Posted by: wildflowerz | January 12, 2018

2017 Books

So, this year, I started working again.  I work part time for a locally owned used/new book store.  It was my favorite book store before I started working there and I still love it.  Some of the perks allow me to get books for free or super cheap.  Any used books, I’m allowed to borrow for free.  Advanced Reader Copies (both dead tree and digital) are free for the taking.  And I get $150 a year that I can use to decrease my purchases.  How the store works is that used books are mostly half the publishers price.  So, if the cover price is $10, the book will be $5.  If you bring books in, you get credit that you can then apply back to half of what you’d pay.  So that book would then be $2.50.  But as an employee, I can use some of my $150 to decrease it by half again, so I’m paying $1.25 for a $10 book.  My “to read” shelf is BULGING!

While I read less this year, I felt like, in my free time, I read more.  I just had less free time since I was working.

Overall Stats:

  • Total Books Read:  210 (17 less than last year)
  • Total Pages Read:  76,935 (2113 less than last year)
  • Total Number of Books from a Series 153 or 73% (last year was 179 or 79%)
  • Average Length of Book:  336 pages (348 pages last year)
  • Author Most Read:  Cleo Coyle (JoAnna Carl last year)

By the Month:

  • January:  22 (10%)
  • February:  17 (8%)
  • March:  14 (7%)
  • April:  15 (7%)
  • May:  17 (8%)
  • June:  18 (9%)
  • July:  14 (7%)
  • August:  17 (8%)
  • September:  19 (9%)
  • October:  19 (9%)
  • November:  21 (10%)
  • December:  17 (8%)

Books Read by Category:

  • Fantasy:  8 (4%)
  • Fiction:  22 (10%)
  • Juvenile:  2 (1%)
  • Mystery:  79 (38%)
  • Nonfiction:  1 (0%)
  • Romance:  12 (6%)
  • Science Fiction:  3 (1%)
  • Supernatural:  26 (12%)
  • Suspense:  16 (8%)
  • Young Adult:  14 (20%)

One again, by far, I read more mystery than anything else.  I was trying to complete some series I’d started, so that might be why this year.

Books by Source:

  • Advanced Reader Copies:  41 (20%)
  • Borrow:  15 (7%)
  • Library:  48 (23%)
  • Owned:  83 (40%)
  • Owned/Kindle:  23 (11%)

I read much less from the library this year.  The number of books I own that I read remained the same, but the percentage was much lower.  The books I borrowed this year were all from the book store I work at.  And I read quite a few ARCs this year as well that weren’t previously available to me.

Books by Rating:

  • A+:  8 (4%)
  • A:  19 (9%)
  • A-:  8 (4%)
  • B+:  13 (6%)
  • B:  16 (8%)
  • B-:  32 (15%)
  • C+:  30 (14%)
  • C:  19 (9%)
  • C-:  34 (16%)
  • D+:  18 (9%)
  • D:  5 (2%)
  • D-:  6 (3%)
  • F:  2 (1%)

Best Books of the Year:

  • Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling
  • The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow
  • The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson
  • Wilde in Love by Eloisa James
  • Cathedral of Glass by AJ Hartley
  • What Time Devours by AJ Hartley
  • Faithful by Alice Hoffman
  • In Search Of by Ava Dellaira
  • Exit, Pursued by a Bear by EK Johnson
  • Dare Mighty Things by Heather Kaczynski
  • The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
  • Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu
  • Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
  • Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
  • The Girl with the Make-Believe Husband by Julia Quinn
  • Beyond Reach by Karin Slaughter
  • The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter
  • Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter
  • Warcross by Marie Lu
  • The Rake by Mary Jo Putney
  • The Skull Throne by Peter V. Brett
  • Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
  • The Wolves of Winter by Tyrell Johnson

I had more, overall, this year.  The A+s are the ones from Mistborn to Wilde in Love.  The rest were As.  Quite a few of these were ARCs:  The Scorpion Rules, The Almost Sisters, Wilde in Love, Faithful, In Search Of, Dare Mighty Things, The Cruel Prince, Moxie, The Girl with the Make-Believe Husband, Warcross, and The Wolves of Winter

Worst Books of the Year:

  • Grave Dance by Kalayna Price
  • Windwitch by Susan Dennard

Very small this this year.  I tended to DNF more rather than give actual Fs and go on and finish them.

I had quite a few DNFs this year too.  I still don’t have a great way to keep track of them, but here are some I can bring up on GR:

  • Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth
  • Lady Be Good by Meredith Duran
  • Devil Moon by Dana Taylor
  • Summer Hours at the Robbers Library by Sue Halpern
  • Murder at the Courthouse by AH Gabhart
  • Fate of Perfection by KF Breene
  • Calamity Jayne by Kathleen Bacus
  • Cat’s Claw by Amber Benson
  • This is What Happened by Mick Herron
  • Paris by the Book by Liam Callanan
  • Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King
  • The Quick by Lauren Owen
  • Deadly Silence by Rebecca Zanetti
  • Firebrand by AJ Hartley
  • High Strung by Janice Peacock
  • Bed and Breakfast and Murder by Patti Larsen
  • Cat Killed a Rat by ReGina Welling
  • Cold Welcome by Elizabeth Moon
  • The Six, and the Crystals of Ialana by Katlynn Brooke
  • Fire by Kristin Cashore

Still, most of those were free ones I got for the Kindle, so it’s not like I was out any money.

Well, that’s all.  If you’re interested, I put teeny mini-reviews of all my books over on Goodreads.  Check me out there.


Two in one day?!  What?

This weekend, we went to another tournament in Gatlinburg.  We originally didn’t plan to go to this one.  We generally only go to local tournaments and ones on weekends when Em doesn’t have school right before or right after.  Otherwise, it’s usually too much.  But Em had already decided that she didn’t want to compete heavy next year.  And she’s really trying to go for it this year.  She’s already qualified to compete at Districts (which you win an actual tournament for), but  we wanted to make sure she would win a State title (which comes only from points from tournaments during the year).  Right now, she’s winning the State title in Forms.  She doesn’t have a ton of points, but no one else in GA has very many at all.  But in weapons, she was 5 points behind the leader.  With Gatlinburg, she’s attending 7 tournaments this tournament year.  And she can count the top 5.  She has a 2nd in Weapons at a B (3 Points), which she could replace with a 1st at a B (5 Points) or a 1st (8 Points) or 2nd (5 Points) at an A.  So,we wanted to give her more chances .  We went to a B in Pigeon Forge this past summer and this is the same people doing this one.  It’s just in a different (but close to the other) place.  It was really well run and Em had a good (and easy) ring.  So, off we went.

At the Pigeon Forge (PF) tournament, we had SUCH a good time.  We spent entirely too much money and our hotel was horrendous, but everything else was fab.  It was probably the best run tournament we’d ever been to.  Everything moved along very quickly and efficiently.  THIS time, we decided to come just for the tournament.  We left Friday after school and arrived around 8:30pm.  The hotel was 8000% better than the PF hotel.  We had a good sleep and got up and went to the tournament.  We had to be there at 7:30am, so we were up early.  The facility was SO much nicer.  We ran into some friends we hadn’t seen in a while…a girl who goes to Em’s actual school and used to go to her TKD school.  Em was in the first round, so she already had a ring number, which is always the best.  She wasn’t acting like herself.  She said she felt really tired and stiff and just wasn’t interested in warming up much.  We were hoping for a small ring and since there were only 3 at PF and they did NOT combine with the 2nd degrees, we were hopeful.  Yeah, not so much.  It was the NC 2nd degree from Charleston and another 2nd degree we’d not seen before.  Then there was the NC girl with the high kicks, as well as the jerk Florida 1st degree who beat on Em in Charleston.  There was also another 1st degree from Kentucky.  Gah.

Em did her form and she got 8,5,7.  On Forms, one judge does hands.  One does feet.  And one does overall.  So those scores mean that the foot judge gave her an 8.  The Hands gave her a 7.  And the center gave her a 5.  NO idea why.  Her form was good.  She did all the moves correctly and she ended in the correct place.  The rude girl from Florida got a 6,7,7.  She didn’t have a lot of power.  He form was sloppy.  And the ended an entire stance (about 3 feet) in the wrong spot.  I just have no idea.  We recorded her’s and NC 1st degree for her instructor to watch.  As well as her’s, of course.  So, those scores mean she and the rude Emily tied for 3rd.  When that happens, they do their forms again and the three judges just point at the person they thought did better.  They all voted for the other girl.  /shrug  So, she ended up 4th in forms…no points.

