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Welcome to Hollywood (Studios, that is)

We spent the entire 6th day of our Disney trip at Hollywood Studios.  Although I did have the park hopper passes, I didn't use them every day of the trip.  Some of our favorite things are at this park, so it was easy to spend the entire day there.

50's Prime Time Cafe at Hollywood Studios

While this may look like your grandmother's living room, it is actually the waiting area of the 50's Prime Time Cafe at Hollywood Studios in Disney World.  Obviously they are going with a 50's theme. Many of these things have graced the walls and halls of my own home growing up.  In fact, I think my Mom might even still have some of them.   To add to the experience, when it is your time to eat, the hostess yells, "SONJA...time for dinner! Mom says head to the table.  And don't forget to wash your hands!"  So fun!

Traveling the World for Christmas Ornaments

Bringing back one of my favorite Holiday traditions in this post I wrote last year.  Enjoy!

I love Christmas traditions!  There are some that most everyone does like stockings, the Christmas Tree and presents.  There are some that less people do like the candlelight service, opening one gift on Christmas Eve, dinner out at a fancy restaurant.  Then there are those unique to a small number of people like getting new pj's every year for the whole family, crazy Christmas card family pictures and my favorite...the ornament exchange.  Every year each member of my family gets a new Christmas tree ornament. I get one for each kid and my husband and my husband gets one for me. There are a few rules to the exchange. First, the ornament has to relate to the past year of the person's life.  For example...this year we got Louie for my daughter's birthday, so getting her a dog ornament would be perfect!  (which I did :0) We have everything from cellphones & saxophones to Harry Potte…

A Day at Epcot

It's fairly obvious that Epcot is my favorite park at Disney World.  I love to spend time in the World Showcase as you've seen in recent posts (Morocco & France).  I also love to eat there (Germany & Japan).  AND I love the rides there (Test Track & Soarin).  Here is a recap of our 5th day at Disney World.  We spent the entire day at Epcot.

Another reason I love Epcot is its beauty.  There are so many relaxing open spaces to walk around.  You don't find that at a lot of amusement parks.

Crazy November

I have been a big blogging failure this past month!  I blame my crazy November schedule.  I find it difficult enough to get a few posts up with my regular schedule, but this past month several things were added in, making it almost impossible for me to post. We had out of town guests two different weeks, we took a trip to Las Vegas and a trip to see family at Thanksgiving.  I just couldn't find the time to write.   I don't know how those daily bloggers do it.  Kudos to them!  Anyway, just wanted to let you know that I will be back to my regular schedule now.  I know December is always busy, but hopefully I can suck it up and get some stuff done.  I'm looking forward to posting the rest of my Disney trip and then I can move on to Las Vegas and the Mediterranean Cruise.  Hope you all had a fantastic Thanksgiving (if you celebrate) and have had many happy travels recently! :)

Biergarten Restaurant

I love German food!  I love October!  So a year round celebration of Octoberfest is something I never miss when I go to Disney.  This only thing that doesn't add up is the fact that I do not like beer.  Oh well, a little German wine will do just fine.  ;)

Morocco at Epcot

I'm still exploring the world showcase at Epcot and today I'm in Morocco!

I have never been to the real Morocco, but I would love to!  I like to pretend I am really there while I am walking around.  Believe it or not, it is rather easy for me to do that.

Japan at Epcot

Epcot is my favorite park at Disney World...have I mentioned that?  :)  Anyway, I love the world showcase and exploring all the different countries.  Today I'm in Japan!

Disney Treats

How is a girl supposed to pick from that awesome line-up?  I narrowed down my choices based on a few factors: I was alone so I couldn't share (or didn't have to, depending on how you want to look at it),  I wanted something I knew I would like (wasn't feeling daring), and I had to be able to eat and walk at the same time (I was in a rush to meet my family back at the hotel).  So I went with the classic!

Pirates, Mermaids and Kouzzina

Our fourth day at Disney was spent at the Magic Kingdom.  I usually spend the day at the park that has extra magic hours in the morning.  I am starting to think this might not be the best idea.  I think everyone else does this and it is the most crowded park that day.  Next time I go I think I'll try a different strategy.

Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade

There are only two kinds of parades I like to watch.  The first is any parade that my kids are in and the second is any Disney Parade.  I don't know what it is about Disney Parades, but they make me smile.

Kouzzina by Cat Cora

Another day at Disney, another great restaurant! This time we chose a celebrity chef's restaurant, Kouzzina by Cat Cora.  It is located at Disney's Boardwalk hotel.

Meet the Hoyt's!

If you've been following along, you know I was meeting my in-laws and nieces at Disney World.  They actually arrived two days after we got there.  My post title is a nod to the "Meet the Fockers" movie.  Remember that?  My in-laws are nothing like the Fockers, but I thought it was funny!

