Saturday, November 14, 2015

Fall 2015 at Dollywood with some Country Punkins

I know everyone is getting into the Christmas spirit and I am too, but I have been meaning to share with you the photos I took as we strolled through Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee a few weeks ago. The Dollywood annual Gospel & Harvest Celebration was taking place and the park is always decorated beautifully during the festival. The decorations there this fall were just simply adorable. The jewel tones of fall colors are my favorite of all the seasons and the gourd and pumpkin theme they had going on was delightful!

Dollywood is a family friendly theme park and many of the decorations were certainly reflective of family times together. Pumpkin families, that is!

This family of pumpkins have set up a stand to display some other pumpkins who, it would appear, are not yet part of a family but might hope to be. Did you happen to notice the little fellow swinging from the tree up on the left of the picture?
Dollywood Gospel & Harvest Celebration 2015
Here is a close up of the little chap.
Dollywood Gospel & Harvest Celebration 2015
 And here, we have a family band of what I thought looked like Country Bumpkin Pumpkins. Papa Pumpkin's keeping beat on the washtub, Mama's on the washboard and little Junior is strumming along. Inspired!
Band of Country Pumpkins at Dollywood 2015
 From the looks of Mama Pumpkins mouth, she's singing lead.
Dollywood Gospel & Harvest Celebration 2015
 This daddy pumpkin obviously adores playing with his sweet baby.
The other kids enjoy a good book that is being read to them by their mama pumpkin.
Dollywood 2015
 These two pump"kids" look to be having a really good time playing a game of leapfrog.
Dollywood 2015
This fellow found a nice spot to snooze and soak up some rays.
Dollywood 2015

While her happy fellow stands by, this lovely lady is stitching up a colorful quilt
Dollywood Fall 2015
This country pumpkin gentleman has taken his talents and palette outdoors to enjoy the beautiful day by doing a little a little plein air painting.
Fall at Dollywood 2015
 These photos were taken near the main entrance. The pictures really do not give these country pumpkins justice but wouldn't you agree that they are totally charming?

The rest of the main park was breathtaking too. There were gourds, pumpkins, flowers, moving elements and all sorts of beautiful things. I snapped pictures as we moved along. There was a gigantic rustic cornucopia surrounded by a vast array of pumpkins and gourds.
Dollywood 2015

Fall at Dollywood 2015
This miniature Ferris wheel was actually turning. I made a short video of it. Unfortunately, I couldn't get it to work directly in this post, so I posted this still shot. 
Floral Miniature Ferris Wheel at Dollywood
Dollywood in the Fall 2015
Old wagon wheels and barrels make this arrangement so appealing.
2015 Dollywood
Dollywood 2015
Dollywood 2015
One of the things I like most about visiting this park is the manner in which antique and vintage items are incorporated into the scenery. An example is the old hand plow in the arrangement below. I believe, perhaps, the hay bales are sitting on an old railroad pump car.
Fall at Dollywood
Another old plow amongst the hay bales! Isn't this nostalgic and homey?

Dollywood in the Fall
An old cart holds this arrangement.
Dollywood Fall Decor
Dollywood in the Fall 2015
It was a beautiful day we spent at Dollywood and I hope you have enjoyed my little recap. Thank you so very much for dropping by and I hope you'uns come back soon!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Fall 2015 and a Visit to A.J. Bush & Co. General Merchandise and Bush Factory Museum and Visitor Center

Everybody knows that we love to spend a little time at A.J. Bush & Company's General Merchandise and Bush's Family Cafe when we head up to the Great Smoky Mountains. I have posted about it in the past here  and here our visit last month was no exception. We left home later than we had anticipated and heavy traffic caused us to arrive later than anticipated at the Bush properties. It was late afternoon when we arrived and, alas, we did not have time to catch a meal at the cafe. We did manage a tour of the museum and store.

