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Monthly Archives: October 2013

Reposted from my personal Facebook page because Autumn is upon us and I love to bake during this time of year!

French Apple Coffee Cake

Pre-heat oven to 350

It is also helpful at this time to melt the 7 TBSP of butter for a later step so that it has time to cool before incorporation.

In a small mixing bowl combine the following for the crumble top

  • 1/3 cup each Packed Brown Sugar, Granulated Sugar, All Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 Stick (4 TBSP) unsalted butter, softened but not melted
  • 1 TBSP cinnamon

I’ve found that the best way to combine the ingredients is the get your hands right in and squish between your fingers until the mixture looks like large crumbs. Set aside.

Peel and dice tart baking apples until you have about a 1 1/2 cups.

In a small bowl toss apple dices with some cinnamon until the apple are lightly covered. Set aside. (I have also, tossed in a TBSP of lemon zest before with good results).

In a large mixing bowl whisk together:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 TBSP Baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt

then add

  • 1 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 7 TBSP of previously melted and cooled butter

Mix together with a rubber spatula gently, so that there are no dry lumps, but do not over mix, gently fold in the apples (The mixture will be fairly thick)

Divide into 2 greased 9 inch round pans. Spread mixture so it is even in pans. Sprinkle with Crumb mixture.

Place pans in center of pre-heated oven.

Check at 25 minutes using a toothpick test cake in the center. Toothpick should come out with crumbs attached but no batter. If toothpick is completely dry you have over baked it.

Baking time will depend on your oven and elevation.

Cool in pan at least 15 minutes before cutting (this will be the hardest part)

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Reposted from my personal Facebook page because Autumn is upon us and I love to bake during this time of year!

My husband seems to think that I make the best Pumpkin Pie in the world. I wouldn’t know, I hate the stuff but I can tell you that I do make one hell of a Pie Crust and I believe that the crust is the key.

Use whatever pie filling you want (but it’s better if you use fresh spices rather than the premixed “pumpkin pie spice”.

The Vodka in this recipe is key…DO NOT eliminate or substitute it

Terri’s Double Pie Crust

(Makes 2 single or 1 double-crusted Pie)

  • 2 1/2 cups All purpose flour (do not use bread flour, there is a difference)
  • 2 TBSP Sugar
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 12 TBSP Unsalted Butter, Chilled and Cut into several pieces
  • 1/2 Cup Shortening, Chilled and Cut into several pieces (I use the butter flavored Crisco that comes in sticks, easier to measure)
  • 1/4 cup vodka, Chilled (don’t worry about using the good stuff just make sure it’s not flavored!)
  • 1/4 cup ice water

-In Food Processor mix, 1 1/2 cup flour, 2 TBSP sugar and 1 tsp salt until combined, disperse butter and shortening pieces into food processor and pulse until mixture is unevenly clumpy and the flour is completely incorporated. (10-20 seconds)

-Scrape the mixer and sprinkle the remaining flour in, use your machine’s pulse function until completely incorporated (this will take just a few pulses) Your dough will be somewhat smooth at this point but should have visible chunks of butter and shortening…this is normal and essential, do not over-mix.

-Transfer into a medium sized bowl. sprinkle the chilled water and chilled vodka (it is very important that both be very cold) over the dough and mix with a spatula (although I just get in there with my hands) until the dough sticks together. if it is too sticky/wet, pat some flour on your hands and gently knead into the dough.

-Divide into 2 even pieces and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least an hour but you can make it up to 2 days ahead.

-When ready to use let sit on counter for about 10 minutes before rolling out.

Depending on what kind of pie you’re making determines whether you pre-bake the crust or not (you don’t for pumpkin pie) but if you do need to pre-bake I suggest you get ceramic pie weights (they look like little ceramic marbles) and make sure you put tinfoil over the pie crust before you pour the weights on, I know from experience that picking 50 hot marbles off of the crust with your fingers is painful and makes you feel a little stupid.


First the Business stuff……. All opinions in the following post are my own (just as they always are!) and have nothing to do with my employer or it’s subsidiaries.  I am writing as a guest/fan and not as a Cast Member.

And now for the fun stuff!

I checked so many Blogs and travel sites before we left, just as I did last year before our Disney Cruise, that my head swam. Some of the advice I took, some I didn’t. Here’s what worked and what I’ll probably do next year (yes, we already have our dates picked out and I’ve requested vacation time).