She came and told us that she didn’t feel well after the first time she did her form.  (Before the tie.)  She looked a little pale and said her stomach didn’t feel well.  We told her to sit down and rest a bit.  If she didn’t feel like doing either sparring, she didn’t have to.  So, she did.  She did her Weapons form and, even sick, she kicked ass.  She beat the same 2nd degree from Charleston again.  Once again by only one point.  Woot!  After that, she bowed out of Sparring and said she’d make a decision on Combat Sparring once Sparring was done.  She ended up opting out of that one too.  We didn’t figure that riding in a car in a super curvy road would be good for someone with an upset stomach.  We also had a friend to watch.  So, Em sat down and rested while we waited.

The friend staged and her ring started immediately.  She had the same ring and judges as Em did, but lots more competition.  She SHOULD have been first.  Most of the girls were no competition.  She tied for first with a girl who really wasn’t as good. But the other girl won.  Then she did weapons.  She had a minor flub with her sword and was a bit upset.  So, my sweet girl who wasn’t feeling well, still went to talk to her and help her feel better. This girl tends to be pretty hard on herself for stuff like that…just like Em.  Anyway, it was a three way tie for First.  They all went again.  The friend did her form perfectly this time.  One of the other girls did a cane form (which, according to Em’s teachers, they aren’t supposed to do until you’re a much higher degree black belt…and these were color belts, but what do I know).  She was really good.  She ended up winning.  Luckily, our friend got 2nd.  She totally deserved 2nd though…the other girl wasn’t great at all.  Our friend decided not to spar this time.  She doesn’t like it either and the points won’t get her the state title, so she just didn’t do them.  So, we were just waiting for them to be done and Em jumps up and runs to the restroom.  She came back soon and had been sick.  So we decided to go ahead and leave.  We stopped for lunch for Chris and I on our way out and Em was sick again.  She made it all the way home, but was sick a few times then.  By the time it was bed time, she was better and feels good so far today.  So, finger’s crossed.

Now you’re all caught up.  We have a local tournament next weekend.  Well, it’s an hour away, but it doesn’t require a hotel.  Fortunately, Em gets to go first.  It’s always best because when she has to wait around all day, she gets super tired and really is over it by the time it’s time to compete.  But she still loves to help out and watch her friends, so we still have to be there.  UNfortunately, the first round is at 7:30am and since we’re an hour away, we have to leave here at 6am!  So we have to get up at 5am!  Holy hell.  Anyway, after that, we’ve got an A tournament (more local…only 30m away) Easter weekend.  Then that’s all until Districts on May 20.  Whew!

Well, this was kinda long too, so I guess I’ll have to make another post when we’re talking about me.  It’s diet-y stuff.  So stay tuned.

What’s this?  An actual update in less than a year?  What??

So, I think I want to start making regular updates again.  Not really for anyone else..just for me.  Which is good since no one really reads this anyway.  🙂

First, though, an update.

Em first:  We went to the Charleston tournament last weekend.  Em was out the preceding week from school for Winter Break.  So, Chris took the day off of work on Friday and we drove up.  It’s a little over 5 hours drive for us.  We got there around 12:30 and went right to a restaurant to meet some friends for lunch.  It was a GORGEOUS weekend.  I don’t know about where you live, but here the weather’s been kind of schizophrenic.  It was in the high 70s, low 80s last week.  We had a good breeze, so it was totally comfortable during the day and a little cool in the mornings and evenings.  So, we got this awesome corner table at this restaurant right on the water.  Our view was great.  The food was good, but not great.  To be fair, it was a seafood place and I’m allergic to seafood, so I just got a chicken sandwich and veg.  The food was fine, but there wasn’t a whole lot of it….for anyone.  Still, we were with good friends and it was fun.

After lunch, we went on to the USS Yorktown for a tour.  I’m going to be honest:  neither Em or I could really care less.  Chris was SO EXCITED.  Em humored him when he kept calling her over to point out this or that.  And we both played some Pokemon Go while Chris was drooling over everything.  😛  Or friends seemed to all enjoy it, so that’s good.  We saw the Yorktown, the sub, and the destroyer there.  We were there for quite a while.  Afterwards, we decided to try a bbq place we’d heard of.  Now, here’s where websites seem to be misleading for the weekend.  Or the restaurant proportions are odd.  For lunch, the restaurant was plenty big, but had parking for only about 20 cars.  For dinner, the website made this look like a reasonably large place, but it was SO SMALL.  And had parking for only maybe 5 cars.  Seriously.  Chris dropped us off and parked several blocks away, in a residential area, in front of a house under construction!  They told us it would be about a 20 minute wait, which was totally acceptable.  It turned out to be about 40 minutes.  Once we sat down, it was another 20 or so minutes before they took our order and then another 30 or so before the food arrived!  Not ideal!  I got a roasted 1/4 chicken which was SO TASTY, but had SO LITTLE meat on it.  Seriously, there was maybe 2 ounces?  That’s a guess, but it was tiny.  Everyone who got bbq loved it.  But we all agreed that the wait was so not worth it.

After dinner, we went and found our hotels.  We were both staying at Hampton Inns, but different ones.  😛  Our hotel room was fairly small, but it was very nice and comfy.  We got up early the next morning and headed to a local college I’d never heard of for the tournament.  It wasn’t marked great, so we ended up walking through an entire large building to eventually find the room for the tournament.  It was a pretty decently appointed room.  There were plenty of rings for the competition.  It was set up so that there wasn’t a whole lot of room to walk around the rings though.  Em’s ring was called around 10 I think.  That’s when we found out that since there were only 2 2nd degrees and 4 1st degrees in her age category, they were all going to compete together.

Let me tell you why this is bullshit.  Okay, there are several levels of tournaments.  There’s AAA, which is World’s.  There’s AA, which is Fall and Spring Nationals.  There are As and Bs, which are open to anyone, but an A is usually larger and better attended.  And then there are Cs, which are school tournaments and can only be attended if you go to that school.  You get more Points for the higher the tournament level.  So, the most at AAA and the least at C.  When they figure your points, they will be like this:  Any points from an AAA, plus any points from either or both AA.  Then, of the As and Bs, you get the top 5 highest points.  For instance, at an A, you get 8 for a 1st place, 5 for a 2nd, and 3 for a 3rd.  A B will get you 5 for a 1st, 3 for a 2nd, and 1 for a 3rd.  Now, this is different at an A if they don’t have enough contestants to make what they term a full ring.  I believe it’s at least 5 competitors.  Now, this year, they changed Bs so, that no matter how many people are in your ring, you get full points.  So if there are 8 competitors, you get the same amount of points as if there’s only 1 competitor.  They changed it so that more people would come to Bs.  (Then you add on any points from Cs…and a school can only do 4 a year, I think.)  So, when you have only 2 2nd degrees and 4 1st degrees, there is absolutely NO benefit from combining them.  In fact, it hurts everyone, but mostly the 1st degrees because they haven’t been competing as long at ALL.

So, now this actual tournament.  Of the 2 2nd degrees, one is a two time World Champ in Sparring from Florida.  She’s VERY good at sparring and her form is also pretty good.  The other was a 2nd degree from NC, who was also pretty good.  Of other other 4, one is Em’s main competition from NC for Districts.  She’s got a SUPER high kick that she can stick up there and leave with good balance.  *I* don’t like the way her form looks, but I can objectively see how she can beat Em.  There was another girl, also named Emily, from Florida and she was just a jerk.  She kept rolling her eyes at Em and she had ZERO control in sparring.  She punched Em in the back once, giving Em a penalty point, and she punched her in the head twice (no penalty points for that and they didn’t even call her on it).  Anyway, her form was NOT good.  Like, at all.  Chris recorded it and when we showed it to her instructor, he wouldn’t watch more than 20 seconds of it, he said it was so bad.  So, you’ll imagine my surprise when Em came in 5th behind her!  Yeah, I don’t know.  There was another girl from SC who wasn’t good.  She had no power and didn’t look once at where she was punching and kicking.  Em was beyond upset at her scores.  She got a 5,6,5.  Awful girl got a 6,6,6.  She went on to completely kick ass on her weapon, beating even the 2nd degree.  She got 1st place.  At the end of the day, she only NEEDED points in Weapons to get back the lead for a State title.  So, it was okay in the end, but still.  Now, I’m not one of those moms that always think my kid’s the best and always deserves 1st.  But I’ve seen a lot of kids do their forms.  And last year, I freely admit that Em was nowhere near the best.  And this year, I can see how there are things about NC girl that the judges might like better.  Though I personally don’t like her form, I can totally see it.  And I’m not sure Em will be able to beat her at Districts.  I can see that.  And the the two 2nd degrees were pretty good too.  The NC one, I think, was better than the 1st degree NC girl.  But the 1st degree won.  But in the end, my first statement on how this was bullshit is that if they had separated the 1st and 2nd degrees, Em would have gotten a 3rd.  Gah!

