Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Travel Tuesday

Well, after bragging about the 41 miles I walked in Disney, I was rightly humbled. I woke up this morning and could barely move. My back!! Went to the doctor--all is well. X-rays didn't turn up anything bad--just a pulled muscle (most likely). I left with a cortisone shot and muscle relaxers. I'm already feeling better!!

Anyway, here's that last I'll report on Disney:
Morgan, Elizabeth and Victoria--the only grands that could make it. Jordan and Mitchell had to work!
The gingerbread carousel in our hotel lobby.

I spent a lot of time in England--window shopping...
...buying tea in Twinings---and NOT buying the most beautiful scarf! I just couldn't talk myself in to spending $95 or $150 for cashmere--not that cold in Nashville. Darn, I wish I would have taken a picture. They would have been perfect with my new pink coat!
Of course there would be a tea display in England while I'm holding the tea I purchased...
...and then posing in the red "telephone box" with Stephanie and Sandy. Butch and I spent a lot of time in England--of course my favorite place in Epcot!
With Butch's recent trip to Morocco in mind, he took me there! He had already explained tangines to me with his photos from the trip. We had to stop at this display. Tangines are a cooking vessel. And then the food is served in it. So, you might have a chicken tangine or vegetable tangine.
We stopped at Victoria's Garden in Canada too.
Steph and Nicky at Hollywood Studios.

Elizabeth, Morgan and Olly (her boyfriend).

Greg and Sandy at Hollywood Studios.

Mindy and Justin meet up with a couple of tall friends!!

That's enough! Until next time Disney...we love you! You were the perfect way to kick off the holidays!!

Saturday, November 27, 2021

The Paradox of Disney

It has been the best trip ever, but then it's been the worse yet!

Truly, it's fabulous because it's Disney and every attention is paid to the most minor detail. Simply wonderful and incredible. I'm so glad we're here during the holidays. The decorations are gorgeous--again down to every detail. A bucket list item for sure.
(Cinderella's Castle in the Magic Kingdom lit up at night. It's hard to believe that it's the same castle as the picture below--except during the day!)

We're staying at the beach club resort, so all the wreaths here are beachy with sea shells, sea horses, starfish and coral. There's even a revolving, gingerbread carousel in the lobby. 

They have a hot chocolate bar set up in the lobby too. It's the most fabulous hot chocolate--so creamy. I've had it 3 times--once plain, once with butterscotch Schnapps and once with Bailey's---all excellent. I didn't let myself have it again---it has to be 500 calories!! Anything that good...

Also, fabulous is being with family. It's really different with everyone all grown up. We are having the BEST time. We always make the most of our time and I have the steps/miles to prove it! 97,166 steps and 41 miles! That's a lot of wear on the old feet in 4.5 days! 

But...our trip has also been terrible! As Butch and I discussed, they changed the entire program here--surely, a lot to do with Covid and new protocols. But, it's too much all at once. It's complicated and confusing. So here's the deal: 

1.You pay extra to stay at a premium resort so you can have the "early" hours--which is now only a half hour early. It used to be two hours early.

2. You pay an exorbitant amount for the park entry fee, but that doesn't really get you much. Just the opportunity to spend more money. Yes, you can ride some rides for free and without the "Genie"--IF you don't mind spending hours in line.
3. You pay extra to get the Park Hopper Pass. We've always done this so you can go to the early opening park and then leave in the afternoon to take a break at the pool or nap. Then we go back to the park that is open until midnight or one a.m. Now the Park Hopper passes only let you "hop" to one other park as long as it's AFTER 2 p.m. And the late nights are gone. Epcot and the Magic Kingdom close by 10 p.m., Hollywood Studios by 8 and Animal Kingdom by 8. Actually, I'm not complaining about that. I don't think I could do the real late nights anymore anyway. But it seems like the park hopper pass isn't worth the extra money.

4. Now you have to pay extra for the "Genie" which is $15.00 per person per day so you can reserve rides. It used to be that you could get "fast passes." Those are gone. But here's the deal with the "Genie"--you have to go in to the app every day at 7 a.m. if you hope to get any rides. It only lets you book a group of 10 at a time--we have 12! The other two have to go on a different ride. And, you can only book two rides. Some of the rides have an additional fee to ride. They don't allow any lines for those. You can only go if you pay. Oh, and if you are paying, then you can book 12! Those fees aren't cheap. $8-11 per person per ride extra!

