Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Little update

I did a bit of stitching tonight, but not a lot. Considering that I haven't stitched in a few days though, I thought I'd post an update anyway. I'm close to finishing this page. One more night.

For Disney's 35th Anniversary Stitch, I'm not quite ready to start it for the stupidest reason...I don't have enough bobbins! You always thing you have tons of them, until you start to wind them and then you never have enough! I've got to make a trip to Hobby Lobby and get more! I meant to do it today, but work got in the way (as per usual). But other than that, I've got it on the scroll and got copies made of the pattern, so the last couple of bobbin windings is all that is left! I did get the material washed and it did fade slightly, but considering the dark color of the fabric, I'm not too upset about that. I'm also really surprised at how big this project is going to be! It's almost as big as Past, Present, and Forever!!

Oh well, new job, new hours, new bedtime!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Disney Restaurant Review - Le Cellier

You can't talk about Disney World and NOT mention the food! That's just crazy! What a better way to start with this series of reviews than with my personal favorite, Le Cellier Steakhouse, which just happens to be, in all places, in the Canadian Pavilion in Epcot. OK, I already know what you're thinking, "how can Canadian food be the best food Disney World has to offer?". Honestly, it's probably not the actual "best" food...Le Cellier is about more than just the food (although I'd be hard-pressed to come up with many better places on property), but it also has great theming, and in Disney, theming (as you'll come to realize with me is very important in every aspect) is just as important as actual food taste. Like it's name, it's set in an actual cellar atmosphere. The seating is divided into the regions of Canada and each region's server is actually from that area of Canada (as with all of World Showcase in Epcot, the CM's - remember? Cast Members?) are from the actual countries they are working in, so Canadians are in Canada, Britain are in the UK, Chinese are in China, etc. Most the food is likewise shipped in from that particular country (and the rest is grown right on Disney property - which is why your tomato might look like a Mickey head!).

The Canadian pavilion has some of the nicest CM's in all of Disney World, hands down. I don't know if that's just because Canadians are generally nice people (shout out to my Canadian friends!) or what, the UK Pavilion is second (only because I encountered a particularly nasty CM in the tea shop one year I still haven't forgotten you chick), while the Mexican and the Moroccan are the worst (nothing against those nationalities, I don't know why they are always the worst!), which is a real shame because the Moroccan pavilion is my favorite! It's stunning! Which is why I can overlook the rude CM's! Kill with kindness...

Here's some pics (yes, we take pictures of our food...those on the DisBoards won't be shocked by this, but we didn't start until '05, so the pics start there):

The best thing about Le Cellier, is three things: pretzel bread, cheddar cheese soup, and ice wine. Now, if you go during the Food & Wine Festival, you can get these things without actually making a reservation at Le Cellier! At the Canadian booth, they always have all three of these items (although they do shift from the Inniskillin to the Vidal Ice Vine year to year and I prefer the Inniskillin). But without further ado:

Now, when it comes to the main course, I always get the same thing...year after year...without fail...Canadian Prime New York Strip. Am gets different things upon occasion, but I'm a creature of habit and comfort and the New York Strip is what I like, so it's what I get (medium rare with a faint sound of "moooo")! You can litterally cut it with a fork it's so tender! But here it is through the years:

no '99 or "04 pic, but here's '05:



I couldn't get a ressie for '08, so didn't eat there that year, but here's '09:

and lastly '10 (you thought I was kidding when I said I got the same thing every year, didn't you? I do the same thing at every restaurant we eat at...wait until I do the Pecos Bill review! I have on average 2-4 Taco Salads per trip!!):
did get risotto that year instead of Yukon golds...that was different and got au gratin potatoes in '09...I'm a wild one who does live on the edge occasionally!!

It's the hardest restaurant to get ressies for, I'm online 3 am on the dot at the 120 day point and, even then, like in '08, I still couldn't get in. Now that they've gone signature though (takes two dining credits instead of one - a whole 'nother discussion for another time), maybe it will be easier.

So that's it! My favorite Disney restaurant and my first Disney dining review! My head can't take anymore now, and as much as I hate to admit it, looking at these food pics is making me sick instead of making me hungry and I don't ever want that to happen where Disney food is concerned! Migraine is still lingering and may be trying to make a comeback.

So, from Am and her last Disney German Steiff bear (his name escapes me, but he enjoyed his meal too!) in Le Cellier in '10 (you thought I was going to put up a picture of me, didn't you? Silly people!)...till next time!

Resorts past - the Contemporary

I'm going to be doing a series of reviews of resorts past that we have stayed at. This one is dedicated to AbbyBeth!

Before I do these though, there is some business I've got to get out of the way first, for those who are Disney vets so maybe you'll understand me a bit better and those who aren't so you'll know what the crap I'm talking about!

Now, let me start off by saying, for those in the Disney know and who frequent the DisBoards, (and this is going to be controversial, so prepare yourself), we are Deluxe Snobs...there, I've said it! Whew! What a load off! Hi, I'm Keebs, and I'm a Deluxe Snob! Now that I've done that, what are the other 11 steps? Yes, I'm a poor person who lives in a mobile home, so how can I possibly be a DS? We started off staying off property in '81 (which was terrible, I would never recommend it), in '99 we stayed at Caribbean Beach Resort (which was OK, but 30 minutes to breakfast and 30 minutes back to the room was just too much walking!), in '04, Caribbean Beach again, and I believe I've established how "fun" the '04 trip was! '05 was my first stay at Wilderness Lodge and my first venture into Deluxe Snobbery, '06 solo to the Lodge, '07 Contemporary, '08 solo back to the Lodge, '09 back to Moderate land at Port Orleans French Quarter (further solidifying my DS-ness, once you've gone DS, you can never go back), and '10 The Polynesian.

