Friday, July 29, 2011

(Get Your Face On: Summer Sun Makeup Guide)

It's hot, I know. It is so very hot out there, what with 100 degree days and awful humidity. So why would I suggest wearing makeup when you're just going to sweat it off and/or spray yourself down with your spray/fan thingy (what are those things called, anyway?) If you're going to be taking lots of awesome photos, you should at least try to put your best face forward. And I'm not talking about painting on makeup for the Magic Kingdom. I'm talking a light as air, au natural look. Observe:

1. Caudalie Beauty Elixir, $16-46, Sephora | 2. Laura Mercier Oil Free Tinted Moisturizer SPF 20, $42, Sephora | 3. Urban Decay 24/7 Eye Pencil in Underground, $18, Urban Decay | 4. Caudalie Fleur de Vigne Energizing Fragrance, $30, Sephora | 5. Urban Decay Cannonball Waterproof Mascara, $20, Ulta | 6. Dior Creme de Rose Lip Balm, $26, Nordstrom | 7. NARS Orgasm Blush, $27, NARS
  • Start with spraying Caudalie's Beauty Elixir on your face. It's a cooling, refreshing spray that makes for a great primer. 
  • Use Laura Mercier's tinted moisturizer with SPF; it offers a light coverage (nothing cakey) and protects your skin in the hot Florida sun. I use oil-free since my skin can get oily, but they also have a normal version if you have dry/normal skin.
  • Add some color with NARS Orgasm blush on both your cheeks and eyelids. 
  • Line the top lashline with Urban Decay's eye pencil in Underground to make your eyes appear larger. 
  • Finish with Urban Decay's Cannonball mascara, waterproof and sweatproof so you can get as hot as you want and ride Splash Mountain without fear of your eyes running.
  • Carry Dior's lip balm in your purse. It's a natural color, has SPF 10 to protect your lips, and smells and feels heavenly. 
  • Spray yourself with Caudalie's Fleur de Vigne energizing fragrance on your way out the door, because you're going to need the energy and it just smells yummy. 
Viola! You are beautified and ready for a long hot day in the parks. Enjoy, and remember to take lots of pictures!

Do you have a Disney beauty routine, or a product you just can't live without? Leave it in the comments!

Happy Friday!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

(Exceptional Eats: Earl of Sandwich)

It's very rare to find great-tasting, inexpensive food in Walt Disney World. Earl of Sandwich is one of the best exceptions. Located in the marketplace section of Downtown Disney, Earl of Sandwich is a franchise based out of Orlando, FL. Believe it or not, the Earl of Sandwich is a real person. The original was Edward Montagu, prominent naval commander of Sandwich, Kent. They called him Lord Sandwich - a name that I would happily answer to. (Since his name came before the lunch staple, it obviously didn't have the same connotation at the time).

So, Lord Sandwich went on to have a family, and down the line, we were given the 11th Earl of Sandwich, John Montagu. A British entrepreneur, politician and nobleman, John Montagu - along with his son Orlando and businessman Robert Earl - are directly responsible for the genius that is Earl of Sandwich. (John and Orlando Montagu are direct descendants of the 4th Earl of Sandwich, who actually popularized the sandwich in Great Britain in the 18th century). If you haven't had one of these yet, I urge, even beg you to do so.  Best. Sandwich. Ever.

Before I continue drooling over how delectable these sandwiches are, take a look at the description of the restaurant from the Earl of Sandwich website:

In 1762, John Montagu, the fourth Earl of Sandwich, had his hands full, literally. As First Sea Lord, he commanded the mighty British Navy, was a noted explorer, and also a dedicated gambler with a love of day long card games. This led to little time for food, so he came up with the ingenious idea (some say at the card table) of putting meat between two slices of bread. From then on it did not matter if you were fighting a great sea battle or laying down a Royal Flush, you could eat great food without too much fuss. Thus in 1762, the Sandwich was named after its inventor, John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich. Now 250 years later, the current 11th Earl and the Sandwich family remain passionate about the world’s most popular quick food that carries their name and have developed the sandwich everyone has been waiting for…
The World’s Greatest Hot Sandwich®

The hot sandwiches are drool-worthy.
I'd say they have something there with the World's greatest hot sandwich. Cast members of Earl of Sandwich work assembly-line-style. The restaurant is usually quite crowded - don't be discouraged, the line does move quickly. While you are standing in line however, please look at the menu and decide what you want in advance. The staff of Earl of Sandwich try to keep things moving as quickly and smoothly as possible, and it's the worst when someone hems and haws over what to order when they get to the register. Don't be that guy. Hungry vacationers can't stand that guy.