5. Disney said they were limiting the number of people in the parks due to Covid. I think that is an outright lie! Don't get me wrong, we're used to the crowds---and that has never deterred us---we always went over the 4th of July week when it was brutally hot and really crowded. Still we loved it. But this time, it's equally as crowded, but 1000's of people are on scooters and pushing double-wide strollers. They are so rude. We've all been run over or cut off several times. One man ran in to me with his scooter. I turned around and looked at him and he didn't even apologize! I couldn't believe it. I could have fallen down! As Butch observed, "people are using the strollers and scooters as battering rams!" Steph says that, "if you don't use a scooter at home, you shouldn't be able to use one here--at least, not without lessons!" 

Actually, the whole stroller/wheelchair thing is ridiculous. We watched two families on the shuttle juggle those double-wides--one knocking in to us--and there was only one baby between the two families! The next youngest looked to be about 5. I'm pretty sure none of those older kids rode. 

Then, one afternoon, we were sitting while juggling our food---another problem---so much seating has been eliminated. Anyway, as we were eating, a woman wheeled an empty wheelchair up to a standing table. She had her teenage son with her. She walked off to get food and returned with her husband. They all stood around the table and ate their food. We never did see who was using the wheelchair. We think it's just another way people take advantage to get preferential treatment on the rides. 

6. Speaking of the food situation. There are few places to sit. And by that I mean that people will sit for a half hour or more, saving"hogging" tables before they even get their food. The lines are long and take forever. You can do a mobile order---which is the only way you can do it at some places---but it still takes very long. You have to wait in long lines for that too--only to be told your order isn't ready and you will be notified when it is. So back in the line you go. It's terrible. 

7. We were not able to get any dining reservations. We think now that it was because our group was too big. Each couple managed to get a dining reservation, but none of us together--and not at any of the really good restaurants. We did find one restaurant--Martha's Vineyard--at our hotel that was able to take 8 of us. But that was the only place. Luckily, that day, Mindy and Justin had plans with his brother and family. Victoria and Elizabeth wanted to do their own thing, so that left the rest of us to enjoy a nice sit-down dinner! Butch and I went to an Italian place on the Boardwalk that was excellent. We got pretty tired of balancing a plate and drink, so it was nice to actually sit at a table!

8. The parades as we once knew them are gone! Now they are dinky and underwhelming with only two or three attractions. They used to be big, full on extravaganzas. Again, Covid has something to do with that. Maybe the fun parades will come back in the future.

9. You must have the Disney mobile app for booking everything. Everyone in your party is linked together. That was nearly impossible. It took an hour and a half when the girls arrived to get that straightened out.

10. The bottom line is, Disney was always a fine running machine. Now, they changed too much all at once and it's chaos. That "Genie" thing is a joke--and an expensive one at that. Park hopping is no longer easy either. You MUST go to the first park that you designated with your reservation before you can "hop" to the next--and that's only after 2 p.m. So if you change your mind about a park, tough. If you don't want to go to the park you designated, tough! You cannot go to the next park without first having to check in the original one. 

We had the situation where Elizabeth wasn't feeling well. Sandy stayed behind with her. By the time they were ready to go, we had all left Animal Kingdom and were ready to hop to Epcot. Sandy literally had to go to Animal Kingdom just to swipe her band and leave to meet us at Epcot. That's ridiculous!

Nothing is easy anymore. Now, with having to book your rides every day at 7 a.m., it's stressful. Justin posted this on Instagram. 

This really sums it up! Sandy, Stephanie and Mindy tried every day at 7 a.m. to get our rides. It ended up that Sandy and Mindy had glitches with their app, so that made it even more stressful for Steph! Every day, you start off feeling stressed. That's not how a vacations is supposed to be. Plus, if you might like to sleep in, you can't. That's sad. 

Still, we're thankful that we were able to do this with our family. We've always said that Disney is the most expensive trip we take and that's still true. We are Disney people. There's no doubt about that. Even with the hassle and problems of the new system---and the really big learning curve, we will go again. Disney really is that fantastic! We love it. So, I guess we'll keep putting up with the crap!!

Kudos to Sandy and Mindy who handled all the pre-arrangments and spent countless hours trying to get it all figured out. Kudos to Stephanie for taking the lead once we arrived, arranged most of our rides and figured out the app.

It was definitely stressful for them but really took the pressure off of us! Gone are the days where you can arrive, buy a pass and go! It takes a lot of pre-planning every step of the way!

