Thursday, June 30, 2011

Brave Trailer

I am really looking this movie as Pixar brings us a new Disney Princess, and the tale of her journey through ancient times, epic battles and mystical legends, “Brave,” joins the lore of the rugged and mysterious Scottish Highlands.  "Brave", which with Mark Andrews is on it's second director, had a working title of "The Bear and the Bow", and is said to be a darker, more mature Fairytale in the tradition of the Brother's Grimm.  The animation in the trailer looks beautiful, and I'm excited to meet this spunky red headed Princess.  I haven't seen a lot of information out there yet for this one, but I received the following synopsis from Walt Disney Studios yesterday. 

"Merida is a skilled archer and impetuous daughter of King Fergus (voice of Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (voice of Emma Thompson). Determined to carve her own path in life, Merida defies an age-old custom sacred to the uproarious lords of the land: massive Lord MacGuffin (voice of Kevin McKidd), surly Lord Macintosh (voice of Craig Ferguson) and cantankerous Lord Dingwall (voice of Robbie Coltrane). Merida’s actions inadvertently unleash chaos and fury in the kingdom, and when she turns to an eccentric old Wise Woman (voice of Julie Walters) for help, she is granted an ill-fated wish. The ensuing peril forces Merida to discover the meaning of true bravery in order to undo a beastly curse before it’s too late."

The film takes aim at theaters on June 22, 2012, and will be presented in Disney Digital 3D™ in select theaters. Follow on Twitter and Facebook for the latest information on what's happening.
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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

2009 Jam Jar Shiraz

IMG_0806Jam Jar Sweet Shiraz (like jazz) is a fresh, fruity, semi-sweet red wine that fills the gap between those deep tannic reds that my husband likes and cloying dessert like reds that I'm fonder of.  The grapes are grown in Paarl Region of South Africa, where it's Rhône-like climate is ideal for cultivation of the Shiraz grape.  Jam Jar showcases blueberries, blackberries in taste, but it's sweetness is tempered with acidity so that it's not cloying or gooey in your mouth. There is a hint of tannin in the finish, yet it doesn't unpleasantly dry out the palette.  Easy and enjoyable to sip on it's own, Jam Jar matches up equally well with a cheeseburger as it does dessert.

I've read many reviews of Jam Jar that say it's too sweet, but as a wine drinker that doesn't usually like dark, oaky, tannic reds; I really enjoyed this wine as a happy medium.  It's not the super sweet syrup that I have found in many "sweet reds", rather it's an enjoyable red wine that helps bridge the gap between what I frequently drink and what my husband prefers.  This is a bottle of wine that we can both enjoy.  In Rockford, IL you can pick up a bottle of Jam Jar for about $10

Jam Jar Shiraz is another Disney wine find that you can easily find a bottle of at home as well. If you're at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge you can pick up a bottle of Jam Jar in the Zawadi Marketplace where Disney merchandise mingles with fabulous art and wine gems straight from the African Continent.  Enjoying bottle of Jar Jar Sweet Shiraz on the balcony while enjoying sunset over the savannah is a relaxing way to finish your day.

**update** seems that me saying that the correct pronunciation "like jazz" is controversial [thanks for the emails] I have been told in the past by winemakers that "like jazz" is correct.  M-W.com says differently and has an "oz" pronunciation for the word "Shiraz".  Either way it's a wine worth trying, so don't worry about your speech and just enjoy a glass. :-)

Mosaic - Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Living Proof

I got such a great reaction from the trailer I posted for the upcoming Dreamworks Film 'The Help".  It seems like many of you have read the book and look forward to taking the journey again with the women of Jackson Mississippi.  Grammy winning singer Mary J. Blige has lent her stunning voice to this project that has personal meaning for her family.  Take a moment and watch this interview with her as she discusses why this movie is so special.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Lunch with me at Yak & Yeti


