Disney World Blitz: Parklife Part II

Continuing my ever so long-winded (detailed!) account of my recent trip to Disney, I thought we’d dedicate this installment to nearly everybody’s favourite subject matter, food!  Which we actually ate precious little of; save two special meals, we subsisted on park food and many, many, many bottles of Dasani (Florida water: Don’t drink it!)  Pretty sure we both ended the first 14-hour day at a calorie deficit, between the seven-plus miles of walking and the all-Mickey pretzel diet.

Disney Food Collage

The night we arrived we took a boat from our resort, the Port Orleans Riverside, to Disney Springs, Disney’s shopping and entertainment promenade, for late night dinner reservations at Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’.  Homecomin’s cuisine is classified as Southern-Floridian.  I’d just call it delicious – think light and crispy fried green tomatoes, fried chicken and biscuits, mac and cheese, moonshine.  Homecomin’ actually makes their own, and I enjoyed a rather potent cocktail that left me feeling 12 shades of plastered for precisely 23 and a half minutes before all whoopsy effects dissipated completely.  It was the most bizarre buzz I’ve ever encountered.  Must have been offset by all the fried chicken and mac and cheese I put on top of it.

Dinner

Yes, we sat on the same side of the table like a couple of boners!  It was unseasonably cold the night we arrived, and we had to huddle together for warmth!  This restaurant was so lovely and cozy, though, with a big, roughhewn bar looking out over the artificial – though no less lovely for it – springs of Disney Springs, as twinkling lights reflected off the gently moving water.  Though I did not try them, Mr. Finger Candy assures me the deviled eggs were delicious.  Here he is providing a bit of impromptu dinner theatre for our fellow diners.

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Entre-park, we ate quite a few Mickey pretzels.  I mentioned before that I had a rough flight experience on our way in; that nauseous feeling stayed with me for about the first 18 hours of our trip, and Mickey pretzels seemed like a nice, plain, safe food to soothe the savage tummy beast.  They’re also low in fat, though loaded in salt (flick it off if you must, though I just shoved it back and then chased it with a litre of Dasani.)  Also a classic, iconic Disney snack, and a first for both Mr. Finger Candy and I.  Looking like a wiener while eating in public is NOT a first for him, as evidenced by the last two photos!  Also please note that he is wearing a Beauty and the Beast bandage.  His choice.

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Another item we went back for multiples of was LeFou’s Brew, an apple juice-based beverage served at Gaston’s Tavern.  I quite hilariously attempted to make my own version of LeFou’s Brew last year during the Fall Fun Series, and it was an unmitigated disaster – deeply unpalatable.  And what was I thinking; I hadn’t even tried one yet!  Having now enjoyed a couple of these delectably refreshing treats – icy apple juice enhanced with toasted marshmallow, topped with a mango-passionfruit foam to mimic the creamy head on a pint of beer – I can tell you that I had it wrong, oh so wrong.  Legit LeFou Brews are SUBLIME – they hit that lemonade sweet spot without, you know, actually being lemonade.

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And not for nothing, but you can only find LeFou’s Brews at Gaston’s Tavern, which is more than all right with me – behind the Haunted Mansion, it’s my second favourite spot on Disney property.  We spent so much time there, it almost started to feel like “our place”!

Gaston's Collage

Part of the joy of Gaston’s Tavern – aside from the many, many, many mounted deer heads and antlers, which the Man of the Tavern really does use in all of his DE-CO-RA-TING – is that it’s dead quiet.  Tucked down in a little alcove between Be Our Guest and the Journey of the Little Mermaid, few people seem to know about this charming little spot.  We nabbed the same corner table both visits and had plenty of time to goof around in Gaston’s gigantic, pelt-covered chair and worship at the portrait of the big lunkhead himself.

Gaston Worship

Speaking of Beauty and the Beast, a major highlight of our trip was an early morning breakfast at Be Our Guest to celebrate our Halloween anniversary.

Be Our Guest Collage

Housed in the rock facade beneath the Beast’s forced perspective castle, Be Our Guest is an interactive restaurant in every sense of the word.  And it runs like the talking furniture-staffed, well-oiled machine that it should thanks to the wonder of those ubiquitous MagicBands that seemingly control all aspects of your Disney experience.  Not that I’m complaining.  I’ve made my peace with Disney’s surveillance state oversight.  We’re all going to be owned by a major corporation one day (brought to you by Carl’s Jr.) – why not one dedicated to the pursuit of childlike fun and impeccable service?

Be Our Guest works a little something like this: Book a reservation through the My Disney Experience app for breakfast, lunch or dinner (or all three if you’re feeling particularly flush and would like to dine in all three different diningrooms.)  If your mealtime falls at the very start of the dining day, the staff will come outside and applaud as you enter the restaurant through the gigantic, lion-guarded wooden doors of the Beast’s castle.  “I think they’re applauding our breakfast!” I said to my husband, with no small measure of delight.