The obligatory chow-down shot 

The Earl of Sandwich does serve breakfast, but tends to be the most crowded for lunch and dinner. They offer some great looking salads and cold wraps, but I've never tried them since I'm so in love with one particular menu item. I love to try new things, but have a very hard time not ordering my Hawaiian BBQ sandwich. Served on a freshly toasted Artesian loaf, my beloved sandwich consists of roasted ham, grilled chicken, Hawaiian BBQ sauce, aged Swiss and fresh pineapple. One bite and I am in sandwich Heaven. This is coming from someone who doesn't enjoy eating too much meat. The BBQ and the pineapple are so flavorful, the bread so warm and crispy, there's just no beating it. J loves the Full Montagu: roast beef and turkey with sharp cheddar & Swiss, romaine, roma tomato and mustard sauce. He also loves ordering the Earl's Grey Lemonade: fresh lemonade infused with Earl Grey tea (kind of the British version of the Arnold Palmer). I find it to be a bit strong, but if you love tea, you'll probably love this. The drink is certainly very refreshing. Oh, and I almost forgot the most amazing part - each sandwich is only $5.99! Take a look at the full menu here.

With regards to seating: sometimes the uber-crowded dining room can make it hard to find a seat. Don't panic, you will find one eventually. Most people are very courteous and will alert a waiting diner to their empty table once they are done eating. If you are finished with your table, I recommend directing someone looking for a table your way. It helps out a fellow Disney vacationer, and will make you feel that you have done something nice (which always puts a smile on my face). If the dining room is just too crowded for you, there is always seating outside!  

So, it's clear that I may have a mild obsession with this restaurant. I would recommend it to anyone who likes a hot, freshly-made sandwich, or simply to anyone who is hungry. I would love to hear your opinions on the restaurant! Do you have a favorite sandwich, or maybe a not so stellar experience with the Earl? Leave it in the comments (and please email me your chow-down photos!)  Before I go, I will leave you with one last look at the Holy Grail of yummy...

It's a beautiful thing.

Happy Sandwiching!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

(Resort Files: Caribbean Beach)

The entrance to Caribbean Beach
Located in the Epcot area of Walt Disney World, the Caribbean Beach is a tropically-themed, moderately-priced resort. Opened on October 1, 1988, the resort is large, with 2,112 guest rooms. There are six villages, each themed after an island in the Caribbean: Jamaica, Barbados, Martinique, Aruba, and Trinidad North & South. We arrived at the Caribbean Beach resort after an overnight drive at about 530am for our family trip. The lobby was fairly empty, so check-in a was a breeze. The staff were very friendly despite the early morning hours, and we enjoyed talking with the Cast Member who checked us in.

Checking in at the Customs House (if we look tired, it's because we are)

We reserved the Pirates of the Caribbean themed rooms, so we would be staying in Trinidad South. Unfortunately, the rooms were the only touch of Disney that I felt throughout the entire resort.

Early morning at Caribbean Beach
The grounds are beautiful. Each village has its own pool and beach area, and the view across Barefoot Bay, the 45-acre lake, is picturesque.

A view from across Barefoot Bay
Since we arrived so early, we weren't surprised to find that our rooms were not quite ready. We left our things in the car and began to explore. Check-in takes place at the Custom House, which is quite a ways from Old Port Royale (or Centertown, as it is called), where dining is located. While I did read many complaints that the resort is too large, I did not find it a problem in terms of walking. The buses were another story, but I'll get to those in a bit.

On the first day of navigation, a map is a must!
While there are internal buses to take you from the check-in desk throughout the resort, I did not find these necessary. I would however recommend them if you are with someone who is handicapped or has trouble walking a distance. We took the scenic walk around the lake to Old Port Royale, where we enjoyed breakfast.

The food court at Old Port Royale
The breakfast was your standard Disney fare that can be found at most resorts. I had the cheese danish (somewhat of a first-day tradition for me), J had Mickey waffles, and MOM & P shared an omelette, which looked super yummy. While the food court definitely has a cool design, it lacks a Disney touch. Unfortunately we did not try Shutters, the resort's only table service restaurant. After breakfast we left to visit Hollywood Studios for a bit and returned once our rooms were ready.

Pirate of the Caribbean rooms at Caribbean Beach Resort
The pirate-themed rooms were very fun. The beds looked like ships, there was a refrigerator in the shape of a barrel and the bathroom was very pirate-like. So yeah, the room was cool, but something very similar could be accomplished by spending less money at Disney's All-Star Movies. I would recommend spending the extra money on these rooms only if you're a huge Pirates fan. Otherwise, I'm not sure it would be worth it. Please note as well, that Trinidad South is just about as far from the center of the resort as you can get.

