Saturday, October 27, 2012

Happy Birthday To Roddy

 Today I'm wishing a very happy birthday to the best thing that ever happened to me -- my husband.  This is about how he looked the first time he kissed me, it was a joke but I still remember that kiss.  And I've always loved those lips.  All those years ago, he was just my best friend's bratty little brother.  He teased me mercilessly.  Then they moved to another town and I went away to college.  So his sister and I lost track of each other.  And time passed.

When I moved back home after college, he wasn't so little and he wasn't so bratty - but he was cocky and arrogant.  But I was so attracted to him.  It started out as friendship.  We would go to dinner on Friday nights and take turns paying.  He always made me laugh, and I always loved just being in the same room with him.  His proposal was so romantic - not.  He asked me how soon I could have $500 in the bank.  When I asked why, he said he figured when I had that in the bank that we'd get married.  The joke's on him -- I've never had $500 in the bank!!!

His looks have changed over the years, and he's not cocky any more.
He sure looks like he has an attitude in this picture, though.  This was the day we got engaged.  I think I still look at him that way.  He's been the best husband I could ever have wished for.  We've been so much together.  In the 80's, there were 5 years when he didn't work a single day.  But he did a lot for my ceramic business, which couldn't have operated without him.  We've dealt with the loss of 3 of our parents, my sister, one of his sisters and his brother.  We've raised 4 daughters together, and now enjoy the blessings of 4 grandchildren and 4 step grandchildren.  And are so happy to have all of them within 10 miles.

There have been happy days that were difficult, too.  This was the day he walked the oldest of our daughters down the aisle to be married.  He was starting to get gray here, but looked so distinguished in the tux. (I have to admit a weakness for him in a tux)

And there was the day when he helped Kristin out of the buggy and walked her to meet her future husband at her wedding.

And now he's much grayer than ever.  And after nearly 38 years of marriage, I still love him more each day. He still makes me laugh, I still love just being in the same room with him.  He's here in this photo with his "favorite daughter".  They idolize their  Daddy, and he's been a great one - just ask them.

So, Happy Birthday to my Roddy.  And may you have many, many more.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Cleaning the Sewing Room . . . Again

Jake's and Kristina's quilt tops are finished, and Bubby's and Izzy's are started.  I decided it was time to clean the sewing room . . . again.  I think there is a gremlin who sneaks in at night and messes up my sewing room.  He throws fabric on the floor, on the table, on the sideboard, and on the sewing cabinet.  He takes all the items that I have received in the mail, puts them back in the mailers, and throws them wherever they land.  And I'm left with the mess.  It had gotten to the point that I couldn't find anything.  And so, I declared, "Let the cleaning begin".  I've been working on it a little at a time for almost a week now.

The furniture arrangement just wasn't serving it's purpose, so last Sunday Rod helped me move the furniture around.  Inside the big door of the sewing cabinet, I had a decorative milk can and a over sized basket that were filled with scraps of fabric - fabric that I hadn't looked at or touched in years.  That fabric was introduced to the burning barrel.  And I don't miss it.  I have been folding and putting fabric away until my canvas bins are overflowing, and I still have more to go.  I found kits that I had forgotten that I had bought and had never started.  Three quilt kits, an ironing board cover, a messenger bag, a small wristlet purse, a composition book cover, and much more.  Patterns for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas wall hangings, and so on.  And all the BOM's not completed.

Rod and I have made reservations to go the February Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival in Hampton, VA (where we lived for a few months).  But the forecast of a bad winter combined with all the projects which have not been started or completed have made me rethink our decision. I haven't made a final decision, but am leaning toward canceling those reservations.

And, if I stick to my current plan, the end of 2013 will see more completed projects.  

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

My New Friend

My new friend is here, and I'm loving it.  Still need to move all my "stuff", but the really important things are already here.  Now off to finish rearranging my sewing room.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

So Long, Good Friend

It's official . . .  today I say good bye to my laptop, my faithful companion, my window to the adult world while children's programming surrounds me.  (NO not THAT adult world)  My laptop has been so strong, it has even survived being run over by a car.  The screen needed to be replaced, but otherwise it was fine.  I love this laptop.  It's a Gateway, and I'm very picky.  Rod has a Gateway also, but his screen is huge compared to mine, and it's so much heavier.  And as my kids say, "I'm only little".  The disc drive bid us adieu some months ago.  It fell out, and every time I put it back in - it fell out again.  Since I didn't use it much, I just put it on a shelf.  Then a screw cracked out, one that held the top to the bottom.  So when I opened the laptop, I had to hold the hinge so that it wouldn't fall apart.  OK, I could live with that.  But this weekend, one of the twins (not knowing my laptop was on it's last legs) opened the lid quickly and with some force, and the result was disastrous.  The power button fell out, the spring under the power button fell out, and I could hear "Taps" being played by bagpipes off in the distance.  A tear trickled down my cheek.  I knew my good friend was failing fast.  In order to turn on the laptop, I had to stick my finger into the hole where the power button used to be.  And I'm always leery about sticking my finger into unknown places.  But as you can tell, I didn't get electrocuted - which is a good thing.

So last night, Mary helped me find a laptop that met all my requirements.  It had to have an Intel processor - check.  It had to have a number keypad - check.  And it had to have a 15.6" screen - check.  We found it on Amazon, and by using Prime I was able to get it shipped next day for only $3.99.  And my new best friend is scheduled for delivery today, it's already on the truck.  I have to admit that I'm excited, but I'm not looking forward to transferring all my "stuff" to the new one.  And so, as I prepare to welcome my new laptop, I find myself singing a song from grade school - "Goodbye Old Paint, I'm Leaving Cheyenne".

