Orchids + Sweet Tea Tarte Aux Fraises

One of my favorite things to do at Disney is, well…. EAT. I always want to bring home a little of the snacking magic and what better than re-creating one of the yummy treats you can find at Disney.

My gorgeous friend, Shanika, over at Orchids + Sweet Tea created a Disney themed recipe for me. If you haven’t seen her blog or instagram, definitely check it out!. She has the most beautiful pictures and recipes to accommodate many different diets.

I cannot lie, sweets and pastries are my weakness. When it comes to pastries at Disney World, I can’t think of a better place than the France Pavilion at Epcot. It doesn’t get much better than enjoying a sweet buttery goodie, amongst the replica of the city of lights.

The France pavilion at night is one of my favorite places to sit and stay awhile. It transports me right back to my visits to Paris.

But now, it’s time to grab your apron and check out the wonderful recipe Orchids + Sweet Tea created for us, a remake of France’s Tarte Aux Fraises dessert!

Let’s get started with a list of Ingredients:

For Crust:

    • 1 cup unsalted butter, cold + cubed

 

    • 1 1/2 cups organic whole wheat pastry flour

 

    • 1 cup organic fine pastry flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill)

 

    • 2 Tbsps powdered sugar

 

    • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

 

    • 1/4 tsp sea salt

 

  • 1/2 cup Non-dairy ‘Buttermilk’ + 1 Tbsp (Non-dairy milk + 1 Tbsp lemon juice)

For Strawberry Filling:

    • 3 cups diced strawberries

 

    • 1 cup pure cane sugar

 

    • 2 Tbsps lemon juice

 

    •  1/4 cup water

 

    •  1/4 tsp vanilla extract

 

  • 1 Tbsp of cornstarch + 2 Tbsps warm water

Topping:

  • Cool Whip!, lite version

Other:

  • Egg wash (1 egg + 1 Tbsp of non-dairy milk, lightly beaten)

Directions

For crust: 

  1. Whisk the whole wheat flour, pastry flour, cinnamon, powdered sugar, and sea salt together in a medium bowl. Add the cubed unsalted butter and using a pastry blender, blend butter into dry ingredients until the mixture becomes “peas-like and crumbly.
  2. Add the cold non-dairy ‘buttermilk’ and stir until the dry ingredients are moistened. **NOTE: If the ingredients feels a little too dry, add 1 Tbsp of milk at a time, until it’s moistened**
  3. Add dough to a lightly floured surface and knead a few times, about 2-3 minutes. Now, shape the dough into a ball and flatten it into a thick disk-like shape.
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Every day should be Spa day.

Have you ever given thought to trying one of the Spas at Disney World? Well, ponder no longer, I can help convince you it’s 100% worth every penny.

I hate massages… said nobody, ever

First of all, there are several spas at Disney World but I recommend “Senses – A Disney Spa at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort“. It’s the biggest of all the spas at Disney which allows for more room to spread out and relax. It’s located at Saratoga Springs resort and you can get there by driving, via Disney Bus or boat from Disney Springs or my favorite take a quick uber if you are already on Disney World property.

When you book any spa service, you’ll have full access to the spa facilities for the entire day. Therefore, I recommend arriving a few hours early or staying a few hours after your session.

When you first walk in you’ll be greeted and given a tour of the facilities if you’ve never been. You’ll also be escorted to your locker room and given a robe and slippers to wear. You’ll have the chance to lock up your bag, cell phone and any other items in a personal locker. Just about everything you could need is readily available such as towels, toothbrushes, hairbrush and hairstyling tools. That said, you’ll need to bring your own swimsuit for use in the whirlpool and sauna.

When waiting for your service to begin, you’ll be in the relaxation room. Here you can find light beverages and snacks. Your attendant will arrive in the room and call your name. At the conclusion of your service, you can head back to the relaxation room for an adult beverage or you can go straight back to the locker room.

