May 27, 2015

Awesome Con Schedule

It's almost time for Awesome Con! This will be my first time attending the convention in Washington D.C. It takes place from May 29-May 31, 2015. I'll be appearing on a couple of panels on Sunday, May 31 (listed below) but otherwise wandering around the convention center and the city. There's too much stuff for an out-of-town visitor like me to see so I don't want to spend the entire time inside the convention center. Anyway! Please come to my panels if you feel so inclined and say hello!

Diversity in Pop Culture
Sunday, 11:00am - 12:00pm, 145B
Pop culture is overflowing with our favorite franchises, but can everyone relate to them? Diversity and fair representation continues to be a struggle. Join the panelists as they discuss recent issues and what we can do to make a difference.

State of the Galaxy
Sunday, 3:30pm - 4:30pm, 156
Join us in a galaxy far far away as panelists John Morton, Amy Ratcliffe, Anna Mitchell, Jay Shah and Bria LaVorgna talk everything Star Wars. From Episode VII to Rebels to the Expanded Universe, they’ll cover it all along and even delve into what the future might hold.

See you there?

May 26, 2015

Star Wars Weekends Character Meet and Greets (I traded with a Jawa!)

Is it OK with everyone if I just keep talking about Star Wars Weekends forever? I had the best time at the event at Disney's Hollywood Studios a couple of weekends ago. So many factors contributed to it being the memorable experience that it was including the desserts and drinks I've already mentioned, the Rebel Hangar lounge experience, the parade, fireworks, the merch, and meeting characters. Disney brings out all the big guns for Star Wars Weekends: Star Wars Disney characters like Jedi Mickey, villains like Aurra Sing and Boba Fett, heroes like Ahsoka Tano and Mace Windu, and basically everyone in between. They wander around Hollywood Studios, appear at two character dining events (Star Wars Dine-In Galactic Breakfast and Jedi Mickey's Star Wars Dine at Hollywood and Vine), and are set up at various backdrops around the park like Tantive IV and Coruscant.

I took pictures with a few characters, and each time I met a character, I found myself reverting to a 5-year-old. I got so excited - it was a struggle to stop myself from hugging everyone. Here are a handful of the characters I spotted:


Aurra Sing - It was hilarious to watch her interact with everyone. The cast member didn't break character until a little boy came up and nuzzled into her side. It was the cutest.


Captain Rex


Meeting a hero of the Clone Wars (hey, clone troopers were pretty great until the whole Order 66 thing).


Darth Maul avoiding getting cut in half.


Minnie dressed as Princess Leia was possibly the absolute best thing ever. I practically squee'd.


Did you know you can trade with Jawas at Hollywood Studios? Tricia of the Fangirl Blog gave me a stormtrooper action figure to trade. The Jawa tried to give me a tube of travel-size lotion first but I passed, and then he (or she) offered an Ursula pin. Once I accepted, an "Utini!" was in order:




Shaak Ti complimented the tiny droids attached to my ears (my R2-D2 earrings) and suggested to Kit Fisto that they tell Anakin about this method since he's always losing Artoo. Then they taught me the ultimate wise Jedi pose.



Queen Padmé Amidala in Naboo



The members of the Modal Nodes wandered around the Rebel Lounge and even pulled up a seat to join us for a moment.


This Rodian at the Rebel Hangar was energetic and funny.

On my next visit to Star Wars Weekends, I plan to make an autograph book and meet all the characters I can.

May 25, 2015

The Drinks of Star Wars Weekends

It gets hot in Florida - aren't you glad I'm here to share surprising facts like these? Heat and humidity are two elements of Star Wars Weekends that must be reckoned with, and one way you can battle them is with a variety of chilled and fruity Star Wars themed beverages and cocktails. Bonus: you can also get glow cubes shaped like the Death Star, the Millennium Falcon, or an X-wing! The galactic drinks were another unexpected-yet-awesome part of Star Wars Weekends, right up there with all the miniature desserts. Here's a look at them:


The Tatooine Sunset - Stoli Vanilla Vodka, Parrot Bay Coconut Rum, Pineapple Juice, and Grenadine


The Rebel Red - Grey Goose Vodka, Chambord, Sweet and Sour, and Grenadine


Imperial Blue - Maker's Mark Bourbon, Cointreau, Blue Curacao, Sweet and Sour, topped with Sprite



These drinks are available near Star Tours and the Star Wars Weekends event stage.


Drinks available inside Darth's Mall


Drinks available inside the Rebel Hangar - this is the only place the X-wing glow cube is available.

Blue milk was available in non-alcoholic form at the Rebel Hangar and in non-alcoholic and alcoholic forms at the Star Wars Dine-In Galactic Breakfast.

