Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Gluten Free

I have made some drastic changes in my eating/drinking in the last month.  The first was to give up all carbonated beverages....no more caffeine free diet coke.  The second was to eliminate gluten from my diet...this one is hard because gluten is everywhere.  The obvious culprits are baked goods, gravies and sauces, noodles, bread, breading on food ~ the un-obvious culprits are spice mixes, ketchup, ice cream, etc.  My daughter in law, Jennifer, has been a good resource as she has been gluten free for months.

I downloaded a little scanner onto my phone that you can use to scan UPC codes and it will tell you if it contains gluten.  Not a 100% accurate on items that could contain it but they don't have all the info. Red means don't eat it, green check means its safe.  I went thru all my cans and packages in my pantry scanning.  Lipton Rice mixes and cream soups are out ~ Greg and Will can eat them!

Going out to eat is very tricky.  Our beloved chick fil a has a great grilled filet and grilled nuggets ~ really good!  I have not tried the gluten free (gf) bun yet.  Their waffle fries are safe to eat because they are fried in a designated fry area ~ not in the same oil with the chicken nuggets.....Yay!  Eating at Ikea last week was a complete bust ~ there were 2 items with no gluten.....mashed potatoes, and salad.  I ate salad.  Not very filling for all that walking.  The website listed chicken meatballs as gf, but our Ikea didn't have any.  5 Guys was great...burger without the bun and their amazing fries.

I started a couple of new pinterest boards for gf ideas, tips, and menus.  Lots of my low carb recipes will cross over into gluten free land.  And I joined a few fb books groups for support, and recipes.  I will be posting some recipes that are successful and being honest about the flops.

I am getting to be a good label reader.  We are eating more home cooked meals, most made from scratch.  The Ronzoni gf noodles are really good (or as Greg says, taste normal).  Bobs Red Mill makes some really good gf mixes for home cooks.  I've made a loaf of bread (really good with pb&j), brownies, and a pizza crust.  Aldi and Kroger have a good variety of products.  I found a company that makes gf bagels and Publix is supposed to carry them ~ so that's on the shopping list now.

And have these changes benefitted me at all.....YES!  My gut issues have completely cleared up and that includes acid reflux,  I am sleeping better at night ~ really deep restful sleep.

I slightly panicked about Disney trips after going gf.  But come to find out, they are very accommodating to allergy issues - even to the point of having designated kitchen areas for allergy free cooking.  I will report on that when we go on our next trip.

If anyone has any tips or recipes to share....I would love them!

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Disney Tour ~ Keys to the Kingdom tour

On our last trip, Greg and I did the Keys to the Kingdom tour at the Magic Kingdom.  There are 3 tours a day starting in the morning ~ we were on the 10 am tour.  This tour lasts 5 hours but it is worth every penny spent for the tour and the time involved.

We checked in at town hall on Main Street, we picked out our lunch selections from the menu for later, and were issued head sets.  The head set was comfortable to wear and enabled us to hear everything the tour guide talked about as we strolled through the park learning secrets about Disney.

We walked down Main Street and cut thru to Adventure Land ~ all the while our tour guide was giving us Disney trivia and answering any questions he could.  We rode on a Jungle Cruise boat ~~~~ without waiting in the long line.  Next time you ride that, listen to the natives chanting right before you go under the waterfall ~ on of them says "I like disco"!  Weird, but true!  Originally Walt Disney wanted to use real animals but that wasn't practical for that setting.

Disney reuses a lot of  items and they show up in different places.Many years ago, we saw the Aladdin parade with the spitting camels....they have been repurposed to the Aladdin ride....and they still spit.  Some faces on the characters you see on different rides ~ are also faces on other rides.  You don't notice till you really look.

We got to go backstage where the floats are stored in Frontierland.  The section we were in had mostly holiday floats.  There is a line on the pavement before you hit the gate that tells the cast member that they "show" has begun ~ so they know to start waving, dancing or whatever their role is.  From when they pass that line in Frontierland, all the way thru the parade route, to when they cross the line after going down Main Street and through the gates again ~ they are in a show.  And I did ask about the Malificent Dragon float (it caught on fire several months ago).  At the time I asked, it was still under investigation, but they are doing repairs and it should rejoin the parade line up.