OK, the off property discussion first. Disney offers a million perks to staying on property, some of which I have already discussed, but some of which I haven't...discounted and combined ticket perks, free transportation (which means you don't have to rent a car - total money saver right there) (and for those that stay off property and take the buses anyway, be warned, I know 99% of the time you can get away with it, but have seen bus drivers ask for resort keys before boarding and I have also seen them embarrass the crap out of someone for not having a resort key and trying to use Disney buses - there is barely enough room for resort guests as it is! DISNEY BUSES ARE FOR RESORT GUESTS ONLY - YOU CAN USE THE MONORAIL, HOWEVER (JUST NOT THE RESORT MONORAIL)! (sorry, pet peeve of mine), free parking (and the current parking fee for non-resort guests is $14 per day and that can really add up!), free park to resort gift shop package service (which I have already discussed), using your room key to charge purchases, Extra Magic Hours (which means the parks stay open later or open early for resort guests on specific days), you don't have to commute an hour every morning and every night into and out of the resort because you're already there, you are guaranteed admittance to the parks when they are full to capacity (although you may not get entrance to the park you are trying to get into), and tons of other things that are escaping my migraine-hungover brain at the moment!

For those of you not in the Disney know, there are basically three levels of Disney resorts: value (not even when hell freezes over - sensory overload! I know some people love them, but we ain't them people - we got stuck at the bus stop at a value in '04 and I thought we were all going to have panic attacks!), moderate, and deluxes (well four levels if you add DVC's - Disney Vacation Club - Disney's version of time shares, or five levels if you count the camp grounds)...moving on. Values and Moderates are like motels, several levels, rooms accessible from the outside, both have food courts, moderates have a restaurant, pools, etc. Values are geared more towards families with children...they have over the top theming. Moderates do have their fair share of children, but the theming is much more subdued and adult. Deluxes are like hotels, rooms accessible from the inside, food courts, several restaurants, pools, etc, higher level of quality and although there is children as well, the quantity is even less and the theming is also more adult.

Why do I keep mentioning children? Another controversial statement: we don't have any in our family and frankly, I'm not a fan. Just stay with me for a minute and let me get it all out. How in the world can I go to WDW and not like children? Well, that's a very easy one to answer...having Asperger's, I'm an observer of people more than a participator in things and the main thing I've noticed about the kids at WDW is, yes, a larger than normal quantity of them are ill-mannered and badly behaved, but it's not there fault. I notice that the parents are the ones that don't control their children or encourage their bad behavior. I can't imagine acting like those kids do in public when I was little and if I did, I can't imagine my Mother's reaction! We'd probably would have been packed up and taken home right then, money spent on trip be damned! My Mother would have died if I hauled off and kicked a total stranger for no reason (and yes that has happened to me and I think Am as well - and the parents did NOTHING and even ignored me when I tried to acknowledge it!). Who lets their child behave like that!?!?

But, having said that, only in WDW, do I have any sort of normal reaction to children. By normal, I mean when I see a child's eyes light up when they see Donald or Aurora for the first time, it actually puts a smile on my face, and trust me, that's huge for me! I was 16 when I got the reiteration that my "feeler" was dead (now I know that was the Asperger's), first time being when my Father's Dad died (which I've already discussed way back). I was with my Mother in Wal-Mart and she ran into some she knew who had just had a baby and everyone was cooing and cawing all over it and I felt nothing, nada, zip, zilch. That wasn't normal and I knew it and it freaked me out! From that moment on, my reaction to children was to just shun them away (which in kids speak means, "Keebs is in the room, quick go hug her, she hates it!")-I'm still a kid magnet BTW, it's like they sense I don't like them so they come running! WDW allows me to feel at least somewhat "normal" even if it's only for a week, if it wasn't for the stupid parents and their bad parenting skills ruining it all!

Boy, could I have gotten more off topic? But the good news is, we won't have to go through all this next review (I don't think)...anyhoo, on with the show:

This is a review of a WDW Resort (BTW, I will use WDW alot, it stands for Walt Disney World for those that don't know) we stayed at in Oct 2007, Disney's Contemporary Resort.

This is a Dec 2006 shot coming up from Bay Lake from The Wilderness Lodge (I was sight-seeing Christmas decorations):

This would be my favorite, if it had just a touch of Disney theming!  It's perfect as far as location goes...in fact, it's got the best location in the whole complex, right next to the Magic Kingdom!  Don't believe me?  This was the view from our balcony in 2007:

and here's a zoomed shot of Cinderella Castle:

Need I say more? You can either take the elevator down directly to the monorail that runs right through the middle of the resort (this was from our interior balcony):
It's one of only three monorail resorts (the other being the Polynesian (which we have also stayed at) and the Indian Burial Ground Resort (or as most refer to it, the Grand Floridian Resort - which I refuse to stay at, but will take tea at).

And it is the only resort you can walk to the Magic Kingdom from (sorry about the fuzz, the lens always fogs up in the mornings in Florida):
Am always gets mad because her butt is always in my pics, but if she wouldn't walk so damn fast, it wouldn't be!

But the entire place is just cold! Yes, there is a giant painting by Mary Blair (original Disney artist who created the artwork for It's A Small World - but don't hate her for that, it's the Sherman Brothers you want to hate, they wrote that bloody song!) in the center of the Tower Building and there is a Mickey statue in the lobby and there are Mickey themed shops and restaurants, but the overall theme of the rooms and resort in general is "Contemporary". They had just done a rehab when we were there, so it had lost it's 70's mod look at least. This was our room:
See? Not very Disney-fied. If I'm staying at Disney, I want to feel it (although all I had to do was look out the window, but trust me, it cost a huge penny! - Thanks Am's Matt for footing that bill!!). It is currently going through yet another rehab (I think it gets more rehabs than any other resort! But if you want location, location, location, and have extra dough burning a hole in your pocket, this is definitely the place to stay! What I wouldn't give to have Wilderness Lodge on this spot!

As an aside, the California Grill, the restaurant that sits atop the resort, is one of my favorites on property and is the one that introduced me to Moscato, which is now my favorite wine (although that night I drank too much of it and it made me sick - sweet wine in moderation with Florida heat - lesson learned). And if you don't have the moolah to stay at the Contemporary, eat at the Cali Grill...it offers the same views we got from our room and SPECTACULAR fireworks viewing. I will be reviewing it at another time.