Of the drinks I sampled, all were very sweet and sugary and went down very easily. On that note remember that it is, of course, important to accompany the consumption of these drinks with lots of water. Proper hydration is important to surviving heat. And one more note: the glow cubes make up about $4-5 of the price of the drinks so if you don't want them, ask if you can get the drinks without them. You can definitely go glow cube-less at the Rebel Hangar.

Take a Tour of My Space and a Game of Thrones Room on myWebRoom

One of my favorite aspects of playing games like The Sims is the part where I get to decorate all the virtual spaces. When you have limited space and a lot of stuff, it becomes a challenge to rearrange and redecorate to make everything work. But doing it virtually? That's a fine substitution and that's exactly what you can do on myWebRoom.com. The site is fun and interactive - you can keep tabs on your favorite websites, take a template and use it to decorate and build your dream room, find new content and products, and shop. Yep, you have the option to do it all. It's sort of like Polyvore but for the home and also a little like Pinterest.

As you build your room, you can go in whatever direction you want - including embracing your fandom. myWebRoom has a gloriously decked out Gameof Thrones room. It's overflowing with enough treasures to make a Lannister jealous. They have hand-picked over 200 resources for fans to choose from, and the room is loaded with them. You'll have to visit the Game of Thrones room to appreciate all the details and read myWebRoom's blog post about it, but here's a look at one part of the room:

myWebRoom's Game of Thrones room - click image to enlarge
My favorite part of the decor is easily the Iron Throne. I'd love to find a desk chair version of it to sit upon while I work all day. It would make me feel so much more powerful. I also like the house sigil pillows on the couch that represent houses Stark, Lannister, and Targaryen. The coffee table reminds me of the dragon glass that Samwell Tarly used to fight the White Walkers. It all ties together. And as far as sites represented in the room, I'm a fan of ThinkGeek, HBO's Game of Thrones store, and Pyrrha.

If you'd like to create a Game of Thrones of your own, you can pull from myWebRoom's Westeros-inspired collection. And hey, if Game of Thrones isn't your cuppa, they also have themes based on Star Wars and even Doctor Who.

But this is the direction I went in (click on all the pictures to enlarge them):




For my room, I wanted to channel the vibe of Snow White's apartment in Storybrooke in Once Upon a Time. It's rustic with a lot of shabby chic paint treatments and a mishmash of decorations. Mary Margaret managed to bring a touch of the Enchanted Forest into her living space. I love it. At the same time, I also wanted to include nods to a few of my favorite things like Game of Thrones and Star Wars. And cats.

You can join in on the fun over at myWebRoom. It can only be used on the desktop. Be sure to look me up - my user name is alratcliffe - and send me a friend request!

This post was sponsored by myWebRoom, but all opinions are my own. To inquire about sponsored posts, please send me an email at alratcliffe@yahoo.com.

May 22, 2015

Star Wars Weekends Has All the Miniature Desserts

About this time last week, I was still feeling stuffed from the meal I'd eaten the night before at Jedi Mickey's Star Wars Dine at Hollywood & Vine. I don't kid around with food, especially when it's a buffet overflowing with entrees, sides, and desserts I need to try. And especially when those desserts are Star Wars themed. You see, I went to Disney's Hollywood Studios to attend Star Wars Weekends for the first time ever last weekend and I'm pretty sure I ate my weight in miniature desserts. It was one of many highlights of my trip and an unexpected one.

Between the meal at Hollywood & Vine and the Feel the Force package, I got a big sample of tiny treats from the galaxy far, far away. Allow me to show you several of the tiny desserts Star Wars Weekends has to offer.

Jedi Mickey's Star Wars Dine at Hollywood & Vine
This character dining experience features meet and greets with the Disney Star Wars characters (Jedi Mickey, Leia Minnie, etc.) and a giant buffet with a wide selection of desserts. I should have looked at desserts first but I still managed to try more than a few of them.


Apple caramel tart





Sugar cookies

Jabba the Hutt salted caramel cupcakes

Darth Vader chocolate peanut butter cupcakes

Donald Maul cheesecake tarts

Yoda chocolate cupcakes with hazelnut icing

Rebels raspberry cheesecake

Feel the Force
The Feel the Force package is an add-on, above and beyond the cost of admission to Hollywood Studios. You get a few extras with it, including access to a reserved viewing area for Symphony in the Stars with lots of desserts and alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. They had many of the desserts from Hollywood & Vine, including the mini cupcakes, and these offerings too:


Blue Milk Panna Cotta - my favorite!

Gungan City rice krispie bon bons

Dex's Diner raspberry lemon tarts (so good)

Stormtrooper cheesecake bites

I want to return to Star Wars Weekends for many reasons, but one of them is to eat more desserts. If we're being honest, all the desserts.

To read more about my adventures at Star Wars Weekends, check out my photos and review of the Rebel Hangar dining experience and my overall thoughts on the event at Nerdist.

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