Saturday, December 28, 2013

Christmas Day has come and for some quilting

And gift reports.

First, my son likes his quilt.  How do I know you ask?  Well I had asked for fabric for Christmas and he gave me some of the same fabric that went into his quilt.  So I guess I'll be making another Star Trek quilt in the near future.

He also found some Disney fabric so I get to plan a new quilt for myself:

Check out the watch strap to go with my Minnie Mouse watch that he made:

Along with a lot of really thoughtful gifts my husband picked out and paid for a block of the month quilt for me.  For the next 10 months I'll be heading over to Sew Devine here in Edmonton for the month's block.  Here's the pattern book:

And one of Mom's favourite gifts is this little guy.  He's similar to the little lizard that climbed up her leg during the Finding Nemo show at Animal Kingdom on our trip.

 Now off to visit with some out of town company and then to the quilting studio at long last!

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Gift I'm Most Looking Forward to Giving For Christmas

I'm not going to write about the gift I'm most excited about giving.  That's for my son. Since once in a while he actually looks to see what I'm up to here, I best not discuss that gift until after the 25th.

But the second gift that I"m most looking forward to giving is a book.  It's written by the mom of one of my husband's classmates from junior and senior high.  Our parents will be receiving hard copies.  I just finished reading the e-book version today.

This book is available in e-book form from Amazon.  Helga Tucque writes about leaving Germany after WWII and how it was decided that Edmonton would be her family's new home.   

"Oh, These Crazy Immigrants" will bring back so many memories for my Mom and my in-laws.  They will be able to relate to her stories.

She writes about life in Edmonton in the 1950's.  Driving to Jasper.  The beauty scenery as well as difficulties driving the mountain roads.  Waking up with snow on their tents, loosing keys to the car on the ski slopes.  She reminds us that businesses were not open on Sundays or religious holidays.  These are all stories that our family will relate to.  And will be sure to bring back their own memories. 

I'm hoping Helga will continue writing.  I'd love to give more of her books to the family next year for Christmas.  Looking back, a book was always one of my Christmas gifts.  I can't remember a Christmas when  I didn't receive a book until recently.  I think we need to get back to that tradition.

For many years I would buy a magazine called "Those Good Old Days" Christmas edition.  I would give this magazine instead of Christmas cards to the seniors in my life.  We would sit together going through the stories and the reprints of advertisements from their childhood.  This would bring out stories from their lives.  After they finished with the magazine it would be passed along to other seniors they knew.  Now the magazine is not available locally and we all miss it. 

Helga's book helps bring that part of my Christmas traditions back.  And I thank her.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Another rant...

I seldom rant.  Not seriously at least.  But it seems lately that's all I'm doing.

First it was Second Cup not selling egg nogcoffee locally and expecting me to send my credit card information to an unsecured e-mail address to someone in Halifax.   Then it was an issue with a local grocery store's loyalty reward points.  Today it's something totally different.

We picked up our son (DS) at his condo this morning.  A gentleman stopped us to explain that they were removing the snow from the parking lot today and asked that we park somewhere else.  We explained that we were just making a pick up.  No problem then.  Then he went off to knock on condo doors requesting that people move their cars.

I asked DS if he had received any requests for residents to move their cars from the parking lot for today.  He replied that there had been several notices in the mail.  I wonder why there were so many cars still there if that was the case.

Two hours later DS received a call on his cell phone from the property maintenance.  They asked him to remove his car from his parking stall.  He let them know that he doesn't own a car and no one should be parked in his stall.

Turns out that someone decided it was too much trouble to park their car elsewhere in the neighbourhood.  Instead they parked their car in DS's stall.  that way if parking tickets were issued, DS would get the ticket instead of them.  The joke was on them.  No tickets were issued.  All cars were towed away.

When we dropped DS back at his condo 5 hours later, the tow truck still had two more vehicles to remove from the parking lot.  The snow removal crew had been waiting for all that time.  If anyone complains about condo fees going up I hope the condo board points to this as an example of why.

The board had sent out several notices, maintenance had knocked on doors, phone calls made and even when we dropped DS off the tow truck driver came over to let us know there was no parking.

That's it...I'm off to watch a Christmas movie.  Maybe that will help improve my mood.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Loyalty points

I have a number of loyalty reward cards.  Three are for groceries.  One for a warehouse wholesale store, book stores, department stores etc.  I always remember to get the points but seldom use them. 

Did you know that some of these cards delete the points if they are not redeemed after a certain period of time?

Or that you can earn the points by just giving your phone number.  This is great because you don't fill up your wallet with a bunch of cards.  But the downside is that when you go to redeem those points to pay for merchandise you may run into some issues.

That is what happened to us this afternoon.  All year we shop at a grocery store here in Edmonton.  We faithfully use our phone number to collect our points.  We save them to buy the extra food we need for entertaining at Christmas.  We've done this for quite a few years.  Always worked great.....but not today. 

Imagine a huge line up at the grocery store.  My cart is loaded with items for our annual Christmas Eve Open House for family and friends.  I know I have over $190.00 in points so my cart full of groceries shouldn't cost me money.

First the cashier cannot find us using our phone number.  She gets her manager over and we explain that we know we have enough points to pay for our groceries so she re-enters the phone number and finally after a few tries there's all our information.  Great.

The manager walks away and the cashier informs us that there are no points there to cash in.  Huge line up behind us now.  But that's a large grocery bill so I ask that she again get the manager over.  The manager goes through the whole thing again and then as she walks away says, "Oh, you can't redeem any points unless you have your card." 

Whoa there lady....why were we not informed of that to begin with.  She informs us that the cashier is just a trainee so she wouldn't know.  I said that since she, being a manager, knew this why didn't she tell us?  We could have been paid and out of there without all these people having to wait on us.  The manager just laughs....and walks away.

