Spring has finally arrived in New England – yesterday hit 67 degrees, and over the course of the day I saw people in winter parkas, sweatshirts, shorts, and runners in tanks and short shorts. I always do love the visual contrasts that come along at the change of season.
A real spring is welcome. I was not expecting such a frenetic March, but here I am, catching up here after a brief hiatus where my organization and routines went out the window. With travel, some housing uncertainty, daylight savings, and the certain chaos of running a startup, the month saw me running around like a bit of a chicken with her head cut off – I’m ready to get back to some comforting routine!
Travel. The highlight of my month was a Spring Break trip to Disney World with my college best friends and regular travel companions, Heather and Caroline. Some pictures, below, but a quick note that this was the first vacation I’ve taken in over 10 years where I did not open my laptop to work once I arrived at my destination. Balancing energy and boundaries is a fundamental principle of self care, and one of the most important ways to prevent burnout. You need to take care of yourself in order to have the energy to do good work in the world. I’m proud of myself for actually doing this for myself.
Good Books and Films. Reading this month has been a little lighter than last. I’ve been working through the Deborah Harkness witchy trilogy, quite enjoyed listening to Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime on Audible. I have about six books in progress at the moment. Films faired a little better: I quite enjoy the How to Train Your Dragon 1 & 2, and Captain Marvel – which I loved. Aquaman wasn’t a critical masterpiece, but was enjoyable, because when is Jason Momoa not enjoyable?
Good Lighting. Because many of you have asked: no, I don’t have a fancy marble table. I have a fancy marble cutting board from Crate & Barrel, a Lowel Ego lamp (which doubles as a sun lamp during the winter) and internet magic. Here’s the entire set up.
Acquiring Riches. In Trader Joe’s a few weeks back, an older gentleman gave me a million dollars. Since I didn’t win the HGTV dream house this year even though I could have sworn I had, I’m going to put it to good use in my own house hunt.
This Face. Seriously, how thankful am I that I get to look at this face on a daily basis. (This is also as close as he gets to actually using this particular set of pet steps. They have been repurposed as a “desk” for my couch work space, and to prop up my computer in front of my mat while taking Ompractice classes.)
A trip to the most Magical Place on Earth. (Fight me.) I’m an unabashed Disney fan. I’ve never been a pink princess, but I *love* Disney. The rides, the food, even the lines. For that matter, I love IKEA for similar reasons… Plus, Florida agrees with me.
My last trip to Disney was in 2015 for the Princess 5k (a race with hundreds of sparkling clean port-o-potties – truly magical!), but I wanted to return with no training requirements! Happy to report that my run streak continued though, even with 10-15 miles a day of walking in the parks!
Highlights of the trip include: planning for the trip on a shared google doc agenda, staying at Caribbean Beach, Park Hoppers and fast passes, an excursion to Harry Potter world, a private Animal Kingdom lodge safari and tasting menu at JIKO, and hot ticket reservations at every Epcot restaurant I was aiming for. I go to Disney for two things: to eat and to walk – everything else is a bonus.
Delicious Meals in Disney: to make up for the 10+ miles of daily walking, we did a lot of eating.
JIKO tasting menu. Our first evening in, we went on the Wanyama private safari and tasting at JIKO, which I’d recommend heartily if you don’t mind extending your Disney budget. The evening started with appetizers before you go out on safari – a range of sweet and savory treats (the highlight of which was the Boerewors sausage. The main meal was served family style with the 12 or so of us on the trip: breads, dips, amuse, appetizers, a massive amount of food with both drink and wine pairings, of which I managed to get bites of absolutely everything. Their beef short rib was a real gem that rivaled the memorable stellar lamb shank I ordered at JIKO several years ago.
Harry Potter World – The Leaky Cauldron: fine dining this was not, but I enjoyed my Beef, Lamb & Guinness stew, and the sugar bomb that was their version of sticky toffee pudding. And of course the ambiance of Diagon Alley can’t be beat.
Frontera Cocina in Disney Springs: we were a mere week too early for Jose Andres’ openings in Disney Springs (SIGH), but I was happy to get a patio seat at this Bayless outpost. We shared toasted pumpkin seed “hummus” and mango guacamole. Knowing that vegetables would be missing from the majority of my next several meals, I went for a big salad with carne asada, and the ancho chile chocolate cake for dessert.
San Angel Inn – Mexico: our first lunch in Epcot, we shared guacamole, and I opted to go wild with the Carne Asada Tampiqueña for an indulgent lunch. Served with a cheese mole enchilada, rice, refried black beans, guacamole, onions, rajas poblano with tortillas. Under the “evening sky” – this is one of my favorite magical places to eat at Disney.
Restaurant Marrakesh: my last trip we had a glorious meal outside in Morocco at Spice Road (which I’d highly recommend), but it had been over a decade since I’d been at Marrakesh, and I wanted to try it. I opted for the Harira, a Taste of Moroccan salads, and shared the appetizer sampler – beef brewat rolls, chicken bastilla, and Jasmina salad. A cup of Moroccan coffee, while we enjoyed the belly dancing and the piano guy who seemed delighted that we were paying attention – as so few other people were. The restaurant felt a little dated, but we enjoyed ourselves.
Be Our Guest: I was *thrilled* to score us a table at Be Our Guest, because I hadn’t been there, and everyone raves over the “Grey Stuff”. We ended up going for lunch, which is an order of magnitude less fancy than dinner, but nevertheless the food was good – I ended up with the gloriously cheesy french onion soup, and the braised pork (coq au vin style) which I thought was very clever, and tasted quite good. My dining partners both ordered the Tuna Niçoise salad which was a generous portion. Ironically, the one pass for next time – the masters cupcake with the grey stuff was a total throwaway for me. Bland and boring. Save space for an extra dole whip.
Teppan Edo: it’s probably been 15? years since I’ve been to a hibachi restaurant, and we ended up having a great time here at the Japanese pavilion. I’d never been before! We had an 8:50 reservation that didn’t seat us until around 9:15. (The park “closed” at 9, but you can get dining reservations up until then, which is perfect for spacing out meals.) The sushi sampler wasn’t worth ordering, but I was needing some nibbles before the grand event, so went for this and some iced green tea. For our meal, you can order your protein of choice. Most everyone went with the steak and shrimp combo, but I opted for the sea scallops, which were *delicious*. I skipped drinks and dessert, but the cocktail menu here looks incredible.
Biergarten: I have fond memories going here with my parents as a kid. The German pavilion boasts this all-you-can-eat buffet that is always a treat. My plate(s) included salmon, multiple kinds of sausages, salads, liverwurst, potatoes, spaetzle, potato dumplings, sauerkraut, and more. And we hit perfect timing of the show, as well.
Other tasty treats: our trip coincided with the Flower Festival at Epcot, which brings a pop-up tasting shack to each of the country pavilions. I didn’t end up eating at any of these, but I did snag a Mickey boba tea twice in China. Other treat highlights include: a Mickey Ice Cream Sandwich, the famous Carrot Cake whoopie – now found only at the Starbucks in Hollywood Studios, and a double trip to Dole Whip. (Pro-tip: the new mobile ordering in the parks is actually kind of amazing because nobody has figured it out yet. You can mobile order your dole whip, skip the line, walk up to the mobile order counter, and they make it fresh for you right when you arrive.)
In my tourist uniform.
The glory that is DOLE WHIP float. (I had it twice.)
Making a point to make every photo a great one. That’s me with my hands up.
On Safari. Making new friends.
Reluctantly I re-entered the real world and returned home.
Good Eating: after returning from Disney, I ordered both a Freshly box (prepared meals) and Blue Apron box to ease my re-entry. In hindsight, I should have probably just hit up Trader Joe’s and gone with some quick staples. My first experience with Freshly wasn’t great (I’ll do a round up post after my second – and likely final – box.) Nevertheless, here are some of the highlights of my past few weeks of meals.
Sirloin Steak over Broccoli and Spinach Artichoke Dip. One of my easiest Trader Joe’s hacks: take one of their frozen Spinach artichoke dips, and mix with a bag of organic broccoli. It makes for a delicious creamy base for steak, chicken, or frankly, is satisfying eaten on it’s own.
Jaleo-Inspired Meatballs with Pan Con Tomate & Saffron Mayo: hands down the best thing that came in my Blue Apron box.
Enjoy Life Chocolate Protein Bites – these are currently $1.29 for a bag at Trader Joe’s. After the first time I bought them, they were out of stock at Trader Joe’s for weeks because of fulfillment issues, but are now back. With 8 grams of protein per bag, they’ve been a not-too-sweet chocolate treat for dessert that I’ve been enjoying.
Omelettes with lots of herbs. I added some Applegate turkey breakfast sausages in here – breakfast for dinner!
Soba with miso butter, garlic, and parmesan. The occasional night strikes where I crave a big bowl of pasta. This is the result.
Home, and order restored.
Have a good week!