Yak & Yeti Building

Flags and Bells amongst the Ruins

Yak & Yeti Window

Upstairs at Yak & Yeti

Beef & Broccoli w/ Brown Rice

Yeti Mask

Cream Cheese Wontons

Friday, June 24, 2011

ALOHA!! Hawaiian Vacation


Last week when Hurricane Dad and I saw the Cars 2 preview we were treated to several antastic previews of coming attractions, and an other great short film from Pixar. This mini-flick takes us back to Bonnie's bedroom to visit our friends from Toy Story. “Toy Story Toons: Hawaiian Vacation” features Woody (voice of Tom Hanks) and Buzz (voice of Tim Allen) and the rest of the favorite “Toy Story 3” toys as they create the ultimate Hawaiian vacation for Ken (voice of Michael Keaton) and Barbie (voice of Jodi Benson). It seems Ken badly miscalculated their travel arrangements." Never to fear though because the whole gang bands together to make sure that Ken gets the vacation of his dreams right there at home. Some serious hilarity ensues in this fantastic short. Kids will find it fun, but the adults will be rolling in the aisles over the jokes. Or maybe, it's just because I've used glow sticks as poi, either was I think this short deserves an Oscar because it's just so dern fun.

Don't feel bad Ken, that's the only way I'm getting to Hawaii as well...

“Toy Story Toons: Hawaiian Vacation” appears exclusively with CARS 2 in theaters everywhere Tonight June 24th.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Enough with the lazies!!

I went to the doctor for a check up earlier this week and was faced with a cruel fact that no, Kirk hadn’t screwed up my laundry when my pants didn’t fit last week.  What happened is that I’ve gained 10 pounds so far this year.  Bleck… I’m so not okay with that, but I also have really been eating a TON of junk food, and not working out at all.  Seriously.  I think I went walking three times since the 5K last October.  Laziness and a sweet tooth were taking over my life once again.  Alright so enough of that!

For the past three days Tori (my oldest daughter) and I have been back to the gym.  Our goal is to go every day for the next month in order to recreate the habit, and then we’ll probably taper off to every other day towards the end of July.  Food, well, no more sweets in the house.  If I go out to get something I’ll deal with that but NOTHING sweet, gooey, baked or chocolaty is coming home from my nemesis, the grocery store bakery.  Today's work out kicked my butt, but tomorrow is Yoga day and I love that class.  I might even like to look into taking some classes through Online Education, maybe I'll even look into gaining an online nutrition degree.

I’m already registered for the Halloween 5K in Walt Disney World on October  1st, so I need to get back in shape for that race through Disney's Animal Kingdom.  Lest I be left behind for Lion food….

  • You can track my progress on Daily Mile, there’s even a cute little widget right there in my side bar. 
  • You can also find my work outs posted on RunKeeper profile.   

I'm not going to eat them though... promise...

Disclaimer: This post has been sponsored.

One Magnificent Bite

My experience at Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s annual Toast of the Town Gala was highlighted by one amazing bite that blew my mind.  It was the exceptional taste of lamb bacon with peas and apple tossed in dressing from 676 Restaurant & Bar at Chicago's Omni Hotel.

An ever changing food selection 676 focuses on using ingredients from local Midwest farmers put together in an "approachable, organic and sustainable" way. "676 is devoted to practicing environmental wellness initiatives" because they feel guests "need to know where their food comes from, how it is grown and who is growing it".  The one small bite I had was full of spectacular bacon flavor with their house hickory smoke, it sat as a spectacular contrast to the bright crisp flavor of the apples and peas, with the acidity of the honey mustard.  The honey was even from their own hives and it was winning all around. 676 Restaurant & Bar was the shining star of my evening, and I hope to get to their location soon.

 If you're in Chicago soon, don't miss out on this spectacular venue.

IMG_0790 IMG_0791

Check out my full review of Chicago's Toast of the Town HERE!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Summer Fun! Wordless Wednesday

Katie & Friend

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Muppets Movie Trailer

Muppet Fast Facts! 
  •      Funnyman Jason Segel (TV’s “How I Met Your Mother,” “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”) stars in, co-writes and executive produces “The Muppets.”
  •          “The Muppets” is directed by James Bobin, who was a director/writer/EP for HBO’s “Flight of the Conchords.” 
  •       Kermit received a star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2002. His song “The Rainbow Connection” was nominated for an Academy Award®.
  •       Bret McKenzie, who starred in, wrote for and served as composer for HBO’s “Flight of the Conchords,” is the music supervisor for “The Muppets,” as well as the writer/producer on some of the songs, which include big Muppet-style opening and closing numbers. 
  •       It’s been 11 years since the Muppets’ last big-screen feature film.  

