Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Technology is Great When it Works

Hello friends, I’m publishing a quick note to you from my phone this morning.  I wanted to let you know that we’re currently dealing with some computer issues.  I’ll be back with a fresh new post as soon as possible (hopefully by next Trip Report Tuesday).  Meanwhile, have a wonderful week until we “chat” again!

Friday, October 11, 2019

Five Loves on Friday // Japanese Ambience Festival, Celebrating my Dad, the Zoo at Halloweentime, and the Beauty of Fall!

Happy Friday, friends!  
As I type this (on Thursday evening) I'm super thankful to have electricity to finish this post.  We've experienced a stormy past few days here.  We briefly lost power multiple times over the past 24 hours.  Tonight it went out as we were finishing dinner and remained off for a little over an hour. 

When our girls were small we'd play games by candlelight when the electricity went out.  Tonight we revisited that tradition with several rounds of UNO.  The winner of each round scored a Hershey nugget with almond and toffee bits.  It was a very "sweet" time laughing and playing together while enjoying some good old fashioned family fun!  

Isn't it wonderful how something small like losing electricity can remind us to appreciate the things we may otherwise take for granted?  I'm thankful to have power back and all that entails - the often overlooked blessings of having the means to properly store all the groceries we just bought, and heat to keep our home cozy on a day when the temps are in the 30s right outside our door.  Would you like to hear about a handful of other things that I'm oh so thankful for this week?  Fantastic!  I can't wait to share with you now, and capture them here to look back on with a happy heart!

One  //  Celebrating with & Honoring my Dad

The company my dad works for celebrated their 25th anniversary with a fun and festive Open House last weekend. While they were celebrating a quarter of a century of operation, my dad has actually worked there since before I was born.  He is one of only a dozen employees that have been there beyond this 25 year mark.  He will be retiring before the company will hit its next milestone.  That made being there feel extra special to this daddy's girl.  My late grandpa also worked there for decades and retired under this company as well.  I'm thankful to have had the opportunity to get one last tour, see how well liked my dad is by all his co-workers, and to hear from his boss what I already know, I have a great dad!

It was such a fun celebration!  They had the event catered with BBQ and even hired an ice cream truck for complimentary sweet treats.  There were bouncy houses for the little ones.  They had face paint and balloon artists.  As you can see in the collage above we took advantage of both.  You're never too old for fun, right?  When my youngest requested a balloon cat to match her face paint, the balloon artist insisted that my mom and I get something too.  When she offered us pumpkin bracelets we quickly agreed to that cuteness!  We played several rounds of bingo.  My oldest daughter, my dad, and I each won a round.  My husband won a whopping three times!  Between all of us we brought home a variety of tools, kitchen items, and home decor.  People walking by our table commented, "That's where the party's at!" :)  It was such a fun and memorable afternoon!  I couldn't be more proud of my dad.  He's put in so many years of hard work to provide for those he loves most.  It was wonderful to be there to honor and celebrate him!

Two  //  Japanese Ambience Festival

Last weekend was also our favorite event at the botanical gardens, the Japanese Ambience Festival.  The festival features Japanese music, dance, archery, martial arts, tea ceremony demonstrations, floral and bonsai displays, games, crafts, and more!  Here's a look around at the beauty and fun of this year's festival...

The taiko drummers' performance was hands down our favorite thing at the festival this year!  They were excellent performers!  The Japanese style drumming includes storytelling through choreography.  It was as beautiful to watch as it was to listen to.  It's very similar to drumming we enjoy at the Japan pavilion in Epcot, yet with many more performers involved there seemed to be an added element of grandeur that made it even more entertaining and enjoyable to watch!  We're already looking forward to seeing them again next year!

After the last performance of the day we headed to the booths outdoors.  Each of us girls had our named painted in Japanese calligraphy on beautiful ribbon adorned bookmarks.

I'm so thankful we were able to enjoy another year of attending this event.  Each presentation and performance was so interesting.  We learned many new things about the Japanese culture.  It was definitely a weekend well spent!

Three  //  A Gorgeous Afternoon at the Zoo

We took advantage of the most beautiful day in the foreseeable forecast with a late afternoon family trip to the zoo.  One of my favorite things about visiting the zoo is taking in the awesomeness and creativity of our incredible Creator as we watch a variety of unique animals, large and small, at rest and at play.

