:30AM. That way you can be some of the first to go to Harry Potter World. It's all the way at the back of the park, so it's quite a walk, but it's best to go from the back to the front of any park. Errol and I arrived at 8AM, not knowing about the 7:30AM trick yet. We went straight to the Hogwarts ride, and there was already a 30 minute line at 8:10AM! 

Tip #2: Enter Hogwarts line through the store connected to it. The real line begins outside of the ride, and it is a line to get to the locker rooms to temporarily store your bags before getting into the line for the ride. You can enter the locker room through the store, and it is so crowded no one would ever know that you came in that way. Bypassing the first part, you have now skipped half of the line! 

Tip #3: Take a separate tour of Hogwarts castle. There is a lot to see inside Hogwarts, but you may not be able to truly absorb it all while in line. You can walk through a separate aisle through the castle, with your bags (and thus, your camera), and at your own pace. 

Tip #4: Have an early lunch at Three Broomsticks. If you've followed Tip #1, you probably get hungry earlier too. Having lunch early, around 11AM, you will miss the long lunch line! 

Tip #5: Buy a Butterbeer with souvenir cup early. Turns out that if you buy a souvenir cup, you get discounts on Butterbeer refills and soda for the entire day. 

If you are an HP fan, you will love HP World. You enter the park, and you're in Hogsmeade. To your right, you'll see the Hogwarts Express. Every 30 minutes, there's a performance (Hogwarts choir, Beauxbatons danceres, Durmstrang dancers). You can have lunch at the Three Broomsticks, and Hogshead is also attached where you can get a pint. You can buy Every Flavour Beans at Honeydukes. And so much more! 

For anyone curious, Butterbeer tastes exactly how you might imagine. But no, it's not alcoholic. You can buy frozen or soda-style, and it is delicious. The best way to describe it is a butterscotch cream soda. The foam on top is the best part, and is actually added separately. 

If you're a Rockefeller, you can afford to buy all of the merchandise. But if you're a poor student, the next best thing is to take pictures with the clothing as if you did buy it all :)

Any of you who are planning to take a trip to Islands of Adventure, please let me know if you need any more tips! It's definitely worth the long lines. Next trip will hopefully be to England to see the actual sets!

Summer Travels: The Final Vacation - Islands of Adventure

After 8 days of nonstop traveling and vacationing, it was almost time to go back to North Carolina, but not without one more night in Orlando.

I had one more full day to spend with Errol, and I pictured a nice, relaxing day after averaging 5 hours of sleep over the cruise. But Errol had something else in mind... a surprise trip to Islands of Adventure! He wanted the last day to be special, and he hadn't been to Harry Potter World yet, so he wanted his first time to be with me.

Islands of Adventure is great for older kids who are tall enough to ride roller coasters. The roller coasters aren't as big as Busch Gardens, but still thrilling! There are lots of different places to walk through in the park, including...


...Jurassic Park...

...Marvel comics...

...and Toon Lagoon...

But of course, the highlight of the day was Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Being my third time there, I gathered a number of tips to make the visit there as efficient as possible. And as the most popular part of the park, these tips will benefit you to minimize the your wait times and maximize your experience. Pictures and details will be in the next post

Overall the trip was perfect, and everything seemed to fall into place despite being completely exhausted from my cruise. We got up so early to make it to the park as it opened, and the adrenaline helped me make it all morning. Once lunchtime came, though, I was beat. After some discussion, we decided to go to the Hard Rock Cafe for lunch, take a nap, then come back. After this decision, it was like fate was being fulfilled before us. 

Fate #1: We decided to take advantage of the summer extended in the summer. It helped us feel a little better about leaving to take a nap. Also, we found out that there is free re-entry for the park and parking!

Fate #2: Not only did the nap rejuvenate us for the rest of the night, but there was a severe thunderstorm that lasted the span of the glorious nap! 

Fate #3: As we re-entered the park, a mother and daughter approached us and gave us their Express Pass tickets because they were leaving!!! At this time, it was 5:30PM, and the park closed at 9PM. The Express Pass made up for the time we spent napping! It was a glorious feeling to walk past all of the line, and only wait 10 minutes per ride. 