Monday, June 20, 2011

Cars 2 Review and Giveaway!

Cars 2 is racing into theatres everywhere on June 24th!

This past weekend Hurricane Dad and I had the opportunity to attend a screening of Disney Pixar's lastest hit Cars 2 in 3D.  I wasn't too sure how I felt about seeing another 3D movie, as the technology left me a little flat when we saw Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.  After seeing this Pixar feature in 3D I don't know that I would have wanted to any other way.  The combined technologies of Pixar's cutting edge animation style with Real 3D produces nothing less than a spectacular viewing experience.  With the added depth at times it was easy to forget you were watching animation.  We also were treated a preview of The Lion King in 3D, and it was very worthwhile.   

I can say without a doubt that in my opinion this 12th feature-length animated film from this Academy and Golden Globe Award winning studio is another smash hit.  Once again pushing the edge with it's eco-based storyline,  Pixar takes us on a fast paced action adventure around the world with Lightning McQueen and his best friend Tow Mater.  In fact for my husband and I the "sub-plot" of Mater becoming a spy took center stage and really drove the action as well as the comedy in the movie.  Fans of Mater (voice of Larry the Cable Guy) will not be disappointed as their anti-hero works to save the day along side super spy Finn McMissile (voice of Michael Caine) while Lightning searches his soul to figure out what it means to be a good friend. 

John Lasseter once again the driver’s seat to direct this Cars film and his legendary creativity doesn't disappoint.  I thought that the film successfully breached the difficult gap between keeping the attention of adults and children alike, by creating a kid friendly story of friendship that kept the adults laughing right along side their youngsters.  There were many hidden gems from a wide variety of Pixar's Films to be found throughout, so you can be sure that easter egg hunters will not be disappointed.

I wasn't a huge fan of the first Cars movie, but Cars 2 was a fantastic romp around the globe set to some really rockin' music, that kept me laughing along the way.  Cars 2 opens in theaters everywhere on this Friday  June 24th, see it!

Get more info on the Cars 2 Official Website

To help get you in the mood, Walt Disney Pictures is providing us with a great CARS 2 swag pack to give away to one of our readers!  To enter simply leave a comment telling me what you love most about your favorite Car! A winner will be chosen using Random.org on June 30th. 

CARS 2 Swag Pack Includes:

CARS 2 Youth t-shirt
CARS 2 set of 3 bumper tickets
CARS 2 temporary tattoo sheet 
CARS 2 puzzle

Disclaimer: I was invited to a press screening of Cars 2 and prize pack is provided by Walt Disney Pictures. This in no way influenced my opinion of the movie, all thoughts contained herein are entirely my own.

Let's Go Summer Contest Winner!

And the winner is... Beth Green!


Congratulations and I hope you enjoy your Disney Junior Goodies! Look for an email from me soon Beth!

Chicago's Whitehall Hotel

IMG_0763Hurricane Dad and I stopped by to spend the night at the DVC Concierge Collection Hotel in Chicago.  The Whitehall Hotel is a boutique property with a fabulous location that DVC Members can stay at for about 50 points a night (we booked on cash for $262 including parking and breakfast).  Just off the magnificent mile and around the corner from Chicago's Historic Water Tower, the Whitehall is at the heart of shopping and dinning in the city.   We left the car with the valet and checked in.  A little jaded perhaps, and obviously used to the grandeur of Disney Resorts because the cramped little lobby of this historic building gave me a bit of pause.  The photos were taken of the lobby with me standing in the same spot looking two directions.  The antiques were lovely, but it could have used a touch up to the paint job.   A line of three families waiting to check in seemed to fill the room to capacity, through the door and around a corner were hallways that connected the restaurant to the hotel, and just past the elevator was the concierge desk.  The staff was friendly and attentive, and we received a complimentary upgrade to our room.

