Disney World in Orlando, Florida: A Picture Story

By Jodee Weiland

I’m about to show you Disney World in Orlando, Florida, using a series of pictures! It would be impossible to cover it all in one post, but these pictures cover the highlights. When visiting Disney World in Orlando, Florida, one of the first theme parks many people will head to is the Disney World’s Magic Kingdom…with Cinderella’s Castle! The reason for this is because this was the theme park where it all began years ago. This is where fantasy is brought to life through rides, live entertainment, animation, and so much more, or what I like to refer to as the Magic of Disney. So here is the first part of Disney World in Orlando, Florida: A Picture Story!

http://learnfromyesterday.comDisney World Disney World’s Animal Kingdom…Everything from Lions to Dinosaurs is a definite favorite for many fans. Travelling through exotic lands, both from the past and present, kids of all ages are entertained once again using the Magic of Disney. Travel deep into the jungles with the Lion King or visit dinosaurs in their natural habitats. Look up at the Tree of Life or take a safari out into the wilds. Whichever adventure you choose, you won’t be disappointed.

http://learnfromyesterday.comDisney World’s Hollywood Studios…Lights, Actions, Cameras is a look behind the scenes in world of movie making. It’s all about celebrating Hollywood! Take the Great Movie Ride and journey through the sets of some of greatest movies of all time. The Magic of Disney once again will bring to life various movies through animation and more. Enjoy the ride!

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Disney World’s EPCOT in Orlando, Florida…Make a Memory and the World Showcase uses the Magic of Disney to help you travel from the past to the present and beyond into the future. You will also be able to see places from all over the world and enjoy their food, shops, and culture. The icon Spaceship Earth is visible throughout the entire park and reminds us constantly of the wonders of our world as we know it!

http://learnfromyesterday.comDisney World in Orlando, Florida: A Picture Story is just a sample of the wonderful Magic of Disney! To learn more about each of the four theme parks of Disney World take a look at my other posts for each park linked above. Also, check out my post on  Disney World in Orlando, Florida…Epcot’s Annual International Food and Wine Festival. Even though this post has pictures from years past, the event still has many of the same entertainment venues and tastings repeated each year. The Magic of Disney comes alive in Disney World, Orlando, Florida, and you won’t want to miss the fun, so go and enjoy!

Savor the Flavors of P.F.Chang’s Summer Menu + Enter P.F.Chang’s “Perfect Pairings” Contest!

By Jodee Weiland

P.F. Chang’s Summer Menu looks outstanding! When I first heard of this opportunity to dine out and taste the wonderful items on P.F.Chang’s summer menu, I didn’t hesitate. Why not? Because I love the food at P.F.Chang’s and have thoroughly enjoyed dining there for years with my husband, my family, and on several occasions, with good friends! It’s a very popular dining option for many people and for good reason, one of which is the tasty choice of selections on the menu. Believe me when I say, P.F.Chang’s popularity with so many people comes from the fact that their menu items are delicious and full of rich flavors! Everyone who eats there will Savor the Flavors of P.F.Chang’s Summer Menu and more!

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When my husband and I set out to try P.F.Chang’s Summer Menu, we had a list of menu items from which to choose. Naturally, it would be impossible for the two of us to try them all, but we did our best to try as many as possible. Before we went to dinner, we checked out P.F.Chang’s Summer Menu online. All the choices looked wonderful, so it was hard to decide which ones we would try out. Take a look at our choices and see what you think!

http://learnfromyesterday.comTo begin our dining experience, we chose to share an Heirloom Tomato Salad from P.F.Chang’s Summer Menu. This delicious salad has market-fresh heirloom tomatoes, avocado, with a Thai basil and zesty ponzu dressing. Commonly used in Japanese cuisine, ponzu is a citrus-based sauce. The dressing was perfect, and enhanced the flavors of this light fresh salad of tomatoes and avocado. We’re looking forward to enjoying it again on our next visit to P.F.Chang’s.

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For our main meal, my husband chose the Seared Ahi Tuna with Wasabi Guacamole and decided to pair it with a Samuel Adam Summer Ale. His main course was a yellowfin tuna, seared and served rare, topped with wild baby arugula and green beans in a chili-lime ponzu sauce, served with wasabi guacamole. He loved the this flavorful light fish with a slight kick from the wasabi guacamole and thought it went very well with his Samuel Adams Summer Ale.

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For my main meal, I chose the Chiang Mai Curry Noodles with Chicken and decided to pair it with a glass of S.A. Prum “Essence” Riesling. My meal was sliced chicken breast wok-tossed with egg noodles, Fresno peppers, cilantro and a coconut curry infused broth and then garnished with Brussel sprouts, and topped with crispy wontons. Fabulous and full of rich flavors, when this dish was gently tossed with the crispy wontons, which added a slight crunchiness to the rest, it was absolutely delicious. Being a dish with noodles and such a generous serving, I ended up with some leftover to take home with me.

