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Me, my thoughts and my life

Disney World Christmas

I have a love hate relationship with Disney World during the fall and winter holidays.  I love the parks, decorations and some of the special events (some just aren’t wroth the money).  I hate all of the crowds.  Yes, I do realize that I am spoiled since I am able to visit the parks anytime and often wait just walk onto some of the rides. 

Candlelight

My favorite Christmas season event at Disney is Epcot’s Candlelight Processional.  When I first heard the name I thought it was one of Disney’s parades; Its not.  Disney describes it as “the stirring story of Christmas as told by a celebrity narrator, accompanied by a 50-piece orchestra and mass choir.”  They invites high school choirs from around the state (and I think Georgia too) to come and preform.  There are 2-3 shows each night starting right after Thanksgiving through New Years.  The performance itself is free with park admission though it is held in the American Theater so seating is limited.  To me the best way to enjoy this is with their Dinner package (my friend, Rachel, and I have done this for the last 3 years).  The package is a set price (depending on the restaurant) for the meal, lunch or dinner (hint: lunch is more affordable), and provides you with guaranteed seating at a specified show time.  It is so worth it.  There is queued seating as well but I have heard of people standing in line for hours to get a seat for the performance.  Be honest, if you are going to see this you are most likely going to be eating in Epcot anyway.  The package isn’t that much more than the price of a normal meal.

Blue Ice Castle

My second favorite thing at Disney during Christmas is Cinderella’s Castle in Magic Kingdom.  Every year they drape the castle in white lights and it looks like ice.  Just beautiful!

Osborne Lights

My third Christmas favorite is the Osborne Lights at Hollywood Studios.  Sadly I found out this year is the last year.  On the bright side it mean something new is coming next year!  Now the story is that this collection of Christmas lights started at the Osborne’s house several years ago.  However, their collection got so big that it started to cover multiple houses.  When Disney first purchased the collection, in 1995, there were about 100,000 lights.  It has now grown exponentially to cover the whole main street section and is set to music.  Every night once the sun goes down the turn all of the lights on and cycle through a variety of Christmas carols.  It is so fun to watch and there are lights everywhere!!

Main Street         Peace

 

 

What I am currently reading:  Lover Avenged by J.R. Ward

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Thanksgiving

Yes, I know I am about 2 weeks late with this but I was on vacation!!

For the 1st time in over 4 years my sister and I live in the same state.  Granted it is for a grand total of 4 months and we live 6 hours away but it still counts.  Since this was the case we decided to get together for Thanksgiving.  Before we planned this I had already agreed to watch my friend’s cat so my sister and brother-in-law came to me!!

With only the 3 of us for Thanksgiving we decided not to do the full spread.  Instead I made a ham, au gratin potatoes, salad and brown sugar carrots. Adrian made a dessert out of pretzels, strawberries and fluff (whip cream and something else).  I have to say it turned out pretty good.  There was the perfect amount of food for the 3 of us.

The next day we went to Epcot.  CJ had never been and Adrian hadn’t been for several years.  For me it was fun to watch them.  To make the most of the day we rode almost every ride.  We even waited in line for over an hour to ride the new Test Track.  The queue, like all Disney queues, had lots to look at.  This queue has been sponsored by Chevrolet and has some future cars on display.  This was my favorite because it drives itself!!

photo_1(6)                           photo_2(6)

 

What I am currently reading:  Fire and Ice by Julie Garwood

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Food and Wine at Epcot

Disney isn’t just for kids!!!  Every year Epcot hosts a few different festivals geared to adults.  My 2 favorites are the Flower & Garden Festival in the spring and the Food & Wine Festival in the fall.  Can you guess which one I went to this weekend?

imageAs the name indicates Food & Wine centers around food (imagine that).  Epcot sets up temporary stands around the World Showcase. In addition to the 11 countries that make up the showcase they add 19 other stands for a total of 30 unique food experiences.  Now, not all of the stands are associated with a country (Cheese, Beer, Hawaii etc) and new ones are added every year.  Each booth has 3 or more food options and several drink options both alcoholic and nonalcoholic.  Portion wise everything is single serving and usually about 4 bites.  It is meant to be a tasting experience.  Considering the portion size the items are fairly expensive ($4-$7).

imageOur first stop this year was Argentina.  To me this is a good booth because they serve a good size beef empanada (I ate it before I remembered to take a picture).  Between our group of 7 we got something at every stop.  With 30 booths that is way to many to tell you about them all so I will just hit my favorites.  In Mexico we had tequila, though we went inside to La Cava del Tequila instead of the booth.  From China we all got Happy Lychee with vodka.  It is probably my favorite drink in this festival, light, refreshing and unique.  When we got to South Korea I noticed that the menu had a lettuce wrap with roast pork & kimchi slaw.  One of my high school friends is Korean and has told me about kimchi.  When I heard how it was made I thought “no way. Never trying that.” But I heard good reviews about this wrap from many people.  They were right!  It was very, very good.

imageMy last 2 favorite stops are more personal to me.  The 1st is Germany.  Both sides of my family are from Germany though several generations removed.  We don’t eat many (or any) traditional German dishes but I found the Schinkennudeln to be very good.  Flavor wise it is fairly mild but the combination of ham and cheese with the pasta is wonderful.  My last stop to tell you about is Canada.  Every year they have a long line at this booth and everyone is waiting for 1 thing: Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup.  It is the most I have ever paid for 4 oz of soup but it is well worth it.  Tangy, smooth, creamy and of course cheesy.   There are a few booths that I would love to go back and visit but it will have to wait for another day.

It's Epcot so there has to be a picture of the ball, right?

It’s Epcot so there has to be a picture of the ball, right?