Rose & Crown at Epcot

I remember the first time I went to Epcot as a child.  I thought the world showcase was the coolest thing ever.  I felt like I was really visiting those countries as I walked and ate my way through them.  Even though I have actually been to many of the countries in person now, I still love the world showcase!  I plan as many dinners there as I can when I travel to Disney World.

Disney Icons

When you think of Disney characters, I'm sure Mickey Mouse comes to mind.  He was and always will be the "the original".  I guess that is why Walt Disney is holding his hand in this very prominent sculpture at Disney World.

I've seen this so many times as I traipse through the Magic Kingdom, but I never noticed what surrounded it.  Once again, my new blogger/photographer eyes were on the hunt! ;)   And this is what I found!

Be Our Guest Disney Restaurant

Did you start singing "Be our guest, be our guest, put our service to the test?"  I'm sure I'll be singing it the entire time I write this post! :)

Downtown Disney

After we had our Universal Orlando experience, we headed back to Disney World for an evening at Downtown Disney.  In my Disney package that I got for booking directly with Disney Travel, there were some free passes to Disney Quest.  (I show several of the other perks for booking with Disney in this video.)  ANYWAY, I snapped this shot from the taxi that we took from Universal.

A Day at Universal Studios Orlando

My kids love Harry Potter!  Especially my son, who has read the entire book series 3 times, seen all the movies numerous times, and told me he wished there really was magic since he was little.  SO, needless to say, we wanted to go to Harry Potter World.

Disney's Beach Club Resort

On my recent trip to Disney World, I stayed at the Beach Club Resort.  The reason I picked this resort was 100% location.  My in-laws were staying at the Yacht Club and I wanted to be as close to them as possible without paying Yacht Club prices.  Lucky for me, the Beach Club and Yacht Club are basically connected (and the Beach Club is about $100 cheaper per night)!  Win!

Boma at Animal Kingdom Lodge

I have tried lots of different ethnic foods: Mexican, Chinese, Italian, Thai, Indian, Spanish, German...the list goes on and on...but one thing I had never tried is African food.  That is why I was so excited to try the Boma buffet at the Animal Kingdom Lodge in Disney World.  I figured there would be lots of new things to experience.

Packing for Disney!

Some people hate packing, but I love it!  It is part of my strange love of organizing things.  Louie has taken an interest in my packing as well.  Not sure if he just has a love of being in suitcases or is trying to halt the process so I won't leave him. :)  He was just in from playing in the sprinklers, hence the crazy hair!

Hugos Frog Bar & Fish House

Funny name, huh?  Obviously, this restaurant sells seafood.  And I love seafood!

I also love cocktails! So I decided to have the Moscow Mule from the menu below.

Cooper's Hawk Winery & Restaurant

I love wine and I love food, so I assumed I would love Cooper's Hawk Winery and Restaurant...and I did!  They had me at wine flight!

Breakfast in the Main Dining Room (Greenbrier)

Our last morning at the Greenbrier, we decided to have the big buffet breakfast in the Main Dining Room.  They have this breakfast every day, but it is rather expensive and large!  Since we eat so much for lunch and dinner, we try to make breakfast the lighter meal of the day.  I tend to overdue it on buffets! Anyone else have that problem?

Happy 4th of July!

Whether you're traveling to a big city for a giant fireworks display or lighting sparklers in your back yard with the kids, I hope you have a fantastic 4th of July!  

Happy 4th of July from The {Happy} Travel Bug!!!

Hard Rock Hotel: Chicago

Chicago has lots of great hotels.  I have been lucky to stay in several of them over the years of visiting the city.  Here is a look at the room I stayed in recently at the Hard Rock Hotel.

Prime 44 West at the Greenbrier

Since I eat out a lot, I love it when restaurants offer something special or different.  So when we sat down at Prime 44 West, I loved the fun and unique way they serve the "bread basket".  Brought in a cast iron skillet is Cathy Justice's (the owner of the Greenbrier's wife) cornbread.  On the back of the ribbon is the recipe, which you can take home.  Even though my Mom's jalapeno cornbread that she makes in a cast iron skillet coated with bacon fat kicks this cornbread's ass, I still liked the presentation. ;)

Oprah's Lifeclass with Dr. Phil

I'm an Oprah fan!  I enjoy many shows on her new network, OWN.  One of my favorites is Lifeclass, where Oprah and an expert of some kind help you with everyday life issues.  I was lucky enough to attend a taping of Lifeclass with Iyanla Vanzant on "Why Women Are Mean to Each Other".  So imagine how happy I was to attend another Lifeclass with Dr. Phil! The topic was his new book, Life Code.  I was able to read the book before class...interesting topic of how to protect yourself from those bad people out there.  You know the ones!  Dr. Phil calls them baiters.

