Tag Archives: food

Be Our Guest Restaurant

I am on cloud 9 right now.  My incredible husband just got us a reservation at “Be Our Guest” Restaurant at Walt Disney World for our December trip!

This may not seem like a big deal, but I assure you it is huge for all of us Disney Nerds trying to make reservations today.  You see, this morning at 7:00 a.m. Eastern Time (so 6:00 a.m. here) reservations opened up.  So everyone who really wants to eat there between November 19 and 180 days from now tried to call at exactly that time.

We started calling at 5:55 and weren’t able to even get through until 8:10 when Michael just happened to call at just the right time.  And he just read that December 3-7 is completely booked already!

I’m still in shock.

Beauty and the Beast is my favorite Disney movie, and the restaurant is going to be like walking into the movie.  Check out some of these photos of the work so far: (the following photos are from thedisneyfoodblog.com)

The restaurant will be underneath the Beast’s Castle:

Cracked door arch into the Beast’s Ballroom:

The enchanted rose mosaic:

Portrait of the Beast in the restaurant:

Belle and the Beast Mosaic:

Rose Chandelier:

“Be Our Guest” Restaurant is part of the new Fantasyland Expansion at WDW.  Click HERE for a  great collection of info, pics, and videos.

I can’t wait for our December trip with Michael’s family, and now the fact that we get to eat at Be Our Guest makes me even more excited!

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–Staci

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Q for You:  What movie (Disney or otherwise) would you love to be turned into a restaurant theme?

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Harry Potter Week (last summer)

Last Summer, I posted that we were planning a Harry Potter Week with our youth students.  You can read about the plans HERE.  The week was a lot of fun with Harry Potter themed food, drinks, and crafts.  We watched a different HP movie each night and concluded the week with a trip to see 7.2 at the theater.

Michael and I recently watched all of the movies AGAIN in preparation for our visit to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal’s Islands of Adventure in Orlando this coming December! (At least that was our excuse…)  And I recently joined Pottermore, and it made me want to re-read all of the books again.  But I have way too many other books to read first.

I never ended up posting pictures from that week and decided that it’s better late than never.  So here are the pictures from Harry Potter Week that should have been posted last summer.

Most of the ideas were found in these two books: “The Unofficial Harry Potter Party Book” and “The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook.”  (You can click on each title to take you to the Amazon link.)

 

Sunday: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

  • Craft:  Wands

Mine & Michael’s (we formed ours at home to try the craft out)

Some of the completed wands.  They turned out so good!  All of the students REALLY liked this craft!

  • Snack:  Chocolate Frogs (I bought the molds HERE)

These were great!  The molds were super easy to use, and the frogs looked really good.  We decided to put mini marshmallows in some of them, and those turned out good as well.

  • Drink:  Butterbeer (recipe found HERE…used #5, but I’d like to try #1 on my own).  I don’t have a picture of this, but it was AMAZING!! The students loved it, and I can’t wait to try Universal’s version.

 

Monday: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

  • Craft:  No-Sew House Ties

These were really easy, and they made for a great craft.

  • Snack:  Pumpkin Pasties

These took a LONG time to make.  And I can’t stand pumpkin, so I didn’t try one.  But the students who tried them really liked them.

  • Drink:  Pumpkin Juice.  I don’t have a picture of this, but I did try it, and I can say it was good!  I think the pineapple, etc. made it where the pumpkin wasn’t very prominent.

 

Tuesday: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

  • Craft:  Wizard Money: Galleons, Knuts and Sickles

The students could paint their Wizard Money with whatever they wanted.  I chose a metallic paint, and over time they stuck to each other.  It’d be better with a flat paint and then add glitter.  But they were cute.

  • Snack:  Acid Pops

These weren’t very good.  They were a little too sticky.

  • Drink:  Polyjuice Potion

This actually turned out to be really good!  Michael was saying last night that we need to make some more.  You can’t see it in this picture, but there were gummy worms in the drink, which added some fun.

 

Wednesday: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

  • Craft:  No Mess Quills

For some reason, I didn’t get a picture of these, but they turned out cute.  They were definitely a cheap but practical craft.

  • Snack:  Dragon Eggs

  • Drink:  Liquid Luck

This turned out to be one of my favorites, even though it was simple.

 

Thursday: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

  • Craft:  Extendable Ears

I didn’t make this craft, but here is a picture of one of the student’s

  • Snack:  Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans

These were SUPER easy.  I just made a label and put them on small cups.  We just used regular jelly beans, but you can purchase actual Bertie Bott’s Beans if you’d like.

  • Drink:  Pensieve Potion

This was another that was simple yet good.