Pants/Shirts/Dresses

  • 3 pair Jeans   Next time: I would take just 2 pair; 1 tight, 1 a bit looser for the flight home
  • 2 pair of black leggings  Next time: I might add a pair of yoga pants
  • 1 pair black clamdiggers  Next time: good, but better with pockets
  • Sun Dress, Long flowing Dress, shorter dressy dress  Next time: This I did well with, maybe another sun dress, stay away from restrictive clothing
  • Shirts: hand-full of T-shirts, 1 button up, 1 fancier pull over  Next time: You’ll buy t-shirts there so maybe a few less
  • Shorts: 4 pair  Next time: because of recent weight loss all fit awkwardly and looked terrible on me (I have pictures to prove it) Better planning next time 
  • Bathing suit  Next time: If you plan on swimming a lot, bring 2, I may even bring a beach towel as they don’t give them at the pool so you need to bring the bitty ones from the room

Lingerie:

  • 4 bras in various colors  Next time: at least a couple more 
  • Underwear, the number of days staying +1  Next time: whatever you think you need, you need more, because of the heat,  focus on breathable materials, opting for functional, and not cute
  • Socks: I pair for each day, a couple of long pairs, a few ankle length, mostly short bootie socks  Next time: all ankle length all the time, 1 for each day + a few extra (The bootie socks kept slipping beneath my heels, and it was painfully annoying. I’ll avoid them from now on)

Shoes

  • Flip Flops, mine are dressy, these will work when dressing up provided you’re not in a dining location that bans them altogether
  • 2 pair converse (I normally live in my converse, but next time, I may just bring one pair)
  • dress flats (I didn’t wear mine at all, and I bought a Chinese silk pair in EPCOT’s China Pavilion that I loved better and wore twice)
  • I almost took a pair of UGG’s, in retrospect, that would have been stupid
  • I didn’t bring heels because of the resort nature, but if I was planning a special meal I might
  • Next time: Very lightweight running or hiking shoes, regardless of how ugly I might think they are  

Haircare/Cosmetics/Body care

  • Hair Conditioner (I’m picky, the stuff in the room doesn’t cut it, the provided shampoo is ok)
  • Moisturizer (bring a good thick lotion for your arms and legs too)
  • Foundation (something that can survive the deep moist heat, or a tinted moisturizer if your skin can get away with it)
  • Eyebrow pencil (that’s because of my deep eyebrow obsession) and eyeshadow
  • Something to keep the hair frizzies at bay, but much more isn’t needed
  • Hair-ties, bands, barettes – I was constantly trying to keep my hair off my neck because of the heat
  • Toothpaste, toothbrush, mouthwash (Duh)
  • Facial cleaner (again, the provided soap doesn’t cut it for me)
  • Lipbalm for daily use, lipstick for dressing up
  • Face powder, blotting papers
  • Disposable wipes and/or hand sanitizer (to carry in your bag, there will always be a call for them)
  • Flushable wipes for the bathroom (do I even have to explain this)
  • Tweezers
  • Nail file, clippers
  • hair brush
  • hand mirror (I like to sit while I’m doing my makeup)
  • Baby powder
  • Razor
  • Aloe or skin soother

Electronics and Accessories 

  • Laptop and charger (free wi-fi!)
  • Kindle and charger (mostly for the plane, I didn’t end up reading at all on my trip – maybe if I spend more time at the pool)
  • iPhone and charger
  • Portable back-up battery for electronics (specifically my iPhone in the parks)
  • fitbit charger (I wear it on me all the time.  I walked over 70 miles on this trip)
  • Power strip (extra outlets to charge my many electronics)
  • Camera / standard and long lens/ battery charger

Suitcases / Purses / Bags

  • large checked bag (with room to add stuff on the return)
  • My inflight roller bag  including : 1 change of cloths for arrival, makeup remover, pajamas, all electronics and chargers – essentially, anything you might need if your checked bag doesn’t arrive with you
  • Personal carry-on (I take a large purse that I can fit my laptop in, but a good backpack will work too)
  • Backpack or daypack – I would have liked something lightweight with a cellphone pocket on the strap
  • lightweight purse for nights out

Misc.

  • Gum (you can’t buy it anywhere on the resort)
  • I would have loved a case of bottled water, Tom goes through it like, well….. water. You can have groceries delivered and I may do that next time
  • candy or snacks that are portable and cost prohibitive on the resort

I feel like I’ve missed a bunch of things, so I’m sure I’ll add to this later

I would love to hear other suggestions in the comments section 🙂 


First the Business stuff……. All opinions in the following post are my own (just as they always are!) and have nothing to do with my employer or it’s subsidiaries.  I am writing as a guest/fan and not as a Cast Member.