Now on to the buses. Quite simply, they were the worst. The problem with such a large resort is that there are a lot of bus stops. Just when you think you're the only one in line for the Magic Kingdom, you realize that you are the last stop in a long line of bus stops. One morning we waited almost 35 minutes for a bus to the Magic Kingdom, making us late for our reservation at the Crystal Palace (another awesome tradition). On the other end of the spectrum, when you're headed back to the resort and you're exhausted, being the last stop is terrible.For this reason, I would suggest that if you choose to stay at Caribbean Beach, spend the extra money to get a preferred room, or simply walk to the main bus stop. It's definitely worth it!

the main pool at Caribbean Beach
We did take a swim in Trinidad South but did not spend any time at the main pool. Please excuse the photo as I snapped it while running through the rain - sometimes those days are the best!

Shooting baskets at Goombay Games

We found some respite from the downpour in the game room, which is always very fun. J & I enjoy playing air hockey and shooting baskets (I always let him win, but he'll tell you otherwise). This is probably the only other amenity that we used at the Caribbean Beach. We were always on the go!

sass & bide please don't go romper | Free People lace trim bandeau | Gorjana alphabet charm necklace | Marc script sunglasses | Jennifer Ouellette stripe turban headband
The best part of the resort? Definitely the hammocks. They are way too much fun!

So, would I recommend the Caribbean Beach? I'm leaning towards no. On the one hand, if you're like us and tend to be on the go throughout the majority of your vacation, it serves its purpose as a place to stay. However, as I have mentioned throughout this review, it just doesn't have that Disney feel to it. The resort is sort of old, and it sort of felt that way. Caribbean Beach gave off an empty feeling in the Florida heat. The bus service is terrible due to the enormous size of the resort. The food court is lackluster, but then again offers more or less the same fare you will find at moderate and value resorts. I did not take advantage of many amenities, such as the boat rentals at the lake and the main pool. This may have changed my opinion just a bit, but probably not enough. When you compare this resort to its moderate counterparts, it comes in last. You are getting a much better experience for your money should you choose to stay at either of the Port Orleans resorts, which I plan to rave about in a later review. Keep in mind that we certainly did not have any problems at Caribbean Beach service wise; cast members were all very nice and Mousekeeping was superb. There were definitely a lot of great things (the grounds are lush and green and beautiful), but I just don't think they outweigh the cons. In the end, I'm still glad that we gave Caribbean Beach a go because a lot of great memories were made there - ones that won't soon be forgotten!

Do you have another opinion on the Caribbean Beach? I'd love to hear all about it!

Happy Vacationing,

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

(What to Wear: Animal Kingdom)

Let me introduce you to my personal brand of crazy: I like to theme my Walt Disney World wardrobe. When packing for my vacations, I need a rhyme or reason to every outfit. I shop for vacation clothes with Animal Kingdom's leopard print in mind, and Magic Kingdom's flowy, princess-inspired colors. For me, the pictures that are taken on each trip will last a lifetime, and I like to think that I planned accordingly. I know I'm not the only one out there who does I? (brace for awkward silence...)

One of the easiest and most classic outfits that you can put together is a simple black dress with subtle animal-print accents (a cuff, leopard print sandals, etc). This is definitely one of my Animal Kingdom favorites. Below, see my picks for what to wear in the Animal Kingdom.

1. Zimmerman Safari Dress, $245, Shopbop | 2. Neon Safari Glasses, $6.99, Urban Outfitters | 3. Ralph Lauren Large Bead Necklace, $58, Nordstrom | 4. Gold Elephant Ring, $24.99, ModCloth | 5. Kate Spade 'Lulu" Sunglasses, $84.90, Nordstrom | 6. BCBGeneration Animal Print Romper, $118, Bloomingdales | 7. Moving Target Dress, $49.99, ModCloth | 8. Corey Lynn Calter 'Dede' Tank, $40.99, Bluefly | 9. Kenneth Jay Lane Leopard Pendant, $99, Shopbop | 10. Fossil Cheri Fedora, $38, Zappos | 11. River Island Animal Print Cuff, $22.41, ASOS | 12. Medina Sandals, $228, J. Crew | 13. Keds 'Animal' Sneakers, $40, Bloomingdales | 14. Silk Sandbank Tank, $89.50, Madewell

Do you have a favorite Animal Kingdom outfit? Send me your pictures! I would love to feature them here on the blog.

Happy Shopping!