The cashier asks if we want to put our groceries to the side, go home, and come back with our card.  Now, it's been snowing like crazy here.  Record breaking number of accidents.  The rain is now starting making it worse.  We declined going home and coming back.  We paid for the groceries and got out of there much to the relief of those poor souls behind us.

After getting home I call my Mom to vent.  Now she shops at the same grocery chain.  And Mom called "BS" on this whole thing.  Many times she gets asked if she wants to use her points to pay for her groceries and she never has her card with her.  They can redeem her points without a card. 

Now I start being a worry bird.  So many people in the line heard me repeat my phone number over and over, all the time insisting that I had more than enough points to pay for the cart of groceries.  What happens if they go to a different store and just repeat my phone number, use my points and I loose them all.  Not likely to happen, but.....

A few years ago all my points disappeared from a department store program.  Along with a number of other people's.  An employee was finally caught and fired, but that didn't get our points back.  Similar thing happened at another  grocery chain about 15 years ago.  That employee was caught because she was bragging on how many neat items her family and friends collected from points.  Someone got suspicious and checked it out.  Those are just the times I know about personally.  Not hearsay.  So it does happen.

Now for the fun part.  You knew there would be some fun...right!

After putting my groceries away and talking to my Mom, I got onto the computer.  I logged into the rewards points site and checked out what I could use the points for.  My favourite!  Gift Cards!   They are in the mail and although they will come way after Christmas, I know what my family will be getting for their birthdays this year!  It won't cost me anything. 

I love this.  Especially since I would have purchased the groceries and earned the points anyways.  And as a way to get back at the grocery store, these gift cards will be used elsewhere.  If they had been more customer orientated the points would have been used in their own store.

( at least one of the gift cards will be for me....but I earned it!)

Friday, December 6, 2013

Christmas Fabric/Christmas Decorating

I have a weakness for novelty and holiday fabric.  But after I bring it home I have to do something with it.  Either that or I store it for years.  I pull it out on occasion and wonder what I could make with it.  And who I would gift my creation to.  After all, I have enough of that kind of stuff cluttering up the place.  Turns out most of my family and friends have more than enough (usually given to them by me) so they really don't feel a need to have more.

So I have put a stop to bringing home the holiday fabric.   My stash is slowly going down.  In the past few years I have made place mats, runners and wall hangings.  Using up a lot of my Halloween and Christmas stash.  I won't say what I've done with these items. Some have gone to charities, some have been given away more creatively.  (There are rumours of a short grey haired woman roaming the streets in the early mornings leaving packages hanging on strangers' doors....and you thought it was the Great Pumpkin.)

So now what to do with the last bit of Christmas fabric I have left.  There was enough for two table runners and cushion covers.  Added bonus, these items will store easily with the Christmas towels and placemats. 

Any cushion that is plain received a band of fabric to make it fit the season.  A wide band of fabric works great on chair pads as well. 

Any cushion that looks so bad that it really should be replaced gets a new cushion cover.

For these covers I cut fabric the width of the cushion plus 3" by double the length of the cushion plus 7".  Each long end is folded over 1" and again 1" then stitched for a finished edge at each end. 

With the wrong sides together I fold the fabric lengthwise with the finished ends over lapping by three inches.  Stitch the sides together (1/2" seam), leaving the finished edges open.  Turn the cover right side out.  Slip the cushion inside. 

If the cover is too wide, it's very easy to fix.  Turn it inside out again and run another seam up one of the stitched edges.  If it's too long, turn the cover inside out and run a seam at one end.  There are no exact measurements for these cushion covers.  Depending on how much use your cushions have seen, they may be puffy or very flat.  Also depending on the type of stuffing in the cushion it may look better when in a smaller cover.  I have several cushions that should be replaced but look great when stuffed into a smaller cover.  (Guess I best make some new covers that will look good in the living room year round.)

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Kingsway & City Centre Decorations

After a 7:15 am eye appointment (yep, you read that right 7:15 am) I headed to Kingsway to kill some time before going downtown to meet up for coffee with former co-workers.

Kingsway pulled out all stops with the Christmas decorations again this year.  I really enjoyed walking around in a mostly empty mall taking photos.  Unfortunately with my eyes so dilated the photos are as fuzzy as my vision was. 

After coffee with my former co-workers (I really do miss them!) I headed over to Edmonton City Centre.  I was hoping to be blown away by the decorations.  This is where thousands of downtown workers go daily for work, shopping, lunch, coffee etc.  What a disappointment.  I took a photo of the tree by the food court in City Centre East.  Not much else was worth taking a photo of.

Now to finish decorating my own home for the Holidays

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

No Eggnog Coffee this Christmas

My family and friends (and of course myself) really enjoy spiced eggnog coffee from Second Cup.  We were very upset to find  out that it has been discontinued.  Now we're not talking about a latte.  It's the ground flavoured coffee that we were looking for.  It's a tradition for us to give, receive and enjoy this coffee during December.

Our local Second Cup store suggested that we e-mail head office to let them know our thoughts.  So that's what we did.  First we all received the same response back.  If we gave them our credit card number and told them how much we would want, they would "attempt" to fill our order.  No price given nor shipping charge.  Several of us asked if the coffee could be shipped to our local store for us to pick up.  Again we were asked how much and what is your credit card number.  No cost provided.

Finally I received an e-mail from a gmail account asking for my credit card number saying that they were a Second Cup store in Halifax and they had the coffee available.  How much did I want and they would "try" to get it out to me.

Wait a unsecured gmail address is asking for my credit information, still not providing the cost of the coffee or the shipping charges and they would "try" to get me the coffee.  No thanks.  If Second Cup can fill the orders for a store in Halifax, they can fill the order for our local stores here in Edmonton.

