Chatting Over Chocolate

Friday, June 23, 2017

Signing Out for Summer

Happy Friday, friends!  I hope the first official week of the summer season has been a lovely one for you and yours.  I've spent a lot of mine thinking about how I only have a handful of summers left with my girls in my care, how much of life these days is spent lit by the glow of a screen, and pondering what I'll value a decade from now.  

When my girls are grown I'm certain I won't wish I'd spent more time blogging or scrolling Instagram.  On that note, I've decided to simply sign out for summer.  This isn't goodbye forever.  It's simply time for a good old fashioned summer break, the kind I enjoyed back in the day with more sunshine than screen time! 

While I may have withdrawals for a bit, I'm honestly pretty giddy about signing out of my addiction beloved app, Instagram, as well.  It's a new day, and I'm putting my phone away.  I can hardly wait for a refreshing change of pace.  A simpler summer awaits!  

However you choose to spend the time you're given this season, I hope it's sensational, friends!  Don't forget to look up.  Love those you're blessed to call your own.  As long as there is breath in your lungs be sure to hold your family and friends closer than your phone. ;)

Hope to see you back here when I return this fall!  
Meanwhile, much love to y'all!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Throwback Thursday // 104 Days of Summer Vacation!

104 Days of Summer Vacation!
Originally shared here on May 20, 2013

Phineas and Ferb aren't the only kids looking for Summer fun! Banish "I'm bored" those two dreaded words at your house this Summer with today's Magical Monday project!  Soon you'll hear, "Hey, Ferb (insert your child's name here)!  I know what we're gonna do today!"  104 ideas for Summer Vacation straight ahead...

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Finale to our California Vacation and Mickey's Halloween Party at Disneyland!

Day 14 - Friday, September 23, 2016

The time has come, friends.  Today I'll be sharing our final day in both the Disney's California Adventure and Disneyland Parks!  We began that gorgeous Friday morning at DCA...

Disney's California Adventure Park

Toy Story Mania

Jumping' Jellyfish

Golden Zephyr

California Screamin'

Radiator Springs Racers

Princess is not a water ride fan, and I could take them or leave them.  Little One, however, loves them!  So, she and Jason headed to Grizzly River Rapids, while Princess and I headed off for a bit more shopping.

Shopping at Off the Page

I scooped up this adorable, polka dotted, Minnie adorned with beautiful bow, leathery case!

Disney art speaks to our hearts!

I collect a Christmas ornament from each vacation we take.  Here is the one that we chose from that shopping trip that day.  We thought it represented this Disneyland trip well as we visited during the Halloween season and really enjoyed the seasonal attractions like Haunted Mansion Holiday!

I love Disney details like unique markings in their park's sidewalks.  This Dumbo drawing was too cute!

I was glad we toured so much of the beautiful and diverse state of California just prior to our time at DCA.  Different portions of the park, like this Pacific Wharf area, took us back to our time visiting wharfs in San Francisco and Monterey.  We appreciated Disney's attention to detail all the more after having explored the types of places they were replicating.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, my family loves a fun photo op!  This was certainly no exception...

Soarin' Around the World

A Bug's Land 
Buzzing through the land fashioned after Princess' all-time favorite Disney animated film once more!

The tree from A Bug's Life!

Bug's Life Theater

Monsters, Inc. Mike and Sully to the Rescue!
Our final trip to Monstropolis was enjoyable, as always!

Tower of Terror
Again, I'm so glad we were able to experience their version of Terror of Terror before it was transformed into a Guardians of the Galaxy attraction!

What can I say we were beat after two weeks in Cali! ;) ... We had to plan a silly synchronized shot for our final ride on this attraction!  


Seeing this plaque never gets old!  *Insert all the heart eye emojis here! ;)

Lunch at Plaza Inn

At lunch and dinner this restaurant is set up cafeteria style.  You choose the food you want, then head to the check out.  Next, is the best part, you find a terrific table in the midst of the gorgeous sitting area!

I had one of the most hyped entrees at any counter service restaurant in Disneyland, Plaza Inn's fried chicken.  I love fried chicken so I couldn't wait to taste this for myself!  Sadly, my opinion of it is likely an unpopular one as I wasn't overly impressed with it.  While the chicken wasn't bad, I didn't feel it lived up to the "amazing" description I'd heard repeatedly.  It was a decent meal, yet I wasn't totally wowed by it.

Jason's lunch of penne pasta 

Little One's chicken drumstick and mash potatoes

Princess' Penne with Alfredo

Time for the best part of the meal, dessert!

