Posted in Disney, Disney California Adventure, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort, Epcot, Magic Kingdom, Pin Trading, Walt Disney World Resort

Disney Pins

This blog post is a stub from my Disney Park Collection Post. Check it out here.

If you know anything about me, you know that I love Disneyland and Walt Disney World. There are pros and cons to both resorts, and I’ll probably cover those on a blog post someday in the future. One thing both resorts have in common, though, is pin trading. Pin trading is huge. HUGE.

My first visit to Walt Disney World with my family was in the Summer of 2000. Pin trading was heavily promoted as part of Epcot’s Millennium Celebration. Even though there was such a heavy focus, I just didn’t get that into it. I did purchase a pin with my name on it as a souvenir, but the interest stopped there.

Fast forward 3.5 years to when I worked at Walt Disney World as part of the Disney College Program. Living on Disney property with tons of other college-aged cast members, working in the resort making magic for guests daily, and visiting the theme parks as a guest for free was an absolute dream come true. Some of my happiest memories were of working at Walt Disney World. As a cast member, I wore a pin lanyard and traded pins with many guests. (If you didn’t know, any guest can trade a Disney pin for any Disney pin a cast member is wearing on his or her lanyard. Those pins are part of your costume, not your personal collection, and it is a delightful way to spur interaction with guests. ) As a cast member, I was given pins you couldn’t buy, ones that only can be obtained by trading. As a collector, that started the gears in my head turning. I also started noticing the pins guests collected. There wasn’t a huge pattern to it. Some people collected cats, favorite movies, a certain attraction, only Halloween… etc. It was so specific to each person’s personality… and suddenly, on a park visit as a guest, I started purchasing. I was hooked.

I started small. My first “theme” if you will, was the dated year pins. Since this was 2004, I decided to work backward in time (via some Ebay assistance) to obtain pins from every year and visit I had made to WDW.


Starting top left, these are the pins that fall into the date category for all visits to Walt Disney World.

At top left, is my previously mentioned 2000 Brad pin. I located the other 2000 pins, the 100 Years of Magic, and the 2002 pins on Ebay in late 2004. The rest were purchased by me during every visit from that point forward. I also have the 2004 hurricanes cast member exclusive pins (hurricane Charlie hit when I was working there.) Visits from 2006 Disney’s “Happiest Celebration” and “Happiest Homecoming on Earth”, Magic Kingdom’s 40 Years of Magic, and 2012, 2014, 2015, and 2018 visits. I had the distinct pleasure of taking my sister and my nephew Jonah to Walt Disney World earlier this year. I hope I instilled in him some of the wonder, excitement, and passion for Disney that I feel. I even helped him with his first trades.

My collection has since grown far beyond that original theme.

I’m a big fan of collections, and Disney has this down to a science. In the 3 above images, guests can purchase the entire collection from pin stores. But the only way to get the final pin in each series is to find a cast member wearing it and trade for it. That was a challenge I was willing to take, and I worked hard to obtain the complete sets of each series. I love the Warhol inspired set at left, and hope to use it as an artwork inspiration for a tattoo someday.

Jim and I also moved to Los Angeles, and I started visiting Disneyland regularly. I had to complete my plan and purchase or trade for every pin from every year I visited the California counterpart. Here is the much smaller collection of those pins:


And lastly, probably my favorite pins of all are from Epcot (my favorite park!). My sister and I went to Florida together for Epcot’s 30th anniversary in October, 2002. To me, it was a big deal. I was so excited to wait in line to get into Epcot on the actual 30th anniversary. They had a retro theme park map, and large 30th anniversary buttons. My sister even stuck an extra one in her purse so she’d make sure I’d get one for my collection. That’s what makes her so awesome. That morning, my heart was racing, as we looked around. I felt so much excitement seeing all of the other Disney/Epcot enthusiasts, and I felt like I was really part of something special.

Of course, never one to miss a sales opportunity, Disney had specially created Epcot 30th anniversary pins. I dragged my poor sister into a line that lasted OVER THREE HOURS just to get to a cashier and purchase the 8 pins below. (5 years later I found the 35th anniversary to add to the collection.) To many, they are just pins. Plastic and metal decorations. To me, they are so much more. They signify experiences, special dates in my memory, and they also serve as a badge of honor. I’m proud to have an “I was there” pin for that special day.


My collection has grown to so many sub-categories of Disney pins. I have them proudly displayed in my home on 2 large bulletin boards as artwork. How Jim puts up with me, I’ll never know.;)

Here are some more of my favorites:

Do you collect Disney pins? Do you have any favorites? I’d love to hear about them!

Posted in Fiction, Mark Edwards, Psychological Thrillers

Mark Edwards

I’m a big fan of fiction. Anything I can get my hands on to escape reality for an evening, honestly, can hook me. As a busy person, I’m constantly forcing myself to carve out more time for reading. I make myself read 30 minutes before bed nightly, and have recently found phenomenal mystery/psychological thrillers by Mark Edwards. The twists and turns in his psychological thrillers have kept my attention and led me to spend more time reading. I find myself preparing for bed earlier so I can spend more time in his disturbing world.