So, we watched everyone else and most of the people from our school came away with a medal.  Us and the other family we were with finished around 3.  We had missed lunch. They had a food truck, but it ran out of food fairly quickly.  So, we decided to all go to dinner really early.  We had decided to save this other place for dinner that night since the website made it look a lot bigger.  And we knew from the previous night that EVERYWHERE there is PACKED.  So we headed over there and there was no parking that we could see anywhere.  Our friends called them and asked them how long it would take to be seated and they told her right away.  We were skeptical, but we spied an unobtrusive parking deck with plenty of parking, so we tried.  It ended up being at least 15 minutes before we were seated.  Ordinarily, that wouldn’t be bad, but we’d missed lunch and were SO HUNGRY.  Turns out, they were doing a Madri Gras Bar Crawl, so that’s why it was packed at 3pm.  The food was yummy.  I decided to splurge and got french fries with my grilled chicken sandwich.  Yes, another…they were also mostly seafood. :-/  But it was super yum.  We didn’t end up finishing until after 5pm.  We decided we’d head to the downtown area where they have a cool, open-air market.  We got there and finally parked and walked to it and got there around 5:55.  Guess when they were closing?  6pm.  Gah!  So, we ended up looking at the few regular shops in the area.  Got candy, then ended up doing dessert at Ben & Jerry’s.  I splurged again (more on that in another post…and back to the dieting talk) and it was so good.  We ended a fairly early night and left the next morning to drive back home.

And wow, that was a lot longer than I thought it would be.  This is what happens when I don’t blog for a long time.  So, to be continued.

Posted by: wildflowerz | January 3, 2017

2016 Books

Woohoo!  It’s that time of year when I make my book post that no one cares about but me.  😛

Overall Stats:

  • Total Books Read:  227 (7 more than last year)
  • Total Pages Read:  79,048 (786 more than last year)
  • Total Number of Books from a Series 179 or 79% (last year was 165 or 75%)
  • Average Length of Book:  348 pages (356 pages last year)
  • Author Most Read:  JoAnna Carl (Susan Wittig Albert last year)

By the Month:

  • January:  21 (9%)
  • February:  13 (6%)
  • March:  24 (11%)
  • April:  24 (11%)
  • May:  28 (12%)
  • June:  16 (7%)
  • July:  14 (6%)
  • August:  19 (8%)
  • September:  14 (6%)
  • October:  19 (8%)
  • November:  17 (7%)
  • December:  18 (8%)

Books Read by Category:

  • Classics:  2 (1%)
  • Fantasy:  14 (6%)
  • Fiction:  16 (7%)
  • Graphic Novel:  6 (3%)
  • Historical:  1 (0%)
  • Juvenile:  6 (3%)
  • Mystery:  74 (33%)
  • Nonfiction:  1 (0%)
  • Romance:  26 (11%)
  • Science Fiction:  8 (4%)
  • Supernatural:  27 (12%)
  • Suspense:  6 (3%)
  • Thriller:  2 (1%)
  • Young Adult:  38 (17%)

Last year, I read more Mystery by far.  Then, Romance and Young Adult.  This year, it was by far Mystery.

Books by Source:

  • Library:  93 (41%)
  • Owned:  81 (36%)
  • Owned/Kindle:  53 (23%)

Books by Rating:

  • A+:  8 (4%)
  • A:  11 (5%)
  • A-:  5 (2%)
  • B+:  23 (10%)
  • B:  22 (10%)
  • B-:  28 (12%)
  • C+:  41 (18%)
  • C:  26 (11%)
  • C-:  19 (8%)
  • D+:  18 (8%)
  • D:  14 (6%)
  • D-:  7 (3%)
  • F:  5 (2%)

Best Books of the Year:

  • Notorious RBG:  The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon & Shana Knizhnik
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by JK Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling
  • The Heiress Effect by Courtney Milan
  • The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
  • One Plus One by Jojo Moyes
  • Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare
  • Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
  • Written in Red by Anne Bishop
  • The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
  • Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1:  No Normal by Willow Wilson & Adrian Alphona
  • Because of Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn
  • Wicked Intentions by Elizabeth Hoyt
  • A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet

I had more A+ this year, but only because I re-read Harry Potter.  Notorious RBG was the only non-Potter A+.  I did have quite a few Romances in the As and I usually don’t have any, I don’t think.

Worst Books of the Year:

  • The Flame and the Arrow by Emigh Cannaday
  • BlueBuried Muffins by Lyndsey Cole
  • Flesh by Kylie Scott
  • Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham
  • Immortal Nights by Lynsay Sands

Weird mix, though thankfully a smaller list this year.  The Sands in the latest in a long series I’ve been reading for ages.  They’ve always been fine, but this last one was awful.  I also had one from a book club, Flesh.  And only one classic, but I don’t think I attempted many this year either.

I had quite a few DNFs this year too.  I still don’t have a great way to keep track of them, but here are some I can bring up on GR:

  • Bound by Blood by Kimberly Hoyt
  • Cheyenne by Lisa L. Wiedmeier
  • Maid for the Billionaire by Ruth Cardello
  • In Polyester Pajamas by Catherine Dougherty
  • The Collectors’ Society by Heather Lyons
  • Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith
  • The Troop by Nick Cutter
  • The Key by TL Coulter
  • Those Across the River by Christopher Buehlman
  • Dies the Fire by SM Stirling
  • Dark Witch by Nora Roberts
  • Dhampir by Barb Hendee
  • Fangland by John Marks
  • Rhapsody:  Child of Blood by Haydon Elizabeth
  • The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes
  • The Chronicles of Moxie by ZB Heller
  • Watching Willow Watts by Talli Roland
  • Alex by Pierre Lemaitre
  • Serena By Ron Rash
  • The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
  • McNally’s Secret by Lawrence Sanders
  • A Home at the End of the World by Michael Cunningham
  • Carved in Bone by Jefferson Bass

Most of those were free ones I got for the Kindle, so it’s not like I was out any money.  One was from a book club and a few were randos I picked up at the used book store that just sounded good.

Well, that’s all.  If you’re interested, I put teeny mini-reviews of all my books over on Goodreads.  Check me out there.

Hello!  Other than Disney and book posts, I’ve SUCKED at blogging!  Mostly because I’m boring and don’t have a lot to say.  But let me update you.  Our life is mostly all about Taekwondo, so that’s going to be a majority of what I’m saying here.

Last time I did a regular entry, Em was preparing for her test for Black Belt.  We went to Disney right before and she even practiced most every day while we were down there.  She tested with 5 or 6 of her classmates in October of 2015 and passed.  She was SO proud.  She rocked both her regular form and her Ssahng Jeol Bahng (Nun Chucks) form.  We had the belt ceremony in the evening at her school with a few students from another school owned by the same person.

Only a week or two after the belt ceremony, we get bad news.  The owner of the school is closing it down.  Suddenly.  Like in less than a week.  Let me give you some background.  When Em started there, the main instructor was the owner (3rd degree black belt).  His wife did all the front desk stuff.  A few weeks after Em started, her current instructor (6th degree black belt at the time, now 7th), came and became the main teacher.  The owner still did some classes or they did the bigger classes together.  It was great.  A few months later, the main instructor had a heart attack.  It was weird and sudden because he’s a fairly young guy and at least looks to be in great shape.  His wife was pregnant at the time and somewhere around the same time got in a car accident.  She had to be on bedrest the rest of her pregnancy.  While her hubs was recovering.  So Em’s main instructor became her only instructor.  Not too long after the owner recovered and his wife had the baby, they bought another school, about 20 minutes north of us.  Suddenly, they checked out of our school.  Our main instructor still did all the classes, while the owner did all the classes at the other school.  For a while, the owner would come a day or two a week to teach, but that didn’t last long.  Eventually, we NEVER saw the owner or his wife.  They totally checked out of our school a long time ago.  In fact, I joked that I literally saw them at Disney World more times than I saw them actually in our school.  Seriously.  So, evidently the school was losing money big time and they needed to reduce stress.  I TOTALLY get that and understand.  But did you really have to only give us a week’s notice?  Not only that, but it was RIGHT before Fall Nationals, so any school that we went to would only be open a few days before being closed again because everyone was in Orlando!  So, our main instructor, who we LOVE, went to another school  not too far away.  Most people joined him.