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Both of the main course selections we made were definitely winners with us and would easily be selected again on a return visit. My husband often tries something new, but I’m a little more hesitant to do so once I find something I love. Since I always seem to order P.F.Chang’s Spicy Chicken, this should tell you something about P.F.Chang’s Summer Menu! Based on this new taste experience, and the fact that everything so far was so good, we didn’t stop there!

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We both decided to order an extra dish we could share, so we could try it out. We knew we wouldn’t finish it, but that was okay with us because we could take it home with our leftovers. Leftovers from P.F.Chang’s are always great the next day. So the final dish we decided to try was the Orange Peel Shrimp. This is shrimp done in a Hunan chili sauce with fresh orange slices and garnished with daikon sprouts. We each had a few shrimps and loved the rich flavor and taste of the sauce used with this dish. We would be taking most of this dish home with us, even though it was hard to resist not eating more of it.

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Overall, our dining experience at P.F.Chang’s was fabulously successful and even though we couldn’t try everything on P.F.Chang’s Summer Menu, I feel certain that if everything else is as good as what we had, you can’t go wrong with whichever dish you choose to have. Every dish is well prepared and full of the Asian inspired flavors P.F.Chang’s is known for at over two hundred plus locations nationwide and the twenty plus international locations. The tastefully done meals they serve every day are the reason for this!

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After our experience of dining at P.F.Chang’s, I recommend doing the same to all of you, and don’t forget to Savor the Flavors of P.F.Chang’s Summer Menu, and Enter P.F.Chang’s “Perfect Pairings” Contest!

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Yes, that’s right! Love food and craft beer? Win a foodie trip to Boston from P.F.Chang’s. They are hosting a contest called “Perfect Pairings.” The contest will run until August 18th. A winner will be chosen by August 29.

Each participant will have the opportunity to win a $100 gift card and become eligible for the grand prize of a trip to Boston for an exclusive Sam Adams Brewery Tour for two, followed by a 4-course pairing dinner at the P.F.Chang’s in downtown Boston.

To enter the contest visit www.pfchangs.com/perfectpairings and tell them what two things you think pair perfectly together for the chance to win a trip for two to Boston to tour the Samuel Adams Brewery and dinner at P.F.Chang’s! For example, you might say, “Asian-inspired dishes go with craft beer like Seared Ahi Tuna with Wasabi Guacamole and a Samuel Adam Summer Ale.” Have fun with this contest and remember to get creative! By the way, don’t forget to try P.F.Chang’s Summer Menu first in order to find the best pairing for you, and enjoy!

NOTE: This post is sponsored by P.F.Chang’s, but my opinions are all my own. 
Thank you P.F.Chang’s for sponsoring today’s discussion and for the tasty dining out experience!

A special thank you to those at P.F.Chang’s, in Schaumburg, Illinois, where we had this great meal, especially, Chef Aurelio Rodriguez, Market Chef Jason Klever, and our server, Ismael Salinas! You are all the best for patiently putting up with me while I took photos of each dish and helping me by giving me time to do so! You’re great…thank you!

Disney World’s Animal Kingdom…Everything from Lions to Dinosaurs!

By Jodee Weiland

Disney World’s Animal Kingdom includes everything from lions to dinosaurs and more!  At Animal Kingdom Park, people who love the animals and elaborate Disney productions, attractions, and animations will find a park they can truly enjoy!

http://learnfromyesterday.comAs always, Disney’s creative designs for this park amaze new visitors every day. Once inside the park, pass through the Oasis, and then cross the bridge over the Discovery River that leads to Discovery Island. This island surrounded by the Discovery River is the center of the park, and the various bridges on the island lead to all the other areas of Animal Kingdom.

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At the center of the Discovery Island stands the 145 foot Tree of Life.  It isn’t hard to spot the Tree of Life due largely to its unique design.  Right away people notice the swaying limbs and the huge trunk with gnarled roots covered with more than 325 images of animals. The tree is covered with carved figures across its trunk and roots that were put together by a group of artists.  Most people identify this tree as the icon of Animal Kingdom Park. For Disney, the Tree of Life is a symbol of the ways all of life interconnects here on Earth.

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Beyond Discovery Island, cross over a bridge to Camp Minnie-Mickey, and you will find one of the best shows produced within the Disney parks.  Festival of the Lion King, a Broadway style show, is a colorful performance of puppetry, pageantry, and live performers putting together a phenomenal and lavish revue in 30 minutes.  The lead characters, except for Timon, are human performers dressed in bold colorful costumes representative of Africa. A creative and dynamic interpretation of the film comes together in a combination of professionally performed songs, acrobatics, and dances throughout this show.  Festival of the Lion King is a definite must see when visiting Disney Animal Kingdom. Be sure to get a Fast Pass for this show.  It will help you to avoid long lines and wait times to get into the show. The theater is now enclosed with air-conditioning and seating in the round, so all views of the show are great and comfortable as well.