But that's it! Next resort review I think will be The Polynesian...my third favorite (and the last deluxe we stayed in).

General updates and 2012 Box!!

Well, not so good of a weekend here in Keebs World! I had a really bad day at work on Thursday resulting in my first panic attack in years resulting in a 3/2 (3 naproxen&imitrex/2 stadols) migraine yesterday. I still don't have feeling in my face, the inside of my mouth, most of my head and the backs of my upper arms, but I'm awake now. I've drank, but still no food...can't risk it. I've got my monitor turned down pretty much as low as it will go, but I've got so many blogs in me right now, I'm going nuts and I'm sick of laying in the bed! I know I can't stitch and there's no way I could stand the television, so you guys get to put up with me!

But, there is good news (hopefully) workwise on the horizon, I'm just not ready to announce it yet, just in case I jinx it (probably just did).

The really only exciting news I have this weekend is I STARTED MY 2012 DISNEY BOX!! I know, I know, "what the hell is a Disney box, Keebs?", or better yet, "only Keebs would have a Disney box". Yes, you are probably right on #2 there. A Disney box is a collection of trip memories for that particular years trip. I always start it off with a copy of that year's Birnbaum's Guide (a collectors item only - if you've never been to Disney World - don't buy Birnbaum's to use for information, it sucks in that capacity, buy The Unofficial Guide To Walt Disney World (which BTW, Len Testa, the co-author of, has a great podcast called WDW Today that any Disney Fan should not miss!) or The Complete Walt Disney World, they are the best). By the time the trip is over, it's filled with everything, from all travel documents (including my notes), to all mailings, to airlines documents and luggage tags, to napkins from the flight(yes, you read that correctly - OCD, remember), to check in documents, to park tickets (which is also your room key and also has charging capability), to maps, to room toiletries, to coasters, to pens, to paper, to wristbands, to rain ponchos, to all shopping receipts, to one of each size of bag from the stores and different bags from different stores, to various napkins (again, yes, you read that correctly), to our pictures raw and the final DVD output, to our little book I make, blaa, blaa, blaa, you get the point, and if you don't, here's some pics:

This is the '09 box (because '10 still isn't finished since I have't made the DVD of our pics yet - yes Am, I'm working on it):
There's more in there than meets the eye. Why is there is a coupon holder, you ask? That is where I keep my receipts. I sort them by day (no, that's actually not because of OCD, believe it or not). Disney has this great perk that if you're a resort guest, whatever you buy on property, you have shipped back to your resort gift shop free of charge so you don't have to carry around your bags all day. Considering the amount of crap we buy, trust me, that's a good thing (although the CM's working in the gift shop would definitely disagree and are usually running for cover when they see us coming!). All you have to do is take your receipt to the gift shop and *poof*, they bring your purchases to you (then they have to provide us with a cart or several strong men to help us carry them all back to our room - but that's a different story).

The decorations & socks are from my bestie #2 Madison who sent us decorations for our resort (we stayed in Port Orleans French Quarter that year). I just couldn't bring myself to wear them or put them up because I'm a collector by nature! I wanted to preserve them (but we did eat the candy she sent!).

Here's what's in the pack, all the maps and tickets and pens and coasters (yes, that's a Guinness stain on the Raglan Raod coaster - see memories!) and such:

And here are all my boxes lined up in the "Duck Room" with 2012 on top:

I don't have a box for '81 because I don't come from hoarders or OCD people like myself so my parents kept nothing (barely any pictures - I take thousands each year (which is why it takes so long to sort through and edit them), they took maybe 30). I have bought a couple of things off of eBay throughout the years, but nothing significant, you can't recreate memories IMO, and I'm not a big fan of purchasing someone else's memories as well as the fact that used stuff carries "energy" (I can't stand to be near antiques - another story for another blog). I do use eBay a lot, but mainly for new stuff (although I have bought toys to replace ones I had as a child that were taken away - my Step-Dad decided when I was 10 that I was an adult and too old for toys, again, another blog for another time).

My '99 box is pretty sparse because I was too chicken to go up and get things like maps and such, but it looks full because it has actual pictures in it (the last year I used a film camera), and it was pre-internet era (at least in Arkansas for the general population), so I didn't have the research tools available that I do now and I didn't know that it was Food & Wine Festival and all kinds of other things, so we missed out on a lot of stuff that was happening at Disney that year.

And technically, the "Box" didn't start until the fiasco of the '04 trip, but it wasn't hard to create the '99 box because I had it all stored in a bag, so I guess the first "Box" was a "Bag"!

Oh well, enough on that subject! I wish I could say the Disney World blogs are eventually gonna slow, but that's a promise I can't make! Asperger's and OCD make a powerful combination!!

Friday, January 27, 2012

My next WIP

I've decided to work on this one as my Disney project because, well, it's the 35th Anniversary stitch, and since last year was Disney's 40th Anniversary, it's about time I stitched it! Plus, I like the fact that it's not solid, so I don't have to stitch a background! It seems my last few projects have been that way and it's getting tiring! I have to pre-treat the fabric first because apparently there is some bleeding issues with the navy fabric, so I might not get to start on it this weekend, but I can get everything prepared and hopefully at least finish up the first page of A Summer Ball and maybe work on A Walk Through The Highlands a bit.


Another great thing about this project is it has some obscure Disney characters on it, like Pecos Bill and Widowmaker, which is one of my favorite oldie cartoons, as well as the Hitchhiking Ghosts from the Haunted Mansion! Pecos Bill is a classic and one of my favorites, but it's also one of those that brings up a sore subject (as well as a controversial one) for me - to make them more "PC" they edited out certain parts. Painting out a cigarette on a 65 year old cartoon is not going to keep kids from smoking today - kids today wouldn't even watch this cartoon! It ruins the integrity of the original artwork! For those of you who don't remember it, I did happen to find the uncut version on YouTube (in pieces since it's about 15 or so minutes long).