So what flavour will my friends and family be enjoying this year?  Glad you asked.  The Winners stores carry a brand called Grande Kaffee Colection.  So far I have picked up their Icicle Delight (dark chocolate with a hint of peppermint), and Jingle Berries Coffee (chocolate, berries and vanilla). 

As we meet up for coffee at the malls during the holidays, we will keep an eye out for other holiday flavours.  But really Second can provide the coffee for some provinces, do not provide the cost per pound, just a demand for our credit card numbers.....and you will "attempt" to get us the coffee.....

Saturday, November 30, 2013

More Mall Decorations and we spot Santa goofing off

My guys and I had a great day shopping and driving around checking out Christmas decorations for me to take photos of.

First was breakfast at Albert's.  Next time I'm taking photos of their decorations.  I totally forgot.

Then we stopped at Northwood.  The mall is going all out this Holiday Season.  Last week was their parade bringing in Santa.  There was a dog parade, choirs singing Christmas carols and dance groups putting on performances.  This week it was make your own snow globe for the kids.

Then we spotted Santa having fun at a motorcycle dealership on 97th Street (Edmonton).

Since it has been raining and now falling below freezing, I probably will not be adding any more decorating photos for the next few days.

Keep safe!

Christmas Decorations in the Malls

I'm really missing all the wonderful decorations in Walt Disney World.  So I'm on a mission.  It will be interesting to see if I can keep it up over the next few weeks.  Most likely life will get in the way.  But so far I've managed to take photos of a local mall's decoration.  Black Friday at Londonderry Mall was for the most part a bust.  At least in the morning.  Very few people as you can see from my photos.  Even Fabricland's line up to have fabric cut and for paying was manageable.  Usually when they have a sale, the line ups are really long.

But unlike when one tries to take photos of bathroom tiles, you really do not get strange looks when you take photos of Christmas decorations.  At least no strange looks or comments that I noticed.

On the quilting front, I managed to finish four pillow cases to go with the quilt I've made.  No photos until after Christmas as the recipient reads this blog on occasion.

Off to possibly photo another mall today.  Hey, it's cheaper than buying stuff.

Friday, November 29, 2013

After Our Walt Disney World Trip

WDW Stuff

I finally finished organizing the photos, burning over 400 photos onto 4 DVD's, getting the videos that turned out onto flash drives for the ladies, wrote and printed up 4 copies of what we were up to daily on the trip.  Oh, and printed out maps of all the Walt Disney Parks from their site.  The maps list only the activities we took in and mark where these rides, shows and restaurants are located.

Each of the ladies also received a copy of the brochures given out at the parks on the days we were there.  With show times lists.  They also get resort and dining information.  The resort information was in our rooms, but we just did not have time to go over it as well as we should have.  I make this mistake every time we go to WDW.  One of these days I'll learn.  We miss out on a lot of fun and free activities.

All that is left for us to do now, is decide which photos we want to print, get that done and then organize them.  I plan on printing about 70.  Good think Costco's is currently charging 10 cents per photo (plus tax).  I'm being mean.  I'm making every one decide on what photos to print themselves.  If they think that's hard to decide, they should have been the ones organizing and deleting similar shots.  Making the decisions on which was the best photo was hard!

I am sad to say that I lost my Magic Band.  It was in my carry on bag.  Since the airline does not offer any gluten free snacks, and as a insulin dependent diabetic, I carry my own snacks.  While rummaging through the bag to retrieve the snacks the Magic Band fell out.  I did call the airline but it was not found.

At home

We have been kitty sitting my son's cat while he was touring around the province with a play his company sponsors.  All in all our two cats and his got along quite well.  We are not used to a cat that can move so fast though.  It's been a long time since our girls got around that quickly.

I was going to put up the Christmas Tree and decorate while Bonnie was here.  It's so much fun decorating with a younger feline around to help.  Our two girls take an interest but they no longer do sneak attacks on the ornaments, or run off with them.  I kinda miss that.  Maybe I'll borrow Bonnie back when I get around to decorating.

On the quilting front:

Remember the bathroom tile patterns I posted previously?  I e-mailed them to Brandy Lynn at "Canadian Quilt Talk" podcast along with a story about the weird looks one gets when taking photos in a bathroom.  (It was just photos of the floor tile, get a grip people.)  Well Brandy Lynn liked the story and read it on her podcast.  I won another year's subscription to Quilter's Connection.  I already receive this magazine so I asked that the subscription go to a friend of mine in BC.  I know she will enjoy it.  This is an e-subscription so the magazine comes digitally not via Canada Post.

I actually made it back into the sewing room.  But instead of hemming the sleeves on the two Christmas/Holiday shirts I brought back from the World, I made pillow cases.  These are to go with a quilt I made for some one's Christmas present.  So no photos.  For those who have never made a pillow case, do a search for videos on how to make them.  Creative and easy.  The first one was made from start to finish (including cutting) in less than 20 minutes.

What's up for today?  Well it's Black Friday and two of my local fabric stores are having a sale.  While I'm at one of the locations I'll be taking photos of the mall's decorations.  Disney does such a great job of decorating and SB and I are missing the whole place.  So I'm going to try and visit my favourite malls, take photos and post them here for us to enjoy.  We'll see how it goes.  The malls may have an issue with it.  Hope not. 

As I'm walking I'll get some steps in on my FitBit.  I stayed home for most of the first 5 days I was back.  Several to get things organized and the rest of the time because DS was expecting some packages I had to sign for.  Then yesterday I got a good walk in despite the ice, but forgot my FitBit at home.  Today will be a major walking day (not as much as we averages in WDW) and I'm promising myself not to forget my FitBit this time.

