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!

Enjoying and Eating on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina!

By Jodee Weiland

Enjoying and Eating on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, is the perfect place to visit when you want to sit back and relax! The weather on Hilton Head is perfect in the spring when we visited for eating out on deck areas of restaurants, walking along harbor walkways and piers, or biking along trails throughout the beautifully landscaped plantations and harbours. People will also take cruises to watch dolphins or hire boats to go fishing. On this beautiful island shaped like and described as a foot, you will see people boating, playing tennis, golfing, and jogging from the ankle area of the island near Skull Creek Marina to the toe of the island in the Sea Pines Plantation. The island is conveniently divided into four areas of the foot: the ankle, the heel, the instep, and the toe. Within each, you will find various plantations, marinas, and harbours to visit and enjoy!

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There are so many wonderful harbours and marinas to choose from for shopping, dining, and entertainment when you visit. In the popular Sea Pines Plantation, many people enjoy Harbour Town and all it has to offer. For over thirty years now, The Crazy Crab has offered fresh seafood dining indoors or outdoors while overlooking the beautiful Harbour Town Marina and one of its main attractions, the Harbour Town Lighthouse and museum. All along the harbour walkways, you will see red wooden rocking chairs where people can sit and enjoy the views.

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http://learnfromyesterday.comIf you are lucky, you may be able to catch Gregg Russell, a beloved classic performer at Sea Pines Resort, under the famous Liberty Oak in Harbour Town, entertaining children and adults alike with his concerts. The concerts are all complimentary during the spring and summer, as well as most holidays, and you will love them! He will have both adults and children alike laughing and singing throughout the evening! He is so well loved, CDs of his concerts are sold at the many unique shops in this area.

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Another great place to visit is the Shelter Cove Harbour for free live entertainment seven days a week while you dine at a variety of restaurants, many with waterfront seating and beautiful views of the largest deepwater marina on Hilton Head. Besides the many unique shops along the marina walkway, there are also planned activities like the Art Fair we attended while there. What a great way to experience the beautiful art work of skilled craftsmen, from hand crafted pottery to jewelry to painting and more!

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While in Shelter Cove Harbour, Scot’s Fish Market Restaurant and Bar is a great place to grab a sandwich and/or a drink on the patio dining in the afternoon or a full meal in the evening. The seafood is fresh and deliciously prepared. The Herb Parmesan Crusted Grouper topped with charbroiled shrimp in a lobster cream was delicious. Be sure to start off with the She-Crab soup with just a hint of sherry, another delicious menu item here! In the afternoons, you will find casual patio seating where you can enjoy a grilled seafood sandwich made by the owner himself.

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Another of my favorite restaurant of mine in Shelter Cove Harbour is La Fontana Waterfront Grill. This restaurant is one of the best Italian restaurants I have eaten at and for me that says a lot. I’m Italian, so I am picky when it comes to eating Italian out. We had such a wonderfully authentic Italian meal here, that we even ordered dessert, which we rarely do. We started the meal with a bottle of Chianti and a simple garden salad. My entrée was the delicious Gnocchi alla Sorrentina, homemade potato dumplings in a tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella. My husband had his favorite, Spaghetti alle Vongole, little neck clams sautéed with garlic, extra virgin olive oil and cherry tomatoes in a white wine sauce. He loves this dish, but according to him it was one of the best he had ever had! We then shared a fabulous dessert tray that had tiramisu, chocolate profiterole, limoncello cake, and cannoli. Each and every one of these selections had wonderfully rich flavors and tasted fabulous! This restaurant is a must if you visit Hilton Head.

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In Skull Creek Marina, you will find live entertainment with outdoor or indoor seating as well. One of our favorites in this area of the island was the Skull Creek Boathouse. When we first arrived, we found this restaurant almost by accident. Once we arrived, we knew it was going to be good, because although there was a large parking area, cars were lined up waiting for spots to get in and park. We considered ourselves lucky that we got a space and enjoyed a wonderful meal.