Monday, July 25, 2011

(Soundtrack: Tower of Rock n' Roll)

Going Down...
Whenever I hear Aerosmith's Love in an Elevator, I can't help but be automatically transported to Sunset Boulevard. What a fun coincidence that Aerosmith (who happen to headline the thrill ride to our left) would happen to be singing about an elevator, which takes center stage at, well you know....

Do you have a great song that reminds you of The World? Leave it in the comments!

Happy Singing!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

(Shopping Guide: Backpacks)

Being prepared on your Disney vacation is important, and that often means bringing to the parks a menagerie of goodies; band-aids, water bottles, sunscreen, etc. One of the worst things that you can do is pile all of your effects into a shoulder bag and schlep it around. It's terrible for your posture, and hurts a whole lot after just a couple of hours (I know, I've been there)! I highly recommend mini back-packs. They're cute, they carry just enough stuff, and you can put them on your back and just forget about it. It's best to look for ones with a zip closure, and if possible, a fair amount of storage compartments. I have highlighted some of my favorites below.
1. Marc by Marc Jacobs Preppy Nylon Backpack, $228, Saks Fifth Avenue | 2. Roxy Great Outdoors Backpack, $44, Zappos | 3. Deux Lux Canvas Mixed Backpack, $69, Urban Outfitters | 4. Wandering Star Canvas Backpack, $49.50, J. Crew | 5. Blue Mini Sequin Backpack, $48, Kitson | 6. Nylon Raimy, $345, Kate Spade | 7. Skip Hop Zoo Pack, $20, Nordstrom | 8. Le SportSac Mini Backpack, $62, Macy's

Happy Shopping!

Friday, July 22, 2011

(Chow Down: Paradiso 37)

One of the newest additions to the up-and-coming revision of Pleasure Island is Paradiso 37. A large space with plenty of energy to spare, the 37 in its name has two special meanings. First and foremost, there are 37 different cuisines offered on the menu, spanning from North, South, and Central America. The second, and the pride of many who love to drink, are the 37 varieties of tequila offered at Paradiso's fantastic bar. 

The restaurant gives off a feeling of high-energy from the second you walk in the door. Be sure to observe the awesome chandelier, made from tequila bottles and martini glasses.

Dining there on a perfect-weather evening in late May, J and I opted to sit outside on the patio, which wraps around one side of the restaurant with gorgeous views of Village Lake. The inside of the restaurant, which we were led through to the outside patio, had an open, airy feel and a beautiful bar. While I did not slow down to get any pictures, I definitely plan on making a trip back to that bar, even if just for a drink!

I will admit that initially, I was a bit nervous to try this restaurant due to its poor reviews. It had only been open for a few short months before we made it there, and it may have needed to work out the kinks. We ventured on nonetheless, mostly because I'm a sucker for an interesting menu. Our pleasant waiter brought us our water and we started to peruse the menu. Paradiso 37 offers a "Taste of the Americas" in the form of street foods. This includes anything that would find from a street cart, festival, or market throughout the Americas. The menu consists of everything from North American Corn Dogs and Caribbean Crab & Fish Fritters to Colombian Style Crispy Hen and Baja Fish Tacos. 

J started with a Dos Equis (one of his favorites), while I opted for a specialty drink, the Mingled Margarita; Sauza margarita layered with red sangria. By the way, Paradiso claims to have the world's coldest beer; served at 29 degrees F, it's "too cold to hold." J loved his beer, while I found my mingled margarita to be a bit on the sweet side. It was refreshing nonetheless. Our appetizers didn't take too long, and within about 10 minutes we had our Central American Crazy Corn and our P-37 Nachos. You will learn this about me quickly; I have never met a nacho I don't like. If it's on the menu, it's on our table. The descriptions of our appetizers are as follows:

Central American Crazy Corn - Fire roasted corn on the cob topped with a spicy yellow pepper sauce and imported cheeses $8.50
P-37 Nachos (serves 2) - corn tortilla chips, queso fundido, chili, queso fresco, sour cream, pico de gallo, jalapenos $13.99

The nachos were nothing to rave about, but again, any nacho is usually a good nacho to me. If it hadn't been for the spicy yellow pepper sauce, the Crazy Corn probably would have just been corn on the cob covered in cheese and served on a stick. The sauce did make a difference though, and it made for an interesting appetizer. It was nice to have something that wasn't fried, and it felt like a good clean meal.

Since we didn't order any entrees, we just had to try one of the desserts. Immediately catching both of our eyes (and appetites) was the Mini Ice Cream Cones: four mini waffle cones with vanilla, chocolate, strawberry and cookies & cream ice cream, topped with....sprinkles! (Oh yeah, I'm also a HUGE fan of sprinkles - more on that later). Now comes the showdown: who gets the chocolate cone? 