Now for a bit of sewing until the stores open....

Monday, November 25, 2013

Wrap up on the trip

A few final thoughts and comments on the trip.

Having two connecting rooms was definitely the way to go for us.  Four women, each with their own bed, two bathrooms.  We could have stayed at a more expensive hotel in one room.  But then at least two of us would have had to sleep on fold out couches.  Not at our age!

Staying at a Disney Resort was great.  We could bus it where ever we wanted to go on property.  The system was easy use and there was no issue if someone wanted to head off to a different location or return to the resort on their own.  If we had been relying on a rental car and staying off property that would have been a different story.

After reading earlier posts I realize that on this trip we really got our money's worth out of the Park Hopper option.  I hesitated asking the ladies to pay the extra money for it.  But it seems that we used it quite often.  I have been on trips where although we had the Park Hopper we never made use of it.

We had lots of different experiences.  Like one of the tiny lizards that run around the parks climb on to Mom's leg.  This happened while we were waiting for Finding Nemo to start at Animal Kingdom.  Mom kept perfectly still but the little guy jumped off before I could get a photo.  I've never seen one sit on a person before.

There were so many squirrels this time.  But only two ducks showed up for breakfast one morning.

A walk over to the Art of Animation across the Generation Gap Bridge was made extra special by seeing turtles swimming in the water below.  I quite often see one or two, but this was a huge group of turtles, large and small.  By the time we decided to walk on, there was a lot of people turtle watching with us.

The weather was lovely.  Two days had heavy rain.  The day of our Christmas party (November 15) and our last day in the parks (November 21).  Other than that we hardly used our ponchos.  It would rain just enough to make us damp and mess up our glasses.  Then it would stop.  The average temperature was in the high to mid 20's(C) .

I really enjoyed seeing the resorts and parks with their Christmas decorations.  It was great that Pop Century was decorated two days before we left.

I think all of us appreciated being on the dinning plan.  We were entitled to two quick service meals and one snack a day.  With the meals being so large Mom and I usually shared.  Getting gluten free was no problem at all.  Check here to see what we had available just at our resort....never mind all the other resorts and in the parks!

Pop Century's Menu

Now all that is left is to sort the 570 photos and 12 videos.  See which ones to keep and which ones to print.  And to organize them.  That's the hard part!

After all that is done I'm heading back to the quilting studio....I just happened to find some quilting inspiration while I was at Disney the bathrooms and by the water fountains!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Last day - so sad

Thursday - November 21

While SB did laundry, Mom and I set off for Art Of Animation for a last look around.  JT stayed back for some rest as she had a rough night.  We were really happy that we walked over to the Art of Animation.  The elves had been busy.  We got to see the Christmas decorations that had been put up the previous day.

After the laundry was done we headed over to EPCOT and World Showcase, starting off in Mexico.  There we looked around the displays, stores and rode the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros.

After looking around the shops some more (and not buying anything I might add), we checked out Norway.  The display for the Frozen movie was supposed to be set up but it is still under construction which was disappointing.  SB checked out the shops while the rest of us enjoyed the Maelstrom ride and the film that follows the ride.  Then it was on to China.

We first ate and then checked out the shops.  The Reflections of China film and and the terracotta solider display.  SB headed back to the resort so she could pack.  We walked over to Riverside and the Boardwalk resorts.  Half way there the rain started and did not know when to stop.  Guess Florida wants to make sure we won't miss it as much as if it had been a sunny last day.  It poured so hard we took the boat back to EPCOT.  After a bit of last minute shopping we headed back to the resort ourselves to finish packing.

Supper was at the resort and it naturally included a Mickey ice cream bar for a couple of us.

Just a few last minute things to pack in the morning and we are on our way home.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom

Tuesday - November 19

I have been anticipating the ladies reactions to the Festival of the Lion King. Well they loved it!  Next we enjoyed another trip on the Kilimanjaro Safari.  More animals that I have ever seen on the safari. A walk through the Maharagjah Jungle Trek in Asia was great but we had to rush.  The tigers were our favourite. Or at least my favourite.  Especially the one that was snoring with his tongue hanging out.

After a brief stop at Pop we headed out to Downtown Disney.  Supper was at the group of  restaurants where Baby Cakes is located. I enjoyed the baking as I usual do.  It's not often that I can find that much variety of gluten free baking.

I asked for directions from someone at Santa's House. The elf said he didn't know but he knew who we could ask.  We replied that of course Santa would know.  The look on his face...that wasn't what he was going to say. The elf had planned on sending us to guest services.  It was a fun interaction with a cast member.

 Wednesday November 20

Today we went to Magic Kingdom. We enjoyed seeing it in daylight.  Lots of photos of the holiday decorations were taken.  And I could figure out where we needed to go.

We rode the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover.  Next was Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress.  Then lunch at Cosmic Ray's. SB went on to Downtown while we rode the Liberty Square Riverboat, watched the show at the Hall of Presidents.  We then watched the parade.  I took a video so SB could enjoy it later.  Looks like it is going to rain and we are ready for a break. Heading back to Pop.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Reporting on two days at WDW and Universal

November 17 -Universal!

We grabbed a cab early in the morning and headed to Universal.  The driver was great and made the ride interesting.  Former military he served several tours in Afghanistan.  He had loads of stories about the Disney Parks and Universal.

I was relieved that I was the only one who had to show ID when we showed our e-tickets to get into the parks.  Since the tickets were purchased via my credit card only mine was required.  Although the e-ticket does say on it that photo ID is necessary.   I wasn't sure that everyone had photo ID with them.

Naturally the first thing we did was The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  After a bit of shopping it was time to see the Hogwarts Choir complete with the Singing Toads.

