Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Epcotiversary: France (Our Last One!!)

Welcome to the very last installment of Epcotiversary! I'm sad to see our (almost) year of celebrating our monthly anniversaries come to an end-- but excited to celebrate our ONE YEAR of marriage with a special trip in May. 

As luck would have it, the last country left to pull from the cup was France. This worked out really well. We decided to celebrate our last Epcotivesary with a fancy meal at Monsieur Paul, and boy, was it awesome. 

My baby bump seems to get bigger by the minute, which was really obvious in this Lilly dress. 

We decided to park at the Beach Club and walk in through the International Gateway. We parked all the way over next to the DVC units and took the shaded sidewalks toward Crescent Lake. 

 Sadly, I didn't take any pictures of the food. John is very tolerant of so many things I do, but he does tend to get a bit annoyed when I'm constantly photographing stuff for the blog. With this being our last Epcotiversary, and a special 'fancy' meal, I made the decision to put the camera away at the beginning of dinner and live in the moment, enjoying our special time. 

As you can see, we snagged a coveted window seat. Our reservation was for 5:30, when the restaurant opens, so we had first dibs at seating arrangements. I did ask when we checked in if we could wait for a window seat; if you have a later reservation and this is important to you, I'd recommend checking in a bit early and be willing to wait. It really adds to the charm to watch the world go by on the sidewalks below. 

Ok, onto the food. I figure you can find food photos elsewhere, such as on the Disney Food Blog. I will tell you what we had though. 

John went with the prix-fixe option, which started with a delicious pasta amuse-bouche. He then chose the lobster appetizer which we both shared. It. Was. Awesome. He also selected the New York Strip for his entree, which was super yummy. His dessert choice was the La mille-feuille (puff pastry, pastry cream, berries, light lemon cream, strawberry sorbet) which was very light and flavorful. All around A+.

I chose the red snapper for my entree and the Le moelleux for dessert (warm chocolate and almond cake with raspberry coulis in the center, hazelnut crust, hazelnut ice cream). You guys, I could cry over this dessert it was so good (hello, pregnancy hormones talking). 

There was also a bread service, which was delicious. Overall, we really, really enjoyed our meal and would recommend this restaurant for a special event. It wasn't stuffy or overly fancy, but very tasty and offered a nice respite from the bustling theme park below. 

After dinner, we had a little photo shoot outside of the France pavilion (one of the perks of the new, increased AP prices is the included PhotoPass- we're taking advantage of it!)

Much to John's chagrin, we hiked alllll the way up to the front of the park to get our usual Spaceship Earth Selfie. The sun was just starting to set, and there was a nice cool breeze. It was a lovely evening to send off our Epcotiversaries. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Dressing for a Disney Cruise: Embarkation Day Part 2

Ahoy! We last left off on the first half of our Embarkation Day on our Disney Fantasy Honeymoon Cruise, which you can check out here. 
After exploring the ship a bit more, we decided to take a chance and see if our state room was ready.  Lo and behold, it was! This was around 1:30 pm.

I know I've already spoken about how great Tammy at Storybook Destinations was in helping us book our trip. Our state room sealed the deal with how helpful it is to have a knowledgeable agent assist with booking. 

She recommended the location of our state room, on the starboard side of the ship. She also suggested we try to get as close to the front as possible, to help reduce movement and engine noise. After doing plenty of research on my own regarding state rooms, her suggestions seemed sound, so we booked this specific room. It couldn't have been better. 

Since it's located at the front of the ship, the elevator bank we used deposited us literally right into the adult-only pool. It was a quick two minute trip back to our room to refresh our drinks, grab a magazine, etc. The views pulling into the various ports were lovely from this side of the ship, and we didn't have a lot of traffic in the hallway because we were so close to the front. I'd recommend it 100% and would book the same location again.

Tammy also included this adorable Mickey top hat door magnet in her welcome packet. We found the 'Just Married' magnet online. 

We had dinner reservations for Palo that evening; our reservation reminder was tucked next to our door. 

