Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice!

This is my first taste of fall weather… 50s and drizzle but I love it! People think I am a weird Cali girl living in a Maryland world but I think they enjoy my new-ness. So, in the event of Fall like weather… (don’t panic)! It is best to go to the nearest Wegmans store and get plenty of Pumpkin Spice Coffee Cake and Apple Cider. I warmed the cider in a saucepan and dished up the cake… voila!
Fall Deliciousness…


-girl in pigtails

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How To: Bier Fest with Beer “Stein” Dude…

Beer Dude says, “Plan Ahead!”

First, a little background…September 19 marks the official day of Germany’s Oktoberfest. While it would have been awesome to actually go to Germany; it was not practical. But, we did the next best thing: Busch Gardens “Bier Fest” in Williamsburg with the fabulous tour guide: Beer “Stein” Dude. This trip was our reward for being on a hard core diet and exercise for 90 days. Ray did awesome and lost 23 lbs and is in much better health. I am back in the best shape of my life. But we desperately needed a cheat weekend… no exercise and a whole lotta food (and beer). To Bier Fest!…

Our hotel choice was the Marriott for a few reasons: it was about two miles away from the park and someone had Marriott points (or rather, earns them when we stay there). The last thing you want to do is drink and drive. Because we planned our trip well in advanced the hotel was about $90/night. We also got a great deal on our park tickets too! Looking online, you can purchase tickets and avoid waiting in line. Daily tickets cost about $75 for one person… yeah I know it’s a lot. Thanks to research, we found a Fun Pass that was $75/person all summer (about Aug to Sept). It was worth the extra savings for only two days. We also saved $50 a week and used my cash rewards for our food, beer, and souvenirs. By the time our trip came up we had $600 to cover our two day adventure.

Beer Dude says, “Don’t Skip Breakfast!”

So 6am Friday morning, our Bier Fest adventure started with a hearty breakfast at Bob Evans.

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day… they are right! I had an amazing giant waffle with butter and syrup along with a side of scrambled eggs and Bob Evans famous sausage gravy. The best breakfast of my life! Ok, it might just be the best because of the 90 day crazy diet and exercise program. Ray had the biscuits and sausage gravy with scrambled eggs. Yummy!

Beer Dude says, “Keep Your Eyes on the Road!”

We hit the road for a 2.5hr drive to Williamsburg. Apparently, I was a little sleepy after working a night shift and having a full tummy. Nap time!

Beer Dude says, “Get Settled!”

Busch Gardens doesn’t open until 10am which gave us some time to check into the hotel. There was also a café in the hotel which gave me a chance at some wake up juice. We dropped our bags off at the room and then, started our two mile walk to the park. Now, it really is not advised to walk there because there is literally no side walk from the hotel to the park.

Beer Dude says, “Welcome!”

Because we pre-paid and printed our tickets our entrance into the park was fast and easy. Beer Dude Tip: use the very far left or far rights lanes to get in the park. Those lanes tend to be the shortest!

Beer Dude says, “Check your height!”

When you first enter the park, there are employees that will height check the little milk cups (kids) and give them a wrist band. That way there is no waiting in line only to be disappointed in the fact that the little one is too short for the ride. Though Beer Dude was under even the minimum height requirement, there was some random law that said he (as a stuffed Beer Mug) was still able to ride all of the attractions with us. As we were not fully aware of this at the time, he left a little beer stain in the height check booth as he shed a few tears.

Beer Dude says, “Don’t forget different lands open at different times!”

Sorry Beer Dude you have to wait. Lands open in order with Germany opening last at around 10:45 am and the first beer allowed to be served at 11:00 am.

First: Beer Dude says, “Where’s the Beir?!”

