This and That

This week we tested out Picky Palate’s Fire-Fly Disneyland recipe:

It turned out really tasty and the boys loved that they thought at first we were only having Fritos for dinner:

I actually browned the meat (I didn’t use sausage) and then added all the ingredients into my slow cooker on low for about 7 hours. This is awesome for a group or party!

We also made red, white, and blue popcorn this week:

And went to a local Concert in the Park that the kids had a blast at:

And I had a crab cake sandwich that I might be headed back to Concerts in the Park in July to have again:

It was from one of our local food trucks, In the Bun, and it was so good!

And I’ve also got this coffee on my list to get next time we’re at the Arsenal Coffee truck:

And finally, my parents’ pool is open! The boys are going to have a blast!

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Villains After Hours Review

This was a last minute decision for our trip. Anticipating the hot summer weather in Florida, we decided to forgo the daily park ticket and instead go at night. I would only suggest this if your kiddos are good with staying up until 1:00 a.m. (or later). The Villains After Hours Party at Disney World runs from now until August on select nights (you can check here for more details). It’s similar to some of the other after hours parties (and annual pass holder after events), but it features specially themed treats, a stage show, and the dragon, Maleficent, makes appearances throughout the park. Here’s a peak at the map:

 

Let’s start with what we loved about it!

First, short lines. I mean walk onto Peter Pan short. We rode Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean, Peter Pan, Winnie the Pooh, Thunder Mountain Railroad, Space Mountain, Tea Cups, Buzz Lightyear, and Haunted Mansion all within the “party window”, but we also rode additional rides before that because you are allowed in at 7 p.m. (3 hours before the party actually starts).

Second, drinks, Mickey treats, and popcorn are all included in the cost. You can just walk up to any of the carts and the cast members will hand it to you. That was great (especially when I needed a second box of popcorn after riding Space Mountain with J).

Third, fun light theming of different rides:

 

Fourth, there are themed snacks for purchase, which the boys were very excited about.

We tried the headless horseman brownie:

This was a basic brownie, the theming is basically that one chocolate on top. It was made well though and is big enough to share.

We also tried the dragons breath:

The theming of this one was fun! The spun candy on top was VERY hard to eat, but the boys enjoyed the soft serve with cherry sprite type soda. Think a Shirley Temple with vanilla soft serve.

Last we tried the Hades Temptation:

So, besides being nearly impossible to carry without spilling it, this was very tasty. It again had kind of a cherry/berry slushie taste.

So, now that we’ve talked about what we loved, let’s talk about a few things that were just okay.

First, villain encounters. They kind of make it seem like although you won’t have the opportunity to do meet and greets with the villains, that they will be walking around the park. This is the only place we saw them:

Second, the theming of the rides for villains was waaaayyyy over stated. If you tell me there’s going to be a themed Pirates of the Carribean, I’m expecting Jack Sparrow. Although, this guy was humorous:

 

Last, the transportation back to the hotels is by bus. For our experience (I say that because that type of thing is always subject to change), there was no monorail or boat option. We had to get on a bus after the party that went to the Contemporary, Polynesian, and Grand Floridian. It took awhile. Overall, I think the after hours experience is a great idea. I would suggest trying it. However, if you want a spooky themed experience (depending on when you are going), I would suggest Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. The tickets are similar cost and you can check out our experience with that here!

 

 

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Friday Favorites

The boys’ finished up their first camp of the summer, and they had the best time! This weekend we are having dinner with friends, testing out my parents’ new pool, and getting new hardwood floors put in our bedroom! It’s going to be a busy weekend! I got several more lesson plans outlined for the Fall this week, and I’m hoping to get my July course ready to go while they are putting in the hardwood floors today! In between driving kids to camp, watching Octonauts with my niece, and lesson planning, here are some of my favorites for the week.

I’ve started watching Racheal Ray in the afternoons and I’ve got this meal on my list for next week.

Traveling journals….this has inspired me to start including some collage elements for the photo books of our trips.

All the beaches in Honolulu to visit.

Almost finished with Hickory Dickory Dock.

Take a walk.

