Hotel Transylvania 2

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This past weekend was a full one for us. I love busy weekends, almost as much as the lazy ones. They’re fairly rare for us, so it’s easier to appreciate them.

One of the things that we fid this weekend was go to the Auto-Rama Drive-In in Valley City, OH, our first trip to the Drive-Ins since Harry Potter 5 and The Order of the Phoenix was released. We used to go all the time when we lived in NY, but had yet to attend one in OH.
This weekend we finally went, mainly because they finally played two movies on one screen that we wanted to see: Hotel Transylvania 2 and Pixels.

Normally I get a little nervous with sequels, they always have that potential to go horribly wrong, but thankfully, this did not.

For those who didn’t see the previews, the movie starts at Mavis and Johnny’s wedding. Then we get to see Mavis pregnant, which I was a little shocked they put in the movie, but definitely enjoyed. Then we meet little Dennis, the spitting image of his human daddy.

Dracula is a doting vamp-pa, and I love seeing his character act just as goofy as he was in the first movie. It’s always funny seeing a character that takes themselves so serious, acting like a goofball. Watching him interact, really watching all of the monsters interact, with the humans is amusing after the total fear and hatred of said humans in the first movie.

The plot thickens, as Mavis considers moving to CA, near Johnny’s family, because Dennis is showing no monster tendencies, and the hotel is too dangerous for a human child. Dracula convinces Johnny to take Mavis to CA for a visit, a trial run almost, while Dracula tries to fix the the situation. Fixing it, in this case, meaning getting Dennis to show his monster side.

While Mavis is off enjoying CA, much hilarity here, Dracula enlists the aid of his friends to force Dennis into monster – hood so he doesn’t lose his grandson. A lot of these moments were in the preview, like throwing him off the tower, but that whole camp sequence had me rolling!

There were some unexpected sweet moments in this movie, for instance the adorable way Dennis and Winny, Wolfman’s daughter, love on each other. If you have a toddler, you’ve probably seen this kind of love and hug bit going on, and it’s made even cuter by them referring to each other as “zing”.

Also shown in the previews, Dracula’s father gets involved, but shockingly he’s not the villain of the end. The actual villain and final confrontation was a little more intense than I expected.

Can’t wait for this to come out on DVD and digital (remember when it was VHS and DVD, or DVD and Blu Ray. This is getting complicated!) because I’m ready to see it again! Definitely recommend seeing this one.

Happy family viewing all!

Beginning of Year Pictures

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This year, and it’s already been a few weeks, my little man has started 2nd grade. I can’t believe it keeps happening! I know all parents say it, but I’m not sure how he keeps getting bigger.

This is a very easy photo to set up, in fact no set up is necessary, except printing another photo in advance. As we all know, I’m a picture nut, so of course, I take pictures at the beginning of the school year.

My original plan was to keep the same background for these yearly photos, our blue wall and standing in front of my curio cabinet. No this wasn’t a very visually appealing background, but it seemed to be working. Photos of this style tend to work best with the same background, so you don’t get distracted by the different backgrounds.

I would recommend going with at least an 8×10, if not bigger. The bigger the picture is, the better your details will be, especially when you get 3 or 4 pictures in. Even with the 8×10 I use, his preschool picture is difficult to make out.

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I can’t think of anything else to add to this post except this awesome picture of my baby girl’s first day of kindergarten.

Happy photographing!

Buffalo Chicken Lasagna

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I’ll say this up front, mine did not come out anywhere near as pretty as the original blogger’s did, but I have never claimed to be a food photographer. More to the point, I can’t present food to be photogenic, but it tastes delicious!

This recipe calls for:
•1 tbsp olive oil
•1 tbsp butter
•1/4 cup diced onion (I left this out because Arthur doesn’t do onions)
•1 clove minced garlic (I used 1 tbsp of my homemade minced garlic)
•8oz cream cheese, softened
•1 cup buffalo wing sauce
•Tabasco or other hot sauce to taste (I didn’t need any)
•2 cups cooked, shredded chicken (I cooked some boneless, skinless chicken beasts and ripped them apart)
•1/2 cup ranch dressing
•8oz shredded mozzarella cheese
•lasagna noodles (I used the Great Value oven – ready ones, just soaked them in hot water to soften them a bit)

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Start by melting your butter together with the olive oil. Once the butter is all melted is when you would add your onions if you are using them. Garlic in the pot next. Sorry the picture is dark!

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Put your cream cheese in the pot. Original blogger said to cut the cream cheese into cubes, but I’m lazy, so I just stirred it in. Once it’s all liquid, add your buffalo sauce. This is where you would add the additional hot sauce if you so desire.

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Smear a little of your buffalo mixture on the bottom of your casserole dish, then lay your lasagna noodles on the sauce.

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Add your shredded chicken to the remaining sauce and mix it all up.

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Put half of your chicken mixture on top of your base noodles, then half of your ranch. I just spread some, not measuring, in my usual estimating manner. Place another layer of noodles, then repeat with the chicken mixture and ranch.

