Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year 2016



HAPPY NEW YEAR ! 

May the coming New Year 2016 be one filled with whatever makes you happy!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

I Will Hope Continually

Hope Continually
This is an excerpt from a Prayer for the New Year by Dr. Billy Graham fom 2008. His prayer is still so very relevant to the upcoming year of 2016: " We each have our hopes and expectations for the year that is ahead of us—but You alone know what it holds for us, and only You can give us the strength and the wisdom we will need to meet its challenges. So help us to humbly put our hands into Your hand, and to trust You and to seek Your will for our lives during this coming year."  To read this prayer in its entirety you can go here to read his stirring and poignant words. 

Summer Magic is an old Disney movie . The movie, in my opinion, has a great sound track, with some beautiful singing by Burl Ives, the color is gorgeous and it has a cast of outstanding actors. The story line of the movie evolves around a Widow named Mrs. Carey and her children. The family has fallen on hard times after the untimely demise of Mr. Carey. They find themselves living in a wonderful old yellow Victorian house, all thanks to daughter Nancy Carey's creative and colorful (if not totally truthful) letter sent to Mr. Osh Popham, manager of the property on which the yellow house sits.

A favorite scene from the  movie concerns the hopeful nature of  Osh Popham, a kind-hearted, generous and optimistic man, unlike his down-in-the-mouth wife, Mariah Popham. In the scene I refer to, the perpetually pessimistic, Mariah Popham (played by Una Merkel) is speaking to the optimistic little Miss Nancy Carey (played by Hayley Mills) about her ever hopeful husband, Osh Popham (played by Burl Ives).You can go here if you would like to read the quotes from this scene. Nancy Carey says something like this: "We all believe in silver linings and rainbows..." To which Mariah responds: "Well, I don't! I expect the worst and I ain't never been disappointed!"


What are your plans and aspirations for the upcoming year? Have you made a list of New Year's Resolutions which you may or may not be able to accomplish? Do you feel optimistic about the upcoming year or do you see only dark clouds in the future?

Our son-in-law, Jason,s message this past Sunday at Darien Baptist Church concerning the New Year was taken from the the Holy Bible in The Book of Psalms: Chapter 71. This chapter focuses on the fact that we can have continual hope in the Lord our God at all times. My King James version refers to the writer's hope in Psalm 71:5 which states "For thou art my hope, O Lord God: thou art my trust from my youth." The psalmist is filled with hope that God will provide strength and security during times of adversity and uncertainty. He again declares in Psalm 71:14 "But I will hope continually, and will yet praise thee more and more."

Things will not be all sunshine and roses in 2016. There will be some dark clouds. It may not be easy to stay optimistic and things may sometimes seem hopeless. But there is surely hope. My faith tells me this.

I have not set any resolutions but, yes, I have a couple of goals that I hope to accomplish in 2016.When times in life and in our world are  hard and stumbling blocks get in my way, I will strive to remember that my faith tells me to trust that God will be my strength in all situations and I will hope in Him continually, and I will yet praise Him more and more!

I wish you all a New Year of happiness and a year filled with hope!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Pyrography Makes it Personal

You might have heard the saying "If you play with fire, you might get burned." For the most part,  it is probably a good idea to heed that warning. There may be at least one exception to that, when it is okay (sort of) to heat things up a little. Now, don't go thinking I am encouraging people to go around starting fires all over the place because that is certainly NOT what this post is about. What I am referring to is an arts and crafts technique known as pyrography. Simply put,  pyrography is the technique of using a heated tool called a pen with accessories(points) to write or draw on wood or leather. From some of the things I have read, fire writing has been around since fire was first discovered. In today's world, we can just plug up to electricity and burn away.

Years ago, I dabbled in pyrography to decorate dried gourds for use as birdhouses, bowls and so on.  I "played with fire" for a while, then put that aside for some time and occupied myself with some other things.

Items made of wood and leather are so very appealing to me. In my opinion, these are things that give a place a warm and cozy feel. In the case of wood, I love the smoothness of sanded wood, touching it and even the aroma of the different types of wood. It is a pleasure for the senses to me.

A while back, I began to think about trying pyrography again. I thought I would use my trusty little wood burning pen to perk up some of the things around my kitchen to get back in to practice. This is the pen that I use:
My Wood Burning Pen
I also started thinking that it would be fun to use this technique to jazz up some items for Christmas gifts, since it was getting close to the holidays. Therefore, I began to shop around for some items that would be good candidates for gifting. I found some great bamboo cutting boards. The set of three boards were in graduated sizes and I thought that would be great for keeping  up with which board would be used for cutting meats, vegetables and fruits.