Monday, October 22, 2012

Happy, Happy Monday

Today is off to a great start.  We removed the air conditioner from the living room window last week, and yesterday Rod filled the bird feeder which hangs just outside the window.  One of my greatest pleasures in life is to watch the birds.  And this morning, they all seem to realize that the feeder is filled once again.  Surprisingly enough, they are willing to wait their turn at the feeder.  The deck railing is off to the side of the area where the feeder is, and they line up on the railing to await their turn.  I have such well behaved birds!!  This was one of the first visitors this morning.  It is a nuthatch, and it can walk vertically and hang upside down.

tufted titmouse

Another familiar visitor is the tufted titmouse.  There is always more than one, but I don't know what the plural is (is it mice or mouses??).  They are such sweet looking little birds, that I think they must be the sweethearts of the bird feeder.

dark eyed junco
One of my favorite little birds is the dark eyed junco.  He is a chubby little bird, and I just love the black and white coloring.  He is one of the birds that will brave the worst of snowstorms to eat from the feeder. We also have cardinals, always in pairs.  I think we have probably at least 3 pair.  There are always tree sparrows, who are not really impressive appearance-wise, but have the most beautiful song.

red bellied woodpecker

 This morning I was surprised to see a red-headed woodpecker at the feeder.  I hear them in the morning in the trees across the road, but until today have never seen one at the feeder.  And although I often see woodpeckers around here, I have never seen one with the striped wings.  I googled it, and learned that it is a red bellied woodpecker, not a red headed woodpecker.  And everything was going peacefully well, that is, until the huge blue jay showed up.  They are the most arrogant birds, they truly believe that the feeder is their alone, and will chase all the others away.  And that's exactly what he did.  He perched on the top of the hook, screeched in the window at me, chased all the other birdies away, and threw seed all over the ground.  And, now he's gone and so are all the other birds, so I guess I'll get my breakfast and proceed to the sewing room (which will be tomorrow's story).

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Just Thinkin'

When Cindy posted her October teapot yesterday, it started me to thinking about all the BOM's that I have tucked away that I've either never finished or not started.  Some of them go back as far as 2003.  Since I have so many projects planned for the rest of this year, I have decided that 2013 should be the "Year of UFO's".  Next year (provided that I stick to my guns), I plan to start and finish most of these BOM's.

Here are some of the BOM's I need to finish:

1. Be Attitudes
2. Amy Bradley Sugar & Spice Paper Doll Quilt -2004
3. Teapot BOM
4.  Pat Sloan Circle of Friends 2003
5.  30's Repro Basket of the Month
6.  Henrietta Squirrel

But I will need your help.  It will help if you "nag" me about working on these quilts, but more importantly, I need your opinion.  Would you do a block from each quilt each month, or would you do all the blocks and then move onto the next quilt?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wahoo, I'm Sewing Again

After a hiatus of several weeks, I reintroduced myself to my sewing room yesterday.  The voice is familiar, it said, but I can't seem to place the face.  "Oh, surely you remember me," I replied.  "I'm the one who leaves the mess."  And it did remember.

I worked on Jake's Bubble Guppy quilt.  This is the fabric that I chose as a border, but I didn't think it would work properly.  So, I ordered a fabric with sea horses on it.  I really loved this fabric, however, so I fussy cut the crabs for the cornerstones.  I cut the "crab-line" at the blue rick-rack on the top and at the blue waves on the bottom.  Rather than waste the fabrics that I had to cut off, I have decided to use them as my binding.  It's the Scotch in me, waste not.. want not.  Now, I'm ready to put the top together, and will do that this weekend.

I still have not found my jar of quilting pins.  I have searched, questioned, and prayed to St. Anthony, but still no pins.  So last night I ordered replacements.  Now we shall see how quickly something lost can be found!! All you have to do is replace something, and poof, it shows up.  Rod's comment was that if I find the others, I can prepare twice as many quilts.  He is so funny!!!

Tomorrow after work we leave for the train show in York, PA.  I so excited.  We haven't been there in two years, and it's not the show as much as it is spending time in the car with Rod.  We turn on the music, he drives, I sing, and we dream.  Some of our best ideas have been the result of a car trip.  The leaves should be at just about peak, so I look forward to the trip.  We'll be back Friday evening.   Have a great rest of the week.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Monday, again

It's Monday again, but I'm not complaining.  While in Florida, my legs swelled terribly and I ended up with a watery blister which broke and left an open sore.  I've been spending most of my time with my legs up, and finally it stopped seeping.  Sunday was the first time I've been out since we came home.  And the leg finally looks like it's healing.  Yesterday was my birthday, and it was a beautiful day.  The day was sunny and warm not at all like the weather we've been having.  We decided to try doing a pork loin with an apricot mustard glaze on our rotisserie for dinner. I rode with Rod to Costco to pick it up, along with some other groceries.  I stayed in the car.  When the twins arrived in the afternoon, the prepared a pan of potatoes to put on the grill, and worked with Rod to put the pork onto the rotisserie.  Mary arrived with a casserole of baked corn (one of my favorites), and Kristin brought a cake, a pumpkin apple pecan spice cake which was shaped like a pumpkin.  Dinner was delicious, and I felt like a queen.
 Until it was time for my Mom to leave, that is.  I love her dearly, and realize that she is old.  But a few years ago, she surprised me with the comment that she believes that my birthday is also her birthday because, after all, she birthed me.  It left me speechless.  Really, your birthday too!  I get one special day a year, and she has to turn the attention to her.  Last night as she was preparing to leave, she kissed me and said ,"Happy Birthday to us."  "To us?" I asked.  "Well, after all it is MY birthday too," she replied.  I simply told her that I thought it was time for her to leave.  I realize that this shouldn't bother me so much, but it does.  Moving on...
As I said earlier, the day was beautiful.  Since we had lows last week in the 30's, we had taken out the air conditioners.  But with a high yesterday in the 70's, the house warmed quickly.  And we opened the windows.  It was wonderful to feel the summer-like breeze coming in through the windows.  The windows were open all night long, and this morning the house smells so fresh.  I understand that the temps are going to drop again, but it was a welcome bit of summer.    Time marches on, and I need to kick it into high gear and start doing some sewing again.  Sew much to do with sew little time.  Have a great week.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

