Disney Planning – What to Eat?

Allergen-free eating on the road, Florida, food, geek, Travel, United States

Disney is well known for its food options at their parks. In days of lore it was the giant turkey legs and Mickey shaped ice creams. Today Disney is trying to constantly create and sell Insta-worthy options for a growing number of teens and young adults that capture everything. For those with diet restrictions, the theme park constantly makes strides in providing more and more gluten-free, vegan, and peanut-free options for visitors. The point is, you won’t go away hungry.

Even better than all of the what you CAN eat at Disney is that you can also bring in your own food. Unlike other theme parks, Disney still allows guests to bring food and drinks (non-alcoholic) into the park without issue. For those on a budget, or with numerous food needs (I have to do Gluten Free and Pescatarian, avoiding dairy and soy), this is a godsend. It means I can make sure I have enough food options for the day without having to restaurant to stand hop just to have a snack. However, that doesn’t mean I won’t partake in a little dining fun.

For those wanting something special, there are numerous options for adults, families, and kids to have a magical time. In my line of work, we get a lot of requests for Cinderella’s Royal Table and Be Our Guest which are the big “Princess” dining experiences. Beware that they can cost you a pretty penny. My group of four (including a five year old) will be dining for a late lunch at Be Our Guest and it will be $350 total, including gratuities. Granted, this is a special thing we are doing, a one and done situation, not the norm.

However, if you need to be more budget conscious, there are so many options to get food in the parks.  For those of you wanting tips and information on what is available, I highly recommend the Disney Food Blog, click here, and their awesome YouTube videos. They also share a lot of other valuable tips and tricks, which I have found to be invaluable for my own planning and assisting clients.

If you are visiting during the Epcot Food and Wine Festival you can have even more fun with your budget by buying several small plates to share with your group, or hoard to yourself.  This is a great way to try a lot for a little, and a lot of the international offerings look divine!

Don’t forget that you can order food from the sort of “fast food” locations around the park, using your phone and the Disney App, which will save you time and effort. If you have time, play with the app and see what pricing looks like before you go to the park, and practice what it takes to make an order.

All around, you should have a lot of fun! Happy Eats!

Advertisements

Disney Planning – How to Plan

family, Florida, food, Travel, United States

Part 1

While looking at lists of everything you need to do when you plan your Disney vacation it’s all extremely overwhelming. With my work as a travel advisor (agent) it’s always best to break things into reasonable pieces. Think of it like cutting up your plate of food, the small pieces prevent you from choking and dying. This is important for Disney too. (Ok death is less imminent, but your headache is real).

If you don’t have a lot of time to break everything down and you need to make sure things get done, talk to an expert! There are thousands of travel agents that have specialized training to help you turn a Disney dream into a reality. AND it doesn’t have to be a bank breaking vacation to get help! Search locally and online and you are sure to get connected with an expert. Many times your fee is minimal or even free!

Also, check with your credit card perks, some even offer concierge and travel experts as a part of your card fees! This is especially true if you are using points for any parts your travel.

If you want to handle the whole thing yourself, then prepare for it to take a good chunk of time. Most importantly, start planning what you’re doing MONTHS if not a year in advance. Even if you have been to Disney since you were in pull-ups, the changes that roll out every few months will mean you need to update your mental picture of what you want to do.

My personal suggestion is to make a list of wishes. Ask your spouse and kiddos or friends what they want out of their Disney time. Some may be all about Star Wars, others may be into the Princesses, and some may not care. Make a detailed list of everything from rides, foods, events, shopping, and hotels. This will make putting the puzzle together much easier. If you can, have everyone pick their top 1-3 “things” they don’t want to miss and then narrow it down. Find the things that overlap, and work in the rest. Ultimately, this will help you understand what you need to plan for the most.

Once you have a good idea on what everyone is wanting (don’t forget yourself) you can get into reservations and solidified plans.

-stay tuned for part 3

Happy Travels!

Winter Fun – Colorado Style

adventure of the week, colorado, Colorado Events, Environment, family, food, outdoors, Scotland, Travel

Colorado is shockingly mild in the winter months. Sure we have days or weeks of bitter cold or 6 feet of snow every year or two, but for the most of the winter, it’s not bad. This means that we get spoiled with having great days to play outside in the winter. While we can’t do all of the fun that summer usually brings, we have the option to play in the snow without being totally frozen. Of course, this can mean some innovation.