I’ve had massages, pedicures, and manicures and everything has been amazing! Remember to be sure to ask about discounts. On my last visit they were offering 15-25% off for Annual Passholders, Disney Visa cardholders or DVC. In addition, a 20% gratuity is automatically added on every spa service.

I cannot speak highly enough about the Disney Spas. They are especially wonderful after one of the RunDisney races or mid vacation when you’re feet are especially aching. End the day with a wonderful meal at Disney Springs or fireworks at Magic Kingdom for the extra luxurious feel.

Have you tried one of the spas? Leave a comment and let me know below!… Read the rest

Brunchin’ at the Top

View from the 15th Floor of the California Grill

It’s no secret that my favorite thing to do at Disney (or anywhere for that matter) is to eat.

If you’ve never been to the California Grill, you’ll immediately feel like royalty when you check in with the hostess on the 4th floor of the Contemporary Resort. From there, an attendant will assist you in your private elevator up to the 15th floor where the California Grill is located.

Upon arrival on the 15th floor, we were immediately offered the signature cocktail. It was champagne with blueberry boba.

I had one, or two, or six. My champagne was refilled like it was water so I lost count.

The house-made Charcuterie was by far everyone’s favorite item. Some of the best Charcuterie and homemade pickles I’ve ever had for that matter. Halfway through my first plate I realized that I hadn’t taken a photo, so please enjoy my half-eaten Charcuterie. It still looks amazing. haha!

Look at the deliciousness. Take me back.

In addition to the all you can eat buffet, (which includes way more than just the Charcuterie), you will also be able to pick an entree. I shared the Shakshuka and the Steak and Eggs. Everything was delicious and perfect.

Desserts were a variety of pastries and chocolates for the table.

One of the chocolates was “ponzu” flavored. It was surprising and I loved it. Everything felt extravagantly delicious in the best way and nothing was overly sweet. Beautifully presented.

Do you think they made this hidden Mickey on purpose?

If you are interested in booking this make sure to set your alarm. It’s widely popular which means you’ll need to call on the 180-day mark. This brunch is in the $90 range before tax and tip. You can get an AP discount and tables in wonderland, last we checked.

It’s a hefty price tag but when you include all the food, champagne, and overall experience I find this a STEAL. For a fun bonus, you can always save your receipt from brunch and come back for Happily Ever After fireworks viewing later that day! I should also note, valet parking for brunch is complementary.

I’m a huge character meal fan and I would pick this brunch over any character meal. It might be my favorite meal ever at Disney World. Does this mean I’m growing up now?

Hope you enjoyed reading.… Read the rest

Celebrate the future hand in hand: A throwback post

 

If you haven’t heard by now, Illuminations: Reflections of Earth will soon come to an end. As a result of illuminations ending, this got me thinking about the Tapestry of Nations parade. Illuminations and Tapestry of Nations were a part of the millennium celebration at Disney. They both debuted at EPCOT in October of 1999. Y2K anyone?

In the primitive year of 1999, I did not have a mobile phone or camera. Consequently, I scoured the internet for more information. I do believe I’ve spent more researching this than my English term paper back in 1999. lol

If you’ve seen Illuminations, undoubtedly you’ve heard some of my all-time favorite park music, the soundtrack for Tapestry of Nations. The music for Tapestry of Nations can be heard after the fireworks show, usually on when you’re headed back home for the night.

Above all, Tapestry of Nations was a celebration of all peoples and nations. The parade consisted of 120 puppets which were designed by Michael Curry. Interestingly enough, some of the puppets reached up to 18′ in height and width. Interestingly enough, Mr. Curry also designed the puppets for The Lion King on Broadway.

Due to the massive size of the puppets, the materials and fabrics had to be very light. Most importantly to make sure everything would hold up, the fabric and materials were tested in a special climate chamber with a lot of light exposure. Once again confirming the attention to detail at Disney is bar none. One of the many reasons I continue to be a frequent park guest!