There's No Place Like Home

Thursday morning was beautiful, sunny and of course, warm.  We took our luggage to the concierge, and I went to pay our bill with the remaining gift cards.  Major Snafu!!!  They had already put the balance on our debit card, and I had to wait while someone showed the person who was waiting on me how to credit what they had charged, apply the gift cards and then charge the much smaller balance.  Over on the other side of the lobby, Rod had checked his luggage and received his boarding pass.  Mine, however, had been rejected.  No reason given, so the concierge phoned SW Airlines.  We were on the phone with them for 30 minutes, and still the issue was not resolved.  Our only choice was to take my luggage to the airport and attempt to get my boarding pass there.  I was becoming more anxious to bid Disney good riddance.

We were late for our breakfast reservation at 1900 Park Fare, but were seated rather quickly.  I love the breakfast buffet here.  The cold strawberry soup and lobster eggs Benedict make me very happy.  The recipe for the soup can be found here.  We saw Tigger, Pooh, Mary Poppins, and the Mad Hatter before we finished our breakfast and decided to return to Animal Kingdom for our last partial day.

We arrived in time for the Festival of the Lion King Show and then headed for the Safari. We didn't see quite as many animals this time.  We had some snack credits to use, and so we headed for one of the gift shops.  The signs above the bagged snacks said that any bag 8 oz. or less could be purchased for a snack credit.  However, when we got to the register, the cast member informed us that only bags which sold for less than $5.00 could be purchased.  We asked for the manager and showed him the sign, but he only adopted an arrogant attitude, so we left his shop and purchased nothing.  My patience was wearing thin, and I just wanted to go home!

Pat and Pam had made reservations for us at the Rainforest Cafe.  So we headed there for lunch.  The environment was amazing - large fish tanks, animatronic animals, and a staff that did all they could to make our meal enjoyable.  I chose spinach/artichoke dip for my appetizer and it was wonderful, but such a large portion that I didn't dare finish it.  My entree was their Caribbean coconut shrimp with a flat iron steak.  The shrimp was probably some of the best I've ever eaten, and the steak was done to perfection.  The best cheesecake of our trip rounded out our meal.  With our bellies full, we headed to the last gift shop in the park area and used the rest of our snack credits.  And then it was on to the airport.

We returned the rental car without any problems, and made our way to the ticketing counter.  I buy an extra seat when flying SW, because I wouldn't want to be embarrassed after boarding by having someone suggest I was taking up too much room.  That extra seat caused all the problems with my boarding pass, and the issue was quickly resolved and my baggage was checked.  And then all that was left to do was wait. Our flight was scheduled to depart at 6:50 and arrive in Pittsburgh at 9:00.  It wouldn't be long now - or so we thought.  As we waited, severe electrical storms moved into the area and our flight was delayed.  We were finally able to board at 7:20.  At 7:30 we left the gate and taxied so long that Rod thought we were driving home.  Turns out that we were 22nd in line for takeoff, and finally left the runway at 8:30.  Our pilot made good time - he did our 2 hour trip in 1 hour 47 minutes.  We collected our bags and made our way to the car.  With everything stowed away, we headed for the exit of the parking lot.  And that's when we discovered that we had parked in short term, not long term parking.  And so, it cost us $194.00 to get out of the airport and on the road home.  It was the perfect ending to the trip, NOT.  I was never so glad to see our home, and was so tempted to kiss the water bed when we crawled in.

The kids kept telling me that they were so sorry that I didn't have a good time.  And I guess that until I started writing these reports, I didn't realize how bad a time I had.  I wasn't feeling well before we left, and kept telling them all that I had no business going at all.  Looking back, it might have been best to postpone the trip. But all the bad things haven't turned me off on Disney.  We are already talking about a trip next December with Kristin and her family.

  • There were good things about this trip.  Neither of our flights were full, so I get a refund of the extra seat on both flights.  And calling to get that refund was without complication.  Most of our meals were good, and most of the cast members were kind, respectful, and helpful.  I did have fun with my family.  And although I won't go back for the Food and Wine Festival, I did get to experience it.  Our room was wonderful, and I loved the resort.  So, this trip will be chalked up as one bad experience, put behind me, and I will look forward to the next one.  

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Day 7 - Return to EPCOT

Today we returned to EPCOT, hopefully to visit the anticipated Food and Wine Festival.  I had so looked forward to this special event, and had not had the chance to experience it.  Since our breakfast reservation wasn't until 10:50, we grabbed a quick bite to eat at the resort so that I could take my pills.  And then it was on to EPCOT. Rod and I decided to do the Character Spot while the kids were riding rides.  It was great.  Mickey kissed me after signing an autograph, and Minnie saw it.  So she grabbed Rod and kissed him.  And the PhotoPass photographer was shooting all the while.  We laughed along with the people in the line behind us.  And then it was on to breakfast.

