Yay for the Freakin’ Weekend!

Happy Friday, y’all!  This has been the slowest week ever, so I’m hoping this weekend goes nice and slow, as well, but we all know it won’t!  It’ll more than like go by super fast and Monday will be flying upon us like those crazy creepy flying baboons from the new Oz movie.  Oh well, it is what it is….happens every week like clockwork!

Giveaway.Painting

If you’re interesting in entering a giveaway for one of my 8×8 “Moonlight Cherry Blossoms” paintings, make sure and head over to Simply Stephanie blog a.s.a.p.!  All you have to do is visit my Etsy shop “The Painted Palette” & take a look and then go and leave a comment on her blog, as to which painting you like.  Easy peasy!  The winner will be announce on Monday, May 6th, so you only have until this Sunday to enter.  Last I checked there were only 4 comments, so you have a pretty good chance, so go enter!

kissimmee

Remember in my last post where I said that all of my posts I’ve written lately were in draft mode over on i.seekissimmee.com?  Well, if you head over there now, my first post has been published, so you’ll have about 10 more that will be published throughout the next week! Some of the posts you’ll see over there this week are for some pretty good places to eat, like Hawkers, Beaches & Cream, & Blue Bird Bake Shop.  You’ll also see my review of the musical dinner show the Hoop Dee Doo Revue, which is pretty spectacular, as well as things like the Boardwalk, Downtown Disney, shopping at The Loop & of course the Epcot Flower & Garden Festival.

Character.Splash

Other than that, not much else going on.  Been doodling a bit in my sketchbook & playing around with my logo character.  Tomorrow is my 1 month weigh in.  I’ve been trying my best to be a good girl and eat more veggies and smaller portion sizes.  My goal for the month was to hopefully be down -10lbs, so fingers crossed I can hit that in the morning.  As of week 3, I was down 7.7, so far, so we’ll see!  Well, until I post again…yak at ya y’all later & have a fabulous freakin’ weekend!!  

A Much Needed Saturday Out

Man…weekends are just too darn short!  After another crazy week at work this week, I decided I needed a day out on Saturday, so I made plans to meetup with some peeps at Downtown Disney around 1:00, so I could sleep in that morning and enjoy snuggling in my bed while the weather is cooler out.  Headed out the door around 12:30 and as soon as I got on I-4, it was a parking lot.  What is typically a 20 minute or so drive turned into a 50 minute drive….BLAH!  Once I finally got parked and met up with my peeps at the bar at Bongos, we decided to head over to Raglan Road for lunch.

RaglanRoadSince I slept in…I ended up eating a breakfast at 11:00, so I wasn’t hungry, so I just got dessert…bread pudding.  OMG…so good!  I would highly recommend getting this dessert if you get the chance, but you may want to order it and plan on sharing!  Unfortunately, I was only able to eat about 1/3 of the dessert, but since we were heading to the parks, I didn’t want to mess with getting it to go & everyone else was too full from there lunches to eat any of it.  It was really a shame for so much of it to go to waste….it was piping hot and came with a carmel sauce and a vanilla cream sauce that you could pour over the top of it….Nom,Nom,Nom!!  I’ll definitely be headed back to this place one of these days when I actually have an appetite!

RaglanRdBreadPuddingWhen we were all done, we headed for Epcot as our park of choice for the day.  It was nice and cool out and great weather for just walking around the park in a hoodie.  We ended up going on the Finding  Nemo ride & then The Land ride & then after that we walked around the World Showcase.  Unfortunately, the park was crazy busy for some odd reason…maybe because of the 3-day weekend for people with President’s Day off…not sure, but it was really odd for this time of year to see so many people.  To give you an idea…it was an hour wait if you wanted to do the little Viking boat ride in Norway, it was a 2 hour wait for Soarin’ & a 3 hour wait for Test Track!  Needless to say, after we walked completely around the World Showcase, we decided to check our Disney app to see what the wait times were like at Magic Kingdom & the other parks and they were insane.  So we decided to call it a day at the park.

