Travel, Uncategorized, Walt Disney World

Three Disney Experiences I would Love to Do!

To say our family loves Disney World is an understatement.  But for as many times as we’ve been to Walt Disney World, there are several experiences I haven’t done but would love to do one day.  Part of the reason I haven’t done these experiences are lack of time and often the cost.  It’s no secret that visiting WDW is quite expensive.  It’s also a very large resort with so much to do and usually time is extremely limited as we are usually only there for a week.  From the parks, Disney Springs and the many beautiful Disney resorts, the activities are endless.  Even with the time and money restraints, hopefully one day I will be able to experience some key Disney dining adventures and wonderful tours that look absolutely fabulous.  The first three on my list to do are the following:

  1.  Behind the Seeds Tour: at the “The Land” Pavilion in Epcot.

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    Photo by Jatuphon Buraphon on Pexels.com

    This is a walking tour of the greenhouses, hydroponics and fish farm you see while riding “Living with the Land” boat tour.  This tour is fairly reasonably priced at $25.00 per person in addition to your park ticket, it seems they run about every 45 minutes between 10:30 and 4:30.  This is one of the tours that I just haven’t taken the time to do yet.  I’m so intrigued by the unique plantings and vertical growth designs that you see while on the boat tour.  These greenhouses also provide food for some of the Disney restaurants.  I would really enjoy this tour!  

  2. Highway in the Sky Dine Around: This is a Disney style progressive dinner.  The evening starts with appetizers at the Contemperary Resort.   You then board the monorail and travel to the Polynesian Resort for more unique appetizers.  Once finished at the Polynesian, the guests travel to the Grand Floridian for artisinal cheeses or charcuterie offerings as well as the main entree at Citricos.  The evening finishes up back at the Contemporary for coffee and desserts as well as a private area to view the “Happily Ever After” fireworks show at Magic Kingdom.
    photography of disneyland
    Photo by Makenzie Kublin on Pexels.com

    Doesn’t this sound fun?  Drinks are included in the evening but the pricetag is quite steep at $170 per person.  One day I do hope to do this with my husband…one day…

 

3.  Disney’s Yuletide Fantasy: I REALLY want to do this one… Christmas and Disney AND going backstage?  Yes, please.  This is a 3 1/2 hour tour of the behind the scenes Holiday decor and what it takes to get the park ready for a magical Christmas at Walt Disney World. The tour starts in Epcot where guests board a bus and travel to different warehouse locations where the massive array of Disney holiday decor is stored. thumbnail-2The last stop is usually a place to get a tasty treat and the tour concludes with each guest receiving a special Yuletide Fantasy souvenier.  This tour is $139.00 per person and each participant must be at least 12 years old.

If you’ve ever done any of these three events, please let me know how your experience was!

 

 

 

 

 

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Travel, Uncategorized

3 Things I will NOT take into Disney parks

We have traveled to WDW several times over the years, we started traveling when my boys were very little.  Now they are not so little anymore, they are in high school and college.  Our love for the Disney parks hasn’t changed at all, but what we take in the park has.  Now, I understand if you have babies or young children you will have to take in everything you need for your little one.  The tips on this blog post are for families with older children and adults.  The parks will get hot, you will walk many miles each day and it rains often in Florida.  So having said that, here are the top three things I would NEVER take or wear into the park ever again….

  1. Bottled Water – You can stop at any quick service restaurant and some food kiosks at any of the Disney parks and get free cups of water.  Unless you are adverse to drinking tap water or the water that Disney serves, don’t bother bringing water bottles.  Nothing will weigh you down more than heavy water bottles.  We have never been turned away when asking for water at Disney, the cast members are always more than happy to supply us with complimentary water even if we are not buying food at that moment.  Water bottles are too heavy, leave them at home or in your resort/hotel room. IMG_4238.jpg
  2.  Large Bag or Back Pack – Bless his heart, my poor husband has toted a heavy back pack throughout the Disney parks many times over the years.  He actually doesn’t mind so much carrying a backpack, but I’m not a fan.  It’s much too hot and heavy to haul all day long.   If you must take a backpack, be very careful what you pack in the bag. (NO water bottles!) I have small drawstring bags that my boys can carry on their backs for their phone, passes or wallet. IMG_7806 I like to use a small crossbody style purse or small bag.  The key is to keep it small and only bring essentials for the day.  I will bring a credit card, photo i.d., small travel size sunscreen, travel size antibacterial soap, chapstick and my phone. That’s it.  Nice and light.
  3. New Shoes – Never wear your cute new shoes into the parks.  You will be walking ALOT!!!  So. much. walking…. You will get hot and you may get wet if it rains or you ride a water ride.  I’m sure you don’t want to get your new kicks wet and smelly, PLUS you should wear shoes that are tried and true in terms of comfort.  Be kind to your feet and wear your most comfortable shoes that are already broken in.  If you must wear your cute new shoes, save them for a fun night out at one of Disney’s great restaurants.  But please don’t wear uncomfortable shoes, that’s the best way to wear yourself out and ruin your feet for the rest of  your vacation.

