The Epcot Flower & Garden Festival

We recently returned from the Epcot Flower & Garden Festival at the Dolphin. Eventually, I hope to post the trip report, but, for now, I’ve started uploading videos (#Shorts) on YouTube. Here’s a sneak peek hitting the highlights:

Pina Colada Pool Time

2 Pina Coladas

Flower & Garden Festival

Magical Evening at the Boardwalk

The Enchanted Rose

Inside The Enchanted Rose

Fly Me to the Moon (100 Year Monorail)

Chasin’ Chewy at Batuu East

Easter Brunch at Art Smith’s Homecomin’

I totally forgot to post about our Easter Brunch at Art Smith’s Homecomin’ at Disney Springs.

We chose the 6 am sunrise Mass, which would place us at Disney Springs around 8:30 am with half an hour to kill before our 9 am brunch at Art Smith’s Homecomin’ at Disney Springs. We imagined we’d park and then walk around the Springs, maybe over to Saratoga Springs or grab a coffee at Starbuck’s to kill time.

We checked the opening time for the garages and 9 am was opening time. We also read about street parking that was supposed to be open 24/7. Well, the latter was not true. Both the Orange and Lime garages did not open until 8:45 and 9:00 – not sure which order now. But we saw the Grapefruit garage and it was open so we parked and got out of the car but was stopped by security because, apparently, it was for Cast Members only.

We got back in the garage circling, circling, circling until we saw a line begin to form at the Orange garage. Oh, yes, it opened at 8:45. We soon parked but were halted again at security because security didn’t open until 9 a.m. Which is so strange since restaurants at Disney Springs were taking 9 a.m. reservations. How are you supposed to get there on time?

Homecomin’ texted us while we were in line for security that they were expecting us so we texting back that we’d be a bit late due to the 9 a.m. security opening. Anyway, we weren’t too late and were seated and served by an amazing CM named Andy. He’d been there since opening day.

We both ordered the Short Rib Hash and a side order of Donuts.

Short Rib Hash

Two sunny side up eggs over our short rib hash with grilled corn succotash, potatoes, onions, red bell and Fresno peppers for a bit of a kick. Served with a cheddar cheese drop biscuit and choice of side.

House-made Doughnuts

Mini iced doughnuts piled with pecans, bacon and drizzled with house-made caramel. Or dusted with sugar and served with spiced cane syrup and seasonal fruit

Rich had the Sweet Tea Shine and I had a Princess Mimosa with Peach Puree.

Sweet Tea Shine

Sweet tea, fresh-squeezed lemon and moonshine<

Princess Mimosa

A royal pour of bubbly with your choice of freshly-squeezed Florida orange juice or blueberry, strawberry or peach purees.

We’d been there for lunch before but this was our first brunch here. Everything was delicious, although I try to avoid southern cooking for the most part. Donuts are something I absolutely should avoid at all cost but I succumbed and they were my favorite part. I paid for that for a couple weeks – lol!

The Brunch Where You Upgrade Your WDW AP and Do the Cinderella Castle Stroll

We were in this “what if we live full-time in an RV” mood again and thought, “Let’s have breakfast at Fort Wilderness and then walk around the campgrounds, checking out all the RVs.” First problem: Trail’s End is closed for refurbishment.

“Okay, so let’s brunch at Whispering Canyon at Wilderness Lodge and then boat over to Fort Wilderness.” Made a 10:20 a.m. ressie, left the house around 8:30 a.m. (app. 90 minute drive), parked the car, and checked in. “Oh, we’re running around 20 minutes late.” Okay, we found a seat in the lobby and waited.

Then Rich said something about upgrading our Florida resident Pixie Dust AP to a newly-released Florida resident Pirate AP so we can get in the parks on the weekend. We’d been debating whether it was worth it or not or if the week days were just fine. Rich has plenty of vacation so it’s not a problem taking off a Friday now and then.

But, frankly, we’re getting tired of checking out tiki bars and beaches on the weekends with the only Disney option being a meal in a resort or Disney Springs. So, yeah, let’s do it, I said. After all, we have to sit here and wait for our brunch. No blaming too many Mimosas or Bloody Marys on that decision – lol!

Done. Upgrade accomplished. Then our table was ready so we headed into brunch. We both had the Western Style Benedict, which Rich loves. This was my first time and it was delicious. We also both had a Bloody Mary.

Then, while waiting for the boat to the MK (we would have to then boat over to Fort Wilderness from there, in other words, double boat), we wondered if we should try to get a Magic Kingdom park reservation. Will it even be possible on such short notice? Somehow that sounded much more exciting than touring the RVs.

Park reservations were available. Done. Then we boated over to Magic Kingdom and we were in! Just like that! You can check out the “Upgrading My #WDW AP Means Cinderella Castle on a Saturday! #Shorts #Clip.