The Plaza is easily the most beautiful counter service restaurant at Disneyland.  I absolutely adored its lavish details!  In my opinion, the Disney history and atmosphere are reasons enough for visiting this restaurant.

Disney Goodies Galore!
Sometimes just seeing Disney desserts is a treat in itself!  Please help yourself to all of the eye candy I captured!  Did I mention it's calorie free this way too? ;)

It was certainly a sweet morning in the parks!  At this point we headed back to the hotel to rest a bit and get ready for Mickey's Halloween Party!  

Mickey's Halloween Party at Disneyland

Our last night in California just happened to be the evening of Disneyland's first Halloween Party of the year!  We are huge fans of WDW's Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and couldn't wait to enjoy the party on the opposite coast!

First things first, photos then food.

PhotoPass Party Pics

We went with a Finding Nemo theme!  Jason went as Bruce (the shark), Princess as Crush (the turtle), I was Dory, and Little One went as the littlest, Nemo!

We needed to fuel up to make it through the late night ahead.  There are a few restaurants with special (limited) menus on party nights.  We headed to a counter service we'd yet to experience, Disneyland's French Market.  You may be surprised by my choice of dinner, a salad.  After eating out for two weeks of our vacation I was ready for something fresh and healthier at that point.

My blogging bestie, Chrissy, was bringing her niece and nephew to the Halloween Party that night so we planned to meet up with them pre-parade to save spots side by side and enjoy Disneyland's very first Halloween parade ever, together!  It was so special to be there for the debut of this fun party addition!

*Since I don't know Chrissy's niece and nephew's parents personally to ask for their permission to share photos of their children, I've decided to leave out any pictures they were featured in.  Both of them were very sweet, much like their aunt!  

Chrissy made her own costume of a Jack Skellington Tsum Tsum and also created a Judy Hopps Tsum Tsum costume for her niece!  They both looked absolutely adorable!

The streetmosphere and Halloween images they projected on to the buildings pre-parade accompanied by festive music added to our anticipation of the fun to come!

This was the Headless Horsemen's first ride in a Disneyland Halloween Party!

Disneyland's First Frightfully Fun Parade

The Mayor from Nightmare Before Christmas

Jack & Sally

Haunted Mansion ballroom dancers

While I didn't capture these guys well, let me tell you, they were creepy!  As they made their way down the street I said, "Those are the things nightmares are made of!"

Dr. Facilier

Lady Tremaine, Anastasia, and Drizella

The Evil Queen

Cruella De Vil

Haunted Mansion Holiday

There was no doubt that we needed to enjoy Haunted Mansion Holiday on party night.  We were delighted to find some familiar faces in line near us, Pete Werner, Ryno Clavin, and Oliver Green, of The DIS, DIS, and the dis boards!  If you aren't familiar with the DIS I highly recommend checking out these links as they are a tremendously helpful source of Disney information and always fantastic for a Disney fix while awaiting your next Disney vacation!  Chatting with them throughout our time in line was truly a treat! 

The Rivers of America were foggy in keeping with the Halloween Party theming.  Just beyond that trick-or-treating station the Cadaver Dans (aka: Dapper Dans) performed on a motorized raft.  It was a very cool show to catch!

Goodnight and Goodbye, Sleeping Beauty Castle!  Hope to see you real soon!

Final Disneyland Snapshot of 2016

Now it was time to walk back to the Grand Californian and pack everything up, including some of my favorite souvenirs of the trip, magnets from all the destinations we hit across the incredible state of California!

Departure Day
Saturday, September 24, 2016

We checked out of the Grand and grabbed one last meal from White Water Snacks to enjoy in the lobby before heading out. Any guesses what I ordered?

I got one last Carnitas Angus Cheeseburger, of course!  I still dream about that burger, friends!  It was oh so delicious!

Now it's time to say goodbye... M-I-C, C-ya real soon, K-E-Y, Why? Because we like you!  M-O-U-S-E!

Chrissy was so very kind to make the drive to pick us up and take us to the airport.  Thank you again, Chrissy!  We truly appreciated the ride, and even more so the opportunity to see her one more time before leaving Cali!

This is easily my favorite shot of that day.  I get a teary eyed just thinking about that goodbye!  

Just like that, we were back home again.  The two weeks between airports were packed with adventures beyond what we could have imagined when we'd first left this place.  I checked things off my lifetime bucket list and created memories with my family I'll cherish for as long as there is breath in my lungs.  I'm so thankful to have documented much of those here via these trip reports!

Thank you for following our adventures!  It's been a joy to share them with you!  I look forward to adding more installments of this Trip Report blogging series following our Disney World vacation later this year!