True words.

Summer palette perfection.

I’ve got this T-shirt and skirt in my cart waiting for JCrew to have a sale.

My favorite yoga practice of the week.

And finally, a lesson in making chilaquiles.

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Kona Cafe

Also known by my kids as “not Ohana”, Kona Cafe open air table service restaurant on the second floor of The Polynesian serves up Asian style eats with a Polynesian twist. Despite the fact that this is not Ohana, our meal was very good, and I would recommend it if you are staying at The Polynesian, one of the other nearby resorts, or you want to take a break from The Magic Kingdom and head over here for dinner.

First up, we got an appetizer of potstickers, because that seemed to be the theme of this trip:

They were pan fried (my favorite), and I can honestly say I’ve never been served potstickers like this. They were pull apart and were definitely a filling way to start the meal! A loves potstickers:

In addition to our order of pot stickers, we were also snacking on the Hawaiian bread with macadamia nut butter that comes with the meal:

 

You all. Come for the rolls. They are delish! Anyway, while we were eating those we checked out the menu:

As you can see the menu contains a wide-range from sushi to burgers. You also can watch them making the sushi if you are sitting close enough, which we were:

B ordered the sashimi sampler:

We found the prices for both the sushi and sashimi to be very reasonable. The sashimi was light, and B probably would’ve ordered a side…if he hadn’t had an extra helping of rolls.

I ordered the Mahi Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato:

It was weird. The Mahi was also a little dry. And there were big pieces of barely toasted bread underneath….it was just a little odd. I would probably order something different if we went again.

And the boys ordered pasta and a burger:

Both were good. Oh and a heads up from our resident kid foodie:

If your kiddos also get dessert, just a heads up. The yogurt parfait is just a scoop of yogurt on a plate. Get the ice cream instead.

Afterwards, we headed outside to watch the fireworks:

At The Polynesian they dim the lights and play the music from the fireworks show at The Magic Kingdom, so its fun to view it from the beach!

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This and That

This is the Nintendo game announcements we watched this week in anticipation of new Switch games.

This is J checking out his first set of summer books from the library:

This is me trying to visualize the rug I bought for in our bedroom once we get hardwood in there:

This is B checking out the boys’ Father’s Day Cards….that they made with scented markers:

This is J helping me make snickerdoodles for Father’s Day lunch:

And finally, this was Sunday dinner:

Happy Monday, friends!

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Friday Favorites

Can we talk about our weather for five minutes? In the south our temps are notoriously hot beginning in mid-May. However, it’s June and 75 degrees. I mean. It couldn’t be more perfect. We stopped in Auburn on our way back from Disney last weekend and had the best time, I cannot believe how much construction is going on there! We’ve gotten back into the swing of things after our vacation, catching up on laundry, sleeping in late, and doing lots of reading. I’m knee deep in outlining chapters, extended lesson planning, and re-recording lecture videos for a new textbook. All of the things I have time to do now that I rarely have time to do during the school year. We are looking forward to pool time with friends today and then Father’s Day on Sunday! Here are some of my favorites from the week!

You had me at guava cake.

My favorite podcast of the week.

Amelia Bedelia….housekeeping rebel?

The video I had to save because not only do I love it, but also it shows the development of language that I can share with my foundations of communication course!

Adjusting foundation coverage, good for transitioning between summer and work.

Really the only cheese that needs to be on your charcuterie board.

The social influencer you need to be following. In other news…a great example of how something goes viral. Can you tell I’m lesson planning?

Lots of work wear ideas for fall featuring a pencil skirt.

Strawberry cake.

Got this faux leather hobo bag in my cart.

Summer is all about one pot meals. Or one plate. Or one grill.

Finally, I’m loving the brightness of this flushed coral lip gloss.

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Morimoto Asia in Disney Springs

Can one dream about a meal? By far this was one of our favorite meals of the trip. I’ve read mixed reviews, but let me tell you, our server was fantastic, our meal was fantastic, and I really loved how the kids’ meals, menu, and options were so unique!