 

Friday: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

  • Craft:  Pygmy Puff

These were super cute.  Mine is still on my shelf at work.

  • Snack:  Cockroach Clusters (found HERE)

Simple no-bake type cookies, but they were good.

  • Drink:  Butterbeer again.  It was just too good!!

 

Saturday: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 1 at church, Part 2 at the theater)

  • I honestly can’t remember what we did this day.  I think we told the kids they could finish up any of their crafts or they could bring a shirt to draw on.  But we might not have done anything.
  • I think we just had popcorn and leftover snacks, but again I could be wrong.  I was just too long ago!

It turned out to be a GREAT week!  There were lots of game ideas, etc. in “The Unofficial Harry Potter Party Book” but we didn’t have time for that.  And personally, I enjoyed that book more than the other.  “The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook.” was a fantastic British cookbook, but it wasn’t practical for what we were looking for.

So if you’re looking for a theme night for one of the Harry Potter Movies, or if you’re just wanting something fun to do, I highly recommend some of these crafts, snacks, and drinks.  And try out some Butterbeer even if you haven’t seen the movies.  It’s great!

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–Staci

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Harry Potter Week

For those of you who are Harry Potter fans, it goes without saying that the last movie is just around the corner!  You can watch a trailer HERE.

A lot of our students are huge HP fans, and when we came to our church they were in the middle of doing a Bible study called “The Gospel According to Harry Potter” on Wednesday nights.  (The study took clips or themes from HP books/movies and then taught about the themes using Scriptures.)  We took our students to see HP 7.1 last fall when it came out, and we had a great time.

Sometime between then and now, we had the idea to have a Harry Potter Week building up to the new movie this summer.  Well, that time has come!

The movie actually releases next Friday, but we’ll be at camp next week.  So we’re having HP week the following week.  Each night, we’ll watch one of the HP movies, and have a HP inspired snack and (optional) craft.  I’m super excited because:

  1. It’s Harry Potter
  2. I love cooking and doing crafts
  3. I love planning things

So in case you want to plan your own HP party, I thought I’d share our plans.  Almost all of the ideas came from “The Unofficial Harry Potter Party Book” and “The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook.”  (You can click on each title to take you to the Amazon link.)

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Sunday: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

  • Craft:  Wands
  • Snack:  Chocolate Frogs (I bought the molds HERE)
  • Drink:  Butter Beer (recipe found HERE…using #5, but I’d like to try #1 on my own)

Monday: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

  • Craft:  No-Sew House Ties
  • Snack:  Pumpkin Pasties
  • Drink:  Pumpkin Juice

Tuesday: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

  • Craft:  Galleons (possibly Knuts and Sickles too)
  • Snack:  Acid Pops
  • Drink:  ??

Wednesday: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

  • Craft:  No Mess Quills
  • Snack:  Dragon Eggs
  • Drink:  ??

Thursday: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

  • Craft:  Extendable Ears
  • Snack:  Treacle Tart
  • Drink:  Liquid Luck Potion

Friday: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

  • Craft:  Pygmy Puff
  • Snack:  Rock Cakes (or if I’m low on time, Cockroach Clusters found HERE)
  • Drink:  Pensieve Potion

Saturday: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 1 at church, Part 2 at the theater)

  • I’m still debating whether or not to do a craft and snack this day since we’re watching two movies…thoughts?

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I’m really excited about Harry Potter Week!  Any ideas we should add?

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–Staci

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**All Crafts taken from “The Unofficial Harry Potter Party Book

**Pumpkin Pasties, Pumpkin Juice, Treacle Tarts, and Rock Cakes taken from “The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook“; All other Recipes (other than those noted in the plans) found in “The Unofficial Harry Potter Party Book”


Sno Cone Quest

Sno cones = summer.

For as far back as I can remember, I’ve equated sno cones with summer.  In Ada (where I grew up, and where Michael and I lived for 2.5 yrs before we moved down to Beaumont), there are sno cone stands ALL over the town.  Car dealerships, shopping center parking lots, car wash areas, Wal-Mart lots, gas stations,  you name it–there are sno cone stands there.  From Memorial Day to Labor Day, you can expect to see cars in line for over an hour just to get a sno cone.

And it’s always worth it.

So, naturally, the closer we got to Memorial Day, the more excited I was for sno cones (even though they should break out the sno cone stands around February here…but that’s another story).  I kept looking for them everywhere we went.

And there were NONE.

Over the past week, it’s become somewhat of an obsession.  My eyes are peeled as we’re driving down the road, and Michael is really tired of me saying “I just want a cherry limeade sno cone!”