Four  //  Halloweentime is Here

The zoo was all decked out for the Halloween season making it all the more fun to explore!  Here's a peek at the some of the darling decor... 

Five  //  Fabulousness Fall Foliage 

The leaves are really starting to put on a spectacular show this week!  The rich colors of fall always leave me marveling at the goodness of God!  He is so wise in the way He created seasons.  He protects the trees that are so important to us as our source of oxygen by having created them to shed their leaves before the weather in the season that follows.  If they didn't lose their leaves in the fall, the heaviness of the ice and snow of winter would potentially damage or destroy the trees.  Not only did God design the changing of seasons so perfectly, He also chose to do it in such a beautiful way!  

What a gift it is to behold the brilliantly colored leaves before they fall.  God didn't have to create them to hold such beauty, yet He did.  He is such a wise, creative, and also incredibly kind God!  All good gifts come from Him, even the beauty of this season as seen through the colors of the changing foliage.  

My heart overflows with gratitude to God as I reflect on this week.  I hope that you find many reasons to give thanks today too!  I'd love to hear your favorite things about this season in the comment section below before you go! :)

Earlier This Week at Chatting Over Chocolate:

Direct Link to Blog Post:

Join me in the adventures to come!
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I appreciate each comment!  They let me know that you enjoyed what you read, which makes it worth sharing! ;)

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Trip Report Tuesday // Day 12 - Toy Story Land + An Unexpected Date Night at Epcot's Food & Wine Festival!

Welcome to another edition of Trip Report Tuesday!  Let's jump right in...

Day 12 - Monday, September 10, 2018

We began our day at Disney's Hollywood Studios, excited to experience a fun first!

On this marvelous Monday we had fastpasses for Slinky Dog Dash.  I had fun planning our outfits accordingly, choosing playful primary colors with a dash of Disneybounding too!  

Since the wait for PhotoPass pics at this location was typically a long one, we headed there first thing to get a couple fun family pics.

Little One was Disneybounding as Luxo (aka: The Pixar Ball), while I tried to subtly replicate the iconic Toy Story clouds with my top.

Our fastpasses were for a bit later in the day, so we made our way out of Toy Story Land and onto Tower of Terror!

Lunch at Woody's Lunchbox

We enjoyed this quick service restaurant so much we made it back a second time this trip!  

I shared our first experience (which included sitting at a "special table") in my trip report covering day 7.  If you missed that and are interested in a closer look at the food and dining area, you can find that post here.

I'm a big fan of this grilled three-cheese sandwich!  The melted provolone, cheddar, and american cheese on grilled sourdough bread totally hit the spot!  This time I didn't get the tomato-basil soup for dipping and I totally missed it.  If you try the sandwich sometime I highly recommend ordering both for the perfect pairing. 

After lunch we headed into hyperspace at Star Tours.  Then it was time to return to Toy Story Land to use our fastpass for our first ride on the new Slinky Dog Dash!  

We loved the Slinky Dog Dash!  Honestly, it exceeded my expectations.  I expected it to be on par with Goofy's Barnstormer coaster.  Yet, this one had a bit more thrill to it - not so much that it would make kids leery, but enough that as an adult I enjoyed it.  It's not a ride I'd wait in a lengthy line for, but an enjoyable addition to the park and a fastpass well spent.

Our final ride of the day at Hollywood Studios was Rock 'n' Rollercoaster!

I can almost hear Aerosmith playing just looking at this pic! 

AeroStitch? ;)

Time for some Studios' snacks!

Can you tell by that smile that Jason is holding one of his long time favorite Disney snacks?  He and Princess grabbed some sweet cream cheese pretzels which are growing increasingly more difficult to find in the parks these days.  There's a cart that's occasionally open near Rock 'n' Rollercoaster that has them.  We'd tried earlier in the trip to hit that cart when it was open and failed.  This day they felt like they hit the jackpot when they saw a cast member ready to sell them the sweet snacks!  Meanwhile, I treated myself to a cup full of frozen deliciousness in the form of a strawberry daiquiri.  

The "feels like" temp that afternoon was 104 degrees and this was just what vacation called for!

Time to return to Animal Kingdom Lodge for a relaxing afternoon break.

A peek out at the savanna in the distance from our pool view room.

