Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Tiffins in Disney's Animal Kingdom; A Must Do

If you have not yet tried Tiffins in Animal Kingdom you really, really must. Our family takes food pretty seriously and we think it is currently the best restaurant on property barring Victoria and Albert's. The selections are interesting and not on your typical dining menu, the ingredients are fresh and delicious and the cocktails are inventive and satisfying. We think they truly live up to their claim to "set off on a culinary expedition of international cuisine inspired by exploration and adventure." We are in love with this new option.

Who Would Best Be Suited For This Location?

If your family likes ethnic cuisine, art and is ready to sit in the air conditioning for a while, this is the place for you. In fact, even if you have a couple picky eaters and a few adventurous souls, you will still be happy eating here. It is a signature dining location which means a.) you will be eating in a nice location, at a table with more than one server waiting on you = it's more expensive than other table service locations around the parks, and b.) you can expect there to be a wide selection of food and wines available, as well as a very accommodating kitchen.

What We Ordered:

You can reference the full menu here. It's full of fantastic selections! We arrived for lunch with a VERY picky kindergartener with food allergies, a somewhat adventurous preschooler, and 3 adult, self proclaimed foodies at our last dining experience at Tiffins. I had taken the time to email ahead (special diets) and ask specifically for chicken nuggets to be on the menu for the one who barely eats any other protein. They would not guarantee that they would be available, but lo and behold when we asked, they had them! In my experience, most signature dining locations will do this for you with a little planning ahead. Also, if you forgot to plan ahead, ask if they have them in the house. It's possible that they ordered a big bag of them at the request of someone else and still have some in the kitchen.

Our meal started with house made bread, and since I no longer eat gluten, I passed. As an alternative for me they brought out rice cracker "bread" made in house with the same olive oil and molasses combination to dip it in. Such a great alternative to the usual gluten free bread served elsewhere on property!

Preschooler:
Pasta Marinara followed by Caramel-Chocolate Cake

VERY picky Kindergartener:
Chicken Nuggets, Fries and Green Beans followed by Caramel-Chocolate Cake (chef made sure the cake was safe for his food allergies)

Foodie 1: Zinger Fizzie, Marinated Grilled Octopus, Pan-seared Duck Breast, Lime Cheesecake

Foodie 2: Jenn's Tattoo, Selection of Artisanal Cheeses, Berkshire Pork Tenderloin (no dessert)

Foodie 3: Annapurna Zing, Selection of Artisanal Cheeses, Duo of Venison, Sorbet Tasting

Suffice it to say, all meals were shared around our table and in all seriousness, the 3 foodies believed we had each ordered the best meal on the menu. All dishes were inspired and delicious. Nothing was over or under cooked. The only complaint at our table was from the VERY picky eater who asked our server, "why did you bring me these?" regarding his green beans.

And speaking of our server, we were delighted to meet someone from home who was very accommodating and just as tickled as we were regarding his complaint. Food allergies can be a pain to deal with but we never felt we were cause anyone any trouble. Our server's recommendations and advice were perfect. Our meal and experience were outstanding. We couldn't have asked for better.

And I can't wrap this up without a nod to the atmosphere at Tiffins. It is beautiful as well. It felt like an oasis (not just for the air conditioning). Tiffins is also an art gallery showing off a range of art that has inspired or become part of Disney's Animal Kingdom. It really is a feast for the eyes as well. And it kept our small tourists occupied as we waited for our meals to be ready.

In short, Tiffins will be part of our Animal Kingdom visits for many years to come. There was no wait for a table on a week day in the middle of June and we were over the moon with this perfect break in our hot and hectic theme park day. You really need to try this place if you haven't been. We can't wait to go back.

Friday, June 30, 2017

How To Handle The Unexpected Travel Delays

When you travel as much as we do, you are bound to run into bad travel delays. Most of the time there is really not much you can do to resolve the situation. You are at the mercy of the weather, the airline, or the local department of transportation. Whatever the case may be, you are going to have hiccups. On our latest Disney trek, there was weather all up and down the east coast affecting over 50% of the hubs for our preferred airline. So even though we enjoy all the privileges of my husband's airline status there was no way we were going to make our connection. So what is a poor traveler without much experience to do when this happens? Here is what I have learned traveling with a seasoned business traveler.

Cancelled Flights

Instead of following the herd to the customer service line, get on your cell immediately and try to get rebooked. Call or use the app. Check your email to see if the airline has sent you an alternative to book quickly. The idea here is to get to the head of the electronic line, not the physical line. And then use your phone to find a hotel if you will need one. Be sure to confirm it before leaving the airport. And ask what will happen to your luggage so you know where to pick it up the next morning.