Lunch at Cafe Carleton

Eating is something we do a lot of while at the Greenbrier.  So in comparison to the other meals, our lunch at Cafe Carleton was quite light.  We popped in for a quick bite before enjoying some afternoon shopping.  As usual, I love the decor.

Sleepy Time

This is one of my favorite special touches at the Greenbrier.  Every night they put this sign up as you come off the elevator to your room.  If you have ever been awakened by someone in the hall running or yelling, you will appreciate this reminder.  It is very appropriate for me right now.  You may have noticed I haven't posted this week at all.  I was in a car accident and have been having my own quiet time to recuperate.  I hope to be back to blogging real soon.  Take care.  ❤

Shopping at the Greenbrier

The Greenbrier has an area that I like to call "Shopper's Alley".  I have always enjoyed looking in the shops and sometimes buying a few things.  This trip, however, my daughter came along and I ended up buying more than usual.  If you have a teenage daughter, you understand.  :)

I'll start with the Greenbrier Shoppe and Newsstand.  It is all things Greenbrier: clothes, ornaments, bags, keychains, etc....along with some funny "southern" items.  There is also a tiny little drugstore type area for all those things you might have forgotten at home.

Drapers at the Greenbrier

Drapers restaurant is named after Dorothy Draper, the woman who decorated the Greenbrier as it currently looks.  She must have been a fun loving person as much as she loved color!  Speaking of color, these lovely ladies were waiting to be seated at Drapers and I couldn't resist getting a group shot. They were happy to oblige.

They ended up sitting next to us and I enjoyed watching them all order ice cream!

The Greenbrier Decor

The decor of the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia is like no other place!  And I love that!  While it wouldn't be the way I decorate my own house, it is special because you can only find it at the Greenbrier.

Tea time at the Greenbrier

One of my favorite Greenbrier traditions is afternoon tea.  It is served every afternoon in the Main Dining Room (to celebrate the Dining Room's 100th year in service).  This is the first time I have been able to share this experience with my kids.  My daughter was totally into it, like me, and my son cared for it about as much as my husband does.  :)   We went every day while we were staying at the Greenbrier.

It's Liebster time again!

I was so honored to get nominated for another Liebster award!  This time my nomination comes from Kim at Racing Bananas.  Since I have previously told you 11 random facts about myself, I thought I would just insert a link to that HERE and not bore you with it again.  What I did do is answer Kim's 11 questions for me.  I love learning more about the bloggers I read, so I hope you enjoy this as well.

100 Years Old & Still Amazing!

Some things only improve with age. I'm not one of them! ;)  I can only dream of making it to 100, but I'm sure if I do, I won't look anything like the picture below, which looks nothing like the girl I was in high school.  Oh well!  I'm happy, healthy and loving life!  

But back to the things that do stand the test of time.  I'm sure 100 years ago when people dined under this chandelier, they thought it was just as amazing as I do today.  It is located in the Main Dining Room of the Greenbrier.  This year marks 100 years of people eating in the Main Dining Room.  It opened its doors in 1913!  That's just cool for a history nerd like myself.  Imagining all the people with so many different backgrounds eating at the same table as me.  Cool!

Let the Light Shine

Every time I have stayed at the Greenbrier, I have enjoyed it's amazing chandeliers.  They are GORGEOUS!  This time I decided to take pictures of them to share with you guys.  Every time I came across one, I would snap a photo.  It wasn't until I got home that I realized just how many great lights they have.  LOTS of pictures in this post, but I hope you enjoy the Greenbrier lights as much as I do. :)

This one is in the Grand Ballroom and has hovered over many famous people from Grace Kelly to 26 Presidents.  If lights could talk...

The Greenbrier Hotel Room

Let me start by saying there are TONS of different types of rooms at the Greenbrier.  In previous visits, my husband and I went alone and stayed in traditional rooms.  This time we took the kids and we stayed in a Deluxe Room.  But the list of room (and cabins) goes on and on.  They even have a few places where your favorite fluffy friend can join you (your dog, that is, not an extra hairy husband).  This time we opted to leave Louie at the PetsMotel and this is the room the four of us shared.

Packing for the Greenbrier

As a frequent traveler I do lots of packing.  I am a planner and find organizing fun (yes, I'm one of those people), so I thought I would show you my packing method for our trip to the Greenbrier.  My hope is that you get at least one useful tip for your next trip.  :)

The Forum at The Greenbrier

My son's birthday almost always falls on Spring Break.  Therefore, we have celebrated his birthday all over the world.  Pretty cool for him!  This year we were spending Spring Break at the Greenbrier in West Virginia.  Since my son's favorite food is pasta, I decided there was no better restaurant than The Forum.  It is an Italian restaurant located right inside the Greenbrier.  Perfect!