There you have it…my top three tips for now!  Let me know what you like to take in the park!!!

 

 

 

Travel, Uncategorized

Three of my favorite Quick Service restaurants at Epcot’s World Showcase

IMG_4233Yorkshire County Fish shop – $11.49
There is only one entree option at this quick service restaurant but it’s a great one. The fish and chips are crispy on the outside, flakey on the inside and fabulously greasy straight out of the fryer… Certainly nothing healthy about it, but well worth the risk.  Just make sure to walk off all those extra calories – that should’t be a problem at Epcot! The fried fish is served with extra large steak fries and an assortment of condiments. Probably my favorite thing about this place is the outdoor patio seating. The tables are located to the right of the restaurant on the water. It provides a beautifully manicured view of the water and England Pavilion, just beware of the insanely hungry ducks and egrets lurking under every table. This is a nice stop for a quick snack to share with someone or enjoy for lunch or dinner. Our trip is not complete unless eating our beloved fish n chips at the England pavilion in Epcot!IMG_3276

Pro: Good food and ambiance
Con: Hungry birds galore!

IMG_4413Les Halles boulangerie patisserie: located in the back of the France pavilion in Epcot. It opens in the morning to provide a wonderful breakfast option. Add a piping hot cup of coffee or espresso and your in business. We usually eat here for a late afternoon “pick me up” snack. My favorite snack here is the mousse which costs $4.50. The mousse is chocolate, decadent and absolutely divine, it has a perfectly rich consistency and is absolutely delicious. The seating is not ideal at this quick service location in my opinion. It is an extremely popular restaurant and is usually very crowded. The inside seating area lacks some of the Disney ambiance that we have become accustomed to. You’re essentially dining in the France Pavilion gift shop. It’s quite difficult to even score a table at the eatery, it’s not unusual to have people pacing and waiting to lunge as soon as those with a table swallow their last bite. There are some quaint outdoor tables which provide a better Disney dining experience and has the beautiful Disney “esque” theming that we all know and love. This restaurant also offers a wide variety of sandwiches, quiche and an assortment of breads and cheeses as well.

Pro: Opens early with park opening – Most of World Showcase is closed until later in the morning but Les Halles opens early to provide a wonderful breakfast option.
Con: Seating is limited and difficult to obtain

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La Cantina de San Angel, located in the Mexico Pavilion: My favorite go to menu item here is the Tacos de Pescado – Seasoned Fried Fish, Homemade Corn Tortillas, Mexican Rice, Refried Black Beans, Slaw, and Habanero Aïoli – $12.50.  The portion sizes are not super huge, but definitely big enough for a decent lunch. The tacos taste fresh and the entree comes with all my favorite sides. I love the location, the tables are outside and several are right on the water with spectaculars views of the World Showcase Lagoon.  It’s a great location to watch the fireworks show, “IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth”, if you can time it just right and land the perfect table. The lines can get very long at this quick service restaurant and tables are sometimes hard to come by but If you love Mexican food, you can’t go wrong here.

Pro: Great location on the lake and for watching fireworks
Con: Long lines to order

Create, Uncategorized

Simple Staging with only Accessories

A dear friend of mine recently put her home on the market. It has been a rental for the past few years and my friend and her family live out of state. So that meant that the home was being shown empty.

It’s a lovely home in a wonderful family oriented and convenient community not far from the beach in Virginia Beach and downtown Norfolk VA.

Unfortunately homes just don’t show as well when they are empty. Sometimes it’s just hard for potential buyers to see the potential of the home and how to utilize the rooms when not furnished. The home will typically not have a warm and inviting feel without furniture or interesting decor.

IMG_4324IMG_4322We didn’t have any extra furniture to put in the home but I have a ton of extra home accessories that I wasn’t using, so we used what we had to work with and added some simple home decor staging to freshen things up.

