2013 – My Year in Review

After almost dying in 2012, I was hoping 2013 would be much better. Was it? Let’s see…

In January, I started going out a bit for my CitySurfing Orlando blog. I saw a performance art attraction on I-Drive called DRIP, where I got soaking wet and covered in paint. I also got to see the Ringling Bros circus when it was in town.

Me with Stark car

May 2013 after Iron Man marathon

In February and March, I saw a swing-jazz concert, a one-man theatrical production of The Odyssey, and the opera Madame Butterfly. I also got invited to check out Chuy’s Mexican restaurant when it opened in Kissimmee.

In April, I started seeing my nephrologist to get a handle on how bad my kidneys still were, and have tests done. I also had tests done to check my heart and lungs for fluid, which I had in 2012. No fluid was found, thankfully.

My May highlight was seeing the Iron Man movie marathon at the Disney theaters. The rest of the month I wasn’t feeling the best, so I didn’t go out much. I discovered towards the end of the month that my run-down feeling was caused by the fact that I had anemia on top of everything else. My regular doc tried to treat it with prescription-strength iron, but I had to stop taking it because it interfered with my thyroid medication.

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Ringing Out 2013 With Fireworks

I’m housesitting for some friends while they are up in Georgia visiting family for the holidays. I’m also catsitting for them, but she’s upset the family is gone, so she only permits me to feed her.

Anyways, I spent New Year’s Eve alone on the couch, watching the Ball drop in Times Square on TV. Or at least I tried to. As the countdown started, their cable box decided to shut off for a reset.

I started frantically trying to turn everything back on, but I saw flashes of light from the window behind me.

Looking out the window, I saw fireworks going off in the distance. I’m not sure who was setting them off. SeaWorld Orlando is in that direction, but I think they’re a little too far away. I’m thinking it might be the Grande Lakes resort area where the Ritz Carlton and JW Marriott are located.

I tried to snap some pictures with my phone, but they didn’t turn out, so I ran and got my good camera, and these are the few good shots I got:

The first shot. That white thing with the windows is a travel van in the front yard.

New Year's Eve fireworks

Then I tried to zoom in to get the van out of the shot. Too much zoom, I think…

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Watch Olaf Sing “In Summer” from Disney’s Frozen

Disney's Frozen

One of my favorite movies of 2013 was Disney’s Frozen, not to be confused with Frozen (a horror movie about getting stuck on a ski lift).

A big reason was the sidekick character of Olaf (voiced by Josh Gad), a snowman who has no concept of what a snowman is made of, as evidenced by this wonderful musical number called “In Summer.”

Disney’s Frozen is still in theaters, so if you get a chance, definitely see it – in 3D, if possible.

Merry Christmas from Zengrrl.com

It’s been a wild year for most people I know, but as we come to the end of the year, let’s look forward to making 2014 an amazing year.

I hope this holiday season finds you and yours happy, healthy, and safe. Thank you for visiting this blog, and for taking the time to converse with me in the comments.

Merry Christmas, y’all!

Twinkling lights on Cinderella's Castle

And here’s a fun Christmas video for you to enjoy:

Redbox Instant Combines Streaming Videos With Kiosk Choices for Subscribers #GotItFree

Redbox Instant

I was recently invited to try out Redbox Instant, the new home streaming service from Redbox, via BzzAgent. The following review is my own words and thoughts.

Most people are familiar with Redbox, the instore kioks that offer nightly rentals of videos, but Redbox now also has a home video streaming service.

I was invited to sample the home service via a one-month trial, and here’s what I thought of it.

Redbox Instant does have some newer titles, as well as a back catalog of older films, but it doesn’t have nearly the selection of its closest competitor, Netflix. Some of the films I watched are the 2012 remake of Red Dawn, the first Hunger Games, and Skyfall, the last James Bond film. You can also use your account to rent/buy digital copies of new releases.

But where a subscription to Redbox Instant excels is your monthly fee includes four free kiosk rentals each month. So if there’s a recent release you want to see, or just happen to want an actual DVD to watch, you get four rental credits to do so every month.