Port adventure tickets and more were already in our room. 

Tammy even went as far as to have a plush DCL robe and champagne and chocolates in the room upon our arrival. Boy, did we feel spoiled. 

Could this cruise start off any better?? Thank you, Tammy!

We filled our Tervis Tumblers with some adult libations and headed up to check out the Sail Away party. This particular concoction was sweet tea vodka, lemonade and iced tea from the (unlimited! free!) soda machine. It is stated not to drink your carry-on booze around the boat; I feel as long as you stay respectful and discreet, enjoy yourself. 

It was crazy windy as we headed out of port. 

We headed back to our room to allow plenty of time to dress for dinner. We ordered a cheese plate from room service (complimentary!) and enjoyed it on the veranda with some wine we carried on board. 

We made our way to Palo and enjoyed a nice, quiet dinner-- the perfect way to kick off our Honeymoon cruise. Of course, we ordered the infamous chocolate souffle at the end of our meal. They also brought out a little 'dessert plate' with a sweet message written in chocolate. 

Palo was good- very good actually, and considering it only costs an additional $25 per person (yes, on top of what you've already paid for the cruise, but still, you'd pay that for a typical meal at TGI Fridays) it was well worth the price. I'd probably do it again on a cruise longer than three nights, just to get a break from the crazy main dining rooms, but we enjoyed Palo brunch MUCH more. More on that in a later post. 

Lilly Pulitzer Dress, old. Similar hereI also LOVE the vintage feel of this one! // Jack Rogers Monogrammed Sandals

We returned to our room and found our first towel animal of the trip. I brought these pillowcases from home. It was a great first day, and it was only just the beginning of what would be one of the best trips we've ever had!

Helpful tips

* Booking a stateroom in the front of the ship helps reduce movement, reduces foot traffic in the hallway in front of your room, and is the most convenient for accessing the adult-only areas. Starboard side provides beautiful views when pulling into ports and Castaway Cay. 

* Staterooms on the higher decks (9 and 10) can be prone to noise from above, as the activity decks, shuffleboard, and more are right above them. The lower you go, the more movement you may feel. Deck 8 was just right for being up high enough, but not too high to be a far elevator (or stairway) trip away from almost anything. 

*Your stateroom attendant should check on you fairly soon after entering your room. Don't be shy about introducing yourself and asking for anything you may need to make your stay more comfortable. Our attendant, Rosello, was the bees knees. We asked for extra hangers, some ice, and a few wine glasses and corkscrew upon arrival. He promptly returned with everything. We gave him a generous cash tip on the spot for his service, and to keep us in his good graces. ;) He took great care of us the rest of the trip. 

* We loved having our Tervis Tumblers for toting around the ship. Apparently, sunscreen can permanently damage the finish on them, so we opted to get the handles. Lids are a must to prevent spills while walking around.

*Sodas, lemonade and iced tea are complementary and are located in the fountain machine on either side of the main pool. 

*If you're booking dinners at Palo or Remy and want to time it to catch the sunset, be sure to check the Navigators to get an idea of what time the sun goes down each night. These can be found with a quick Google search. Many are also found here

* We opted to dine at Palo our first night to give us a relaxed, romantic start to the cruise. Again, this is one of many ways that a Disney cruise can be very adult-friendly, if you know how to schedule and plan. 

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Epcotiversary: Germany

Welcome to our second-to-last Epcotiversary. I can't believe we're rounding the corner to our one-year anniversary of marriage! It's been great, I'll tell you that.

This month took us to Germany, and the timing couldn't have been better. Ideally, we'd do Biergarten for this country, but with me being pregnant, I didn't want to experience it for the first time without the prerequisite giant stein of beer. So, we decided to forgo Biergarten until post-baby, and instead hit up the International Flower & Garden food kiosk in Germany. 

But first, plant seminars! 