Before being seated, you have your photo taken with Bell.  I opted out of this one, but was watching the various princesses parading all the little princes and princesses throughout the restaurant.  And suddenly, I began to cry.  Then it hit me -- I was homesick, homesick for my own little prince and princess.  A cast member standing nearby came to see if I was alright, and I assured her that I was just missing my other two grandkids.  She comforted me and said she would get me a special treat for them.  Later she returned with signature cards from Belle, one for Izzy and one for Jake.

Breakfast was wonderful. Your food is served family style, on platters like this.  In the upper right corner is a potato casserole, which most of my family loves.  Bubby would be happy with just the sausage links.  I love the scrambled eggs.  And to make my breakfast better, they have tomato juice.

In addition to the foods brought to your table, they have a breakfast buffet, complete with meats, cheeses, fruit, and specialty breads.  Who can resist the sliced ham, Jarlsburg cheese, and cinnamon rolls served here!!

We left Norway and headed toward the American Pavilion to see the Hall of Presidents. We were shown to the second floor by a cast member by way of an elevator, and arrived there in time to hear the Voices of Liberty.  They are always impressive, but this show they did a version of "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes" that left some of us in tears.  If you want to hear them, search for the Voices of Liberty on YouTube.  Then we went in for the film, which briefly covers the history of our country, and ends with each of the presidents introducing himself.

It was nearing time for Mary and Jimmy to leave for the airport, but we had one last snack together - kaki gori in Japan.  This is a treat of shaved ice with fruit flavored syrups, and is quite a large serving.  Most of the gang chose the rainbow shown here.  I chose the tangerine with a sweet cream topping.  It was something like I'd never tasted before.  I guarantee that I will taste it again, however.  We returned to the front of the park for group photo in front of the dome, said our goodbyes and went our separate ways.

 I still hadn't found anything to bring back for my mom, and Rod assured me that we would find something. And find something, we did.  As we passed the Bead Outpost in Africa, some beads caught Rod's eye.  According to Jack Spence, a blogger for, "this entrepreneur arranges for old Disney guide books and other out-of-day Disney paper products to be sent to his family in Uganda. Here, the paper is hand rolled into beautifully colored beads which have been strung into necklaces and bracelets. The finished product is extremely durable and water resistant and makes a wonderful gift for yourself or a friend. You can actually wear a bit of recycled Walt Disney World with these pieces of jewelry." My mom loves beads, and we picked out a beautiful set of red and white beads, a necklace, bracelet and earrings. 

 Rod and I visited the Chinese Pavillion, and spent some time with the tomb soldiers before seeing the film.  I am so fascinated with these soldiers.  They are replicas of the original terracotta army of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emporer of China. This army was buried with the emperor in 210–209 BC. Their purpose was to protect the emperor in his afterlife, and to make sure that he had people to rule over.

We were to have dinner at Cape May with the twins, but we begged out since we hadn't had a chance to experience the Food and Wine Festival.  Rod announced "Let the eating begin", and we started to eat our way around the "World".  We started in Mexico where we sampled the Taco de Filete.  It featured beef tenderloin and a medium-spicy Cascabel Pepper Sauce and was delicious.  I ate both ends and Rod had the middle where the sauce was located.  We then moved onto Germany where we shared a piece of Apple Strudel (one of my favorite apple desserts).  With a Werther's caramel vanilla topping, it was yummy.  Continuing onto China, I had the pork pot stickers and Rod sampled the Mongolian beef in a steamed bun.  We were both very satisfied with our choices.  We continued to walk and stopped at the Polish booth for a sampling of Kielbassa and pierogis.  Not really anything to write home about, we can do this at home.  

It was clouding up again, and we moved onto Canada where I wanted to see Off Kilter.  These 5 kilted lads play Celtic-rock music and are from Ireland, Florida, Kentucky and Puerto Rico.  The rain started, I donned my poncho once again, and watched as they performed 4 songs.  While I was waiting for the show to begin, Rod disappeared and returned with a filet mignon from Le Cellier for me, and a beer for him.  As the group finished their set, it was raining harder and we headed for the exit. But we made a quick stop by France to sample the escargot.  I had promised Kristin that I would try them. and surprisingly I loved them. They were in a parsley/garlic sauce baked inside little brioche buns. By the time we got to the car, it was a downpour.  Rod ordered me into the car while he braved the weather to get my scooter into the trunk.  I am so blessed to have this man in my life.  Arriving back at the resort, we showered and began to pack.  We had so many souveniers that we weren't sure we would be able to get them all home.  We ended up using the tote bag we had bought for Kristin to use as a carry on  to pack some of the non-breakable items. Rod returned the Demon Scooter and the Keurig we had rented to Bell Services.  We were almost ready to leave.

Tomorrow - There's No Place Like Home.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Day 6 - Disney's Hollywood Studios Revisited

This day was probably my least favorite of the entire trip.  Although Hollywood Studios is one of my favorite parks, I just wasn't feeling it today.  Rod and I were a little slow moving, and when we finally arrived at Hollywood Studios decided not to go through baggage check, but head straight for the ferry boat that would take us to Cape May.  We had a 10:30 breakfast reservation.  This breakfast is a character breakfast with Goofy, Minnie and Donald in their beach attire.  We met the kids there since they were already in Hollywood Studios when we arrived.  While the food was good, the atmosphere was unorganized mass confusion.  I don't know how else to describe it.  One family was so desperately trying to get photos with Donald Duck, that upon returning from the buffet, Mary stood for nearly 10 minutes waiting to get back into her seat. She tried to excuse herself, but the family either didn't understand English or just didn't care.  The whole breakfast experience only served to worsen my already bad humor.