So, now we’re at this other school.  We don’t love it.  Our old school was a 5 minute drive away.  The new one is about 20 minutes away and it’s in a lot of traffic.  There’s no traffic light at the entrance and we have to do a U-turn into heavy traffic just to get to it.  The location isn’t good at all and it’s up on a hill and no one really notices it.  The mats and such are super worn out and not nearly as nice as what we had.  The owner there is a 6th degree black belt (so a Master), but he’s had some health issues and isn’t particularly in “fighting form.”  He’s also a rambler.  He tells lots of stories that don’t have anything to do with anything and a lot of class is wasted.  Luckily, Em’s old instructor is the main teacher and does most of the classes.  We know when he’s usually there and just avoid the other guy.  The owner is a nice guy and we do like him.  He just gets off track REALLY easily and his classes are mostly a waste of time.  So, it’s not ideal.

We’ve been at this new place for about a year.  Em’s done 5 mid-terms on her way to 2nd degree black belt.  She made the decision to put her journey to 2nd on hold to see how she could do in tournaments and potentially get a State, District, or even World title.  Because of how the tournament system works, you have to either stop before you take your 6th midterm (once you do, you’re considered 2nd Degree Recommended and have to compete in a 2nd degree ring), or not compete until new season starts (June or July).  So, Em has stopped taking mid terms.  She’s working on making herself better and is still in class all the time, but she’s focused on improving what she already knows rather than advancing right now.

She’s doing well so far.  We went to a tournament in Pigeon Forge at the end of the summer where she placed 1st in Weapons, 2nd in Forms, 2nd in Sparring, and 2nd in Combat Sparring.  She went to a bigger one in Atlanta and got 1st in Forms and 1st in Weapons.  Then she just did a smaller one in Atlanta this past weekend and got 1st in Forms and 2nd in Weapons.  She’s currently ranked #1 in the State in Forms and #2 in the District.  For Weapons, she’s currently #2 in the State and District.  She’s on the board for Sparring and Combat Sparring and will probably get to compete at Districts.  Sparring isn’t her strong suit.  She doesn’t particularly like it, but she does try to better herself in it and always competes.  Coming up, she’s got a tournament in Charleston in February, Sugar Hill in March, and Atlanta in April.  Those are probably the only ones she’s doing this year unless something else pops up.

In other Em news, she’s in 7th grade this year.  She hates it.  All her friends are on a different team than she is, so no classes with anyone.  She actively dislikes 90% of the kids in her classes and isn’t interested in being friends with them, even if they were interested in being friends with her.  It’s gotten better since those first few weeks, where there were lots of tears, but she still hates school.  She’s doing well though.  She still has all As and is enjoying doing Beta Club, though I think just because of the status of it and not because they actually do anything interesting.  She still pretty much has the same friends.  One of her best friends that she made last year moved away and she was super sad about it.  Her BEST friend (since 1st grade) is still her best friend and they’re great.  Her other best friend of a few years is still the same.  She has another friend that she considers a best friend.  Em’s middle school is the joining of two elementary schools that will then split when they go to different high schools.  This girl is from the other elementary school.  Em knew her before then, though, because she used to go to the same TKD studio.  But this girl quit once she got to black.

That’s about all I’ve got to say.  *I* am super boring.  Chris isn’t too much better.  He’s still doing TKD and is up to Brown Belt Recommended.  But he may have to put that on hold for a bit, but that’s a story for another day and not one I’m ready to talk about yet since we don’t know for sure what’s going to happen.  Sound mysterious?  ;-P

Posted by: wildflowerz | October 1, 2016

Disney Food, 2016 Update

I made this post quite a while ago after a friend asked about food at WDW.  Since we just did another trip, I figured I’d update it.

Here’s our family’s opinion on the restaurants we’ve tried at Disney World, organized by location.  If you’re new, Snacks just means that’s all you get there on the dining plan.  Counter Service means it’s like a regular fast food restaurant, usually where you order at a counter, get your food, and seat yourself.  Table Service is like a regular sit-down restaurant.  For easy reference, all the restaurants in GREEN are my recommendation.  The ones in RED are the ones to skip/avoid.  The rest are fine.  Here they are:

Magic Kingdom:

  • Aloha Isle (Snacks) – Home of the much lauded Dole Whip.  I can see how if you like Pineapple, you’d like these a lot.  I, however, do not like pineapple at all.  So, no thanks.  But they’re one of THE THINGS to get at MK, so if you like the pineapple, go for it.
  • Be Our Guest (Lunch/Counter Service):  We did this for lunch our past two times.  If you’re unfamiliar, BoG is Counter Service for Lunch at Table Service for Dinner.  It’s one of the only (the only?) place where you can make an ADR for a Counter Service Meal.  You can also go to the website up to a month ahead of time and place your food order.  I recommend you do make your food order ahead of time because the process to get in is much quicker.  When you arrive, you check in and you get a little plastic rose out in front of the castle.  You then head inside and give your rose to another person, who I guess checks you in again?  I’m not sure what the purpose of that or the rose is.   You pick your table and when you’re food is ready, they find you, using your MagicBands.  It’s pretty cool.  I usually get  the Turkey Sandwich.  Em got the Ham this time and loved it.  Chris had the Roast Beef Sandwich last time and the quiche this time.  We all liked them a lot.  I liked that I had the option of getting green beans with lunch (and they were yum too!).  We’ve had the Master’s Cupcake (it has “grey stuff” on top!), lemon, strawberry, and chocolate.  They are regular sized cupcakes with a generous amount of icing on top.  They were all very yum, but I wouldn’t go out of my way for the grey stuff unless you just want to say you’ve had it.  It just tastes like regular icing.
  • Be Our Guest (Dinner/Table Service):  We scored an ADR here on our 2014 trip.  We were seated in the West Wing, which I highly recommend, even though it’s forbidden.  😉  It’s a smaller room, but the rose under glass is there and it’s constantly “storming” outside, which makes for some neat effects.  I think I had the steak here last time.  Honestly, unless it was the trip we just got back from, I usually can’t remember what I had.  I do remember that we all really liked our meals a lot and would highly recommend it.  To get an ADR, you’ll need to get online the DAY your window opens up and even then it might not happen.  Good luck!
  • Cheshire Cafe (Snacks) – This is the place with the famed Cake Cups.  Or, it was.  I read all about the cake cups online for months and months before we went to Disney.  Everyone raved about them.  I LOVE cake, so it was high on my list of things to eat.  Know what?  They don’t have them any more.  The stuff left is your standard snacks, so nothing special.
  • Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe (Counter Service) – We’ve done lunch here three times, I think.  We usually end up there because they’ve got a big selection at lots of different windows to order from.  In the end, it’s your standard theme park food, so it’s nothing special.  Adequate and lots of indoor seating.
  • Gaston’s Tavern (Snacks) – We tried the popular LaFou’s Brew here on our last trip.  We weren’t impressed.  It tasted like an apple juice slushie.  Meh.
  • Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen (Table Service) – This is new and we were excited to try it.  The staff uses the same silly puns and deadpan that they do on the Jungle Cruise.  The decor is cool and exactly what you’d expect.  The food…  To start, you get Ethiopian bread.  It’s a dark brown bread and I didn’t like it by itself.  It comes with a fenugreek honey.  Okay, I heard “fenugreek” and had flashbacks to when I was breastfeeding and had to take that.  It’s not a pleasant memory.  I tried it, though, and it wasn’t good either.  So, Chris got the noodle bowl and said it was meh.  Em got “Tastes Like Chicken Because It Is.”  It was very tasty, but WAY too spicy for her.  Since it was, I had to switch with her.  I got the steak and it was pretty good, the little I got before I had to switch.  For dessert, Chris got the coconut bar.  Em and I got Kungaloosh! but without the coffee dust since neither of us likes it.  It was okay, but not special.  We won’t go back.  It wasn’t awful, but we didn’t love it, overall.
  • Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe (Counter Service) – I believe we had lunch here on our last trip.  It was surprisingly yum.  I believe I had a pulled pork sandwich.
  • Pinnochio Village Haus (Counter Service) – Em loves the pizza here.  I think we went here either our last trip or the one before.  I had some sort of super messy sandwich that was very yummy.
  • Sunshine Tree Terrace (Snacks) – The other part of the Dole Whip vs. Citrus Swirl war can be found here.  A Citrus Swirl is a mix of vanilla soft serve and orange slushie.  It tastes like a creamsicle.  It was okay, but the price to food ratio is VERY large and you’re not coming out on the better end of that deal.  I’d totally skip it.
  • Tony’s Town Square Restaurant (Table Service) – Okay, the table service restaurants at MK just don’t excite us.  Excepting Be Our Guest.  So, we decided to go out on a limb and try Tony’s once.  It wasn’t bad.  Chris and I both had the chicken parm.  We liked that the chicken came out still crispy and not soggy like usually chicken parm.  The sauce was just mediocre.  Overall, it was tasty, but nothing to write home about.  Olive Garden is better.  For dessert, I had the amaretto cheesecake.  It was very yum, but VERY tiny.  Chris had the chocolate cake and liked his.  Em had the kid’s chocolate cake and it was tiny and not nearly as good as Chris’s.


