Brunching From Las Vegas to Disney World to Disneyland (#Writer’sLife)

Brunch seems to have hit it big everywhere these days! Weekend brunch, that is. From Las Vegas to Disney World to Disneyland even. with the latest brunch place being Lamplight Lounge in DCA at Disneyland Resort. Check out the video below. We’re definitely adding that to our next trip plans.

Okay, so we miss being able to just drop into Disney World when we were living in Florida. That is always the difficulty when we move back to Vegas. And brunching at the resorts and Disney Springs was one of our favorite activities.

But I have to laugh when I think back to when I was first writing and submitting to RWA (Romance Writers of America) contests. My character was having brunch and one judge wrote that brunch would be way too expensive for my character. Totally ridiculous! She wasn’t poverty-striicken, but an average working girl who could definitely spring for a brunch. Mind you this was years ago before the brunch phenomenon hit but there were plenty of brunches out there. Obviously this RWA member was unaware of brunch. Maybe she came from a small Midwestern town and was clueless. And so I quit submitting my work to contests.

Back in the day, Las Vegas (Reno, Tahoe, etc) was the place to brunch and food, especially brunch, was quite affordable. The latest trend here isn’t brunch because everybody has brunch, but it’s Happy Hour during those brunching hours. Our favorite place for brunch time Happy Hour is Bobby Mao’s (I wrote about it here).

Anyway, check out Mr. CheezyPop’s brunch experience at Lamplight Lounge:

Will Galaxy’s Edge Make a Star Wars Fan Out of Me?

As I mentioned in my previous post about feeling underwhelmed, if not annoyed, over all the Galaxy’s Edge hoopla and fearing the ruin of Disneyland, I’ve been watching FreshBaked’s Live show and I must say, Disney knows how to do theming.

From what I’ve seen so far, I know I must experience Galaxy’s Edge for myself (I’m sure Rich wouldn’t mind too much – lol!), and if I’m not careful, it’s going to make a Star Wars fan out of me – lol!

Other videos: FreshBaked’s second video shot at night, Disneyland Parks Dedication Live Stream, MouseSteps (Olga Cantina), the DIS, and a million more.

As I said, as a Disney fan, I’m excited to get my first look at a new land, but will true Star Wars fans be disappointed or satisfied?

Catching Up With Tasty Treats at Disney and the Beach, Day 2, Part 2: Napa Rose

We left Huntington Beach around 5PM heading to the Grand Californian for our 6PM Napa Rose reservation. About a half hour later, we pulled into the valet parking lane of the Grand Californian.

We were a little early for dinner, so we walked around the Grand Californian lobby and peeked into Hearthstone Lounge, noticing the new chairs in our favorite spot (replacing the ugly chairs that had replaced our favorite chairs), ending up in the gift shop browsing for gifts for ourselves. Kathy spotted some great Grand Californian mugs while we were browsing.

Near 6PM, we entered Napa Rose and checked in. In a few minutes, we were seated at a table for two near where we sat for Kathy’s birthday meal last July. Our server greeted us and reviewed some of the menu items. She mentioned the prix fixe menu, but we were aiming for a smaller, simpler meal this time. Maybe next time.

We ordered our wine as we reviewed the menu. When the wine was served, we ordered.

Malbec, Bodega Viamonte, Montevia, Argentina

Appetizer (Shared)
Braised Wagyu Beef Cheeks
with Forager Mushrooms and Baked Herb Dumplings

Entree Salad (Kathy)
Smiling Tiger Salad
with Spicy Beef, Asian Greens, Lobster Shrimp Fritters, and Coconut Vinaigrette

Entree (Rich)
Salmon (Sustainable Fish of the Day)
with Roasted with Thyme, Lemon and ‘Nduja Clam Broth, Tender Potato Gnocchi, and Forager Mushrooms

The food, as always, was incredible. The appetizer came in a little iron pot.

The beef cheeks were tender and paired perfectly with the mushrooms and dumplings.

The entrees were just as delicious. Every part of Kathy’s salad was flavorful, including the greens. My salmon was cooked perfectly and the flavors blended beautifully. There were clams alongside my salmon that made the dish all that much better.

We skipped dessert because we were headed to Downtown Disney for dessert and shopping.

The food and atmosphere were fabulous. Napa Rose never fails on those counts. Unfortunately, the service was uneven. This has happened before at Napa Rose. The entrees took forever to come out from the kitchen, and the server was nowhere to be found most of the time. But we can overlook the service faults because the food Andrew Sutton creates is so amazing.