Today, I was determined to find a stand.  I had my sno cone eyes trained on every parking lot in sight.  And nada. But I didn’t give up.  We went to see our house (more on that later), and I convinced Michael to drive to the other highway in town to see if there was one there.  We turned into a gas station to turn around at the end of town…

And that’s when I saw it…

MR. BUBBLES SNO CONES! dun-dun-dun!

So, of course, we pulled in and tried to gather our change and get in line before the guy that pulled up after us did.  And we succeeded.  I ordered my cherry limeade, and waited for my cup o’ goodness.

And I was slightly let down.

I mean, it was ok…but it was more like the kind you get at a park.  You know, with the more crunchy ice and the fake tasting syrup.  I had my heart set on the perfection that is an Ada sno cone:  Super small shaved ice–the kind in the above picture, clear lime flavoring–aka more “real”, a hint of cherry, and fresh squeezed limes on top.  Mmmmm…yum.

Maybe we’ll have better luck next time.  And if not, a crunchy sno cone is better than no sno cone!

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Q for you:  What’s your favorite sno cone flavor? Sno cone stands: are there lots, some, or none where you live?

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–Staci

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P.S.  If you’re from Ada, go enjoy a sno cone for me!  And realize just how good you have it…apparently sno cones aren’t so abundant as I thought.  🙂

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Catching Up: Thanksgiving in SA

I meant to get to this post earlier…but life has gotten in the way.  It’s been SO busy.  But a good kind of busy.

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This was our year to have Thanksgiving with Michael’s family (we switch off between Christmas and Thanksgiving every year).  We headed over to San Antonio on Wednesday morning, and we arrived in plenty of time to relax, pick up the last-minute recipe ingredients, and go out to eat with Michael’s parents, brother, and soon-to-be sister-in-law.  It was a great night, and we were all looking forward to Thanksgiving the next day!

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On Thanksgiving Day, we slept in a little, and then I called my family to wish them “Happy Thanksgiving”.  It’s always tough being away from my family for holidays because we’re really close.  But at the same time, I love being able to be a part of Michael’s family and celebrate with them.  If only our families didn’t live eight hours away from each other!

Anyway, after I talked with my family, it was time to get ready and start working on food!  I usually go to my Meme’s and help cook on Wednesday before Thanksgiving.  My mom, aunt, and whoever else is there all work together and make everything we can make in advance.  It’s become one of my favorite holiday traditions.  Since I wasn’t going to be able to help Meme cook, I wanted to be able to make some recipes to take along to Michael’s Aunt’s house.

I made Apple Dumplings, Sauteed Green Beans, and my Granny’s Cranberry Cool-Whip Salad.  I’m sorry I completely forgot to take pictures.  I’ll put the other two recipes up sometime–I’ll just have to make them again so I can get some pictures!  Michael’s mom and I worked together on the food, and it was a lot of fun!  I always like to share new recipes when I come to visit.

We also Skyped with Michael’s sister, Sarah, who lives in New York.  It was really sad that she wasn’t able to come home for Thanksgiving.  We are really happy that we’ll get to (hopefully!) see her for a few days before Christmas.

After the food was all ready, we loaded up and headed over to Michael’s Aunt Chivy’s house for Thanksgiving.

Michael’s family is SO much fun, and we always have such a great time with them!  Michael’s dad’s family gets together every Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve (we got to be with them last Christmas) –and other times throughout the year– to celebrate as a family.  This year was apparently the biggest table ever.  I love that we all sat at the same table!

The tables made an “L”.  This is the long section, stretching all the way from the dining room through the living room.

And this was connected (where Michael is) and goes through the rest of the living room.

I just love visiting with family!  I think that’s one of the reasons I love Thanksgiving so much.  It’s always been all about family for me.  And this year was really special because I really felt like part of the family.  I’m sure that most married people know what I’m talking about.  There just comes a time when you’ve been around enough to actually feel like you fit.  And this Thanksgiving was that for me.  I’ve always felt loved and welcomed, but now I’m starting to really feel like I’m a part of the family.  I think it really helps that we were able to be in SA for Christmas last year and then for a week this past summer.  Anyway, it was good.

After lunch, we sat around and visited some more, and then it was time for a little birthday celebrating for Amanda (her bday was the Sunday before Thanksgiving).  Michael’s dad had been across the border for some business, and brought this back for a little bday surprise:

A pinata!

We all walked over to the school down the street and tied the pinata to one of the trees.  The birthday girl had the first turn–and it was her first time to hit a pinata!

Michael’s cousin’s little girl, B, was attached to me the whole day.  I loved it–of course!