Magic Bands! The system is still in beta, but you wouldn’t have known it at the parks. It seemed like everyone was wearing one of the these colorful bands.

I had limited use for mine for a couple of reasons:
For tickets, as a CM, I use my credentials to get myself and my guests in. The new CM system at WDW is even easier than before, with RFID chips embedded in the media (DLR is still on the old system) but our bands are not tied into it…crossing fingers… just yet. In fact, the turnstiles at the  four WDW parks move so quickly, it doesn’t feel like there are lines at all. It’s kind of amazing!
Because my ticket media isn’t tied into the bands, I couldn’t use the FastPass+ system either. The old system is still working for the time being so it didn’t make much difference to me, but it was neat to see people scanning through.

I was able to use the band as the key to my room at the hotel and as a point of pay for both my Disney Dining Plan (DDP) and to buy things to charge back to my room/credit card on file.
There is a learning curve, you’ll hear the phrase “touch Mickey to Mickey” constantly, referring to Mickey on the face of the band and the Mickey on the point of purchase machine that lights up green when done right. I was finally able to do it first time every time by the last full day of our trip. Next time I’ll be a total expert! When making purchases we put in the pin code that we chose at pre-check in. You can make them all the same or give each guest their own.

The bands come in “One size fits all” but the grey part peels off to make the bands fit kids wrists better (or me, because I have the wrists of a 5-year-old). I found it hard to take the band off at the end of the trip because it had become such a part of me.
My one complaint, give this goth-at-heart girl a band in black or even purple. My orange band just didn’t go with everything I wore! They also sold add on’s for the bands so you could bling them out. I opted to keep mine in its natural, blingless state.

I’m told there are those who are a bit paranoid about the bands in a creepy, Big Brother way. I see the point but I see so much potential in these bands.  In the parks, they could know where guests are going, and what they’re avoiding. This could be a great way to know when to improve on an under utilized attraction or location. I have no idea if that is a capability of the bands, I just see the potential.
From a lodging standpoint, a guest never has to say their room number out loud, a privacy issue, or even remember it (because we know that you memorize the path to your room, but not always the number). When making an inquiry at the front desk, you scan your band, “Mickey to Mickey”, and your reservation comes right up on their screen. This is great for making dining reservations as well. I could see a touch-point set up in each building or in the lobby where guests could touch to check out and receive their final list of charges.
Everything syncs to My Disney Experience (MDX), an App and a website. I can’t tell you how many times I saw guests pull out their iPhones to check wait times, dining reservations or character locations.
If I could ask for any improvements, besides other color choices, I would ask that the DDP have better tracking in the MDX app. I’d like to know how many meals & snacks I have left and which band scanned for them and where. But I’m one of those people who keep crazy track of things like that.

My other issue is that I was unable to cancel dining reservations, even within the acceptable timeframe, online or through MDX, I had to go to guest services at my hotel to make those changes. Disney’s Art of Animation has almost 2000 rooms, which meant the lines at the front desk were almost always busy. Canceling reservations took time, every time. It’s a glitch, I’m sure, as the option was there, it would just time out.
The other hidden benefit to the bands it the WDW wide wi-fi that is now accessible to guests. It was told to me, by someone who should know, that the wi-fi is in place because of the bands and the system it runs on. Free wi-fi for guests doesn’t suck…not even a bit.


First the Business stuff……. All opinions in the following post are my own (just as they always are!) and have nothing to do with my employer or it’s subsidiaries.  I am writing as a guest/fan and not as a Cast Member.

And now for the fun stuff!

We returned from Florida a couple of days ago and had a marvelous time, but sadly I’m sick as a dog, presumably from touching something that some sticky flu-ridden person had touched before me. It was unseasonably humid for October (or so we are told) and there were days that it was just painful to me. On the upside, EPCOT’s Food and Wine Festival was insanely fun. It was exciting trying out food that I might not have tried otherwise and most of the food, but not the wine or other adult beverages,  is considered a snack if you have the Disney dining plan (and OMG, did I mention there was WINE too!). We had some great experiences and met some really awesome people.  One night we cancelled dinner and just went from booth to booth trying this and that. France and Ireland were real stand outs for me. China had this nomm-able steamed bun with Mongolian beef that had just the right amount of heat to it.  Tom, not surprisingly, stayed close to anywhere that served taco’s.

We stayed at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort (DAAR) and it’s A-MAZE-ZING!! So cute. The Cast was awesome. The theming and show are better than anything Disney I’ve ever experienced. As a CM myself, I was totally jealous of their spiel and will be stealing what I can!