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Another must see at Disney World’s Animal Kingdom, is Finding Nemo—The Musical in the park area called DinoLand U.S.A.  The creative and colorful interpretation of the film in this show is done using lavish puppetry with human performers, who become as much a part of their character as the beautifully designed oversized puppets they carry and manipulate during the show.   In thirty minutes, the characters move through the story of Finding Nemo—The Musical, acting, singing, and dancing onstage and out in the audience areas.  This intricately dynamic performance is done in an enclosed auditorium style theater that is air-conditioned.  Be sure to get a Fast Pass for this show as well, so you will have an opportunity to pick your seats and avoid waiting in long lines.

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As I said earlier, Disney World’s Animal Kingdom includes everything from lions to dinosaurs and more!  There are so many things to do and see in Disney World’s Animal Kingdom. Among the many other attractions available, some of the all-time favorites for most people include the extremely popular Kali River Rapids and Expedition Everest—Legend of the Forbidden Mountain in the park area called Asia. Still another popular attraction is the Kilimanjaro Safaris in the park area called Africa.   Finally, two more attractions that rank high on most visitors’ list are DINOSAUR and the Primeval Whirl in the park area called DinoLand U.S.A.  These are just some of the attractions to see throughout the entire park, so be sure to plan your time carefully.

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I definitely advise you to get a Fast Pass for as many of the more popular attractions as possible, for this park, in addition to the other parks. Remember, there is a limit on the number of Fast Passes you may request per day per park. Check online for the latest information on this, since it changes from time to time as Disney reviews the Fast Pass process and attempts to improve it.  Plan ahead using the new online and/or mobile app called My Disney Experience to plan out your vacation dining, rides, fast passes, etc.  With the new wristbands being used to store door keys, eating plans, park tickets, and more, you can set up some Fast Passes for your visit before you even arrive at Disney World.  If you plan well before going, you will probably be able to see and do more while there. Remember, Disney World’s Animal Kingdom includes everything from lions to dinosaurs and more!  So plan ahead, and enjoy!

Visiting Cape Cod, Massachusetts: Great Towns, Great Food, Great Time!

By Jodee Weiland

Visiting Cape Cod, Massachusetts, is a wonderful idea for anyone, young or old.  The Cape has a series of small villages running all along its coastlines, and each one has something to offer tourists.

http://learnfromyesterday.comWe recently spent a week there and stayed in a condo resort in West Yarmouth on the Cape. Hyannis which is just west of Yarmouth is in fact the largest of seven villages that make up the town of Barnstable, one of many towns that make up Barnstable County, on Cape Cod. We chose West Yarmouth because it was centrally located on the southern coastline of Cape Code and was close to the ferries in Hyannis that would take us over the Nantucket Sound to either the island of Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard.

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Eager to see it all, we did the best we could. Although we attempted to see as much as possible in the week we spent there, there were certain areas that stood out the most for us. Those areas are the ones I have decided to highlight in this post.

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One of the first towns we visited was Hyannis for all the obvious reasons, such as the John F. Kennedy Museum, the JFK Memorial, the shops, and restaurants. In fact, one of the best restaurants we went to was right across the street from the Hyannis Inner Harbor, where you could take the Hy-Line High Speed Ferry or Traditional Ferry to Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard. They offered a variety of cruises as well for whale watching and more.

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After spending a day in Hyannis, we walked over to the harbor to get more information about the various ferries. We decided that we would take the Hy-Line High Speed Ferry the next day over to Nantucket. The reason for our choice was the trip would take about fifty-five minutes rather than the one hour and fifty minute ride on the traditional ferry. Since we were only going for the day that seemed the wiser choice, although the price was higher.

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While at the Hyannis Harbor, we noticed The Black Cat Tavern, a restaurant we had heard was voted the Best Clam Chowder on the Cape and the Best Giant Lobster Roll. We decided to have dinner there and enjoyed it so much, we went back a couple more times during the week.

http://learnfromyesterday.comThe award winning clam chowder was wonderful! It was creamy with fresh clams and a smooth flavor that left you wanting more. The Giant Black Cat Lobster Roll was fantastic! We were told it had about nine ounces of fresh lobster, and it was great. It wasn’t oozing mayonnaise, so you could really enjoy the taste of the large pieces of fresh lobster on a roll that was fresh and lightly toasted. It was served with your choice of chips, skinny fries, or sweet potato fries and a dill pickle, and it was absolutely delicious or as my husband would say, “Worth the price of admission!”

http://learnfromyesterday.comThe next day, we went across Nantucket Sound to the island of Nantucket on the Hy-Line High Speed Ferry.  Arriving at Nantucket Island, you can’t help but notice the beautiful town almost immediately. We explored the town with its quaint shops, museums, and restaurants. It really was quite beautiful and had a style all of its own. Visiting for a few hours really didn’t do it justice and didn’t allow for much exploration of the island itself, but I’m glad we took the time to visit.

