Travel, Uncategorized

Big Cedar Lodge – Truman’s Cafe

 

When we stay at the beautiful and historic Big Cedar Lodge in Missouri, I’m always excited to rise early in the morning with my husband.  I can’t wait for our lovely and peaceful walk, just the two of us, from our room within the quaint rustic lodge at the top of the hill down to Truman’s Cafe for breakfast. Our fresh country air stroll takes us down the side of the hill, past an array of wild flowers along a perfectly landscaped walking trail complete with glistening waterfalls. Most of our journey includes alluring vistas of Table Rock Lake as it shimmers in the morning sunlight off in the distance. There is a stunning little white chapel that sits proudly on the property which marks about the half way point to our final destination. This place really is that gorgeous!

IMG_6650Truman’s Cafe is one of the original structures on the property, it’s an absolute charming 1920’s tudor style home that’s been lovingly restored and expanded to provide guests with comfortable seating. As you walk the inviting little brick pathway to the front entrance, you are welcomed by a sweet cottage garden area filled with colorful flowers and a white picket fence. I seriously can’t think of a better entrance to a cafe… the entrance alone is worth the morning jaunt.IMG_6646

Truman’s Cafe is open for breakfast and lunch. Their menu is not necessarily extensive, but it is delicious and has everything you need to start the day. Whether its coffee and a pastry, a hearty breakfast with eggs, biscuits and gravy or one of their healthy parfait or smoothy options, I’m sure you will find something to get you fueled for the day. My order is usually the green superfood smoothie and a piece of their yummy veggie quiche and of course coffee! The lunch menu features panini’s, soups, sandwiches and fresh salads. For those of you that have a sweet tooth, there’s a custard and sweets menu as well as a great children’s menu.big-cedar-exterior

The cute little cafe is oozing with so much rustic country charm from the entrance all the way through to the back outdoor patio area. That is my favorite place to settle in and relax once we’ve placed our order. It sits up on a gentle hill overlooking the gorgeous lake and views of the many other historical buildings that make up Big Cedar Lodge. Just about every time we eat lunch there, we see couples or families enjoying a leisurely horse drawn carriage ride through the resort grounds, there is something here for everyone of all ages. Once finished with our delightful breakfast (or in some cases lunch) it is time to continue our walk on the endless trails that wind their way around this special place. We are happy, our tummy’s are full and it is time to plan out the rest of our day!

IMG_6636There is so much to see and do at Big Cedar. The lodge is a historical and meticulously cared for resort nestled in the Ozark hills that is owned by Johnnie Morris (Bass Pro Shop). This place has a grandness to it but still maintains a magical serenity and absolute charming family atmosphere from a forgotten time that keeps us coming back again and again!

Please check out their great website, bigcedar.com and plan your trip today!!!

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Travel

Thanksgiving at Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World is a fabulous place to visit over the Thanksgiving holiday but can get very crowded, so make sure to plan ahead. There are no Thanksgiving activities to speak of, but the Christmas celebration is in full swing and the parks are bustling with Christmas cheer! Although there is not much going on for Thanksgiving, you can still enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving meal with all the yummy fixings. I love it this time of the year and don’t even mind the crowds.

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Photo by Public Domain Pictures on Pexels.com

We have visited Disney twice over the years during the Thanksgiving holiday. On both occasions we ate dinner within the WDW resort. The first time we were there on Thanksgiving Day we were traveling with our own family as well as with extended family and we ate at Jiko located at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. They provided a full traditional Thanksgiving dinner as well as everything on their regular menu. I opted for the traditional Thanksgiving feast and the food was outstanding, I was very pleased! We had a large group, but were all able to sit together at a comfortable table and the service was exceptional. I would recommend this restaurant not only for Thanksgiving but for any time of the year. The Animal Kingdom Lodge is a great place to explore after dinner and check out the animals right on the property, it’s a beautiful resort.

The second time we visited Disney on Thanksgiving was with a large group of friends and we ate at the Rose and Crown Pub at the England Pavilion in Epcot. It seemed a little ironic to eat at the British themed Rose and Crown but it really was a great experience! They also had the traditional Thanksgiving option as well as their main menu items. I enjoyed their Thanksgiving fare and was very pleased with my meal. We had late dinner reservations which worked out well, it gave us more time to enjoy a nice evening in the park, then finish the day with a delicious meal and great memories with friends.

