Disney at Home on the Weekend!

Louisiana Crepe MyrtlesI don’t know about at your house, but at ours the weekend goes by WAY too quickly!  Seems like the hours between Friday afternoon and Monday morning are shorter than those during the rest of the week.  Whoosh!  Weekend’s over!  This weekend was especially packed with fun and Disney!

Fall has arrived and with our next trip to Walt Disney World just two weeks away, I realized how much still needs to be done!  So I kicked it into high gear over the weekend and got a few things accomplished.

Saturday, Junior got his Halloween costume finalized.  I’m 100% sure he doesn’t care about dressing up for this holiday or any other, but I care, so he indulges me.  I went with Star Wars and am really happy with the cuteness level!  What do you think?  Doesn’t Junior make a cute Tauntaun?

Sunday, I ran 7 miles as my longest training run of the week.  It seems I’ve got to run a half Junior as a TaunTaunmarathon to run a half marathon.  Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?  In order to NOT start at the very back of the pack for the Disney Princess Half in February, I’ve got to prove I can go the distance in less than 3.5 hours.  I’ve run several half marathons in the past, but not in a couple of years, so I need a recent qualifying time.  I’ve decided on the East Texas Half in Nacogdoches, Texas on November 16th.  Who doesn’t want to run 13.1 miles for their 50th birthday?  Should be fun, right?

I was really hungry after all that running and decided I could cook up something fattening and delicious while crossing another item off my Disney New Year’s Resolution List.  After our Tutto Italia dining experience in May was such a disappointment (very poor service, very mediocre food), I wanted to use a recipe from the Tutto Italia of the past – when they had both awesome service and delicious dishes!  I’m not giving up on them forever at Walt Disney World (Epcot’s World Showcase, Italy Pavilion), but I’m giving them some time to work out their current kinks before we go back.  In TaunTaun Canine!the mean time, I’ll keep whipping up some happy memories at home!  I decided on the Gnocchi with Spinach and Gorgonzola Cream Sauce.  I took a picture of the finished product to show you, but, well, it’s kind of ugly so I changed my mind.  Let’s just say that my first attempt at gnocchi from scratch was a little rough – they were not pretty, uniform little pieces of pasta.  Thankfully, they tasted absolutely divine (in spite of the dish’s humble appearance).  I used this recipe from Allears.net.

Finally, after waiting for what felt like forever, Season 4 of Once Upon a Time started Sunday night.  It was worth the wait!  I won’t go into detail since you either watch Once and you’re with me in my excitement OR you don’t watch it and don’t care.  I will say that I was not expecting Kristoff to be so perfect.  I thought Anna was spot on (Elsa not so much) and having Marshmallow make an appearance was a great (and fun) surprise.  I wasn’t expecting to like the Frozen takeover, but so far so good!

Did you add any Disney to your weekend? 

Disney Resolutions – Mid-Year Checkup

1900 Park Fare - Meeting Pring CharmingAs hard as it is to accept (time really does fly when you’re having fun!), 2014 is half-over. Can you believe it?  Mid-way through the year is an excellent time to look back at those New Year’s resolutions and give a status report.  Maybe you resolved to eat cleaner, lose weight, or exercise more – Me?  I resolved to complete a list of Disney-related activities – this way, I’m guaranteed to have fun, eat delicious food, and be greatly amused all while feeling good about actually sticking to my resolutions!  See how that works?  No dieting or exercise required and I feel happy and productive!

So – Let’s look at the old January 1st list and see what’s been accomplished thus far….

1.  See These Movies:

  • Million Dollar Arm Ticket StubMuppets Most Wanted (3/21/14) – Been a huge fan my whole life – this is a can’t-be-missed movie for me!  The unresolved romance between Kermit and Piggy keeps me coming back for more. Complete!  Read the movie review here.
  • Captain America:  The Winter Soldier (4/4/14) – I’m diggin’ all the Marvel movies and I think the Cap’s aces.  Enjoyed it!  Read about it here.
  • Million Dollar Arm (5/16/14) – I am just a girl who cannot resist a good baseball movie.  Unexpectedly delightful and the review is here.
  • Maleficent (5/30/14) – Looks darkly intriguing – I think we will love to hate her!  Oh, Yeah!  I was entertained by this new twist on an old favorite and shared my thoughts here.
  • Into the Woods (12/25/14) – Have heard so much about this show – can’t wait to see it! Still on the to-see list!Disney's Maleficent Movie Poster

2.  Book a Cruise – I’ve got a place-holder (aka “dummy”) cruise burning a hole in my pocket.  Since August when we re-booked onboard (while sailing on the Magic in the Mediterranean) – We are anxiously waiting to Disney Cruise Line's Wondersee what the rest of 2015’s sailings look like before making a final decision.  Wishing for Baltic (tie in to Frozen).  As of right now, we are set to sail the Fjords of Norway on the Disney Magic next summer.