Between Dog Sledding and Ice Castles in late January we visited a family friend’s property. This Scottish-born gentleman has a nice spot of land outside of Breckenridge in a town that barely exists on the map (if a few houses along a dirt road count as a town…they do in Colorado anyway).

The landscape of the property hearkens to the dramatic hillscapes of Northern Scotland and while I talked with the owner and his lovely wife I learned that they chose the spot for that very reason. In fact, the snowy blanket that covered the hills was almost identical to that of what I saw in the area surrounding Glencoe four years ago.

Add to the landscape a homemade bar inside of a shed, as anyScottish transplant would have, and a fire pit, some beers, and a fewsnowmobiles and we had a winter party.

Only around 9,000 feet above sea level the weather was manageable, but chilly with a high humidity. Thus, a fire was built, via gasoline and broken pallets. We made beer slushies with the snow, and sippedcool ciders. The snowmobiles were taken into the hills and onto a small frozenlake, that perched delicately on the edge of the property. Avoiding unsettlingthe ice fishers we ran snowmobile circles on one part of the lake, draggingpeople behind on skis, snowboards, sleds, and a precarious pink flamingo tube meant for a more casual swimming pool life.

While the snowmobiling was fun, as any action sport is, thebest part was meeting new people and talking over a drink. It was great to talkwith friends new and old about their memories and new stories. My husband’sfamily is always full of laughter and love and a good tale or joke. While theydon’t always agree on politics and lifestyles, they always agree to love eachother and have a good time, which is something anyone can get behind.  

Sláinte!

Marie Kondo Your Life

family, food, musings

I struggle with trying to tow the line of writing and sharing, and putting away the laptop to enjoy my life. I think we all do.

I work 40+ hours a week at a desk job. Then I try to commit 5-10 hours a week to my blog. Add housework at 5 hours, errands and groceries at 5 hours, Girl Scouts at another 5, and friends and family and ….. I hit 90 hours pretty quickly. And I like 9 hours of sleep a night. And time to just watch tv and scroll through Facebook.

Oh and let us not forget that I need to workout. That I need to feed my body and soul. Basically things start to slide when I have more obligations.

The things that slide are my personal things, my blog, my workouts, my reading a book. So this website doesn’t get stories shared. My legs don’t get moved.

It’s a frustrating dance.

Oh but the worst culprit is when I go out to get blog content. when I go out to meet with people and friends and to have fun. Then my blog time is fun time that the blog doesn’t get done for a while.

So this is a plea and a statement that I’m spinning my wheels in chaos and that this year I am making a deeper commitment to myself.

I’m committing to my goals and my blog and the gym and to not doing anything when I damn well please.

I’m committing to pumping the brakes to watch Deadpool with my husband and to go to bed at 7 when I want to.

You should too.

Because when you don’t live an actual life. When you are so tied to and tired from commitments you can’t breath. You can’t share an honest or reflective piece. You can’t thrive.

Think of the Marie Kondo trend of getting rid of stuff and apply it to living. Decide what is fulfilling, choose what enhances your joy. Clean houses are great, less stuff is great, but loving your family and your existence is so much better. The truth is that simplifying and organizing needs to stretch beyond your closet and into your life.

Have your kids select only one or two extracurricular activities. No one needs five. Pick one book club and enjoy it. Choose days every week to see friends. Assign jobs to your kids and partner. Don’t try to be Superman/woman/Martha Stewart, because you can’t.

You Can’t. And it’s not fair to think you have to be.

Here’s the truth, the world won’t end if you don’t have a clean house. The world won’t end if your kid isn’t doing something every minute. The world won’t end if your husband has to wash his own socks. And it won’t end if you take an hour each day to do what you want in life. Or don’t, just watch a stupid sitcom. Just live.

Live your life. Live your life. Live your life.

Do a Lot With a Little

Allergen-free eating on the road, europe, family, food, France, geek, Ireland, italy, Travel, United Kingdom

I have never had what I would consider a lot of money or resources. I grew up in my grandparent’s house. My family lived below the poverty line. Since moving out of my childhood home I have been in school and/or working in jobs that don’t pay more than $34,000 a year. I sometimes do some work as a photographer or web designer to make ends meet. It has never been a lot. I have never had excessive means.