The atmosphere is upscale, but like most Disney restaurants, people were in a variety of dress from casual to cocktail-ish. The sushi kitchen is upstairs and it was fun to view it from below.

We started off with pork dumplings for our appetizer because those are A’s absolute favorite. These would probably be my only complaint. For eleven dollars there were only four, and they were barely filled. They were also steamed, and I prefer mine slightly pan fried (this I knew when we chose them, so that’s on me). For the cost, I would pick something else. They also don’t tell you on the menu how many you get, and I assumed we’d get at least six (again, I should’ve asked this before ordering). On the plus side, it came in a fun steamer and the boys tested out their chopstick skills before their lo mein came.

 

 

On to better things! Starting with the kid’s menu, because it was awesome. It had three origami papers and instructions for making three basic origami items. We spent (okay maybe, I spent) almost all the way until our dinner came working on the fish and frog.

 

And while we were working on those, we were sipping on fruity boba tea. J was unsure, but A was totally converted. He’s been asking for boba tea again ever since.

 

They both ordered the kids’ shrimp lo mein, and there wasn’t a noodle left.

So, now for the grown up meals. B is a big fan of sushi and sashimi, so he ordered Jyo Sushi Combo, and the only potential issue for his allergies was the sushi roll. Our server was great and easily requested to have his roll swapped (the combo is a “chef selects” so it depends on the day what you get). It was almost too pretty to eat!

I opted for the buri-bop which is the famous dish that Morimoto created to win one of the Iron Chef competitions. They prep it by the table, and unfortunately I didn’t take a picture before it was mixed. It was sooooo good. I mean. It was a combination of yellow tail, rice, egg, veggies, and other tasty items. As a side note this does come in a 400 plus degree bowl, that stays that hot pretty much the entire time you eat it. So this is not a meal you’d want to eat near small kiddos who might grab the bowl (or irresponsible adults who might do it “too be funny”, just saying).

And finally, we ended the meal with hidden Mickey sorbets for the boys!

We really loved our overall experience at Morimoto’s and would definitely go again!

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Shades of Green Review

For our recent trip to Disney we tested out The Shades of Green resort, and I’ve got that review for you today! First up, a few important pieces of information about the resort. It was originally a deluxe resort that was later purchased by the government. This means that you (or someone in your group) have to meet the qualifications on their website.

It is a hotel on Disney property, but not a Disney hotel specifically, so they use different buses, etc (more on that later). I’d always been reluctant to try it because I was worried it wouldn’t be Disney enough, when we are quite used to the Disney resorts. However, for this stay we decided to test it out and see what we thought!

The resort is lovely. It has spacious rooms many of which sleep up to five. It’s a quiet property, and we had a nice view of the golf course.

We stayed in The Palm Wing on the second floor, and I liked it so much, I would specifically request that area the next time we go.

There are two outdoor pools, one that has a zero entry area, and the other has a water slide that J LOVED:

The food is very reasonably priced (there are several restaurants and a Starbucks). Picking up Starbucks and reading my book in the morning was one of my favorite things to do during our stay!

The self-parking is only 9 dollars a day (cheaper than the Disney value resorts). It’s also an easy drive over to Disney Springs. Quick tip…we always parked at the Lime Garage because it is close to some of our favorite shops and restaurants. If you’re driving, check which garage is closest to your favorites to cut down on walking!

For transportation, they have buses that go to the ticket and transportation center, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios. You can also walk to the Polynesian Resort (it’s about a fifteen minute walk to the monorail), and take any of their buses or the monorail. In addition they have a tram at times that will drive you down to the end of the property and cuts about seven minutes off the walk.

We loved getting a chance to take the monorail more than we usually do, and did quite a bit of resort hopping more than other past trips.

Overall, of all the Disney resorts we’ve stayed at their bus transportation was by far my least favorite. And it’s not that they aren’t efficient about it, the buses run when they say they will. However, instead of running every twenty minutes, like the Disney resort buses they come essentially twice an hour….which means that you need to carefully plan park entrance and exit to minimize wait times. Also, their bus stop is not with the other Disney bus stops…it’s usually a secondary area with a very small overhang….no big deal if it’s not raining, except in Florida, where huge rain storms can (and did) pop up at any time. You can take The Polynesian bus and walk, but we found that the buses for The Polynesian and Grand Floridian (they share a bus), were usually also packed.