I wasn’t in any hurry to go home, so a couple of us decided to just head back down to Downtown Disney and hit up a movie at the AMC movie theater.  We ended up deciding on “Hansel & Gretel”.  I love fairytale related stuff & I was quite curious on what kind of a twist they were going to put on this old fairytale.  The movie was actually pretty good to my surprise.  It was a bit too much on the guts and gore side for my taste, but it was still a pretty good movie.  Definitely not a kid friendly movie!  The witches are pretty “scary” looking and like I said…lots of blood and guts!

Hansel-and-Gretel-Witch-Hunters-2012-Movie-PosterAfter that, we called it a night and I headed home in another crazy amount of slow traffic on I-4.  So, by the time I got home, I just decided to have a nice hot cup of tea & read for the night before getting all cozy in bed.  All in all, it was a pretty good day out!

Catch Up Time!

Holy smokes guys….it’s been a while since I’ve written an actual post!  So, I guess it’s time to play catch-up!  November 16th I packed my bags and headed home to Illinois for Thanksgiving for a nice 12 day vacation.  It’s hard to believe it was a month ago today that I was getting on that plane home.  Like they say…time flies!  Time flew by pretty fast when I was at home too!  It was a lot easier leaving and not crying my eyes out like I usually do when I leave, since my parent are coming to visit the first week of February!  YAY!!  Anyways, before I flew home I thought it would be nice to have some family pictures taken since we haven’t had any taken in years, so the day after I arrived, we headed out for pics down by the Mississippi River & then to my favorite park.  We lucked out & it was a gorgeous & warm day outside for that time of year….now a week later…it’s was in the 30’s, so when I say we lucked out, I mean it!  Here’s a few shots…

Mom, Chris (Not so little bro), Me, Dad & Sara (little sis)

Mom, Chris (Not so little bro), Me, Dad & Sara (little sis)
Sara, Jenn & Chris

Sara, Jenn & Chris

12.17If anyone back home reads this & is looking for a good photographer in the Burlington, IA area, you should check out SAS Photography & contact Sarah Schulz, as she does a wonderful job & has awesome prices!  Thanks again, Sarah!

After being a bum & gaining 10lbs from all that great home cooking, I headed home on the 27th.  I had a little bit of an annoying cough when I got on the plane & had been popping vitamin C all day like a crazy person, but by the next day or so I was back in Orlando it had turned into a full blown cold…Blah!  I blame the plane ride & all that recycled air.

So with being on vacation, being sick & busy with Christmas shopping…I just haven’t had the urge to write.  Seems like when I do have thoughts of things to write…its when I’m somewhere that I’m not near my computer, like on the ride home from work and totally space out and miss turns and such…yes, I do that.

I have managed to do a Disney park pretty much every weekend since I returned from vacation, so I can check out all of the Disney holiday goodness.  Like the lighting of Cinderella’s Castle….it was magical & oh so beautiful!  I took a video of the whole thing so you wouldn’t feel left out, but I can’t figure out how to post it here, so I will post pics, which just don’t do it justice!  🙂  We even experienced New Year’s the night I went as they were filming some sort of New Year’s celebration and had the clock on the castle set to midnight for filming…it was kind of comical.

CinderellaCastle

IMG_1012Along with enjoying all the lights & events in the parks, my friend Eric & I have been resort hopping and checking out the lights & decor in all of the Disney resorts.  They all have lovely trees…one had a life size Gingerbread house in the lobby that they of course were selling gingerbread cookies out of.  Another had the biggest freakin’ Mickey Mouse wreath I’ve ever seen!

DisneyChristmasNow last weekend, my friends Eric & Jay took my out for and AWESOME dinner at Epcot at Tutto Italia, which included specialty seating for the Candlelight Processional AND V.I.P. viewing area for the fireworks show Illuminations.  I didn’t get any pics that night, as I was just having way to much fun.  There are several videos on YouTube of the Candlelight Processional…I went to the one that was narrated by James Denton (Actor from Desperate Housewives).

Now this afternoon I have plans to go with my Disney companions to go to Mickey’s Jammin’ Jingle Parade at Animal Kingdom & then we are hopping over to the Osborne Family Light Spectacle at MGM (Currently known as Hollywood Studios, but I refuse to call it that like any diehard Disney fan)! 🙂

Well, that pretty much wraps things up to what’s been going on in my world lately.  Got all presents wrapped and shipped out yesterday, so all that stuff is out of the way.  I have gifts for friends sitting here to hand out this coming week.  I’m kind of bummed I’ve only gotten one Christmas card so far this year.  I always loved Christmas cards…I only send out a few anymore since I never seem to get any back.  I was super excited to come home Friday though and found my landlords had left my yearly Christmas present hanging on the door, which this year was the cutest cookie jar…filled to the brim with cookies & a cute jar full of peppermint taffy.  They are the best!