Our lunch was at Peco's Bill Café in Frontierland.  There was a room set aside for us with our names beside the lunches we had ordered.  Greg chose nachos and I had soft taco's.  They had set up a condiments bar for us in the middle of our dining room with guacamole, salsa, shredded lettuce, sliced tomatoes, jalapenos, etc.  It was really good.  The lunch was included in the price of the tour.



Next stop was at the Haunted Mansion ~ we went in the back way and bypassed the really long lines, a great perk on the tour.  The guide told us the secret of the dancing figures in the ballroom scene ~ I looked closely and still couldn't tell how they did it.  Disney is really good at their illusions.

Next stop was the Liberty Bell in front of the Hall of Presidents.  Did you know that they were 2 castings made from the original mold of the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia?  One is the bell in Philadelphia and the other is the bell at the Magic Kingdom.  Pretty cool trivia!

As we were walking we made a bathroom stop at the new Tangled Rest Area in Fantasy Land.  That area used to be where you got on the skylift that took you over the park.  Disney is doing a new skyride at different parks to link them ~ Some of the hardware is already mounted in the parking lots.  I don't know when this is going to open or what parks it will link.  It will be another way to travel besides the monorail, buses, and boats.

Then came the fun part...we went down into the Utilidoors (the utility coridors) under the Magic Kingdom.  This is how Mickey gets from one land to another without being seen.  Its also storage for stores, has a gym, costuming departments, etc.  There are motivational posters on the walls for the cast members, displays of the parks, large shadowbox type frames of the collectors pins, etc.  We walked from beside the Winnie the Pooh ride in fantasyland to the end of main street underground.  Fun fact ~ do you know where all the dirt went when they dug out the lake in front of the Magic Kindgom?  The utilidoors were constructed first and then the dirt was used to cover it up and make the hill for Cinderellas Castle to reside on.

The tour was a lot of fun ~ our guide was amazing!  It was well worth the time and money & perfect for the 2 of us to do together. There was one downside....we were not allowed to take any pictures or record any of the tour.  I did take a picture of our lunch plate and our pins we received but that was it!
I don't know if Disney has set an age recommendation for this tour, but I think children would get very bored and disruptive.  Definitely an adult tour.

Oh, we learned lots more secrets ~ but I don't want to spoil the magic for you!


Friday, June 22, 2018

What Not To Wear ~ at Disney

Disney is a great place to people watch.  Sitting on a bench, drinking a water is an awesome past time at the parks ~ especially if your feet need a rest and its 95 + degrees outside!  You see all kinds of outrageous outfits walking past you.  So here is my version of What Not To Wear.

Princess dresses are super cute...but your little princess will soon be scratching and complaining wearing that dress with all the tulle.  She needs extra clothes to change into after she meets Cinderella or Prince Charming.  And there is absolutely no place in walking the park for those little plastic, high heel princess shoes.  That will make a miserable, cranky princess and will ruin your magical day.  Go for comfort, my princess always wore tennis shoes.  And if your little princess is riding in a stroller and wearing a dress ~ please put bloomers, bike shorts or something similar on her.  Its hard to sit like a little lady in a stroller.

Please wear clothes that cover....I am not talking look like a nun.  But if your shorts don't cover your backside....they are not appropriate.  Saw this several times on our last trip.  Daisy Duke shorts really have no place in a theme park ~ just look at the practicality ~ your legs will not be comfortable sticking to every ride seat and every park bench...and the rest of us don't want that view.  If you wear a skirt all the time (my Preference) then you need something on under it....shorts, boxers, whatever ~ chafing happens and its not comfortable.  I recently bought some skorts with built in shorts, the skirt part comes to the knee.  Those are comfortable.  I ordered 3 over a couple of months ~ navy, black, and gray ~ basic colors, they match all my shirts.