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Happy Thanksgiving!

We are having a great time! The first day was really chilly at night! Still we made the most of it.
I've always wanted to see the Christmas decorations and they do not disappoint!
It's all so beautiful. It's Disney, so you wouldn't expect any less! Plus, we are really logging the miles: Tuesday--15,313 steps for 6 miles. Yesterday--21,440 steps for a total of 8.4 miles! Love racking up those miles. Actually, it's my incentive to keep moving. But, I'll admit, my feet hurt yesterday! We'll see how it goes today!

More to come!

I hope you all enjoy your Thanksgiving with your family. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Travel Tuesday

Well, by the time you are reading this, we are getting ready to head to Disney World. 

On Saturday night, Butch and I watched a thing on Disney+ about how Disney changes to Christmas overnight. We were hoping to see that, but it happens on November 1st. Still, it was so interesting and amazing! I can't wait. 

110,000 poinsettias. They grow everything in their own nursery and green houses. I can't imagine what 110,000 poinsettias looks like growing. It's got to be acres. 

I asked Butch if they actually owned all of the heavy duty equipment they need to transform everything. He says they do. They used to offer "behind the scenes" and garden tours. I keep saying I'm going to do that some time. I really mean it. My mind is already blown. I want to see how they store it all in these unbelievable warehouses. The whole operation is beyond belief. I would also like to see the whole underground operation too.
This is our first time going during the Christmas season. We're excited---it's a bucket list item for all of us! Twelve of us are going. Unfortunately, real life jobs prohibit Jordan and Mitchell from being with us. But, Jordan lives in LA, so she can go to Disneyland. I'll have to ask her if she's been at Christmas time before. 

People say, "Do you know how crowded it's going to be? Thanksgiving is the busiest time of the year!" Well, to that I say---we've always gone over the 4th of July and, yes, it's really crowded--so we're used to it. Plus, in summer it is really hot!! But Disney knows how to keep you happy while you wait. There's always something to do and see. 

This year, it's going to be crowded, but not as crowded as usual. They are limiting the number of people in the parks due to Covid. That could be good--or bad--since we always get the Park Hopper pass. Covid protocol requires that we "check-in" with the parks before we go to it to see if there is space available. It's going to be a whole new experience. We're ready!!

We have stayed at several different resorts throughout the 35 years we've been going. But, by far, our favorite is The Beach Club Resort. We love it because you can walk to Epcot and Hollywood Studios from there. We won't have to wait on the shuttles every day. In fact, we're planning to "uber" it to the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom as word is out that the shuttles are constantly full. 

We really don't know how it's going to be this trip. But as Stephanie said, "Even if we don't get to ride a single thing---it's Disney!!" And it's Christmas. Who could ask for anything more!!

I'm hoping to have time to post a few pictures from there. We'll see. I know it's going to be a busy week for us. In the meantime, here are a few photos from The Beach Club. I'm anxious to see it in person!
The decorations have a nautical theme. 
I love the soft blues and green colors of the Christmas decor. 

I hope you all have a great time with your families over the holiday weekend. We all loved our Thanksgiving dinner last Saturday. I realized the reason that it was all so good was that we have not had a turkey dinner in two years!

Monday, November 22, 2021

Me on Monday

I've mentioned before that I LOVE my Kindle. But recently, I had something happen that has never happened before. I think it has to do with the book I was reading---The Thursday Night Murder Club. Apparently, the author, or editors or whoever chooses the font, decided to use two different fonts for the two main characters. The problem is that one of the fonts is so much smaller than the other, that I was having a hard time reading it. So, I went in and changed the size. The problem with that is this:
In order to be able to read this font comfortably...
...this one is humongous! And, yes, before you say it---I do know there is a place where you can actually change the font itself. However, that didn't work with this book. So my choice was to leave it like this, or keep changing the font size every chapter. And the chapters were short! So, I just left it. 

The problem with that is---it's just another way to make me feel "old!"

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Something for Sunday

Yesterday we celebrated Stephanie's birthday. Every year, she usually asks for a big breakfast. You know, bacon, eggs, potatoes, biscuits and gravy--the whole nine yards. Well, this year, she got the idea from Sandy to request a Thanksgiving dinner.

Since we are going to be in Disney World over Thanksgiving, Sandy planned a turkey dinner for this weekend for her family. Mitchell and Victoria came home for it. Soooo, Steph asked me to do the same. I don't mind doing a turkey dinner--actually I think it's one of the easiest meals to make. 