Be Our Guest Main Ballroom

Inside you’ll be handed a menu and directed to a cashier to place your order.  After you’ve paid and tapped your MagicBand (or paid by tapping your MagicBand) you’ll be directed to sit anywhere you’d like, either the main ballroom, modeled after the ballroom where the Beast and Belle have their grand dance, the library, where statues of the main characters greet your arrival, or the West Wing, where we dined, because it’s awesome.  Dark, intimate and atmospheric, the West Wing is where the Enchanted Rose lives, in a little alcove framed in tattered tapestries.

Enchanted Rose

When a petal would fall – and they did – thunder would rumble and lightning would streak across the darkened room.  So dark, in fact, I couldn’t take any good photos of our breakfast once it arrived, although there was no shortage of other fantastic things to look at while we dined.

Beast Portrait

And when our breakfast arrived, after 10 minutes of letting our eyes adjust to the darkness of the nearly abandoned West Wing, it appeared as though by magic, born on a glass covered, wheeled cart by a smartly dressed steward.  Ooh, and everything looked so fantastic, couldn’t wait to tuck into the little plate of mini breakfast pastries they dropped off and…but hey, wait, how *did* they know where we were sitting anyways?  We were tucked away in a dark little room in a restaurant that seats hundreds with no flag or other table identifier.  So how did our breakfast magically find us?!

The answer, of course, is another miracle to lay at the feet of those MagicBands, your one-stop tracking tech.  Basically, we were low-jacked from the moment we tapped our Bands to enter the restaurant.  That gave them our names and our location, so when our food was zipped straight from the kitchen and directly into the West Wing, the server not only knew where our unmarked table was, but also that we were Sandra and Mr. Finger Candy.  This actually happened a few times across the park, most notably on It’s a Small World where one of the end-of-ride signs bid adieu specifically to my husband – notable in that we did not scan our Bands on It’s a Small World, so how did they know to say goodbye to my husband on that particular boat?  This is where Mr. Finger Candy points out that the newest generation of MagicBand has a range of 40 feet.  The technology behind all this is scary impressive (also kind of scary.)

And how was the food itself?  Great!  Delicious, actually.  I had heard that Be Our Guest was a lot like Planet Hollywood – you go there and get a pool-sized, overpriced drink, maybe a gigantic, pool-sized dessert or an appetizer, but the food is not why you’re there; it’s so you can poke around and gawk at all the fun memorabilia that lines the walls and hangs from the ceiling.  But our breakfasts were yummy – something bechamel and cheese sauce-covered for my husband (Croque Madam Without the Ham, as we called it, because Mr. Finger Candy is a vegetarian) and a two-egg, hash brown and all-meat platter for yours truly.  Maybe it was the sustenance deficit from the day before, or perhaps it was the heat stroke (I got a terrible, terrible burn on my chest the day previous) but our breakfast at Be Our Guest was one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten.  It was just a really special dining experience (made all the cooler by the cute couple beside us who were also there celebrating their (first) anniversary, the male half of whom was Disneybounding as Ruffio from Hook.  They sort of treated us like the elder statesmen of Halloween weddings; it was really charming.)

Pizza Collage

The third and final evening we were there we had pizza delivered to our room, because sometimes when you’ve been on your feet for 32 out of the last 36 hours, those feet just. stop. working.  I couldn’t have dragged myself anywhere.  Growing up, room service was something my family never, ever did.  As such, my adult adventures in room service dining always feel vaguely illicit, like I’m really getting away with something by eating pizza in the middle of my bed while Hocus Pocus plays on an endless loop on the TV.  Actually, I guess that really is getting away with something, at least something very fun.

I hope you enjoyed some of these tasty Disney morsels.  I know I certainly did!  And please join me next time as I finally discuss the the whole point of a theme park vacation, the rides!

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Hammy Thanksgiving

ham-jubilee-bottle

Happy Thanksgiving, Canadian friends!  As has become my holiday tradition, here is a festive manicure featuring my favourite – and most successful – homemade polish, Hawaiian Ham (so named after those alarming, 1950s-style ham casseroles topped with pineapple rings and maraschino cherries.)  I made up a bottle for some American friends recently, substituting the yellow, pineapple-y glitter for a red-tinged bronze, and renamed this shade Canadian Bacon. 😉

But speaking of rings on the Thanksgiving dinner table, here’s a fun, older mani of mine in which I honoured that most Canadian of festive foodstuffs, the uncut – very important, that – ringed log of cranberry sauce.  Just shoot it straight out of the can and onto a fussy little garnish dish!  The polish I used here was KB Shimmer’s Leaf of Faith; I think it looks like extra chunky cranberry jelly.  Hope you all have a delicious one!