IMG_1022Well…I’m going to call it a wrap!  Let’s hope the writing bug keeps flowing this week, so here’s until next time!

Cheers!

Disney & BFF’s…Can it Get Any Better?

The weekend is over….Boo!  I had a nice long weekend, since I had Friday off.  Friday & Sunday were spent running errands and relaxing.  Saturday was a Disney day with the be sties.

We spent a good majority of the day enjoying the Food & Wine Festival at Epcot.  We were kind of hoping for the cooler weather we have had all week, so we could wear jeans and sweaters and enjoy some fall weather, but we got clear skies, hot sun & no breeze.  I know it hit at lease 85 degrees, so it was a little warm, but we’re used to it, so we had fun.

When we first entered the World Showcase our first big decision was to go right or left…we opted to head left.  We walked by a couple of booths that didn’t really catch our eye & then we came to Austrailia.  None of the main dishes really sounded like anything we wanted, but the dessert sounded pretty good, so that’s what we got for out first taste of the day and it was delicious!
After that, we headed for Mexico & went on the ride there.  Didn’t bother with the food since it was mostly tacos and expensive margaritas…both which can be made at home…PASS!
Next up on our list, which is my most favorite country to get food….GERMANY!  I stepped in line and ordered one of everything…Brat on a Pretzel Roll, Schinken Nudel (Pasta Gratin w/ Ham & Cheese) & Apple Strudel with Karamel-Vanilla Sauce.  Don’t worry…I shared!
When we were all done stuffing our faces with yummy German goodness.  We decided to play around with Stephanie’s new iPhone and take pictures of ourselves.  It actually turned out pretty good because we were just being silly and having fun.  Please excuse the brows…the German came out and they went crazy again.  No worries…I have an appointment to whip them back into shape Friday! 🙂
After poking around in Germany and having some fun we headed towards France in search of Creme Brûlée & alcohol.  I passed on the Creme Brûlée, as I was too full from all the food in Germany.  I did go for a Grand Marnier Orange Slush….it tasted just like an orange push-up pop.  So good!  I was quite sad when it was all gone! 😦
After the orange slush, I was good to go for awhile as far as treats went.  I think we headed towards Greece & Canada and the group split and everyone got what they wanted.  I just wanted a water by that point, as I was a bit parched, since it was pretty darn warm out.
Next, we headed for Spaceship Earth before we left the park for the day.  Stephanie & I ended up heading over to the Magic Kingdom though, since we wanted to ride a couple of our favorite rides.  By the time we got over there, we decided we wanted ice cream.  It was pretty good, but I think they gave me more whipped cream than ice cream.
When we were all done with our dessert we headed for the Laugh Floor & watched a quick show, which is always amusing.  Then we headed for one of our favorite rides…Haunted Mansion.  Got there and it was closed due to technical errors.  So we started heading for the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and quickly turned around when we seen the line & wait time of over an hour.  Next stop…Pirates of the Caribbean & guess what?!  Closed due to technical errors!  Ahhh!  After that, we called it a day & headed home.  The end.

Disney, Food & Wine….Oh My!

Well, I don’t know about y’all, but I had a rather FABULOUS weekend!  On Saturday, I woke up late for a change.  While I was trying to wake up a little, I crossed my fingers and checked my bank account and payday came early for me instead of having to wait until Monday….YAY!  So, I paid bills & determined I was going to treat myself, after a super busy couple of weeks at work.  So, I jumped in the shower & got ready for the day & headed out on a mission.  Guess what?  Mission Accomplished!  I’m the proud new owner of a Disney annual pass!  YES, YES, YES!!!  So excited!