Almost all of the “kids” had a turn…from the youngest:

to the oldest:

I even had a shot!  I hadn’t hit a pinata since elementary school.  It was a lot of fun!

We finally busted it open, and the kids had a blast picking up all the candy.

B was hilarious.  She only wanted the DOTS and colored Tootsy Rolls.

Oh, the sad life of a pinata.

After our bday pinata, we went to the side of the school where they have a huge fire escape slide.  I couldn’t believe that schools still had things like this!  A couple of the bravest took turns on it.

Michael said it’s a lot steeper than it looks!

After that, it was time for a picture with all of the grandkids–including Michael’s grandparents’ best friends (who lived next to them for years and years–Michael’s Aunt Chivy and her family now live in the house where Michael’s dad grew up) and their grandkids.

We went back inside and visited/watched the game.  Since I didn’t care anything about the game, I visited with some of the other women in the dining room.  We were all laughing SO hard.

We had SUCH a great time with all of Michael’s family.  What better way to spend Thanksgiving Day?!

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That night, it was time to put up Michael’s parents’ tree!  I love decorating for Christmas, and we were excited to be able to do this with them.

Oops.  Something’s not right.

There we go!

What’s Christmas decorating without a little holiday dress-up?

Richard and Amanda, decorating for Christmas for the first time together.

Michael’s dad put the angel on:

And the beautiful final product:

We’d watched “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and started “It’s A Wonderful Life” while we decorated the tree.  When we finished the tree, we put up some more decorations and then all finished watching “It’s A Wonderful Life.”  I just love that movie.  It was always my Dad’s favorite, and I couldn’t understand why until a few years ago.  I think it’s one of those movies that you have to be a little older to appreciate.  It’s one of my favorites now, too.

It’d been a very, very good Thanksgiving!  I’m so thankful for our wonderful families.

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What is your favorite thing about Thanksgiving?  Your favorite Thanksgiving food?

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–Staci

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A Chinese Kick

I must be on a Chinese food kick.  It’s just so yummy!  Last night, I made Crab Rangoons.  I found them on the Tasty Kitchen website as well.  It says that it only takes 15 minutes for prep and 3 minutes to cook, but it took me close to an hour.  I guess I’m not a Crab Rangoon Whiz yet…

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Crab Rangoons (by mainedish)

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Ingredients:

  • 2 whole Scallions
  • 8 ounces, weight Imitation Crab Meat
  • 1 whole Sweet Red Bell Pepper
  • 12 ounces, weight Cream Cheese
  • 8 ounces, weight Feta Cheese
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon White Wine
  • 1 package (12 Oz. Package) Wonton Wrappers

(By the way, I made a half recipe, and it made enough for 18 rangoons, with enough left-over filling for at least 10 more.  I also used a little less red pepper than she called for and left out the scallion.  And I forgot to put the white cooking wine in this picture…)

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Instructions:

  • Chop the scallions, crab meat and the red bell pepper. Add to a mixing bowl along with the cream cheese, feta, mustard and white wine.

  • Season with salt and pepper to taste. At this point you can refrigerate the mixture overnight if you like.

  • To wrap, lay a wonton wrapper on your work surface and place a tablespoon of the mixture in the center.

  • Fold the wonton to form a triangle, wetting the edges with a bit of water to seal. Then, fold the sides towards the center, overlapping and wetting with a dab of water to secure.

  • Deep fry in hot oil (350 degrees) until golden brown, about 3 minutes, turning to make sure it is evenly browned.

I placed them on a paper towel to soak up the extra grease.

Oh–and the little black parts are from where previous rangoons were a little too full and they leaked in the oil.  But it didn’t affect the way they tasted at all.

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I also decided to get creative with some of the won-ton wrappers (I had to buy them in OKC since Ada isn’t the greatest for finding anything out of the ordinary at the grocery stores).  I wanted to make little dessert won-tons, so I mixed cream cheese, feta cheese, and sugar together.  They were good, but next time I’ll use less feta (if I use any at all) and add cinnamon and apples.  I have a feeling those will be delicious!!

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The finished product:

They were REALLY yummy!  I knew that it was good when Michael took a bite and said, “OH MY GOSH.”  And they were a ton of fun to make!  This sounds silly, but I felt professional when I made them.  I’ll definitely be making them again!

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Thanks, Ree, for making the Tasty Kitchen site!

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–Staci

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Funfetti Cake and Rainbow Chip Icing

Yesterday I had to stay home from work because I’ve messed my back up again.  I injured my upper back in the Forge (a leadership training program) in January of 2008, and then that summer I injured my lower back at Pine Cove Camp.  It’s never been the same since.