We returned by ferry to Hollywood Studios, and had some photos taken, the gang did their favorite rides, and the heat continued to build.  We did the Beauty and the Beast show again, and when the cast member directed me to the handicapped area, he told me to leave my scooter parallel parked to the bleachers.  The seat on the Demon Scooter didn't turn, so I ended up watching the show by turning my head - another addition to my bad humor.  We went to the Animation building again, but before drawing this time, we decided to watch the movie, "The Magic of Disney Animation".  None of us had seen it previously, and it was a history of Disney animation as told by an animator and the character of Mushu, from the movie Mulan.  I found it to be quite interesting and amusing.  Then it was on the the drawing class.  We rode "The Great Movie Ride", and managed to see the Pixar Pals Parade, although it was delayed because of still more rain.

We did dinner at Hollywood and Vine, for which we had booked the Fantasmic Dining Package.  We got some Disney Magic when our server offered to go next door to get Peanut Butter and Milkshakes for part of our group.  And they were soooo good.  When we left Hollywood and Vine, it was raining again.  And although Fantasmic is one of my favorite shows, I was tired of the rain and begged to go back to the hotel.  I don't know if Rod was really ready to leave, but he tries to give me whatever I want and so we left Hollywood Studios.  The kids stayed for Fantasmic, but said it wasn't as great in the rain.

Tomorrow - EPCOT and Mary and Jimmy leave for home.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Happy Anniversary EPCOT

We are all so excited about Monday - EPCOT's 30th anniversary and our first day at the Food and Wine Festival.  The day started out badly - Jimmy had a case of the "throw-ups", they weren't sure if it was a flu or  food poisoning from his meal the night before.  But whatever the cause, he wouldn't be joining us and that left Mary to bring the two kids to the park on the bus.  Upon our arrival to the park, we were each given one of these pins. (Of course they are already on ebay for $7.95). The twins were already doing their favorite rides, so Rod and I headed to Sunshine Seasons for breakfast.  The twins met us there, and shortly after Mary and the kids arrived.    Since we were already in the Land Building, we did the Living with the Land attraction.  This is another of my favorite attractions - you tour one of Disney's greenhouses.  It's amazing to see how Disney manages to grow so many items in so little a space.  We visited the Food and Wine Festival Center while the others road Soarin'.  It was not surprising to see so many items available for purchase to celebrate this Festival.

As lunch time approached, Mary and the twins headed for Via Napoli while Rod and I went to lunch at Coral Reef.  Although this restaurant would appear to be quiet and calming as you dine with the aquarium in view, it is most times very noisy.  Rod and I were seated on the top level, but had a great view of the aquarium. Our server was from Pittsburgh, and was very attentive.  I had decided to try some new things on this trip, and since I enjoyed the smoked salmon at Raglan Road, chose to try the Orange Ginger Glazed Scottish Salmon.  My appetizer was a creamy lobster soup with tarragon and brandy.  The soup was wonderful, the salmon not so much.  When our server noticed that I wasn't eating the salmon, he offered to bring me another entree and the seared chicken with spaetzle was much more to my liking.  I had told our server that we were going to be celebrating our 38th anniversary, and before bringing our desserts, he surprised us with a flute of champagne with a strawberry on the rim.  It was a large bit of Disney Magic.  For dessert I had the creme brulee (I never pass up creme brulee), and Rod had the cheesecake.

After lunch, we went to the aquarium and did Turtle Talk with Crush.  This show is so much fun.  Through Disney's magic, Crush can interact with the members of the audience.  He answers questions that the kids ask, and teases some of the adults.  It's fun, and Rod and I have done it without any of the kids.

After Crush, I braved the line at Mouse Gear to buy some 30th Anniversary pins.  The line had been really long, and some people stood in that line for as high as 5 hours.  There was nothing I wanted that badly.  I bought 2 pins, an anniversary lanyard (It was orange, how could I resist!), and a baseball cap - also orange.

The kids had gotten Fast Passes for Soarin', so they headed that direction while Pat and I made a potty stop.  And that's when it happened - my moment of embarrassment when my Demon Scooter chose to leave my butt behind!  In my blog post from Saturday, I described my fall.  As I lay there on the floor, I could see little girls looking at me in horror, I could hear the attendant asking if I needed a medic, and yet all I could think was that I would be on the 11 o'clock news with the tag line "Fat Lady Falls in Disney - Takes 4 men and a crane to get her up".  But it wasn't like that at all.  Thank God the news crew wasn't there!!  But the people in the bathroom couldn't have been kinder and more concerned.  In an attempt to alleviate my embarrassment, they offered me juice boxes, bottles of water, applesauce, fruit snacks, and cookies.  I declined their offers, and Rod bought me a bottle of Smart Water.  Guess he figured I needed something to make me a little smarter!!  We then proceeded to the Land Building where they rode Soarin' and I sat quietly in tears.  After Soarin', we did Journey into Imagination with Figment, and  while in the gift shop, Rod found a remote control Monorail.  He rarely buys anything at Disney for himself, but this was added to our purchases.