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I loved the Grouper Imperial with Crab Imperial Topping and Lemon Butter Sauce. My husband had a special with grilled Amber Jack. Both meals were so good, we went back another night, but it was so crowded we could not get in to eat that night. We returned the next day for a late lunch. Again it was busy, but we got in because most people had arrived earlier for the Sunday brunch. Instead of brunch, we enjoyed a wonderful late afternoon lunch. I had Pecan Ginger Crusted Mahi Mahi with a Creole Honey Mustard Drizzle, and my husband had Carolina Shrimp and Grits with Sautéed Shrimp, Smoked Sausage, and Tasso Ham Gravy. Both dishes were absolutely delicious, and we would gladly return again when visiting in this area!

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Enjoying and Eating on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, is a wonderful choice for people looking for a place to sit back and relax on vacation. The food options are wonderful! There are trails for walking, biking, and jogging all over the island. There are beautiful beaches, harbours, and marinas to spend some time relaxing. Of course, some of Hilton Head’s biggest attractions are all the areas for playing tennis and all the beautiful golf courses available. But you don’t have to play tennis or golf to enjoy all that HIlton Head has to offer, because sitting on one of those red rockers in Harbour Town overlooking the water may be enough for you. It’s the relaxing atmosphere of the island that appeals to most people, while allowing you to sit back and enjoy!

Christmas Traditions…Saying Thank You to Those Who Protect and Serve!

By Jodee Weiland

When my children were little, we had a very special Christmas Eve tradition each year.

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Of course, we did all the things most people do, like reading Christmas stories, putting out cookies for Santa, and more.  But of all our Christmas traditions, my favorite was teaching my children to say thank you to those special people who work on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to keep us all safe during the holidays. The people I am referring to are the men and women of the police department and fire department in our local area.

http://learnfromyesterday.comEvery year, we would bake a variety of Christmas cookies.  On Christmas Eve, my children and I would put together a Christmas plate loaded with all the different cookies we made that year. We would cover the plate and put some ribbon on it with a card wishing our local fire and police department a Merry Christmas and thanking them for taking care of us over the holidays.  When we finished preparing the plate, we would drive over to the local police and fire department in our area and deliver the plate of cookies.  The children would thank them personally for taking care of us and keeping us safe, and then they would hand them the plate of cookies as a gesture of our gratitude. Needless to say, it was wonderful to see the smiles on the faces of these men and women as they accepted the cookies and told the children how much they appreciated the gesture.  Even better still, were the smiles on the faces of my children!

http://learnfromyesterday.comIf I had small children today, I might consider doing this a little differently. Sadly but true, these days the police and fire department in your areas may be somewhat reluctant to accept a plate of homemade cookies, unless you live in a small town area where everyone knows each other. But if homemade cookies are a problem, there are so many other ways to let your children say thank you. They could write letters and hand deliver them to the fire and police departments with a box of store bought cookies or candy that are sealed. Another idea would be to have the children help you create a gift basket filled with packaged nuts, cookies, candies, popcorn, coffees, teas, and more.  You can even have the children write and illustrate a Christmas story of their own about how the police and fire departments help keep them safe.  Or perhaps have the children draw Christmas pictures and frame them, so they can be used as holiday decorations. It doesn’t matter what they do to say thank you.  What matters is letting your children know, it is important to say thank you to those who protect us.

http://learnfromyesterday.comWhatever your children decide to do to say thank you, it will make a difference for these men and women because everyone likes to be told they are appreciated and especially, when the message comes from children. Too often, we forget about those who are not home celebrating with their families, so we can be safe with our families. If you should decide to add this gesture of gratitude to your Christmas traditions, I’m sure many of you can be very creative in coming up with ideas and ways to do this.  Just keep in mind that the members of the police and fire departments will remember this gesture fondly. Teaching children appreciation and respect is important, so consider taking the time to do something like this with your children. You won’t regret it, and it really is fun to do.  Make a memory, and enjoy!

Italian Bow Knot Cookies…With Sweet Lemon Sugar Icing!