Missing Disney Reservations

It happens. Travel delays cause you to have to miss a dining reservation or some fastpasses. The first thing to do is call or text your travel agent. They will be able to fix the dining issues for you. If you haven't booked with an agent (why is that??), if you are still within the 24 hour limit, you should be fine. If you are inside that limit, explain to Disney that missing your reservation is entirely out of your control. It's likely they will be accommodating and waive the fee for canceling within the 24 hour time frame. Your fastpasses don't come with a penalty, but it is courteous to let them go. Someone else will be so glad you did!

Stay Rested and Fed

If at all possible, keep the children fed and rested. And get some sleep yourself. Also, give yourself permission to recover once you arrive at your destination. You don't have to jump right into your plans. Take an hour, take half a day, do what you need to do to make the rest of your vacation enjoyable.

Check Your Attitude

It's so hard to stay positive when things seem to be falling apart around you, but it helps to remember that the one thing you always are in control of is yourself. You have the power to decide how you will respond to what is happening around you. Give yourself permission to be frustrated and then move on. Treat yourself to a new movie on your mobile device, purchase that book you've been wanting to read, allow yourself to use more data than you would because this is a special circumstance. Do whatever it is you need to do to keep yourself from falling apart along with your travel plans.


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

What's Your Favorite Candy Bar? Or Why Crowdsourcing Your Trip on FaceBook Is A Bad Call

You've seen it before; someone on your Facebook feed asks for recommendations for their upcoming trip to Walt Disney World. It's likely they have never been and are looking for tips and tricks to get them started. This post may or may not phase you. Maybe you get all excited and recommend all your favorite attractions, and where your favorite parade seats are, and where they just have to get dining reservations. Or you may just scroll right past thinking, that's a nightmare I don't want to get involved with. When I see those posts, I cringe. I cringe because not only will there be a ton of erroneous information, I cringe because their friends are cheerfully letting them know all the things they liked (and didn't) while in no way considering your family's needs and desires. They are telling you what their favorite candy bar is, not telling you where you can find your favorite.

Remember that jingle from Almond Joy and Mounds? Sometimes you feel like a nut; sometimes you don't. This is what a good travel planner can parse out for you. When you are considering a trip to Walt Disney World the last thing you need is the conflicting advice from your friends; some of them like nuts, some don't. What you really need is the help of a Disney travel planner. These people are trained in all things Disney. They have experience and knowledge your friends who went two years ago don't. You need to think about what it is your family likes, what your needs are, how you like to travel, and where you like to stay.

Consider this: Are you foodies, and if so, do you have food allergies? Are you the family that likes to go till you drop, or do you like a more leisurely pace? Does your family like to swim, or do you prefer a playground? Are you into broadway shows, or thrill rides, or both? Do you like a high level of convenience in your trip, or do you want to travel on a shoestring? Do you want autonomy, or do you like to have someone else handle the details? Maybe you want a resort with a lot of kitsch and activity, or maybe you like to stay in a quiet, out of the way place. These are not the questions your friends are considering when they recommend their favorite candy bars. They are assuming you like the same ones they do. Maybe you do, but odds are, there are some things that you like that they just don't.

So the next time you see a Facebook post asking for Disney recommendations, the best recommendation you can give is to refer them to a Disney travel planner, preferably one like me who has been over 50 times and can offer sound advice with up to date, accurate, information on all the policies and practices at Walt Disney World. I can't tell you the number of times I have seen downright incorrect information given by well meaning individuals. It's not that they are trying to sabotage your vacation, but if you listen to only the advice of friends, you are bound to be disappointed. Walt Disney World is constantly changing. They add and take away experiences on a regular basis. It's an amazing trip, but it can also be a disaster. It would be such a shame to think you are going to get one sort of candy bar and end up with your least favorite in return. Call a Disney travel planner. You will be so thankful you did.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Celebrate Flag Day with Margaritas!

Hello readers! Did you know it's flag day in Mexico today? I think a little margarita celebration is in order, don't you? Let's take a look back at one of my favorite Cinco de Mayo posts ever!


In honor of Cinco de Mayo, we decided to do our own Disney Margarita Tour. If you are a margarita fan, you will no doubt know that La Cava del Tequila is THE place to go for some of the best and most inventive margaritas on property. But it's not the ONLY place. We chose to recreate some new and some vintage recipes to celebrate Cinco de Mayo with some of the the old crew. What a blast!

And special thanks to the hubs for the incredible food!

Here are the recipes we tried. We salted all of our glasses with pink Himalayan salt. Enjoy them! And until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Sun-Kissed Margarita
From Mickey's Gourmet Cookbook
(Outer Rim, Contemporary - which is no longer there)

Lemon Rind
Kosher salt
1.5 oz 80 percent oak-aged tequila
3/4 oz brandy-based orange liqueur
3/4 orange liqueur
4 oz sour mix
crushed ice
lime wheel
1 oz orange juice

Rub the rim of the cocktail glass with lemon rind & dip into kosher salt. Combine tequila, liqueurs & sour mix in a shaker filled with ice. Shake well and strain into salt-rimmed cocktail glass. Top with orange juice. Garnish with lime wheel.

