Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Disney For Grown Ups - Epcot's Flower and Garden Festival

It's my turn to write the blog this week!  You know what that means??

That's right, it will show up on TUESDAY, not Monday. 

I'm pretty sure this is what Melissa looks like every time it's my turn to submit a post. 

I do my best, but this hat is my reality.

Moving on.

In keeping with the GREEN theme for March, today we're going to talk about 

Epcot's Flower and Garden Festival!
If you've never been, this is an amazing time of year to go.  Disney's horticulture department is outstanding, and their creations are beautiful!

I love the floating flower pots on the lake:

Beautiful flowers:

There's even a wonderful buttlerfly exhibit.  You can walk through the tent and get up close and personal with the butterflies!

Of course, my favorite part is the food!  So far this year, we have not made it around to all the different food booths, but we've loved everything we've tried so far!

In France, we sampled the GLUTEN FREE Macaron au Chocolat en Sucette (large chocolate macaron lollipop) and the Canard Confit Aux Gnocchi a la Parisienne (braised duck confit with Parisian gnocchi).  I am not really a huge fan of the French booth at the Food and Wine Festival, but I really enjoyed both of these options!!  The duck was perfectly cooked, and the sauce was amazing.  The macaron was delicate and sweet.

 At the Florida Fresh Outdoor Kitchen, we tried the Spicy Blackened Shrimp and Cheddar Cheese Grits with Brown Gravy and Local Sweet Corn Relish and the Key Lime Tart with Toasted Meringue. The shrimp was cooked well, and the spice was just right.  I confess that even if we had not stopped anywhere else for food, we would have come just for the key lime tart.  I remember having it last year, and it was my one MUST item at the festival!

I wasn't really that excited about trying Japan's Outdoor Kitchen, but after hearing so many people rave about the fruit sushi, we decided to give it a try.  It was okay.  Not my favorite, and not something I'll get again, but I did enjoy it.  
 I loved the noodles!  We spent some time in Japan early in our marriage, and this dish really reminded me of something we would have gotten at a local restaurant. 

As it was getting late, we only tried one more booth that day - The Smokehouse Barbecue and Brews.

While I love the international foods, I am always pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoy the American booth!

Beef Brisket Burnt Ends Hash with White Cheddar Fondue and Pickled JalapeƱos - this one is a little spicy, but I love it!  The cheddar fondue tempers the spice a little bit, and the beef is well flavored.

Beef Brisket Burnt Ends and Smoked Pork Belly Slider with Garlic Sausage, Chorizo, Cheddar Fondue and House-made Pickle - Ryan loved this one.  It was too much bread for me, but I did enjoy the house-made pickle!
 Pulled Pig Slider with Coleslaw - this was okay to me.  Again, more bread than I like, but it was flavored well!

 Warm Chocolate Cake with Bourbon-Salted Caramel Sauce and Spiced Pecans (V) - Warning: DO NOT count the calories in this dessert!!!  It was absolutely delicious, but so rich neither of us could finish it!

 There is so much more to enjoy about the Flower and Garden Festival!  They have cooking classes, wine tastings, and more!  And what would a festival be without music???  Disney brings in artists from all over to perform each night.  If you find yourself headed there in the next few weeks, here's the rest of this festival's line up!

 Have you been to the Flower and Garden Festival?  What's your favorite Outdoor Kitchen? 

Monday, March 19, 2018


Go Anyway!
Perhaps you have some special needs or mobility issues that are going to make travel a little more complicated.  Endeavor to go anyway and to not let a few challenges keep you from what you want to do.  See the world you want to see!  Make those travel memories with your family!

Go Get Help!
Ask your travel agents (us!!) what your options are.  We can help you with travel tips; find you accessible accommodations; help direct you to the best destinations to work with you; help you rent the tools and devices you will need with you to travel; and find you many other valuable resources.  We want to help make travelling not only a possibility for you but a pleasant and positive experience as well!

Go to Guest Services or Your Concierge!
Depending on your destination, help is available onsite. We will guide and direct you how to best navigate the services available to you while on vacation based on your destination and special needs .

Go Get What You Need!
If you need a Electronic Conveyance Vehicle (ECV) better known as a "scooter", get one! Don't let pride or the sense that you are a burden to your travel companions keep you from getting the assistance you need.  During a recent trip to Disney, we both had some health and mobility issues that made renting a scooter a necessity. We learned much from that experience!