Since we did not plan on doing any rides we took in the castle tour.  Way too dark to see anything and the route missed a lot. Don't believe it when they tell you it's worth while. It's not. Take it from someone who has done both (and loves the castle and the ride).  Walk through as if you are going on the ride and then tell the team members where you board the ride that you decided not to go on it.  We missed so much.  And it seems that it is so much darker.  No time was given for our eyes to adjust.

Now the Three Broomsticks for lunch.  Between us we had the chicken dinner, shepherds pie, pumpkin juice and butter beer.  We sat outside in the back where it was cool and quiet.  It was hard to make ourselves head out to the noisy crowd.

A bit of money was spent on HP memorabilia as well as chocolate frogs and the like.

Although we had a park hopper we only saw Islands of Adventure.  It was hot and we were tired.  So back to Pop.

SB declined a trip back to EPCOT with us.  The three of us rode Space Ship Earth, Soarn' and The Seas with Nemo and Friends ride.

November 18 - Hollywood Studios

Laundry first.  $2 per load and the same again for the dryer...but we needed clean for Hollywood Studios.

It was show day.  No rides for us today.  Beauty and the Beast - Live on Stage, Voyage of the Little Mermaid, The Great Movie Ride, Muppets 3D, and Fantasmic.  We knew SB would love Fantasmic!

We ate at the ABC Commissary and enjoyed it.  Oh, and those holiday travel mugs....well we are not going home with empty suitcases.  Mission accomplished.

When we got back to Pop, Mom soaked her feet in the pool while SB and I went swimming.  Yep, you read that right.  We went swimming (no photos to prove it though).  JT grabbed her book and headed out to one of the pools to read.

After a "bit" of wine it was bed time.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Resort Hopping and Hollywood Studios (DHS)

Saturday  November 16

We started off the day by taking the bus to EPCOT then the monorail the Transit and Ticket Centre.  Then we took the boat to Magic Kingdom (MK). Then onto a smaller boat to the Grand Floridian.  Now we have taken all the modes of transportation Disney offers.

The Grand Floridian  has a wonderful gingerbread house in the lobby.  It's so large that baking etc is sold from one of the windows.

After walking around this resort we rode a boat to the Polynesian Resort.  Pulled pork nachos and Dole Whip dessert.  Does it get any better?  I have been craving this meal since I realized were were going back to Disney World.

After checking out the resort we took the monorail back to MK.  SB decided she wanted to take it easy for the rest of the day since Sunday will be Universal and she plans on really doing that park.  The three of us headed over to Wilderness Lodge by boat.  Unfortunately the lobby is not decorated for Christmas.  I don't think we'll make it back to take photos later.  We did enjoy walking around the resort though.  Then back to Pop were we met up with SB for supper.

SB then headed downtown for a bit while the rest of us went back to Hollywood Studios (DHS). There we asked once again for the holiday coffee mugs. This time the cast member ran to several other stores to check for us.  She came back saying that the mugs had not been released yet. We let her know that we had seen them clipped to strollers and backpacks.  That's when the confusion cleared up. Everyone thought we were looking for ceramic mugs.  Once she knew what type we were looking for she was able to send us in the right direction. Mission accomplished!  We are coming back here tomorrow and complete our quest.  Many mugs will fall victim to our wallets.

After this victory we took in Star Tours and Fantasmic. JT enjoyed both and we can't wait to see how SB enjoys Fantasmic.  I know it will be a hit for her.

Then we headed back to the resort for fries with wine....or was it wine with fries?

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom

Friday - November 15

Wow, so many people dressed in Christmas attire. hats, shirts and blinking jewelry.  Holiday decorations every where we looked. But it was raining so I made a not so brilliant decision to take photos later.  I hoped the rain would stop. Never happened. So all we have are our memories (and souvenirs).  We will try to get back on another day to take photos.  But they won't be night time photos with all the lights as there are Christmas parties almost every evening now.

We did get right into the rides. No line ups!  We rode It's a Small World and Pirates of the Caribbean. Then we watched Country Bear Jamboree.  Off to find cookies and hot chocolate. Disney was providing gluten free for those of us that have issues.  There are Holiday Treat locations all over.  We finally stopped at one where we could sit down in Fantasyland.

SB then went on to the front of the park to shop. The rest of us went on Peter Pan's Flight and watched Mickey's PhilharMagic show.  Then we managed to make our way through the parade line ups to catch up with SB. Unfortunately her back is so sore she decided to skip the rest of the events and head back to Pop Century.  We are so happy we are staying on property and that Disney makes it so easy to get around.  She has no qualms about heading back to the resort to take it easy and have some quiet time on her own.

Since we walked her back to the front of the park we were in a decent spot to watch the Mickey's Once Upon A Christmastime Parade.  I should have done a video so we could show it to SB later.  After that a short walk and a great spot for the Celebrate the Magic castle lighting show.  Then the Holiday Wishes-Celebrate the Spirit of the Season fireworks.  At least I remembered to take videos of the light show and fireworks for SB to enjoy.  Next for Haunted Mansion.  By the time we finished this ride the rain was bad enough to send us back to the bus. On the walk to the buses we saw the Electrical Water Pageant.

At various times during the evening we asked for directions. One family from Manitoba waited for us to get off a ride so they could escort us. Another time a cast member took us to where we were going. 

Tomorrow we are off to check out the resort decorations!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Having fun - enjoying Epcot

Thursday November 14

EPCOT was fun. We started with a ride on Space Ship Earth where finally the fast pass plus system worked.  Mom rode with JT while I rode with SB.  Since Mom and I had been on the ride previously we were able to tell them when the ride starts going backwards so no one was surprised.  This was necessary for SB so she could brace her back and neck.  It's not a rough ride at all but her neck is extremely sore right now. We used the computers at the end of the ride to e-mail home photos our ourselves taken on the ride.  Hopefully the ladies receive them.