There are a couple of days when Disney has a dress up day....Dapper Days.  People come in cute flouncy dresses, heels, suits and ties etc.  Think like the Mary Poppins movie style clothing.  But wearing that clothing all day, any other day is just plain silly.  Since you can easily log 4-6 miles a day of walking, your high heels will get uncomfortable.  Yes, we've seen this too.  

A bathing suit top has no place at Disney.  It used to be against the dress code and may still be, but I think people walk thru security appropriately dressed and then shed the shirts.  Wear a sleeveless top or tank top instead.

Makeup ~ keep it basic. Your makeup will melt off your face, especially in the summer months.  On our last trip, I saw several ladies reapplying their makeup....foundation, powder, checking their false eyelashes, lipstick, etc.  If your makeup is more important that taking your kids to get in line for Pirates of the Caribean, then your priorities are screwed up.  And your make up will melt off anyway.  You are there to make memories.

Don't wear shoes with no support....I don't care how cute those sandals are.  Your feet will suffer and you will have a miserable day.  Sandals with support, tennis shoes and socks ~ comfortable footwear.  I usually take 2 pair of shoes and flip which ones I am wearing every other day.  One pair is New Balance that lace up and the other pair is Easy Spirit which slip on.  Save the sandals for restaurants or Disney Springs shopping.

Wear sunscreen.  Its sunny, its hot, you will get burned.  Sunglasses and a hat help also.  

There are loads of cute shirts out there, to buy at the parks or buy before you go.  Amy made us some great shirts for Mothers Day and Fathers Day that we wore.  And we get inspiration for new shirts each time we go. My Mothers Day shirt was purple and said "my favorite Disney prince is my Husband", And Gregs shirts were "I Don't do matching shirts with a silhouette of Grumpy" and "I work to support my wifes Disney addiction".  All got lots of compliments.  Amy did a great job with her cricut and software!

Have fun, make memories!  Relax!  Be as comfortable as possible!!

I forgot something....unless you are tall and skinny ~ leggings are not attractive.  I will just leave it at that!

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Disney ~ Carousel of Progress










Carousel of Progress is a often overlooked attraction at the Magic Kingdom.  It was one of Walt Disneys entry into the Worlds Fair.  It is a wonderful look into one family thru the decades ~ going from a wood burning stove for cooking to a voice activated oven.  Introduces the home radio and tv and ends with a virtual reality video game you wear over your face/eyes.

This ride is near Buzz Lightyear and across from the entrance to the people mover.

This presentation is a great way to leave the hustle and bustle of the park and sit down in an air conditioned theater and view history and Disneys view of the future.

Don't miss it next time ya go!

(The picture quality isn't fantastic ~ I took them with my cell phone with no flash in a darkened theater.)

Monday, June 4, 2018

Lets Eat at Disney!

Food is something we all eat....everyday....multiple times a day!  And going on vacation is no exception.

Here are some options while eating at Disney!

1.  Buy as you go....there are lots of food choices at Disney World and they vary from park to park.  You can buy snacks, hot dog/ hamburger meals, sit down restaurant meals or character dining meals/buffets.  Over the years we have done all of these.  We usually buy a treat/snack a day ~ my favorites are the mickey ice cream sandwiches and the cinnamon rolls at Gastons Tavern in the Magic Kindgom (these cinnamon rolls are amazingly delicious ~ when we went in April we were disappointed, the quality wasn't up to par).  My favorite at Epcot is the Chocolate Mousse at France.  The hot dog/ hamburger meals come with fries, you may be able to substitute fruit for the fries.  The sit down meals are good ~ At the Magic Kingdom our favorite is the Beauty and the Beast castle ~ the food is yummy and the décor is spectacular....straight out of the movie.  We have eaten breakfast and lunch there ~ I prefer lunch!  The  character dining is pricey and truly magical.  We have done 2 different ones.  When Amy was about 7 or 8, we did breakfast at the Castle ~ yummy food and Pricess overload for Amy and my niece Bethany.  We did a girls morning there with my mom, me, Amy, my sister, and niece.  We all thoroughly enjoyed it.  We have also done Chef Mickeys at the Contemporary Resort.  The breakfast buffet is outstanding with lots of choices ~ mickey waffles, scrambled eggs, biscuits, lots of fruit, drink choices, etc.  Its set up really well to eliminate long lines for waffles or whatever.  The characters at both walk around to each table so you have time for pictures and your own personal meet n greet.  This meal featured....Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, and Goofy ~ maybe Donald Duck also.

