Friday, December 28, 2012

Coming Down from the Christmas High

It's 3 days after Christmas... and my house doesn't have that "Santa's Workshop Just Puked All Over the Place" look anymore (as much. kinda)

There's still toys- everywhere. But they are slowly being beaten back into the youngling's room. (a riding Hummer and a brand new 'big boy' bike are currently parked in the front entry way... yeah, Santa didn't think the storing needs quite through on those.)

There's food as far as the eye can see. In the fridge. On the table next to me. Every counter space has some mind of food item- left over from The Big Fat Christmas Eve Celebration we have in my family every single year.

And Jacob is slowly discovering the fun to be had with his Christmas toy haul.

I love Christmas.

I love the way the whole world looks different. I love the way everything gets all gussied up and pretty. I love the smells & the sounds. And I adore the lights and the decorations.

I love that it's the one (absolute) guaranteed night of the year when my family is together under one roof. It's loud and messy and fun. And it flashes by in such a blur. This past Christmas Eve night, I spent much of the evening just trying to take it all in. To slow down and be fully in the moment.

I confess, I wasn't too successful. Without my permission, the night fled by at warp speed and I was sitting on the couch in the suddenly silent house.... amazed that another year had gone by. And, oh so thankful that it had brought my beloved family together again. And I bask in that connection. It's an amazingly  beautiful notion that a family knows where they are supposed to be- and, barring some emergency, they are there. Together.

And, every year- that becomes the best gift received.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

From us to you

Merry Christmas, from me and my little Jedi to you and yours!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Dining at Disney

Good golly, what can I say about the food at Disney World? 
Oh, yeah.
really freaking spendy.

When I was planning and researching for the trip way back in June and July I went back and forth on the Meal Plan option. Sigh. Back and forth. Back and forth. There were opinions a plenty on both sides of the issue, but I finally decided to go with the Disney Dining Plan. It just seemed like the better option, especially after I took a look at the price points on the majority of the fine (and not so)dining establishments around Mickey's extra special playground. 

It turned out to be a GREAT decision. 
The Dining Plan takes a few minutes to get the hang of (quick serve vs table serve.... and just what the heck constitutes a "snack"...) but once you sit down and figure it out.. yeah, total breeze. And, you can go ahead and not worry about what you're going to eat because you've already made your reservations for the table side dining (you did that right? as soon or maybe even before you made your hotel reservations??... yeah, not kidding. dining fills up before hotels. way. way before.) before you even left for the trip! And, (bonus) it's all paid for. (well. almost.)
I can say that keeping up with the 'snacks' was a pain. I could never remember how many we had left.
With 4 people (well, 3 adults), it just became a little much. 
However, because I had planned the table side dining out (literally) months before the trip, that was a cinch & the quick serve was easy-peasy too. 
(I know I'm speaking Greek to some of you. Sorry. If you decide to go to Disney & check out the Dining Plan, all will be made clear! I promise!)

A few places we ate yummy food......
Teppan Edo at Epcot.
So. Very. Very. Good.
And, lot's of fun. Even the short one enjoyed watching our food being prepared!

Hollywood & Vine at Hollywood Studios
It's a breakfast & lunch buffet and a character meal!
We ate breakfast there one morning. Really good.
And the character interactions were great too. They came to each table a couple of times & when Jacob (some how) missed June, they made sure he saw her before we left. Very sweet.
(yup. not one picture of the food. too busy eating & meeting the characters!)

Two mornings we ate breakfast at our hotel. 
Behold.... the famous 'Mickey Waffles'
Yes. You should go just so you can have these. 


Lunch in the Magic Kingdom from a quick serve that I cannot remember the name of for the life of me & I am far to lazy right now to go look it up.
But! Look! It's a lobster roll! 

We ate at Chef Mickey's our last night.
Yes. Whatever you do. Wherever else you eat.
Go. Here.
It's at the Contemporary Resort (right next to Magic Kingdom)

we sat at the little bar area to the left while we were waiting for our
reservations (9pm!) and were HIGHLY entertained by the bartender/magician. 
He was awesome.

and he made the ice in Jacob's water glow.
and got Jacob on a kick of saying "Abracadabra!"

