Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Blown Glass Mickey's from Germany

Blown Glass Mickeys
Focused on the Magic

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Toys for Tots Walt Disney Style

@Disneybigsis Heather is back today for another great holiday post! I hope that your Thanksgiving was wonderful, and that you're decking the halls for the upcoming winter festivities! ~Kristen
Walt Disney and Toys for Tots

This past weekend was Thanksgiving and with its passing it ushers in the holiday season and all of its magic. For the first time in years my whole family was able to decorate our tree and home together. As we were decorating we were reflecting on this year and how even with the challenges we’ve faced, we are very fortunate. We started talking about how we could help make this season a bit more magical for others not as fortunate. Over the years we have collected many wonderful and magical holiday items, but as time has passed some of their magic has faded for us. We remembered donating some Christmas things last year to a local charity and how the person at the drop off area got so choked up he could hardly help us unload the car. We all knew we needed to go through our decorations and donate them as soon as possible so that others might find the magic in them we once saw. This started me thinking of how we could share not just holiday magic with others, but Disney holiday magic.

Over the years my office has had a toy drive to donate toys to Toys for Tots. My daughter and I would go out each year and buy some toys. We would always go to the Disney Store and pick them out. We figured she loved the toys there, so other kids would too. It was always so much fun buying those toys. Until recent years I had no idea of Walt Disney’s connection to the foundation. I should have guessed it though. Toys for Tots has been around since 1947 and has served tens of thousands of children in need over the last 64 years. In 1948, Walt Disney and his animators designed a logo for Toys for Tots that is still used to this day. They were also the creators of the first poster used and distributed to promote awareness of the foundation. In the years since Disney has continued to support the foundation in various ways including financial donations, cast member toy drives, public service announcements and this year’s “Cuddliest Christmas Tree”. The tree is twenty feet high and made of 1,200 Duffy Bears decked out with a Santa hat and matching holiday sweater. These Duffy Bears will be donated to the central Florida chapter of Toys for Tots.
Toys for Tots Logo

If you would like to help spread a little magic with a toy donation to Toys for Tots yourself you can visit their website https://toysfortots.org to find a local collection area. If you would like to donate to Toys for Tots, but are unable to donate toys this year you can also use your Disney Movie Rewards points. For 100 points Disney Movie rewards will donate a toy or DVD for those point and match it. This can be found in the reward section and is available until December 18 and you can make this donation up to five times.

Another way we as a family like to share a little holiday Disney magic is by taking treats to others. We used to bake goodies, but since becoming gluten free the opportunity to bake all day has lost its appeal. Now we like to make rice krispie treats shaped like Mickey heads. I bought a cookie cutter from Mickey’s Pantry a few years ago at Downtown Disney in Walt Disney World. We even dip the ears in chocolate for extra yumminess. It’s always so much fun to see the delight on peoples faces both young and old when they are given a plate of these treats.
Mickey Treats

At times I have felt that all of the hustle and bustle of the season has unapologetically steamrolled the magic out of the holidays. I really hope that during this holiday season we can all slow down and let our inner child out in a way we usually save for a Disney park. The holidays can be such a magical time and I know many of you have your own way of sharing Disney magic at the holidays and would love to hear about them. Feel free to post them in the comments section below this post. I’m excited to read about what you and your family do. Wishing you all a pixie dusted Chanukah and Christmas!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Epcot's Italy Photo Story

Italy from the Canals
Italian Detail Arches & Balcony
Kristen in Italy Italy Staircase
Italian Cafe
Via Napoli Pizzeria Ta Da! Italian Clown Face Detail
Via Napoli Ovens
Via Napoli Chandelier Via Napoli Main Table
Italian Gondola

Friday, November 25, 2011

Cape May Cafe': My Favorite Character Breakfast

My family has been traveling to the Walt Disney World Resort for longer than I have memory.  From the time that I was a small child, until today we're always had breakfast with the Character at least once a trip.  It's a tradition that the foodie in me enjoys more than any other. We've had breakfast with our Disney favorites at Crystal Palace, Chef Mickey's, 1900 Park Fare, and even Cinderella's Royal Table, but my very favorite place to dine with the Characters has to be the Cape May Cafe' at Disney's Beach Club Resort.

Cape May Sign

Decorated in sea side style Cape May fits right in with the rest of the Beach Club Resort's theming.