I chose a few rooms to try and showcase, the first was the kitchen because we all know, kitchens sell homes! The family room, and bathrooms were the other areas we decided to accessorize and bring in some personality.

Luckily for me, the family room has a cozy fireplace and built in shelving to perfectly display welcoming decor.

IMG_4315The kitchen has open shelving which provided a great location to create a coffee bar. Who doesn’t love an inviting coffee bar? My mom had an old single serve coffee maker that looked nice but wasn’t working, so it was the perfect piece for the staged coffee bar. The kitchen counters are nice upgraded solid surface with a drop in double sink and expensive faucet upgrade. Just some simple cleaning to make it shine and pretty dishes made this room complete and ready for the new owner.IMG_4319IMG_4314

I used a green and blue earthy theme throughout the home which is welcoming and happy. The color green is a comfortable color that is a good resting place for your eye as you enter a room. The right placement of fresh decor with lighten and brighten the room with little effort.

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My trick with bathrooms is to use fluffy white towels, candles and simple botanicals. Simple luxe items with the white towels create a perfect spa like environment.IMG_4327

Don’t be afraid to use what you have and just make it better! Staging is about accentuating the beautiful features of your home and helping the buyer to see the absolute potential in each room.

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Live, Uncategorized

The Prince of Peace

The word PEACE is often used in our vocabulary as the absence of conflict but in the context of scripture it means complete or whole, a state of completeness.  To make complete or to restore.  The Jewish people thought Jesus was born to bring them political restoration.  Jesus’ plan was much bigger, His purpose was to restore mankind to Him.

Unfortunately, I try to find peace in this troubled world in my own wisdom and strength. Instead of just trusting in the fullness of Christ, I want Him to fix my earthly problems, much like the Jewish people in their hopes that He would overthrow their government.  I’m so busy focusing on the here and now that I don’t see the bigger purpose, the eternal plan.

Last Christmas our family was clinging to the last few excruciating weeks of my dad’s life on earth.  Only then, almost a year ago, as we gathered each day in my parent’s bedroom around my dad’s hospital bed, did I finally learn what true peace was.   Even in our struggle and trauma that life can bring to us….Jesus is enough.  As we watched my dad slowly slip away day by day, there was nothing we could do.  In those moments, we only had Jesus, and that was all we needed.  Somehow in the sadness and desperation of our situation, Jesus gifted us with His powerful peace.  I don’t understand it, I struggle to articulate it but the restoration and wholeness of Christ brought miraculous peace into an otherwise devastating circumstance.  As terrible as those last couple of months were, I  am humbled and thankful for God teaching me the true meaning of peace and the shift from an earthly perspective, to a heavenly one.

The following two paragraphs are my mom’s words about our time as we, as a family, had the privilege and holy experience of watching God usher my dad into His presence and the peace that we felt in such an unexpected place…

Somewhere along the line of our journey with ALS, our bedroom became transformed into a hospital room.  All the equipment needed to care for Gary took over the room more than we liked but it was all part of the process.  Our master bedroom (turned in-home hospital room) became our place to live, read God’s Word, pray, sing,  greet friends, laugh, cry, worship and fall more in love with each other and Jesus.  We also learned to be more eternally minded rather than focused on earthly things.  Learning to cherish every moment given and doing the best to make the most of each minute of every day.  Our bedroom became a sacred place where we lived out those last precious months with Gary.  It was where we held hands and remember our lives together.  We shared our love for one another and our hopes and dreams for our children and grandchildren.  It was in that room that we said our goodbyes and shed many tears as God ushered Gary into His eternal presence.

It was strange after Gary was gone how quickly our bedroom was transformed back to it’s original purpose.  The hectic daily routine of nurses visits, aids giving showers, medications being administered, tube feedings prepared, and visitors ceased and it was as if my life stopped along with it.  Now our home is quiet and feels so very empty.  No more hectic daily “care routines” or the sounds of the struggle for life.  Only stillness and loneliness fill the void.  Life will never be the same again in that sacred room.  Neither will the battle for life there be forgotten.  Yet in that room I still meet with God and cry and rejoice over life and it’s challenges.  God has given us a promise of hope.  He tells us we will be together again for all eternity.  So you see, our trials here on earth are but a vapor…  Here one moment and gone the next.  Our promise is for “eternal life” with our God and King.  It’s like Gary said when he was given his diagnosis…”We are all terminal”.

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Photo by Daniel Reche on Pexels.com

“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace”

(Isaiah 9:6).

As Christmas approaches, let God in His eternal completeness bring you miraculous peace.

Jesus is enough.