 

What I am currently reading;  Chains of Fire by Christina Dodd

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Random Orlando Stops

This week my friend Vicki is in town from Boston.  Until late December she lived in Florida for most of her life.  Due to this fact there are tons of Florida/Orlando things that she misses.  When we started planning her visit over 2 months ago we made a list of those places and built a schedule that incorporated all of them.  As with most plans created that far in advance it went through many modifications and tweaks in order to accommodate a variety of schedules.

Earlier this week I told you about her first night here.  On Wednesday the plan was for me to go to work until about 4pm, which I did.  I was even MOD that morning while the managers were on an outing.  The original plan had us going to Hollywood Studios (formerly MGM Studios) that night before a late night dinner at Kobe Steakhouse (I mentioned that I love Kobe, right?)  Well, for some reason Hollywood Studios closed at 6pm on Wednesday.  Normally it is open till 7pm or 9pm which would have given us 2-4 hours at the park.  Both of us consider Hollywood Studios our 4th favorite Disney Park so a few hours was all we needed.  Since my work schedule would only give us an hour at Hollywood Studios we decided to go walk around Downtown Disney instead.

imageIt ended up working out for the best because we got to meet up with one of our friends that otherwise would have missed seeing Vicki.  Since my work day ended up being pretty stressful we started out at Paradiso 37 for some margaritas, chips & dip.  I ordered a pomegranate margarita and the bartender brought me a raspberry margarita instead.  He quickly fixed his mistake and even gave me the raspberry one too.

imageWhile we walked around and explored the shops we discovered that we left something at the bar.  When we went back to retrieve it I noticed a really cool chandelier hanging in the entrance.  Around the candle lights are tequila bottles turned upside down.  I think they are all the 1800 brand but I am not a tequila person so I am not 100% sure.  Attached to the center globe are upside down martini glasses.  The accents appeared to be wrought iron so it is a nice combination of modern and old world.  A part of me also thought it looked like it could be from outer space.

On the third night (Thursday) we met several friends at Johnnie’s Hideaway for their Happy Hour.  They have really good food & drink specials.  My favorite drink there is their Cantaloupe Fresh Fruit Infusion Martini.  Fun fact, there is no cantaloupe anything in the mix.  On the regular menu these martinis are about $12 but during happy hour they are only $4.  Now, I don’t eat seafood of any kind so I cannot personally attest to how good the food is but everyone we met up with loved it.  Between everyone at the table over 3 dozen oysters, a plate of mussels, 2 giant cocktail shrimp, 1 order of calamari, 1 order of big boy tater tots and 2 tuna nachos were consumed by 6 people.  That list doesn’t even touch the alcohol that was consumed.

When Happy Hour ended we all headed home to change for our evening entertainment.  The ladies all went to Cowboys for Ladies Night (lighting inside is really bad so no pictures, sorry).  Every Thursday there is a $2 cover for ladies and free wells, bud light and wine till 11pm for ladies.  There are 7 bars between the inside and back patio.  Considering how packed the bar gets they need them all.  I like getting there early because they give 2 line dancing lessons between 8pm and 9:30pm.  None of us really know how to line dance but we have a great time trying!  Now, I have no rhythm and have a hard time picking up on all these dances but they look fun.   My friend Rachel and I have tentatively planned to go every Thursday and learn the dances.

 

What I am currently reading:  Storm of Shadows by Christina Dodd

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Big Wide World or “Its a Small World After All”

Tonight I got to chat with one of my British friends.  Since she moved back to England in April we haven’t really gotten to talk much ( I suppose if you want to be technical we didn’t talk tonight either since we used WhatsApp to text).  During our conversation I realized how much technology has allowed out world to “shrink” or at least become more accessible.  At the same time there is still so much of it that I have yet to see and want to visit.

whatsapp

During the conversation I stated to think about how many international friends and acquaintances I have.  If we modified the “Seven Degrees of Kevin Bacon” game I bet I could find a connection to almost every continent. Personally (1st degree) I have friends in England, Brazil, China, Kazakhstan, Australia and India not to mention all of my friends and family here in the US and Canada.  If I start to factor in all of their connections and the degree of connection expands so does the map (so is the world getting smaller or bigger?).

small world

Then I started thinking that the internet and Social Media are also bringing the world to all of us.  One of my favorite accounts on Twitter is Everyday they post pictures from around the world.  So I, a girl in Orlando, FL, gets to see pictures daily from Greece, Africa, Italy, the Caribbean and many other place (does this make the world smaller or bigger?).  Facebook also allows me to keep up with my friends.  Like me a lot of my friends are addicted to travel so through their posts I have been able to “experience” their travels as well.  So far this year several of my friends have taken tours of Europe, moved back to their country, and visited more countries that I know about.

big wide world

Finally I considered less technological resources like libraries, museums and theme parks (I live in the world of Mickey Mouse, remember?).  In museums you can find art work from around the world all displayed in one place.  In one day you can soak up culture from other countries and different time periods without leaving the building.  Libraries also allow exploration.  Within the pages of books you can explore other times and places, the past, present and future, both real and imagined.  There is no limit.  At theme parks like Epcot there are pavilions that spotlight other cultures. Their food, drink, traditional clothing, natural wonders, traditions and people.  Did you know that the people who work in Epcot’s pavilions tend to be from that country?

So, do all of these things emphasize what a Big Wide World we live in or, is it just “A Small World After All”?

 

What I am currently reading: So far this weekend I have read Bridegroom Wore Plaid by Grace Burrowes, The Ghost Pirate’s Treasure by Barbara Ivie Green, Pink Slips and Glass Slippers by J.P Hansen and will start Deadly Offerings by Alexa Grace.  All of these were free Kindle books that I found through Ebook Impresario.
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