Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Disney Dining Review: The Wave at the Contemporary Resort

On Saturday night we had a fun night out at Disney.  Yeah, it’s not necessarily the best time to be out there because it is ridiculous crowded right now, but we had two things on the agenda on Saturday – 1) see the castle lighting at Magic Kingdom; and 2) eat the The Wave at the Contemporary Resort.


We made reservations at The Wave a while back, and it worked out to our advantage that we hadn’t seen the castle lighting yet because we were able to park at Contemporary and walk over to Magic Kingdom for the lighting and not have to worry about parking at Magic Kingdom (because lately they’ve been closing the parking lot due to the park being at capacity).  It’s the little things. 

We arrived at the Contemporary around 5:30 and parked and walked over to the park.  

Since it was crazy crowded we decided to not even venture into the park and just hang out on Main Street until the lighting ceremony at 6:15.  This worked out well because while perusing through the shops Hubs and I found some awesome shirts that we will be sporting at Jillian’s “it’s a small world” party and something we can use for décor.  Fabulous! 

Around 6:10 we made our way out to the castle with the other 50,000 people in the park that evening.  Sheesh.  It was totally worth it though.  The castle lighting was spectacular!! 


After the lighting, we high tailed it out of there and back to the Contemporary for our reservation.  We had time to kill, so we meandered around the Concourse a little bit and then made our way downstairs to The Wave. 


I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t really excited about going to The Wave.  I was under the impression that it was primarily seafood with some non-seafood options on the menu.  It wasn’t.  The menu is seasonal, sustainable American cuisine, where everything is fresh and grown locally, and the menu has a little of everything on it. 


The meal began with fresh bread with Hawaiian salted butter.  Oh my.  As usual, I could have just eaten the bread basket for dinner.  But I didn't, I opted for the Herb-Salt Seasoned Beef Tenderloin (because you can never go wrong with that) and Hubs ordered the Red Wine Braised Short Ribs, which were out of this world delish.  The whole meal was such a happy surprise.  We weren’t expecting it to be in our top 5 favorites, but it surely was!  

I would definitely recommend The Wave because the food was excellent, the restaurant was really nice and the Contemporary is just a fun place to be, given its proximity to Magic Kingdom.  And if you book it just right, you can actually stay and watch the fireworks from the hotel.  Not a bad night out!  

How about you ... Ever been to The Wave?

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

HAPPY NEW YEAR!



Here's to a beautiful 2015!!!

Over the Hump

Hello!  I have gotten over the hump of the holidays and my first day back at work in a week and a half – whee! 

I was off of work for what feels like a really long time, and I was starting to get antsy and ready to get back to my normal routine again.  I know this sounds ridiculous (“You were actually looking forward to getting back at work?”  Yes, yes I was), but I’m one of those people who needs structure and routine in her life.  Sure it was GREAT being off, spending time at home with Jillian and just doing a whole lot of nothing, but being back is great too. 

The next couple of weeks are going to be weird and anything but “normal routine” around here.  This week is weird because of New Year’s.  Having a Thursday off and then having to go back to work on Friday is just strange.  Why do they not just give us Friday too?  Next week I’m in Connecticut all week.  Freezing cold Connecticut.  The highs next week are going to be in the 20s.  It’s 80 here today.  I’m in a for a rude awakening.  And then that weekend/following week is Jillian’s birthday extravaganza, so we’re having a party and family in from Chicago and the whole nine yards.  There is so, so much to do, but so much fun on the horizon!!


Yes, the theme of Jillian's party is It's a Small World.  Can you even stand it!?  Etsy rules! 

My InsaniT25 stalled out a little last week.  I did two days during Christmas week and that was it.  I feel a little bit bad, because I’ve been eating cookies like a fiend, but I know I’ll get back on track.  I got back into it today with a T25 workout (Alpha Cardio) and it felt goooood.  I’ve decided to pitch the InsaniT25 schedule out the window for now and focus on the T25.  I realized that I really dreaded the Insanity workouts and they are so long (in comparison to the 25 minute T25 ones), so I’m going to continue doing the T25 workouts.  I also need to start pounding the pavement.  The Disney Princess 10K is a mere 52 days away.  WHAT?!?!?  Better get on that Couch to 10K real quick, huh? 

2015 is almost upon us (?!?!?!), so it’s time to come up with some good “To Do’s” for 2015.  I have a short list in my head, but I haven’t committed to anything yet.  Once I secure those, I’ll be sure to post them for posterity.