Just in case you were wondering (probably not), my absolute favorite Disney short is The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow! Funny how I can go from a stitching post back to Disney again! The power of OCD!

Disney beginnings

OK, one more post for tonight just because this one will keep me from sleeping! I got to get it out!

The first time I ever went to Disney World was in the summer of 1981. I was 10, about to be 11 and Am was 4. I also swore after it was over with I would never go on another family vacation again (and I didn't until 2004, which was also to WDW, and boy, what a story that is!).

This is us - gotta love my Mother's hair! And aren't we such a happy bunch! One of the rare photos of me...I take them, I'm not in them.

Notice how my Mother has extra legs? That's because I'm standing behind her. That's my usual photo taking position.

In 1981, Disney World consisted of only the Magic Kingdom. Epcot was only a model in Tomorrowland, it wasn't to open until October 1, 1982. Staying on property was a luxury we couldn't afford, so we stayed off property. We also went to Sea World, Circus World, and Cape Canaveral (I have ALWAYS wanted to go back to Canaveral, I was WAY to young to appreciate it then and I swore if I ever got close enough with a vehicle, I'd go...hint hint Am!).

But, the trip was horrible because I was cutting my molars and felt awful and my Step-dad is a very military kind of guy (or used to be). Wake up 6 am, breakfast 6:30, catch bus 7:00, be at park 8:00. If he got off schedule, we were all doomed! It was mid summer, hot, humid, extremely crowded, and overall miserable!! He wanted his moneys worth, so we stayed in the parks until closing as well and had to take the long trip back to the hotel and get a couple hours sleep and do it all again. He's also the type of person that thinks there is only one restaurant in the world -McDonald's; breakfast, lunch, and dinner (which plays in the 2004 saga as well).

I blame that 1981 trip for my current Disney spending habits. We were only allowed one souvenir. There was this plush Mickey and Minnie I wanted more than life itself, but Mother said I could only have one. I can remember throwing a massive hissy fit in the store (my Asperger's I now know) because I couldn't split them up...they were, after all, boyfriend and girlfriend! In the end, I got both of them (spoiled, I know...) and had them up until a few years ago (they were kept in my parents attic in a garbage bag and mice peed all over them). Now, I buy tons of stuff because I don't like to be denied. It stems from that trauma of that particular hissy fit (that's my story and I'm sticking to it!).

But from then on, Mother, Am, and my Step-Dad went on vacation without me. My Aunt stayed home with me for a couple of years, then I stayed home by myself. I did go on vacations with my Aunt though, so I wasn't completely vacation deprived. When I got older, I would drive a lot (especially at night when no one else was out) and would go pretty far, sometimes all the way down to Biloxi, get out, walk on the beach, get back in the car and drive home, 7 hrs each way! I felt safe as long as I stayed in the car, so I just continued to drive! I haven't done that in years though.

Back on topic...when I was married, my then husband and I were supposed to go to WDW, but we ended up getting divorced and, even though the trip was half paid for, the travel agency felt sorry for me and gave me all my money back. The next year, Mother and I used most of that money plus some more and went on our own. That was November 1999...the height of my panic attacks. It wasn't the worst trip, that was yet to come.

Me and Donald 1999 (yes, I look totally drunk because I am, it took massive amounts of Margaritas before I'd get close to him! I was terrified!! (and "him" turned out to be a "her", totally freaked me out when "she" tickled me! Donald is a boy!):

In 2004, we decided that since we're all grown up now, Am is married, I'm divorced, why not go back to Disney as a family. We're all adults now, how bad could it be? My Step-Dad put me in charge of planning since my OCD was in full swing by that point and I was super obsessive and so off we went! We can laugh about it now, but at the time, I spent at least the first part of the trip crying! Good thing we got separate rooms! Am and Matt in one, Mother and my Step-Dad in one and I had my own room (how wonderful that was!). I fought for the longest for us to stay together, afterall, it was supposed to be a family trip, but in the end, once we split up, it got SO much better! Am, Matt and I had the best time ever and it started our yearly jaunts from then on! "Yo Ho, Yo Ho a pirates life for me, I use a knife to stir my tea!"

What made 2004 so horrible? Numerous things, but the main reason was just two little words...No McDonald's...we couldn't eat McDonald's 24/7. Yes, there are fry stands that sell McDonald fries and chicken nuggets (or there were in 2004, not now), but one of the best parts of WDW is the food! Why on earth would we eat at a McDonalds?!?! Every place we ate at he hated until he eventually just stopped going to the reservations with us. On the last day I gave up and we ate at one of the very few full service Mc'D's there were and you know what my Step-Dad got to eat? Prepare yourself for something shocking....strawberry shortcake! Yes, that's right folks! A week long rant begging for a McDonald's burger and now that one's in his grasp, he's gets a strawberry shortcake! I believe Am's exact words out loud were "what the FUCK?".

So 2004 was my last family vacation. Ever. No third chances. Ever. There won't even be a family trip to Wal-Mart in my future!!

But here it is, 2012, Disney World is now massive, no longer just one park, it's now four full theme parks, two water parks, a shopping district, a boardwalk district, a full sports complex that's the official spring training ground for the Atlanta Braves and training grounds for Chelsea (boo...Man U all the way!), a speedway, a full service wedding pavillion, well over 30 resorts on property, four championship golf courses (used to be five but the fifth is being turned into luxury housing for the mega rich who want to live on Disney property - another Lottery wish), two miniature golf courses, a full service pet spa/boarding facility, numerous lakes and nature preserves, a future west end shopping district, their own fire and emergency services, their own power grid and water supply, they have their own transportation system with buses, boats, trains, and monorails, and god knows what else! They are also the largest single site employer in the entire United States (and probably the lowest paying)! It truly is a world in itself!! It even has it's own zip code...Lake Buena Vista, Florida, 32830! They have very little hurricane damage when one blows through because of its construction (usually only downed trees), and it's been said that Disney is the safest place to be during a storm!