You could see the parade from anywhere in the world showcase and it lasted around 30 minutes. The narrator of the parade was called “The Sage of Time”. While leading the procession, he was meant to represent all people at once. Interestingly enough, the Sage of Time reached an impressive 14′ tall.

There were 8 different types of other puppets. Among those were the aptly named bird man and hammer man.


One of my favorites was the reverse marionette. You can see just how larget these puppets were in the picture below.

In addition to the puppets, there were 15 rolling percussion “floats”. The percussion instruments on the floats were meant to be played by the performers.

The parade ran twice, once during the day and once in the evening. And finally, the Tapestry of Nations ended September 9, 2001. Illuminations: Reflections of earth is scheduled to end somewhere in the second half of 2019.… Read the rest

Saving for the Mouse.

Almost everyone who asks me about Disney trips wants to know how to save money. I’ve been fortunate through the years to stay at Disney World many times and also on many different budgets. Disney ain’t cheap but it’s totally doable on a budget and with all the new announcements at Disney, now is the time to book and trip and start saving.

In my experience, the biggest expenses for a Disney World vacation are likely to be a hotel, park tickets, and food. Transportation might also be a bit expensive depending on where you live.

For Hotel savings:

  1. Rent Vacation club points.
    • If you want to stay in a Deluxe Level Disney Hotel for Moderate Level prices you can rent DVC points. There are many websites out there and I recommend doing a google search but I’ve used DVC request before with no problems. I’ve also heard amazing things about DVC-Rental.com
  2. Stay off property.
    • I love staying on property, however, it can be huge savings for families over 6 who might otherwise need 2 rooms.
    • When staying off property keep in mind, parking every day at Disney World can range from $22-$50 a day depending on your car type. Make sure to add this fee to your off property daily rates.
  3. Hotel hop.
    • Split your stay, especially if you are getting in really late on your first day. Opt for a few nights off property or a value level Disney hotel for a few nights. When changing hotels, Disney World will even move your luggage, free of charge.
  4. Call Disney World for updated promos.
    • If you see a recent promo at Disney, make sure to call and see if you are eligible for the reduced rate. Hey, it can’t hurt to ask right?

Theme park tickets savings, is it possible? 

In the 33 years, I’ve been going to Disney, Disney World has not frequently offered steep discounts on theme park tickets. If you are a Florida resident be sure to log in to your Disney World account to view annual pass discounts and payment plans.

  1. Check with your employer. 
    • It may be the case that your company may have a national discount program offering savings on theme park tickets.
  2.  Wait to add park hopper.
    • Rather than adding park hopping at the time you purchase your tickets, I recommend waiting as it can save you around $80 per person.
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What happens when things go wrong at Disney World?

I have been meaning to post this to my blog for a month now but, life got in the way as it tends to do. Back at the end of September, I was fortunate enough to visit Disney World for short trip. I wanted to attend the Halloween Party and my High School Bff was going to be in town. It was kismet.

 

I secured a preferred room at All Star Movies and was able to request one of the renovated rooms. It’s darn well time they updated these rooms, if you ask me. I enjoyed the new renovations but, felt that now the vanity area feels a little more cramped. To me, the beds are way more comfortable now and it feels more like a moderate room. Overall, All Star Movies is my favorite of All Star Resort because of the theming. I included some photos of our recently renovated rooms below.

Jessica picked me up from MCO and we headed over to drop our bags off at All Star Movies. I checked in online, I always recommend checking in online. It’s overall a better and quicker experience.

We had plans to attend Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party that evening, my favorite! I had placed our costumes in my checked bag. Of course, I used Magical Express for my checked luggage. Magical Express claims to deliver your bags 3 hours after you arrive at your hotel. I arrived at 12:15 so I figure, 3:30 by the latest.