Here was the menu---same for every Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners for ages---although we usually have a couple of additional sides. This year, I didn't even double everything since we're not going to be around for the leftovers. On the menu: turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberries, green bean casserole, corn pudding, carrot casserole, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie. I had planned rolls, but I burned them, so they got tossed! No one missed them. 

But this post is really about what Mindy brought for us to have before dinner. It was the star attraction!
It's a charcu-turkey!! So darn cute. She said it only took about an hour to make. I just love it. That would be a really fun happy hour thing during the holidays. Hmmm, since I'm having a Christmas party this year---first in ages---I just might do it. Or maybe I'll hire Mindy to do it! Yeah, that's it.
In keeping with our regular Thanksgiving traditions, we start off with bloody Mary's and champagne. Then Butch does the football pool. I won $10 this year! And we play games. The only thing missing this year was the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade. I'm not complaining, since we will be at Disney. But, they haven't started up their parades again. At least as far as we know. As Sandy says, things are changing daily!!

Speaking of Sandy, she sent me this picture. 
She wanted to show me that she was using her grandmother's silver. She always sets a beautiful table. She got that from her momma! I've always said, "that's my favorite thing to do---set the table!" I love seeing her table settings. I asked her what the foil things are. She said they are fudge covered Oreos. They make pretty table favors--don't they? She said they came from TJ Maxx. I'm going to look for them for Christmas. 

Our table favors were Chex party mix--also requested by Stephanie. Darn, I didn't think to take a picture of my table. It was very nice, but not nearly as pretty as Sandy's. The dining room is a bit of a mess--full of boxes due to the remodel. We made the best of it.

Anyway, it was a fun family day for all of us!! 

PS I took a 2 hour nap after everyone left! It really felt like Thanksgiving! Apparently all you need is the meal!

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Scrapbook Saturday

Here are a few layouts from out recent weekend:
This was our AYM topic for October---"your favorite childhood game." This was a fun topic and made us all think about what games we loved as kids. I was the queen of jacks!
On this weekend, I focused on my travel pages. I have a goal of only one double page spread to represent each trip. Otherwise, it becomes way too bulky--I might only get 3 trips per album. With focusing on one double page spread, I can get a dozen. Considering we're doing a lot of traveling these days, that's plenty!
If you notice this page and the one below, I've shown a flip up to tinkle a couple extra pictures.

This layout was about our 50 years together. Man, it's gone by really fast!
And here was out girls trip to the beach. What a great time. We'll be doing this every year!!

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Five Things Thursday

This post is more like "these 5 things happened this week!"

1. Butch has started making the bed! It started at the beach last week. I guess since I've had the last 50 years...
He's taking the next 50! Works for me! And, no, I don't care if it's not perfect!

2. My brother, Matt let his hair grow out during Covid. 
He said he was keeping it until we go on our cruise in January. 
He decided to go ahead and get it cut now. Little did he know that our cruise would be cancelled!
That's okay! I think it looks great! Long hair, short hair, I love this guy any way!

3. Connie and I went to the movie to see "Spencer" this week. When I saw this car sitting empty with lights flashing, I figured it must belong to the security people or something.
Two and a half hours later, it was still sitting here with it's lights flashing! Oh, and the movie? Don't waste your time. It was slow, boring, had terrible music and just about nothing was true. I felt like whoever wrote it was just exploiting Diana again. Two bright notes, Kristen Stewart did a great acting job and is even more beautiful as a blonde!

4. My sister, Janice, is finally ready to let her Texas property go and acknowledge accept that she now lives in Salem, MO.

Still, it was hard to let her '63 Volkswagen go! It's a sweet little thing. I'm just glad she's ready to put both feet in Missouri!

5. Speaking of Janice, she had to go to the laundromat yesterday. Jennifer sent me this picture.
Aside from the fact that it looks like a nice, clean place---I love the border along the ceiling. I made this picture as big as I could so you could get a closer look. Random socks--what could be more perfect! It would really be something if all of those socks were actually left behind here. Now if I'd only kept my random socks through the years, I'm sure I could do this in my laundry room. Hmmm...I think I'll start right now. I'm pretty sure I have at least 3 random socks in a little basket on top of the dryer along with other random stuff that turns up while doing laundry. Just a cute idea.