My NUMBER ONE TIP is to Make sure to make reservations as soon as you can!!! If you haven’t then you may need to have alternative plans. If you are unable to make reservations, try visiting lounges within some of the resort restaurants that provide full menu options. You will have a wait time but it’s a great way to eat at a nice restaurant opposed to quick service dining on Thanksgiving Day.

Popular Disney restaurants that usually provide Thanksgiving dinner:

Magic Kingdom
LIbery Tree Tavern

Disney’s Contemporary Resort
The Wave
Chef Mickey’s
California Grill

Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort
Narcoossee’s

Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
Whispering Canyon Cafe

Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground
Mickey’s backyard BBQ
Trails End

Epcot
Le Cellier
Rose and Crown
Biergarten Restaurant
Akershus Royal Banquet

Hollywood Studios
Brown Derby

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
Jiko
Sanaa

Be sure to check the Walt Disney World website, disneyworld.disney.go.com to get all their updated information for the Thanksgiving Day Dining options and to make your reservations!

Disney World Vacation And Savings Travel Guide.

Eat, Travel

“Savor the Olive”: Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar Tasting Room

My husband and I recently went to a local Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar tasting room.  It’s called “Savor the Olive”. I’ve seen it a few times when we’ve eaten at a nearby restaurant and was very curious to find out what this place was all about. As soon as we entered the store, I knew I was going to enjoy our visit. It was a quaint but beautifully designed space with a welcoming and friendly atmosphere. There were several isles of deliciously fresh olive oil and Balsamic vinegar dispensers filled with the wonderful flavors from all around the world. The lady working in the store spent quite a bit of time with us and was extremely helpful and enjoyable to talk to. She was very patient and helped us make the most of our tasting experience.

man holding clear glass bottle
Photo by Peter Fazekas on Pexels.com

Savor the Olive uses only the highest quality olive oils that go through a two part process; a chemical analysis comparison for its extra virgin status and it must pass a taste analysis being scored on fruitiness, bitterness and pungency. Savor the Olive carries Extra Virginia Oils as well as fused and infused options. One of the things I love is that their Balsamic Vinegars are free from added sugars, thickening agents and caramel coloring.

They use Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena which is a recipe using grapes that must be aged for either a minimum of 12 years or a minimum of 25 years giving it a red quality seal or gold quality seal. The vinegar must be approved by a master taster to assure it’s rich quality. Savor the Olive carries the white and dark balsamic vinegars.

We tasted several flavors of both the olive oils and vinegars. I felt like a kid in a candy store with so many selections to choose from. They had every kind of flavor you could think of, but some of my favorite oils were lemon, blood orange, Thai Lemongrass, Herbs de Province and Tuscan Herb. There were many rich balsamic vinegars to taste as well. So many flavors such as chocolate, coffee, fig, strawberry and Vermont maple tempted our palates.

The lady working with us explained how to pair the olive oils and balsamic vinegars together to get the most of their flavors and how each one complimented the other for cooking. Each infused oil and vinegar also came with an explanation of what part of the world it is from and what it can be used for in cooking or even for mixed drink recipes.

The store also offers a variety of blended salts and gourmet gifts.

stainless and glass swan pitcher with brown liquid besides grapes and glass decanter stopper during daytime
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

They provide an assortment of pre selected gift box options or you can choose your favorite oils and vinegars to package together for a more personalized gift. I can’t think of a better Christmas gift for that foodie family member or friend!

Ultimately we chose a bottle of the Organic Tuscan Herb infused Olive Oil and the Sicilian Lemon White Balsamic Vinegar. It was very challenging to try and pick from all the amazing selections, but we will most certainly be back for ourselves as well as some holiday shopping!

Visit one of their three locations in the Southeastern Virginia area or check out their website at savortheolive.com, you will love it!