Even though it usually doesn’t hurt me to the point where I can’t do anything, there are times it gets bad again.  The past few days have been one of those times.

While I was sleeping for 3 hours (painkillers will do that to ya…), Michael left to run some errands.  When I woke up, I saw a surprise on the counter!  He said that he’d tried to buy my popcorn that we can’t find anywhere (Orville Redenbacher Pour Over Butter Popcorn), and Wal-Mart still didn’t have it, so he bought me something else instead:

Funfetti Cake and Rainbow Chip Icing!  This is our favorite!  We’ve both loved it since we were kids.  We made one round cake and 12 cupcakes.

It was VERY yummy, and it cheered me up to know that my husband was thinking about me and wanted to do something special for me.  It’s little things like this that make me love him even more.

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–Staci

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A New Favorite Meal

I love cooking.  I always have.  Some of my earliest memories are sitting on the counter and helping my mom make Rice Krispie Treats or Jell-O.  When I was ten, I made my first meal all by myself.

I love making up different recipes/just throwing a bunch of seasonings together with chicken or sauces or dessert.  While this is what I do most of the time, I also love to find recipes (with normal ingredients) and try them out every once in a while.

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I found this recipe for Sweet and Sour Chicken on the Tasty Kitchen Website.  By the way, if you’re looking for some good recipes, this site or the regular Poineer Woman cooking section are both amazing.  (By the way, I made the full recipe the first time because I was cooking for 4 people, but this last time, I only made somewhere around a 1/3 of the recipe for the two of us.  Both times, we had left-overs, and they were still fantastic!)

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Sweet and Sour Chicken (by Melanie)

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Ingredients:

  • 3 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
  • Salt And Pepper
  • 1 cup Cornstarch
  • 2 whole Eggs, Lightly Beaten
  • ¼ cups Canola Oil
  • FOR THE SAUCE:
  • ¾ cups Sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons Ketchup
  • ½ cups Vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic Salt

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Instructions:

  • Cut chicken breasts into chunks. Season with salt and pepper. Dip chicken in cornstarch and then in egg (yes, this will be messy but it will be worth it, I promise!). Fry in a little oil until browned on all sides but not cooked through.

  • Place in a single layer in a baking dish.  (Again, this is with one chicken breast instead of 3.)

  • Mix sauce ingredients together and pour over chicken.

  • Bake for one hour at 325 degrees F. Turn chicken every 15 minutes. If you like extra sauce, make another batch of sauce and bring it to a boil on the stovetop. Stir constantly and let cook over medium heat until thickened and reduced, about 6 to 8 minutes.

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Oh my goodness, this stuff is SOOO yummy!  For sides, I made some white Minute Rice and Fresh Green Beans.

I found the Green Beans in the organic veggies section.   The instructions said to steam them, but I wanted them to taste like the ones at Chinese Restaurant Buffets, so I sauteed them in a little olive oil and soy sauce.  I stirred them every once in a while and took them off when they were soft enough to eat but still a little crisp.

The last time we ate it, Pineapples were still in season so I cut up a fresh pineapple into 8 sections (after I took out the core and cut the outside off).  Then I put them in a baking dish and sprinkled cinnamon and sugar on top.  I cooked them until they were somewhat soft, and then served them with the chicken.  They complimented each other perfectly!

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If you want to try this recipe, give yourself at least an hour and a half (it has to cook for an hour) before you want to serve dinner.  But I guarantee you’ll love it!

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–Staci

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Q for You:  What is your new favorite recipe?  If you found it online, you can leave the link in the comments section!

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Vacation Recap Days 8, 9, & 10: Lazy Days and Home

I think it’s about time I wrap this vacation up–don’t you?  At least I’m finishing it quicker than I did our Disney Trip last September…I was writing a Trip Report on another site, and I just finished it last month! Now, onto days 8, 9, and 10!

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On Thursday (Day 8), we had planned to go to Schlitterbahn Water Park.  I was all ready with the bags packed and my swimsuit on when Michael told me it was supposed to storm all day.  We’d already bought our tickets online, and we were all four REALLY looking forward to this day!  Michael and I absolutely love water parks, and I’d never been to Schlitterbahn.  We’d been looking at pictures and descriptions of the rides for weeks, and Michael had told me all about the different rides.  Needless to say, we were pretty bummed.

But that wasn’t going to stop us from having a great, relaxing vacation day!