However, even with a little, I make it stretch. I take the advantages that have been given to me and make it work. This is, of course, been an immense lot of luck, and stubbornness, and sacrifice. However, it has meant that I have been able to do more than many at 27.

For my first trip to Europe, I lived at home and worked almost seven days a week for $8 an hour, at a crappy little fossil shop with sketchy owners. I did that for eight months, and then cheaply wandered around Europe crashing with friends, old and new, and hosteling when I needed to. I ate apples for lunch, and cooked in dingy kitchens to save cash. I walked instead of taking taxis and buses. I made it work. I took the advantages of free places to sleep and turned it into a longer trip, another museum, a nice meal.

In 2013 on my study abroad I headed to Italy on the most economical program I could find. I ate at the apartment for the most part, picking up in season produce at the markets. Savoring every sweet little strawberry and succulent squash. I bought $2 gelato on my way to classes for my “lunch” and euro store (same as a dollar store) nuts for a snack. I would scour the city for food deals on dinners. €15 three-course meals meant I could eat and drink on the cheap, street vendors served €2 polenta for a real treat. I bartered to cut down on souvenir costs. I stubbornly walked away to save another €5. I took advantage of every meal and treat that the study abroad program offered, knowing it would save me money.

2015 was the start of my M.A. and I hosteled, while others stayed in hotels. I packed lunch or ate cheap soup in the cantina at the college instead of eating a sandwich nearby. I traded books at the hostel and did my laundry in the basement. In an extra three weeks of travel I only stayed three nights in a real hotel, a 3-star Ibis. I was gifted gluten free bread from a fabulous bakery in Dublin. I bought few souvenirs and savored toast and tea and packets of oatmeal.

Don’t get me wrong, I love food. I LOVE food. However, I love seeing the world more. I love diving into museums and cathedrals and tours. I love eating cheap food that locals love, from chippies and markets, and food stalls. I like finding fresh veggies and fruits to suck down locally. I like fancy things, and fine meals, but if it means I can try three restaurants for the price of one, I’ll take more over the one.

I find this philosophy trickles into everything I do. I shop second hand clothing stores so I can afford a better quality item for much less. I shop grocery store sales, and closeout items for a better deal. I coupon and wait for deals to get the items I need. I scour for off-season travel deals and seasonal items to hit the clearance sections. Some find this cheap. I find it a means to live a fuller life.

I don’t hoard this bounty either, I gift to others, and donate like crazy. Monthly I probably get rid of at least one if not more trash bags of stuff. It consists of clothes my stepdaughter has outgrown, shoes we are bored of, and books we have read. I recycle and reuse, I pass it on and upcycle. I take a little and make a lot.

End note: I have been extremely lucky and I am fully aware not everyone can do this.

I Hate Monotony

family, food, musings

As the title says….I Hate

And I am trying to make a life that has the least amount of monotony as possible. I want jobs that are different every day. I love meeting new people and eating new food and seeing new places. I don’t like staying in one job or home or outfit in too long. I love change if it means doors for possibilities (which it almost always does). I am a glutton for experiences from goat yoga to snorkeling to cliff diving (one and done with that one).

Yet, the older I get the harder it is to shake the shackles of life and repetition and needs. See my home needs cleaned regularly for health and sanity and organization. My body needs food several times a day. My body needs exercise and bathing. Bad habits of not doing these things turn my smooth life into a tornado of mess. So monotony clings to the air like cellophane, necessary at times, but suffocating.

While I don’t love any of the chores of household needs, I realize that these are a part of survival. Without them life is less enjoyable or impossible. So I’ve started lying to myself…. sort of.

Instead of dreading cleaning I just acknowledge it’s what needs done. Instead of having to get “everything done” on the weekend I delegate to my family members and accept my limits when say not all the laundry makes it in the drawer. I just tell myself it won’t end, it’s part of life, it’s not a big deal. And it’s not.

I won’t ever love the same old same old. But I can make it better. I blare music so I dance and mop. I listen to audio books while I put away laundry. I de-clutter and get rid of things while I clean and put things away.

To push it further I am finding magic in the new Netflix series (Tidying Up) where principles of gratitude and new perspective guide people into a happier life. Monotony is a part of life, but it’s ok.