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After using the last of your chicken mixture and ranch, put a final layer of noodles on top, then layer with your mozzarella.

Place in your 350° oven for 25-35 minutes. I only did 20 minutes. The cheese had melted perfectly, I knew the chicken was already cooked, so I figured that would be good. It was delicious! Arthur devoured his, he’s a big fan of spicy food, Tony inhaled his, I think he was just really hungry, I loved it too. Chiara was the only one who didn’t eat it, but she’s not a big fan of spicy food.

Definitely check out the original site, as they feature much better pictures, and be sure to try this recipe, it’s delicious!

Happy dining all!

Geocaching: Souvenirs

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This is another pointless, and yet freakishly satisfying, part of Geocaching. As I said before, there are a lot of types of caches, in a lot of different places. On your main profile page on geocaching.com there is a link to your “Souvenirs”. That is where you will find all of your badges.

These souvenirs, or badges, are earned for several different things. First, and easiest I think, is to get state souvenirs. All you have to do is get a cache in a state and you get that souvenir. So far I’ve grabbed OH, NJ, SC, IN AND WV. Tony and I are trying to grab at least one cache in each state we pass through.

There is an International Geocaching Day badge above. Also an easy souvenir to get, but only available once a year! August 15th is International Geocaching Day and the only requirement to this souvenir is that you find and log any type of cache on August 15th. Easy peasy!

The rest of my souvenirs were from the “Road Trip 2015”. This was a list of badges that they made available, during specific dates. For instance, they wanted you to get an Earth Cache, you needed to get a D5 or T5, hardest to find and/or get to, attend a geo-event, find a cache with ten or more favorite points and find a mystery/puzzle cache. There was a very reasonable amount of time to find these caches, so don’t think you would need a week to get it all done at once.

The added bonus to doing the “Road Trip” is that once you complete the caches they required, you get the Road Trip souvenir. I was a little over excited about getting this souvenir!

Yes, they are just little digital stickers on your page. If you feel like spending the money, you can purchase the actual pins from the geocaching store, but it is strangely satisfying seeing the souvenirs that you’ve gotten. Try it and see!

Happy caching!

Geocaching: Types of Caches

Another fun thing about geocaching is the variety of caches available to you. There are many types that I have no experience with, so obviously I’ll only be writing about the ones that I am familiar with. For a full list, be sure to check out the full cache type list at the official geocaching site.

The first, and most common type of cache is the traditional cache. This is also most basic and simple one. You select the cache on your app, it gives you the coordinates, you go where it tells you and you find the cache, sign the log and move on. Quick and easy smiley! There are different levels of difficulty and different terrain types within this category, but there is no figuring anything out with these, just point and go.

The next type of cache that I’ve completed is the mystery, or puzzle, cache. These are a little more complicated, or a lot, depending on the difficulty level, They do list a set of coordinates, but these are not correct. Usually, COs (Cache Owners) with a sense of humor will even put that in the description that the coordinates will put you in the middle of a lake or a highway. With caches like these, there is a clue or puzzle to solve to find the real coordinates. Once you have solved the puzzle or clue, you will go to those coordinates, find the cache and sign the log. My caching buddy loves these types of caches. He likes nothing better than sitting down and solving a lot of puzzles at once. Then he’ll call and we’ll go on a caching run to get them all!

My kids and I looking for an earth cache

Another type of cache I have found is an earth cache. These are different from the normal types of caches, in that there are no physical logs to sign. The earth cache that I found involved going to the set of coordinates listed, then answering the questions listed there. Then you can log the find. It is important to remember that you have to send a message to the CO with the answers. If the CO does not receive the answers within a reasonable amount of time, they can and will delete the log, making it disappear from your finds. These usually involve something interesting in nature, like a specific rock formation or historic site that the CO feels is worth seeing. This isn’t the best picture, but this was the one we sent to the CO, not a requirement, but appreciated, along with our answers.

Multi-caches

Multi-caches require you to go to at least two locations. The locations are close to each other, so don’t worry too much about travel time. The multi-caches I’ve done were actually walking distance between locations. These types of caches involve going to the first location and finding a clue. This particular cache’s clue was this awesome wind-chime, hanging in a graveyard. Yes, caches can be in graveyards. Don’t worry though, they are usually located on the outskirts or in the trees or shrubbery. This particular clue was a number that we had to add to the original coordinates. This led us to the actual cache, we signed the log and moved on to the next.

Event caches are another very unique type of cache. They are not a hidden cache at all. This is a geocacher event, this does include a log, but they tell you specifically where to go and at what time. The family and I had the opportunity to attend one of these earlier this month, and it was a lot of fun. These are hosted by a particular cacher, the log has to be signed while you are there, then you can log the “find”. It’s another smiley for your counts, but more importantly it’s a fun time to meet other cachers. You can discuss particular local hides, maybe talking to the people who placed them, or discuss the difficulties you have with certain caches. They also sometimes have different trackables for you to take and hide later on. I will talk about trackables later on, I promise.

Happy caching!