We ate a big breakfast and then rented “The Book of Eli” on pay-per-view.  I’d heard really great things about it.  We all liked it, but it wasn’t what we were expecting.  I’m not really sure what I was expecting, but it wasn’t that.  I did like the fact that Eli was guarding the Bible, and that it was the most important book–the one people would kill for–at the end of the age.  (Not that I’m saying you should kill someone for a Bible….you know what I mean…)  I really liked the ending, and over-all it was a good movie, but it’s not one we’d care to see again.

Sometime that afternoon, we decided to teach Michael’s parents how to play Apples to Apples!  It’s one of my favorite group games.

I don’t remember who won, but we had a great time!

Michael’s mom and I made dinner a little later on.  I was teaching her how to make one of our favorite meals:  a Brazilian inspired chicken recipe that I made up  (it has lots of the same ingredients as Brazilian chicken that my grandma and mom make, but it’s made in a skillet instead of in the oven), rice, sauteed zucchini, and my apple pie roll-up for dessert.  It all turned out really well!  I was thankful for that because even though I’ve made it soooo many times for Michael and me, I still get nervous that it’s not going to turn out right when I make it for other people.

After dinner, we watched “Imagine That”.  This is one that Michael and I took a gamble on a few months ago.  You see, we’re addicted to the 5 for $20 deals at Blockbuster.  Since we don’t have cable, we decided to get Blockbuster Rewards and we go in at least once a month to get our free old release (and now we go a lot more because we found out it’s rent one, get one free on weeknights).  They usually have a 5 for $20 deal, and it’s REALLY hard for us to walk through the store without at least looking at what they have.  If there are at least 2 movies we want, we usually try to find 3 more that look good (and that we know are clean).  One time, we ended up getting “Imagine That” to complete our bundle, and we ended up loving it!  It’s such a cute movie, and it has a really good message.  Eddie Murphy is hilarious and the little girl is really cute.  Anyway, we watched it with Michael’s parents and they loved it too!

Even though we didn’t get to go to Schlitterbahn, it turned out to be really nice to just stay home and relax.

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On Friday (Day 9), it was still showing storms off and on for the whole day.  So we decided to stick with our original plans and hang around the house for the morning and then go downtown to the Riverwalk and Alamo that afternoon and evening.

When we got downtown, we went to the Rivercenter Mall to see “Despicable Me”.  I was expecting it to be cute, but it turned out to be HILARIOUS!  We were all laughing SO hard, and it definitely exceeded our expectations.

After the movie, we were ready to eat!  As we walked back to the car, we kept on seeing TONS of teenagers dressed really crazy.  Some were wearing full-blown costumes and others had created their own look with animal tails, boots, hats, and chains.  We wanted to ask someone what they were all there for, but we chickened out.  Later, Michael found out that it was an Anime Conference.  I guess they were dressed like different Anime characters??

Anyway, we finally found the restaurant at the very end of the Riverwalk.  I’d found out about it online, and I was really looking forward to trying the food!  It’s called the Cool Cafe, and they serve all kinds of Mediterranean food.

They have indoor and outdoor (covered) seating, and we opted for an outdoor table overlooking the Riverwalk.  It was gorgeous!

The guys:

And the gals:

We ordered hummus for an appetizer.  I absolutely love hummus!  I’d always been hesitant to try it, but I had some sun dried tomato hummus at Disney World (at Boma) and it was amazing.  I was really excited to have it again!

It was really good!  The pita bread was homemade, and it was fantastic as well.

Michael ordered a gyro with potatoes and he said it was REALLY good.

His dad ordered some kind of sandwich and loved it as well.

And his mom and I both ordered a chicken kabob with rice.  I didn’t like the dressing on the salad, but the rest of it was fantastic!

We were all really happy with our meals, and it was wonderful to be able to watch the boats come by on the Riverwalk.  We were two for two on good restaurants!

Here is the view of the Riverwalk from outside the restaurant:

We drove back to the area near the Alamo and decided to walk along the Riverwalk for a little bit.  I was in search of a Caricature artist, and when I was in high school there was one under an archway on the Riverwalk.

I just love all of the landscaping down by the Riverwalk!  It’s just wonderful!

This tree was growing so funny.

After we’d walked for quite a while (and still hadn’t found a caricature artist), we decided to go up and walk around.  We saw all of the Ripley’s museums and attractions, and Michael took a picture with a statue of the man with the record for biggest hands.

And this guy was outside the haunted house.

We made our way to the Alamo, and even though it was supposed to be closed, it was still open!

We went through the little museum display and then walked around the courtyards (or whatever the inside of the mission is called).  It was really pretty in there too!

Yes, I married a goof.

These plants looked like they had colored brains coming out of them.