We walked straight on back toward A.J. Bush & Co. General Merchandise and Bush Factory Museum. We toured the museum first because we always enjoy going through there. We missed visiting last Fall and, near the end of the tour, we noticed they had changed the area where they offer to take photos of folks who visit them. Believe it or not, the picture is free of charge! Guests are photographed in a larger area now, so it accomodates more people in the photos than the previous smaller one. They also have a new scene as the backdrop for the picture. It still includes dear Duke the dog, but he now poses in front of a beautiful panoramic backdrop of the Great Smoky Mountains. The color quality has been improved too(not that I'm complaining because it is a tradition for our family). We always have a photo made on every visit to Bush's museum. It doesn't matter if it's the whole family or just the two of us on a romantic getaway. It's part of the fun of the experience and we are hopeless kids at heart! Folks, our family believes in making memories of treasured time spent together. Photographs are one way of making memories. In years past, our family of eleven, including our five grands and their parents, have crowded into that little spot to have  our pictures made together on more than one occasion!

I promise no more photos of me in this post, but I thought you might like to see the gorgeous and colorful backdrop they now use in the FREE photo shots. Thank you, Bush for the memory!
Complimentary Photo taken at Bush's Factory Museum

The Fall decorations outside the cafe, shop and museum this year are really pretty too. I had time for just a few photos before we continued on to our lodging in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
Fall Decor at A.J. Bush & Company 2015
As you might have guessed, Duke has taken front and center in the wagon decorated for Fall at Bush's. Isn't he quite the star of the show here? I think he is terrific!
Fall Decoration at A.J. Bush and Company 2015

Fall Decorations at the Front of the Walkway Leading to the Store and Museum at A.J. Bush and Co.
And one last shot of Duke in the wagon near Bush's Family Cafe.
Fall Decor at A.J. Bush & Co.

We always try to make time to follow the beans to A.J. Bush Visitors Center. I highly recommend a stop here if you are going to be in the area. The food in Bush's Family Cafe is always fresh, appealing and delicious. The factory museum, which includes a short video for those who have a few minutes to spare, is educational and tons of fun for the entire family. The shop with its wonderful collection of vintage inspired and nostalgic merchandise is very nice. They also sell shirts, hats and some outerwear there, as well. You can find out more about Bush's here. There are lots of recipes for using Bush's Beans on their site andon their Facebook page.

I really appreciate your stopping by my blog and I hope you enjoyed reading about our last visit to Bush's. It was a short visit this time but it was still a lot of fun and well worth the time we spent there! 

Saturday, October 3, 2015

My Birthday Celebration at Walt Disney World

My husband and I stole away for a few days over the long Labor Day weekend to celebrate my birthday. Walt Disney World is one of our favorite places to go and we have celebrated birthdays for many of our family members there over the years, but this was the first time I have had the pleasure of celebrating my birthday in the parks. What fun it was! We arrived on Thursday evening at our favorite of Disney Vacation Club resorts. It also happens to be our D.V.C. home resort!
Disney's Boardwalk Inn and Villas
Lobby at Disney's Boardwalk Inn and Villas
Upon entering our studio, I noticed Mickey had been around and left a birthday balloon and a card for me. Our celebration was off to a great start!
My Birthday Celebration at Disney's Boardwalk Inn and Villas/
After our bags arrived in our room, it was still early enough to take one of the Walt Disney World transport buses to spend a couple of hours at  Disney's Magic Kingdom. One of the things we love about staying at Disney's Boardwalk Inn and Villas is its proximately to EPCOT's World Showcase. The resort is, depending on how fast you walk, easily only a five to ten minute's stroll to enter through the Gateway to EPCOT's World Showcase. On our way to the front of the resort we could see the fireworks and laser show taking place over at EPCOT. I quickly snapped a picture or two just before we boarded.
EPCOT's Nightly "Illuminations" Fireworks and Laser Lights Show Viewed from the Front of Boardwalk Inn
When we walked into Disney's Magic Kingdom that first night, Disney's "Wishes Spectacular Show," a nightly event, was in full swing. The park was quite crowded that evening and we were positioned near the front of the entrance and really could not get close enough while the display was taking place to take good pictures or video. It is a fabulous show! Perhaps you would like to check it out here

I did get a couple of pictures of the fall decor which had already been put up in the park.
Fall Decor at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom at Night
A few more nighttime pictures of the fall decorations at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom.
Fall Decorations at Disney World's Magic Kingdom

Fall Decorations at Disney World's Magic Kingdom

Fall Decorations at Disney World's Magic Kingdom
My actual birthday was on the next day, Friday, but I wore the Birthday Celebration button every time we went out for the entire trip! Most people do that you know(lol)? But.seriously, they really do!