Chef Mickey's is another buffet and a character dining.
And we all loved it.
Because our reservations were so stinking late, I think that actually ended up working in our favor.
The characters ended up being able to spend a little more time with the people there. Goofy and Donald came by several times and horsed around quite a bit. The rest of the staff was very sweet as well.

The food was good, for the most part. We didn't love the meats.... but the sides, the pastas and the salads were AMAZING. I went back twice. 


On the night we went to Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party (another blog of it's own, I think), we ate at the Liberty Tree Tavern. Again, we had reservations. We had to have them & we still had to wait about 20 minutes to get our table. But, it was well worth it.
Cause, the food was fabulous.
(especially my birthday fudge cupcake)

the salad... and the dressing. so crazy good.

Hey look, the mug! It's cute!

I was going to snap a picture before we started eating.... yeah, not so much. The food was served (family-style), we served our plates & then ate like we hadn't eaten in a week.

and... there was dessert. 

there you go....
Long winded, but with such an important subject, I just couldn't leave the details to chance!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Grand Value

So, we stayed at Disney's All Star Movies Value Resort.... 

The main part of the Resort- called 'Cinema Hall' (where the check-in is, the dining area, gift shop, etc) .... that was lovely. Very nice. Everything you would expect from a 'value' level resort that belongs to Disney. It was all gussied up for Christmas & lovely cast members walking about being so helpful.

The out side of the resort is quite nice too. I didn't get any pictures of the pool area, which is a shame. That was pretty darn spiffy. 
We stayed in the 'Toy Story Tower'.... specifically the 'Woody Building....'
(I am, however, still trying to figure out how 3 stories makes up a 'tower'.... hmmm.)
(please see the below pictures)

 A very large wooden cowboy.... and a very little boy.

 Jacob and 'Buzz the Lightyear'.... who was apparently getting a face lift

A great view up the dino's nose!

I really, really wish I could say that I would come back to this particular resort again. But, I just can't. The rooms.... oh, the rooms. The rooms were so sad and worn down. It was painfully obvious that this is one of the older resorts (which is totally fine that it's one the older resorts!) and that it's one of the cheaper ones... But. But. 
I just strongly feel that Disney shouldn't let it feel like one of the older and cheaper ones.
(Fix the leaking toilet. Replace the carpet.) 
Spif up the room a little, guys. No, this isn't the Grand Floridian.... but. It's not the Bates Motel either. 
That last crack was probably mean. 
But, you know what? When I check into a Disney Hotel.... I'm really not wanting to check into a hotel that reminds me of a seedy-looking hotel on the side of lonely, creepy, dark road somewhere. 

I expect clean and fresh and nice. 
I rather expect more Disney ambiance in the room than a picture of Buzz & Woody... and a lame wall paper boarder running around the top of the walls. Just sayin'. 

I will be spending the extra money next time up upgrade our accommodations. Lesson learned. 

Okay. Enough complaining. 
It was great to stay on property. I HIGHLY recommend staying on property! There are bus & monorail systems to get you anywhere you need to go & most of the systems run every 20 minutes or so. Awesome. We rented a car, but the only time we used it was to get to and from the airport. I say again.... stay on property! And use the Magic Express... it will take you to and from the airport. (again, another lesson learned. The money we spent on rental car could have been used to upgrade to nicer digs, I'm thinking.)

Disney does so. many. things. so. amazingly. well. .... that it is sort of a let down when they don't. But, I am really happy to say that the only real low was the room. The people were lovely, the food was wonderful and the parks were amazing. 

Come back tomorrow for my thoughts on the Dining Plan! 
and food!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

So, Guess Where We Just Got Back From.....

Yup. The Happiest Place on Earth. :-) My parents took me and the short one to Disney World last week. Yeah, happy late birthday Jacob/early birthday me/and Merry Christmas to us both!
It was a total blast. 
We crammed every bit of fun we could into every single moment. 
We hit 3 parks in one day (oh, yes we did.) and, on the day we left, we went to a park one last time.
Go Big, Before You Go Home!

I just *might* have a few opinions about our stay! Come back this week to hear them, if you're interested. We went to the freshly opened part of FantasyLand in the Magic Kingdom.
Ate at Chef Mickey.
Stayed at a "Value Resort"
Used the buses.
And the meal plan.

Yup, I have opinions, a plenty!