I always say, "if you have a bad time at Disney, it's your fault, not theirs" and, in our case, that's always been true! Sure, there are the occasional CM (Cast Member - their employees), who are total prats, but I like to smother them with kindness and they usually pretty quickly change their tune (except for one particularly nasty hat embroidery guy Downtown in the Christmas store...we've complained about him twice I think) and one really nasty older man in 1999 who made me cry because I didn't have my hand stamped and he kept yelling at me until a really cute CM yelled back at him and let me through the gates (yes, he caused me to have a panic attack too), oh, and one nasty CM in Spaceship Earth at Epcot who motioned me forward, but then yelled at me for stepping onto the moving platform...I told on her too- careful CM's, we tattle!).

After every trip I always write a letter to WDW and name the good CM's as well so that they can be recognized (another page in my little book I make is notable CM's, I note their name, their station, the date and time and what they did, so I can pass on the info to customer relations). Disney does give employees their props, so if you're a Disney visitor, please do the same, good or bad, but make sure you get their name, their location, and the date and time or they won't know who you're talking about...largest employer in the US, remember?

OK, bedtime now, I've gone on long enough about Disney, and unfortunately for you guys, it's probably gonna get worse before it gets better!

Wilderness Lodge dedication

An extremely horrible day at work calls for a shift in my thinking and what better way to do that than to focus on our upcoming trip!

For those who have been to Disney and who have stayed at the Lodge, you know what I'm talking about, for those that haven't stayed there or have never even been to Disney World, I'm about to give you a taste of what Wilderness Lodge is like (in shortened form, of course - or shortened form for me anyway!).

I've posted a couple of pictures already, and I'm afraid my crappy photo taking cannot do it true justice. Believe it or not, Wilderness Lodge has it's own fan site (told you I was a total Disney geek) and if you'd like to check it out, it's Wilderness Lodge Site and it's got some great history and info as well as great pics.   The official Disney World link also has some great highlights!

The Lobby of the Lodge Oct 2005:

Same Dec 2006 (and yes, the Christmas tree WAS that big):

As an avid fan of Mouse World Radio (and if your a Disney fan and don't listen to Mouse World Radio, what's wrong with you?!  It's free and I can't imagine life without it!), they often have the BGM (background music) for the Lodge and talk about feeling the memories!

But, as most of you know, I'm a Donald Duck freak.  Have been since I was a young'un.  One of the main highlights of the Lodge, is it's totem poles, but one in particular:

Bit of trivia for ya...does anyone know who the bear is at the bottom of the totem? Think back to your childhood and think of this tune "first you stick a rag, put in the bag, bump bump, then you bend your back put in the sack, bump bump...". Anything yet? Maybe this will help:

You got it now right? Well, Humphrey stared in most of his few cartoons with my main Duck-man! Maybe this will help:

Humphrey is kind of the mascot of the Lodge which makes me happy to no end because you get to buy cool stuff like this:
God, I love pins!!

My Wilderness Lodge dedication shelf (and oh, that scent of Yankee Candle smells JUST like the Lodge smells!):

My Wilderness Lodge throw:

I always regretted not getting the Wilderness Lodge lincoln logs because you can't buy them anymore! But the thing with Humphrey and the totem is that you are supposed to rub his nose upon arrival at the Lodge so that your Disney vacation will be extra magical! Disney vacations are always magical, but we rub his nose, just in case!

The rooms have gone through at least one rehab since I've been staying there:

Oct 2005:

Oct 2008:

And I think I've stayed in about every end of the resort! I've been there twice by myself because it's the one I feel most comfortable in and it's one building (unlike the other resorts at Disney which can be spread out over forever...Caribbean Beach, for example, has some buildings that are as far as a 25 minute walk from the Old Port Royale, which contains the food court and gift shops...imagine walking that to breakfast every morning (been there, done that twice!)).

Speaking of Disney by myself...yes, you did hear me correctly. Me, Asperger's, OCD and SAD suffer, who can't go to Wal-Mart by herself most times, actually gets on a plane, flies the 850 some odd miles, takes a car service, checks into the Lodge and spends a week in Disney World ALL BY MYSELF!!! It's the only place, besides my home and work that I am absolutely comfortable. Granted, I do have my moments, but I just sit on a bench, call up Am, rub it in that I'm in Disney and she's not, then I feel better and can move on! I eat in the restaurants by myself, ride the rides by myself, shop by myself (OK, that would NEVER be a problem)...it's a total mystery!

But, anyway, I've bored you enough on the Lodge. But I think I will continue a series of blogs on Disney for those who don't know much about it, maybe focusing on particular rides or parks or restaurants (Le Cellier anyone! ICE WINE!!) and sharing photos of mine from visits past (yes Am, I will do our DVD from the 2010 pics, I promise! And yes Am, I know you want a copy of all the pics and I promise I've got them pulled out to redo and now that I have motivation, it WILL get done!).

A final note, I think I'm gonna add a third WIP, a Disney project, just to keep the other two flowing, and keep my Disney spirits up and in the stitching mood (it's not like I don't have a ton of Disney projects in the wings!).

Thursday, January 26, 2012

New stash added

I've added some new stash...one brand new and one not new at all!

First, the new one. I bought it on Amazon of all places! I swear, you can buy ANYTHING on Amazon!

Then, the not new one. I've had this one for years, but I gave it away to someone. It was on 18ct and it was way too small for me at the time (which is a joke now since my little Highland girl is 28ct!). I've regretted giving it away since the day I did. But luckily the lady I gave it to wasn't doing anything with it so I did a really bad thing and asked for it back! I did it carefully, but I just couldn't stand it not being used (OK, so that's a lie, I just wanted it back). But without further ado:

Review catch-up

It's been forever it seems since I've done reviews and I've been watching tons of stuff! But I'm gonna start with the two that stuck out the most; Spooks and Lewis.

Spooks first, because it's my favorite show! I decided to watch series 1-9 again just so I could flow right into 10. For those that have never seen Spooks (or MI-5 as it's know in the States), the main thing you should know is...don't get too attached to characters because they will die on you, in often very brutal ways! Some die in defense of the realm, some die as traitors, but they die just the same...by bullets, bombs, fires, poisons, knives, even bra underwires and deep-fat fryers!

