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Showing posts with label Travel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Travel. Show all posts

I did it. I ran a 5K even though I hate running. This is what happens when you love Disney Theme Parks and want to experience all they have to offer. At the beginning of this year my friend Caleb convinced me to do a 5K during runDisney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend - he ran the half marathon. We booked our hotels in February by renting DVC points. Because we were splitting the room we splurged on the Villas at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa for one night and Disney's Polynesian Villas & Bungalows for three nights.

Super delayed post, incoming! Ha ha. After our last trip in September 2022 (when our annual passes expired) we said we were going to "take a year off" Disney. Fast forward to March when Christian had to go to Orlando for work and they offered to fly me down too so we could do a day at Disney before he had to work (they know I'm obsessed.) We flew with Avelo airlines and discovered how easy it was to fly from New Haven vs Hartford so Christian "joked" that we should just take random trips to Disney on the weekend with the $50 and under flights. 

Next my friend convinced me to do the Wine & Dine 5K this November so we planned on doing that as a quick weekend trip with minimal park days. THEN when annual passes went back on sale in April Christian and I said screw it, bought them and planned a Labor Day weekend trip the same day. So technically we did take a year off official Disney trips, just not all of 2023. Finally, I have a December trip planned so Christian can see Disney decorated for the holidays! That trip is still up in the air as I may have a conflict for the days we booked (I have a backup hotel booked for a couple weekends later, but we'll see.)

TLDR; Christian and I weren't going to go to Disney this year, but then we threw that out the window and planned 3 trips from September - December, haha! Technically we did take a year off, our last official trip was September 2022. 

I was recently introduced to Day Owl, a sustainable company that makes bags out of recycled plastic bottles and other landfill-bound materials. In each product description you can see what sustainable materials were used to create it. Christian has been really into backpacks lately, researching pros and cons for hours, so he was excited to be able to test this out as well!

They sent me "The Backpack" which is made from waxed canvas made from 25 recycled post-consumer plastic bottles, plus 100% recycled polyester lining and trim, algae based foam, water repellent neoprene, and conflict-free metal YKK zippers. It has 18L of space, can fit up to a 16in laptop and a 750mL water bottle in a side pocket. There's even a pocket on top where you can store your phone or keys for easy access. (They also have a Slim Backpack if you want a smaller option.) Day Owl also sent over their Pouch for storing cords, electronic accessories and other small items. You can buy The Backpack + The Pouch together for only $156.40!

Packed with some room to spare for a couple souvenirs

Let's use the Day Owl backpack and see what we can pack for a weekend at Walt Disney World! The bag is technically a little big to use as an Avelo personal item measurement-wise, but I may risk it! I read they don't always check the size as long as it looks like it will fit under the seat. It will definitely work for Southwest, which we fly with pretty frequently. 

It fit everything I need to bring with me for our 4 days (5 if you count our departure day.) My plane outfit is jeans, a tee, sandals and a sweater that I probably won't even need. I always like to have a sweater in case the evenings get cold. I packed pretty light - 3 tees (I may buy one there,) 2 pairs of shorts, another pair of sandals and my small Mickey bag to carry around the parks. I also fit in my toiletries, makeup, other necessities and packed up The Pouch with my various charging accessories, small portable charger and airpods.

Packing for a long weekend at Disney in a backpack [Mickey tie-dye shirt, Sword in the Stone Tee, EPCOT Food & Wine 2022 Tee]

Bottle Pocket - using for an extra pair of sandals

Flat Front Pocket. Putting my toiletries in for easy access at security.

The Pouch
The Pouch full of phone and watch accessories. Still room to spare!

Two more things to add, easy fit!

There is a space for a laptop in the back but, since this is such a short trip, I won't be bringing mine.  As seen above, I used the water bottle pocket on the side for my extra pair of shoes since I won't need a water bottle. Pretty handy! I also won't be using the luggage strap this trip, but that is another super handy feature!

Spill-Resistant Bottle Pocket lined with water-repellent neoprene (this is an 18oz Yeti Rambler)

“it’s big enough for a wine bottle and strong enough for a wet umbrella.”