When I went down to The Mara to fill my rapid refill mug I picked up a cute chocolate chip cookie treat topped with the sweetest face (that I can never bring myself to eat)!

The girls ended up asking if they could chill at the resort that evening, so Jason and I ordered them a pizza to share in our villa before we headed off for an unexpected date night at Epcot.

A fresh pizza pie and resort sister time, they were settled in for a sweet night together!

An Unplanned Epcot Food & Wine Festival Date!

It's not everyday that we get an unexpected date night at Epcot and we did not take a moment of that for granted!

We began our eating adventure at the Coastal Eats booth.

Jason went with the baked shrimp scampi dip.  I'm not a seafood fan so he had this plate all to himself. ;)

Next we headed over to the Flavors of Fire booth.

I always say that Disney magic is in the details.  I love how they take advantage of every opportunity to add to the theming of atmosphere.  These plants were perfect alongside this booth.

We shared the "piggy wings" and they were so good!

Time for one of our favorites, China!

The mango bubble tea is super yummy!  That's coming from someone who doesn't even typically care for tea.

We also shared roasted duck on a bao bun.  Love a good bao bun topped with tastiness!

We saw a storm a brewing and took the opportunity to seek dry shelter and some patriotic entertainment with a viewing of The American Adventure.  It was a half an hour of cool relaxation along with an enjoyable show.  

Upon our exit of the theater Jason was ready for his festival fave, the lobster roll from the Hops and Barley booth!

More sweet strolling with my love and picturesque views...

We'd heard so many rave reviews about the crispy pork belly from the Brazil booth.  Honestly, we were both completely disappointed by it.  Jason likened it to a dry overcooked pork chop.  We also ordered moqueca, a Brazilian seafood stew featuring scallops, shrimp, and white fish with a coconut lime sauce.  As previously mentioned, I'm not a seafood fan so this was all Jason's.  While prepping this post I asked what he thought of it and he laughed saying he couldn't really remember.  So there you have it, it wasn't memorable.  It's always fun to try new things, but we'll pass on both of these items next time we hit the festival. 

On to a sweet treat we always enjoy, the warm chocolate pudding with Irish cream liqueur custard from the Ireland booth!

One of my personal favorites followed at the Canada booth, Canadian cheddar cheese soup with a pretzel roll.  Yum!

Next we made our way into the Mexico pavilion.  I absolutely adored this handcrafted perfect pumpkin necklace in the shop, but with a pretty high price to match, I opted for a sweet snapshot rather than a purchase.

Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros...

Free festival merch for passholders, yes please!

Walt Disney World Annual Passholders could pick up complimentary gifts from the Food and Wine Festival.  A complimentary cutting board was available to passholders upon their fourth visit to the Food & Wine Festival.  They made it so simple too!  Our magicbands tracked how many times we'd been at Epcot during the festival.  When we arrived inside the festival center a cast member simply scanned our magicbands, we showed our annual passes, and we received our super cute cutting boards and passholder magnets too!  (Unlike the cutting boards, the magnets are available to all passholders on their first visit to the festival.)  

Here's a closer look at the Food & Wine Festival passholder magnet.  (The photo was taken on the following day.)  The cutting board has this same cute Chef Mickey in the center too!

Extra Magic Hours were in full swing by this point in the evening.  We took advantage of the opportunity to enjoy Soarin' with a 15 minute standby time.

We exited over the "magical sidewalks" (as I call them) hand in hand with full hearts and fresh new memories we'll savor for years to come!

Thanks so much for stopping by the blog today!  It was fun recapping our family first in Toy Story Land and an Epcot evening for two while our girls enjoyed some sweet sister resort time!  I invite you to join me here this time next week for a recap of day 13!

You can check out the video footage from this day on my family's YouTube channel,
Eat, Sleep, Dis, Repeat!

Direct Link to the Video of Day 12:
Day 12 - First Time on Slinky Dog Dash!


Previous Trip Reports from this Vacation:

A sneak peek at what's to come...

Day 5-15:  Walt Disney World 
+ my 40th Birthday (September 13th)

Day 16:  Georgia Aquarium

Day 17:  Homeward Bound

Join me in the adventures to come!
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I appreciate each comment!  They let me know that you enjoyed what you read, which makes it worth sharing! ;)