But after 10 series of watching my favorite characters drop like flies, I knew basically it wouldn't end happily, but my happy-ending gene was wishing pretty hard that it would. But, as per usual, I ended up bawling like a baby, cussing at the TV, walking away then eventually coming back because I realized there was only one way the show could have ended, and they ended it appropriately, no matter how much it pissed me off. Would I watch it again? Hell yes! Because it's still my favorite show, even if it drives me nuts!!!

Now on to Lewis! This show is a spin-off of Morse (which I haven't seen). The main reason I wanted to watch this show is almost embarrassing. Yes, I love British cop shows, but the real reason was because Laurence Fox, one of the main stars, is married to Billie Piper (from Doctor Who and Secret Diary Of A Call Girl fame) and considering his looks (be honest, he's not the hottest guy you've ever seen), I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.

I figured out after about the second episode I needed to order Morse as well...I was missing too much. It also took me several episodes before I stopped trying to compare it to Midsomer Murders. I think the first few episodes were just a bit slow. Eventually they picked up and I completely forgot all about Midsomer Murders! It also didn't take me very long to figure out the attraction of Laurence Fox! Yes, he's gangly and gawky looking, but by the end of the fifth series, I thought he was a total hottie! I can't really explain it either! His humor, wit, and cynicism was just brilliant! Also by the end of series 5, I realized I didn't really need to order Morse, Lewis was standing on it's own, but I'm glad I did because I think I'm really gonna enjoy it!

I've also seen Endeavor, the prequel to Morse (recorded for me by a very good friend who knows who she is!) and I loved it as well. I may eventually buy the hard copy to it when Amazon UK gets it in stock again.

In conclusion, both are two series that definitely are worth watching! Spooks can be hard to take watching your favorite characters die...I think I've cried more over that show than all Disney movies combined! But it is still one of the best dramas I have ever seen and it's filled with some of the best actors ever! Same with Lewis...excellent actors and great storylines. Most times it's not hard to work out the killer, but sometimes there's a twist at end that takes you by surprise!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Guess what?!?!?!

WE'RE GOING TO DISNEYWORLD!! Am and I are gonna do it! My brain is now in official Disney mode! It's going 90 to nothing! I feel like I have a purpose again! It's so funny that I've spent so much time lately trying to clear my head of all the ramblings running through it and now I'm so excited that it's going completely nuts again!

The most important question (at least to me) was the money issue, but my absolutely wonderful sister is going to make it my combined B-day/Christmas present!

Next issue (and second most important) is where to stay. Funny thing is, despite my incredible typical Asperger fear of trees and the woods, my favorite Disney resort is Wilderness Lodge (and Am's probably least favorite) but she wants to stay there this time! YEA!!! OK, so we've stayed there before (and I've stayed there twice on my own), but it's the smallest of the deluxes, it's one building and self-contained, it's in the Magic Kingdom area, it has my favorite resort restaurant, and it has the best resort gift shop!

Front side of Wilderness Lodge Dec 2006

Back side of Lodge Oct 2005

Then, for the first time, we have to decide whether to fly or drive. It's a two hour flight or a 16 hour drive. Easy choice right? Wrong. We've always flown, but with the choice of driving, we don't have to deal with airport security (which basically gives me hives) and we can pack whatever and how much we want. But more importantly, no more shipping. Bet you have no clue what I'm talking about! I always ship a huge box of empty boxes and tons of packing supplies down there and all the stuff we buy gets packed up our way (Disney doesn't pack it right) and then we ship it home. It usually takes several hundred dollars to ship it all home. Then something always goes wrong (at least with my stuff), so that has to be dealt with. If we drove, we could just pack all our purchases in the back and off we go! Plus, for the first time ever, we'd actually be able to buy wine at the Food And Wine Festival (you can't ship alcohol to the state of Arkansas).

Which brings up another issue...do we want to go in October (my favorite time to go) or do we want to go another time. Am has never been at Christmas (but none of us are Christmas people - except my Mother - and you guys thought it was just me!). But Halloween is special to us all (probably because we're freaks) and the parks are beautiful then.

The Haunted Mansion in the Magic Kingdom - Oct 2009

Looking down Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom from the Train Station Oct 2007

But, needless to say, I got tons to think about and since it's 6 am, I better go to bed! I still have a job to go to!

Gettin there!


For Kate and anyone else who is interested, A Summer Ball is by Sandy Littlejohns and it's available on her website at Cross Stitch Arts as well as many others.  I loved this one because it reminds me so much of a Jane Austen ball.  As a matter of fact, these two guys remind me of Bingley and Darcy!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

First TUSAL as well

It is definitely a month of firsts! I knew that my ORT jar wouldn't be too full...I'm more of a thread saver.

Donald wasn't too impressed:

Whereas Stitch just thought my progress was just hilarious:

If it wasn't for a particularly tired point last night and a large bit of frogging, it would have been a lot less full than it is!

First IHSW all over!

I didn't get as far as I planned to, but I got further than I thought I would.


But I think I'm in good company...it looks like I'm not the only person who had a hard time focusing this weekend! It definitely made me feel better!

Monday, January 23, 2012

I got asked THE question

No, not THAT question, but my personal "THE" question...the one from my sister..."are we going to Disney World this October?". My first response was, "I don't think so, I still have to get a new vehicle, I've got tons of dental work to pay for this year, gotta get new contacts this year, my house needs work, etc..", but I no sooner walked away from her and my little Disney brain starting working out how it could be possible..."if I moved this around, and stop buying such and such, and went on a diet, and started training, it might be feasible"!

I scare myself sometimes. To be as poor as I am, I always find someway to afford to go to one of the most expensive destinations in the continental US (at least the way we go to Disney that is!). I spend about 3x as much in spending money as it costs to actually go (which is why numerous rooms in my house are overrun with collectibles...I have one room in particular that's called the "Duck Room" - my Donald Duck shrine, I have a "Mickey Bathroom", my bedroom is all Princesses and Villains...if I didn't love it all so much it would be embarrassing!