It occurred to me that my dear, sweet friend could use these in her home. So, it was just a matter of figuring out what to do to make these cutting boards personal for her and her husband, who happens to be a real grill master.

If you have never tried it, I kind of thought you might be interested in how I personalized these cutting boards for a Christmas present for my friend and her husband. Please read on to see the highlights of how this project developed!

Planning and Preparing the Design: I used my print and design program to make a monogram to burn on to the boards.I am sure any word processing program or any other design or print program could be used to make a graphic design element.  For the design graphic, I used the initials of both their first names and their last initial in the middle. I made the initial for the last name (the one in the middle) a bit larger than for the first names. This is the design I decided to go with:
Monogram Used for Wood Burning on Cutting Boards
I used this design on all three boards in three different sizes, graduating the design down to look more in proportion to each size cutting board. Note: I used the "coloring book" feature when printing the designs out. I did it this way because I wanted to just transfer the outlines of the letters and then use the burning pen to fill in or "color in" each letter!

Assembling Tools and Materials for Wood Burning: After preparing and printing out the monogram designs for the project, it was time to assemble my tools and materials. The cutting boards were needed, of course.  I got out a box of carbon film paper I have had for close to thirty years. They probably don't even manufacture this stuff anymore, but it is great for transferring designs on to projects like this, so it is what I use. Also, I got out my burning pen, a fine tip, ball point pen in which the ink had dried up, a white rubber artist's eraser, a pack of sand paper which contained several grits or grades of paper and a large ceramic beverage mug. Note: The large ceramic mug works very well for holding the very hot burning pen when you have to set it down during the process of burning. The tool generally comes with some sort of little metal stand. The mug is a much more stable corral for the extremely hot burning pen. If held to wood, paper, leather, etc. for too long an actual flame could flare up from the heat of the pen. A pair of pliers is needed to detach the hot points and to tighten the point if it gets a bit loose, from time to time. Here is a photo of the things I assembled for the project. Only one of the cutting boards is pictured here with the rest of the things:
Tools and Materials for Wood Burning Projects
My wood burning pen was manufactured by a company called Walnut Hollow because it was what was available when I purchased the pen years ago. This is a link to their site. It came with this assortment of points:
Assortment of Burning Points in my Wood Burning Set
I thought you might like to see the examples of what each point can be used for when attached to the pen. This picture is a side-ways view, so I hope you will be able to tell a little about the function of each point.
Examples of How Each Wood Burning Pen Point Functions
For the wood burning pens cone point was used for the entire project when burning the monograms on to all the cutting boards. One or two of the other points would probably have worked for shading in the letters, but I felt comfortable using the cone point for this particular project.

Preparing the Project for Receiving the Design and Burning: I used a small section of fine grit sand paper to lightly sand any rough areas on the surface and edges of each cutting board. This eliminates a lot of the small ridges and bumps that might interfere with transferring the design elements and allows for a smoother burning process once the burning begins.

Transferring the Grafics to the Wood Burning Project: I forgot to take a picture of this process, so I will just tell you what I did. I positioned each printed monogram graphic on to each cutting board, making sure that the smallest graphic was used with the smallest cutting board, the mid-sized graphic for the middle sized board and the largest graphic for the largest cutting board, accordingly. I found center on each board and on each graphic because I wanted the design to be centered just below the handle area of each board. I then placed the graphic where I wanted the design to be, matching center point of cutting board to center point of graphic/monogram. I used a little piece of scotch tape at each side at the top of the design to hold the design in exact placement. Then, I gently lifted up the bottom of the design page and placed a  piece of the carbon film (with the inky side facing the cutting board) underneath the design, between the design and the cutting board. After getting the design and carbon film securely in position and using the dried up ball point pen, I began to trace over the outline of each letter of the monogram, making certain that each letter was completely traced onto the cutting board. I then removed the design paper and the carbon film paper from the cutting board and began the burning process.

When I finally realized I had not taken a picture of the transferring process I had already completed burning all three cutting boards. I went ahead and took a picture of one of the monograms while the blue carbon film ink was still visible. You can see how the carbon film transferred the letters on to the cutting board. You can see the blue lines around each of the letters.
Carbon Film Ink Visible Where Letters Were Transferred On to Cutting Board
Wood Burning Process: As stated above, I used the cone point of the wood burning pen for the entire monogram design. This is a close up picture of the pen with the cone point attached.
Wood Burning Pen with Cone Point Attached
I kept turning my project as I was burning so that I was pulling the pen point in downward strokes toward my body and not away from me. It is difficult to control the burning and to see where the pen is heading when trying to burn in the direction away from the body. It is like when writing, generally in downward strokes towards the body. This picture was taken to show how the pen was held while burning the design:
Wood Burning with Downward Strokes Toward the Body
A Word of Caution: You might have noticed how red my fingers are. Like I said before, the pen gets a might hot--even the handle at the area where the fingers grip gets hot! This is where that ceramic mug comes in really handy, because if you try pyrography, you will probably find yourself taking breaks to let your hand cool down a bit. I think there is a thermostat of sorts in the tool, but the thing gets pretty hot before it kicks in(lol). Don't let this bit scare you away from trying it. Just keep that mug handy.

Cleaning Things Up a Bit: This is where that white rubber artist's eraser came in handy. I used the white rubber eraser to erase the carbon transfer design lines. I went over the design thoroughly until all the lines were erased and any stray marks that might have inadvertently rubbed off the carbon film onto the board.
Using the White Rubber Artist's Eraser to Erase Carbon Transfer Marks from Cutting Board
A Final Sanding of the Wood Burned Design Graphic: I find the design looks a little smoother and tidier if given a final light sanding. This also helps to remove any remaining carbon transfer marks that might remain. So, as a last step in designing the project, I tore off a small piece of fine grit sand paper and went over each of the designs, once the burning was complete:
Give the Wood Burned Design a Final Go with a Piece of Fine Grit Sand Paper
The Final Product: Here it is, a pretty nice set of personalized cutting boards for a well loved friend!
The Finished Cutting Board Set, Personalized with Wood Burning Technique
I had already taped the cutting boards together with packing tape when I took the above picture and had also taped the care instructions on to the front before putting a ribbon around all for my friend. I had taken a picture of one of the boards before I bundled them up to deliver to my best friend.
One more picture of the Largest of the Personalized Wood Burned Cutting Boards:
Gift of a Personalized Wood Burned Cutting Board

If you have never tried pyrography, I hope you will give it a try. You might be surprised how much you enjoy it!


The next pictures have absolutely nothing to do with my cutting boards project but I thought the pet lovers out there might enjoy it. A couple of weeks before Christmas several of us gal friends were invited over to another gracious friend's home for a day of crafting fun. We had a great day! This sweet lady has quite a menagerie of beautiful animals, including the two adorable kittens that joined us in her fabulous craft room. Are they not just the cutest things. I was sorely tempted to steal one and bring it home with me, even though my husband and I have decided not to adopt any more animals. We love animals but want to be certain that we can give them all the attention they need and deserve. So, we are going to just love and enjoy our friends' and family's beloved pets(at least that's the plan for a while)! We'll see.what the future brings...........
Kittens Who are Destined to Become Crafters

Kittens Who are Destined to Become Crafters

Kittens Who are Destined to Become Crafters

I hope you enjoyed my little post about the process of designing with pyrography and that you might have been encouraged to give it a go!

Wishing you all the best, my lovely blogging friends!

I have linked this post to:

Inspire Me Tuesdays
Something to Talk About
Inspire Me Monday #93






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Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Blessings to All!

At this time of year, with the all the hustle and bustle and rushing about, may we be reminded to focus on the real reason for Christmas. It is a time to remember that God, the Maker of Heaven and Earth, loves us so much that He sent his only begotten son in the form of an infant, Jesus Christ, down to Earth to dwell among us and give us hope for salvation from our sins. He knew that this tiny babe would grow into a man who would suffer on a cross. He would shed his very blood and die upon that very cross. God's son Jesus loved the people of the world enough to die for those undeserving sinners. He paid the price to cover sin long ago and, yes, even for our sins today and for all generations to come.

I believe that Jesus Christ is the light, the truth and the only way to life everlasting with God the Father in  Paradise.  It is as simple as that. The words are just as relevant today as when they were first written in Luke 2: 1-20. You can find the story here.

Jesus Christ is the Reason for Christmas Season
May you experience Peace, Joy, Love and Hope for Eternal Life as you celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ whereever you may be this Christmas!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Victorian Motto Sampler Shoppe: The Tenth Day of Christmas give-away

A fellow blogger is giving away to a beautiful collection of embroidary from her shop. To enter to win you can click on the link provided here Victorian Motto Sampler Shoppe: The Tenth Day of Christmas give-away: and leave a comment on her blog.                                                                                            

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
Dollywood
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!