Fate #4: Because of the severe thunderstorm, a lot of the park emptied out, leaving the last couple of hours to spend in Harry Potter World, with minimal lines, and minimal crowds. 

So, as you can see, the day went perfectly. It made me completely forget the fact that the next morning, I would be leaving for North Carolina again, not to be reunited with Errol again until September. 


Summer Travels: The Final Vacation - Nassau, Bahamas

The next leg of the vacation was the cruise to the Bahamas. We went with a few other families, went on the 3-day cruise on Carnival Sensation!

We arrived on the ship in time for buffet lunch. My Godsister, Irene, and I laid out on the lido deck to do some tanning (more so for her than me). After a few hours, the ship was off into the Atlantic Ocean! It's crazy how you don't really feel the ship moving; however, you do feel a little bit of wobble. It's more of a constant rocking, that to me is soothing, no motion sickness at all.

There were lots of things to do on the boat, with full schedules each day. One of the things Irene and I did every night was go to the comedy club. This was my first experience seeing live comedy, and I am happy to say that I loved it! Tons of laugh-out-loud moments!

We spend the whole first day in the water, and finally docked in Port Nassau the next morning.

All the families ate lunch on the ship first, before embarking on land. The families split up into those who went shopping and sightseeing at The Atlantis Hotel, and those who went to do water adventures. We got to go jet-skiing, which was a ton of fun! We went in pairs, and shared one jet-ski for 45 minutes.

It was back and forth on the ship, to be able to make it in time for dinner. After dinner, we relaxed a bit then the adults went off to Senor Frogs! The go-to place wherever you dock on a cruise :). It was a lot of fun there, just hanging out. 

One of the big things on a cruise is the shopping. Throughout the trip, you are tempted by "one-day sales" and duty-free prices. One of the more fun sales was at the liquor tasting. That's right, free tastes of liquor, ranging from Grey Goose, to Patron, to Sheridan's (a coffee liquor that I tried and fell in love with! Needless to say, my parents bought me a bottle =D).

There's also beautiful jewelry on the ship. My mom bought my sister and I two bracelets each! They are sized and made right in front of you.

And what cruise isn't complete with adorable towel animals? My sister, Irene, and I took a class on the ship on how to make them (how-to blog post later). Here are some that we had in our room: 

Last, but definitely not least, the main event of a cruise ship... the FOOD! Below is a collage of all the scrumptious dishes that I ate on the ship. Some of the dishes include: veal, onion soup, sushi, ceviche, lobster tail, stuffed mushrooms, strawberry bisque, souffle, and lasagna. 


The trip was great overall. Needless to say, I won't be going out in the sun for a while... I turned about 100 shades darker from this trip, plus Puerto Rico earlier in the summer. Cruises are highly recommended. It's a trip with all-you-can-eat food, and it travels for you. You wake up and you're in a whole new place! 

Where have you cruised to? 


Summer Travels: The Final Vacation - Gainesville, FL

Next part of the trip was finally visiting the good ol' alma mater after a whole year. Gainesville will always have a large place in my heart. My first home away from home. The place where I left the shelter and comfort of living with my family, to learning to stand on my own two feet. 

I looked forward visiting Gainesville again, and it didn't disappoint. The moment we took our exit from I-75, I felt like I never left. It was like my whole life in North Carolina never existed, and I was back in school at UF spending a typical weekend hanging out with Errol. 

One of the main things we wanted to do on this trip was visit all of our favorite eating places that we missed so much. Our first stop was my absolute favorite... Rolls 'N Bowls. There are tons of sushi places in Gainesville, and I have tried all of them. But when I'm looking to scratch that sushi itch, Rolls 'N Bowls is the choice place for me. Ironically, I actually don't go there for the rolls... but for the bowls.  My usual is a spicy salmon/tuna bowl. It's a heap of raw fish over sushi rice, with avocado and spicy mayo. Simply divine. 

Another specialty of theirs is the wontons. Not only do they have the traditional crab rangoon style, but they have seasonal dessert wontons. Of those that I have had include pumpkin pie, chocolate raspberry, and the one I had that day... key lime pie. My mouth is watering at the though of those scrumptious delights. 