By Jodee Weiland

Every year during the holiday season, mom spent the weeks before Christmas baking all the different traditional Italian cookies and some new recipes she found.  One of her traditional cookie recipes was the Italian Bow Knot Cookies with Sweet Lemon Sugar Icing.

http://learnfromyesterday.comWe would watch her make the cookie dough, then take a piece and roll it into a finger width roll that she would cut off into five to six inch strips, and then carefully turn into a knot like shape.  Each one was placed on the cookie sheet until the tray was filled with these small dough bow knots. Once filled, the cookie sheet was placed in the oven, and to our amazement came out of the oven ten minutes later baked and ready to ice with her lemon sugar icing. Each bow knot cookie was quickly dunked, top side down, into the bowl of lemon sugar icing, and then placed carefully on a dish so the icing could set…the moment my sisters and I waited for patiently! An abundance of love went into every tradition celebrated by my family each year, and the baking of the Italian Bow Knot Cookie was just one of those wonderful traditions!

http://learnfromyesterday.comBoth my mother and father worked hard, sometimes at more than one job, to give each of us children every possible opportunity available, including the college educations our parents wanted to make sure we had! When Christmas came, each of us always woke up on Christmas morning to a beautiful tree with many gifts for each of us wrapped and waiting for our eager hands to unwrap! But what I remember most was the feeling and certainty that we were loved and placed above all else. From the baking of the cookies to the gifts under the tree to our huge Christmas meal, we were the luckiest children in the world because we had the best parents ever, and we all loved them just as much.

http://learnfromyesterday.comAlthough, these were just cookies to most people, to us they were a part of a tradition that epitomized family, home, and love! We all knew how hard our parents both worked for us. Despite being tired some days, mom would come home from work and begin baking cookies until late at night, so that we could all share in the Italian traditions she and dad were taught growing up. My parents both sacrificed a lot for all of us, and I know with certainty that my sisters and I will always love, respect, and appreciate everything they did for us! So as we repeat their traditions in our own homes each year, the memory of our childhood and the love we felt growing up is always fresh in our hearts and minds.

http://learnfromyesterday.comItalian Bow Knot Cookies…With Sweet Lemon Sugar Icing!

Bow Knot recipe:

9 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
9 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
7 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Lemon Sugar Icing recipe: (you will probably need more than one batch of this recipe)

1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon or more lemon juice (more or less depending on desired consistency)

Using a mixer, beat the eggs until creamy and lemon colored.  Gradually add the oil and blend together.  Then add the sugar, milk, and vanilla and beat for five minutes longer.  Add in the salt and baking powder, blending it into the mixture.  Finally, gradually mix in the flour one to two cups at a time.  When it gets too thick to blend with a mixer, begin using a spatula or spoon to blend it until it becomes thick enough and dough like enough to be mixed with your hands. Knead like bread with your hands until the dough is smooth.

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When the dough is ready, roll out a piece at a time with your hands into long finger width rolls first.  Cut off a section about five to six inches long and once rolled to desired thickness, the size of a thin finger, carefully fold one end over the other and tuck under forming a small knot like cookie.  It may take a few tries, but you should quickly be able to form knots you’re happy with for your cookies.  While doing this, keep the rest of the dough moist by covering it with a clean cloth lightly dampened.  Also, keep in mind that your cookies will rise a little while baking.  Place bow knots on a cookie sheet, approximately fifteen per sheet and three across.  Bake at 375 degrees for ten minutes. The bottom of the cookies should be lightly brown. While the cookies bake mix the Lemon Sugar Icing in a small bowl with a whisk until there are no lumps and the icing is smooth and the desired thickness.

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When the cookies come out of the oven, put the Lemon Sugar Icing on while they are still hot.  You may have to let them cool slightly, but as soon as you can, dunk each cookie top side down into the bowl of icing.  Then place the iced cookie on a plate so the icing can set. Once the icing is set, your cookies will be ready to eat.

http://learnfromyesterday.comItalian Bow Knot Cookies with Sweet Lemon Sugar Icing are soft and chewy with a delicious flavor enhanced by the sweet lemon taste of the icing!  Once you have one, you are definitely going to want more, so indulge yourself. Since my mom grew up in a family of eleven children, most of her recipes make plenty for everyone. The Italian Bow Knot cookie is definitely another favorite in our family among the children. It’s fun to watch the expressions on the children’s faces as they bite into this soft and delicious cookie. They love having these cookies with a cold glass of milk or even a warm cup of hot chocolate.  The adults will prefer a fresh pot of coffee or hot tea for the most part, but either way these cookies are wonderful! Try them, and enjoy!