2. Disney Meal Plan ~ This is a length of stay meal plan that is for 2 meals and 1 snack a day.  Can either be used at the on property hotels and/or at the parks or Disney Springs.  My opinion is this is pretty pricey per person.  We tend to do less expensive meals on vacation unless is something really spectacular like fresh seafood or ethnic foods on our travels.  But, cost aside, this is a tremendous stress reliever in that its already paid for ahead of time (and I think this plan can be loaded onto your magic band for even more convenience). We did have this once when we stayed on property, as it was a freebie for the time we were there.  We took breakfast stuff, ate lunch at the parks and then dinner either at the Parks or at Disney Springs.  This is a lot of food ~ drinks (tea, coffee, or soft drink) were provided with every meal plus dessert.  Lots of places honor these meals so we had fun with this.  By the end of the week, we still had credits, so we got snacks to go.

3.  Take your own.  YES, you can take food into the Disney parks.  You can take a soft sided cooler with freezer packs (no hard coolers or anything on wheels that you pull).  Each park has lockers that you can rent and put your bag in there....or tote it.  This was really easy when we had a stroller or mom had a wheelchair.  We just hung it on the handles or but it in the stroller basket.  We do peanut butter and jelly, pretzels (chips will crush to dust), granola bars, unmeltable candy etc.  Greg and I are doing this next time.  Then go out to eat or eat at the condo for dinner.

You can carry in drinks (NO glass allowed, we take the plastic soft drink bottles or water bottles).  We usually are holding one and have a spare in my bag.  At any counter service restaurant you can get FREE ice water.  They will gladly give you free water, even if you don't buy anything.  This is an awesome thing, especially in the hot months.  Take a bottle you can pour your ice water into ~ one that can be closed and stuck in a bag.  Then you don't have to dump it out when you get on a ride.  This time we are carrying the little koolaid type mix in packets to flavor the water.  Last time, we also had a cooler bag in the car with drinks on ice and a snack for after the long day.

Every fall is the Epcot Food and Wine Festival ~ the countries represented in the World Showcase and many extra countries will have food kiosks set up around World Showcase Lagoon.  These little bites of food costs between $4-7.  We usually go multiple days.  Our strategy is to buy one little plate of each we want to try ~ and split it 4 or 5 ways depending on how many folks we have.  If we know its really yummy, we will buy 2 so everyone gets a bigger taste.  The 2nd time back ~ everyone picks their favorite and gets their own that they don't have to share.  My favorite has always been the steak and sweet potato dish at the Africa kiosk.  2 years ago they changed it and I didn't think it was as good.  Will always gets the escargot in France ~ I don't know if he really likes it or if he just likes to see me gross out as he eats it....but I think he likes it.  Weekend nights at the Festival are jam packed and lots of folks have enjoyed the wine/beer part of the offerings....a little too much.  Weekends also have concerts.  We are going back in November to see one of Gregs favorite jazz bands, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy (they sing some of the songs in Nightmare Before Christmas).

Here are a few pictures of food from different trips in the past ~ these are all from Epcot.  The 2nd one down is the steak and sweet potato dish from Africa!





Monday, May 21, 2018

Where to Stay at Disney?

There are lots of "where to stay" at Disney, both on property and in the surrounding areas.

My dad was a State Farm agent when I was growing up, and SF hosted a number of conventions at Disney.  The first was the year it opened and we got to go.  We stayed at the Contemporary Resort and loved riding the monorail to the Magic Kingdom (the only park at the time).