3.  Attend Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party – I have wanted to do this forever.  2014 is the year!  Tickets purchased, we will knock this off the list in 108 days.Trying Different Disney EarHats

4.  Buy a Fancy New Earhat – sounds easy enough, but I have the most difficult time deciding on one – I always walk away with a Disney baseball cap instead.  Not this year.  No, sir.  After much trial and error, the winning (dare I say PERFECT) hat was located and purchased just a few weeks back.

5.  Eat This Food – I’m up for passing up old favorites and trying out some new places in 2014.  I’m thinking about these:

  • Be Our Guest – I know, right?  Everyone’s Disney's Flying Fish Cafe Exteriorclamoring to get in there – I’ll be lucky to score a visit, but I’ve heard so much great stuff about it.  I’m at least resolving to try my best to get in!  Scored dinner ADRs for October.
  • Flying Fish – I’ve never eaten here.  Chime in if you think I should ditch this plan in favor of something else.  Can’t believe it took so long to discover the incredible food and service!  Yum!  Read all about it here.
  • 1900 Park Fare – For a character meal it has always been Chef Mickey’s but now that we have “adult” children, I thought Lady Tremaine and the Steps might be a bunch of fun.  And fun it was!  We were not disappointed by the food or the company – see what happened here.
  • Hollywood Brown Derby – We have never eaten here and have always heard great things.  IMG_2382Even if we just sit in the new outdoor patio lounge – I’d like to give it a go.  We went and now we know – it’s got great atmosphere, good food, and abysmal service.  Sigh.

6.  Find and Trade a Pin to Complete This Set!  I love pin trading and in 2014 I’m gonna be in-it-to-win-it!  Yeah, Baby!  Watch out flying Orange Bird – you are mine!  A bird in the hand…makes me happy!!!  My collection’s complete.Disney Pin - Flying Orange Bird

7.  Ride the Seven Dwarfs’ Mine Train – Ugh.  Feels like the Fantasyland expansion has been going on forever!  I am riding this ride, dadgummit – get out of my way.  It was cute, it was fun, and it was discussed completely right here, YouTube video here.

8.  Try These Recipes:  (You may have seen my other posts on cooking Disney food here and here and here)  I like to cook – why not make it Disney food?  Thanks to AllEars.Net for the recipes.

9.  Try a Dole Whip:  They say confession is good for the soul – so now you know my darkest Disney Secret (one of them anyway)…I hid it way down here at #9 so maybe no one will notice.  I have never eaten a single bite of Dole Whip in my life.  Don’t judge me.  I did it!  I tried a Dole Whip and…..watch the video here.

10.  Take Better Disney Pictures!  To my shame, my Disney pictures are mediocre at best.  The great computer crash of 2009 cost me dearly and I just need to learn to be a better Pineapple Dole Whipphotographer overall.  I buy really small cameras because they’re easy to carry.  I’m not sure if I’ll actually dish out more cash on yet another camera, but I’ll do what I can to make the most of what I’ve got.  Promise.  Three cameras, my iPhone, and a new GoPro video rig allowed me to capture all the magic in a big way in May and I cannot WAIT to go crazy with the pics again in October.

So, there you have it – the mid-year status report!  Did you have any Disney resolutions on your list?  How’s it going for YOU?  

Wishing you a Happy, Healthy and Pixie-Dusted Rest-of-the-Year….Lisa

Add a Little Disney to Your Day

Disney Mug CollectionIf you’ve accidentally stumbled upon this website and you don’t happen to be a True Blue Disney Fan, just click the back button now…you won’t understand this post.  You just won’t get it.  Unless you love Disney in a nearly irrational way, unless you pine for a Disney park from the time you leave – and count the days – until the time you return, the details that follow may seem foreign, obsessive, strange or silly even.  So…not a huge Disney fan?  Again, this post is not for you…just go.

Still here?  I’m talking to you now.  My dear Disney-loving brothers and sisters, YOU!   You understand me.  You sympathize with the main plight of my existence – I adore all things Disney and there’s no vacation in the world as good as a Disney one.  Surrounding ourselves with reminders of our happiest Disney days is essential – it’s what keeps us going day to day, right?  You understand, don’t you?