OK, that’s all I have for now.  Hope your week is off to a fabulous start!


How about you … If you were off of work for the holidays, did you go back this week?  Plans for New Year’s Eve?

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmas in Photos

Christmas Eve


Ready for church





Christmas Day

Santa was good




Sisters, yeah!



It was a great Christmas with family!! 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

MERRY CHRISTMAS!


Disney Dining Review: Dining Around the World - United Kingdom, Italy and France

We've been eating around the world lately with our Tables in Wonderland membership.  Over the last couple of weekends we've eaten in the United Kingdom, Italy and France, so I thought I'd do one big post about our experience.  Fun?  Yes!

Rose and Crown Pub and Dining Room - United Kingdom, Epcot

Not my photo, I didn't take any.
We have walked by the Rose and Crown about a bazillion times in our trips out to Epcot.  And we've even gone inside the pub a time or two for a beer and to see the singing hat lady, but we've never eaten there. 

We chose the coldest night to eat there - and the seating was outside - but they had heaters going so it was okay.  Hubs and I both started with some pub drinks - Strongbow Cider for me and a Boddington's for him - and then went "traditional British food" when we ordered Fish and Chips and Bangers and Mash for our meals.  

I'm not really a fish fan, but I like me some Long John Silvers (don't judge), so I figured the beer battered fried fish would be A-OK.  Unfortunately the Rose and Crown version was much fishier tasting than I expected, so I wasn't a huge fan.  But I did enjoy Hubs' Bangers and Mash - who knew sausage and mashed potatoes and some sort of gravy would be good together? 

All in all, we had a nice experience at Rose and Crown.  Would we go back there to eat?  Probably not, but we will definitely stop in to the pub again!  

Tutto Italia - Italy, Epcot

This past Saturday we made a lunch trip out to Italy to the Tutto Italia restaurant.  


We have been here before, but it was a looong time ago, and I remember it being just okay. Traditional Italian food, in a gorgeous ambiance (as you can tell from the photo above).  

We started our meal with fresh focaccia bread and a Caesar salad that Hubs and I shared.  I ordered the spaghetti and meatballs and shared with Jillian.  Hubs got the lasagna.  Everything was great!  How can you go wrong with Italian food? 

The best part - we were one of the first reservations of the day, so we were literally in and out of there so super fast.  That's always a plus when you have a toddler in tow.  Not that Jillian is ever a problem in a restaurant (we come prepared for anything), but sometimes she gets a little antsy.  

Anyway, all in all, great time at Tutto Italia.  We will definitely go back because I found a menu item or two that I would like to go back and try.  

Chefs de France - France, Epcot

The same weekend, we traveled out to France for lunch on Sunday afternoon.  (It was Hubs' birthday weekend, so we lived it up with the Disney food)


Chefs de France is one of two French restaurants out at Epcot.  The other, Monsieur Paul, is super fancy and impossible to get into.  Chefs de France offers traditional French fare, like escargot and the like, and then offers things like Croque Monsieur sandwiches, quiches and more.  

At lunch they actually have a Prix Fixe menu where you can choose an appetizer of French Onion soup (is that really French?) and Lobster Bisque, an entree of Croque Monsieur, Quiche Lorraine or Gratin de Macaroni (fancy mac and cheese) and then a dessert.  Ding ding ding!  That's what we got.  

The meal started with warm French baguettes and butter.  I could have just stopped here and eaten bread for lunch, but I didn't.  We both ordered the French Onion Soup as our app - because who doesn't love French Onion Soup?  I was honestly full after the bread and the giant tureen of soup/cheese that I ate.  But I forged ahead with my Croque Monsieur, which was delicious, but I could only eat half.  Hubs ordered the gratin de mac and brought half of his home as well.  

Everything was delicious!!!  We were so stuffed, and then we realized we had to order a dessert too, since it was included.  Sheesh.  If I must...  I ordered the Creme Brûlée and Hubs had some sort of chocolate mousse thing.  Yum and yum.  Everything was just yum.  So good.

We rolled ourselves out of there and vowed to go back and try other things.  Chefs de France was definitely a winner!  

And that's it!  No more Disney dining reservations for a while.  We've been on a good run lately and we've definitely taken full advantage of our Tables in Wonderland discount.  

Bake, Wrap, Repeat

Happy Preeve! (Pre Christmas Eve = Preeve)

It's the day before the day before Christmas and I just can't believe it. It really snuck up this year. Thankfully we got all of the Christmas shopping done on our all-day Friday outing, so the weekend was spent not worrying about gift buying and braving the stores. 

