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No new buys this month, but I got a velvet lounge set for Christmas and a Halfday Garment Duffle bag. Yay presents, haha!  Overall this was a very low-buy year and I anticipate next year will be the same. I don't really need any clothes but I'm sure I'll buy something if anything catches my fancy or an item I've been hunting for pops up on the resale market.


THE (modified) RULES

  1. Be mindful of purchases 
  2. Quality over quantity
  3. Basics are best

 

MY PROGRESS

 

Clothes:

  1. VERMONT Sweatshirt in light gray via the Weston Village Store ($20, retail $50) 
  2. Nicole Miller abstract floral print shorts ($4 via Marshalls, retail $30?)
  3. Knox Rose Crewneck Pullover Sweater in Green Striped via Target ($23 after coupon, used gift card)
  4. Knox Rose Relaxed Fit Tapered Jogger Pants in Blue via Target ($21 after coupon, used gift card)


Basics:
  1. C&C California Grey Shorts ($6 via Marshalls, retail $30?)

 

Shoes:

  1. A New Day Vicki Mid Calf Rubber Rain Boots in Matte Black via Target ($21.60 after coupon, used gift card)

 

Handbags:

  1. None yet

 

Accessories:
  1. Apple Watch 8 Midnight Aluminum Case with Elderberry Sport Band (gift from Christian)
  2. Aurate Pearl Lariat Necklace (won a gift card on Instagram)

 
 

Activewear/Swimwear:

  1. None yet

 

Gifted from Brands:


Spent in December: $0

Spent in 2023: $30

Spent in 2023 - counting ad money: $30

 

I wore this for a Saturday spent running errands, going out to lunch, walking in the park and a very impromptu visit with one of my oldest friends! She lives right down the street from the park we like to walk at so I texted her to see if they were home. Didn't get an answer (not unusual, she has a 1 year old!) so we decided to drive by on our way out and she happened to be outside! We hung out for a few hours and chatted, she was able to get to know Christian a little more since we haven't hung out as a couple all that much. Sometimes a random visit is all you need, so refreshing. Both of us are HORRIBLE at planning because I won't invite myself to hang out with people and she's so busy she forgets, haha! Struggles.


Sweater: Autumn Cashmere Landscape Intarsia Sweater

Jeans: rag & bone 'Nina' high rise ankle skinny jean in burgundy

Boots: Marc by Marc Jacobs Buckle Boot in burgundy (Coco's on the Green

Bag: Chloé Faye (eBay)  

Sunglasses: Gucci Aviators (bought in Rome) 

 









 


We've got a very brown roundup this week. I guess that's normal for Fall/Winter though. Most of these came out well, but one was a bit of a mess (at least in my opinion.) My next round of bakes will probably be more Christmas-related. We're two weeks away so gotta get it all in now!


Herb & Olive Oil Focaccia

I've been waiting for enough of our currant tomatoes to ripen before making focaccia and finally admitted defeat and made one without them. I like adding them because they're a fun pop of color and one of the few ways I enjoy tomatoes (because they're so small!) I decided to try a different focaccia recipe since I bought King Arthur's "Italian Style Flour" when we went to the Vermont store and the bag said it was great for focaccia. I decided to go to the source and found a recipe where they used the same flour.

 


 

 


Maple Pecan Sticky Buns

Normally I follow my Aunt's recipe for sticky buns but decided to give Jenna's a try. Hers has a LOT more butter, ha ha. The process to make them was a little longer but super simple. Even before they fully rose in the pan I could tell they were going to be TASTY! (That could also be because there's over 2 sticks of butter in them. Maybe I didn't bake them long enough or there was too much topping, but a few of the rolls had some raw dough at the bottom. I was going to reheat them at my friend's so I left them as is instead of baking them longer at home.




S'mores Bars

I made these when I went to visit my friend Kristen to meet her new baby. She LOVES s'mores so the second I saw this recipe on Instagram I knew I had to bring them for her.  I made my own fluff because we didn't have any and I think that was my fatal error. They definitely didn't come out looking as nice, but they were edible. But I'm glad I brought the Cinnamon Buns with me too so she doesn't think I'm just a horrible baker ;) (don't worry, she knows I can bake, ha ha!) Here's a "before baking" photo because the baked ones were too ugly!