After dinner, we exited through security and into Downtown Disney. We headed for Salt and Straw where we got a scoop of Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbons ice cream in a cup and shared it. Wow! This is the most amazing caramel ice cream we ever tasted. Tasted just like eating caramel candies, but better.

(Salt and Straw)

We strolled Downtown Disney checking out some of the restaurants for another visit, listening to live music, and browsing the World of Disney store.

Finally, it was time to leave, so we went back to the Grand Californian where we purchased the Grand Californian mugs using our Disney Reward points, returned to the valet, and headed back to Huntington Beach.

Our 18-Month Florida Vacation Playlist

For videos of our most recent time living in Central Florida, check out our 18-Month Florida Vacation Playlist on our new YouTube Channel.

A Mind-Blowing Move

“Mind-blowing” seems to be my favorite “word” these days, which is ironic because back in the day when everybody was saying it, I wasn’t. I’m either on the cutting edge or the last to adapt – lol!

Everything in our world seems to have changed. Sometimes I wonder who these people walking planet earth are and what happened to the people who used to live here. For example, after so many interstate moves, that process seems to have changed. Just 5 years later. At today’s speed, 5 years is a lifetime. Okay, I worked in Silicon Valley for twenty years – I used to love change at warp speed.

After being homeowners for so long, we’re finding the house renting process to be more… Complex. Corporate. Competitive. I dislike big corporate hoop-de-doos. There are electronic forms to fill out that must be done in a certain way in a certain amount of time or you lose the house.

Moving companies now have a formal process that they don’t tell you about – not when you used to do things verbally, finalized with a simple signature. Now there are automatic electronic forms triggered by surprise… to be filled out.

Everybody acts as if all of this is normal, or the way it’s always been, so why don’t you get it? It starts to feel that if you don’t do it exactly right, you’ll miss out on doing it at all.

We knew this move would be difficult, but we never imagined it would be this difficult. And we’ve only just begun. One minute we’re homeowners knowing exactly where everything is and how it’s done to becoming those strangers now walking planet earth on the other side of the country. Talk about, “Who Moved my Cheese?”

I’ve always been very independent and self-sufficient, feeling quite capable of handling anything… with a little help from my cats. It may be time to adopt some adult children to help guide me through the rest of my life. 🙂

What If It Was Orlando…

When Rich’s aunt moved from L.A. County to San Diego County, she was thrilled. Three years of praying for a change after she buried her second husband (both husbands were a bit older), she was ready for the big “Yes.” Suddenly, or so it seemed, everything fell into place. She found a new place to live. Her home sold immediately. She was on her way to her new life.

We know what that’s like – we’ve done it several times. But as a much-appreciated reminder, she told us, “Don’t worry–the people who need to say yes have already been spoken to–it’s just a matter of timing” or something like that.

We’ve been wondering who our people are and when they will be spoken to. “Where are our people?” we (or maybe it was just me), shouted for some time now. And where are we going? And will this be our last big move?

I’m reminded of what I wrote when we left Florida 4.5 years ago:

This morning was another one of those glorious Florida mornings as I walked the neighborhood full of those Florida homes I love so much. I may cry when the longhauler pulls up. The only other time I’ve done that was when we left Oregon the first time around. I was sitting out on our back deck when I saw the truck and I was surprised by the tears that flowed. I didn’t want to give up our first house where we’d started our new little kitty family.

This time I have to give up Florida. And while it’s been difficult living here this time around, I do love it. As I strolled the neighborhood, I also realized that Florida represents my chance to relive my SoCal childhood as an adult. Disney, beaches, and affordable single-family, single-story homes with pools. That’s the way it was back in the ’60s when we lived in Orange County, California. Everybody I know who grew up there bemoans the fact that it’s no longer like that. And we all try to find our new SoCal. Florida was my new SoCal. Unfortunately, my childhood friends, schools, and family were missing from the Florida scene.

I will definitely miss opportunities to drop in on Disney, swim in the warm ocean, and meet up with new Disney friends when they’re in town. This was a brutal decision to make and many times, I didn’t think we’d make this choice. I thought maybe this time Florida would win.

At last discussions are underway. Plans are afoot. Nothing’s official, nothing’s agreed upon, nothing’s been signed, but there are mental plans to be made. Like where would we live, should the Orlando idea take root? How long will it take for our house to sell, now that we can finally sell it? What will we live in?