When we left the Alamo, Michael’s dad said there was one more place that might have caricature artists…and he was right!!  We waited for a mom and her son to finish up theirs, and then it was our turn.  I REALLY wish that I would have gotten a picture of him drawing us, but I completely forgot.  It turns out that he was the same man that drew my brother, sister, and me when I was in high school!  I knew that his style looked a lot like our old ones, and I ended up telling him about it, and he said he’d been under one of the walkways by the Riverwalk during that time!  He did an excellent job, and we’re both SO glad that we were able to find him!

I was SOOO happy, walking back to the car!  This was the one thing that I really wanted as a souvenir of our trip, and we’d finally found someone to do our caricature!

Our last stop on the way home was a Cold Stone Creamery.  I think that I got Sweet Cream with Pecans.  Whatever it was tasted wonderful!  Michael loved his too.

We were cracking up because his mom ordered the biggest size they had.  She didn’t realize how big it would be!

It had been a GREAT last full day of our vacation!

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Saturday (Day 10) was our last day–the day we were driving home.  We got up and got everything packed so that we could be in Austin by lunch time.  I’d gone to Austin for a work convention last summer, and we’d eaten at a restaurant called Carmelo’s.  It was fantastic!  I’d been telling Michael every since then that I wanted to take him there.  I had originally wanted to meet up with a friend in Austin and eat there, but I’d failed to make final plans, so it was just going to be Michael’s parents and us.

When we got to Carmelo’s, it looked like there was no one there.

We got out to check, and they’re only open at night on Saturdays!  I was so bummed!  I’d been looking forward to eating there again for over a year.  I guess we’ll have to make sure they’re going to be open the next time we try to eat there…

We got back in the car and searched for an Italian restaurant nearby, and ended up finding the Brick Oven.  It turned out to be really good!  It was more of a casual, pizzeria and pasta style restaurant, but all of our food was yummy.

After lunch, it was time to say goodbye and get on the road.  It had been a WONDERFUL week, and we had loved every minute with Michael’s family.  We’re both really glad that we decided to go to San Antonio and spend time with his parents for our vacation this year!

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–Staci


We’ve Been Spoiled

Over the past week, Michael and I have felt so spoiled!  We’ve gone places, bought things, and eaten at restaurants that are very out of the ordinary for us.  Since we’re on a budget (thanks to Dave Ramsey…), we usually only eat out a few times a month, and big purchases have to be saved for.  (By the way, Michael is a MUCH better saver than I am.  Almost every month, I spend at least $25 buying books and movies from Amazon, while Michael saves his until he has money for something big.)

I think our spoiled-ness started on Tuesday of last week.  We were all ready to eat at Danna and Jonathan’s (our really good friends, who we hang out with as much as possible), but they decided to get Oscar’s Chinese food instead.  Michael and I LOVE Oscar’s.  Let’s just say I *might* have given Danna the number by looking through my most recent 10 calls…

Then later in the week, I was looking through my purse and saw a ton of unused gift cards.  These are the one thing I do save.  I didn’t even have a clue where we got most of them, or how much was on each.  I called the number on the back of most of the cards, and I found out that we still had a  gift card from our wedding to Dillard’s, three Wal-Mart cards, my massage gift card from my parents for my bday back in April, an Elephant Bar gift card from my Bible study girls back in April, and a few other random cards!  Why hadn’t we used these before?!

I called and made my massage appointment for Thursday, and the spoiling started full-force.

On Thursday, we each got to pick out new glasses!  This doesn’t sound like a big deal, but we were both looking forward to it.  Michael has never worn glasses or contacts in his life.  Up until this past year, he had perfect vision.  (He still likes to say his vision is perfect and that he just has an astigmatism, but we won’t go there…)  We both picked out our glasses and we’re only going to have to pay less than a third of the price because my work covers a certain dollar amount! You can see Michael’s later on in the post, but here are a pic of mine:

After we went to get our glasses, it was time for my massage!  I’ve never had a true table massage before, but I’ve always wanted one.  My family bought me a massage for my bday, and I’d been saving it until now.

Oh.

My.

Word.

Why haven’t I been getting massages my whole life?!  When Michael came to pick me up, I was still completely out of it, and I feel like I walked around in a haze for the rest of the night.  I was just SO relaxed!  I’m pretty sure I’ve inherited the stress gene (thanks, Mom), and no matter how hard I try to not stress, my shoulders are one big knot.  Ann, my massage therapist, spent almost the whole hour trying to get the knots out.  She said that if I really wanted to get rid of them, I’d need to come at least every two weeks.