Today has a theme - baking and wrapping. I'll spend today baking cookies and wrapping presents for our festivities that are starting tomorrow afternoon. On the cookie menu - 

- White chocolate peppermint kiss cookies (the peanut butter Hershey kiss cookies, but with sugar cookie dough and white chocolate peppermint kisses - using this recipe)
- Frosted sugar cookies (using pre made Pillsbury sugar cookie dough and colored vanilla frosting and sugar)
- Spice Cake cookies (using this recipe)

Yum! 

Yesterday's theme was cleaning and grocery shopping, so today will be much more fun than yesterday! 

To combat the vast amounts of cookie dough I will consume today (yeah, you know it's true), I started the day on the right foot with a T25 workout - Speed 1.0. It was a good one. 

Last night we went out to Hollywood Studios to see the Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights. 


It was great and so festive. 


Our original plan was to go and see the castle light up at Magic Kingdom because we haven't done that yet (I know, shame!), but we were running late and I didn't want to miss even a second of the show (it's Frozen themed, apparently they "freeze" the castle and it's magnificent), so we opted to save the castle lighting for Saturday and do the Osborne lights instead. I am so glad we did because a) it wasn't very crowded, and b) it was really fun!  



And Jillian loved the lights.  She's very into Christmas lights this year.  Every time we pass a house with lights, she goes "LIGHTS!"  

Mesmerized
All in all, great night out.  

OK, I must go.  There is much to do and not enough time to do it!  Hope you're having a fabulous Preeve!

How about you ... What are you doing to prepare for Christmas?  Anything festive?  

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Disney Dining Review: Crystal Palace at Magic Kingdom

A couple of Sundays ago we had reservations to attend the character lunch at the Crystal Palace restaurant at Magic Kingdom. 


The last time we attended this character buffet was for Jillian's first birthday, which was almost a year ago (OMG Jillian is going to be 2?!?).


We decided to go back and I'm glad we did, because it was a great time.  Crystal Palace offers a buffet lunch featuring all kinds of delicious stuff like soups, salads, carved London Broil, prime rib, tilapia, some sort of Mediterranean chicken (which was really good) and all the sides.  It wasn't as fabulous a spread as the Disney Junior breakfast at Hollywood and Vine, but it was still great.

And the character part of the buffet is great too.  It features characters from Winnie the Pooh, so we got to meet Winnie, Tigger, Piglet and Eeyore.  





Jillian loved meeting everyone, often saying 'HIII!" and blowing kisses to them.  Too cute.

All in all this was another good buffet, another great experience having Jillian meet the characters and another great Disney Dining experience!  

Friday, December 19, 2014

Friday Randomness

Aah!  I meant to write all week and it just didn't happen.  I only worked three days this week and they were jam packed trying to get prepared for being out for a week and a half.  It's so stressful going on vacation sometimes.

Anywho, I'm back with some randomness from my week, so let's get started!  

- Still going strong on the InsaniT25 schedule!  I've logged 4 days this week so far, and completed the, what I like to call, "freight train workout" of Speed 2.0.  I call it that because it is literally non stop jumping, running, kicking, squatting.  It's great, but wow, it's fast and it doesn't stop for a breather once.  Makes the 25 minutes go by nice and fast though!  

- Yesterday was Hubs' birthday!  He spent the morning and afternoon golfing with my dad and his dad.  They had a great time!  



That evening we had a nice family dinner at Hubs' parent's house.  Jordyn is back in town for the holiday, so it was great to see her and hear about her fabulous LA adventures!  

- Today will be spent getting the Christmas shopping done once and for all.  I am about 60% finished, so today, it's all getting done.  Hubs and I will be braving malls and outlet malls, so it should be interesting.  


- I saw the holiday Publix commercial this morning for the first time this season.  I instantly burst into tears.  I just love that commercial so much.


And on that note, I am going to go brave the malls!  I hope you have a fabulous Friday!  

How about you ... Is your Christmas shopping done? 

Monday, December 15, 2014

What's Been Up

Hello there! It's another Monday. How did that happen? I meant to check in again last week but my week was a little nuts and I didn't get the chance. Meh. 

So here's what's been going on... 

- My InsaniT25 is still going strong. Another five days last week! I am safely "in the zone" and don't see myself slipping anytime soon, because I am seeing results. That's the biggest motivator, seeing results. Yay!  Today was the Beta Rip't Circuit workout.  Fun!