The image of me in the EVC is currently AWOL.  However, this shot just about sums up our trip..pouring rain, taking turns pushing wheelchairs and sharing the ECV's and yet check out those smiles!!  We had a blast and made incredible memories!

Go Have Fun and Create Your Own Incredible Memories!

Monday, March 12, 2018

The Luck of the Irish

To live in such a beautiful, beautiful place!!

Having seen and fallen in love with Ireland, I just had to see Northern Ireland too as I knew I'd missed out on a substantial portion of the beauty of the island by only being able to see the southern portion so we made a second trip. I asked my lovely Irish friend, Ann, where we should stay and she recommended the town of Portrush.  She and her family had summered their during her childhood and she had fond memories of its beauty and its location so that is where we stayed.  We were pleased to find it as she described it and met wonderfully friendly people, ate delicious food and found a wonderful home base for exploring the area.

Being HUGE C.S. Lewis and Chronicles of Narnia fans here, we were thrilled to learn that Dunluce Castle, the inspiration for Cair Paravel, was nearby.  I will forever have this gorgeous vision in my mind as I read or listen to the Narnia books

And no trip to Northern Ireland would be complete without a visit to the Giant's Causeway.  The site has a nice visitors center where you can learn about the Giant's Causeway, eat a delicious lunch and buy some nice souvenirs if you'd like.  Then you can walk or take a shuttle to the Giant's Causeway.  (We walked!)

The Camel of the Giant's Causeway

Another must do in the area is Carrick-a-Rede bridge - a rope bridge 100 feet above a ravine.

I do not like heights, and was very nervous about this part of our vacation plans.  However, I managed it just fine and it was well worth it.  Even the walk to the bridge from the car park was stunning.

We finished our long weekend with a visit to the Titanic museum in Belfast. While there is information about the sinking of the Titanic, the museum offers so much more with information and a look into the shipbuilding  industry in Belfast.  It was a very interesting visit...and they had good food in the small cafe as well.  It was a lovely way to spend the day before our flight departed.

The berth where the Titanic was built

Monday, March 5, 2018

Ireland is my Happy Place!

 In honor of St. Patrick's Day this month, we're going "green" on the blog.  And what's more green to start with than Ireland?!

When people talk about Ireland, they are usually referring to one of two things: 1)the entire island next to Britain, which actually consists of 2 countries, or 2) The Republic of Ireland which is the country that makes up most of the island and is not part of the United Kingdom. Today I'll be sharing about our trip to the latter. (Northern Ireland will make an appearance in a couple weeks!)

As the title states, Ireland is my Happy Place!  I adore the rocky coast line, the lush green fields which are dotted with livestock and sheep, and the clear blue skies and water next to the green.  It has a rugged beauty and serenity all rolled into one that is hard to beat!

Our first stop upon arriving in this beautiful country was Blarney Castle.  My husband and other family members all took a go at "kissing the Blarney Stone".  It seems to have worked in making a sweet talker of my eldest son, but the jury is still out on my husband...even a few years later.  (He's a great man and husband with gifts beyond sweet talking! lol) 

A rainbow in Ireland!  Sadly we found no leprauchans or pot of gold with it.

One doesn't usually associate a day at the beach with Ireland, but we managed to make one happen. A peaceful, serene day at this quiet beach. Playing in the water, running in the sand, finding artifacts, and even the newly engaged couple taking a stroll and planning their future.

The highlight of the trip was our adventure to Skellig Michael. We boarded this boat. (My personal travel tip: Make sure older to seat younger seasick prone children next to their older siblings on the opposite side of the boat from yourself! You'll thank me!)

Our first discovery on the island was their wonderful puffins.  And no my camera is not superzoomed in.  They are that close as you can see in the second photo.

Then we climbed a bazillion more stairs to get to the monastery at the top. (I may be hyberpolizing here - but there are over 600 steps on the island.)

And the image many of you might recognize....any Star Wars fans reading today?  What a thrill we had seeing Luke Skywalker on "our island!"

On our return to Portmagee we circled another Skellig island where we saw these basking beauties and hundreds of birds.
And after several hours on the boat and an island with no modern conveniences, this sign was a sight for sore eyes!