Adorable husband eating adorably-sized ice cream? Check.
I guess I lost that battle. It's a good thing that I actually prefer cookies & cream :) Oh yea, one other thing. While we're enjoying our food & drink, there's a highly-entertaining, lovely man playing cover songs for us. He did everything from Bob Marley to Jason Mraz - the kind of stuff that makes you feel great to be eating outside in the Florida heat. Even after we paid our check, I just had to stay and watch him a little longer, even if J made me leave the table!

So, would I recommend Paradiso 37? Absolutely. While I may not have done enough research (sorry!) to comment on their entrees, I can certainly say that this is the place to come for drinks, a light nosh, and great entertainment. Our next venture into Paradiso will certainly be for some tequila sampling, and maybe some late-night entertainment. Also, the Mac & Cheese Bites. Yum.

Have you been to Paradiso 37? I'd love to hear about it!

Happy Dining!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

(Patterson J. Kincaid Does Disney)

photo courtesy of

Combining their vintage comfort with a hint of nostalgia, Patterson J. Kincaid, a comfortable yet fashion-forward contemporary force, is collaborating with Disney Consumer Products to bring us something truly special. Starting this month, look for their new line of highly adorable tees, tanks and sweatshirts featuring your favorite Disney characters such as Bambi, Thumper, and of course, The Mouse himself. In my opinion, this is the perfect way to wear your love for Disney proudly without being too loud. Nicely done, PJK. Nicely done indeed.

1. PJK Bambi Sweatshirt, $128,
2. PJK Patch Bambi Willow Tank, $88, Revolve
3. PJK Thumper Crop Top, $98, Revolve
4. PJK Watercolor Owl Tank, $88, Revolve
5. PJK Baby Bami T, Pre-Order, Patterson J Kincaid
6. PJK Forest Friends Baseball T, Pre-Order, Patterson J Kincaid
7. PJK Baby Flower T, $98,
Happy Shopping!

Monday, July 18, 2011

(Movie Review: Oh Bother, It's Winnie the Pooh!)

We ventured to the movies this weekend to see Harry Potter, and ended up stopping in to see Winnie the Pooh directly after the Hogwart's finale. The movie only ran a short 63 minutes, so the time went by quickly and we weren't too tired from spending so much time in the theatre. 

From beginning to end, this movie kept us laughing. I'm not sure if it was Disney's goal to be outwardly funny, but I don't recall the Hundred Acre Wood ever being this comical. From Pooh's rumbling tummy to Piglet's naive antics, we were giggling quite a bit.

photo courtesy of Disney

I had no prior knowledge that Zooey Deschanel would be lending her voice, but would recognize her vocals anywhere. She sings the Winnie the Pooh theme song beautifully, along with some other great tunes. The music in the film was lively and fun, and the (many) children in the theatre were having a ball. 

While I cannot say that this new venture into the Hundred Acre Wood lives up to the classic that I grew up with, I can say that this is a movie with heart and will find its place among the Disney Classics for this and future generations to enjoy. I would highly recommend taking your little one (or just going yourself!) for this very short, very lovable feature. 

Happy Watching,

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

(Remy Approves: Ratatouille)

After what seemed like a very short weekend, I love to kick-start my week with a new all-time favorite meal. Deb at Smitten Kitchen has created the most incredible dish that has since become a staple on our weekly menu.

photo courtesy of Smitten Kitchen
Not only has Deb chosen to recreate a meal from one of our all-time favorite movies, but she has made it actually work. It's great for my husband and I because the preparation is simple and the ingredients are inexpensive. Be sure to head over to Smitten Kitchen for the recipe for Ratatouille's Ratatouille - and be sure to take her advice and add the goat cheese. You won't be sorry!

Happy Cooking!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

(Wingardium Leviosa!)

Today, the hubby and  I are throwing a Harry Potter marathon. Time to totally geek out! We plan to watch Harry's adventures from beginning to end (I wonder how many of our guests will stay for the whole thing?!)

The "party" idea was so last minute, so I haven't had time to go overboard like I usually do. It was very hard to find any recipe with some resemblance to dinner that also had a Hogwart's connection. Do you realize that in all of the books and movies, all those kids eat is candy and sweets? I find myself wishing that we could hitch a quick ride back to Universal Studios and pick up some of those lovely sweets from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Honeyduke's @ the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

One thing is for sure, there will be Butter Beer! I found a great website from this cute little website  to make the drink. It's the easiest of all the ones that I found, needing only butterscotch schnapps and cream soda. Let's hope it tastes great! Oh, and don't forget the butterbeer mug....

J drinking butter beer @ the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Happy Wizarding,