  • Akershus Royal Banquet Hall (Table Service): – We’ve only done this for breakfast.  Breakfast is breakfast in most places at WDW so there’s nothing really special about the food.  This is Norway’s restaurant, so there’s a lot of raw fish in addition to the regular breakfast stuff.  We’ve done this one twice when Em was younger because it’s a fabulous character breakfast with a bunch of princesses.  If you’re not into the character thing, skip it for breakfast.
  • Biergarten (Table Service) – This is in Germany.  We went there on our last trip.  Biergarten is a buffet restaurant and you’re seated family style, which we didn’t care for.  If you’re not sure what that is, it means you’ll probably be sitting at a table with a bunch of people you don’t know.  They do some cool dancing and music during the meal.  The food was okay.  Maybe we’re not huge fans of German food, but we didn’t love it.  It wasn’t bad, but not a favorite and we probably won’t go again.
  • Chefs de France (Table Service) – When Chris and I went on our very first trip to WDW when we were first married, this was our favorite place.  When we took Em for the first time, we went back and were disappointed.  It wasn’t bad, there was just nothing special about it.  I’m hearing good things again, though, so maybe we’ll try it again next time.
  • Karamell Kuche (Snacks) – I heard such good things about this place and it smelled AMAZING.  Em got a cookie with caramel in the middle.  I had a small taste and it wasn’t great.  There wasn’t a whole lot that I was willing to spend their prices (even with a snack credit) on.  But it did smell amazing.
  • La Cantina de San Angel (Counter Service) – We had this in 2015 I think.  Ug.  Okay, we LOVE Mexican food.  I mean, we eat it usually once a week.  So we figured we’d try it for counter service.  It was AWFUL.  Em had nachos and it was all cold.  Chris and I had tacos and they were bland and ug.
  • La Cava del Tequila (Drinks) – I wanted a margarita last trip.  We heard this place was fab.  Eh.  We’re not big drinkers.  Not for moral reasons, we just don’t really drink much.  I would have MUCH preferred a cheaper, frozen marg from the cart out front.  So that’s what we did this time and it was much tastier and more refreshing.
  • La Hacienda de San Angel (Table Service) – My opinion on this was is very dated.  Chris and I went here in 2001 or so.  It wasn’t good.  BUT, that was 14 years ago.  But we’re generally of the opinion that for table service, we want something we can’t get at home and Mexican is not that.
  • L’Artisan des Glaces (Snacks) – OMG yum.  They have an ice cream filled macaroon.  It’s SO GOOD.
  • Restaurant Marrakesh (Table Service) – Chris and I did this one on our first visit and then we went on our last visit before this one.  We love it.  We don’t have any Moroccoan/Turkish/Persian food near us, so we like visiting here when we go.  Also, there’s belly dancing.  🙂
  • Rose & Crown Dining Room (Table Service) – Okay, I love British stuff.  So, I like going here.  We went in 2014 and 2015.  Last time, I had bangers and mash.  Chris had steak and fish.  It was all super yum.  I had sticky toffee pudding for dessert and it was awesome.  Chris had the chocolate bread pudding.  It was okay, but nothing super fab.
  • Sunshine Seasons (Counter Service) – This place is in the pavilion with Soarin’ and Living with the Land.  It’s got a lot of different offerings and it’s not just your standard theme park fare.  Definitely recommend.
  • Tangierine Cafe (Counter Service) – Ew.  No, no, no.  The food Chris and I had was super cold and kind of revolting.  Em had a burger and (granted, she was 6 when we went, but) she cried when we made her eat it.  So, yeah.
  • Teppan Edo (Table Service) – The one time we used a travel agent, she couldn’t get us dinner at Ohana, so she subbed this instead, saying it was a lot alike.  It is not.  Don’t get me wrong, Teppan Edo is fine, but this is just a Japanese Steak House.  We have TONS of them at home, so why eat at one when you go on vacation?
  • Via Napoli (Table Service) – This place is new as of a few years ago.  We went there on our last trip and the one before that.  Em loves pizza.  This is supposed to be the “best pizza in the World.”  We’ve liked both meals we got there.  The second time, the service wasn’t great.  Chris got lasagne and it came out so early that he was finished eating before mine and Em’s food even got to our table.  And he’s not a SUPER fast eater.  We went again on our most recent trip.  We all got pizza and it was all super yum.  We all got the “Ugly, But Good” sundae and it was good, but it wasn’t until I was assessing the food plan later that I realized that the dessert was twice the price as anywhere else.  It was a $14 sundae.  It was a decent size, but it wasn’t worth $14.

Hollywood Studios:

  • ABC Commissary (Counter Service) – We’ve eaten lunch here several times, until we discovered Starring Rolls.  The line moves quickly, the selection is fine, and there’s tons of seating inside in the air conditioning.
  • Catalina Eddie’s/Fairfax Fare/Rosie’s All American (Counter Service) – These three are all stands right next to each other.  The food was fine, but nothing outstanding.  There’s plenty of seating and though it’s outside, it’s mostly covered.
  • Mama Melrose (Table Service) – We ate here our first two visits with Em.  The first time it was SO GOOD.  The last time, the food was okay and the service was horrible.  But there’s not a lot that draws us for food here at Hollywood Studios.  We might try this one again next time we go.  If I can drag Em away from Sci-Fi!
  • Pizza Planet (Counter Service) – Fair warning:  Chris and I ate here back in 2001.  It was the worst pizza I’ve ever had.  BUT it’s been 14 years, so…who knows how it’s changed.  **UPDATE:  It’s closed and being re-themed as a Muppets restaurant, which makes no sense.  I mean, PIZZA PLANET is a big part of Toy Story.  They’re changing it to something about Rizzo the Rat.  Um, no.
  • Sci-Fi Dine-In (Table Service) – Em loves this place.  We went here in 2014 and 2015.  It’s fine. It’s burgers and fries.  There’s nothing all that special about the food.  The one thing this one has going for it is that for drinks, you can get a milkshake and it’s part of the dining plan.  Yes, that means you can get your food with a milkshake to drink.  Then, you can also get a dessert.  The desserts here aren’t great, so I’d stick with a ice cream sundae.  The doughnut is fried too hard and the candy bar is just okay.
  • Starring Rolls (Counter Service) – OMG guys.  How have I not know about this sooner?  First off, the food selections are slim.  They’ve got a few sandwiches.  I had the turkey last time and ham this time.  Both were SO GOOD.   But here’s where this place really wins:  dessert.  This is the home of the Butterfinger cupcake.  It’s a chocolate cupcake with a gooey fudge center.  It’s topped with white icing with a thick, hard layer of crushed Butterfinger on top.  SO good.  And while I lie pb and choc, I’m not a huge Butterfinger fan.  Em got the pb & choc Darth Vader cupcake and declared it the best cupcake she’s ever had.  I think the Butterfinger might be my favorite Disney dessert.

Animal Kingdom:

  • Flame Tree Barbecue (Counter Service) – This is a decent counter service place.  There are tons of places to sit, but it’s small areas on a path.
  • Restaurantosaurus (Counter Service) – We went here our first trip with Em, so it’s been a while.  But I know how I said above that Em cried when we made her eat that burger from the counter service place in Morocco?  That happened here too.
  • Tamu Tamu Refreshments (Snacks) – This place has hand-made double chocolate chip ice cream sandwiches.  They’re huge and super yum.
  • Yak & Yeti Restaurant (Table Service) – This is my favorite restaurant for non-dessert in all of WDW.  And my second favorite for dessert!  We ate here in 2012 or 2013.  Then again in 2015 and again in 2016.  I LOVEthe ribs.  They’re in hoison sauce and the last time I had them, they came with chicken fried rice and asian slaw.  This past time, they came with fries and kimchi slaw.  Loved it all.  YUM!  For dessert, I was skeptical, but had heard the Mango Pie was very good.  I’m not a huge mango fan, but guys.  It was so good.  It is my second favorite dessert.  SO good.