Seven Seas Sunset -- same as above, but substitute cranberry juice for the orange juice.




Avocado Margarita 

La cava del Tequila - Epcot's Mexico Pavillion
(recipe from Disney Food Blog)

1/2 ripe Haas avocado
2 oz white 100% agave Tequila
1 oz Midori melon liquor
juice of one lime
1 oz. Agave syrup
Ice

Blend all ingredients in a blender until very smooth and creamy. Serve in salt rimmed glass. (use Hibiscus salt if you can. Look for it at the market next time you're in the Mexico pavilion in Epcot!)

Habanero Lime Margarita
available at any resort lounge
(Recipe from Party Through The Parks)

1 part Patron Silver tequila
3 parts Mr. & Mrs. T's sweet & sour
pour ingrédients over ice and add a good drizzle of Monin habanero lime syrup and the juice from half a lime




Agave Nectar Margarita
available at any resort lounge
(from Party Through The Parks)

1 part Tierras Organic Blanco tequila
3 parts simple syrup made with agave nectar (50% agave/50% water)
Pour ingrédients over ice and add the juice from 1/2 a lime





Jalapeño Margarita Recipe
(Cava del Tequila - Mexico pavilion, Epcot)

1/4 fresh cucumber (peeled and seeded and then cut into 1.5" pieces)
2" piece green bell pepper (seeded)
1/2 of 1 small jalapeño (seeded and cut into 1.5" pieces)
1 shot Silver tequila
Fresh lime juice
Triple Sec - orange flavor
Simple Syrup / agave nectar

Method: place fruit in the bottom of your glass and muddle to release some of the juices. Don't go crazy here, muddling shouldn't create a mush of fruit, just sufficiently bruise them. Top off the glass with ice and add 2 parts tequila, 1 part triple sec, 2 parts lime juice, 1 part simple syrup made with agave nectar. Shake and serve in a Himalayan salt rimmed glass.



Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Walt Disney World 101 | 10 Of Our Favorite Touring Tips

We are gearing up in the cottage for a Spring Break trip to Walt Disney World! It's been a while since we have braved the madness of a packed theme park. And a little refresher is always a good idea! So today I share my Top 10 WDW Touring Tips with you.

These are tried and true and used on every Walt Disney World vacation we take. Some are obvious, some are not. Some have taken us a while to realize, some have been with us from the very beginning (and I do mean from the VERY beginning!). I can still hear my dad shouting, "Left side, Amy!" I hope you enjoy them and they come in useful for you and your touring party too.


  1. Stay To The Left. This may be the single most important tip we have. Our American tendency is to stay to the right. And most tourists will choose the line or the attraction that is to their right. As we've continued to travel to WDW this rule has morphed somewhat into, take the path farthest from the door (or humanity). You'd be surprised how much faster you can get your burger and fries if you just move to the farthest line.
  2. Wait To Leave The Parks. It sounds a little nutty, but if you don't have toddlers having historic melt downs, then stay a bit after the fireworks and linger in the shops or buy one last sweet treat. Let the transportation crush happen without you. Waiting to leave the park (especially the Magic Kingdom) can make everyone's night much better.
  3. Arrive Early. If you can't manage the late nights, consider arriving for rope drop. The MK has a fun celebration prior to opening and all parks are clean and sparkling early in the morning; often you can get some nice photos with just your family in them.
  4. Make A Dining Reservation For The Hour Before Park Opening. Some character meals allow for early entry to the parks. You must have a reservation and all the members of your party before you can go in, but you can eat in the park before it is officially open. This has two advantages; obviously you can maximize your time in that first line or two and you can get some really great photos without the crush of humanity.
  5. Get A Haircut At The Harmony Barber Shop. This is strictly a Magic Kingdom experience, but I love doing this! Our first kid had the privilege of having his first haircut there. I HIGHLY recommend this! There was all sorts of kitsch and celebration and they are excellent with a wiggly kid.
  6. Watch The Parade From Frontierland. Again, this is specific to the Magic Kingdom, but we have had excellent luck finding a good spot for viewing the parade and it's usually much less hectic. This is not the best plan if you want to see the fireworks after the parade. And as an added bonus, we can hit the Pirates of the Caribbean on the way out!
  7. Hit Your Favorite Rides During the Evening Entertainment. If you are not watching the parade, the fireworks, or Illuminations, this is an excellent time to ride your favorite (usually crowded) rides. E-ticket rides were the most expensive and usually most desired rides when Disneyland and Walt Disney World opened. We still have a tendency to refer to them as such around the cottage.
  8. Use The Single Rider Lines. If you are not opposed to riding next to someone you don't know, the single rider line can be a great time saver. Usually Mr. Photos From The Parks and Doc can ride the same coaster, or consecutive coasters and come out beaming. 
  9. Grab A Button At Guest Relations. Especially if you are celebrating a birthday, first visit, or anniversary, get a button! The cast members are wonderful at making a little extra magic happen. You can even request a birthday phone call at your resort when checking in! 
  10. Talk To Cast Members. They are incredibly willing to help, share Disney trivia, tell jokes, trade pins, hand out stickers and trading cards, and just in general make your trip enjoyable. One of my favorite interactions was with a street sweeper in Animal Kingdom who kept my kids entertained with jokes as we were all headed to the exit together. 
Remember to try and stay positive while you're touring and enjoy the time you have, even in the small moments. It's the happiest place on Earth, and you deserve a great vacation! Until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Magical Coffee | Tinkerbell Coffee Cup Cozy