 I would recommend considering taking advantage of the Minnie Van service (especially if you are going to or leaving Animal Kingdom), because you are saving money with the lower cost of the room and parking. If you have people in your group that either have trouble standing for long periods, or small kiddos, this would be a life saver. If we stayed at Shades of Green again we would definitely budget for that in order to save some time…and tantrums on the behalf of seven year olds who you made hike a park all day in 95 degrees and then have to hike home.

Overall, the resort is a great option for qualifying government and military families. You can find out more about the resort here! Happy trip planning!

 

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Friday Favorites

When I was a kid and we lived overseas, vacation was always at least two weeks, if not more. Now that I’m an adult and B and I both have full time jobs, it sometimes seems impossible to even take a week off at a time, and with the boys’ activities that makes it even harder. So this year I declared it the year of the two week vacation. Even if we never have time to do it again (but I’m hoping we do), it’s been the best two weeks! We’ve had time with my whole family and time with just the four of us, and we have lived it up! We’ve put our emails on hold, went to the beach everyday for a week, and I’m halfway through my second book. It’s been a great introduction to summer!

The summer tea I have been waiting for.

The loveseat I’ve got my eye on for when we extend our back porch.

Matcha vanilla date smoothie.

Copying the idea of baskets for food magazines in this kitchen.

Lemon artichoke spaghetti for meatless Monday’s.

Summer of reading.

A cookbook to put on the list for my birthday.

Obsessed with my new reef sandals I picked up at the beach!

I loved the Hawaiian Loco line that I spotted at Uniqlo at Disney Springs! I picked up the Honolulu Cookie Company shirt. They do run a little bit boxy, but will be perfect for a fun pairing with high waisted shorts for summer, or pants for work in the Fall.

And finally, styling a coffee table three ways with 100 dollars or less!

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JCrew Factory List

School’s out, summer vacation is here, and we’re feeling fine!

I mentioned having a few items on my list for the Vineyard Vines for Target Collection. After the big release, here are my actual purchases:

If you’re wondering if I got up super early to get these items, the answer is yes. I randomly woke up at 2:00 a.m. (B and I have being trading off with different medical issues, yay for mid-thirties), and couldn’t go back to sleep. I had a favorites list saved, and I just opened my iPad and ordered it all. The quality of the pullover and pants was heavier weight than I expected, which I appreciated for the price. I’ll probably be more likely to wear the pants in fall/winter here. The swimsuit is adorable, definitely my favorite. The shorts are great quality, but I was very glad I got the XS, because I saw an early review online. The sunnies were a wild fable purchase, and they are super fun. Anyway, now that I’ve shopped that collection, we are headed to the beach soon to have family time, beach time, and some outlet shopping time!

Every year, I make a list for outlet shopping at JCrew Factory. I typically try to find some things at the outlets for Under Armour, Aacis, Gap, and Kate Spade as well, but for JCrew Factory I make a list! JCrew Factory carries some of my favorite basics, and I like to stock up while we are there.

First up, is graphic tees. I love a good graphic tee!

Second, is the teddie sweater. Made of lighter weight cotton than JCrew’s typical merino sweater, these are wearable summer through mid-fall.

Next, low wedges. Great for trekking across campus, or going out to dinner, these are low enough you I can wear them with shorts, jeans, or some of my work pants.

Its already 95 degrees here and in the summer I love my easy pajama shorts. These come in a variety of pattens and are perfect for mixing and matching with cotton sleep tees.

I’m so excited they’ve kept their scalloped shorts! These are some of my favorites.

My old white pants are super stretched, so I’m on the hunt for a new pair.

Some of B’s favorite tees we pick up from JCrew Factory including striped and henley’s.

And finally, the boys and I always pick up fun socks for B for Father’s Day.

We are definitely all looking forward to our beach vacation! Until then the cousins are making do with trying to create an impromptu slip and slide:

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