Padded Laptop Pocket (fits up to 16" laptop)

Luggage Strap

A few more detail shots showing off other features of the backpack. Lots of handy nooks and crannies to use!

Organized Interior

Cord Straps

Various sleeves for organization

Grab handles with button closure for easy pickup

Floating Top Pocket for glasses, chapstick, etc! (my slim sunglasses storage case)

 *I was gifted the backpack & pouch but was not required to post about it. Purchases made through links in this post will earn me a small commission. My opinions are my own. *

Photo fun at the California Tunnel Tree.


Earlier this year, my husband and I went to California for a week. It was my first time visiting so I had a lot of places to check off. Our trip started with a day in Los Angeles, a day at Universal Studios Hollywood, two days at Disneyland and our last 3 days was spent visiting a couple National Parks.  It was the end of April, meaning there was lots of melting snow creating rivers on the paths. While the parks are certainly less busy this time of year, and not boiling hot, there's more of a chance of certain areas being closed due to road conditions. That was true of many of the areas we would have visited had there been more time to explore.

Now that I've shared my few quick tips for a Disneyland trip, here are all the tasty treats and meals we had on our trip! Since we only had 2 days and 3 nights we had to be very strategic about where we ate. While I would have loved to do 3 sit-down meals a day to try as much food as possible we also wanted to prioritize all the rides that we don't have over in Disney World.  

Disneyland Eats

Disneyland Popcorn Carts

I had to get a Disney100 Purple Mickey Mouse Balloon Popcorn Bucket (also comes in silver.) I grabbed mine at the popcorn cart near Fantasyland Theatre and we enjoyed it while waiting for the Disneyland Railroad. We didn't get a refill because we had lots of other things to eat, but if you can refill your popcorn for $2.50 after your bucket purchase.



Mickey Beignets

Normally the Mickey-shaped Beignets with powdered sugar are found at Mint Julep Bar but it is currently closed to make way for Tiana's Restaurant so we picked ours up at their temporary location - Hungry Bear Restaurant. They're messy, but oh so good! The perfect snack to have while you sit in the shade and rest. I wish Disney World had the Mickey beignets in-park too so we didn't have to take a special trip over to Port Orleans Resort - French Quarter.

When choosing our Disneyland sit-down restaurant we were torn between Cafe Orleans and Blue Bayou. Blue Bayou is definitely the more popular of the two, but it's also more expensive so we opted for Cafe Orleans because the menus are very similar. I really enjoyed it, especially sitting outside with a nice breeze. 

I had the Roasted Chicken and a Mint Julep while Christian & Caleb had the Battered & Fried Monte Cristo. Caleb had the Triple Cheese version and Christian went for the classic.

My Ratatouille Dooney & Bourke bag featuring Remy & Emile was ready for tasty food!

Mint Julep

Battered & Fried Monte Cristo - Sliced Turkey, Ham and Swiss with Seasonal Preserves and choice of Pommes Frites or Petite Salad

Roasted Chicken with Mashed Potatoes, Citron-Orange Salad and Coq Au Vin Jus


Ronto Roasters - Galaxy's Edge

A friend had posted about the Meiloorun Juice (Pineapple Juice, Minute Maid Lemonade, with Blueberry, Cranberry Juice, Lemon Juice, and Desert Pear) a couple weeks before our trip so we had to try it out! We picked it up on our way to get our Mickey Beignets. They don't have this in Disney World (at least not yet) so it was fun to try an "exclusive" drink.  It's not my usual flavors but I enjoyed it for a change.

Café Daisy - ToonTown

WE had a super quick snack/lunch at Cafe Daisy on day 1 when my friend Caleb joined us. Christian and I shared the Pepperoni Pizza Flop-Over (Pepperoni, Mozzarella, Provolone with Tomato Sauce) and I stole a Daisy's Goody-Goody Donuts (House-made Mini-Donuts with Cinnamon Sugar) from Caleb. (didn't snag a picture because we ate super fast, ha ha.