This was just the medicine I needed. Of course, I get homesick for California and all that’s familiar, and this was just the ticket, literally, I needed. Funny thing is, in the past the Magic Kingdom made me miss Disneyland, but this time, it felt like I *was* at Disneyland.

We just soaked up the atmosphere, had an Orange Dole Whip Float and walked around, reminding ourselves where everything was. After our recent visit to Animal Kingdom, which seemed humongous, the MK felt much more doable. We boated back to Wilderness Lodge where we stopped in the gift shop for some of those yummy gluten free cookies (chocolate chip and lemon), some Joffreys coffee, and drove back home.

What a magical day! We were so glad we upgraded when we had the chance. We’ve spent so much of our time over the years in Florida in Orlando and it feels the most like home.


The Port Orleans Pet Sitter Test Trip, Day 2, Part 2 and Finale

We drove the back way home from Hudson to our resort and took a much-needed nap. By the time we woke up, the evening was descending. It was too early to just stay in so we hopped on the boat to Disney Springs. we were hoping to get to the outside seating area of the Boathouse but the spaces not under cover were closed as they were expecting rain.

We headed over to Jock Lindseys’s Hangar Bar and snagged a seat inside. We’d only sat outside before so this was a new experience, one we really enjoyed at night. Great atmosphere inside, which we hadn’t noticed during the day.

We weren’t that hungry so we shared an order of 3 tacos al pastor. I had my usual Margarita – don’t know why I didn’t get a Singapore Sling as a nod to my youth.

Rich ordered a “Scottish Professor” – Monkey Shoulder Blended malt Scotch Whiskey, Hendrick’s Gin, Pear Nectar, Simple Syrup, and fresh Lemon Juice.

I took a sip of Rich’s drink and it was so amazing, I’d wished I’d ordered that instead. So smooth, which is exactly what my stomach wanted this night. Next time.

fter our meal, we walked over to Ghirardelli and shared the Ocean Beach Sea Salt Caramel Sundae – Caramel sauce, vanilla ice cream, handmade milk or dark chocolate hot fudge topped with whipped cream, sea salt and a Milk or Dark Sea Salt Caramel Square. This is what we always got at DCA at the Disneyland Resort. Reminding me of going to the original Ghirardelli at Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco when we lived there.

We rode the boat back to our resort and spotted a carriage on the way back to our room. Completely unplanned, the night truly turned into a magical evening.

We slept well both nights on the king bed. For breakfast, we were thinking about those beignets again, but they were out. Rich got us some coffee and a couple breakfast sandwiches, we packed up, checked out and drove home.

By the way, all went well with the pet sitter. She really spent a lot of time with the kitties and I think Chip is especially looking forward to our next trip away. Hopefully, we won’t forget the suitcase. 🙂

The Port Orleans Pet Sitter Test Trip, Day 2, Part 1

We woke up tired, so instead of hitting one of the parks, we decided to take a drive down memory lane to where we used to live in Tampa Bay. After all, we were halfway there. Rich got us some of those delicious beignets to go with our chicory coffee, and we got the powdered sugar all over the room – lol! We thought, “oh well, the maids will clean that up for us.”

Well, were we wrong. When we returned later that afternoon, there had been no maid service. Rich called the front desk and they said every other day. So Rich cleaned up the beignet mess himself. What a day not to have maid service – lol!

It was a beautiful morning and a beautiful drive. It was so strange to drive through the old neighborhood. Boy, did that feel like a long time ago when we lived there. While we were up that way, we decided to check out Sam’s Beach Bar in Hudson and absolutely loved it. We’ve got some great Tiki bars here on the Space Coast but I think Sam’s is our new favorite Tiki bar.

The view was incredible and there’s something about the scent of the Gulf air that I’ve never forgotten. While I enjoy the cooler ocean breezes on the Atlantic side. I do miss the Gulf side and that yummy tropical air. I will always love Tampa Bay.

Rich had his usual Grouper sandwich (claims Sam’s is the best), and I had my usual Coconut Shrimp with Margarita. Rich might have had a Pirate Punch.

The food was tasty, the drinks yummy, the view incredible, the music was so diverse, and the people and staff were so friendly at this laid-back little beach bar. We can’t wait to go back!

The Port Orleans Pet Sitter Test Trip, Day 1

Now that we’re back in Florida, it was time to get a new pet sitter. We had an awesome one in Las Vegas (Shadow so misses Scott), but it can be a challenge to find somebody you trust and the cats like. Daisy hides, Shadow likes male sitters, but Chip seems to love everybody. They all warmed up to Julie and Chip seems to really be into her.

We booked a 2-night stay at Port Orleans. We don’t really like Moderate resorts at WDW, but since this was just a pet sitter test trip, and not the main event, we were a bit more budget-conscious.