There is also a Redbox Instant App that allows users to stream movies away from their computers via select android phones, iPhones and tablets covered, at 3G, 4G or by Wi-Fi.

Redbox Instant costs $8 a month ($9 if you want blu-ray rentals), the same as a Netflix streaming service account, but Netflix charges you an extra fee for physical DVD rentals through their service.

If you’re the kind of movie watcher who wants to do a combination of streaming and DVDs, then a subscription to Redbox Instant might work for you.

You can try it out for yourself with a free one-month trial of Redbox Instant at redboxinstant.com. They will ask for your credit card, but as long as you cancel before the trial month is over, you will not be charged.

My Favorite Vegetarian “Meat” Offerings

For the last few months, I’ve been cutting back on my meat consumption by trying out various meat-less meat options. In all fairness, I’ve only tried offerings by Boca, Gardein, and Morning Star Farms, because that’s what’s readily available to me in the stores I shop in.

If you’re looking to try going meat-less every now and then, here are my favorites to try:

Veggie burgerBest Burger: Morningstar Farms Grillers Prime
These really do taste quite burger-like. The texture is a bit off, but piled in a bun with toppings, and a few condiments, and I really don’t notice a difference, except there’s less fat.

Best Chicken Patty: Boca Spicy Chicken Patties
The texture and the taste are nearly identical to spicy chicken patties at fast food restaurants. I like to add a sweet & spicy condiment on top, or go with a little mayo and lettuce on a bun. I love these!
Runner-Up: Gardein Crispy Chick’n Patty – If you can’t find the Boca ones, these are really good, too, but with less spice.

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Playing It Forward Combines Music and Charity Into a Win for All

Playing It Forward  John Legend

Combine surprise concerts by well-known musicians with donations to charities that deal with children’s issues (education, etc), and you have the exciting new concept known as Playing It Forward.

Many know Robert Downey Jr as an actor, but he is also a talented musician, whose interests in music were nurtured in school. Together with his wife, Susan, via their production company Team Downey, they have partnered with Crackle, the multi-platform entertainment network, to organize these impromptu concerts that benefit charities of the participating artist’s choosing.

Playing It Forward  John Legend

Presented by FedEx, the first artist to participate was John Legend, who set up with a piano at the Culver City Town Plaza in Los Angeles. Last minute social media clues were the only advance notice given that this concert was going to happen. The Grammy Award-winning artist performed three fan favorites, “All of Me,” “Ordinary People,” and “Shine” to an unsuspecting and amazed crowd.

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Kmart and Sears Offer Free Holiday In Store Pick Up #spon

Presented by Mami Innovative Media, this is a sponsored post on behalf of Sears and Kmart. All opinions expressed here are my own.

The holidays are a busy time of the year, with shopping, decorating, baking, and more, on top of your regular schedule of work and family time.

Sears In-Store PickupOne way to lighten the schedule is to shop online when it’s convenient for you, but then you incur shipping fees. Well, Sears and Kmart want to help out with free in-store pickup.

Simply order online at either store, then arrange to pick up your purchases in-store in as little as 5 minutes – or whenever you’re ready. You can even have a friend or relative pick up your order and pay in-store with cash. How easy is that?

With in-store pickup you’ll avoid lines, busy stores and the wasted time of walking down every aisle.

Kmart In-Store PickupBoth Sears and Kmart offer $10 back in points when you spend $59 and free in-store pickup, letting you earn more points while shopping thousands of gifts online in the comfort of your own home. Order online from Saturday, December 7, 2013, at 6pm CT, to Tuesday, December 10, 2013, at 9am CT. Shop instore Sunday, December 8, 2013, only.

Now it’s no question that you should do your holiday shopping at Sears and Kmart while earning more points and try the free in-store pickup at Sears or Kmart, but there’s now a question of, what will you do with more free time over the holidays and your extra points? A few ideas include: give yourself a gift using your points before volunteering at a shelter, making gingerbread houses with the kids or simply putting your feet up and enjoying the view of the Christmas tree.

Learn more at Sears: http://bit.ly/HL896t and Kmart: http://kmrt.us/1bmIoRk