Day 3 – Epcot

Epcot was the next stop on our trip.  This was a break from our usual pattern as we typically would visit Epcot on our first day.  It was also a chance for us to continue with the new adventures.  Earlier this year, the Norway pavillion’s Maelstrom ride was re-purposed into a Frozen ride.  Knowing that this was one of the busiest rides in all four parks, we opted to make a bee-line directly to the ride on our arrival first thing in the morning.  Despite the fact that we arrived very shortly after the park opened, we arrived to find the line snaking all the way around the little courtyard.  In all, we ended up waiting in line for over an hour for this ride, but it was well worth it.  You get to immerse yourself in the world of Arendelle, with all of the characters from the movie.

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After the ride, I was able to try something I’d wanted to try for some time, but had never taken the time – School Bread.  The Kringla Bakerei at the Norway pavilion sells these delicious, coconutty and custardy items.  I’ll talk more about them some other time when I focus on the food at Disney World.

We always enjoy walking around the World Showcase.  Visiting the 11 pavilions.  It’s the day we walk the most, by far.  I could stroll through the park all day long.  In the span of a few hours, you get to visit Mexico, England, Norway, Japan, China, France, Italy and more.

Apart from the World Showcase, we had a chance to do a character encounter with Baymax from Big Hero 6.  He winked at Isabelle.   Our night ended with supper at the Japan pavilion, eating at Teppan Edo.  Since it’s a hibachi restaurant with tableside grills, we were seated with some other people, including a non-verbal Down Syndrome child at the opposite side of the grill.  He loved shrimp. And I mean LOVED shrimp.  It was adorably cute.

Once the meal was over, we strolled through the pavilions yet again as they have a whole other feel to them in the evening.  We found a nice spot around the World Showcase Lagoon from which to watch the Illuminations: Reflections of Earth.  This is one of the best fireworks displays in Disney World, and definitely a must-do for anyone who hasn’t had the opportunity.

And thus ended our third day.

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Day 2 – Happy Birthday, Chris!

Day 2 of our 2016 Disney adventure was a special day for me.  It was my birthday!  There is no better way to spend your 38th birthday than being at Disney World.  This is now the 3rd birthday I’ve celebrated at Disney, and they each get better and better.  We even have my 40th planned to be visiting Disney yet again.  (I’m still working on getting my birthday twin, James Corden, to join us.  We were both born August 22, 1978.)

As it was my birthday, the choice of activities was left to me.  Naturally, we visited my favourite park – Hollywood Studios.  It was a day full of Star Wars, Tower of Terror and food.  Our absolute favourite ride is the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror – a thrilling drop elevator ride.  We definitely took a few rides through the tower on this day.  But the biggest part of the day was around Star Wars.  Over the past few years, since Disney acquired Star Wars from Lucasfilm, the presence in the parks has increased.  They are currently building a new Star Wars-themed part of Hollywood Studios.  On this visit though, we were able to meet a couple of characters – Chewbacca and Kylo Ren.  We rode Star Tours a few times and got to see some Storm Troopers marching through the park.

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On the food side of things, lunch consisted of popcorn and a red-velvet cupcake from Starring Roles Café.  We didn’t want anything too heavy for lunch as we were heading to one of our favourite restaurants for supper – the 50’s Prime Time Café.  For those who’ve never been, the concept is that everyone in the restaurant are cousins, and you’re eating in your grandma’s family home.  Mom’s in the kitchen making supper and Grandma’s making dessert.  Our waiter, Cousin Carmelo, even gave me a birthday card!  We are always left with an overfilled belly and huge smile on our faces when we leave here.  Here’s my tip – try the PB & J milkshake.

One of the absolute highlights for me was the new Star Wars Spectacular – an all new firework and laser-projection show at the end of the night.  The show is broadcast onto the front of the Chinese Theatre in the centre of the park using lasers and digital projectors.  The images were spectacular, the lasers and fireworks stunning…it was one of the best Disney fireworks shows that I’ve had the pleasure of viewing to date.

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The Memory of Smells

I like to think that everything in the universe is imbued with some form of consciousness.  Whether a living creature, a plant, an inanimate object, or even smells.  Smells are a marvelous thing.  They are the equivalent to a time machine.  They link us to specific places, specific times.  All it takes is a small whiff of that particular aroma to propel you back to that memory.

I find that the aromas that trigger me the most commonly are the ones related to Disney World. (Surprise, I know!)  Working in the downtown core, I often will find myself transported back to that magical land simply because of a passing bus.  Suddenly, I find myself standing outside of Pop Century, just waiting to get on the next shuttle to one of the parks.

Disney's Magical Express bus outside of Pop Century
Disney’s Magical Express bus outside of Pop Century

It does not work on command though.  No matter how intently I go somewhere trying to trigger these memories, it won’t happen.  This is why I think smells have some consciousness to them.  I seem to find myself getting transported at those moments when I need a little escape.  It’s like the universe is trying to say “Hey, you’re seeming to be a little stressed, overwhelmed.  How about I help you take a moment of happiness and bliss.”