After I bought it…I immediately sent a text to a friend and they were there within the hour with friends & we spent the rest of the day until a little after 9:00 eating & drinking our way around the world at the Epcot Food & Wine Festival.  While I was waiting for their arrival, I took a shortcut and jumped a ferry straight to Germany, as I was starving since I hadn’t ate all day & I was craving the brat on a pretzel roll, so I scarfed one of those & stood in line for some good ‘ol German beer.  I opted for a flight of four different beers & they were all pretty tasty!

My partners in crime showed up while I was enjoying my beers, so I finished them up and then started walking towards China and ran into them shortly around Korea.  Then it was onward ho the rest of the day.  Had some awesome Key Lime Wine at the Florida booth, then a Belgium Waffle with berries and whipped topping in Belgium, Creme Brûlée in France, “Le Cellier” Wild Mushroom Beef Filet Mignon with Truffle Butter Sauce and Apple Ice Wine in Canada. Oh yeah…I also had some of the apple strudel before leaving Germany. It was a pretty kick ass day of just chill in’ out, eating, drinking,  people watching & having some good laughs.

Pure Chocolate Sculpture of Finding Nemo….total waste of chocolate, I say!

Then on Sunday morning, I got up and browsed the Target ad, while trying to wake up.  I got super excited because there was a piece of furniture I had taken a picture of on my phone about a month ago that I wanted to get eventually & it was in the ad on sale for about $30 off….SCORE!  So, I got ready real quick & drove straight to Target and snagged the last one on the shelf…YAY!  It took me a while to put together, as all the screw holes weren’t exact, but after walking away for a bit and coming back to it later with some good advice from my brother, I got it put together.  I think it looks pretty darn good!

Also, while I was at Target….I finally found the suckers I’ve been searching for, around this time of year, for the past couple years….Double Score!

And that was pretty much my weekend!  How was yours?

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival 2012

If you’re lucky enough to be able to plan your Disney vacation between the months of March & May and Epcot is on your agenda, then you’ll get the chance to see the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival that happens every year during those months.  This year the festival is March 7, 2012 thru May 20, 2012.  You’ll get to see some awesome Disney character topiaries, live music & other events and programs scheduled throughout the duration of the festival.

This year was my first year to get to go to Epcot during the Flower & Garden Festival, so I was super excited to get a chance to go, since Disney had an awesome Florida resident deal this year, so you could buy a 3 day ticket for $99.  Couldn’t pass that up, now could I?!  When you first walk in you’ll be greeted by several topiaries right away, so this makes for some great photo opts! And if you’re with a group of people…don’t be shy to ask someone you don’t know to take your picture, as they will usually jump at the chance in hope you’ll do the same for them.

A good portion of the topiaries are actually located around the World Showcase, in which 11 different countries are represented & there are shops, restaurants and attractions that represent each country.  The World Showcase opens a little later than the rest of the park, so you have a couple hours to ride some rides and visits some of the different lands.  A couple of the most popular rides are Test Track and Soarin’, so it’s a good idea to grab Fast Passes for those rides right off the bat.  Unfortunately, I believe Test Track is temporarily closed for refurbishment at the moment and won’t be open again until this fall.  So definitely head for “Soarin”!  It’s an awesome ride.  My favorite part is that you can smell the orange orchard when you fly over it.  Trust me, it will not disappoint.

Then you’ve got to make sure you head over to “The Living Seas”.  The sign for this area cracks me up every time because they have the seagulls from “Finding Nemo” around it constantly yelling, “Mine, mine”!  It’s a hoot!  While in The Living Seas, you can see dolphins, sharks, various other fishes & my favorite….the manatees.  When I was there he was super playful and kept swimming back and forth doing barrel rolls…it was too cute!

After that, I would recommend heading over to “The Land” and hopping on that ride, which takes you through the Disney greenhouses where they grow all sorts of fruit and veggies from all over the world.  You’ll even see square watermelons!  It’s very informative and quite interesting.  I see things growing on the ground that I thought grew on trees and vice versa.

Around 11:00 you’ll be able to make your way into the World Showcase.  By that time, you may have worked up at appetite from all the walking, so you’ll have an abundance of choices.  We were hungry for some Chinese food, so we checked out the restaurant, but didn’t really feel like dining in, so we hit up the fast service counter and chowed down.  It was some good stuff, but we were stuffed by the time we were done and were glad we had a lot more to see, so we could walk it off.