Then on to the Land Pavilion.  We have a fast pass for Living With The Land.  We really do not need a fast pass since this ride is usually not that busy.  But I wanted to give the Magic Bands a good workout to see how well they are work.  Since we had to kill time until our fast pass time, we took in the Circle of Life.  Sure hope everyone has seen Lion King.

Next three of us rode Soarn'. SB decided she would pass on that one because of her back and neck.  JT enjoyed Soarn' as much as Mom and I do.

Then on to Club Cool were we enjoyed a lot of different Coke products. Surprising no one, SB enjoyed the one from Greece the best. I even tried the dreaded "Beverly".  I can handle two or three small cups of that one.  Any more would not have a good outcome.  I also enjoyed the beverage from Greece as well as some of the other flavours.

After playing the Great Piggy Bank Race we headed out to World Showcase. As Canadians we naturally started with Canada.  We enjoyed the Oh Canada show and talked to a lot of fun guests.  This is where we start getting some reaction to our castle bags.

The street performers just started at the UK pavilion when we got there so we watched them for a bit. Then on to the show in France (Impressions de France) which was very enjoyable but certain unnamed individuals fell asleep.  I will point out that those same individuals did manage to stay awake for the candy making at Japan.

We then made our way to Morocco for dinner at Restaurant Marrakesh and the belly dance show.  Great meal and if I could make salads that good I'd be skinny cuz I'd be eating them all the time!  I will find out how to make that salad dressing!  On my two previous visits I could never convince the people I was with to try this restaurant.  The photos of the meals make it look like they are heavy on sauces.  Well the salad dressing was wonderful, and the rest of the meal had no sauces.  The belly dancer was great.

We made it around the show case as far as the US and after seeing The American Adventure show we staked out our spot for Illuminations.  Which was as great as I remembered it.  Something all of us enjoyed.


Today we had a late start on purpose. First we went to browse the shops at Downtown Disney.  We really didn't do too much damage to our wallets on this trip.  But I'm sure we'll fix that soon.  We had JT's birthday lunch at the Rainforest Cafe. It's noisy at this restaurant but there is so much happening.  The restaurant gave JT a complimentary cupcake for her birthday.

Back to Pop to get ready for the Christmas party

More on that later...

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

First full day-Animal Kingdom & ...

Wednesday November 13

After a late start we headed to Animal Kingdom.  Before we left I asked the front desk to change our fast pass plus times since we missed the first one - the Kilimanjaro Safari.

Well the system is definitely in test phase.  The change was made but only for me but not for the others.  Even though the cast member had set it up for all of us.

So we waited a bit longer in the stand by line.   Lots of animals so I think every one enjoyed the ride. Next was the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail.  We enjoyed lunch at Flame Tree Barbecue.  The weather is a bit cooler so it's not quite as enjoyable eating around the pool and watching the birds.  But it is a lovely quiet place to regroup.  Now Its a Bugs Life and a brief close up view of the Tree of Life.  We ended up our visit with Finding Nemo - The Musical followed by the Mickey’s Jingle Jungle Parade where Santa Mickey as well as Santa appeared.

After a bit of time in our rooms we headed over to Hollywood Studios to see the Osborne Christmas lights.  Wow!!  We were so impressed we didn't even buy anything. Gasp.  All we could talk about was the light display!  Definitely a must see.  I had heard that Hollywood Studios was closing on Thursday at 4 pm for a staff recognition party.  Since we are doing EPCOT from opening to closing on Thursday, and the Christmas party at Magic Kingdom is on Friday, that gives us today to see the lights.  I think we were all happy that we did go to see them.

But seeing the lights tonight starts us on a quest.  Guests were carrying Disney Christmas Travel Mugs.  Where are they getting them?  We asked fellow guests where they found them.  We would get the answer if we spoke German or Spanish.  The guests tried to explain.  They really did.  Oh well...the hunt is on and super shopper tarathesmall will not be beaten!  I am on a QUEST!

Finally back to Pop for our bed time sundae.  A tradition from past visits.  I am sorry to say that the chili fries are no longer available.

Tomorrow is EPCOT.  Be prepared for a full day Ladies.

We are here!! Let the fun begin.

Tuesday November 12

We made it to WDW!!  After checking in and getting our room assignments (which yet again face bushes instead of fun statues),  we headed to Downtown Disney where the ladies enjoyed a Holiday Sandwich at the Earl of Sandwich

After a bit of shopping, enjoying the Christmas music and lights (and a pit stop at the Rainforest Cafe to see how the bathrooms are decorated) we headed back to POP Century.

Once there we foolishly picked up our refillable mugs.  All they had were orange ones. In the morning we found other colours are available. They restock at night. Oh well.  A run to the Everything Pop store and a purchase of key chains to attach to the handles and we can tell who's mug belongs to who.

I forgot to mention that our luggage arrived before we left for supper.  Everything was in good condition.

This morning we are off to Animal Kingdom and then to Hollywood Studios.

By the way, we are in building 2 in the 50's on the third floor.  We can access the stairs or elevator right behind the music jukebox at the end of the bowling pin swimming pool.  Our room is very close to the elevators.  Since my knee isn't letting me go down stairs easily, for the first time I'll be using the elevator more than stairs while at a resort.

Ours are the  rooms with a Snowman and Santa surrounded by snowflakes in the windows.  We decorated the windows in case we are just too tired to find our rooms by room numbers (tired....yeah right....that's the reason).

Friday, November 8, 2013

Trip planning still - How much do we take?

It's getting down to packing time.  Kind of exciting, but deciding what to leave and what to take makes my head hurt.