This is confusing to me, because if check in isn’t until 3:00, or even 4:00 pm at some hotels, how is the 3 hour delivery time accurate? If I arrive at my hotel at 8:00 am, will I receive my bags in my room at 11 even though check in isn’t until 3? Am I the only crazy person over analyzing the Magical Express luggage delivery time?  Probably.

Hindsight, I should have went and got my bag myself. I was way too excited to see my friend and helloooo we are going to DISNEY! I wanted to get there like… yesterday. haha

As I’m sure you are assuming by now, I did NOT receive my bags at 3:30. We got the text our room was ready around 2:30 and waited until 3:30 to call. They had said, “your bag just arrived once they are scanned in, we will delivery them to your room”.… Read the rest

Make your own Mickey Mouse Ears!

I decided to try my hand at making homemade Mickey Ears. The idea started when I found some adorable Mickey and Minnie Halloween fabric on sale at JoAnn Fabric’s. It was an “I need this fabric, let me find something to do with it” purchase. This would also be a great project for some scraps of fabric you might be hoarding… ahem… saving. Not that I would EVER hoard fabric. haha.

I don’t consider myself very “crafty” and I put myself in a beginner level for most crafts but I love trying new projects. Take a look at my progress and please let me know what you think.

I started out with a half a yard of fabric, a headband, scissors, some cardboard from an up-cycled shipping box and a pencil. Not pictured I also used, one large and one smaller sized round jar lids from my kitchen, some thin foam, poly-fil, a sewing machine (or needle and thread) and a hot glue gun. In addition, I used a smooth working surface for even cutting and measuring.

I traced and cut out two circles using the lid to a jar I had in the kitchen. Then measured where I wanted my ears on the headband, and cut out the bottom parts of the circles that were hanging below the headband. It reminds me of a cookie that someone has taken a bite out… mmmm cookies.

This would be the template for cutting my fabric ears. I also did this a second time with cardboard and foam but used a smaller jar top. I placed the smaller cardboard and foam circles aside for later.

Next thing was cutting out my ears. I folded my fabric so the “not pretty side” was facing up and ironed it to make sure it was nice and smooth.

You can position your cardboard templates anywhere you’d like on the fabric. I wanted to make sure I got both Mickey and Minnie on my ears. I traced the cardboard and then cut out my little ears. Don’t worry about any pen marks, it won’t show on your finished ears.

Next I got my smaller cardboard circle and used hot glue to adhere some foam. This will go inside each ear to provide some support so your ears stand up.

 

I put one pin in the middle of my fabric to keep the fabric in place and sewed all around the edge leaving the “cookie bite” side open. Note: If you don’t have a sewing machine you can hand stitch, which works well too.… Read the rest

My top 5 places to eat at Disney without an ADR.

Eating around Disney World is one of my favorite activities. I love trying new places and of course, frequenting my favorites.

From time to time I find myself on last minute Disney trips or occasionally changing plans and, without an ADR (advance dining reservation). Since I’ve become somewhat of a “by the seat of my pants” planner recently, I found some places that have been hidden gems. I’ve been able to make reservations within a few hours or even walked in on some occasions. That being said, I do recommend grabbing the reservation if you see it on your My Disney Experience App.

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First up is my favorite last minute character breakfast to snag is the Cape May Cafe at Disney’s Beach Club resort. Why I love this: It’s a bit more laid back than the popular Chef Mickey’s or 1900 Park Fare. The buffet has much of the usual offerings, breakfast meats, scrambled eggs, Mickey waffles, fresh fruit etc. Some all time favorites like Minnie, Goofy and Donald are looking extra adorable in their beach wear. After breakfast you can simply walk over to Epcot or Hollywood Studios to start your day.

If you are looking for a breakfast buffet with more unique food options my second recommendation is Boma– Flavors of Africa in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Not only is Animal Kingdom Lodge simple breathtaking in the morning, but breakfast at Boma is always something I can reserve with little advanced notice. Don’t skip out on the French Toast Bread Pudding, Fresh Fruit, Hand carved Ham and the POG juice (passion, orange and guava)! After breakfast you can view the animals before heading to your next plan for the day.