It was cool, because they put the character topiaries in or near the country they most related to or took place.  For instance, Lady & the Tramp was in Italy, Beauty & the Beast was in France, they had a chinese dragon located in China, along with a topiary of some pandas.  It was all organized really well.  It’s so neat to see all of your favorite characters made out of flowers!  I think my top favorite topiaries I got to see where Lady & the Tramp, Lots-O-Huggin Bear from Toy Story 3, & Snow White & all 7 Dwarfs, which was kind of hard to get them all in one photo.

When you’ve seen all that you think you can handle & you’re ready to give your feet a rest, a good ride to go on is Spaceship Earth.  You can just kick back and relax for the 15-20 minute ride & it might give you that extra boost of energy that you decide to stay throughout the evening for the fireworks.  There’s no fireworks show, like a Disney one!  So it might be worth sticking around for if you can handle it.

Well, I hope I was able to give you a good glimpse of what you have to look forward to seeing if you’re able to attend the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival.  For more information on Epcot & there different events throughout the year, check them out on their website at: http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/parks/epcot.

Epcot International Food & Wine Festival 2011

Today I got up nice and early & headed to the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival!  I was super excited to get to go to Epcot since I hadn’t been since 2003, so I new they had added a few things since then.  Lucky for me, since I haven’t bit the bullet and bought an annual pass since moving to Orlando, that I know lots of people that work there and was able to get a discounted ticket.  I was a bit bummed to find out some of the people I thought who were going as well, decided not to come, so I hoofed it alone today through the park.  I managed to last from 9:00am – 3:00pm, after that I couldn’t entertain myself any longer.  If I would have had someone to pal around with, I would have tried to stay until 10:00pm in order to see the fireworks.  Fireworks aren’t really my thing, but Disney does them best!

The first ride I headed for, after I arrived, was “Soarin”.  It was a pretty darn cool ride!  You basically seat belt yourself into your seat on this long bench & then it takes off and gives you the feeling that you are hang gliding in all of these different places around the world…over the Golden Gate Bridge, thru mountains, over the ocean, over the orange orchards, etc…   It was cool that you could smell the oranges, when you were going over the orange orchard.  Not sure if there were supposed to be scents with any of the other areas, if there were, I didn’t notice.

After that, I headed over to “The Seas” to visit my favorite manatees.  As you are walking up to “The Seas” building…you see the “The Finding Nemo” characters in the flower bed areas, but then it completely cracked me up when I walked by the actual sign and the sea gulls from Finding Nemo start yelling, “Mine, Mine, Mine, Mine”.  It totally took me off guard and startled me a bit because I wasn’t expecting it, but it made my day…so funny.  Unfortunately, my manatees weren’t in there tank/viewing area…they decided to swim out of the area and didn’t come back in where I could see them.  Oh well, there are viewing areas throughout central Florida, so I’ll just have to go check them out in their actual habitat one of these days.

Click here for the recipe & others from the festival

By the time I got out of “The Seas” area, I was a little hungry, so I headed over to the Food & Wine Festival for some good eats.  My main goal was Germany & my mission was accomplished!  First thing I had was Nurnberger Sausage in a Pretzel Roll with mustard, which was delicious as expected!  I knew I’d be coming back to the Germany booth a little later in the day.  Next goal was to hit up the Caribbean booth for a Frozen Rock Coconut Mojito….I had no idea there was a such thing as a frozen mojito, as regular mojitos are one of my favorite drinks!  OMG….this sucker was yummy and it was gone in no time flat.  It definitely had some kick, which I didn’t realize until I got up after drinking it…woo-hoo!  While I was at the Caribbean booth…the line was kinda of long, so I decided to go ahead and try the Ropa Vieja (Braised Beef) with white rice & it was pretty tasty, as I don’t typically eat beef.  Well, after I ate that, the crowds had really picked up….like New York City street busy, so I just hopped on the ferry which takes you straight to Germany…Perfect!  So I got in line again, but this time around it was time for dessert, so I got the Apple Studel with carmel and vanilla sauces…YUMMO!  Guess what?  The recipe was on the Epcot website, so I’ll put it below along with a link back to the page because they had several yummy recipes from the festival that you may like to try.