I know exactly the kind of Florida home I want. I want a house like our Tampa home or Disney vacation home. But what about location? Choosing the right neighborhood in Orlando is crucial. What about back to Windermere? It’s the one place we’d feel comfortable moving into a house sight unseen. But Windermere is too close to Disney. We want a real life apart from all of that. Disney takes over your life. Besides, Windermere homes don’t have that classic Florida vacation home we love so much. Windermere is upscale with beautiful, trendy style homes but it’s not our Florida home. Besides, it’s a bit of a commute for Rich, leaving me without a car.

Where I really want to live is somewhere on the BeeLine. I love those pool homes you pass on your way from Disney to the cruise port. They’re very similar to the Disney vacation homes we’ve stayed in on vacation. This is what I want but hard to get in a long term rental and so hard to tell what you’re getting without seeing it in person before signing a lease (although it didn’t really help touring the “stinky” house beforehand – we didn’t realize it was that stinky until we moved in.)

It also needs to be within our budget and within a reasonable commuting distance. I’m not asking a lot, am I? 🙂

To give you a visual, this is the kind of home I’m looking for:

The classic Florida home where you open the front door and your eyes are immediately drawn to the slider with the covered/screen pool in view.

Love the entryway with one of the guest bedrooms (office/studio for me) in the front

Love the island kitchen with breakfast nook overlooking the pool in the backyard (I’d replace the refrigerator)

Love the great room overlooking the pool in the backyard with proximity to the kitchen (the master is to the left with a pool bath leading to the pool)

It’s too early to say, “Woo hoo!” but I’m going to say it anyway. WOO HOO!

Spring Break Surprise Weekend Retreat Trip Report, Day 2, Part 2

After a brief nap, we had our “wake-up” snack of soda and a couple of squares of chocolate, and discussed our plans for the evening. We weren’t really into the beach after all and thought we’d swing by Downtown Disney for a little Disney magic.

We parked at Downtown Disney and saw, for the first time, the new security entrance, which we now know replaces the Valet parking area they once had. This secures Downtown Disney and allows you the freedom to enter the parks without going through Security in that congested area. People were friendly, and it went quite smoothly.

As we were walking toward the Security gates, we noticed a bride and groom riding inside Cinderella’s carriage – how romantic and magical is that! You can see that video here.

As we were heading toward World of Disney, Rich pointed out the people sitting at a table to our right. “JWs,” he said. I’m still in shock! I think I’ll write a separate post about my thoughts on that. Suffice it to say I think it’s a bad idea to open up the possibility of all kinds of non-Disney type entertainment setting up shop on DD property.

We also noticed the empty place where House of Blues used to be. They moved to Gardenwalk – the story is here. Splitsville takes its place at Downtown Disney – story here.

We must have arrived at Downtown Disney at the perfect time, because it wasn’t really crowded and World of Disney was the emptiest I’ve ever seen it. We spotted all the Minnie Mouse Merchandise immediately – she’s my girl (Real Mice Wear Red). I picked up a couple of red Minnie tapas plates.

Rich spotted a really cool Mr. Toad t-shirt and I assured him he must have it!

We then backtracked to the Grand Californian, noticing that on the way out, we’ll have to enter Security again. We were wondering where hotel guests would enter Security now that it’s been moved to the beginning of Downtown Disney instead of in front of the parks.

We stopped to enjoy the lobby and the pianist, and then on to Hearthstone Lounge, our home away from home.

This is one of our favorite places, but the last time it was a bit off. But we are happy to report, the fabulous service and experience was back on point, and I feel so totally at home here, I could just move in.

We shared our usual Robusto Flatbread and had 2 glasses of Malbec and tossed the idea around of stopping by the front gate to purchase an Annual Pass. It’s so hard to be asked, “Do you have an AP” when we’re dining or shopping and we have to say, “No!” lol!

We thought about getting the AP and popping in to DCA to check out the Food & Wine Festival, which had just started this weekend. Alas, we decided not to break the Downtown Disney parking rules and not enter a park, and wait for the “real” trip to purchase the AP.

On our way out of the GC, we stopped in at our favorite gift shop, and then through Security and back to the parking area with a brief stop to listen to our favorite Ry Bradley sing, and I took a bit of video from my iPhone. Or watch it here:

I’m still reuploading the iPhone videos to our YouTube channel but hope to reupload the GoPro videos soon. Unfortunately, on this trip, we didn’t have a better quality cameras with us.