Thank you universe.  You take care of me so incredibly well.

So, happy reader, what is your Delorean?

via Daily Prompt: Aromatic

Disconnected

In my previous life, I was well-connected.  From morning til night, I found myself in front of a computer for nearly every instant that I was not working or sleeping.  Actually, even sleep did not always dissuade me as I’d often pull my laptop next to my bed in case someone would message me in the middle of the night.  (I did have friends in Australia, Europe and on the West coast after all!)  I would get up in the morning and the first thing I did was sign in.  I would get home from work – sign in.  I had even set up my apartment so that while seated at my computer, I could watch TV.  My life consisted of being online. I had become an extension of the internet.

It was during these years (the majority of my 20’s really) that I “disconnected” from the real world and connected electronically.  All of my friends were chat buddies.  I would spend countless hours in chat rooms, or just messaging my friends.  I’d communally watch TV with people, chatting about the show during commercials.  (How many “OMG can you believe that?!” conversations about Lost did we have Nat?)

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LOCKE: Why don’t you want to go down there, Jack?

I’ve found myself, over the past couple of years, going in the opposite direction.  By becoming more “disconnected” from the online world, I am becoming more connected in the real world.  I still have my online presence, but it is severely limited.  Even my net-surfing is almost nonexistent.  There are 5-6 sites that I check once per day for various reasons (Facebook, email, local newspaper, wrestling news, t-shirts).  I’ve realized on a few instances that I hadn’t even been in to check my email in over 24 hours, which would have been unheard of a few years ago.  As another example, I started writing this post 2 days ago during my lunch hour at the office.  I just needed to sign it from home, reread and add a couple of pictures.  I didn’t touch the computer last night and had to force myself to finish this post tonight.

I’m wondering if this is something that is occurring due to my own life journey, or if it’s something we’re seeing more with my generation?  For those of you in your mid/late 30’s, do you see yourself having a smaller online presence?  Maybe it’s part of the fact that we’re growing up.  We’re in the age of having children, families, real world priorities.  Even in a world with constant contact via smart phones, I’m finding myself online less and less.  I’m even too cheap to pay for a data plan, so only use WIFI on my phone.  I just don’t see the necessity or value of having an internet connection at all times.

On our previous trips to Disney World, the one thing that my darling wife and I have loved nearly more than anything else was our disconnected rule.  From the time we arrived at the resort until we were on route back home, we did not go online (in actuality, we would turn off our cell phones all but for 5-10 minutes a day in case there were any urgent messages from family, which there never were).  We did not watch the news (or TV really, apart from Disney programming).  We did not look at newspapers.  We would completely disconnect from the rest of the world and live in the present moment – enjoying the magic and splendor that is Disney World.Cinderella's Castle - Magic Kingdom

On our last visit this past summer, things changed.  Disney has now moved to an online-driven account to book your reservations for restaurants and Fast Pass bookings for rides.  Their app would provide real-time wait times for the various attractions around the parks.  WIFI is available in all resort hotels and in the four Disney parks.  We caved.  We both brought our phones with us the entire time we were there.  While we did agree that we would not really “go online” other than the My Disney Experience app, both of us did.  While the trip was still amazingly fun, I did have a sense of sadness over the fact that we weren’t able to fully disconnect the way we usually do.

Next week, I’ll be heading to a silent retreat for most of the week.  No computers, no cell phones, no radios, no iPods, no books.  I am very much looking forward for this chance to disconnect once more.  Disconnect from the world in order to connect with myself; in order to connect with the universe.  I can’t wait for the experience. While some people are uncomfortable with this type of activity, I’m very much okay with it.  I like the introspection.  As a call-back to the quote above, this Jack isn’t afraid to go down there.

So what do you think, dear readers?  Do you think you could do it?  Could you cut off any and all communication and connection for a few days and just be with yourself?

Disney desserts

A delightfully delicious blog post by my wife. Disney treats galore!

Karmic Sweets

Almost a month has gone by since my husband and I got back from our fourth Disney trip (as adults) so I thought I’d indulge you all and talk about a few epic Disney desserts. I’ll be totally honest : one of the reasons we keep going back to Walt Disney World is the food. Oh my goodness, the food! Oh, and don’t worry; according to our Fitbits, we walked over 120 kilometres that week so I think we walked it off 😉

This was our first time back to Disney since I stared this blog and reawakened my baking addiction so I was beyond excited to visit every bakery and candy store on property. Plus, we may have chosen a few restaurants to eat at based on the dessert options alone. Don’t judge!

The Grey Stuff : Now the first thing I HAD to try was the grey stuff…

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Cookbooks and Memories

There are certain smells, certain tastes, that take you back to another time and place.  I’ve just had one of those moments while making banana bread.