Since then I have stayed at Port Orleans, Caribbean Beach Resort, Pop Century Resort and RV camped.  All were wonderful and the RV camping was so quiet and peaceful!

There are lots of hotels and timeshare options in the areas surrounding the park.  We have been able to stay at timeshare condos which for us are great.  You can get a lot of folks into the condo (several families) and have multiple bedrooms, bathrooms, laundry facilities and a kitchen.  Until recently we had "bought" on of my sisters timeshare weeks but now we have our own and can utilize it.

Advantages of staying on property ~ you can park your car when you get there and not drive again till your vacation is over.  Your on property hotel includes your parking and all the Disney transportation system....monorails and buses. And at different times of the years, you can get extra hours in the park that are only for Disney guests.  Downside~this is usually a pricier option.  There are a variety of hotel choices on property but none are really a "value" resort anymore.

Advantages of staying off property ~ its cheaper, especially if you need more than one room to accommodate your family//friends.  You can have larger accomodations and a kitchen to help with meal costs.  Downside~ driving to the park and paying parking (but with the annual pass parking is included).

We love both options.  Since we now have a timeshare ~ we will be using it to the fullest.  Hopefully in the future, we can treat some grandboys to a magical adventure.

Next post is about Eating!  Something we all do everyday!

Monday, May 14, 2018

Disney Tickets

Last year I was cleaning out a drawer and found a neat bit of Disney History ~ I had one of the old coupon ticket books with some tickets still in it.  My tickets include an A, 2 D's and an E.  E tickets were highly sought after, so I don't know how we have one all these years later!  

But so much has changed~

Wading thru the options of Disney tickets is not as daunting as it sounds.  For Walt Disney World, a one day ticket gets you into one park for the day ~ either Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, or Epcot.  My opinion ~ if you only had one day, and you had children with you...go to Magic Kingdom.  Your children will be able to ride, see a parade or two, meet a character and have a magical day.

Ticket price breakdowns are 1. under 3 years old is free (all 3 of my original kids have been for free ~ Amy was the youngest, the week she turned a year old), 3-9 is the next price, then 10 and up.  I personally think there should be a fourth one for older folks who may not or will not ride the crazy stuff but no one has taken me up on this suggestion yet.

You can buy tickets for the length of your stay for each member of your party.  1-however many days.  You can add the option of park hopper, where you go to more than one park in a day.  You can add a water park option.  With each day over one added to your ticket, the per price day goes down.  And I believe Florida residents have a whole different price structure.

There are also different annual passes. The pass Greg and I bought is able to be used from the day we first used it, to 364 days later.  The year doesn't start counting down until you use it for the first time.  Ours is for all 4 parks, the memory maker photo pass, new magic bands, parking pass (now $22 per day) and includes a discount in select restaurants and shopping.  I am excited to see at the end of the year, how many days we actually used it and then see our cost per day (I am such a nerd that way).  

We also found out there is a price break when you renew your annual pass ~ I think this applies 60 days before your expiration date and 30 days afterwards.  The discount is 15%.  Which is a significant savings for 2 adults. AND there is an annual passholder gate at each park, you don't have to stand in the lines.  A detail we didn't know until our next to the last day.  

We had to order our magic bands and they came in the mail quickly.  These are already linked to our account.

And what is a magic band?  The magic band takes the place of the plastic, credit card sized, admission card to the parks.  You get in the gates by placing your magic band on the scanner and your finger for your finger print.  If you lose your band, no one else can use it for admission as its linked to your finger print.  Setting up a My Disney Experience account (there is an app for that), allows you to link all to your magic band ~ you can get fast passes for rides or shows, link a credit card if you are staying on property, link your photo pass for character shots, photographers on the streets or pictures during rides.  

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I am just writing this for information for anyone who needs it.  We are in no way affiliated with Disney World or any travel agent.  Just sharing tips for trips to the Happiest Place on Earth!