Disney Springs:

  • Bongos Cuban Cafe (Table Service) – Chris and I went here in 2001 and it was awful.  Obviously, that was forever ago, but ug.
  • D-Luxe Burger (Counter Service) – This place was tasty.  Chris got the Diablo burger (mixture of sausage and beef), Em got a standard cheeseburger, and I got the Cluck burger.  They were all super tasty.  Em called her’s AMAZING.  With a lot of DS places, you get a side OR dessert.  This place only had a cheeseburger macaroon.  We got fries instead.
  • Earl of Sandwich (Counter Service) – I’d heard this place was fabulous.  I thought it was okay.  I had the buffalo chicken wrap.  I was tired of turkey and there wasn’t a lot else I was interested in.  You can get a side or a dessert here, so you actually get less food here than other places.  The cupcakes here were REALLY good, though.
  • Planet Hollywood (Table Service) – Chris and I ate here back when we first came in 2001.  The best I can remember is that it was fine.  But they were all over the place, so we usually just skip this one.
  • Raglan Road (Table Service) – We ate here in 2014 and it was my favorite dessert.  We missed it in 2015, so we went in 2016 and ended up there just for dessert that time.  First, the entertainment is great.  There are dancers and awesome musicians.  For the food, I had bangers and mash.  It was good!  Em said her burger was burned though.  But where this restaurant really excels is the bread and butter pudding.  It’s really good, but ended up not as good as I remembered it.  It’s still my 3rd favorite dessert at WDW.
  • Rainforest Cafe (Table Service) – We’ve been here several times.  I’ve not a huge salad person, but they have the best Asian chicken salad.  For a bit we decided not to do it because it’s a chain, but there’s not one anywhere near us at home.
  • T-REX (Table Service) – We went here in 2014 and it was yummy.  The theming here is very good with the rooms all looking completely different.
  • Wolfgang Puck Express (Counter Service) – We ate here for lunch in 2015.  In 2016, we did dinner.    It was tasty!  We all had pizzas the first time and they were good.  Em got the giant brownie for dessert and it was awful.  It was dry and not nearly sweet enough.  Chris and I both got cheesecake.  It was tasty, but nothing special.  This past time, Chris got ravioli and Em got Mac & Cheese and they both liked them.  I had the Chinois Chicken Salad and it was very yum.  We were having dessert at Raglan, so we just got cookies for dessert.  They were tasty, but not a good use of the DDP.

WDW Resorts:

  • Boma at Animal Kingdom Lodge (Table Service) – We tried this place in 2015.  It’s a buffet and they have LOTS of stuff.  The chicken was kind of dry, but everything else I had was yummy.  Chris said this was absolutely his favorite place of the entire trip.  Em liked it okay.
  • Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue at Fort Wilderness (Table Service x2) – I thought this was going to be super cheesy and dumb.  It was super cheesy, but it was also really funny.  I’m not sure I’d want to do it again, but was fun and we’re definitely glad we did it.  First off, before we’d done Spirit of Aloha (SoA), I saw advice on getting there early, because there’s a bit of a walk.  So, I tried looking for HDD to see what the deal was getting there and could find nothing.  So, I’ll tell you.  Fort Wilderness is huge and has cabins and campsites.  They have their own buses because everything is so spread out.  And each of those buses have lots of stops.  When you get to Fort Wilderness (we drove), you park and get on a bus that will take you to the area where HDD is (consequently it’s the same area as Mickey’s Backyard BBQ if you’re doing that.).  So you need to plan ahead.  We got there with 5 minutes to spare.  I’d plan at LEAST 20 minutes once you get to Fort Wilderness.  Now, on to the actual show.  It’s inside and air conditioned, as opposed to Spirit of Aloha, which is outside.  It’s also much smaller.  It wasn’t sold out when we went, so the tables on the main floor weren’t even all full, much less the balcony upstairs.  You get cornbread (the sweet, yummy kind…not the dry kind my family had growing up) and salad.  Both were yummy.  For your meal, you get unlimited fried chicken and ribs (both yum), along with corn, baked beans, (both fine), and mashed potatoes (good, but kind of runny).  For dessert, it’s strawberry shortcake.  Yummy, but actually kind of small.  SoA and HDD are, I think, the only places where you can get alcohol on the dining plan, and it’s unlimited.  HDD is Yeunling for beer, a white and a red wine, and a white and a red sangria.  I didn’t care for either sangria, so I switched back to Diet Coke.  I’m not sure we’d do this again, but we definitely would recommend it at least once.
  • Kona at Polynesian (Table Service) – We’d eaten at both Ohana and Spirit of Aloha at the Polynesian, so we tried this one this time.  We made our reservation late for us (8pm) and it still took them 20 minutes or so to seat us.  And we were SO hungry.  The decor looked like it hadn’t been updated in ages and was kind of boring.  The food was good.  Em and I got noodles and they were SUPER yum.  Chris got a steak and he loved it.  Along with the Lapu Lapu.  The desserts were pretty yummy too.  However, this felt like eating in a mall food court since there’s no wall to the hotel.  I’m not sure if it was good enough that we would do it again, but it was tasty.
  • Ohana at Polynesian (Table Service) – We first did this one for breakfast.  They have a yummy juice that no one else has.  Other than that, it’s breakfast.  But at Ohana, that’s a character meal.  It was Lilo, Stitch, Mickey, and Goofy.  Lilo never made it to our table.  Another trip, we tried Ohana for dinner.  It’s more like a brazilian barbecue.  They come around to your table constantly with 4-5 different types of meat.  It was super yummy. And there’s a yum bread pudding for dessert.  Em didn’t like it but Chris and I LOVED it.
  • Pop Century (Counter Service & Snacks) – We usually stay at Pop for a variety of reasons, but when we have extra counter service credits, we have breakfast here.  It’s fine. Nothing spectacular, but fine.  You should try to always use your credits NOT on breakfast because you get more for your money that way.  But sometimes it’s not possible.  I will say that on our last morning, we had a bunch of snack credits to use and Em got their tie-dye cheesecake (Yes, at breakfast.  Shut up, we’re on vacation!) and it was SUPER yum.  It’s got a red velvet crust.  Em got one of those cookie ice cream sandwiches.  They’re HUGE and just a snack credit.
  • Sanaa at Animal Kingdom Villas (Table Service) – We went for this one in 2014.  It’s more Indian-type food, which I usually don’t like.  And I won’t say this was my favorite, but it was pretty good.  This is also the restaurant where you want to go for lunch or a really early dinner so you can see the animals.  They’re RIGHT OUTSIDE your window!
  • Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show at Polynesian (Table Service x 2) – We did this for the first time in 2014.  We liked it so much we did it again in 2015.  There are two shows.  There’s a 5:30ish and an 8:15pm.  The later one’s better to see the fire part, but there are logistics problems.  You finish at around 10pm.  But unless MK or EP is open late, you’re going to be stuck getting a bus to Downtown Disney, then finding your bus to your hotel.  And it’s a MADHOUSE.  The actual show is cute.  It’s got plenty of songs your recognize, along with a bunch of dances from different countries.  The dancers are HOT, both the men and the women.  The food is pretty yum.  It’s all you can eat and this is the only place I know of where there’s select alcohol that’s all you can drink.  That includes 2 types of beer, a wine, and a sangria.
  • The Wave…of American Flavors at Contemporary (Table Service) – We picked this the time before last because it’s advertised as having more healthy choices.  Perhaps I read it wrong, because it’s not so much healthy, but more organic and locally sourced.  Don’t get me wrong, that’s good, but at that point it wasn’t what I was looking for.  I don’t really remember what we had, but Chris LOVED it.  Em liked it too.  I think I liked it, but I can’t remember a whole lot about it.
Posted by: wildflowerz | September 24, 2016

Disney – Day 7 – Departure and Random Stuff

We woke up Friday and finished what little packing we had left.  We loaded the car and headed to the hotel cafeteria for breakfast.  We ran into some more friends from Taekwondo there!  After breakfast, we loaded up and headed home.  It was a long drive and we got back to town during Friday rush hour traffic.  So it took us an hour and a half to get home through Atlanta.  Ug.  But we made it.