Sometimes a project just falls into your lap: you realize that you have all the supplies you need and suddenly you go from idea to finished project in less than 48 hours. This Tinkerbell Coffee Cozy is just such a project. and I really love the way it turned out!

Last Thursday I ran into a friend I hadn't seen in a while. As we were chatting with one another we suddenly realized that we went to the same very small college but had just missed one another by a year! It's not something that happens too often and so we had to do all the requisite reminiscing about our alma mater. Later, she mentioned that she loved my Mickey Coffee Cozy (which I almost always have with me!) and further mentioned how she needed one (like NEEDED one) that was Tinkerbell. So how could I resist? I knew I needed a new project for the blog too, so voila! Here you go! Magical Tinkerbell coffee at your service!

This one is not knit, it's crocheted; so you'll need to get your hooks out! But if memory serves, March is national crochet month, so it's the perfect time to dust them off and get this party started! If you want all the details on how to make one for yourself, you can see my notes on Ravelry. I didn't make an actual pattern for it, but if you are willing to do a little guess work, and you don't mind fudging a little bit on the pattern, it's fairly simple. 

I'm really pleased with how this project turned out! I would love to hear if you have done anything like this yourself. Let me know in the comments. And until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Life Get's In The Way

You know, I had this great blog post all written up about this amazing Adventures By Disney trip that I was going to take with my niece. We were going to head to London and Paris and be pampered like queens. We were going to meet Beefeaters, and make our own English tea and cycle around Versailles. I was SOOOO looking forward to it. And then, our oven broke, and our furnace crapped out and there goes my vacation budget right down the drain! I'm not going to pretend I'm fine with the whole thing, I really wanted to go on that trip! But, I am going to brush myself off and get busy saving again so we can try to go next time.
And here's my plug for travel insurance. You just never know when things like this are going to happen. I feel like a healthy gal like me probably wouldn't need to "waste my money" on something like travel insurance. But today, if you ask me if it was worth the $700 to get the other $9000 back? Yes it was. Every single penny. Did it seem superfluous at the time? Yes. Was I hesitant to get it? You bet I was. Am I glad I did? So glad.

Life happens. Parents get sick, kid's fall and break bones, and furnaces decide to give up the ghost. We can't control that sort of thing. But we can invest in our own peace of mind. I highly recommend getting the travel insurance. As a travel agent I have seen far too many trips have to be cancelled for circumstances out of our own control. Do yourself a favor and don't skimp.

Have you ever had to cancel your Disney vacation? I'd love to hear your horror stories too! Leave them in the comments below. And until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

DIY Disney's Bambi Valentine's Day Onesie

It's almost Valentine's Day and I thought I would re-post this adorable onesie from 2014. We have a lot of new readers who may not have seen this post and honestly, I just love it so much I wanted to share it again!

Have a very happy Valentine's Day.

We have a new little addition around the cottage these days, and I just couldn't resist whipping up a Bambi inspired Valentine onesie for her. It was so simple with the Silhouette SD and some fabric paint.

I used the baby deer shape (Design ID #5505 ), the hearts from the sheep card (Design ID #25095), and the font Coolvetica. The text is lifted from the main musical theme from Bambi, "Love Is A Song." I made sure that my design would fit a 4"x4" box, which was just right for a 0-3 month onesie. 

Once I had everything placed as I liked it, I cut out the shapes on stencil vinyl. This tutorial from the Silhouette blog was extremely helpful in getting it transferred to the fabric. From there, I painted the shirt with two coats of fabric paint and let it dry. Voila! A cute Disney themed valentine for our sweet new bundle of magic! I'm tempted to make one in an adult size for me. Happy Valentine's Day to you and your family. Until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!