We started with two full beers and realized it was way too much money. Beer Dude told us later that Busch Gardens had a beer pass for 10 ‘samples’ (3oz) at $20. OR for $30 you could have the ultimate beer pass and receive the 10 ‘samples’, a full fill, AND a glass Bier Fest 2015 mug. Well, when each full beer costs $8.50 a cup it was an easy decision. The best part about Bier Fest is all the different types of beer available. That is also another great reason for the beer pass! The samples give you a chance to find your favorite. However, I found my favorite pretty fast (I loved the hard ciders) and we soon realized that 3 samples ‘filled’ our glass mug (again depends on who dispenses). The hard ciders where very refreshing on the hot day but I did also like the pumpkin ale too! We grabbed a beer and watched the ceremonial tapping of the keg.

As Beer do would say: Zicke zacke, zicke zacke, hoi hoi hoi! Prost!

On the first day of October Fest Bush Gardens has a ceremony tapping of the keg! The president of the park and the factory had the first glasses and they put it down!

Beer Dude says, “Get a Beer Dude Buddy and Remember: Sharing is Caring!”

There was something missing… oh yeah a giant pretzel! No, it wasn’t a pretzel from a stand (puff) it was from the Beste Brezeln und Bier (Best Pretzels and Beer) house; freshly baked with beer mustered and melty cheese! Yum… We found a bench to sit and enjoy our treats and that is where we ran into Beer “Stein” Dude. This stuffed beer toy was a prize at one of the game stands and we figured at 11am the person who won it probably didn’t want to carry him around all day. So, we adopted him as our official Bier Feast mascot.

Next: Beer Dude says, “Enjoy a ride or two!”

He loved the 3D adventure wolf ride. Don’t forget the glasses! This ride is in the same area as Bier Fest and the line was maybe 10min long. The 3D effects where great and the ride itself was not too scary as far as it was more twisty not dropsy like a roller-coaster. Beer Dude gives two thumbs up (if he had thumbs) for fun, creative, and no lost beer.

The classic carousel is another great ride near Bier Fest!

Beer Dude’s Tip for Tots!

Busch Gardens make a get effort incorporating places for young milk cups (the kids). There is the Land of Dragons and Forest of Fun! Both parks have mini versions of the adult rides and coasters. They also have water parks so don’t forget the swim suits! If the little milk cups get too wet and need a quick dry, there are family dryers close by to warm them up!

Beer Dude says, “Set Sail!”

There are boats that ride along the river while you enjoy a nice seat at a table. Bring your beer!

Beer Dude says, “Talk with the Animals!”

At the stables, the trainers will allow you to pet the stable mates and pose for pictures. Depending on the time of day, they will bring out the chicken, golden retrievers, sheep dogs, sheep, goats, owls, and the most famous: Clydesdales horses. If you’re nice you may even get kisses!

Beer Dude says, “Lunch Time!”

Beer Dude was craving Italian! In the Italy Land, we went to
Ristorante della Piazza and shared a hand- rolled cannelloni, chicken parmesan, spaghetti with marinara sauce, a fresh ham wrap with pasta salad and carrot cake. This made our lunch meal filling and less spendy on the wallet. Another lunch feast was in Oktoberfest with the traditional German sausage and potato salad and more beer of course.

Beer Dude says, “See the sights!”

Busch Gardens where getting ready for Halloween. So, when in Rome… Beer Dude helped take freaky photos!

Beer Dude says, “Get Sculpted!”

There are many great sculptures throughout the park. Just let Beer Dude be your guide! Use your imagination and think of interesting places to take a photo of or with Beer Dude. It helps you slow down and enjoy the park!

Beer Dude found Christmas!

Don’t let Beer Dude get carried away… things happen!

The Circle of Life…. with Beer Dude!

Beer Dude Safety Tip: Don’t Feed the Bears… they might bite back!

Beer Dude says, “Have more Beer and desserts!”

Well, you are at Bier Fest so, drink up! But don’t forget to have a snack… yum yum yogurt covered pretzel at the Confectionary. Then, the British Baker
cures your cravings with a warm funnel cake topped with powdered sugar, prepared right before your eyes. We topped ours with strawberries, fudge drizzle, and whipped cream. YUM! Our last dessert/snack was gelato from Gelato di San Marco… it’s gelato enough said… oh and yeah get the waffle cone.

Beer Dude says, “Don’t forget the souvenirs!”