Disney Rash

I got it.  It sucked. I think what I got was Exercise-Induced Vasculitis.  I usually get this at Disney.  But this time it was so much worse.  The name makes it sound like people get it who aren’t very active, but then suddenly are at Disney.  I’m fairly active.  I gym in 5x a week, doing running, walking, elliptical and weights.  I usually get between 15k and 20k steps a day.  And my Disney steps were one day of 25k, but mostly 18-20k.  So it wasn’t THAT much more than what I normally do.  But when I’m on my feet, my ankles swell.  At Disney you’re constantly on your feet.  Even if you aren’t walking, you’re standing a lot.  That’s really tough on me.  So, I think it was more the heat and swelling that made it so bad.  I had a dark red rash on the back of my legs and by the end of the day, a lighter pink rash all up the bottoms of my legs.  I had cankles and lots of swelling in my lower legs.  It was so bad that when I bent my knees, my lower legs felt like they were going to pop.  Our car ride home made the swelling pretty bad yesterday.  Today, there’s still a small bit of swelling and a small rash, but it’s tons better.

The Heat

We live in Georgia, so we’re used to rather humid heat.  But at home, we stay inside most of the time except when we go to the pool, so I’m not used to this Florida swampy weather.  This is the third time we’ve gone down at this time of year and it’s the worst I’ve felt.  I guess I’m in worse shape?  Chris says it feels like it always does.  But I could NOT stay dry.  If I was outside for more than 3 minutes, I was soaked.  Like, sweat pouring off my face and my entire back was slick with it.  Gross.  I was fairly miserable the entire time.  I had a mister fan.  I didn’t use the mister part much because I felt like I was already wet.  The fan didn’t cool very well.  I had a Frogg Togg towel and that helped a bit.  But yuck.

The Food.  And the Weight.

I’ve been doing fairly well on Weight Watchers lately.  But I didn’t plan to worry about it while we were down at WDW.  And I didn’t.  But honestly, about half way through, I was just tired of eating so much.  But I kept doing it!  Dessert with every meal…feeling stuffed all the time…it wasn’t a fun feeling.  I don’t remember it ever bothering me that much in the past.  But this time, I just felt ug.  I think the heat had a lot to do with that too, though.  About the food:  we got free dining.  We got the Quick Service free with a budget hotel, but we upgraded to the regular that gives you one snack, one quick, and one table a day.  I heard that next year, it will change and you won’t get a dessert with lunch, but you’ll get two snacks a day instead.  I think that might help a lot.  But I tried to make a note of all that we would have spent if we had paid for what we eat.  I plan on making a spreadsheet and seeing how that compares to what we paid for the plan, as well as what we would have spent had we had to pay for it ourselves.  I’ll write something up later if it’s particularly enlightening.  I also checked my scale.  I gained about 7.5lbs while we were down there.  However, I know that at least a little is water weight and from the swelling.  So, I think a better show will be what I weigh next Friday after a week back on track.


Here are my steps and miles for the week:

  • Saturday – Epcot Evening:  13,448 steps, 5.62 miles
  • Sunday – Universal:  25,059 steps, 10.46 miles
  • Monday – Hollywood Studios:  21,317 steps, 8.90 miles
  • Tuesday – Epcot:  21,027 steps, 8.78 miles,
  • Wednesday – Magic Kingdom:  18,903 steps, 7.90 miles
  • Thursday – Animal Kingdom:  19,238 steps, 8.04 miles
  • TOTAL:  118,992 steps, 49.70 miles
Posted by: wildflowerz | September 24, 2016

Disney – Day 6 – Animal Kingdom

So for our last day, we had early lunch reservations for 11am at Yak & Yeti.  We made them early so we could eat early at Raglan Road in Disney Springs and then head back to see the Tree of Life stuff at AK.  We had FPs for Kilimangaro Safaris at 9a, Espedition Everest at 10:10a, and Kali River Rapids at 2:05p.

We first headed over towards Kilimanjaro Safaris to use our FP.  We got one for this because there’s just a lot that you need one for here.  You really don’t need one for the Safari if you go first thing.  But whatever.  We stopped and got Em’s face painted first since there was no one there and she always does this on AK day.  We then did the Safari.  It was a good day and we saw a lot of animals.  After that, we headed over to do Expedition Everest since there wasn’t much of a line.  We then headed to Dinoland and did Primeval Whirl and Triceratop Spin.  We came back to Asia and rode Expedition Everest with our FPs. Then we headed to lunch.

We checked in and watched while they seated EVERYONE that was there before and after us.  I was so tired and hot that it was just good to sit in the AC.  After 20 minutes, Chris went to ask.  They never printed out the slip, so we got missed.  To make up for it, they gave us a free app.  We got some yummy pot stickers.  I got my FAVORITE, the Korean BBQ ribs.  This time, they came on top of shoestring fries.  Last time, it was fried rice.  The fries were good, but I prefer the rice.  The ribs were, of course, SUPER yum.  This is my favorite regular meal food at WDW.  I highly recommend it.  Em had the burger, which she loved.  Chris had the steak and coconut shrimp and liked it a lot.  For dessert, Chris and I both had mango pie.  This is one of my favorite desserts at Disney.  Em had the sorbets.  She liked them, but I don’t think she loved them.

After lunch, we went to Festival of the Lion King.  This is the best show at Disney.  Actually, we don’t like any of the shows but this one, but this one IS really good.  After that, we headed back to Asia again and Em and I rode Expedition Everest as Single Riders.  Then Em rode it again as a Single.  It’s her favorite ride at Disney. After that we headed back to the room.

So, we hung out in the room for a while, but by 3 we were a little hungry.  I thought it would be fine to go to the POP dining area and get a small snack.  Our dinner was at 5, but I thought it would be okay.  I had a small cupcake.  Chris had a Mickey Bar.  But Em got an ice cream sandwich between two large chocolate chip cookies.  It was easily enough for 4.  She ate 1/2 to 2/3 of it.  So, none of was was hungry for dinner at 5pm.  So, we shuffled.  We were going to eat breakfast this day but due to a miscommunication, we didn’t.  So, we still had 9 unaccounted-for quick service meals.  We planned to use 3 the next day before we left.  When we went for snacks at Pop, for some reason, Chris converted a quick service to snacks since we were getting 3.  So, we had 5 quick credits and 3 snacks to use before we left.  And because we had planned on Em eating kids meals most of the time, we were out of Table Service credits.  I went on the app and went to see if I could push back our Raglan Road by an hour or so.  The only reservation was 8:15, so I changed it.  Then Chris had the idea that we could just eat Quick Service at Disney Springs and go to Raglan Road for dessert.

So, we decided we’d do Wolfgang Puck.  I had a really yummy Asian salad.  Chris had ravioli and Em had Mac & Cheese.  We then wasted time looking around DS before our 8:15 Raglan Road.  We finally are bored and just ready to be done, so we head to Raglan about 20 minutes early.  Chris goes ahead and checks us in and they seat us in 5 minutes.  I get some fruity strawberry mimos and Chris gets a beer flight.  This was a bad idea on my part.  I was hot and it was pretty warm inside Raglan with all those people.  I shouldn’t have gotten the drink because I was pretty miserable by the time our food came.  Also, I was still full from dinner and only ate about half my dessert.  Chris and I got the bread and butter pudding.  I’ve been dreaming about this dessert since our trip before last.  I even made it back at either Thanksgiving or Christmas time.  It wasn’t as good as Raglan’s, but not bad.  So, I was a bit disappointed when this one didn’t live up to my memory.  It was very good.  But honestly, I think I liked both the mango pie and the Butterfinger cupcake much better.  Em had something chocolatey that was pretty small and she only ate half of, even though she said she liked it.  After dinner we headed back to the hotel.

Posted by: wildflowerz | September 24, 2016

Disney – Day 5 – Magic Kingdom

This day we started out by having breakfast at our hotel.  Pop Century, did I mention that?  We usually plan on doing hotel breakfast our first and last day.  However, since we’d have Food & Wine going this time, we decided not to do breakfast our first day, so we had three extra quick credits.  Then we didn’t use any on Epcot day, so we had a total of 6 to use.  So, we went MK morning since it was going to be a LONG day.

We had 11:30am reservations for Be Our Guest (which we ordered our food for the night before) and 5:55pm reservations for the new Jungle Navigation Company Skipper Canteen.  We had FPs for 9:55am Peter Pan, 10:55pm Seven Dwarfs, and 1:15p Splash Mountain.  This we had planned on being a long day.  I made our touring plan to go to Tomorrowland first, then head counter-clockwise.  That would put us in Fantasyland for Peter Pan and Seven Dwarfs around lunch time, so we could do Be Our Guest, then head around putting us in Adventureland to ride the Jungle Cruise right before dinner, since they had the same theme.