The food at Cape May Cafe is, in my opinion, a higher quality than offered at any other Character Buffet on property. The flavors here are rich and full, hot food is kept hot, and cold foods stay cold.  The buffet is never as messy as I've seen the one look at Chef Mickey's.  Some of my favorites include the following: breakfast buffet serves fresh fruits and berries, along with yogurt and assorted hot & cold cereals. Scrambled eggs, omelets, eggs to order, and several delicious "baked breakfast" selections. There are always biscuits and gravy, Pan Baked French Toast, and Mickey waffles as well as asparagus, bacon and sausage, seasoned potatoes. If you're looking for something sweet try the bread pudding with vanilla sauce, muffins, danish, or donuts. Coffee, tea and juice selections are available as well as Mimosas and Bloody Marys that can be special ordered.

Kristen's Breakfast Mickey Waffle

Characters that regularly appear at Cape May include Donald Duck, Goofy, and Minnie Mouse all in their Beach attire.  On my last visit I had the joy of watching them interact with a blind child at the table next to us.  I was in tears observing how tender and gentle they were allowing the child to touch all over their heads, faces and bodies so that he could get to know them.  They played touch games, and the boy was delighted. It was a truly magical moment that made me proud to call myself a Disney fan.

Donald Duck Kristen & Donald

Cape May Cafe is open for breakfast from 7:30am-11:00am, and usually costs $28.75 for adults and $15.97 for children Ages 3-9, or if you're on the dining plan, one table service credit per person. Seasonal and Holiday pricing may apply at Disney's discretion. These prices include tax but NOT gratuity per person, any alcohol is served at an additional fee. This restaurant also honors the Tables in Wonderland discount.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful for You Giveaway!

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

I hope that you’re having a wonderful time with your family and friends. I want to take this moment to thank you, my readers for coming to dvcmom.com and sharing in my many Disney journeys. It means so much to me that you take the time, to read and comment, and email me. Every time I get to answer a question or read a comment about how your experience at Disney was it fills me with joy. I am very, very grateful that I have you.

To celebrate and thank you even more, today begins the first day of a month long contest! Boy do we have a doozy of a prize! Jackie of Jackie’s Magical Moments, Traci of The View from My Fishbowl, and Myself are teaming up to bring you the opportunity to win a seven-night stay in a Global Resort Home!

Global Resort HomesGlobal Resorts is sponsoring our stay in Orlando, Florida this coming February for Princess Half-Marathon Weekend and they thought that we might want to share the love with you! Never one to pass up an opportunity to thank our readers in a very special way, we said "of course!"

Global Resorts manages premier vacation homes in the Orlando area's community around Disney World.  "From 2-bedroom upscale condos to spacious 7-bedroom homes, you're sure to find accommodations that will suit your every need. Unlike traditional hotel rooms and Orlando hotel properties that offer minimal accommodations and amenities, vacation homes in Orlando offer the added space and functionality that can make all the difference in the world." It's an elegant way to have all of the amenities of home while you're on vacation. With 18 years of experience, Global is second to none.

Entering the contest could make for a very happy holiday surprise for your family! Our contest is open until December 24th, and our winner will be notified on Christmas Day!

Leave me a comment below telling me what your favorite Vacation Home Amenity would be, then be sure to follow the follow the directions below in the Rafflecopter 
so that every entry is counted!

  • Not available to anyone that has won a prize with Global in the past 6 months, active/inactive Global staff or affiliated companies.
  • Prizes are not transferable.
  • Entrants must be 25 years of age or greater.
  • Black out dates apply - March, April, Jun, July, December 20th - January 4th.
  • Valid for stays completed by December 20, 2012.
  • Prize is valid for a 7 night stay in a Global Resort Home, 4 bedroom or larger with a pool, based on availability.
  • Actually property will not be guaranteed until 2 weeks prior to travel, however once dates are chosen winners will be guaranteed a home.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Does Your Luggage Go The Distance?

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of TravelPro. All opinions are 100% mine.

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Twilight in Paris - Wordless Wednesday

France Highlighted

I bought an inexpensive tripod for my last vacation with the hope of being able to get some decent night shots. Ultimately I only chose to carry the tripod for one night. I was able to get better shots than ever before, but only with a little editing in picnik. My aunt used to take beautiful shots of Disney at night back in the days when it was just her and her camera, her photo graphs were amazing. I find that today my view of what a good night shot is is skewed because most of the ones that I consider "good" have been put through a decent amount of enhancement through an editing program. Though I haven't spent much time in the French Pavilion over the last few trips I think that it is by far the most beautiful, romantic spot for a stroll and a snack at twilight.