I’ve put together a list of some of the things I do to add a little Disney to my day.  What I want to know is this:  How many items on my list are also part of your daily Disney life and…what’s on your list that isn’t on mine?  Here we go:IMG_2115

1.  Start the day with coffee (sometimes tea or cocoa) – in a Disney mug!

2. Listen to the two P’s of Disney – Podcasts and Playlists.  My daily commute is about 35-40 minutes each way.  Plenty of time to enjoy a couple of podcast episodes or belt out a few Disney show tunes as I’m cruising down the highway.

3. Adorn the car with a Disney antenna topper.  I have a collection and like to rotate them out depending on the season.  Spotting my car in a parking lot always makes me smile.

Nemo Antenna Topper4. Disney casual wear.  I work in an office where business attire is required, but on the weekends, you’ll find me in my “Peace, Love, Mickey” shirt or my Avengers tee.  I’ll probably be sporting a Disney cap as well.

5. Disney accessories – Tinkerbell watch, Disney pin, Magic Band – all appropriate accessories for work or play!

6. Watch – Disney movies, TV shows, documentaries, YouTube videos of attractions – doesn’t matter to me – they all make me happy.  I’m seriously addicted to ABC’s Once Upon a Time.  Don’t judge.

7. Connect – Disney Twitter friends, Disney Facebook pages, Disney discussion boards/forums, Pinterest, Instagram – thousands of other Disney geeks just like me!  Nice folks, too.

8. Cook – I love trying out recipes from my favorite Disney restaurants.  Nothing like delicious 'Ohana Cheesy Potatoes in Process 1smells and tastes to trigger great dining memories and recreate the magic at home.

9. Read – Disney books, articles, blog posts, attraction and restaurant reviews, park news, touring strategies, you name it.

10. Talk Disney! – I’m lucky enough to have a spouse and offspring who love Disney as much as I do.  Conversations around plans for our next trip(s) and what Disney movie will next open in theaters is a daily occurrence.  (I’m also fortunate to have some Disney addicted friends and coworkers.)

Disney Dog Henry Jones, JuniorBonus – I love our Disney dog, Henry Jones, Junior.  Junior’s the best, most patient, tolerant member of the family who will never visit a Disney park, but embraces his family’s love of Disney just the same.

Now it’s your turn…how do you add a little Disney to your day?


Disney at Home – ‘Ohana Cheesy Potatoes

'Ohana Cheesy Potatoes DoneGone, but not forgotten…Once upon a time, in addition to the delicious Brazilian Barbeque-style fare you can enjoy at ‘Ohana (Walt Disney World’s Polynesian), there were these potatoes.  Oh, man – you want to talk about tasty!  These potatoes were, y’know, unbelievable.  I looked forward to those babies every time we went to Walt Disney World.  When ‘Ohana dropped them from the menu, my heart broke.  Oh, I’ll still eat at ‘Ohana – the food, the atmosphere, the service are all fantastic, but the loss of those potatoes still hurts every time.

If you’ve been reading along here at Living a Disney Life, you may recall the top-10-list of Disney New Year’s Resolutions I put together back in January.  #8 on the list was to try three specific Disney recipes at home.  The first of the three was Maui Scalloped Potatoes – recipe courtesy of allears.net. The perfect mix of cheddar and onion made these creamy potatoes a perfect match with the parade of skewered meats served at ‘Ohana – the centerpiece of the dining experience.

These are no average scalloped potatoes.  These are spectacular!  And very easy to make.  Yes, there’s cheese and heavy cream – let’s not play the “I’ll doctor this recipe up and make it low fat and healthier” – sometimes, a splurge is in order.  I followed the recipe exactly (except I doubled it) and, in the absence of an enormous open fire pit on which to prepare giant skewers of assorted meats, I opted to serve the potatoes with some baked tilapia and sautéed green beans.  Perfection.

Recipe Maui Scalloped Potatoes ‘Ohana Polynesian   'Ohana Cheesy Potatoes in Process 2             


1 pound Russet potatoes (washed and sliced)

1   cup heavy cream

1/4   cup cheddar cheese

2   tbsp parmesan cheese

1/4 cup thinly sliced sweet onions

1   tsp kosher salt

1/4   tsp black pepper

'Ohana Cheesy Potatoes in Process 4Combine all ingredients in a greased baking pan. Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees.   Let stand five minutes before serving.

Doubled, this recipe worked perfectly in a 9″ X 13″ baking dish.  The potatoes are a guaranteed crowd pleaser – really, what’s not to love!

Do you remember these ‘Ohana potatoes?  What former menu items from your favorite Walt Disney World restaurants do you wish you could enjoy again?