DAAR Lobby

A view of the Lobby as you walk in

We stayed in The Casa Della Tires building in the Cars section and I loved it.
For those of you thinking of staying, make sure that regardless of which section you stay, walk the entire property, as each section is highly themed both inside and out.
DAAR is 3/4 Family Suites; Cars, Finding Nemo and Lion King. The other 1/4 are standard rooms themed to Little Mermaid.
There are 3 pool areas  The Big Blue Pool and it’s companion bar “The Drop Off” are just behind the main building that includes the Lobby, The Ink & Paint Shop and The Landscape of Flavors (DAAR’s fast casual dining location).
The Cars section has its own pool themed to the Cozy Cone. The pool is a little less busy but much smaller. You walk down Rt. 66 to get to your building (and watch your speed because the sheriff is out and about!). You may also run into Ramone, Flo, Sarge or Fillmore (my personal favorite!). Lightning McQueen & Sally, Mater and Luigi and Guido are stationed outside of their own buildings.
The Lion King section has the Elephant Bone Yard,  Simba, Scar and many more. It has no dedicated pool, but is halfway between the Big Blue and Little Mermaid Pools. It’s also the absolute closest walk to the resort bus stops, if that’s important to you (not that anything is terribly far away).
The Family Suites come with a small fridge (that is slightly bigger than many resort hotels seem to offer) a microwave and a selection of disposable plates, cups and utensils.
At the risk of sounding like an advertisement, getting a suite here for the price of a standard room at a moderate resort,it was totally worth it. I’d stay there again!

The lights that hang above the lobby at DAAR

The lights that hang above the lobby at DAAR

 

Concept Art on the wall of DAAR in the Lobby

Concept Art on the wall of DAAR in the Lobby

Concept Art on the wall of DAAR in the Lobby

Concept Art on the wall of DAAR in the Lobby

Concept Art on the wall of DAAR in the Lobby

Concept Art on the wall of DAAR in the Lobby

Concept Art on the wall of DAAR in the Lobby

Concept Art on the wall of DAAR in the Lobby


I won’t be upset if this ends up being a for some of you (you know…the 2 or 3 of you who follow me).
I’m not really sure I’ll end up posting this, but here goes….

This is my real life. I’m gonna tell you about what I’ve been dealing with for the last couple of years and how it’s changed me as a person. I’m not gonna lie, this is probably TMI for some, but for others it may help, and honestly…I’ve been keeping this pretty close to my heart for awhile.

We’ve been trying to conceive for a couple of years now. It started so easily…we thought “wouldn’t it be nice to have a second child” and then, without really trying, we were pregnant. It was incredible…it was so easy. I was so wrong.

Some who follow me, or more likely my husband,  may remember that we had a miscarriage a couple of years ago. I’ll never forget it. It was my 38th birthday. Only those who are very close to me know that I had a second about 5 months later. Since then we’ve been unable to conceive at all.

You go through a period of mourning, but you don’t feel like you can talk about it like you would if a relative or close friend had died, because what has died was never viable in the first place. It never laughed, or spoke or walked a step. Hell, It went away before I even got to hear it’s heartbeat. But something died, and I mourned…and I had every right to.
I’ve been sad and angry. Very angry, for a long time. I’ve thought terrible things about myself and questioned my own femininity. But people don’t talk about these things, so I didn’t.

I lost friends, some because of our choice to parent again, and later some who instinctively recognized my underlying anger and, understandingly, decided to avoid it.  Of course in the course of time, several of our friends have gotten pregnant, successfully, and those pregnancies are either currently percolating or their spawn have been unleashed onto mankind. I want to show them I’m happy and I am so very happy for them, but it’s so hard to express when you hate yourself for being unable to do the one job you had. So I avoid even commenting on it. It’s an uncomfortable spiral for everyone.

So, we recently decided that this was a problem that was beyond us, and have sought medical assistance. We’re at the very beginning of this, going through tests. I had an incredibly invasive one today that has left me in a crampy ball laying on the couch working through the pain. The tech and on call OB/GYN commented on my high pain threshold, not the super-power I was hoping for, but hey, beggars can’t be choosers.

My husband and I made a deal, if the tests come back and it’s a no go for us again, we’re just gonna have a zoo full of fur-kids and be the most amazing fairy-godparents to all of our friends kids.
I just can’t be angry anymore. I need to follow my bliss and if it doesn’t include the pitter-patter of biological spawn then we’ll have to refocus.

I hope that this post helps someone, who has been unable to talk about things like these. I really do. I so rarely get personal, but it’s time to take back my power and run with it.
For those of you who read the whole post, thank you, you rock!

 



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