The weather will be from the mid 20's to low teens while we are there.  So that means a variety of clothes.  Plus when we leave home it will be -10 or colder.  So we have the issue of winter coat and boots.  Then what do we do with them when we get to the airport.  Or dress in layers and leave room in the carry on to stuff things into as we find we don't need them. 

I'm not going to be wearing heavy boots and jacket.  Walking shoes, fleece jacket and a windbreaker will have to do it.  At least those items I can wear when we are in Florida.  The ladies have been warned that they are responsible for what they bring.  It should be interesting. 

JT has offered to take her tote bag and one other that I made in her suitcase.  I'm so grateful.  They are a bit on the bulky side.  Light weight, but bulky.  She also took some of the Christmas decorations.  We only bought window stickers that come off without any residue.  We didn't want to create more work for the "Mousekeepers".  

Whether pack light and wash clothes while we're there has been discussed.  Three of us are planning to do at least one load of laundry.  The other one has indicated that's now how she usually travels so she probably will bring enough for the 10 days. 

Because of limited closet space in our rooms, we're packing some pant hangers and those hooks from "TV Showcase" that you hook a number of clothes hangers to the hook to save space.  Hope this works.

The last minute things to add always worry me.  I just know I'll forget something important.  Like a charger for one of the electronics.  Nothing could be more frustrating than to cart an electronic device all that way and then not be able to use it.  Then there is medication that is taken daily.  Especially the type that has to be refrigerated.  That is so easy to forget.  And so very important.

Finally the boarding passes and ordering the taxi.  Hope they have vans big enough for all the luggage that is coming (as well as for the four of us).

Will be posting from the parks soon.....if I don't forget my iPad.......

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Planning a trip to Walt Disney World - for someone else!

What fun!  CL, my best friend in high school's daughter sent me an e-mail.  She was asking for some advice for a trip to Walt Disney World in July of 2014.  Look out.  Information overload.  I'm afraid after my first two replies, which were lengthy, she is sorry she asked.

They had hoped to stay at Wilderness Lodge which is on the expensive side.  So I advised her to sign up for a Disney account in the hopes of receiving some discount codes.  Also to check out some of the many travel agencies that specialize in WDW.  There are some agencies that will apply any discounts that come out to your booking.  Free of charge.  And they check every day for those discounts.  Plus you can pay monthly so by the time you take your trip, it's all paid for.

But I did have a suggestion for CL.  Check out the Art of Animation resort.  It's WDW's newest resort.  Just right for her three boys.  The suites sleep six.  And it's a value plus resort so the costs are not any where near Wilderness Lodge.  If their hearts are set on staying at Wilderness, they could transfer for the last days of their stay.  Disney will transfer their luggage for them.  I sent her a video (actually quite a few) of the Art of Animation. 

Now for what's happening for the four ladies trip this month.

JT did get her flu shot!  Yeah!  SB was not able to get it but she's taking good care of herself so we're hoping the flu bug doesn't get her.

Normally I have no issue with air pressure when flying.  But with just recovering from a cold I decided to bring some of those air plane ear plugs.  I think the others will be bringing them along as well.  From what I'm reading, any type of sinus problems makes take offs and landings very painful.  So I'm hedging my bets. 

I'm keeping up with the Christmas decorating progress at Disney World.  It should look like Christmas when we get there. 

The hard part is trying to figure out what type of clothes to wear to the airport.  We each have very strong views on this subject.  I am reminding the ladies that the storage/closet space is very limited and that we do have to share it equally.

This is causing us to re-think what to take.  Pop Century is a value resort, so "you gets what you pay for".  And what we get is a 3 dresser drawers and a very small area for hanging clothes.  Which 2 people do have to share.  I can't imagine 4 people staying in the same room at this resort. 

We are now in the time period to do our on line check in at the resort.  I did this last year and won't be doing it again.  There was a lot of difficulty when they put us on the main floor (despite our requesting 3rd floor).  As soon as they realize Mom's age, they immediately think stairs will be too much for her.  Got news for them. 

So we'll wait until we get there to check in and then they can "discuss" with Mom in person about the room location.  And they better not put us into a "quiet" area either.  In other words the area that overlooks bushes where they store the maintenance vehicles.  Instead of the rooms overlooking the huge fun icons that are all over the main areas of the resort. 

Now to decide what to take....

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Trip planning looking good

Trip Update:

UPS showed up yesterday with SB's Magical Express luggage tag!  So we all have our luggage tags now!

As of now we have:

Room reservations
Dinning Plan
Park tickets for Disney
Park tickets for Universal
Air plane tickets
Travel insurance
Name and colours on Magic Bands selected
Our Fast Pass selection have been made (Sorry ladies, I didn't discuss this with you.  Did my best guess on what you would find of interest.)

Two of us have received our flu shots.  SB is still getting over her lung infection so was not able to get hers.  JT still wants to get hers.

All of us have our prescriptions filled.  Yeah, I know, too much information.  But it is important.  You can't deny that!

We still have to buy Christmas decorations.  Yep, you read that right.  Pop Century is a large resort.  Over 2,500 rooms.  It's fun and does help when guests decorate their windows.  We're hitting the dollar stores to buy decorations for our rooms.  Mainly window stickers that peel off,  These do not create more work for the Mouse Keepers after we leave. 

 I'll post a photo of our decorating efforts (if possible) when we get there.

And here's a thank you:

I posted the other day that I could not add link lists to my blog.  It's fixed!  Thank you Google Help Team!

On a tech note:

While shopping at Staples I found information on a new service (and phone for traveling).

Roam Mobility for the traveler.  They offer Canadians a low cost cell, text and data service.  You can purchase just the SIM card or buy a phone for traveling.