We started out our Friday by celebrating at EPCOT, which is my favorite of all the Walt Disney World parks. We walked from Disney's Boardwalk Inn to Disney's World Showcase and then over to EPCOT's Future World where we enjoyed lunch at Sunshine Seasons in EPCOT's Future World Land Pavilion. We both ordered the Oak-grilled Rotisserie Chicken with Black Beans and Rice and found it was delicious!. Sunshine Seasons is a great place for the entire family to dine. Dining is "counter service and prices are comparatively reasonable. We dine in Sunshine Seasons pretty much every trip we make to Walt Disney World. You can check out the restaurant and see the menu for breakfast, lunch /evening here.  We truly have never had a bad experience in dining at Sunshine Seasons.

The staff and attendants are very good there and are especially helpful and friendly. They seem to go out of their way to make dining there a pleasant experience.In fact, the young lady who attended the section in which we were seated brought over a beautiful and delicious birthday dessert for me when we had finished our meal. It was big enough that the two of us could share.
Red Velvet Macaron Style Birthday Dessert  from  Sunshine Seasons Counter Service Restaurant

This adorable young woman had arranged for some of the other attendants to sing to me for my birthday. It made me happy just to see their smiling faces! I took the following photo of them, in which our lovely attendant is pictured on the farthest left! Isn't she pretty?
EPCOT's Sunshine Seasons Table Attendants Sang for Me on my Birthday
As you can see from this close-up, my birthday dessert was a  large red velvet macaron with cream cheese and chocolate chip filling. It truly was decadent!
Red Velvet Macaron Style Birthday Dessert at Sunshine Seasons Counter Service Restaurant
Isn't it a gorgeous thing? I loved that adorable and edible chocolate Mickey Mouse face on top.

After our fabulous lunch experience, we took a cruise on this attraction-Living with the Land. This is a favorite of our entire family and has been since the time EPCOT first opened. Two of the things in this attraction I like most are the old nostalgic farmhouse with chickens and dog in the yard and the last part of the ride. On the last part, passengers are carried in their boats through an area where species of aquatic animals are raised. Also,  there are greenhouses that feature all sorts of growing plants, along with different growing techniques. Some of the produce raised in here is used throughout the park in the restaurants in the park.

From this ride, we went straight on into another attraction in the Land pavilion. We had a "fast pass" for this ride, Soarin'. Soarin is my absolute favorite ride in EPCOT's Future World. It provides an exhilarating experience akin to hang-gliding, in which you can smell the fragrance of oranges in the orange orchards down below you. You will breathe in the spruce aroma of evergreens in the trees as you glide over the forests. There is the hint of salt air over the waves, which your feet seem to fairly "skim" as you swoop down over the ocean! Near the end, the passenger sweeps down over Disneyland  in California at night when the fireworks are going off and it feels as if you are next to the fireworks as they are exploding in the air. It is amazing!

The ride is process of being upgraded to expand to two "virtual reality" screens and will have scenes to expand the hang-gliding experience to places around parts of the world. I hope it will be as pleasant and exciting as the current experience because, as far as I am concerned, it is an awesome and thrilling ride!

Since we had planned to spend the entire day at EPCOT, we had made advance dinner reservations for Les Chefs de France, pictured here:
Les Chefs de France at EPCOT's France Pavilion
We scheduled our dinner to coincide with the Illuminations Fireworks and Laser show. I ordered the Canard aux cerises (Duck breast with cherries from the entrees on the menu . I had never eaten duck before, so this was a first for me. I found it to be delicious.

