We took a quick little trip to the mountains with the in-laws this weekend and it was nothing short of magical. Other than the 6 hour drive made twice within a weekend with a toddler, we had a perfect trip. It was chilly, and not Florida chilly like ACTUALLY chilly, and we saw so many pretty Christmas decorations. We stayed up on a mountain in an awesome cabin with a fireplace and hot tub, which is also where we watched the Gators put up an awesome fight against Alabama. Let me tell you about the two gorgeous towns we visited
Named Hallmark’s “Best Southern Town”, this little square had all the small town vibes of a cheesy Christmas movie. We stopped in cute little shops & headed to eat at the Irish restaurant in town.
Helen was a town I had been to before, but in the summer during the day. At night in December, this German town transforms into a Christmas wonderland. We are at an authentic German restaurant and bought a lot of fudge.
Maybe it wasn’t Mickeys Very Merry Christmas Party, but this weekend was better. I took the hubby for a surprise trip for his birthday. We stayed at the Wilderness Lodge, our favorite resort, and saw the magical decorations.
We had some of our best foods while here as well. We we got to go to Topolinos Terrace at Disney’s Riviera Resort, the newest Disney property. It was amazing. Austin claims it was his favorite meal ever. The views did not disappoint either. Make sure you go for your birthday to also get a free pumpkin bisque sample and a brownie cookie!
Since this is mine and Aus’s first Thanksgiving married, we wanted to host a dinner and entertain. I LOVE to host and throw events, especially when I’m organized and prepared. Here’s some tips I learned along the way while planning and prepping.
1. If you’re going to make a ton of the food, do yourself a favor and don’t do everything from scratch. I got the most compliments on the mashed potato’s, and they were instant. Stove top stuffing is incredible. Corn casserole is homemade, but super easy. Making these items quickly have Austin more time to prepare the turkey, and me more time to focus on a homemade blueberry pie.
2. Declutter your space, and have an area for pictures.
3. Have a floral centerpiece. I made mine myself with $13 worth of flowers from Trader Joe’s.
If you’re wondering weather it’s worth it this season to stay at a local hotel…do it. It so is.
I had some Hilton points and so Austin and I went to stay at St Augustine Beach at the Embassy Suites. We walked to Salt Life, looked at some sub par Christmas lights, and enjoyed the pool and beach in typical Florida Fall fashion. I think some pictures will do the trip better justice than my explanation…
Last weekend I took my sister and her 2 friends to universal. After going to 3 major theme parks in Florida during the pandemic, I am able to make comparisons on how the three are handling things. I’ve talked about Disney and Busch Gardens, now time for my thoughts on Universal….
The park was crowded. I think they said it hit their COVID capacity, and it showed. The lines were either 3 hours long or less than 30…not much in between. Social distancing was in place in lines, and hand sanitizer was given before getting on each ride. I think the park just allowed more guests in.
Now about the haunted houses….I honestly think Universal could have gotten away with hosting HHN. The 2 haunted houses were INSANELY well done given the circumstances and had very low wait times. The scare actors of course don’t interact with you, but they are situated behind the clearest plexiglass I’ve ever seen. It was just jump scare after jump scare. I was honestly really impressed. They must have put a lot into the two houses that they had.
Fall is here, even though it doesn’t feel like that in Florida, and I’m trying to soak it alllll in. I’m getting my Pumpkin spice lattes, watching football, watching spooky movies, and trying to do whatever local fall activities are available. Additionally, now that Austin and I have our own little apartment, it’s been fun to decorate it for the season. I’ve got a couple different things to make our place cozy without breaking the bank.
1. Fall doormat is a MUST. I got ours from Target for $15.
2. Kitchen decor is super easy and can transform your look. I got fall dish towels and oven mitts for a wedding gift, and found a $10 Matt for in in front of the oven for $10.
3. Candles will dimly light your cozy space for the season. Bath and body works candles give me a headache, but I got pumpkin and flannel scented candles from DW Homes. You can look them up on Instagram!
4. Pumpkin EVERYTHING. Pumpkin coffee, pumpkin mugs, pumpkin cleaners, pumpkin spice waffles, pumpkin spice protein, and little pumpkins from the Target dollar section. Yes….my home appears to be sponsored by Target.
5. Fall flowers look beautiful. Get them sourced locally!!
This weekend we got to enjoy Howl O Scream with some friends. The event was truly a knock off of Halloween Horror Nights…but I didn’t expect much more. It was a super smart business move on behalf of Busch Gardens, however, because I believe the event attracted more visitors since Universal skipped on the event this year. A couple of things I wanted to note:
1. The Covid protocols are whack. We waited an additional 15 minutes for one ride watching them individually wipe down each seat on the ride…only for people to sit in them again without wiping them between use. Uhhhh…what? Is that really preventing Covid? The social distancing is also loosely enforced as well as mask wearing.
2. The rides are more intense than any I have rode before. Compared to rides at Disney and Universal, I was actually scared before going on Falcon’s Fury and Sheikra. I had the time of my life!!!
The time of year we had all been waiting for…and hoping that it would still happen: Food and Wine at Epcot! The festival at the Disney World park boasts food and drinks from many different countries and regions around the world. However, I felt this year was mildly lackluster. I didn’t get to order something from each region because the COVID socially distanced lines are NO JOKE (they have you standing in the sun forever) but I will rank the items I did try.
Spain- charcuterie. 4/10. Spain was an added station from the usual permanent countries, and I love cheese boards so I got excited for this. However, the meat was decent but the cheese was a little dry and chunky. I also don’t like olives but my husband loves them and ate them.
2. France- Hazelnut Crepe. 8/10. The crepe stand is always here but none the less delicious.
3. Japan- salmon & rice poke. 6/10. The rice was really good but the dish overall tasted fishy to me.
4. Italy- waygu beef salad. 7/10. This was from the restaurant Tutto Italia, and I felt like I needed something on the lighter side. I enjoyed the arugula and lemon dressing, but the beef was a little strong in flavor. I also didn’t love the Parmesan cheese chunks, I was hoping it would be shredded. I personally preferred my husbands spaghetti.
5. France- raspberry tart. 11/10. These were SO GOOD I could have had 10 but they were our dessert on the way out.
A few foods aren’t listed, including my husbands tacos in Mexico, but I would have to say my favorite meals in Disney this time were those not eaten in Epcot. In Disney Springs, we ate at the Boathouse and I had a shrimp & sausage Mac n cheese. Definitely not gluten and dairy free like I’m supposed to be eating…but it was incredible. For dessert I had a candy apple, a classic favorite. For breakfast the next morning I had a gluten AND dairy free cinnamon pumpkin Bundt cake. So so so good. Our breakfast before leaving at our resort, Grand Floridian, also did not disappoint. I recommend the bananas foster oatmeal with the banana muffin.
Aus and I spent the weekend camping with some friends at a KOA in Americus, GA. We had a bathroom and access to a kitchen, so it really was more like “glamping”.We even had fans and defense again bugs to keep cool & bite-free.
While most of Americus is pretty bland with even the Walmart closing at 8:30, we drove an hour to find Providence Canyon State Park, the Grand Canyon of the South.
We spent about 3 hours hiking the canyons and marveling at the beauty! Total we walked about 6 miles, then another 5 throughout the evening. We had no problem going to sleep at night