We won't be needing one of these.  But what a great service. I know of several families who came home to huge cell phone bills on top of their travel costs.

The link to Roam Mobility is with the Disney Trip Planning list.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Nothing exciting - just stuff

Trip stuff:

Monday morning I called Magical Express again to see if they could provide a UPS tracking number for SB's luggage tag.  I had called them early October when we received the Magical Express voucher and only my tag was included.  Surprise, there is no record of my calling.  The employee took the information and promised it would be shipped out immediately.  Here's hoping it arrives this week.

SB could use some good news (like "Hey SB, your luggage tag is here".  She's on antibiotics for a lung infection and could use a pick me up.  Her doctor is hoping the infection will clear up before we leave.  I'm hoping she will pick up some air plane ear plugs.  She said her ears were bothering her and I know that flying when you already have an earache is no fun. 

Tech stuff:

I'm trying to get some links on this blog for my favourite quilting and trip planning sites.  I can add links to other people's blogs with no problem.  But not to other sites.  I'm still waiting for Google Help Desk to get back to me.  If you ever see some websites on the blog you'll know that the problem was fixed.

We managed to get iTunes accounts set up for Mom and for JT.  Now they both have a flashlight app on their phones.  Not really all that exciting, but could be useful.  The main reason was to show them how to get apps on their phones.  Now they can have fun finding all sorts of apps to play around with.  I also showed them how to use free wi-fi when it's available.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Still more trip planning

Mom calls to let me know that she still has not received anything from UPS.  She and JT should have their Magical Express voucher and luggage tags by now.  I still have not received SB's luggage tag, although we do have our voucher and I have my luggage tag.  So what now?

I decide to re check and re check and re check our reservations.  Both on-line and paper.  Finally I spot the problem.  I'd feel bad that it took me so long except that the other ladies checked and they didn't spot it either.  There was no apartment number on Mom's reservation.  The mail man has no way of knowing what mail box to put the envelope in.  UPS would probably believe the envelope is going to a house since there is no apartment number.  So they would feel that the address is incorrect.

Here I am, at 7 am walking to my son's to use his phone.  He has a long distance plan and there is no way I'm going to call Disney without either using VOIP or a phone that has a long distance plan.  The time on hold can seem endless when you call them.

Turns out that Mom's address is so long there is no room in the address field for the apartment number.  Disney IT people end up getting involved to correct this.  An e-mail has been sent to me with the correct address on the reservation. 

I have to meet up with Mom and her friend at the mall to give Mom her hand me down cell phone (I just got a hand me down from my son).  While waiting for them I check my e-mail (the mall has free wi-fi and I do not have a data plan - too cheap).  The e-mail from Disney is there....but the apartment number is wrong.  The first two numbers are switched. 

Give Mom her phone, stop at Rogers to help her get her name corrected and then walk home.  This time to use VOIP to call Disney.  A cast member came on line immediately.  He made the correction and sent another e-mail.  Then I was off the the quilt shop to help sew up tote bags for local women shelters.

Fast forward 5 hours and Mom calls to say that UPS has arrived with the Magical Express voucher.  She had called a week ago and asked where it was.  The Mear's employee took down her address (correctly) and apparently their computer system doesn't have an issue with long addresses.  She is still waiting for the Disney Resort vouchers and souvenir luggage tags though.

We are still waiting for SB's luggage tag.  I had called Magical Express (Mears) the day before Mom did, but it still has not arrived.  It's not the end of the world as we still can use the Magical Express to go from the airport to the resort.  But it would be nice if SB didn't have to collect her luggage at the Orlando airport and haul it around with her.  Keeping our fingers crossed that the luggage tag will get here!

By the way, with all the walking to my son's to the mall, back home, then to the quilt ship, I put in some good training for walking in the parks.  Fitbit showed almost 16,000 steps.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Magical Express and more mail!

The Magical Express voucher for Mom and JT has not arrived.  When I called to request SB's luggage tag (which was missing from our voucher package) I was told that Mom's and JT's would arrive the next day.  Mom stayed home to accept the delivery from UPS.  Believe me, it's not easy getting that lady to stay home.  She is always on the go.

Mom called the Magical Express 1-866 number on Thursday evening.  She was told that they would ship it out right away.  Now we are confused.  Are they re-shipping?  Or had they not shipped in the first place.  Like I said..very confusing.

Now for the fun part.  New Mail!

DH and I were just going out the door for a breakfast date when the mail arrived.  In with the mail was an envelope from Disney!  It contained our Mickey Mouse luggage tag souvenirs. 

Along with the vouchers for our refillable mug, dinning plan, discounts, etc.

Unfortunately SB wasn't home so we couldn't deliver her luggage tag immediately.  It's these things that keep the excitement going.  At least it does for me.

In the spirit of keeping the excitement going:

Mom, SB and I are heading over to JT's on Tuesday afternoon for popcorn and Disney movie or two.  And possibly trip talk.  A lot of the attractions at WDW either now have movies based on them, or the attractions are based on a movie.  While you can definitely enjoy the attraction without knowing the movie, it does increase the fun when you are familiar with the theme.  It's so neat when the imagineers nail a part that you really enjoy.

It would be nice if Mom receives both the Magical Express voucher and luggage tag along with the Disney Travel voucher with the Mickey souvenir luggage tag so she can bring it to JT's on Tuesday.  But with  Monday being Thanksgiving here in Canada it's doubtful.  But I can hope.

I'm also going to give JT and SB my copies of the Unofficial Guide to Disney World.  I have 2010 and 2012 editions.  While a lot has changed the books are still great at letting you know what is available and that you may not want to miss.  Also loads of information about how to get to the parks, what to expect, weather, expected crowds, what to pack, etc.  Hopefully they'll spend a few minutes taking a look at them.