Perhaps most surprising is that I am coming to enjoy the cleaning process, not just the results. It’s nice to do mindless things sometimes. It’s nice to find new cleaners I like and to make old furniture look new. It’s nice to shine my shoes. Perhaps that’s the kicker, appreciate the simple things and what all we have. Embrace the stillness and calm of laundry and vacuuming. Take things as they come and don’t resist everything that’s “not fun”.

Just some thoughts….

A Few of My Favorite Things (Colorado Edition)

colorado, Colorado Events, food, outdoors, Travel

Everyone has favorites from their hometown, home state, or neighborhood. Maybe it’s the pizza place you buy lunch at, or the bakery a few towns over. For me, as someone that hasn’t had a traditional upbringing, I am establishing my roots in a town for the first time as an adult.

Thus, I have a handful of varied things from 27 years on this planet that I crave when I am away, or that I suggest to others. Here is my short list.

  • Amazing Mexican Food
  • A REAL Margarita (Colorado version)
  • City O’City Pizza
  • Tea from Happy Lucky’s
  • The smell of aspens and pines
  • The smell of cold days and wood stoves
  • Aspens in Fall
  • Flowers in spring
  • Concerts at the Ogden Theater in Denver
  • Concerts at Red Rocks
  • Hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park
  • Halloween costumes made around coats
  • The sunrise and sunsets
  • Rainy days
  • Snow storms
  • Christmas lights on dark nights
  • Green Chile
  • Huevos Rancheros

What are your hometown favorites?

USA edition 🇺🇸

German Beer Fests and Go Carts

europe, food, musings, Throwback Thursday, Travel

Millions of beer lovers are headed to the annual Munich mayhem of Oktoberfest this month. Starting on the 22nd of September this year (not in October like many think) the celebration is a mass gathering of international beer snobs and party hunters. Yet, itis not the only festival worth visiting in Germany.

While Oktoberfest has captured an international audience with its romantic imagery, Bavarian setting, and set up for the masses, it lacks some of the small-town or smaller festival charm. As the world’s largest beer festival, Oktoberfest is known the world over as the ultimate beer festival, what many tourists miss is the fun, intimacy, and excitement of other annual gems that dot the German landscape.

In April many metropolitan areas hold a Fruhlingfest, a spring beer festival. This equally enjoyable festival offers the same fun as the September version with a fraction of the people, lines, and a more German experience.

I found myself at a Fruhlingfest in April 2010 while visiting family friends in Stuttgart, Germany. Here it is where I made a dirndl and wore it to one of the best nights of my life. At Fruhlingfest I danced with US military kids, and local Germans. I rode go-karts on a 3-story track while buzzed and giggling insanely. I ate delicious and salty roasted almonds. I drank the best beer I’ve ever had in my life. I listened to 80s and 90s cover bands belt out radio classics. I laughed my ass off at versions of David Hasselhoff adorning rides and booths. I thought the CONDOM MAN was a gem that should be at every event involving narcotics.*

Fruhlingfest was the iconic night out everyone dreams of in Germany at a beer fest. My point being, that exploring in the off season and with locals means you get a deeper experience in a country you visit. I avoided the chaos of 6 million people and had the time of my 19 y/o life. It meant pushing out of a comfort zone, dressing up and joining the crowd, and I will never forget the euphoria felt while driving drunk go-karts.**

Happy Travels!

*the condom man sold funny condoms, funny novelties, and hats that looked like the latex devices.

**I even had a little romance with a Polizei named Mario… maybe named Mario… there was a lot of beer.

Arepa Barn – Gluten Free Heaven

Allergen-free eating on the road, food, musings, Travel, wyoming

note: this restaurant closed in 2018

ArepaBarn

It is rare in this part of the world to find a restaurant that is catered to a specific type of regional food. Though it is increasing and improving with Thai, Ethiopian, Moroccan, Mexican, Chinese, Korean etc. becoming more and more common in Colorado. However, an hour North, into the Wyoming landscape, there is less and less diversity and more and more meat and potatoes.

This diet has served the people of Wyoming well for the last 150 years or so. It meant survival and energy to get through tough summers and tougher winters. Yet, as time marches on, more needs and tastes are requested and the landscape becomes that of new needs and peoples.

My parent’s recently stumbled upon a certain gem of Casper, Wyoming. The Arepa Barn in Casper, Wyoming is a beautiful story of an immigrant family from Venezuela sharing their passion for food in a local eatery. On top of the restaurant being a fantastic reflection of Venezuelan eats the entire place is Gluten Free!