While I won’t be going every two weeks, I was talked into buying a membership to Massage Envy.  I get one massage a month for a discounted price, and then every massage in addition to that is even more of a discount.  Michael and I are hoping that they’ll help with all of my stinking back problems.  He’s going to go with me next time!  If you’ve never had a massage before, GO GET ONE!  (and if you join, tell them I sent you!)

While I was getting a massage, Michael was picking out our new Blu-ray/surround sound system!  We sold our X-Box to our friends since we never use it, and with that money plus one of the gift cards, we had enough to buy it.

But before we went back to get it, we used another gift card and ate an AMAZING dinner!  We went to the Elephant Bar for the first time for my mom’s birthday, and since then it’s become my favorite restaurant.  The food is incredible, and the atmosphere is unique.  Every time we eat there, I feel like I’m dining at Disney World.  And if you know how I feel about Disney Dining, that’s saying something!  Well, my wonderful Bible study girls somehow found out that I love the Elephant Bar, and they gave me a gift card for my bday.  We’d been holding onto this for a long time.

Michael ended up ordering braised lamb shanks (sorry, can’t find a picture), and I ordered the Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi Mahi.

Both of our meals were fantastic! For dessert, we split a mini walnut fudge brownie sundae.  SO GOOD!  Neither of us could finish even half of our meals.  And one of the things I love the most about Elephant Bar is that I always feel like I’ve eaten so healthy when I leave there.  It’s VERY yummy!

We left Elephant Bar and went to see my brother at work.  I’m still not used to seeing him in a shirt and tie and hearing him say, “Can I help you with something, Ma’am?”  Being the three crazies that we are, Michael and I tried to hide from him and he tried to hide from us when we saw each other.  I think we forgot that hide and seek only works if at least one person is seeking…  I’m sure the people in the rest of the bookstore were wondering what three grown people were doing sneaking around bookcases.  Anyway, we had a great time visiting with him!

We left there and went to pick up our new Blu-ray player.  Michael was VERY excited about this! We’ve used it a few times, and the sound really is great.  Oh–and I got to help set it all up.  I felt very tech-y!

We went back to pick up our glasses and used our Dillard’s card to buy a new waffle maker since ours died sometime last year.  Have I mentioned that I love gift cards?!

Then on Friday, we were spoiled too!  I’d found tickets for Beauty and the Beast for 70% off through Travel Zoo (By the way, if you like to travel or want discount event deals, subscribe to their newsletter) and I was SOOOO excited about this!  Beauty and the Beast is my favorite Disney animated movie (I’m a lot like Belle), and the abbreviated show at Disney World is one of my favorites.  I was so excited to see it in person!

Before we went to the show, we were able to meet up with one of my really great friends, Jane, and her boyfriend, Andrew (who I’ve also been friends with since before they started dating).  Jane and I were in The Forge together, and I’m SOOOO glad that all of “us Forgies” have stayed so close.  She’s been up north, so I haven’t seen her for over a year.  It was wonderful to just be able to eat yummy Pei Wei food and visit.  They’re very cute together, by the way!

After spending time with our friends, it was time for our show!  It was at the Winspear Opera House in Dallas.  The building was really pretty!

I don’t know why, but I was so nervous that we’d get there and it’d be the wrong place.  We went to Will Call to pick up our tickets, and they were there!  I know I’m silly, but just knew they wouldn’t be.  We were definitely at the right place.

I bought a little pin before we found our seats.  I started this when I saw Mary Poppins with my mom and some friends.  Hopefully I’ll be able to buy pins from every Broadway/traveling Broadway show I see.

One of the attendants asked if she could take our picture before we went into the actual theater (no pics allowed).  Doesn’t Michael look good with glasses?

Everyone kept telling us we had great seats when we would show them our tickets.  And they were right!  Because of the discount, I was able to get second row mezzanine seats (regular $95) for $30 a piece!  The show was outstanding!  The actresses and actors did a great job, the special effects were wonderful, and the music was fantastic!  Here are some pictures I found on the actual site (since I couldn’t take any inside).

We had such a great time!  I’m so thankful to have a husband who likes to do things like this with me!  We felt so spoiled–it was a great date night.

We drove to my Aunt L’s house for the night and hung out with her, my cousin M, and her girls.  The next morning, Aunt L took us to brunch at a really good little place in town.  I had Texas Pecan Waffles with Bacon, and Michael had an Omelet, Pancake, and breakfast Potatoes.

It seems like it was a week full of spoiling!  I’m so thankful that we can have times like this.  We don’t expect them at all, but they’re always special when they do happen.

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–Staci

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Q for you:  When is the last time you were spoiled?