We headed into the Festival Center in the old Wonders of Life pavilion to check out a handful of plant and garden seminars. We learned about the Secrets to Gorgeous Containers, All About Orchids, and The Edible Garden. The Container seminar was fantastic- John and I both left excited to go to our local nursery and create some containers! 

We were in there for three hours before heading back towards World Showcase. Everything was in bloom and just beautiful!

We hoofed it nearly halfway around the World back to Germany. There, we tried one of each of the food offerings from the Flower & Garden kiosk. 

This included the Currywurst with Paprika Chips, Chicken Fricassee, and Armer Ritter, which was basically french toast with cherry compote. John also had the beer flight (*jealous*). Everything was really, really tasty! I'd highly recommend this booth. 

After eating, it was time for a photo shoot. I have the privilege of being featured on my good friend Amanda's precious blog, Dixie Delights-- be sure to pay her site a visit now, and again on April 4th to see my cameo. John did his "Instagram Husband"ly duties and snapped pics for the feature. Look at that growing belly-- no, that's not just Armer Ritter in there. Dat's baby! 

Lilly Pulitzer Top (old) // Lilly Pulitzer Shorts // Rainbow Sandals

We of course couldn't leave without a Spaceship Earth Selfie- for some reason this one turned out a little warped. The mirror was funky, perhaps? 

Another lovely Epcotiversary. Thanks for reading! We'll see you next time on our last stop-- France! Oh la la. 

XOXO, Ashley 

Monday, March 14, 2016

Weekend Wear-abouts: MK and More

Ever have one of those weekends where your plans change last minute, and then it turns out to be one of the best you've had in a while? Whelp, that was me, this weekend.

I was supposed to visit my mom for the weekend, but she came down with a stomach bug on Friday. We didn't want to risk my getting it being preggos and all, so we changed our plans to visit for next weekend. 

John and I were suddenly left with a wide-open weekend! His main goal: get our taxes done. Yay! Fun! But necessary. 

First though, let me back up to Friday. 

My co-worker, Annastasia, and I decided to have lunch at Kona Cafe (one of the many perks of working on Disney property). We booked an ADR and headed there on our lunch break. Upon arrival, we were informed that the kitchen was currently closed and that they would honor our reservation at either the Grand Floridian Cafe or The Wave. We were scheduled to take photos after lunch for a project at the Contemporary anyway, so we headed to The Wave. This mamma had her heart set on a Dole Whip Float, so naturally I got one before leaving the Poly and before eating lunch.  Our lunch was good; I always like eating at The Wave. The next thing I'd like to try there is breakfast. 
Outfit details: here

On Saturday, Lilly Pulitzer had their annual Lunch at Lilly promotion, featuring gifts with every purchase. I ended up getting this top and this top, but also loved this, this and this

Before heading out to do our taxes, John and I stopped into the cute little 'downtown' of Windermere to check out the library. (Nerd fact: I love libraries) We stumbled upon a little cafe and had a delicious lunch there before heading on. After a quick stop at Trader Joe's, it was tax time. Uncle Sam gave us a generous return (yay for filing as a married couple for the first time!) and naturally, we celebrated by renewing John's Annual Pass! 


You see, the plan was for him to go without this year, with the baby coming and all, and we would just use my Guest Passes when we wanted to go. Sounds great in theory, but I only get 16 Guest Passes per year, and now that we live literally five minutes from the Magic Kingdom, it's just too convenient to go in for an hour or two. Yet we'd hesitate to do so when that would use up one of the precious Guest Passes. Long story short, we headed to the Magic Kingdom to John a new AP, meet up with our Disfam and have dinner at the Skipper Canteen. We also took a ride on 'it's a small world' and a nighttime spin on the Liberty Square Riverboat. 

Sunday was a nesting day; I toyed with the idea of heading to Epcot to check out one of the gardening seminars at the Flower & Garden Festival, but after doing a lot of cleaning, house stuff and grocery shopping, my comfies and the couch won out. 

So, we had a lovely weekend. How about you? Here's hoping your week is as beautiful as these ranunculus! 

Thanks for reading. XOXO, Ashley