The fireworks began shortly after we sat down for dinner. We had a perfect view from where we were seated by a window with a view of the lake over which the fireworks always takes place. It was difficult to get pictures because of the reflection from the window, but I tried anyway. Les Chefs de France is a busy restaurant at dinner time.
View of Illuminations from Les Chefs de France  at EPCOT's World Showcase
The place was bustling and noisy, as you might imagine a wonderful French restaurant would be. I wish I had taken a picture of my dinner but I was so excited watching Illuminations. However, if you look closely, you might be able to see my plate of duck breast with cherries in the reflection in the picture below. Ha Ha!
Illuminations through the Window of Les Chefs de France at EPCOT's World Showcase
The next day, we took Disney's transport bus back over to Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom and enjoyed another fabulous meal at one of our all-time favorite places in all the parks, Disney's Crystal Palace. If you have ever been here, you will know what out-of-this-world breakfast and lunch buffets they serve. The restaurant, itself, is built in the style of a wonderful atrium and is nothing short of stunning. This picture is taken at what is the first place you will see when you enter at the front of the restaurant. Isn't it gorgeous?
Entrance Area of Disney's Crystal Palace Restaurant
The characters from Winnie the Pooh's Hundred Acre Wood provide some delightful entertainment during the time you dine at the Crystal Palace. I seriously love me some Winnie the Pooh and so I never tire of going to this wonderful place! I think Winnie loves me too!
Winnie the Pooh and Me
My friend Pooh and me again.
Winnie the Pooh and Me
More friends.
Tigger and My Sweet Man
And who is this? Well, what do you know, it's Eeyore!
Eeyore at  Disney's Crystal Palace
As you can see, my husband is loving it at Disney's Crystal Palace and is getting his share of attention too!
Hubby and Eeyore at Disney's Crystal Palace
We had both enjoyed some fabulous desserts from the buffet selection, including a custard flan, so we thought it could not get much better, but we were wrong. What's the best way to top off a fabulous meal at Disney's Crystal Palace? Well, another birthday surprise, of course! I was treated to a birthday cupcake and a card signed by Winnie the Pooh and Friends from the Hundred Acre Wood! Isn't this just the sweetest thing!?
Birthday Cupcake and Card from Pooh and the Gang at Disney's Crystal Palace
Obviously, any concerns for watching what I ate had flown straight to the wind on this trip! I had to simply forget it!!!

Back out on Main Street U.S.A. after that wonderful meal, I received another birthday surprise when these handsome Dapper Dans began to serenade me with a song!
Dapper Dans on Disney's Magic Kingdom Main Street U.S.A.
Here's one of me and those Dapper Dans! What more is there to say about them? They really are dapper!
The Dapper Dans and Me in Disney's Magic Kingdom
We enjoyed the parade on the Magic Kingdom's Main Street U.S.A.
Parade on Main Street U.S.A.
More Main Street parade pics.
Parade on Main Street, Disney's Magic Kingdom
One more picture of the parade.
Parade Main Street U.S.A. at Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom

That night, we watched fireworks while we were at Disney's Magic Kingdom at Fantasy Land.

Fireworks over Fantasyland at Disney's Magic Kingdom
More fireworks.
Fireworks over Fantasyland at Walt Disney World
Still more fireworks taken while taken near the Prince Carousel at Disney's Fantasyland at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom! This is one of my favorite spots to view the fireworks! I love it!
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The following day, we visited Disney's Animal Kingdom. I took quite a few pictures there with my camera. I realized later that the memory card I had in it was full. Drat! I stuck with my smart phone after that!

That evening, we made a quick trip over in one of Disney's Friendship Boats to Disney's Hollywood Studios.We were hoping to visit a young friend who happens to work at the new Starbucks at Hollywood Studios. Unfortunately, he had already left for the day.

This is a picture taken while standing on the boardwalk, before boarding one of Disney's Friendship Boats to over to Hollywood Studios. The Friendship Boat is captured in this picture.
Disney's Boardwalk at Walt Disney World's Boardwalk Inn and Villas
The last day of our visit,  we took one final stroll on Disney's Boardwalk and around the resort before departing for home.
Disney's Boardwalk

Big River Grille on Disney's Boardwalk

Shops along Disney's Boardwalk.
Shops Along Disney's Boardwalk

Another view, watching one of the Friendship Transport boats docking.
Disney's Boardwalk
Some pictures of the main swimming pool area and the Kiester Coaster slide.
Pool with Kiester Coaster Slide at Disney's Boardwalk Inn
Another view of the awesome pool.
Kiester Coaster Slide at Disney's Boardwalk Inn
I hope you enjoyed my birthday get-away post. As you can see, we packed a great deal of fun into our escape and were kind of sad to leave. We look forward to returning next summer with the family. There should be about 14 of us. We will celebrate our granddaughter's birthday!