Going to Disney gives me purpose and a focus. I diet and train because you have to be in shape to be able to handle the shear size of the place (and my holiday clothes are a certain size, so I have to loose weight to fit into them). I spend the entire year planning and organizing and working out schedules and meal plans and organizing reservations. I create a little book out of note cards with all our info in it and have it bound at Kinkos as a guide, a diary, and a collectible. But most important of all, Disney World is the only place on earth where I feel truly comfortable and happy, even if it's only for one week.

We didn't go last year because I was supposed to get a new car last year, but numerous other expenses cropped up and I didn't. Can I really make it another year without it? I have an entire year chocked full of headaches the very same year I don't go to WDW...coincidence? (although, in fairness, the headaches had started right before the last trip, so they weren't the initial cause).

Honest answer, I want to go...BAD. Should I go?...probably not. Will I go?...if I can find a way, you bet Donald's cute little duck butt! But ultimately, the ball is in my Sister's court. I need very little pushing off the proverbial cliff right now and if she says "let's do it", I'm on board!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Beauty And The Beast 3D - A Review, a Rant, and a Video

So last weekend, T and I went and saw B&B in 3D and I have to say, it was pretty good! It wasn't Disney's usual Real 3D and, like I mentioned in a previous post, the Tangled Ever After short film at the beginning of the movie was well worth the 3D ticket price!

Now, here's the rant, and brace yourselves, it may be controversial to some, but bare with me!

As I have mentioned in the past, I have a background in art and I'm a Disney freak and have been since childhood. From that, it's safe to draw only one conclusion really...I'm a Disney purist. Sleeping Beauty is my favorite Disney movie not only for the storyline, but because it's one of the finest pieces of art ever put on film and every single film cell is a masterpiece in itself. I'm also the only person I know who can watch Fantasia and not only stay awake every single time, but usually end up crying at the shear beauty of the piece!

For those that don't know, let me give you a bit of history of animation and I hope I don't bore you:

Back in those days, they hand drew every single character and hand painted every single background and photographed every single scene. All through the history of Disney films, this was the process. The most talented artists worked at the Disney studios...Marc Davis (my personal favorite) to Mary Blair to Eric Larson to Ward Kimball to Frank Thomas & Ollie Johnson and even Tim Burton.

In the mid to late 80's, the Disney company went through horrible financial trouble and management and board member shifts...some good, and some bad. But new blood in any company means new plans, new ideas, and cuts, and the animation department, which wasn't making much money at that time, was the hardest hit. They were forced to come up with cheaper and faster ways to make animated movies for executives who knew nothing about animation so a very infant Pixar joined with them to create a software program called CAPS (Computer Animation Production Systems) to do just that.

With the creation of CAPS, no longer were animators needed to paint backgrounds or colorize characters. Eventually even animation cels were no longer used for the actual movie productions anymore so that also negated a ton of animators. The Disney company was able to massively dwindle down their animators and the actual talent was replaced with just regular employees. They saved a ton of money and from an artist point of view, put out a ton of mass produced crap.

The average joe didn't notice the difference in this new generation of movies, or Disney's renaissance as most people referred to it, because it was when the most profitable movies the studio ever produced came out...The Little Mermaid, Beauty And The Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King, etc... These are typically the movies everyone loves. But for years, I refused to give them the time of day. "How dare they put out that computer generated trash as art!", I used to say. I was practically militant about it! Sure, the characters were still basically hand-drawn, but even some of those were computer generated. Once a character had been hand created, it was getting easier and easier for the software to manipulate the images into animation without an animators help, just a programmer. The more advanced CAPS got, the more they used it and the less they used artists. It made my blood boil! Especially since as a kid, I wanted to be a Disney animator...if I had become one, today I would be unemployed or would be a computer graphics artist, a much different field.

Then Hercules came out and it was visually different...a larger group of animators worked on it, and some of the characterizations were created using one single line, like ancient Greek drawings. Once I heard about it, my curiosity was peaked and I went and saw it and LOVED it!!! Yes, there was tons of CAPS moments, but it was still a beautiful piece of art in a new way! All of a sudden, I started watching the 2nd gen Disney movies in bulk, starting with The Lion King, then Aladdin, then The Little Mermaid, so on, and so on, till I got to Beauty And The Beast.

Now, as a Disney freak, I am aware of the fact that the idea of doing B&B wasn't a new one, Walt had wanted to do it for many years before he died. So, just from that, it ought to have appealed to me. But other than the music, I found the animation way too much of a distraction to enjoy it and especially the ballroom scene...most people's favorite. The 2D animated characters on the extremely early designed CGI animated ballroom, it's just horrible!! Throughout the film, there are areas where she turns her head and her character face changes so much, you can't recognize her anymore, something that would have never been acceptable in Walt's day. It was obvious they were in a hurry to complete it and massive mistakes were made. I have never watched it again until we went to see it last weekend.

OK, back to my new review now that you've gotten an earful. In 3D, I did find myself not noticing the CAPS so much as I used to, but the ballroom scene was still horribly annoying and I even had to turn my head away at the one part where she puts her hand on a tree and she has toothpicks for fingers because someone wasn't paying attention! But overall, on the big screen, it is still better than TV and the depth of the 3D distracts from the CAPS work considerably.

As far as the 2nd gens, Hercules is still my favorite and much underrated because the music is brilliant and Hades is the best villain since Maleficent hands down! I'm the closest to Megara than any other Disney Princess and I think she's the most easy to relate to. I do love The Lion King and Aladdin, but I'm not too big on the girls Ariel and Belle. And don't even get me started on Pocahontas! What were they thinking! I know that the Hercules story is not accurate either, but come on - could they possibly have gotten history more wrong? And lastly, Hunchback of Notre Dame is just way too dark, even for me!

Nowadays, CAPS and CGI has come a long way. As far as the 3rd gen Disney movies, i.e. The Wild (an underrated Disney film), The Princess And The Toad, and my personal favorite, Tangled, as well as many others, I'm back to being in love with them. Tangled is the closest Disney has come back to the original feel of the classics, which is why it was such a big hit and why it's my favorite of the newbies.