Over the past two years, my wife has renewed her love of baking and, as such, she’s done the majority of it in our household.  But tonight I am in the kitchen.

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Time for banana bread!

Ever since I started this blog, I’ve had this post in mind. Or rather some version of it.  I didn’t quite know how to broach it though.  I wasn’t planning on writing a post at this time, but the inspiration came to me thanks to my time in the kitchen.

We had a few remnant bananas that were quite ripe, so I thought I’d make a banana bread.  When I went to grab my cookbook, I saw another cookbook – my grandmother’s.  Shortly after my mémère passed away in 2014, I picked up her cookbook.  Some of my fondest memories as a child were being in the kitchen with my grandmother baking something or other.  She’d always let me sneak some raw dough trimmings from a pie crust, or give me tastes of cookie batter or frosting as she baked.  My grandmother always had some kind of baked goods in the house.  That’s what grandmothers do, right?

When I brought the cookbook home back in June 2014, I couldn’t help but laugh.  My grandmother was a frugal woman.  She made use of whatever she could find in some form or another, and her cookbook was no different.  Rather than purchase a notebook or actual blank cookbook, she used an agenda/daily planner.  Her indexes consist of listing the recipes and indicating on which day they’re found.  Very cute indeed.

My grandmother’s “index”

The cookbook itself is chock full of some of my favourite recipes, including the banana bread that I was making.  Rather than use my own copy of the recipe, I opted to take out Mémère’s cookbook and follow along with hers.  Soon, I was staring into a big, beautiful bowl of banana bread batter.  After pouring it into the loaf pan and tossing it in the oven, I couldn’t help but give the bowl a little scrape and a taste.  First flashback moment.  I suddenly found myself at my grandparent’s home, standing in that oh so familiar kitchen.  It didn’t last long, but it was enough to put a smile on my lips.

A short while later, as the bread began to cook, I had the second flashback moment when I got a whiff of the delicious banana bread from the oven.  Once again, I was whisked back to that same kitchen, standing there at the counter along with my grandmother as she baked.  In that moment, I knew that she was with me.

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Not a day goes by that I do not miss that woman with all of my heart.  It brings so much joy to my heart to know that whenever I need to feel her presence, I just need to take out that cookbook and start baking something.  There are so many other childhood memories hidden within the pages of this cookbook.  I look forward to many, many more visits to Mémère’s kitchen.

 

Nose-Picking and Butt Stuff

If there is one thing that I can say about myself is that I am an observer.  I am always watching, listening, observing everything around me.  I tend to notice things that other people don’t.  Over the years, I have always delighted in picking up snippets of conversation of people that I pass by and wondering where the conversation was going or where it started.  Am I alone in doing this?

Occasionally, these little moments of conversation will spur on an idea or catch me in such  a way that I need to jot them down.  Who knows when you might find the perfect reason to use them?  I’ve started keeping a list of pieces of dialogue, ideas, characters, etc. with a hope that I can someday use some of them.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve had three specific snippets of conversation that have stuck with me.  The first was by a 4-5 year old kid who said to another child “ça va faire mal à la butt-crack, Nicholas!”  It struck me as so funny at in the moment.  While I know what the context of the dialogue was, I’d rather leave it unspecified here and let you make up your own scenario.

The second was a day or two ago, walking through our building while at work.  “Just let me touch your butt.”  That was it. And they were gone.

The most recent happened today, again at work when I overheard someone utter the phrase “It never fails – every time someone gets up to ask you a question, you’re picking your nose.”

I don’t know that I’ll ever really need or have the opportunity to use these pieces of dialogue in anything I write, but I like to think that by sharing them with you all, you’ll at least imagine a scenario where these bits and bobs were being used.

Happy imagining!

gratitude rock

Appréciation

appreciation

Aujourd’hui, je suis très reconnaissant et appréciatif de tout ce que j’ai dans ma vie.  J’apprécie:

  • mon corps parfait dans son imperfection
  • ma santé
  • l’amour, l’amitié et l’accompagnement que je reçois de ma belle femme
  • notre vie en couple
  • notre belle petite famille avec Roxie
  • toute ma famille et mes amis
  • mon emploi
  • ma belle ville
  • le fait que je suis capable d’aller marcher pendant deux heures un vendredi matin le long d’une rivière, sans me déplacer
  • ma dualité linguistique
  • que nous pouvons nous permettre de retourner à Disney World dans 50 jours pour célébrer nos fêtes
  • que je puisse me traiter à un PS4
  • la musique qui m’entoure
  • le silence qui m’aide à apprécier le bruit
  • le bruit qui m’aide à apprécier le silence
  • ma belle, belle maison de lumière
  • tous les animaux qui viennent visiter notre cours
  • l’amour et la joie que je vois dans les autres autour de moi

En court, j’apprécie ma vie, comme elle l’est.  Parfois je dois me rappeler ce fait, mais de plus en plus, je le reconnais à tous les jours.

One step at a time…