Focused on the Magic

Monday, November 21, 2011

Pixar Releases First Full Trailer for BRAVE

As I've mentioned before I am *REALLY* looking forward to the introduction of Pixar's first Princess in the movie BRAVE. Having been a medieval reenactor for many years, and having raised my daughters in that society, I feel a kinship with the characters of this film. I have to say also, I love love love Merida's hair, it's just plain fabulous. I have a feeling Merida and my Katie are going to have quite a bit in common.

BRAVE is a grand adventure full of heart, memorable characters and signature Pixar humor. It uncovers a new tale in the mysterious Highlands of Scotland where the impetuous Merida (voice of Kelly Macdonald) defies an age-old custom and inadvertently unleashes chaos, forcing her to discover the meaning of true bravery before it’s too late.

BRAVE Opens in select theaters June 22, 2012, 
in Disney Digital 3D™

"Like” BRAVE on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/PixarBrave 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Discover the Cranberry

Cranberry Bog at Food & Wine Festival

Sweet Cranberry Goodness! Cranberry Plants
Oceanspray Cranberry Bog Display

cranberry harvest 10 Large Cranberry
©Kerry Wixted & Holly Ladd
boggy bog©mintyfresh
fresh cranberries anyone?©annshi

I didn't take nearly enough pictures of this fabulous display while at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, so my heartfelt thanks goes out to the folks who contributed to this post through their Creative Commons licensing.

If this post has given you a craving for cranberries, be sure to check out Oceanspray.com for lots of great recipes and information on how this American favorite can enhance you holidays!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Dinner at Citricos

Sitting on the same level as the Monorail Station and sharing a lobby with Victoria and Alberts, Citricos is one of two Disney Signature Restaurants at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. Disney designates restaurants with a unique personality or exceptionally good food as signature establishments, the price points on the menu tend to be higher, and if you are on the Disney Dining Plan eating at a signature restaurant these will cost you two table service credits.

Citricos is one of the Disney Restaurants that offers a private dinning room seating up to 12. There is only one seating offered daily for the Chef’s Domain, but guests who reserve early for this experience may order from the traditional menu or choose to have the chef create unique menu just for them.

We were seated in the main dinning room, decorated in hues of orange and gold with wrought iron rails and mosaic tile floors. With it’s show kitchen on one side and beautiful full wall of windows on the other, the atmosphere was more casual than I expected it to be. If you’re lucky enough to get a table next to the window you’re treated to an outstanding view that overlooks the Marina on one side and the elegant courtyard fountain on the other.  We were seated right next to the show kitchen and enjoyed watching the Chefs prepare dinner.  The Chef who was expediting checked in on us frequently.  It was nice at first, and then I realized what he was really doing was staring down my dress.  LoL... oh well I guess I'll take it as a compliment.

Citricos CItricos Table Detail
Citricos Show Kitchen

Though I’ve had the pleasure of eating here for lunch and breakfast at several special catered events, this was my first time here in the evening to order off of the menu. Southern European food with flavors inspired by the “cuisine of Proven├že, Tuscany and the Spanish Riviera” is what’s on the menu at this eatery.

I have been wanting to try Arancini for quite some time now and I got my first taste tonight at Citricos. The crispy deep fried balls of risotto were filled with Italian sausage, four cheeses and a touch of white truffle oil.  These were okay, but I was not blown away by them.  If you want Arancini at WDW, head over to Via Napoli.  Geordon ordered the Beet Salad, which was absolutely beautiful and really very good. It was one of the best dishes of the night.

CItricos Arancini
Citricos Beet Salad

I had the Braised Short Ribs with Creamy polenta, sauteed greens and blood orange demi glace. which was good.  The demi glace was just beautiful and full of flavor.  I could have done without the bitter greens on top.  Geordon had the braised veal shank and also found it to be good.  Watching the kitchen the veal shank is extremely popular, there was one going out with almost every order leaving the kitchen.  Both dishes were tasty, and had a lovely presentation.

Citricos Braised Short Rib
Citricos Lamb


The highlight of this meal for me, dessert was phenomenal. I ordered the Seasonal Berry Gratin from Citricos. It may very well be the best dessert I have ever eaten. The thin twill cookie shell was filled with fresh, ripe Strawberries, Blueberries, Raspberries and Blackberries, then topped with a Champagne-Grand Marnier sabayon. The Sabayon was light and fresh with an almost effervescent quality to it, and very little alcohol flavor, it was simply divine. The brown speckles you see on top are from them torching the sugar to give it a slightly toasted flavor.   Geordon ordered the Tres Leches Dessert and thought that it was excellent, but that the Berry Gratin was better.

Citricos Berry Gratin Tres Leches Dessert

I was honestly disappointed with this meal.  The food was very good and the service was friendly, but I really didn't feel like it was worth two table service credits.  It seemed to be lacking some sort of magical component that I think Signature experiences should have.  There are so many fantastic places to eat at WDW that I wasn't really able to pinpoint why they think Citricos should be more expensive.  It was a great meal, but with those prices, I'm not in a hurry to go back.

If you would like to make reservations at Citricos you can book online or call (407) WDW-DINE or (407) 939-3463 up to 180 days prior to your visit. DVC Members can also make reservations through Members Services.

This post is part of Disney Blog Carnival #35!
Hop on over to DisMarks for the latest from the Disney Blog-o-sphere!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

War Horse Trailer

Directed by Steven Spielberg and Opening everywhere on Christmas Day!

"DreamWorks Pictures’ “War Horse,” director Steven Spielberg’s epic adventure, is a tale of loyalty, hope and tenacity set against a sweeping canvas of rural England and Europe during the First World War. “War Horse” begins with the remarkable friendship between a horse named Joey and a young man called Albert, who tames and trains him. When they are forcefully parted, the film follows the extraordinary journey of the horse as he moves through the war, changing and inspiring the lives of all those he meets—British cavalry, German soldiers, and a French farmer and his granddaughter—before the story reaches its emotional climax in the heart of No Man’s Land.

The First World War is experienced through the journey of this horse—an odyssey of joy and sorrow, passionate friendship and high adventure. “War Horse” is one of the great stories of friendship and war— a successful book, it was turned into a hugely successful international theatrical hit that is currently on Broadway. It now comes to screen in an epic adaptation by one of the great directors in film history."

It's traditional for my family to go see a movie on Christmas Day and this looks like a fantastic tale! Will you be going to see War Horse?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sharkey and Bones on the Magnificent Mile!

Bones & SharkeyOur favorite pirate band is coming to Chicago this weekend to help Radio Disney Kick off its family-friendly concert to the 20th Annual Magnificent Miles Lights Festival! But that's not where the fun stops because the Disney Channel Stars will keep on comin' for this fantastic concert. Shealeigh, from Radio Disney's Season 4 "N.B.T." Artist, as well as China Anne McClain, "Chyna Parks" from Disney Channel's "A.N.T. Farm" will entertain the crowds. China's current single, "Calling All the Monsters" is #1 on Radio Disney’s Top 30.

Radio Disney AM 1300 Chicago, part of the #1 radio network for kids and tweens! Like so much of what Disney does it's programing is fan driven! Kids help pick the music that is played and are encouraged to interact via a toll-free phone line to the Radio Disney studio. The network is available on 34 terrestrial radio stations and is also available via RadioDisney.com, Sirius and XM satellite radio on channel 79, iTunes Radio Tuner, mobile phones and on the Radio Disney iPhone and Android Apps.

The Annual Magnificent Miles Lights Festival is a tradition in Chicago and a  great way to catch a little Disney magic during this chilly time of year.  So come out this weekend and join in the fun with RadioDisney!
Yo Ho Let's Go!

WHERE: Pioneer Court, 401 North Michigan Avenue Chicago, IL 60611

WHEN: Saturday, November 19
  • 12:00 p.m. Special appearance by Jake from "Jake and the Never Land Pirates" with performance by The Never Land Pirate Band. Jake will also ride on a pirate ship-themed Disney Junior float during the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival procession.
  • 1:00 p.m. Performances by Shealeigh, China Anne McClain and her sisters, Lauryn McClain and Sierra McClain. China Anne McClain and her sisters as well as Shealeigh will also join Radio Disney AM 1300 Road Crew as they greet fans from the Radio Disney float.

Just Keep Swimming... Wordless Wednesday

Beautiful Fish
I had a fabulous time again this year at Foodie Fest's main event held in Ariel's at the Disney Beach Club Resort.  There are several of these lovely aquatic mobiles that remind me to just keep swimming and eventually I'll reach my goal. 

Focused on the Magic