Pixar has become a giant on its own and it also took me awhile to come around to pure CGI animation, but I finally did. Nemo is my favorite, but the others are OK as well, but still better on the big screen than the small. BTW, Nemo is going to be in out in the theaters in 3D this September.

One can only hope that the 4th gen of Disney movie is a return to the originals! That's my hope anyway, but I have learned to accept the 2nd gens for their history and their place in the Disney-verse and that's definitely a step up for me (especially since we have moved on to the 3rd gen and the 2nd gen is now "classic").

But as a parting soapbox dismount, here's Meg singing the best song from Hercules, and possibly one of the best top 5 Disney songs ever (oh, and for the Disney freaks, see if you catch the Haunted Mansion reference and let me know if you found it-that is if you managed to make it through this entire diatribe!):

First IHSW on new meds and nervous!

It's that time again for the International Hermit and Stitch Weekend and I'm a bit nervous because it's my first one on the new meds!  I'm sleeping alot and my attention span is short, so I'm a bit scared! I've been working all week on A Summer Ball and this is as far as I've gotten:


My goal is to finish the page, which is way too ambitious, but I like to shoot high because when I shoot too low I tend to give up and not go any further when I meet the goal.

As far as my little Highland girl, I haven't touched her all week.

But good luck to everyone and hopefully we will all do OK!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Back to A Summer Ball

Vickie's beautiful work on her Summer Ball (Reading and Stitching Blog) got me back in the mood, and since I actually got off work early tonight, I thought I'd give it a go again.  I may even work on it for this month's International Hermit and Stitch Weekend!!


Monday, January 16, 2012

Finally...a decent weekend!!!

I didn't get much stitching done...but I'm back in the hair mode again. Being out of the gray is nice (at least for now)!

T and I also went and saw Beauty And The Beast in 3D and had a really great day (even though I have underlying issues with the second gen Disney movies I won't go into now). But before the movie, they had a short called Tangled Ever After with Rapunzel and Flynn getting married and the hijinx that Max and Pascal get into as the ring-bearers! It took my mind off of everything - it was amazing! Plus, I can always count on T to make me feel better! Bestie to the rescue!

xxxooo bunches T!!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Light at the end of my gray tunnel or not?


Another rough work week, another week-long headache, and another new med to try, but I did manage to close the gap and almost finish page 8 and the corner of page 9!!

The scariest prospect of the week is the new med...because it's not technically a new med, it's an old one that I have taken in the past for my OCD. My neurologist is convinced that I need an anti-anxiety to stop the migraine cycles and I have fought him forever on it (because of my history with this particular drug actually), but considering how everything has been going at work, I've conceded. But, with my Asperger's, OCD, and SAD, I have a different reaction to SNRI's than the average person does. Depending on the med, it can make me angry, aggressive, sleep constantly, be more withdrawn than I already am, or the worst side-effect of all...zombification. I've managed my conditions on my own for years just fine. SNRI's are for people who have to participate in the world and need the assistance...my world participation is limited and I can handle my world on my own. Anti-depressants won't do any good because I'm not depressed. But when it comes to these blasted headaches, I'm ready to try anything.

And tried most everything I have. There are different levels of SNRI's depending on your natural disposition. I need a specific kind because I'm naturally an insomniac, but do tend to sleep alot when I actually do get to sleep...I can either sleep for days or go for days without sleeping. Pristiq was working OK, I had a bit of zombification, but it was only external, it was still me on the inside, having temper tantrums, getting upset at stupid things, smarting off, but only in my head - it doesn't come out to the world, almost like I actually had a mouth filter like a normal person...almost the perfect drug! Except for the fact that insurance won't pay for it, so I can't continue them! Pristiq is repackaged Effexor without the nasty side-effects which made it perfect, but there is nowhere to go from Pristiq but Effexor.

Effexor is the evil drug I keep mentioning...I took it for a year and it took another year to ween myself off it. I was a pure zombie...inside and out, dead to the world. It took a lot of effort for me to take that first step to get off it (much to the chagrin of my shrink). Once I was free, I swore I would never take meds for my conditions again unless it was necessary. Granted, at the time, Asperger's wasn't on the table...I was only diagnosed with OCD and SAD. The thing about Asperger's is you live in your head, it's where your whole life really is. So what do you do when you are taking meds that wipe your head clean? At the time it wasn't the shrink's fault, he was treating me mainly for OCD, I'm more obsessive than compulsive, so the obsessiveness was what he was trying to subdue and in that task, he succeeded completely.

Since I didn't develop migraines until late in life, my neurologist thinks that mine should only last about 10 years or so (probably till menopause), but he also thinks that they will be incredibly intense because I have a lot of time to make up for. I always thought I was lucky because I didn't have migraines like the rest of my family. I watched them suffer my entire life and was secretly glad I was the only person in the family who didn't inherit them, so now I guess I'm paying for those thoughts. They would maybe have one every month or so, I have headaches that last days and even weeks at a time and my lips pretty much stay numb constantly.

I just hope that the meds don't affect my stitching! I can stitch through a headache (sometimes), but can I zombie-stitch? Hopefully, if the mood of my posts change to "uugghhs" and "aaahhhs" and "brains", then you guys will know I'm a full-blown zombie and can warn me before I get in too deep (or at least I hope you will)!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Short weekend!

Barely got any work done because I spent most of it sleeping! I'm mad at myself for wasting my weekend, but on the other hand, I haven't felt this good in weeks! I just hope it lasts for at least the next five days and hopefully I won't need to do it again next weekend. But, at the same time, endless rows and rows of the same color would probably not really inspire the most dedicated of stitchers to crawl out of bed just for the thrill of getting back to the grind. I'll get through it eventually. Thanks to everyone for your words of encouragement! I'm the worlds worst about commenting as well as responding to comments, but I do read everyone's blog and do read comments. I'm just crap at expressing things! But without further ado: