Disney’s Animal Kingdom

I have to admit, Animal Kingdom is one of my favorite Disney parks.  I love the atmosphere, the shows, and most importantly, the animals!  Animal Kingdom has been labeled by some as a glorified zoo, and I would partially agree with that.  I absolutely love zoos, and Animal Kingdom definitely has its fair share of zoo-like qualities, but it also has great shows and some rare meet-and-greet characters that can’t be found anywhere else!

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Our first stop in Animal Kingdom is ALWAYS Africa.  It is by far my favorite stop in this park.  I love the Kilimanjaro Safari, the Drummers of Harambe, and The Lion King stage show.  All of these bring Africa to life.

The first attraction we visit is the stage where the Drummers of Harambe perform.  I absolutely LOVE them!  They are so very entertaining.  They get the crowd involved every time.  Since we are usually at their first performance of the morning, it is not very crowded.  I have been picked every time to dance with them!  It is so much fun!

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The Lion King stage show is to die for!  The music, performances, and dancing are all beautiful.  There are all sorts of things to see in this show, such as acrobats, a fire dancer, performers on stilts, dancing, singing, and much more!  If you only make time for one show at Disney, this is the one to pick!

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Also, we made the mistake of using a Fastpass on this show during our first trip to Disney World.  Since the seating is 360 degrees around the stage and there isn’t really a best seat, so there was no benefit to using a Fastpass.  We have been several times since then and have gotten just as good seats without a Fastpass.

I am also a fan of Rafiki’s Planet Watch.  However, this is not everyone’s cup of tea. It takes a while to get there due to waiting for a train, which is the only way to access this attraction.  Once you arrive, there are several things to do and see.  You can watch live video streaming of the animals around Animal Kingdom. You can also see live animal shows were you get to come in contact with animals. I was able to pet a rabbit and meet a darling hedgehog.  The Affection Section is a favorite of mine as well.  You can pet and interact with MANY goats, all of which are happy to be handled.  It is here that you can also meet Rafiki and Chip and Dale!

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Chip and Dale are so much fun!  I love getting kisses from them.

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We loved eating at Yak n Yeti in the Asia area of Animal Kingdom.  It was delicious.  It was a little more than we wanted to spend; however, we got TONS of food.  The egg rolls are to die for!

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Flights of Wonder is a great show in Asia to see.  The live birds are amazing to watch! At one point an owl flies over the crowd and his wings actually brushed the top of my head.  This show is definitely a must-see for Animal Kingdom.

Also not pictured is DInoLand in Animal Kingdom.  Primeval Whirl is a fun ride in DinoLand.  The carnival-style game booths look like a lot of fun, but we chose not to do them because they cost extra.  I am a big chicken so the Dinosaur ride was a definite “no” for me!

The Finding Nemo stage show is a neat stop, especially for kids, or even for big kids like me!  It is located near DinoLand and is actually a little difficult to find.  We had to ask a cast member and almost missed the show because we were running behind.  I’ve only seen it once, but I definitely enjoyed it.

Pocahontas can be found at Animal Kingdom, as well as Tarzan.  I have met Pocahontas, but I haven’t met Tarzan yet.  That is at the top of my list for our next visit!

And finally a little couple selfie to wrap up this post.  We stopped to take this on the African trail.

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Stay tuned for the next post!  I’m going to give a little “guided” tour of each park with all of our favorite rides and attractions.

Love,

Anna Beth

Disney World Weekend

This past weekend my husband and I took a weekend vacation to Disney World.  We had a blast!  We are fortunate to live close enough to Disney World that we can drive down on a Friday and spend the weekend in our favorite place.  The last trip we took, we brought my polaroid camera along to snap the shots, but this time we decided to bring our GoPro Hero 3+ to capture our special moments. Troy was the primary photographer on this trip, which feels so weird.  I’m usually the one behind the lens.

I love how handy the GoPro was!  We kept it on the retractable “selfie stick” in our backpack.  When we were ready to take a picture we just grabbed it and snapped the shot.  I was able to use photoshop to edit the photos and I am so pleased with the final product.

When we arrived on Friday, we started out the weekend with Hollywood Studios where we took several character drawing classes at the Magic of Disney Animation building.  This is one of our favorite things to do!

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We ended the evening browsing the shops and wandering on the streets enjoying the lights.

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Saturday, our second day, was spent in Magic Kingdom.  This was our first time on the Mad Tea Party ride.  I had so much fun!DCIM100GOPRO

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We also watched the Festival of Fantasy Parade for the first time, and it was stunning!

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We ended the evening with the most beautiful view of the castle and the Wishes nighttime fireworks show.  It is absolutely magical!

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Of course, I couldn’t leave Disney without seeing two of my favorite characters, Minnie and Baymax, so we went back to Hollywood Studios on Sunday before we headed home.  I was actually in line to see Baymax when Minnie came around the corner and invited me into her room.  She showed me around the room while she pointed out her favorite things, including several pictures of her and Mickey.

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Hiro and Baymax loved my custom-made Baymax ears. I got a big hug from Baymax and a high-five from Hiro!

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I hope you enjoyed looking at our little vacation.  We are so ready to go back in May.  Can you guess what we’ll be bringing along with us?  Our GoPro!

Please leave a comment and let me know you stopped by!

Love,

Anna Beth

Low Carb, Coconut Flour Fudge Brownies

Low Carb, Coconut Flour Fudge Brownies

 

Ingredients

1 cup coconut flour

1 cup cocoa powder

1 cup sugar free imitation honey

1 cup butter, melted

6 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 cup sugar free chocolate chips OR 1 cup diced sugar free Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 300 degrees

Mix all ingredients thoroughly in mixing bowl

Pour and smooth into greased pan

Bake for 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean

Let cool for 30 minutes

Store in the refrigerator

I have made these brownies twice this week and they disappear almost instantly! They have become a favorite in my house. Please comment with any questions and please let me know if you try the recipe out for yourself.

As you can see in these photos, I love my Pampered Chef tools! They definitely come in handy!

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I hope you enjoy this tasty treat!

Love,

Anna Beth

Pizza Taco

Troy and I have been eating low carb for about two weeks now and have had success with it so far.  I feel better than I have in a long while and can see this being a lifestyle change for us.  I’ve struggled to find recipes that genuinely taste as good as they sound, and I can say this is the best one I’ve made so far!  In case you’re wanting to try low carb too, or if you are just looking for an easy dinner, this is the recipe to try!

Ingredients:

– Mission low carb tortillas

– 1 can El Paso refried beans

– Precooked taco meat (my husband browned the meat and added taco seasoning prior to making these)

– Tostinos Salsa Con Queso dip

– Shredded Mexican blend cheese

– Raw spinach (optional)

– Chopped raw green onions (optional)

– Tostinos salsa (optional)

– Chopped black olives and jalepenos mixed (optional)

Directions:

1. Place the low carb tortilla on the pan.

2. Spread a thin layer of refried beans on the shell.

3. Scatter the taco meat evenly over the refried beans.

4. Cover the taco meat with a thin layer of Totinos Salsa Con Queso.

5. Add any of the optional toppings or any other topping you would like to add.

6. Cover with shredded Mexican blend cheese.

7. Place in the oven for 10 minutes on 375 degrees.

8. Remove and let cool, then enjoy!

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Below is my husband’s Pizza Taco.  He chose to use Mission salsa instead of refried beans since he has a bean allergy.  He also chose to leave the spinach off.  The excellent part of this recipe is that you can include whatever toppings you’d like to make your own personalized dish!

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I hope you enjoy!  Feel free to comment with any questions, or let me know if you tried the recipe.  I’d love to hear your feedback.  I know it was a hit at my house!

Love,

Anna Beth

Master Bedroom

As promised, today I’m sharing photos of my master bedroom decor.  I still have a few changes I want to make, but I still love the room!  I plan on adding a burlap bedskirt and getting a few more decorative pillows on the bed.  But until then, I will enjoy it just the way it is.

One of my favorite parts of the room is our little blue nightstand.  It is actually an antique child’s dresser.  The small blue pillow is also vintage. Our color scheme for the room consists of blues and yellows with a few accents of red here and there.  This quilt was purchased at an antique store for an amazing price!  I love the colors and the pattern.  Finley loves it, too!

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The pie safe in our bedroom belonged to my great-grandmother.  It is so special to have family heirlooms in our home.  It is filled with only the most beautiful quilts.  Some of the quilts in our home are made by family members and others were purchased at antique stores.  I love quilts with pale colors and beautiful patterns!

The yellow chair was purchased at an antique store for only $20!  I have been looking for a vintage chair for our room for so long, but everything I found was either too large or a hideous color.  Considering I didn’t want to invest money in having it reupholstered and I have absolutely no experience in reupholstering, I had to be patient.  I am so glad I was because this was the chair of my dreams!

The beautiful pitcher is china brought over from England.  I fell for the beautiful pattern and colors right away!

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The corner cabinet was a custom made piece specifically for our home.  It was done by a little furniture store just down the road from us that will make custom furniture specifically for the customer.  This little nook needed something special and this was it!  The wooden R was a wedding gift from one of my bridesmaids and the picture frames were given to me by my mother-in-law. Believe it or not, the Singer sewing machine was only $2 at a thrift store!

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As you can see, I love to collect antiques and decorating. I hope you enjoy this glimpse into my home!  In another life I’d be an interior designer, but for now I’ll enjoy working on my own little cottage.

Thanks for reading!  Please leave a comment letting me know you stopped by the blog and let me know what you think!

Love,

Anna Beth

Why We Didn’t Follow Wedding Traditions

Lately I am seeing that many of my friends and family are getting engaged and planning weddings.  I am constantly hearing the question, “Should we have a traditional wedding?”  I hear comments that Grandma will have a heart attack if the unity candle is not in the perfect spot, or that Aunt Jo’s stepsister will be so offended if she is not seated with the family.  Granted, I am not a people pleaser, but I really don’t understand why a couple’s wedding is so often dictated by what others want.  When my husband and I began planning our wedding my very first thought was to avoid worrying about what others want and focusing on what we want as a couple.  I am so thankful we made that decision because when I look back our wedding was so perfectly “us.”

So what traditions did we break?  Well… probably more than I can count, but here are the top 10.

1.  There was no rehearsal or rehearsal dinner.

We discussed the vows with the minister, my grandfather, on the phone the night before the wedding.  When we arrived at the wedding site, we quickly went over with our wedding party where to walk and where to stand.  Isn’t the whole walking down the aisle thing pretty self explanatory? This way people from out of town did not have to come a day early or make special trips for us.  We chose not to have ushers or escort family in.  Everyone was seated wherever they chose to sit and with whom they chose to sit by.

2.  My husband saw me in my wedding dress before the wedding.

Let me explain.  The evening before our wedding we were watching TV in our new apartment that we would soon make our home.  We had a good friend of ours over with us.  I started talking about how I was nervous I would get up in front of everyone and blank.  The solution?  We decided to practice.  I put on my dress, he put on his suit, and we stood in our future bedroom with our friend “officiating” and practiced saying the words “I do” over and over again.  We laughed so hard we cried.  This is still one of the most special moments I remember throughout our relationship.  No, I do not regret not seeing “the look” that a groom gives his bride when she walks down the aisle.  Why you ask?  Because I am lucky enough to have a husband who gives me that look every day.

3.  We did not stay separate before the wedding.

We chose to have our bridesmaids, groomsmen, and family all get ready in the same house.  We were lucky enough to have family that was willing to open their home up to our wedding party.  The girls got one bedroom to get ready in, and the boys got another bedroom.  I was able to talk to my future husband while I got my hair and makeup done.  He was able to hold my hand as I stepped into my shoes.  He told me how beautiful I looked so I didn’t have to wonder.  Then we climbed in his car and rode together to the wedding.  GASP!  We rode the 30 minutes to our wedding location holding hands and talking about our excitement to get to spend forever together.  Another one of my best memories of that day.
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4.  We didn’t “hide” backstage until the ceremony.

This is probably the biggest “no, no” of all in the wedding tradition handbook.  When we arrived, we parked in the field beside the barn that we would be married in.  I saw all of my friends and family visiting and decided that I didn’t want to miss out on the fun.  So we hopped out of the car and visited.  Yes, I talked to everyone, hugged, kissed, and laughed with all of the special guests that had set aside their day to spend with us.  If I had any bottled up nervousness, it was gone in a heartbeat.

5.  We didn’t dance.

My husband refuses to dance. Period.

6. Friends and family provided the reception food.

We asked each of our family members and close friends to bring a desert that we loved in leu of a wedding gift.  We were able to enjoy a family friend’s homemade 12 layer chocolate cake.   I got to enjoy a dear friend’s lemon cookies that has been my all time favorite treat.  We sipped the best homemade lemonade made by my amazing wedding planners.  Everyone contributed and ended up switching recipes throughout the reception.  And thankfully, we didn’t end up with 12 toasters.  Instead we had the money that we would normally have spent on food to be able to purchase our own super amazing toaster.  Brilliant.
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7. I didn’t throw my bouquet.

I was selfish.  I kept my bouquet to use as decoration in our home.  I still have my bouquet on display in my home, and it serves as a reminder of what fun we had.
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8.  We didn’t have a bride and groom table at the reception.

I was able to sit by my cousins and closest friends that I rarely saw and visit.  I mean, I had my whole life to sit at the table with my husband.

9. My bridesmaids didn’t wear the same dress.

This is more common now than it has been in the past.  I decided to give my bridesmaids paint samples from the store and let them choose their own dress.  They had only one rule: Keep it under $30.  Forever 21 proved to be my best friend. Two of my three bridesmaids found their dress there for the reasonable price of $24.  I didn’t want to break the bank so why would I ask my bridal party to?  And every bride says that their bridesmaids can wear their dresses again, but most of the time this isn’t true.  In this case, my bridesmaids were able to select their own dress and it was casual enough they could honestly wear it again.  And they have.

10. We didn’t have a Maid of Honor, Best Man, Flower Girl, or Ring Bearer.

We discussed this and decided that the six people standing beside us were all of equal importance in our lives, so we did not feel the need to single two of them out.  We had the bridesmaid and groomsmen closest to us hold the rings and give them to us at the appropriate time.
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We were not necessarily out to break traditions, it just happened that way.  We have had so many people tell us how much the wedding suited us as a couple.  I have had many people tell me that they wished they had not tried to people please and instead go for a more simple wedding.  I know that traditions are important to many people.  Sometimes it’s because they have been passed down for many years.  Some people feel that these traditions are in place to make the wedding day special.  I know that weddings are not “one style fits all.”  I always encourage people to do what makes them happy.  I do want to stress, however, that a wedding can be successful and special if you follow your own style and make your own rules.

Troy’s Shrimp Scampi

Today Troy made some of his delicious shrimp scampi.  I love taking pictures of him cooking.  It’s like a recipe in photographs.

 

Put 2 teaspoons of olive oil in the skillet.

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Add 2 teaspoons butter.

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Add a dash of garlic powder and cayenne pepper

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Strain, salt, and pepper the shrimp.

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Begin boiling the noodles.  

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Add the shrimp into the sauce.

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Begin simmering 1/4 cup white wine, 2 tablespoons butter, and 2 tablespoons olive oil in separate pan.  Simmer for 2 minutes.

 

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Mix both pans together into one.  Remove and strain noodles.  

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Put on a plate and coat with parmesan and garlic pepper.

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Eat up!

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