IMG_0762  IMG_0761

The attendant in the tiny elevator pushed the button for us and it creaked and shook as it lifted us up to the 21st floor of the building.  We had been put in the Delaware Suit for our stay.  It was a beautiful suite with two full bathrooms, a bedroom with a king sized bed, and a living/dining area.  The classic furnishings made it feel more like we were in an apartment than in a hotel.  DVC members staying at the Whitehall are greeted with a plate of fresh berries and chocolate truffles that accompanies a welcome note from the concierge staff.  Each room had it's own thermostat to control the temperature, it was quite warm when we arrived but cooled down very quickly when we adjusted it to our preference.

The suit had an elegant apartment like feel.



Wireless Internet is $9.95 per 24 hour period. 

This was the most amazing bed with a featherbed topper and
a down comforter and pillows, it was like sleeping on a cloud.
The beautiful granite countertop had garnet inclusions. 

City views aren't always the best, but we had this adorable
rooftop garden to look at.  It seemed to be a chef's herb garden.


In the morning room service delivered an exceptional continental breakfast, once again the staff was attentive and friendly.  The pastries were warm and tasted like they were just baked, the croissant had been made with real butter, and the coffee was delicious.  It was the perfect little pick me up while we were getting dressed to head out for the day.  After a call to the valet to pick up our car, checking out was also simple and easy.  The staff, once again, was exceptionally attentive, as the desk clerk helped us wrap some steamware for safe travels home, and gave us a map to help us find our way to the theater.

I don't know that I would spend 50 DVC points a night to stay there unless I had no other choice.  Booking on cash was a much more economical for us, and we'll still have those points to use on vacation. However, overall we had a lovely evening at the Whitehall hotel.  It's a nice historic boutique property with a highly attentive staff and extremely comfortable rooms.

This post is part of the Disney Blog Carnival #24
stop by for more great Disney News & Views

Disclaimer: Our stay at the Whitehall hotel was paid for and scheduled by DVCMom.  All activities, reviews and opinions expressed on this website are entirely my own.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Toast of the Town Chicago

IMG_0766My husband and I have a passion for food and wine that we like to indulge all year long, however this year we made a special trip into Chicago for Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s annual Toast of the Town Gala.   Benefiting the Field Museum of Natural History, Toast of the Town gathers together winemakers from around the world, and 35 of Chicago’s top restaurants, mixes them together with the sounds of a live jazz band and pours on the fun.   Where else but at this unique event can one taste 500 different wines!?  VIP tickets allowed us into the venue a little early for a chance to have exclusive access to hundreds of reserve wines, and the opportunity to talk one-on-wine with the wine makers and restaurateurs.  You can view the Event Guide to find out all of the fabulous tastes and sips represented.

IMG_0767We had a fabulous time tasting and sipping our way through the event.  I only wished that I had had an extra hand to take more notes on what we were eating and drinking.  It’s very difficult to balance a purse and plate and glass and notebook and camera.  Because of the balancing act, early on in the night I decided to be “done working” and I put the notebook away so I could simply enjoy the event.  I did however keep my camera in my front pocket and was able to snap a couple of pictures of our favorite things. 

Some of the best bites of the night were surprising to me, Carlos’ Restaurant, Ramiro Velasquez, Chef had Morgan Ranch Kobe Beef Sliders that were just exquisite and even though the guys were running late and didn’t have it quite together this was #3 in my top bites of the night.  The Strawberry Panna Cotta with Rosé Wine Gelee and Strawberry Almond Crumble from Sixteen was #2 on my best bites of the night and my favorite dessert by far it was bright and fresh, it went perfectly with the Opera Prima NV Sparkling Pink Moscato I was drinking at the time.  I'll fill you in on where you can find my #1 bite of the night in it's own post later this week.  

Strawberry Panna Cotta w/ Rosé Wine Gelee
and Strawberry Almond Crumble
from Sixteen at Trump Chicago
Chilled Pea Soup, Rhubarb, Lavendar
& Radishes from
Greg Elliott, Executive Chef 

Geordon especially enjoyed some unique offering put forth by Chatham Imports, Inc who showcased Crop Harvest Earth Organic Cucumber Vodka and Crop Harvest Earth Organic Tomato Vodka.  These vodkas incorporated the essence of the vegetables into the vodka.  His favorite of the two was the cucumber.  Since I've recently had tomatoes prepared many new ways, I tried a sip of that one.  The vodka was a little rough for my taste, but it did have a nice tomato scent to it.

Geordon samples the Vodka
Unique Organic Vodkas
As the event progressed the venue became very hot, and crowded, so Geordon and I left a little early.   It was so crowded you could barely move, kind of like Main Street in the Magic Kingdom right before the fireworks, only with more booze. We really enjoyed the time we spent at the event and hope that the organizers can relieve the congestion issues for next year.  If they had spread the tables out just a little farther it would have helped a lot.

Upstairs held some great treats, like my Rosa Regale, and other fabulous wines from Banfi.  The Banfi rep and I spoke a little about Epcot's Food and Wine Festival, where the Banfi distributing arm showcases many of it's fine wines in up to six festival booths.  Geordon and I especially enjoyed learning about the biodynamic wines Banfi is offering and he found a deep red that he really enjoyed.  We also made sure to stop by the table with the Louis Roederer Champange and I toasted my friend Amanda, who is a fan of the brand. 

Louis Roederer NV Brut Premier 
Scharffenberger NV Brut Rosé 
Assorted cupcakes from

Overall we had a fabulous time sipping and tasting our way around this diverse and unique gathering of flavors.  I look forward to next years event.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Happily Ever After...

I've been talking weddings with my Best Friend this week, so I thought that for this weeks Photo Story we'd take a few moments to look at the beautiful Walt Disney World Wedding Pavilion.  I had the opportunity to tour the facility as part of the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration and it was the highlight of my trip. The most romantic settings, famous attention to detail, and luxury care beyond compare are hallmarks of this amazing venue.  I hope when my kids get married that htey want to do it the Disney way.  With Disney Weddings every Bride is a Princess, and gets to experience true Disney magic that starts her off on her very own happily ever after...

Wedding Chapel across bridge

Disney Wedding Chapel

Alter Space

Floral Bouquet

Castle Cake Top

Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Disclaimer: My experience at the Disney Wedding pavilion was part of my paid conference registration to #DisneySMMoms. I am not a Disney employee nor do I speak for the company. All activities, reviews and opinions expressed on this website are entirely my own.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Adventures with Tow Mater

I'm so excited, I've been invited to a preview screening of Cars 2 this weekend and isn't just fun for me, but means goodies for you!  Next week (probably Tuesday) I'll have my thoughts and a review of the movie to let you know what it's all about, and I'll host a Cars 2 Giveaway!  So rev up your engines race fans, because action and adventure are on the way.  

Tow Mater is the favorite car in our house and it seems he'll be getting into plenty a trouble when he and Lightning McQueen head overseas to compete in the first-ever World Grand Prix.  Potholes, detours and hilarious surprises happen when Mater gets caught up in an intriguing international espionage adventure all his own.  Torn between assisting Lightning McQueen in the high-profile race and towing the line in a top-secret mission, the bumbling tow truck has some tough choices to make.  Mater’s action-packed journey leads him on an explosive chase through the streets of Europe and Japan where even the simplest things take on new difficulties.

CARS 2 Comes to a Theater near You on June 24th!  
“Like” CARS 2 on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/PixarCars

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Port Hole
It's simple, but I love this picture.  To me, it's filled with all the possibilities in the world.  

Monday, June 13, 2011

Darth in Disneyland

The new and improved Star Tours: The Adventure Continues is open and taking visitors on a journey across the galaxy. The new adventure is set between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, with Darth Vader and The Empire in control.

Dolby-fueled 3D technology featuring new CGI animation upgrades the ride taking visitors to a more spectacular mix of destinations. Two of any six choices can be visited, including Coruscant, Hoth, Kashyyyk, Naboo, Tatooine, and The Death Star. Three beginning sequences and three endings means riders can now experience Star Tours: The Adventure Continues a total of 54 times and have a different experience each time.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Jungle Cruising

Jungle Cruise Sign


Pygmy War Canoes

Jungle Cruise Queue Flora