Italian Biscotti…An Italian Cookie and Family Favorite!

By Jodee Weiland

Every year at Christmas time, baking and eating Italian Biscotti cookies were a favorite part of the Christmas tradition in my family. When I was a child, I would watch my mother prepare and bake her slices, as we called them, with care.

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The anticipation of biting into that first slice once done kept me and my sisters very attentive through the whole process. When we finally were able to eat our first biscotti, it was always a piece of heaven as I remember it, filled with the delicious flavor of our Italian Christmas!

http://learnfromyesterday.comOnce I had children of my own, I continued the family tradition every Christmas. Italian Biscotti was one of many family cookies baked, but it was always a favorite. We would bake the biscotti slices and enjoy them throughout the entire Christmas holiday, savoring each bite! During those years I had a friend, who also grew up in an Italian family, so I tasted her family recipe as well. They were very much like ours, except for a few things.

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My family always used vanilla extract, while my friend’s family used anise.  It was good as well, but I never stopped using vanilla because that tasted like home to me.  Strangely enough, when people eat my slices, they love them, and they still claim to taste the anise which I do not use.  Anise certainly can be substituted for the vanilla.  It’s really just a matter of personal preference. Besides the use of anise in my friend’s family, they also used a little more baking powder, so their slices were a little larger and more airy.  I liked this effect, so I increased the amount of baking powder in our family recipe and added the one more egg and a little more vegetable oil, sugar, and vanilla.  With these slight adaptations to amounts, not ingredients, I was able to make my Italian Biscotti larger and more airy as well. My mom tasted them when I first tried this and assured me that she approved! I know we all love them, so I’m sure you will, too.

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Italian Biscotti…An Italian Cookie and Family Favorite!

8 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 cups vegetable oil
2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup chopped walnuts
8 to 9 cups all-purpose flour (I used 8 1/2 cups)

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With a hand mixer in a large bowl, blend together the eggs, sugar, vegetable oil, vanilla, and baking powder.  Stir in with a spoon the chopped walnuts next.  Once done, begin adding flour one to two cups at a time.  At some point, you will need to mix this with clean hands because it will become too thick to stir with a spoon.  Make sure you have the flour measured and ready to add in gradually at this point because your hands will be sticky with dough.  Mix the dough together adding flour gradually until it becomes a workable dough and slightly sticky.  Divide the dough into four sections, one for each loaf (two long loafs to a pan). The cookie loafs will be flat and about 1/2 inch thick at most unlike bread before cooking them.  This recipe will make four loafs that will be sliced warm from the oven.

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Bake the cookie loafs at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until done but not overly done.  These cookies are twice baked.  When done remove from the oven and slice immediately while still warm. Take each slice and turn it on its side on the cookie sheet. Return to the oven and bake 5 to 7 minutes longer until lightly toasted on sides.  You do not need to turn them.

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Italian Biscotti is an Italian cookie and a family favorite in our home! In Prato, Italy, where they originated, Biscotti is an Italian word that means twice cooked or in this case, baked.  They are also known as cantuccini or coffee bread. Originally, these “biscuits” were twice baked to make them dry and crunchy and consequently, able to be stored for longer periods of time. When served, Italians here and abroad, love to dunk Italian Biscotti in their coffee or even wine.

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My father loved to dunk them in either, as did most of our family.  The children would dunk them in milk unless Poppy, my father and a lovable character, decided to introduce the grandchildren to the wonders of a little coffee in a lot of milk with plenty of sugar. He did this with my sisters and me when we were little as well.  It certainly didn’t kill any of us, although I would not recommend it.  Still, before you upbraid him for this lovable gesture, you should know both he and my mother lived to be ninety.  My father’s mother and his grandmother lived to be 100 and 103 years old. So I guess the fact that they all were avid coffee drinkers didn’t kill them, but that said, give the children milk.  They’ll love these cookies with their milk for sure! You’ll love them with whatever you choose to drink as well, so enjoy!