Well, it didn’t work out that way.  Friends from Chris and Em’s Taekwondo studio were also down here so we planned to meet up out front and ride some stuff together early.  The bus took forever, so we didn’t get there until the Welcome Show was mostly done, but we did find them before rope drop.  We all headed over to do Space Mountain.  After that, we were all going to head over to do Buzz Lightyear.  Except it was having issues and was down.  So, we decided to do the Laugh Floor.  Except it didn’t open until 10!  Gah!  Already our plan is messed up!  We went over to Dumbo and Chris and Em rode it with our friends while I went to find a restroom.  We met back up and all did Under the Sea together.  At that point, we split up.  Haunted Mansion had a short line, we went went to do that before heading back to Fantasyland to use our FP for Peter Pan.  We then did Mickey’s Philharmagic and It’s a Small World.  Em didn’t want to do the later, but we hadn’t done it in a while, so we rode.  We then used our FP for Seven Dwarfs before heading to lunch at BoG.  We’d eaten in the two side rooms, so we ate in the big middle room this time.  I like The West Wing for dinner and the Portrait Gallery for lunch better.  I had the turkey sandwich.  It was good, but had TOO much bread.  I ordered it with green beans, but it came with fries.  I didn’t care enough to fix it.  Chris had the quiche and salad and Em had the ham and cheese.  For dessert, I had strawberry, Chris had lemon, and Em had chocolate.  Mine was yum.  We all enjoyed it.

After lunch, we headed over to ride Pirates of the Caribbean.  We then did the Enchanted Tiki Room (which I can totally do without from now on).  Then it was on to Splash Mountain.  We headed back to Tomorrowland to ride Buzz Lightyear since it was back up.  We took a relaxing ride on the People Mover while Space Mountain was down.  Then we went to the Laugh Floor.  After that, we rode Space Mountain because it was back up and hadn’t developed a long line again.  We had made a FP for Jungle Cruise while we were in line for Splash Mountain, so we went and did that one then.  It had long lines all day, so instead of waiting to do it right before dinner, we did this instead.  While in line for Jungle Cruise, we made FPs for Pirates again and did that.  We then road Haunted Mansion again. This line was a bit much because so much is outside in the heat.  We were so tired and I was done that we went to Skipper Canteen to see if they could seat us 30 or so minutes early.  They seated us right away!

Okay, so Skipper Canteen is new.  The decoration if cool.  We sat in the first main room, but evidently there’s another room that looks even better.  The staff here all behaves exactly like the tour guides on the Jungle Cruise, so you know what you’re getting into.  The Ethiopian bread with fenugreek honey that everyone gets was not good.  I have nightmares of fenugreek from when I was breastfeeding and the bread by itself is extremely dry and doesn’t taste great at all.  Chris had the noodle bowl.  He was extremely underwhelmed.  I had the steak.  Part of it had chimichurri and part had avocado salsa.  The part with chimichurri was good.  It also had Yucca planks, which were like large french fries, but less greasy.  They were also good.  I can’t tell you about the salsa because of what Em got.  She got the Tastes Like Chicken Because It Is.  It’s fried chicken on top of rice.  It was very tasty.  I know because it was too spicy for her, so I had to eat it while she took my steak.  It was tasty, but I really wanted to steak, so yeah.  For dessert, Em and I both had Kungaloosh without the coffee dust.  It was fine, but nothing special.  Chris had the coconut bar.  None of us were especially impressed.  Chris said, “Well, at least it isn’t Tony’s!”  So yeah.  After dinner, we headed back to the hotel.

Posted by: wildflowerz | September 24, 2016

Disney – Day 4 – Epcot

We planned on doing counter service for lunch and/or just eating at the Food & Wine booths.  Dinner was scheduled for 6:15 for the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue.  Our Fast Passes were for 9:15a Soarin’, 10:20a Mission:  SPACE, and 11:45a Spaceship Earth.

We headed first to Test Track when we got there.  The line wasn’t bad at all.  Em loves this ride.  We then went over to use our FP for Soarin’.  Our family has never loved this ride.  If there’s a huge line and we have no FP, we usually just skip it.  It’s fine, but not our favorite.  Since we last rode it, they’ve added a third screen and they changed the journey.  We liked it a LOT better now.  The posted line wasn’t bad for it.  We would probably do this one in the future without a FP.  It was much better.  We then went on to use our FP for Mission:  SPACE.  We decided to head into the World Showcase to use our paper FP for Frozen before the ride had a chance to break down.  SUPER quick line with the FP.  The ride was fine, but nothing I’d write home about.  Our family isn’t huge Frozen fans anyway, but it was nice.  I’d certainly ride it again, but not with a long wait.  We’d certainly FP is again, but if we miss it, it won’t be such a big deal.

Next we went to do Ellen’s Energy Adventure.  We hadn’t done this one in a while, but since it’s going away, we decided to do it.  It’s fine, but there’s one section I can’t remember.  When you go into the room where you’re listening to the radio for what seems like forever, are you supposed to just be sitting in the dark?  It felt like a really long time to just be listening.  Anyway, we then went and rode Spaceship Earth.  Once again, we had the same things with the pictures not working.  The part where you put in your location wouldn’t work for me at all.  We then decided to head to the World Showcase and sample the Food & Wine for lunch.  We started on the Canada side.  I can’t remember where the additional countries and such are, but I’m going to try and list what we got.  Here goes:

  • Beer-braised Beef and smoked gouda mashed potatoes (Belgium)
  • Belgian Waffle with Berry Compote and Whipped Cream (Belgium)
  • Brazilian cheese bread (Brazil)
  • Beijing roasted duck in steamed bun with hoisin sauce (China)
  • Kung Fu Punch with Vodka and triple sec (China)
  • Strawberry Fanta Float with vanilla soft-serve (Desserts and Champagne)
  • Roast Bratwurst in a Pretzel Roll (Germany)
  • Kalua Pork Slider with Sweet and Sour Dole Pineapple Chutney and Spicy Mayonnaise (Hawaii)
  • Jamaican Beef Patty (Islands of the Caribbean)
  • Barbacoa Enchilada: Corn Tortilla filled with Beef Barbacoa and covered with Oaxaca Mole (Mexico)
  • Grilled beef skewer with chimichurri sauce and boniato puree (Patagonia)

I we also got some kind of seafood thing that Chris ate by himself.  We paid for the cheaper ones and used snack credits for the more expensive ones.  I think we liked most of them. Em’s favorite was the Bratwurst.  In Japan, we stopped to do the Agent P thing.  It had just started sprinkling a bit, but it cooled everything off really well, so that was nice.  I was feeling so done by the time we finished the World Showcase, so we headed back for a short rest in the room before heading to dinner.  The wait for the bus was really long.

We headed to Fort Wilderness for dinner and a show with the Hoop-Dee-Doo.  We’d never been here before and I remember that its a short walk to get to Spirit of Aloha, so you’re supposed to add in additional time for that.  So before the Hoop Dee Doo, I looked it up to see how much time I should schedule in.  But I couldn’t find that information.  Turns out, once you get to Ford Wilderness, you then have to get a bus to the Hoop Dee Doo area.  FW has a bunch of it’s own buses with lots of stops.  We lucked out and there was a bus waiting when we go there.  But there were 3 or 4 stops before we got to the dinner area.  We left our hotel 45 minutes before the show and it took us every bit of that to get to the Hoop Dee Doo area.  (Consequently, this is the same area where they do Mickey’s Backyard BBQ.)  HDD has the benefit of being inside, unlike Spirit of Aloha.  We thought was going to be just super cheesy and awful.  But, hey, unlimited ribs and fried chicken!  It was pretty cheesy, but it wasn’t awful.  It was actually really funny.  There was salad and cornbread (the sweet kind, not the kind my grandmother and mom made growing up) for starters.  This has unlimited of a few types of beer, wine, and sangria.  Both the sangria types weren’t great to me.  I don’t like wine all that much.  But I did like the sangria at Spirit of Aloha.  So I switched to Diet Coke for the rest of the night.  The fried chicken and ribs were good.  The mashed potatoes were tasty, but kind of runny.  There was also baked beans and corn, both of which were fine.  Dessert was strawberry shortcake, which was yum.  Afterwards, we headed back to the hotel to call it a night.

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