 


Apple Cider Cake

I made this last Thanksgiving for Christian's family and decided to make it again this year for mine. Originally I wanted to make all of it with the NordicWare Autumn Delights Cakelet Pan I bought last year but unfortunately they decided to stick to it this time and I didn't have time to clean it out properly so I baked the rest of the batter in a normal bundt. store. It was a hit again this year, even with my brother who isn't super int eating desserts.


 

Brown Butter Pecan Pie Bars

One weekend I was hanging out at my parent's house and my Mom and I decided to get some Christmas baking done. We made a batch of pecan pie bars because they freeze nicely and we can pull them out right before our annual Christmas Eve gathering. They were very simple to make. Our only issue was the edges browned pretty easily even when tenting with foil. I also thought ours came out too short but after we cut them into squares they looked more like her photos! We won't know the full verdict on taste until Christmas, but I enjoyed my sample piece!

 



Paw Print Peanut Butter Blossoms

I've made this recipe before, but this time I switched up the presentation! My brother in law saw a picture of paw print cookies and asked me to make them for him (my sister doesn't bake.) I thought it would be fun so I told him what ingredients I needed and then got to work. I made the cookies slightly larger than the original recipe says so I would be able to fit a Kiss and 3 chocolate chips. I actually tested 3 different sizes, varying from 60 to 40 grams, and deemed the 40 gram version best. Not too big, bit still enough room around the chocolate. And yes, I weighed every single cookie, precision is fun!




These days Thanksgiving outfits are mostly about comfort. It's just the immediate family hanging out at my parents eating a big meal so there's no need to get super dressed up anymore. I do still want to feel a little fancier than usual so I made sure to wear some leopard print pumps to add a fun element.  Initially I was unsure of the color combo because purple and orange can be too "Halloween." In the end I decided it was perfectly Autumn, especially with the leopard pumps.


Sweater: Mīere the Label women's cotton knit sweater in terracotta

Pants: J Brand Maria High Rise in Purple/Aubergine Velvet via The RealReal

Leopard Pumps: Cole Haan 'Chelsea' via Roundabout

Bag: Madewell Medium Slim Saddle Bag in Croc (small version) c/o Shopbop

Beaded Necklace c/o Aurate Destination Aura Beaded Necklace in Marrakech

Pearl Necklace: Aurate Pearl Lariat Necklace

 











 

 

I survived the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales and didn't buy any new clothes. This has been a very sparse year for additions to my closet. It's probably a good thing since my closet is pretty full as it is. I still have some pieces I need to either consign or sell myself. I just hate the idea of consigning because as a consigner you really don't make much money versus selling yourself on eBay or poshmark. But it makes it so much easier. Struggles.


 THE (modified) RULES

  1. Be mindful of purchases 
  2. Quality over quantity
  3. Basics are best

 

MY PROGRESS

 

Clothes:

  1. VERMONT Sweatshirt in light gray via the Weston Village Store ($20, retail $50) 
  2. Nicole Miller abstract floral print shorts ($4 via Marshalls, retail $30?)
  3. Knox Rose Crewneck Pullover Sweater in Green Striped via Target ($23 after coupon, used gift card)
  4. Knox Rose Relaxed Fit Tapered Jogger Pants in Blue via Target ($21 after coupon, used gift card)


Basics:
  1. C&C California Grey Shorts ($6 via Marshalls, retail $30?)

 

Shoes:

  1. A New Day Vicki Mid Calf Rubber Rain Boots in Matte Black via Target ($21.60 after coupon, used gift card)

 

Handbags:

  1. None yet

 

Accessories:
  1. Apple Watch 8 Midnight Aluminum Case with Elderberry Sport Band (gift from Christian)
  2. Aurate Pearl Lariat Necklace (won a gift card on Instagram)

 
 

Activewear/Swimwear:

  1. None yet

 

Gifted from Brands:


Spent in November: $0

Spent in 2023: $30

Spent in 2023 - counting ad money: $30

 


As I mentioned in my last Disney hotel post, when Christian and I ran the Wine & Dine 5K we did a split stay starting at The Villas at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa (see that post here) for one night and finishing with three nights at Disney's Polynesian Villas & Bungalows. We rented Disney Vacation Club (DVC) points for this stay and paid $458.25 per night - our portion was $305.50 per night splitting with my friend. The same room booked through Disney would have been $961 per night. Wild!!



 

I have been looking forward to staying at the Polynesian resort for so long! The theming is inspired by the South Pacific and that vibe can be felt throughout all the buildings and grounds of the resort. Poly was one of the opening day resorts along with Disney's Contemporary Resort on October 1, 1971, so it's rich with Disney history!

 

We stayed in a DVC room in the Moorea building and loved it. Oddly enough, our favorite part was the bathrooms! There is one full bathroom with a tub and shower combo and one shower room with a sink and counter. This made it so much easier for our group of three to get ready in the mornings and get ready for bed at night.



Transportation

Monorail

Many guests stay at The Polynesian because of the convenience of the Monorail. It is the quickest way to get to Magic Kingdom and EPCOT. You can also visit any of the other Monorail Resorts (Disney's Contemporary Resort and Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa) this way. 

 

The quickest way to get to EPCOT and Magic Kingdom is actually to walk to the Ticket & Transportation Center and catch the EPCOT or Magic Kingdom monorail from there. That way you aren't having to get on and off the monorail waiting in double the lines. We were staying in the Moorea building which is VERY close to the monorail, it took us less than 5 minutes to walk, just as fast as getting to the Ceremonial House (aka main building/lobby.)

 

If you're heading to EPCOT and want to start your monorail journey at the Polynesian stop you'll have to switch monorails at the Ticket and Transportation Center. Magic Kingdom is the second stop after Grand Floridian on the Resort line.  


Buses

Buses are the only way (besides rideshare or driving) to get to Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. We did not utilize the buses on our trip as we spent most of our time at Magic Kingdom and EPCOT. I will note that once park hopping restrictions end it will be possible to monorail to EPCOT, walk to the back of the park and then take the Skyliner to Hollywood Studios. But that would take longer than the bus so I wouldn't advice it unless you really hate buses.

 

Walking

If you'd really want you can take the mile and a half-ish walk from Magic Kingdom to  The Grand Floridian and then a walking path from The Grand Floridian to the Polynesian. As of November 2023 the paths between resorts were closed due to construction.


Dining


‘Ohana

By far the most popular restaurant at the resort thanks to it's character breakfast and all you can eat dinner. After this trip we have now had breakfast and dinner here. Breakfast was super fun with Lilo, Stitch, Mickey and Pluto coming around for photos. They have all the traditional breakfast items - Mickey/Stitch waffles, sausages, spiced potatoes, eggs, fruit and biscuits. There is also a pineapple bread and Hawaiian-style ham. 


Dinner is our favorite thanks to the endless 'Ohana noodles, potstickers and more! I also enjoyed the shrimp and Chimichurri chicken. The banana bread pudding was one of Christian’s favorite bites of the trip.


Tambu Lounge – Great Ceremonial House

We had dinner here on one of our evenings because they have the famous Ohana noodles and bread pudding as well as the pot stickers. This is a great way to get some of Ohana's signature dishes without having to pay the $62 price tag. We even had a view of the Magic Kingdom fireworks from our seats. It is mainly a bar, but as mentioned above you can also get some small bites. Christian wanted to go back but I insisted we try the resorts other restaurants first, ha ha!


Capt. Cook’s

This is Polynesian's quick service restaurant. We ate here a couple times. The first time I had the Aloha Pork Sandwich and Christian had Pulled Pork Nachos. Both were tasty but the bottom bun on my sandwich got a little mushy. The day we left for the airport I had the chicken tenders and Christian tried the Thai Coconut Meatballs. Sadly the meatballs weren't very flavorful.


Pineapple Lanai

A simple snack window where you can pick up some Dole Whip. We grabbed a vanilla pineapple swirl. I think occasionally they have other flavors, but our only options were pineapple, vanilla or swirl. We enjoyed our Dole Whip in the Trader Sam's Tiki Terrace area before they opened at 3.


Kona Café/Kona Island


We had breakfast at Kona Café on our second morning. I got the Big Kahuna Sampler plate so I could try a bit of everything (macadamia nut pancakes, french toast, bacon, sausage, ham and potatoes.) Everything was really good, but I did not have room for it all. Christian had the Tonga Toast which is stuffed with bananas. Kona Island is right next store and offers pastries for breakfast and sushi for lunch & dinner.