This was our first time at Port Orleans and it surprised us in a good way. Thankfully, they got rid of those bathroom curtain doorway separators and the bathroom remodel is a big improvement.

Not only do we need to test out a pet sitter but we obviously needed to test our own process. We were almost to Orlando when Rich realized he’d left our suitcase in the garage at home. He pulled over and, since he was on the busy side of the road, I jumped out to take a peek and, yep, no suitcase in the trunk.

Eventually, we made it back to Port Orleans and checked into our room. Then we took Disney transportation (bus) to Animal Kingdom. Last time we lived in Florida we loved to hang out at Nomad Lounge, chat with the CMs and other guests and were excited to return.

It was odd. Everything about it was odd. The person who seated us, the small table we were given, and the lame service throughout. No awesome CM chat. No guest chat (have noticed this seems to be normal post-Pandemic. People are more insular).

The only good part was the food. It was amazing. Especially the “Chicken Manchurian Nomad Bowl.” Rich had a charcuterie plate but also raved about the Chicken Manchurian. I had the Bolo Rita Cocktail and Rich had the Spice Trader Classic. Churros for dessert were pretty special, too.

“She’s Not That Good” – Producing Video, Mixing Audio in Logic Pro (#Music #Production #Audio #Excerpt)

I just had to do another video for “She’s Not That Good” on YouTube. Maybe because I was scrolling through my videos and saw this one of the Mariachi Band playing Jazz in the Piazza on the Crown Princess sailing the Mexican Riviera.

But this time I used the video editor in Logic Pro, meaning, I pasted the video I already had into Logic Pro on 1 track, which separated the video and sound into 2 tracks, and then ecorded my audio recording of a book excerpt on another. This way, I could match the video with the sound. It was so much fun!


And now here’s the result:

About “She’s Not That Good”

Meet Brandi Redwine from my latest release “She’s Not That Good”

Failing to launch an adult career, haunted by thoughts of never being good enough, Brandi Redwine searches for something she is good at. After chasing music and the exboyfriend in Nashville, she returns to San Francisco feeling like a loser.

Her best friend steps in and recommends her for an opportunity to compete for a job onboard a cruise ship. Her high school sweetheart is also on board, and his girlfriend is competing for the same job.

Will her entire future rest on a final performance, or will she finally realize she is good enough when she pursues what’s really in her heart?

Available now on Kindle

Chapter 1 Audio Excerpt
Chapter 4 Audio Excerpt
Chapter 7 Audio Excerpt

Cruising to Cabo, New Audio Excerpt from “She’s Not That Good”

Chapter 7 – Cabo – is the latest audio excerpt paired with my music from FAWM23

In case you missed the others, I’ll add the links below:

Chapter 1 – “She’s Not That Good”

Chapter 4 – “Vlogger Lady” (Parody)

“Lucky’s Last Chance” #Shorts #Clip #YouTube (“Take A Chance On This”)

Okay, so the YouTube clip I mentioned in yesterday’s post climbed to over 1200 views – so cool to share my kitty video and Wolf Kier’s music.

So today I could resist clipping another one of my favorite Wolf Kier songs (“Take A Chance On This”) paired with my novel “Lucky’s Last Chance.” Perfect, right?

Hope you enjoy the clip. And I wouldn’t mind if you checked out my book, too. Btw, this book was originally published as “The Tom Jones Club,” but when I got the rights back, I changed the title to Lucky’s Last Chance.

You can hear the entire song here. Doesn’t that voice inspire a leading man for your next romance novel? I know it does for me. 🙂

Meet Cyn, Sandy, and Millie, the Ladies of the “Real Women Wear Red” Cruise

Okay, so I’m hanging out by the pool today and it hits me how much I love doing that. How much I love the beach, pools, cruise ships and how that is always my first choice for a vacation. No wonder so many of my books take place on a cruise ship, or Las Vegas, or a beach.

So, I had to make another one of those audios with music and spoken word excerpt like I’ve been doing all through February. This time I decided to hang out with Cyn, Sandy, and Millie of Real Women Wear Red.

Yeah, this book has been around for a while. It was my first published book and the one that got me an agent. I still love it!

FAWM23, Songs #19, #20, #21 (DJ Kat’s Lounge Show)

After officially completing FAWM (14 songs in 28 days), I had a blast creating DJKat’s Lounge Show by combining 3 book excerpts with music as a bit of a FAWM bonus. I’m thinking of doing a whole book this way. What do you think?

Chapter 1 Excerpt from Lucky’s Last Chance (originally titled The Tom Jones Club):

Available on Kindle.

The “Blind Man at the Bar” scene from Deja Vu at the Blue Diamond (aka “French Martini”)

Available on Kindle.

The Prologue from Deja Vu at the Blue Diamond (aka “French Martini”):

Available on Kindle.