 

Having an entirely Venezuelan restaurant us a great treat in most of the United States, having one that is completely Gluten Free, or any restaurant that is totally Gluten Free, is a divine treat.

I visited this temple to Gluten Free eats last weekend when I was visiting my mom and sidling sibling and I absolutely fell in love. So much so that I had asked my mom to bring me some arepas when she visits on Monday.

All around the dining experience, it ended up being one of the best of my life. I will let my Facebook review do the explanation:

Where does one begin? This was all around one of my favorite dining experiences EVER!
1) The owners were very attentive to our food allergy needs. I have only ever seen that level of care at FINE dining locations in Italy and Mexico!

2) The owners are super sweet and friendly, I felt like I was in someone’s home!

3) The food! OMG the food was so good. Every last morsel was devoured at our table. Arepas are their own treat, but the fried plantains, soup, and rice and beans took everything beyond. I can’t speak highly enough of how good everything was. It was 100% fresh and made to order, making it even better than I good have dreamed of.

4) ALL of their food is Gluten Free! And you would have no idea because it doesn’t taste gluten free! As someone with celiac, this was such a treat, and a rare occasion where I could order anything off the menu.

If you can’t tell, I absolutely loved it and if you head to Casper, Wyoming stop by and have one of the best meals of your lives! They not only cater to celiacs, but they offer vegan, vegetarian, and plenty of meat options for anyone’s preferences.

Location: 1040 N Center St, Casper, WY 82601

Website: click here

Facebook: click here

Happy Eats!

Ditching Disposables When Traveling

Allergen-free eating on the road, Environment, food, musings, Travel

If you have been paying attention to much news, you know our plastic use is becoming a serious problem. Not only is it already a pollutant that doesn’t break down, but its becoming increasingly hard to recycle. For 20 years China has been taking plastics from the United States, and other counties like New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. Yet, starting this year, there is no more plastic being purchased by China, which means there is a fuck ton, literally, of plastic with nowhere to go.

pexels-photo-802221

With plastic not as easy to recycle, our culture and consumerism is facing the reality that we have way more plastic than we can handle. There are several reasons for this, plastic is often more expensive to recycle and reuse, than getting new oil. There is a problem in that we move plastic around the world before turning it into something, which when a main market is closing its doors, means that we’re dealing with trying to find new markets to reuse and produce. Then there is the blame on consumers, where most of the plastic sent to be recycled is dirty, smelly, and problematic. Learn more here. The other big issue is that amount of pollution this waste has created for China, which is part of the reason it has closed its doors.

Whatever the political dynamics are present, we have to cut down on our plastic use. SERIOUSLY CUT DOWN ON OUR PLASTIC USE. That means in every element of our lives, we need to reduce our waste. This very much includes when we travel.

pexels-photo-164287

I am taking a road trip through the weekend, and my goal is to use the least amount of disposable items possible. This means a level of planning ahead so that I have items to reduce my waste. Here are my tips to reduce my mess, and trash, and to do my part on the plastic problem.

  1. Water Bottle
    • Most people don’t know this, but you can usually ask at a restaurant or gas station (with a soda fountain) that also has a water dispenser to refill for no cost.
    • As a back up, look for drinking fountains and as a last resort use a bathroom sink (make sure this is not marked as non-potable).
  2. Coffee Mug
    • You may be able to use a combo water bottle/mug but otherwise having a reusable mug is great for your morning needs.
    • When visiting a Starbucks of Dunkin Donuts, or your local mom and pop, just tell them you have a reusable cup. Even in a drive through I have yet to have a coffee shop bulk, and often they are happy to give you the refill price over a full price.
  3. Reusable Containers
    • Invest in some collapsable ones so that they take up less space! These are great for on the go pastries, full dishes, sandwiches, snacks and anything else you may want. It’s bad enough that most food is in plastic of some sort, why not reduce it’s plastic waste by at least half?
    • This is also a great way to make sure you pack some food so that you reduce eating out and expenses.
  4. Reusable Straws
    • If you feel like you need a straw, or some people just need them, then the more common and popular metal or plastic washable straws are excellent options.

What are your reusable favorites? My next steps are reusable plastic wraps made with beeswax!

Happy Travels!

ditching-disposables

NOTE: In some countries around the world you CANNOT drink the tap water, thus please keep this in mind when traveling.