Later on, we met with Errol's old roommates at one of the pubs we frequented: Mother's. Lots of memories in that place, most of them impaired. I had my 21st birthday celebration there... 'nuff said. It was also where Errol and I watched an amazing US men's soccer game in the 2010 world cup. The day we went there also happened to be wing night. So, being boys, they all ate. Not because they were hungry, but because they were $0.45 each (I'll never understand this). 

After a day of driving and eating, we went to a friend's apartment where we stayed that night and changed/tried to digest for the next meal. That's right, it was dinner time and we had one more meal to squeeze in. There was a new Mexican place that we wanted to try out with our friends. Needless to say, my stomach reached capacity that day (a very common occurrence during this vacation). 

The next day, we spent it visiting more old friends and walking around campus. It was so nice seeing old friends and catching up. I loved going around campus and reminiscing about the classes we took, the experiences we had. Another big reason Gainesville and UF will always be important to me is because that is where Errol and I met, became friends, and started our wonderful relationship. Nearly every inch of the school and city holds at least one memory with Errol, and going back again with him for the first time was extremely special. 

The last meal of the trip was at Farah's. This is where Errol and his roommate would eat wings at least once a month to have hot wings, their favorite place to do so. There were many birthdays celebrated here as well. It's a mediterranean menu, and I got my usual gyro. We also shared a hookah that night with our friends, and I got my favorite drink... "Dirty Hookah Water". 

Overall, the return to Gainesville was great. One of the things that I noticed when I was there, was that I felt so comfortable. Here in North Carolina, I still feel a bit uncomfortable. My mental map isn't completely drawn, and I still frequently get lost. And now that Errol has moved away, I think the process won't be as fast. I love it here, but there's no place like home. 

It sure is great to be a Florida Gator. 


Summer Travels: The Final Vacation - Orlando and Melbourne, FL

The last vacation of the summer was a compilation of trips and experiences that are so substantial, they must be in separate posts! Within 10 days, I was in Orlando, Gainesville, and Melbourne, FL; Atlantic Ocean; and Nassau, Bahamas. 

Prior to the trip I spent 2 weeks alone in my apartment, cooking, working, and trying to stay busy. It was the first test to Errol and my long distance relationship, which actually went a lot more smoothly with the use of a webcam (no, that's not supposed to be dirty).  The webcam helped a lot with keeping the relationship exactly the same, feeling like we were still together. In fact, I find talking on the phone now to be pretty annoying. Although, hopefully that will change once Errol gets an iPhone! 

The day of my flight finally came, and luckily one of my friends dropped me off at 8AM. It was a nonstop flight and I arrived in Orlando at noon, giving Errol and I plenty of time to reunite! Straight from the airport, we went to lunch at a Thai restaurant. One of the great things about our relationship is that we love culture. Thai food is one of our favorites! 

After lunch, I met his roommate, and we hung out for a while. This was also opening weekend of Dark Knight Rises, and we bought tickets to see it in IMAX with my best friend from high school and her boyfriend. Phew, that movie was mind-blowing, right? It is just so unfortunate that it will always be remembered for the horrific shooting in Colorado.

After the movie, we all went to Taverna Opa for dinner. I would recommend EVERYONE to go there at least once in their lives. It's not just delicious food, but an experience! It is meant to have the party feel of Greece, so there are napkins thrown everywhere, waiters screaming "Opa!", belly dancers, and people dancing on the tables (yes, it is allowed, and frankly highly encouraged!) 

Another night, I met a few more of Errol's classmates and we went for a walk around Lake Eola. It's a beautiful place downtown, and the fountain in the middle resembles the Bellagio fountain in Las Vegas. There is music playing with lights and fountains that correspond to the tune. 

Overall, the first few days in Orlando were great! The last task before going home was to pick up the food for my parents' 25th wedding anniversary! Shown below is the food order, and all of the delicious Filipino trays of food that would feed over 80 people! 

The party was great, and filled with lots of people I hadn't seen in a long time. It was a wonderful celebration of my parents' silver wedding anniversary. I hope someday to make it that long too!