- We had our annual girls' Christmas gathering yesterday! We had so much fun getting together, eating, gabbing. We all brought an appetizer dish (I brought the ham and cheese sliders Julie mentioned last week - OMG, heavenly!)  We also had a fabulous cookie exchange. I made the peanut butter Hershey kiss cookies (mostly because I don't eat those so I wouldn't be tempted to eat the batter and test the goods. Smartie!)  It was a fun day!!


- We took a couple of trips out to Epcot - on Thursday and on Saturday. On Thursday we met Santa! 


Jillian wasn't keen about fitting on his lap. She wasn't afraid, she kept saying "HI SANTA!" but she just wasn't down with sitting. Ah well, maybe next year. 

On Saturday we had Disney dining reservations at the Rose and Crown Pub in the UK. We dined on fish and chips, bangers and mash and Strongbow cider. It was good (full review later). Afterwards we met some friends and enjoyed the music of British Revolution. The girls had a dance party. 



And I realized Jillian is going to be really into music and concerts. I'm with the band! 



- I only have three days if work this week before I am off for a week and a half! Aah! I can't wait for some time off. Maybe I'll actually get my Christmas shopping done. 


AAAH!  

And that's all I've got! Hope your Monday is going great!! 

How about you ... Is your christmas shopping done? 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

What I'm Listening To

Hello there from frigid Florida!  OK, it’s not nearly as frigid as other parts of the country, obviously, but it’s definitely cold for us.  We woke up to 45 degrees, which made it really hard to get out of bed today to work out, but I did!

I’m three for three this week on the InsaniT25 schedule.  Today was T25’s Beta Dynamic Core workout.  It was quite dynamic indeed.  Definitely warmed me right up.  I’m feeling really good about these workouts and even got a “are you losing weight?” comment from Hubs last night.  Nice! 

So, I have been obsessed with music lately.  I’m always slightly obsessed with music, but there is so much good music right now, I thought I’d share some of my faves I’ve been jamming to during workouts, in the car, on walks, etc etc.  And no, it’s not all Christmas music…

Here we go …

“Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars

After reading about Janae’s obsession with this song, I had to give it a listen.  O…M…G…Wow!  This song is the bomb.  I wish I could dance because it just makes me want to bust a funky move and breakdance or something.  And the video!  It gives me goosies!  Bruno Mars can do no wrong in my eyes, he is so flippin cool.  And Mark Ronson just hanging out in the background of the video – nice!  Thank you Janae.



“Lips Are Movin’” by Meghan Trainor

You know my obsession with my BFF Meghan Trainor (remember when she liked my Instagram photo – besties!), well her new song is so fun and catchy and makes me sing at the top of my lungs in my car (I’m a terrible singer, so I reserve this for car rides when I’m by myself).  Love it!  And I can’t wait until her first album comes out on January 13th.  And did you know she was nominated for a Grammy?  She hasn’t even released a full CD yet and she’s already up for a Grammy.  Fantastic!



“Blank Space” by Taylor Swift

Well duh, you knew a Taylor Swift song would end up on my list given my newfound obsession with her.  This song…  I can’t even describe how awesome it is.  And the video is equally amazing.  Nuff said.



“Little Drummer Boy” by tobyMac

Christmas music!  It’s all good, but this song is great because it’s a classic that is funktified like only tobyMack can do.  tobyMac’s Christmas in Diverse City CD is on constant rotation in our house during the holidays because it’s just good.  Lots of fun, funky Christmas classics! 



 Anything by Fall Out Boy

Fall Out Boy is sort of killing it lately.  They released their Save Rock and Roll album back in 2013 and it’s freaking great!  “My Songs Know What You Did In the Dark” (seriously, they make the longest song titles ever) was a big one and then they had “Alone Together” and “Young Volcanoes” follow.  All great!  Now they have the song “Centuries” out, which rocks my world (video below).  Can’t wait for their next album coming out … soon?



“Habits” by Tove Lo

When I first heard this song I was like “eh.”  I couldn’t get past that line about binging on Twinkies and thowing up in the bath tub (gross).  But as I heard it more and more it got me and now I sing it at the top of my lungs in the car.  LOVE IT! 



“Underneath the Tree” by Kelly Clarkson

Kelly Clarkson has the most pure and amazing voice ever.  Her new Christmas album has all of the classics, sung beautifully, and this song is sort of an ode to Mariah’s “All I Want for Christmas” in that it’s fast, catchy and infectious.  Love!!




So that’s what I’m listening to, or jamming out to, over here.  Now go and update your playlists! 