I use a Kindle in conjunction with traditional novels, and on Amazon, I randomly found “Follow You Home” as a free option with Amazon Prime. The description caught my interest, and I thought to myself, “what the hell.” The book centers on a young couple enjoying the train trip of a lifetime across Eastern Europe. Their vacation goes horribly wrong, and the psychological and disturbing twists and turns in this book do not stop. “Follow You Home” introduced me to Edwards’ world, and I was hooked.

After I finished “Follow You Home” I immediately purchased another of his novels “The Magpies”. It features another young couple moving into a new home. Not long after they get settled, weird occurrences start happening. Dead rats on their doorstep, car accidents, and more sinister things that I just won’t ruin for you. “The Magpies” is a cautionary tale of the evil that exists, not in demons, monsters, and vampires…but in regular people just like you and me. The whole novel reads like a Dateline Murder Mystery. For me, that’s an awesome thing. I highly enjoyed this novel.

“Because She Loves Me” is yet another thriller in which a young man starts dating the girl of his dreams. She seems too good to be true, and then weird things start happening in his life. He’s being followed, his apartment is robbed, bad things start happening to his friends… and he starts to suspect his new “perfect” girlfriend. All things from Edwards are not as they seem though.

Mark Edwards has an effortless writing style, casual, easy to read, but not without flaws. The character development in “Follow You Home” can be somewhat flat at times. Some of the events in “The Magpies” can be somewhat predicable, but definitely not all. The dialogue can be a little off. However, the mystery he weaves and the twists and turns he concocts more than make up for these minor flaws. His writing is certainly not academic, but if you are reading for pleasure, I highly recommend him.

Posted in Christmas, Department 56

Department 56 North Pole Collection

It’s not a secret that I’m a huge fan of Christmas.  I think about it all year long.

Now, naysayers will say it’s because I’m obsessed with the commercialization of Christmas, but they couldn’t be more wrong. Those same haters are the people that find the negative in every “feel good” YouTube video of a kid offering a plate to a homeless person, or a young man being caught on video helping an elderly woman up the stairs. So haters, it isn’t the presents, the over-scheduling, and immense expense of Christmas that I love; rather, it’s the excitement, the music, the whimsy, the joy in the smallest things, and (perhaps most importantly) the societal acceptance of over-the-top (“extra” if you will) Christmas decorations. That’s right. For me, it’s about the decorations.

Christmas decorations are something I think about, obsess over, plan, re-plan, organize, strategize, think, re-think, and re-think again all year long. My loving husband Jim can attest to that. And, if I see one more “Stop premature Christmas decorating” meme, I swear to God my eyes will permanently roll back in my head.

My favorite Christmas decoration of all is my Department 56 North Pole Christmas Village. My mom and dad started collecting when I was a little boy, and I was instantly enamored and mesmerized by the tiny lit ceramic village. As an adult, I have continued collecting for years, and have over 50 lit houses today. My parents still collect, and my mom’s village is still one of my very favorites, as well.

I wanted to start my blog with a post about my Department 56 Christmas Village favorite pieces: the ones that started it all. *Full disclosure: These pieces are assembled in my personal order (the order of village hierarchy) for my North Pole Village, and not in their original order of release. I believe there is no “wrong” in master planning your personal village. This is just my way. I believe you should start with the three primary lit pieces I feature here. They create the foundation of your magical world, and allows you to pick and choose which pieces, and brands, you use to flesh out the rest of the magical Christmas world.


My first, favorite, and centerpiece of my North Pole village is “Santa’s North Pole Palace.” At nearly 1 foot tall, this primary piece is the best start to every fan’s collection. It has design details that are reminiscent of earlier retired Claus homes “Santa’s Workshop” and “Route 1, Home of Santa and Mrs. Claus” including the gorgeous red roof, sharp peaks, plentiful windows, NP flag, and gorgeous glitter effect. The North Pole Palace is my choice for my village. It’s also nearly 4 inches taller than the earlier counterparts, helping it stand out among the rest of the village pieces, giving this centerpiece a true place of honor in your North Pole village.


Coordinating with the “Merry Christmas” accessory of Mr. and Mrs. Claus welcoming visitors to their home while enjoying their morning coffee, and the earlier ceramic “North Pole Gate”, this piece deserves a place of prominence in your village.

After “Santa’s North Pole Palace”, the 2nd and 3rd most important pieces are “The Elf Bunkhouse” and “Reindeer Barn.” Coincidentally, these are the 2nd and 3rd lit pieces Department 56 commissioned for the North Pole Village.

These homes for the North Pole’s other two famous residents: elves and reindeer, are beautiful. With muted greens and reds, earthy rock bases, and traditional snowy/glittery finishes, these 7 inch tall classic pieces complete the holy trifecta of primary pieces forming the foundation of every collector’s Department 56 North Pole village.

Early accessories “Toy Maker Elves” and “Sleigh and 8 Tiny Reindeer” round out your collection with pizzazz.

After these pillars of your North Pole village, I branched out into many MANY other “neighborhoods”.  Future blog posts will showcase more of my village, including the Disney area, Peppermint area, and endless, endless shops and Elf accessories.