I don’t usually have a sit down lunch because much of the prices and menus are the same for both lunch and dinner. I’d prefer to enjoy a nice long dinner but on occasion when I don’t want to brave the quick service crowds, I head to 50s Prime time cafe. The 1950s theming is amazing and the food is sure to please everyone. Get the “Sampling of Mom’s Favorites”, if you can’t make up your mind. You’ll enjoy the friendly antics of the servers. Whatever you do, keep your elbows off the table!

Dinner is by far the best meal, in my opinion. For a fine dining last minute ADR, Narcoosee’s is top notch. Not only is the food delicious and elegant, the atmosphere and views from the restaurant are incredible.… Read the rest

Disney for a day… with my toddler.

I recently went to visit my family in Louisiana. Hubby couldn’t come because vacay time was low. This meant I was going to fly solo with my “lap infant”. I use the term lap infant loosely because the child is currently wearing size 3T. Anything to save money, am I right?

I mentioned my trip home to my friend, Brittney (she is also from Louisiana) and it just happened that her trip crossed with mine. Brittney lives in Orlando and is always full of great idea. She said “I can drive y’all back to Orlando because I know flights are cheaper….and you can go to Disney for a day”. Disney for a day, in 100 degree scorching heat, with my toddler? Sounds extra magical, sign me up.

The car ride from Louisiana to Orlando is roughly 12 hours and much to my surprise Max was super chill the entire time. He napped, colored and watch all the PBS shows he loves. I sat next to him because he was not happy sitting alone. Other than that, the car ride was uneventful. That evening, we arrived at our Disney hotel around 9 pm and checked in for our 2 night stay.

The next day, the plan was to have breakfast at The Polynesian, go to Magic Kingdom, and dinner somewhere quick.

Getting on a Disney bus along with a toddler is an event. Baby wearing Max allowed me to survive the bus ride. You’d think I can control him and hold his tiny hand but… NOPE. When Max wants to get free, he turns into baby Hercules and wriggles his way out.

In addition to baby wearing Max, I also had the diaper backpack and the stroller. So, there I was wearing Max, carrying a backpack and a stroller and people are staring at me like I’m the stand by queue for Flight of Passage.

After our transportation fiasco, we went over to the Polynesian for tonga toast. Tonga toast is bread stuffed with bananas, fried and then covered in cinnamon sugar. You can find this at Capt. Cooks as well as Kona Cafe.

Inside Capt. Cooks, It was super crowded.This was a little stressful for me. Navigating the stroller by myself was tricky and I felt like I was in everyone’s way.

The only table inside Capt. Cooks is all the way in the back. I bumped into everything trying to push a stroller and hold my food.… Read the rest

Early Morning Toy Story Land Experience

Did you miss getting a FastPass the Disney’s newest rides? Are you a morning person? If so, this new experience might be for you!

On select Monday’s and Wednesday’s at Hollywood Studios you can meet Buzz, Woody and Jessie. You’ll also be able to ride Slinky dog, Alien Swirling Saucers and Toy Story Mania! The cost is $79 for adults and $69 for children ages 3-9.

The early morning event is open from 7:30-8:45 am. A continental style breakfast buffet is also included and available from 8:30-10:00 am. The park will open at 9 am for everyone else, so make sure to ride everything before going for food.

In addition to the price of this experience, please note you must also have theme park admission. If traveling from a Disney Resort, Disney recommends to allow up to 1.5 hours for transportation. I would recommend taking an uber or lyft.

This event appears to be offered through December. You can also find out more info here or call Disney at 407-827-7350.

What are your thoughts? Is the cost worth the benefit? Have you been yet? Leave me a comment below!

 

 … Read the rest