Downtown Disney Eats


Naples Ristorante e Bar

We arrived at Disneyland in the late afternooon and decided to have dinner at Downtown Disney. Out of all the options we ended up wanting some pizza so we headed to Naples. Christian and I shared a Large Piccante Pizza (Spicy Calabrese Salami, Cherry Peppers, Fresh Mozzarella, Tomato Sauce, Oregano) and Caleb got a Pepperoni Pizza with basil. They were good but VERY expensive at $40 each! Not sure we would eat here again, just because of the pricing, even with a 20% off discount with my D23 membership. 


Disney California Adventure Eats


Jack-Jack Cookie Num Nums - Pixar Pier

One of our favorite eats of the trip was the famous Jack-Jack Cookie Num Num which is a very large chocolate chip cookie served nice and warm. They have these at Disney World as well but we hadn't gotten around to buying one yet. Next trip to Hollywood Studios we'll be grabbing one to see if they're just as good.


Mickey Pretzels

Can't go to Disneyland without getting something Mickey shaped so I needed a Mickey pretzel! Yes, I know I had Mickey beignets too, shh!  I got mine at Pacific Wharf Distribution Co. in Pacific Wharf (soon to be San Fransokyo) next to Pixar Pier.

Corn Dog Castle - Paradise Gardens Park

We were told we had to have an Original Corn Dog (dipped in Corn Batter and fried to a golden Brown served with Cuties® Mandarin or Small Bag of Chips) so we grabbed one for breakfast on day 2 of the trip. Meal times don't matter at Disney, ha ha! 


Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival

We're spoiled by EPCOT's food festivals so both of us were a little disappointed in the DCA Food & Wine Festival. I don't like cheese and almost everything on the menus had cheese, so the only thing I got was the Celebration Chocolate Fudge Brownie (Gooey Chocolate Brownie with Pecans, topped with Chocolate Pecan Glaze and finished with Chocolate Pearls and Silver Stars.) Christian got the Carbonara-Garlic Mac & Cheese with Nueske’s Peppered Bacon from the Garlic Kissed booth and loved it. Sadly he was disappointed by the Kenny’s Family Cheesecake topped with mixed berry compote from the Berry Patch booth.


Lamplight Lounge - Pixar Pier

I was very excited to eat at Lamplight Lounge but ended up disappointed.The restaurant is full of Pixar memorabilia on the inside and the outside has a beautiful view of Pixar Pier. Unfortunately we got seated at a shared raised rectangular table in the middle of the patio with a view of the people across the table from us. If we had known we would have asked to wait for a single table. The way we were seated, all next to one another, made it impossible to talk while eating, someone was always left out. The service was also pretty slow.

However, Christian and Caleb did enjoy their meals. They got the Kung Pao Bao and Al Pastor Pork Chop, respectively as well as the Donuts, a special cookies & cream version for the Food & Wine Festival. My Roasted Chicken wasn't as satisfactory, especially after the roast chicken I had the previous evening at Cafe Orleans. It lacked flavor even though it looked like it would be loaded with it.  I would maybe try eating here again but request a normal table and try the pork.

Al Pastor Pork Chop - Marinated Al Pastor Bone-in Pork Chop, Oaxaca Cheese Polenta, Pineapple Relish, Charred Onions, Roasted Red Chili Butter and Green Chili Sauce

Kung Pao-glazed crispy Pork Belly, soft Bao Bun, Red Peppers, toasted Peanuts and Green Onions

Ale and Citrus-brined, Dry-rubbed Half Chicken with Seasoned Couscous, Pickled Red Cabbage and Smoked Almond Romesco

Warm fluffy Donuts with cookies & cream dipping sauce


Finally getting around to doing some posts on our California trip in April! Let's start with something I've been looking forward to for a long time - Disneyland! While I have been to Disney World many times since my first trip in 2011 I had never been to Disneyland, or California for that matter. The parks may both be Disney but they're so different. Different rules, different rides, different sizes. It's a whole new ballgame. Having said that, it was still fairly easy for us to make the most of our trip, even though we were newbies. 


My friend Caleb lives in CA now, so he was able to give us all the locals tips that helped in addition to my own Disney knowledge. (We also got to make use of his Magic Key discount for my souvenir shopping & food, ha ha.) Since we had a large list of to-do's on my first trip to California we only did two days at Disneyland & Disney California Adventure so we had a LOT to pack in to those days.

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