Canned Cranberry Sauce, with Rings!

Strawberry Daiquiri

Strawberry Daiquiri

Uh, yes, please!  Heaven knows the weather has been more daiquiri than hot toddy around here lately, but as long as the snow wishes to remain a holdout, I shan’t complain. So let’s order up a couple of them frosted (and straight-up) frozen delights and see this extended summer out in style. 🙂

Attack of the Pumpkin Spice Latte

Pumpkin Spice Fingers Sun Super Closeup

Full confession: I used to be a proud member of the Pumpkin Spice Tribe.  Just pumpkin spice ALL the things, particularly the Starbucks lattes, which I drank by the venti boatful. Then after taking an assessment of my health and finances (and finding the results pretty dim) I pulled back considerably on my PSL obsession, to the point where I hardly ventured into a Starbucks at all.  I’m now back on neutral territory with Fall’s most ubiquitous hot beverage, in part because I now treat them as precisely that – a much-enjoyed treat. And for that my waistline, wallet and teeth have all thanked me greatly (I always say this, but Pumpkin Spice Lattes really prompt the tooth-furries, no?)

So my love of pumpkin spice as a flavour may come and go, but it will always be a wonderful inspiration for nail art, particularly when you have two beautiful holographic polishes just THE precise shades of a delicious, late autumn PSL (KB Shimmer’s Rust No One, left, and Oh My Ganache, right.)  Bonus points if you have a sweet little coffee cup charm with which to seal the deal (or the lid.)

Pumpkin Spice Polish Collage

But all is not totally lost on the edible pumpkin spice front.  I’m still pretty powerless to resist its autumnal charms, so if something comes in a pumpkin spice flavour and it doesn’t sound totally disgusting, I’m probably going to try it (perhaps take that one with a grain of salt; I am, after all, one of maybe only seven people in the world who actually liked Trident’s espresso-flavoured gum.)  And hey, look – here’s a few pumpkiny goodies now!

Pumpkin Spice Products Collage

Starting in the top left-hand corner, we have Starbucks’ instant PSL pouches.  I’m no great coffee snob, but this was just terrible.  I tossed my nearly full cup after just a few sips.  Watery – somehow, even when made with milk – and with a distinct burnt taste, this tasted nothing like a Pumpkin Spice Latte or even its non-union equivalent, the Punkin’ Spice Lah-tay.  Seriously, if your obsession has reached the point that you need something like these instant pouches to get you through the bleak, latte-less hours of the wee, wee morning, you need help.  I’m here for you.

To the right of the pumpkin poison we have pumpkin spice-enhanced 1% milk from Natrel.  This ultra light, not-too-sweet creamer is actually pretty delicious, and a nice little pumpkin spice booster for coffee, smoothies, baking or just plain old drinking.  Very nice.

Finally, along the bottom we have a half-enjoyed package of Voortman’s pumpkin spice wafer cookies.  And the package is half-done because these?  Are AWESOME.  Lightly spiced pumpkin cream sandwiched between crispy, light-as-air vanilla wafers?  Hell, YES.  And did I mention that three cookies are just 150 calories?  So a fairly reasonable little snack to satisfy that sweet pumpkin spice craving we all seem to succumb to at this time of year.

One more time for the nails because they’re kind of dope, this time in the shade.

Pumpkin Spice Fingers Shade

 

Fall Fun Series II: My Apple is By Far the Most Crumblest

Apple Nails

This post will be a bit on the shorter side on account of the fact that during last year’s Fall Fun Series, I completely blew myself out on apple scents.  Caramel apple, toffee apple, green apple, crab apple – if it was flavoured or scented comme une pomme, I (over)enjoyed it.  As such, I have very few apple-scented products to share with you, even during this heady autumnal time.  More on them in a second.  But I DO have some very cute apple nail art to show you this morning, a simple, lightly sponged manicure inspired by an array of autumn’s awesome agriculture.

But as for bushels of bath and beauty and baskets brimming with wax?  Hmm, not so much.  That’s probably for the best – put a year or so between harvests. 🙂  But I still enjoy a lovely apple scent from time to time – one of my favourite candles, Bath & Body Works’ Pink Apple Punch, is very pomme-dominant.  But like everything, best enjoyed in moderation.  So, what crispy sweet goodies will be scenting my life this Fall?

Fall Goodies Pick

Rosegirls’ Mini Melters in Macintosh Swizzle Sticks (these three remaining chunks are over two years old; it’s a testament to the strength of apple scents that this wax is still quite potent.  I like blending this scent with Mango Sorbet and Marshmallow Smoothie for a lively, sweet and creamy fragrance.)