How about you … What are you listening to right now?  Favorite song of the moment?  Are you a fan of any of these songs?  

Monday, December 8, 2014

Weekend Recap

Hellooo!  It’s Monday again.  How did that happen? 

Sorry I didn’t get a chance to check in last Friday.  I had a big presentation to give on Friday afternoon, so I spent most of the day fretting over it, which equates to no time for blogging fun. 

So here’s what’s been going on over here…

- I logged five days of InsaniT25 last week!  Woohoo!  I went from 0 to 60 on the workout scale in a relatively short amount of time, which I am super proud of myself for.  One thing I have noticed about myself, once I make up my mind to get back on the workout wagon I boot camp my ass to get me back into it quickly.  No easing into it here.  Not sure if that is good or bad.  As a result, I was sore everywhere for a majority of last week, so I took a much needed breather on Friday and picked things back up on Saturday.  Started today off on the right foot as well with the T25 Core Cardio video.  It was excellent.  I'm back baby!!!

- Over the weekend we did all of the obligatory Christmas stuff – Christmas cards, Christmas lights, Christmas shopping (we did our decorating inside the house last week).  Lots of fun and lots of things checked off the large list of things to do.  Love that feeling. 

Here's our Christmas card, if you're curious... 


- Sunday we spent the day at Magic Kingdom.  We had reservations at Crystal Palace for the character dining.  We had a blast.



- After that we had to go on It’s a Small World for Jillian, because that is all she talks about whenever we set foot inside Magic Kingdom.  “Smaw Waw!”  And then she sings the song.  It’s so darn cute! 


And that was it.  It was a nice weekend!

Gotta jam, I have so much to do.  Aah!  Happy Monday!


How about you … Good weekend?  What did you do?  Is it cold where you are?  

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Disney Dining Review: Hollywood and Vine at Disney's Hollywood Studios

On Sunday we got back on track with our Disney dining with a  reservation for the DisneyJunior Play and Dine lunch at Hollywood and Vine at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. 

Hollywood and Vine is a buffet style restaurant that offers character dining for breakfast and lunch and then a nice buffet meal for dinner.  We had never been here before, so we were excited to see how the restaurant was. And let’s face it, I was excited to meet Disney Junior characters.  I mean, Jillian was excited too, but I was really excited.


The Disney Junior Play and Dine features Sofia the First, Doc McStuffins, Jake from Jake and the Neverland Pirates and Handy Manny.  If you don’t have a kid then you probably have no clue what I’m talking about, but these characters are a big deal in our house. 

With Handy Manny
And Jake.  She sang the Jake theme song at lunch, too cute.
This character dining was different than others in that every 15 minutes or so the characters and cast members got up and did a song and dance, allowing kids to dance along with them, which was really fun.  And then when they weren’t performing they were making the rounds around the restaurant taking pictures.  I was giddy when Sofia and Doc came to our table.  Just sayin’.

With Doc 
Blowing a kiss to Sofia 
Seeing this picture of myself prompted me to get back on the workout wagon stat.  Yikes.
I'm burning that shirt.
Let’s talk food.  The food at this buffet was some of the best buffet food I have had at Disney.  It was so, so good.  They had a big assortment – BBQ meatballs (the star of the day), creamy asiago chicken breast, sweet and sour pork, assorted veggies and salads and a great kids section that featured mac n cheese, chicken nuggets and tater tots.  Good good food all around! 

My only gripe of the day was where we were seated.  We were at a table right by where they do the song and dance with the characters, so whenever that happened, a flood of kids and parents with cameras surrounded our table.  And honestly, they had absolutely no regard for the fact that we were sitting there eating a meal.  People were literally leaning over our table to get pictures.  One woman was in my chair with me at one point.  I am not kidding.  It was ridiculous.  Shame on Hollywood and Vine for even having a table there.  Oh well, what can you do?   


See that chair in the foreground?  That was my chair.  Now you can see why I am griping.  Why put a table there?

However, sitting there allowed me to get this awesome photobomb from Sofia.


This character lunch was the best character dining experience we have had so far.  Maybe it was the fact that it was Disney Junior characters, or maybe it was the food, but it was such a fun experience we will definitely be going back.  Maybe for breakfast next time, since our last character breakfast was just ho hum. 

Up next … This Sunday we’re keeping the character dining going and going to the mecca of all character dining restaurants – The Crystal Palace at Magic Kingdom.  (we last went there for Jillians’ 1st birthday).  Can’t wait!

How about you … Ever been to a character dining experience?  Fun right?