We had an early dinner at Garden Grill, and met Farmer Mickey, Chip and Dale and Pluto.  I don't know who gets more excited to see Pluto - Bubby or Pam.  Our meal was excellent, and included roast turkey, sliced flank steak and a fish topped with a roasted tomato and pepper compote.  I sure wish I had the recipe for that one.  Rod took Mary back to her resort to get Bubby's pills while the rest of us finished our meals.  It was a wonderful surprise when they returned, and Jimmy was with them.  By this time, the heat had zapped my enthusiasm and I was stiffening up from my fall.  I had braved the crowds more than I cared to.  So, as the rain began to fall once again, Rod and I returned to our resort.  After a quick shower, we watched some of Monday Night Football before an early lights out.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Day 4 - Magic Kingdom and Raglan Road

Day 4 started with an early morning breakfast at Kona.  Kona is known for it's "Tonga Toast", a banana stuffed sourdough bread rolled in cinnamon sugar.  It looked delicious, believe me; but not so healthy for a diabetic.  So, I passed on the tonga toast, and instead chose a breakfast of steak and eggs.  The steak was cooked perfectly, and with the scrambled eggs and a large glass of tomato juice, was a very satisfying breakfast.

I had never seen the opening show at the Magic Kingdom, and was hoping that with a 7:30 breakfast I could make it via the monorail in time to see it.  I wasn't in time to see the beginning with the singers, but I did make it in time to see the characters arrive on the train.  Jimmy got permission for us to leave the rental cars at the Polynesian since we wouldn't be gone all day, and so the rest of the group met Pam and I just outside the Magic Kingdom when they arrived on the monorail.

We had some photos taken with the pumpkin people in town square, and proceeded to the Town Square Theater for more character meet and greets.  I overheard someone say that Rapunzel was appearing in the princess section, so I chose to head in that direction.  I met and had my picture taken with Cinderella, Belle, and Rapunzel.  Rod and I went outside to wait for the others, and saw Snow White posing for photos and signing autographs.  I went and got in line just as she was leaving for a short break.  When all the people in front of me left, I was then first in line.  She was gone only a few minutes, and when she returned, I was first.  The family showed up right before Snow White, and we had a group photo taken with her.  We decided to check out the Emporium, one of the gift shops on Main Street.  It was a quaint "little" shop, loaded with Disney merchandise.  But around the top of the rooms were antiques, and I spotted a clock much like the one my grandmother had when I was a child.  In this shop, I purchased a box of salt water taffy for my mom, divided plates for Izzy and Jake, and vinylmation figures for Krissy and Bubby.  The rest of the time was spent seeing our favorite shows and riding rides.  Rod and I did lunch at Columbia Harbour House, where I tried the lobster roll and found it to be a good choice.

Rod and I returned to our resort, and took a boat ride down the Sassogoula River to Downtown Disney and our dinner reservation at Raglan Road.  I had wanted to give this restaurant a try for several trips, and finally found a chance.  Raglan Road is an authentic Irish pub which was built in Ireland and shipped to Downtown Disney.  I had heard good things about the food here, and was anxious to give it a try.  For my appetizer I chose smoked salmon, which I had never eaten before.  It was served with capers, chopped shallots, and creme fraiche.  Rod didn't care for it, but I found it to be delightful.
For my entree, I chose Kevin's Heavenly Ham.  This was an Irish mist glazed loin of bacon (fresh, not smoked) and came with cabbage and colcannon potatoes.  My dinner certainly lived up to it's reputation.  Rod had ordered the colcannon soup for his appetizer and chose Sod the Stew, a beef stew infused with Guinness for his main course.  He said the stew was good, but he's not a big fan of Guinness.  For dessert we chose Ger's Bread and Butter pudding, a deliciously rich dessert, but way too much for one person.  We probably ate less than half of that dessert.

We were in no big hurry to leave because of the entertainment. This little stage was in the center of the restaurant, with a stage with a band off to the right.  I love the Celtic sounds, and am fascinated with the dancers, so we just sat for a while and enjoyed the entertainment.  In the gift shop, I found family crests for Burton and Hall (daughter Kristin's name) so I bought a couple of pins with the crests on them. We had planned on doing some shopping in Downtown Disney, but when we exited Raglan Road, it was pouring.  We got my poncho on so that my scooter and I were covered, and headed for the boat to return to our resort.  We did not want to get stuck using the buses in the event that it stormed.  We arrived back safely, went to the hotel food factory for some beverages, and returned to our room to watch Sunday Night Football.

Tomorrow - EPCOT on the 30th anniversary.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Day Three - Saturday at Hollywood Studios

Although I don't ride a lot of the rides here, I believe that Hollywood Studios just might be my favorite of the four parks.  The twins had gone to the park early and had already been on several rides when Rod and I arrived. Rod and I stopped at Fairfax Fare for a breakfast sandwich while they went to get Fast Passes for Rock n Roller coaster. We got a bacon, egg, and cheese English muffin, and it was quite good - much better than an Egg McMuffin.  While they rode the roller coaster, I hung around the Tower of Terror area and had some pictures taken.  The Photopass photographers do what they refer to as "Magic Shots", where characters are photoshopped in.  I had one taken in front of the Beauty and the Beast sign where they shopped Chip in, and another with Mickey on a bench.  When I get the PhotoPass CD, I'll post some of those shots.

The rest of the crew rode Tower of Terror, however I did not.  I don't like elevators much, let alone ones that drop you 13 floors unannounced.  I am a champion shopper, though and since every ride and attraction in Disney exits you through a gift shop, I shopped.  In this gift shop, I bought a tee shirt for George and a "do not disturb" sign for our house. It is from the Hollywood Tower Hotel, and since our house is sometimes like Grand Central Station with a revolving door, I think it was a sensible purchase.

The Burton 4 had reservations for lunch at the Sci Fi Dine In Theater.  It's really cool.  The tables are set up in "cars" and you are dining at a drive in theater complete with clips from 50's movies.  My appetizer of artichoke/spinach dip was excellent, however my medium steak arrived very well done.  One good thing about this venue is that you can get unlimited milkshakes.  I stopped with one, and didn't order dessert.