Oasis Bar & Grill / Barefoot Pool Bar

Pool bars with some light eats and drinks. Waiters will walk around to take orders or you can go up to the counter to order. We did not utilize these but did see some tasty sounding items on the Oasis Bar & Grill menu.

Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto/Trader Sam’s Tiki Terrace

Trader Sam's is one of the harder places to get into. On our visit we got in line at around 1:15 so we could put our names on the walk-up reservation list at 2pm. The bar doesn't open until 3 but we were in line early enough that we were one of the first groups seated. We got mocktails but if you get one of the fancier drinks it comes with a "show." One drink has your server drag themselves over to you like a zombie. Another is pulling a "pearl" cup out of Shelly the clam. By far the most popular interaction is for the Uh-Oa. I won't spoil it for you, but it's pretty intense. If you don't need the ambience and theatrics, you can head to the Tiki Terrace outside for the same drinks.


Recreation

Pools

There are two pools at The Polynesian. The main pool is the Lava Pool complete with, you guessed it, a volcano slide! We sat here for a few minutes to enjoy the ambience (and children's laughter) before moving over to the Oasis Pool for a swim. The Oasis pool is a quiet pool so you won't have to worry about kids playing loudly or splashing. Both pools also have hot tubs. You can even head to a sandy beach overlooking Seven Seas Lagoon!


Activities

As with all other Disney resorts there is more to do than just eat, sleep and go in the pool! There are pool activities, s'mores campfires, movies on a big screen outside and much more. Looking for some exercise? There are jogging trails and volleyball courts too. You can even go fishing or rent pontoon boats to drive yourselves OR hire a boat for a fireworks cruise and enjoy the Magic Kingdom fireworks from the water with snacks and soda. Don't forget to watch out for the Electrical Water Pageant!




When Christian and I ran the Wine & Dine 5K at the beginning of November we did a split stay starting at The Villas at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa for one night and finishing with three nights at Disney's Polynesian Villas & Bungalows. We rented Disney Vacation Club (DVC) points for this stay and paid $458.25 per night - our portion was $305.50 per night splitting with my friend. The same room booked through Disney would have been $958 for one night. Talk about savings!

 

For many, the Grand Floridian is the dream resort stay on a Walt Disney World trip. It's gorgeous, upscale design makes you feel like a rich aristocrat and it's very close to Magic Kingdom Park, there's even a walking path from the hotel! 




 

We stayed in the DVC building which is a short walk away from the main building. It is themed to Mary Poppins and has the most adorable penguin fountain in the center.  This building felt close enough to all the action of the larger building but was quieter and felt more private. Our room even had a view of the Magic Kingdom fireworks (we paid for a standard view.) 


A quick video tour of our room:


One of the best times to visit this resort, even if you aren't staying there is the Gingerbread House and shop during the holiday season! We happened to arrive the weekend they were assembling the gingerbread house and we were able to sample some of the gingerbread for free! Once the house opens officially there is a little shop inside where you can purchase shingles, ornaments and more made out of gingerbread! On our visit we even got to see them sprinkling the powdered sugar snow on top, so much fun!




Transportation


Monorail

Most guests stay at The Grand Floridian because of the Monorail. It is the quickest way to get to Magic Kingdom and EPCOT. All you have to do is make your way to the lobby, go up to the second floor and walk out to the monorail! You'll go through security here so there's no need to wait in the (sometimes) crazy long lines at the front of the parks. Magic Kingdom is the first stop after Grand Floridian. If you're heading to EPCOT you'll have to switch monorails at the Ticket and Transportation Center. You can also visit any of the other Monorail Resorts (Disney's Contemporary Resort and Disney's Polynesian Village Resort) this way.


Buses

Buses are the only way (besides rideshare or driving) to get to Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. The bus station is easy to find and there are a couple benches if you get there early enough. We did not utilize the normal buses on this trip as we spent our day there at Magic Kingdom and the 5K. I will note that once park hopping restrictions end it will be possible to monorail to EPCOT, walk to the back of the park and then take the Skyliner to Hollywood Studios. But that would take longer than the bus so I wouldn't advice it unless you really hate buses.