Travel

My Favorite Quick Service Restaurants in Magic Kingdom

  • Columbia harbor house: located in Liberty Square across from the Haunted Mansion. This is a New England themed restaurant with fish n chips, lobster rolls and clam chowder on the menu. They provide a salmon option for those wanting something a bit more healthy as well as veggie chili and salads. Of course there is a great kids menu for the little ones. I really like this restaurant because of it’s menu but I also feel like it’s off the beaten path (even though it’s not) once I’m inside. I like the salmon but we are fans of the fried fish also. There is also plenty of seating available, with two stories of seating as well as an elevated area over the walkway between Liberty Square and Fantasyland with great views. I feel like I can find a little area upstairs to sit and relax away from some of the hustle and bustle of the crowd, get some great food and feel refreshed to continue our day in the park. It’s American seafood cuisine and offers the mobile orders option if you have the Disney App which can save you valuable time in the park!
  • Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe: My main reason I love this quick service restaurant so much is simply because of the location, it’s in Tomorrowland and located not far from Cinderella’s Castle. I enjoy dining here in the evening for dinner and getting a table where I can see the castle and enjoy the nighttime ambiance. They have American cuisine with hamburgers, BBQ sandwiches, chicken and a full kids menu. They offer a Caesar salad option and an extensive menu for those with various food allergies. My boys enjoy their Angus cheeseburger and the toppings bar with onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, lettuce and all the regular condiments located in the restaurant. I do not eat red meat so I would order the veggie burger however they no longer have it on their menu so if you are looking for a good veggie burger head over to Peco’s Bill Cafe in Frontierland. Because of it’s popular location the lines can get long and the restaurant gets crowded. Try eating at an off time to avoid some of the long lines and wait time. You can also order using your mobile Disney app.
  • Main Street Bakery: I love coffee, I love baked goods and I love Disney so it’s only natural that I would love main street bakery! The bakery is right on main street in a cute turn of the century themed cafe close to the parks entrance. This is a good option to start the day with a Starbucks coffee and pastry or breakfast sandwich. Or take some time out for a much needed afternoon coffee pick me up. Grab a cookie or cupcake and settle in to watch the parade on main street. In addition to all the wonderful Starbuck coffee and specialty drink options, there are all the favorite seasonal drinks available during certain times of the year!

For more information on Disney Dining options check out disneyworld.disney.go.com

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Travel

Carter’s Mountain Orchard, Charlottesville VA

IMG_2781The past two weekends, I’ve had the pleasure of visiting the gorgeous Charlottesville Va. area and of course Carter’s Mountain Apple Orchard. The first trip was a day trip with my girlfriends to celebrate a birthday, the second trip was for the entire weekend with my sweet family.

Carter’s Mountain is always our first stop when traveling to Charlottesville. Let me tell you, this place oozes with stunning autumn ambiance with everything you need for a day trip with friends or fun outing with your family.

The anticipation always mounts with each visit as we make our way up the heavily wooded and windy road. It’s the perfect entrance to set the scene for the breathtaking summit. We pass the rolling hills of grape vines and apple trees lined up like dutiful soldiers as we reach the top. IMG_2803

I know it’s almost time enjoy the stunning views but maybe more importantly to retrieve our prized apple cider donuts. Nobody does them better than Carter’s Mountain Orchard.

Of course there are acres and acres of beautifully plump apples of every variety, delicious hot cider and huge bins of every shade of pumpkins and gourds you can imagine. Falls bounty is evident everywhere you look. Scenic hayrides through the orchards roll by as we make our way to the charming little shop with wine, food, gifts and seasonal home decor. But we are there for one reason and one reason only, the apple cider donuts and dramatic vistas, also the hot cider… ok maybe two or three reasons!

IMG_2956Grab a dozen donuts, a cup of fresh hot cider and take in the sensational views of downtown Charlottesville. This is a really unique place with the perfect country charm you will love especially during the holiday season.

What a great place to bring the family and pick some fresh apples from the endless rows that make up the historical family owned orchard. But if picking apples

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is not your thing, not to worry! There’s an array of apples and seasonable delights for you to choose from at the market. Check out their website at chilesfamilyorchards.com to get all the details and don’t let another weekend go by without visiting Carter’s Mountain.