Following lunch, we visited Muppetvision.  I've always loved the Muppets, and this 3-D attraction is made more hilarious with the side comments of these two old geezers.

Then we headed toward the Animation Courtyard.  Before entering the Animation Building, I waited in line for a meet and greet with Handy Manny and Jake from the Neverland Pirates.  In the Animation building, I met Mr. and Mrs. Incredible, and Winnie the Pooh.  Then onto my favorite part of the Animation building - drawing in the Animation Academy with a Disney Animator.  We usually do this twice during our trips.  This trip we drew Eyeore and Grumpy.  We had our picture taken with Sorcerer Mickey.  Before long it was time to drive to the Yacht Club for our dinner at the Captain's Grille.

Dinner here was  probably the best meal I had on this trip.  I chose the crab legs with corn on the cob and roasted new potatoes.  I ordered a shrimp appetizer, but gave it to Jimmy.  The corn and crab legs were so filling that I only ate one of the potatoes, and again didn't order dessert.  Don't these crab legs look delicious - sure wish I had some now.

Last year I booked a cruise to view the Wishes fireworks from the Magic Kingdom Park.  It was spectacular.  This year I decided to try the Illuminations cruise to view the fireworks at EPCOT.  It was a good choice.  Although the cruises are expensive ($346), we find that they are worth the money.  The cruise takes place on a 25 foot Tracker pontoon boat, and can take up to 10 people.  It comes complete with a captain, bottled water, soda, and bagged snacks.  You can see in this photo of Pat how cushy the seats are.  We left from the Yacht Club Marina at about 8:30 and cruised the Seven Seas Lagoon past the Boardwalk, Hollywood Studios, then proceeded to EPCOT, where we tethered with two other boats under the International Gatway for the fireworks at 10 p.m. It was a magical experience, to be sure.  Some of our group liked the Wishes cruise better, but I preferred the Illuminations cruise.  After the fireworks, we were taken back to the Yacht Club and were back at our car by 10:30.  It was great not having to fight the crowds afterward.  We returned to our resort for a good night's sleep.  Tomorrow will be another busy day.

Tomorrow -- a return to Magic Kingdom and a special dinner at Downtown Disney.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Day 2 - Animal Kingdom and the Halloween Parade

Day Two began with breakfast at the Tusker House, one of my favorite breakfasts.  It is a Safari Breakfast hosted by Donald Duck. Before you enter the restaurant, you have your photo taken with Donald decked out in his safari gear. The food here is really delicious.  It is a buffet, complete with all the usual breakfast foods - sausage, bacon, eggs, pastries, cereals, but there is also carved ham, a yam casserole complete with raisins, a spicy corned beef hash, and frittatas.   During the course of the meal, you are visited by Mickey, Daisy Duck, and Goofy in their safari clothes.

After breakfast, we met up with Mary's family and did the Kilimanjaro Safari.  We really love the safari, and were lucky to see quite an assortment of animals this trip .  We even had an unplanned stop due to a giraffe who decided to stand in the middle of the road.  And we did the Festival of the Lion King show.  This is truly one of the most magnificent shows on property.  And it didn't disappoint.  Following the show, some did Expedition Everest, others did the Jungle Trek.  Rod and I headed toward the front of the park, shopping as we went.  We just don't handle the heat as well as the kids.  Since the twins were going to swim with Mary's family that afternoon, Rod and I returned to our resort, shared a shrimp po' boy and chocolate iced brownie, and then returned to our room to take a nap.

 We met the group at the Magic Kingdom for the Halloween Party.  Rod and I hadn't had dinner, so we headed to Cosmic Ray's.  I got the chicken nuggets and fries, and Rod had a burger and fries.  We hadn't planned on watching the first parade; but as it neared parade time, we found ourselves near the handicapped viewing area, and so we found a spot and watched the first parade.  The beginning of the parade is heralded by the arrival of the headless horseman.

The parade features many of the Disney characters  and some of them are in costume.  The Pooh characters are always in some sort of costume.  Captain Hook and Smee are aboard one pirate ship being closely followed by the crock, while Captain Jack Sparrow and Barbosa are aboard another.
One of the highlights of the parade for me are the gravediggers.  They perform much like a drill team, scraping their shovels along the pavement and creating sparks.  It really is an impressive thing to see.

The Hallowishes fireworks are always spectacular, and Mary found us a perfect spot in front of the Crystal Palace to watch them. It seems like  Rod and I were party poopers, but the heat was taking it's toll on us, so after the fireworks we decided to head back to our resort for an early night.  We watched a little tv before turning in for the night.

Tomorrow,  Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Day 1 Trip Report

After leaving Pittsburgh before the crack of dawn, we arrived in Orlando at 8:10 a.m.  The weather was beautiful, although the heat was building already.  After picking up our rental car from Budget (the best price we found was through Costco and we had a free upgrade coupon), we proceeded to drive to our resort, Port Orleans French Quarter.  I had pre-registered, and so they knew to expect us early.  Our rooms were ready, Rod and I in a handicapped accessible room right next door to the twins.  Armed with my "bag of necessities for park exploration", we proceeded to Magic Kingdom.

The first thing I needed to do was to buy a new hat.  No ears!  I thought it was a cute hat, but unfortunately Krissy looked better in it than I did.