 

Walking

If you'd rather avoid lines and crowds there is also a walking path from The Grand Floridian to Magic Kingdom. Sadly it was under construction during our visit so we couldn't test it out. I believe it is tabout three quarters of a mile long, so not horrible considering you would still have to walk and stand in lines to get to other forms of Disney transportation at the end of the evening.


Dining


Grand Floridian Café

Christian and I dined here for breakfast in May 2022 with his Mom. We figured it was a perfect Mother's Day activity so she could feel special. The food here is very simple, easy breakfast food so it will please most in your party. I had the waffle and it came with an amazing orange butter - SO GOOD.



Enchanted Rose

I was hoping to visit this lounge on our trip but we tried to pack in so many other things we ended up skipping it. The lounge opens at 3 and we didn't feel like leaving a park at such a random time to make it there for opening/less crowds. Hopefully we'll make some time for it on our next trip because I want to try their Warm Marinated Olives.



Gasparilla Island Grill

We stopped in at Gasparilla Island Grill for a late lunch on our September trip. I had the Pepperoni Flatbread which was just okay. Christian had the Blackened Chicken Sandwich. This is the Grand Floridian's quick service restaurant so it's basically grab and go items, nothing super fancy. They will have themed desserts based on the season which are fun.


Beaches Pool Bar & Grill

Christian and I quickly stopped here on our arrival day to grab a quick chicken tender lunch before heading off to the runDisney Expo. We can't comment on the drinks, but the chicken tenders and dipping sauces were great. Our server was also wonderful and we had some laughs due to wind blowing everything around the bar. We would definitely stop here again.


1900 Park Fare 

Not reopened as of November 2023

I ate at 1900 Park Fare back in October 2018 on my 30th birthday trip. My friend Kristen and I went for the Supercalifragilistic Breakfast with Mary Poppins, Pooh, Tigger, Alice in Wonderland and The Mad Hatter! They have everything from Mickey waffles and fresh fruit to eggs, french toast, cinnamon rolls and so much more! See my full post on it for more details. I hope it makes a triumphant return soon!

 


Cítricos

Cítricos was our first dinner on this most recent trip. I was really looking forward to it but we were personally a little underwhelmed with what we got for the price. The theming of the restaurant is subtle nods to Mary Poppins which I LOVED. We were also obsessed with the bread service and salted butter and asked for more - one of the breads had bacon and olives in it. I had the sustainable fish with chorizo risotto. It was good, just not $48 good. Christian felt the same about his $52 short ribs; good but not mind-blowing. We also had a Zero-Proof  Old Fashioned Orange Soda Float which was fun!



 

Narcoossee’s

We have not eaten here yet, but Narcoossee's is definitely on my list of "fancy" restaurants to try. Christian and I usually do one upscale restaurant per trip for our budget's sake so we skipped it this past trip in favor of Cítricos.

 

Garden View Tea Room

Not reopened as of November 2023

This is a traditional tea room that serves up a fun afternoon tea! I have not tried it yet but would like to in the future. I believe they used to do morning and afternoon teas and even a tea with a Disney Princess for all the little ones!

Victoria & Albert’s

This is our dream dining experience. I have been trying to get us reservations here for every one of our past few trips. So far, no luck. Maybe for our Valentine's trip in February?! Send me all the good vibes.


Recreation

Pools

Since we were only here for an overnight we skipped out on the pool even though we brought our bathing suits this trip.  The Grand Floridian has two pools - the Beach Pool and Courtyard Pool.  There is also an Alice in Wonderland Water Play Area for kids to cool down in.




Activities

When staying at The Grand Floridian guests can take part in numerous activities. There's an arcade, boat rentals, campfires complete with s'mores, pool games and more! For $49 per half-hour you and up to 9 other people can rent a pontoon boat to ride around Seven Seas Lagoon. 

 

There are also fireworks cruises you can book to view the Magic Kingdom fireworks from the water. Each cruise ($449+) includes the services of a captain and assorted snacks and soft drinks. Festive banners and balloons are also included in the cost and can be requested at the time of booking. One day I'd love to do this with a group of friends.


Some more photos around the resort.




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