There are so many souvenirs from Bier Fest merch to roller-coaster keep sakes etc. The uniqueness of Busch Gardens is the artisans and their hand crafted works of art. In Italy, there is a little shop where they make ceramic flowers into wall décor, statues, and jewelry. These presents are all made there at the shop everyday and crafted with detail and love. If you ask nicely, the artist will even sign the memorabilia.

Always ask if they have a deal… there was a buy 2 get 1 free…

Beer Dude says, “What time is it?!”

The park closed around 6pm, so we decided to get dinner outside the park. We ended up asking a Busch Gardens employee for a suggestion. So on that note, we headed to the Whaling Company! It was also close to our hotel (double bonus)! The service was charming and the fresh local fish was amazing!

The Whaling Company has great local fish and homemade New England clam chowder.

Beer Dude says, “Good Night!”

Get some good sleep for the next day! We ended up splitting our Bier Fest trip into two days but it could be done in one if you absolutely had too…

Life is too short… have a good tasting beer and a beer dude to share it with!

-girl in pigtails

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Back to Healthy

So, the HTB (Hubby to be) and I are getting back to good health. We’ve had a long journey to a healthy lifestyle and always fell short. Each year we start a diet/exercise plan then, the holidays come and mess it all up. OK, it’s not the holidays fault but they sure do make it easy to sideline the plan. Not this year! After moving to Maryland, Ray went to the doctor and ended up discovering the harsh reality of obesity and the health issues because of it. Doctor’s orders were clear: diet and exercise. So, we jumped onto a program we know works… P90X! We are in the middle of week 9; which is incredible since we never actually finished a full 90 days (stupid holiday temptation). Ray has lost about 7lbs so far and I’m trying get back in shape and toned. I want to try and run a half marathon by next summer. This time we feel completely committed! Partially, because of the Doctor’s accountability and from years of trail and error. We have done a lot of different programs and diets (if you read the blog… you know).
We now know the secret to health:
1)the best workout is the one you will do…(try everything and anything)
2)calorie count… (no cheating)
3)have motivation… (you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink).

– girl in pigtails

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Rest in Peace… birdy boy

RIP birdy boy

It is so hard to lose a friend. My little birdy boy took the eternal sleepy about a week ago and to be honest… it tore me up. I did not realize how much I cared about that little ball of feathers. He was the runt of the litter and had health problems from the start. But, he was a little fighter and always tried so hard to look and be healthy. Unfortunately, his body gave up before his spirit.
We still have birdy girl who is not hating the extra attention but you can see she misses birdy boy every now and then.
It is hard to come to the realization that pets are small tragedies but we just need to remember the good times and take lots of pictures. Each pet teaches us something different… birdy boy was a prime example of strength, determination, and the fighter’s spirit.

– girl in pigtails

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You said it Rock!


I am feeling like a racehorse at the starting gate. Just two months ago, Mr. Awesome Fiance (Ray) and I packed up our little NorCal life and settled down in the land of strong deeds and gentle words… Maryland. I’m still with Safeway but now, that I have my MBA, I have my sights set on a government position. It is a slow process but I think a good start to a business career. Hence, feeling like a racehorse… I’m ready…let me out! Open, open, open!
In the mean time, we are cracking down on the diet and exercise regime… P90X style.
Bring It!
girl in pigtails

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Feeling Loved

I am going to miss my Safeway 1211 family. As the old saying goes: “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times” but we got through it together. You never know how much you impact people daily. I received so many gifts, hugs, and good luck. It really proves how little acts of kindness make a difference (even when I may not be having the best day). Happiness has a ripple effect and at the end of the day knowing I made a small difference makes me feel like a hot air balloon that could go to space!


Have courage and be kind!
– girl in pigtails

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I Freakin’ Did It!

I am incredibly happy to announce that I am finished with my MBA. It was a long hard year; doing two classes every eight weeks but I got it done! I also have to toot my horn because I received a GPA of 3.92! Toot Toot! I almost don’t know what to do with myself… I come home and there are no more papers. Now, it is time to look for a career and dabble with hobbies! Life is about to get epic..


– girl in pigtails

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