Just like everything else at The Greenbrier, it is very colorful inside.  :)   After checking out the menu, we decided on Frito Misto for our Appetizer.

Honey Collection

My husband recently went on a business trip attended by people from four states: Illinois, Michigan, Indiana and Ohio.  He was given a gift that included a bottle of honey from each state.  I thought this was such a cool idea.  I already collect spoons from every state/country that we visit and I have purchased many souvenirs on my trips, including olive oil in Italy.  But it never occurred to me to buy the same type of food (produced locally) as I travel from state to state.

It would have been fun on our Wild West Road Trip to search for locally made food items in each state and then try them when we got home.  We could reminisce about each place as we enjoy whatever we got.  Wine comes to mind as a great thing to look for.  This would also be a great gift idea for your house sitter, baby sitter or dog walker when you are coming back from a trip.  
For more Travel Tips, check out Travel Tips Tuesday.

Have you ever collected a food item from each state you visited?  What would be a good …

Nevin's Brewing Company

In case you haven't noticed, I eat out a lot.  So when a new place opens up I am all over it.  I love trying new restaurants.  I love looking at a menu that I have never seen before and trying to decide what I want.  Some restaurants I visit so often, I don't even need a menu.  While that can be nice, it can also get old....know what I mean?  So the newest place we tried was called Nevin's Brewing Company.  I started with a drink (surprise, surprise) called a Blood Orange Paloma.  It had Tequila, blood orange liqueur, fresh lime juice and soda.

Riding Horses in the Ocean

There are things in life that seem really exciting.  Things that don't present themselves on a regular basis.  Things that when I get the opportunity to do, I most likely will, because I might not get the opportunity again.  Horseback riding in the ocean was one of those things.  I had seen pictures that had me dreaming of what a cool experience that would be.  So here goes....

Heaven on Seven

My husband and I used to live in Louisiana.  In fact, that is where our second child was born.  We loved it!  Not only for the fun and crazy people, but for the amazing food.  They do it right down in Cajun country.  Needless to say, there is no place else like it.  So we were thrilled when we discovered the restaurant Heaven on Seven in Chicagoland because it has authentic and fantastic Louisiana cookin!  You've got to love the decor as well.  I feel like I'm at Mardi Gras.  And yes, those are hot sauces on the wall.  That's a lot of hot sauce!

Caribbean Cruise: Half Moon Cay, Bahamas

We've made it to the final stop on our Caribbean Cruise: Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas.  It is a private island only used by certain cruise lines.  And it is BEAUTIFUL!  There are no sights to see, towns to visit, or history to learn about.  You are there to relax, eat and maybe enjoy an activity or two.  We signed up for riding horses in the ocean, which I will tell you all about in my next post.  But before we did that, we explored the area and found our lounge chairs that I reserved with some clamshell sunshades.  Here is a little tour of the island...

Holland America's Orchids

I have an odd relationship with flowers.  I think they are beautiful and I love to look at them, yet I don't have any in my house.  I am not a green thumb kind of girl at all!  I also don't really like my husband to buy me flowers...not sure why. I think it's because I'd rather get a gift that I can keep forever, like jewelry.  I will admit, however,  that I liked him to buy them for me when I worked outside the home, because I liked all the oohs and aahs that I got at work.  ;)

What I ate for Easter Brunch

Easter for me means going to church, Easter egg hunts & baskets, and sharing a fabulous meal with family.  Usually this includes lots of extended family because we make the trip south to be with everyone.  Unfortunately, we just live too far away to do a weekend trip anymore.  This year we decided to try something new and headed to Sullivan's Steakhouse for brunch.  Our waiter said they had never done it before, so it was new for them as well.  Let me just say, for newbies to the brunch world, they did a fabulous job!

Chillin' in St. Maarten

As we arrived in St. Maarten and found out our excursion had been cancelled, we sat on the balcony for a moment to decide what we were going to do instead.  This ship below caught my eye and I started noticing that most of the passengers were older.  Turns out it was a cruise around the world that lasted for several months.  Anyone up for that?  Me!

Caribbean Cruise: Philipsburg, St. Maarten

Remember that post on St. Thomas, USVI about how plans can change and you have to make the most of it?  WELL, our excursion for Philipsburg was cancelled as well.  Literally minutes before we were walking out the door, they called and cancelled due to high winds. I was super excited about this excursion too.  We were going to be crewing an America's Cup 12-meter sailboat in a race with other sailboats.  But high winds came in to ruin the day.  Darn it!  But unlike St. Thomas, I didn't have any other ideas for this port.  Basically, we were without plans for the first time in a long time on a trip.  So what did we do?  We followed the crowd of people that just chill in town and off we went, on the water taxi, to Philipsburg.  

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