The twins, Rod and I were on the Deluxe Dining Plan; Mary's family had the regular dining plan.  The Burton 4 headed to Liberty Tree Tavern for lunch and would meet up with the Hogue 4 after lunch.  Liberty Tree Tavern is a must do for us each trip, but we prefer lunch to dinner there.  The others chose fried cheese for their appetizer, while I picked the creamy chicken with wild rice soup. It was delicious, and sadly when I asked for the recipe, I was told there was none available.  After lunch, Rod and the twins decided to ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and I went back to the beginning of the park to get our PhotoPass Plus activated.  It was more expensive than the basic Photopass plan, but included all ride photos and character meal photos, which are usually an extra fee so it was worth the extra money.  As I was motoring down Main Street, I came across the Dapper Dans, the barbershop quartet in the Magic Kingdom.  My dad was a barbershop lover, and I guess I inherited that love.  I had not seen them on past trips, and so was glad to be able to stop and listen a spell without the others.

I drove back to Big Thunder Mountain, where the others had regrouped, and they rode Big Thunder Mountain again.  We moved onto the Hall of Presidents, which was air conditioned and one of Pat's favorite nap spots.  Then it was onto Mickey's PhilharMagic.  It's a 12 minute 3D show that is so cute and features some of Disney's most recognizable tunes.  We continued to tour the park, trying to concentrate on attractions that were air conditioned.  We did the Monster's Inc. Laugh Floor, always a fun show.  We went down to Storybook Circus, a new area which is not fully completed at this time.  The Big Top Souveniers Tent had just opened that morning, and we loved it. Krissy was able to find the Oswald ears she had been searching for, and the fudge there was to die for.  The rest of the group rode the Walt Disney Railroad from the new Fantasyland station, but I didn't want to leave my scooter behind, so Rod and I walked down toward the castle.

 We went at Kona for dinner.  I always get the duck pot stickers as my appetizer, and was a little disappointed to discover that they were now pork pot stickers.  The creamy ginger soy sauce was still the same, and they were just as delicious.  Instead of the normal steak, I decided to order the Kona-coffee rubbed pork chop which was served with mashed sweet potatoes.  It was an excellent choice, and I rounded off my meal with the chocolate-banana creme brulee.  A great meal, to be sure.  After dinner, Jimmy got permission for us to leave our rental cars parked at the Polynesian while we returned to the Magic Kingdom for the Main Street Electrical Parade and Wishes fireworks.  (Sprinkle Disney Magic Here)

We proceeded to the handicapped viewing area to watch the parade.  Disney sets aside specific areas for handicapped individuals and their families to view parades and fireworks.  Standing next to me was an extremely tall man with his wife and three daughters - none of whom were handicapped.  I couldn't see past him.  Two different cast members came to him at three different times and asked him to move to the back and he refused.  This man was so ignorant that he even stood in front of his own daughters to watch the parade.  Pat finally asked him to remove his back pack so that I could look behind him to see the parade.  He was quite nasty, but finally obliged.  (Remove some Disney Magic here) I told him that I hoped he was proud of the example he was setting for his children.  The parade was stunning, we got video, but no snapshots.

After the parade, we proceeded up Main Street to view the Wishes fireworks from a position a little closer to the Castle.  As usual the fireworks were magnificent.  We left after the fireworks to make our way to the monorail so that we could return to the Polynesian and retrieve our car.  While we were in line for the monorail, a family cut in line in front of us, and daughter Pat called them on it.  They replied with a barrage of not-so-nice expletives and continued to berate us the rest of the way up the ramp in a language we didn't understand.  There was a long wait since there were technical difficulties on one line.  (Remove some Disney magic here)  Still at the end of the day, we had some Disney magic left - no one could take that away.

Tomorrow - Animal Kingdom and the Halloween Party

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Home Again, Jiggety Jig

Last night,  after a long delay at the Orlando airport due to electrical storms, we were finally able to leave Florida and return home.    It was along week, way to hot and humid for this fall-lovin gal. It was a semi magical trip.  I rented an ECV, it's much more sturdy than mine.  I rented from the same company that I used last year, but this year they sent me a scooter that was possessed - the Demon Scooter, to be sure.  The first day there we planned on seeing the Main Street Electrical Parade followed by the Wishes fireworks.  Of course, it's dark and the park is packed.  But I discover that the Demon Scooter has horns and a headlight that don't work.  Furthermore, it seems to have no concept of what the speed control is for.  At one point in Hollywood Studios, it sped up without warning, and I ran into a metal pole, slamming my stomach against the tiller.  It hurt like a  . . . well you get the picture.  All night I worried about whether I would need to have my spleen removed.  You know in "movie land" people who are injured always need to have their spleen removed.  And, I was, after all in Hollywood Studios!

The next day we were in EPCOT.  I went to go to the bathroom and turned off the key just like I always do.  When I came back, I had my left foot on the scooter when it suddenly lurched forward, knocking me to the ground. It had to be possessed to move on its own.  First my left knee twisted, followed by my sitter hitting the ground, then my back, followed  immediately by my noggin - ooof, oh, thump!  And all I said was "oh no".  Pat ran out and got her dad - his first visit to the ladies room.  I asked for another big strong man, but instead a big strong lady came to my rescue.  And she, Rod and Pat had me on my feet in no time. DEMON, for sure.

And the battery charge indicator wasn't any better.  It showed that I still had three green dots when the scooter just stopped dead, and Rod had to push me and the scooter to the car.  Thank goodness we were nearly out of the park. When I tried to call with my complaints, I got a voice mail that was so garbled that I couldn't understand a word of it.  I returned the scooter with a note to the renter that I was extremely disappointed in the scooter they had provided. And when it was returned to bell services, I bid it a glad farewell.  I'll take my "old blue" any day.