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The next few days were spent driving through the various villages on Cape Cod.  We spent time browsing and shopping in the lovely Falmouth, went to the Yarmouth Seaside Festival, spent a day visiting Provincetown, the northern most point of the Cape, where we had lunch at the well-known Lobster Pot. We did some shopping in Barnstable and had dinner there on our anniversary at The Barnstable Restaurant and Tavern, another fabulous choice for fresh seafood meals and more.  We drove the scenic route 6A through various villages on the northern coast of the Cape, stopping from time to time, exploring antique shops and more.

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All in all, we saw most of the Cape during our week long stay and ate at some really great restaurants. We even had some of the best homemade ice cream ever at the Cape Cod Creamery in South Yarmouth, where colorful wooden Adirondack chairs lined the front lawns and porches around the typical Cape Cod style building. It was a lot of fun and an enjoyable vacation for us. In some ways, it wasn’t what we expected, while in other ways, it was exactly what we expected.  If we go back in the future, at least now we’ll know what we want to do and see, and be able to focus on those areas we liked the best. If you get a chance to go to the Cape, be sure to have fun and enjoy!

 

When in Syracuse, New York, Be Sure to Eat at Pastabilities for a Great Meal!

By Jodee Weiland

When I think about this particular trip, I can’t help but think about the wonderful Pastabilities! Oh, what a great place to stop and have a delicious meal!

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Recently, we drove from Chicago to Cape Cod with a few stops in between here and there.  We were on our way to an area just outside of Boston for a family wedding.  We decided to extend our trip another week, so we could spend time on Cape Cod.  On the way to and from the Cape, one of the cities we stopped at was Syracuse, New York, and this was no accident.

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We had seen a restaurant called Pastabilities featured on the TV show, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, with Guy Fieri.  They talked about the Pastabilities Daily Spicy Hot Tomato Oil that the restaurant served to customers with fresh baked bread, while waiting for their meal.  It was a bread dipping sauce in place of the typical olive oil.  It looked delicious, and that’s all it took for me to put Syracuse, New York, on the route we would take to the Cape!

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This was one of the best choices I have ever made in planning our road trip routes.  Pastabilities is without a doubt a wonderful restaurant that serves a choice of pastas and more, including homemade pastas.  The Pastabilities Daily Spicy Hot Tomato Oil is not only used as a dipping oil for bread, it is also used as a sauce for pasta.  I had it with homemade linguini, and I have to say it was beyond delicious.  It was superb or as my husband would say, “Best of the best!”  We both loved it and wish we could go there more often to enjoy this and all the other wonderful selections on the menu.

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The owner, Karyn Korteling, not only has her restaurant, Pastabilities, but also owns a shop across the street called Pasta’s Daily Bread, where they bake delicious fresh bread and sell the Pastabilities Daily Spicy Hot Tomato Oil as well.  You can, also, purchase it at the restaurant and online.  Needless to say, we left with a full supply of this wonderful sauce to bring home and enjoy!  I guarantee we will be buying more online until we can go back again.  If you can’t get to Syracuse, but would like to try some, just go online and order it.  Trust me when I say, if you order this Pastabilities Daily Spicy Hot Tomato Oil online, you won’t be disappointed!

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While dining at this fabulous restaurant, Pastabilities, Karyn came and greeted us at our table and told us she would be opening a place behind her restaurant where they would now be making even more homemade pastas, and perhaps having workshops for those interested in learning how they do this.  I would love to be able to attend one of her workshops once they get it going, because everything she makes is above and beyond delicious!

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According to her website for Pastabilities, Karyn claims her success is due to the fact that everything is homemade from pastas to desserts.  The breads served with her Pastabilities Daily Spicy Hot Tomato Oil are all baked fresh throughout the day at her own shop. This is all true, and I am glad I had a chance to experience it firsthand.   Pastabilities is one of the best restaurants I have had the pleasure to have had a meal.  But don’t take my word for it, since Guy Fieri of HGTV did a whole show on this restaurant and said the same thing!  If you ever have the chance to visit Syracuse, New York, this downtown restaurant is a stop you should put at the top of your list.  So when in Syracuse, New York, be sure to eat at Pastabilities for a great meal! You won’t regret it!  Enjoy!

Thank you to owner, Karyn Korteling, for all her help, for allowing me to take pictures of her restaurant for this post, and for taking the time to talk to me about Pastabilities.  Thank you so much, Karyn!