Luscious handmade soaps in Fruit Fool (blue/green) and Poisoned Apple (green/red) from Dreaming Tree Soapworks.  Fruit Fool smells like a freshly baked apple-blueberry pie, and Poisoned Apple smells like sharp, caramel-coated crab apples.  I’ll have a bit more to say on the subject of these soaps a little later on (spoiler alert: they’re awesome!) but in short, like the ellipses said, they’re awesome.  That’s why I now own enough soap to take me and mine well into the year 2019.

The Lost Boys wax clamshell from Super Tarts.  It’s The Lost Boys, and we all know how I feel about The Lost Boys.  I actually talk about it so much, my friend Jaybird had NO choice but to call off my dogs (Nanook and Thorn, of course) with this sweet waxy gift.  Basically, this wax could be scented like cat poo and Victorian London sewer sludge and I’d still want it.  But thankfully it smells MUCH better – like sweet pomegranate, spiced apple cider and toasted marshmallow (on a tangential note, if I were making a Lost Boys-inspired wax, I’d blend salty sea air and spilled bong water notes.  Guaranteed that’s what David & Crew smell like.  Grandpa, too.)

Fragrance oil rollerball from Solstice Scents in Corvin’s Apple Fest.  Juicy sweet and lightly spiced, this fragrance will make a lovely bridging scent between the crisp and cozy days of autumn and the frosty holiday months.

The Bathing Garden’s wax bundt in Nights at the Circus.  A friend-approved favourite, Nights at the Circus is a sweet and spicy pumpkin-apple scent that reminds me of the smell of the craft barn at your local farmer’s market – it even has that slightly woody note to it, like barn planks still damp from the morning’s mist.

Glazed caramel apple wax tarts from The Bathing Garden in Vintage Circus (red) and Victorian Midway (purple.)  Both scents feature a base of Winter Candy Apple, a popular holiday scent from Bath & Body Works – I particularly like the cinnamon note of Vintage Circus.  It smells like Red Hots!

Literary Inspiration: Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book

Ben and Jerry's Collage

I’ll concede straight off the top that my choice of this little cookbook, Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book, is an odd one in satisfaction of the seventh prompt in my friend Julie’s reading challenge.  The task was to tackle a book from which you learn something (you know, other than that you’ve really outgrown chick lit.)  I immediately thought about this bitty little cookbook that my parents gave me when I was maybe nine or 10 years old.  Which, for those keeping score at home, means I’ve had this book – a bargain bin find of less than $1.50 in 1987 on account of the small notch in the upper right-hand corner of the cover – for 31 years. This book has seen things, man. Specifically, it’s seen a LOT of action – this is the cookbook from which my much-beloved chocolate chip cookies are birthed (your standard chocolate chip cookie recipe, but there’s just something to them that makes people lose their minds a bit when they’re in their presence.  I can’t share the recipe with you, because then I’d have to kill you.)

But all great things aside, it’s an odd choice in that The Story of Ben & Jerry’s that kicks off the book – a very entertaining, informative read about the duo’s early years – is just 17 pages long, and the rest is recipes.  Easy-to-follow recipes that produce delicious results, as I can attest across about a dozen different ice creams and desserts, but recipes all the same.  Also, it’s a book I’ve had in my life forever, and when I started this reading challenge, one of the stipulations I made was that all of the books I chose were going to be from my to-be-read pile, and I have absolutely enjoyed this cookbook – both the recipes and the cute, witty little story that kicks off the book – time and time again.  So I may have to revisit the seventh prompt in this reading challenge with a slightly beefier, newer read (Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil Degrasse Tyson is on my hit list.)

Ben and Jerry's Book with Nails

But this book is such a charming little treat, I couldn’t let the opportunity pass to do another inspired-by manicure.

Ben and Jerry's Nails

And there’s also much to be learned from this book, with its rags-to-slightly-ritzier-rags origin story, really fantastic recipes (I’ll never understand the voodoo that those chocolate chip cookies hoodoo, but wow, do people love the results) and adorable illustrations.  I have always loved the graphic design of this book, with its bubbly lettering, hand-drawn characters and bright colour palette.  It’s so. darn. cute.

Ben and Jerry's Pages Collage

Definite problem, though, particularly when you’re trying to watch your diet: reading Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book WILL make you ravenously hungry for creamy sweets, in the way that reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory will make you want to immediately eat a chocolate bar or watching Pulp Fiction will make you want to devour whatever the hell a Big Kahuna burger is (surely not just me.)  But a small pittance to pay for such a cute and entertaining read. 🙂

Banana Split

Banana Split with Cherry Fingers

Hey look, it’s that banana split water marble I’ve been promising all summer long, extra sprinkles, cherry on top.  And wonder of wonders, it kind of turned out this time – there’s definitely more banana to these sundaes than my last frozen pink lemonade attempt. Anyhow, grab a spoon, dig in and all that other yummy stuff!