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March 2013 Archives

March 1, 2013

Instagram!

Deb's Digest Blog

Have you seen the word "Instagram" showing up on your Facebook page or perhaps your Twitter feed? There is always a photo attached -- sometimes a funky photo in different colors or maybe black-and-white or even cartoonish.

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According to the folks at Instagram it's "... a fun and quirky way to share your life with friends through a series of pictures. Snap a photo with your mobile phone, then choose a filter to transform the image into a memory to keep around forever. We're building Instagram to allow you to experience moments in your friends' lives through pictures as they happen. We imagine a world more connected through photos."

And that's it in a nutshell.

First you need to go to the App Store on your phone, search for "instagram" and download the free app. Once downloaded, set up your free Instagram account - voila - you are ready to start!

You can either take a new photo or use one already on your phone's camera roll or photo folder. Once the photo is in the app, you choose from a variety of filters and frames for your photo.

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You can find us on Instagram - right now the AllEars website and myself, AllEarsDeb have accounts.

Have the Instagram app loaded, tap the explore button and search for: 1) allearsnet and 2) allearsdeb.

OR, if you want to look from your computer:
instagram.com/allearsnet
instagram.com/allearsdeb

Here are some other Instagram photos from allearsnet and allearsdeb:

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And if you really get into it, there are other free or low cost apps to add more options.

Instacollage (free or pro) made a couple of the collages we have here and Instaeffect is fun too!

A+ Signature allows you to put a watermark or a copyright on your photo. The lite version is free.

So follow us on Instagram for cool daily photos!

Have you used Instagram? Have an app you would recommend to go along with it?


March 11, 2013

Review: OZ The Great and Powerful

Deb's Digest Blog

OZ the Great and Powerful

"This is a story of how the wizard came to be the wizard; of how a small time carnival magician - a faker, a charlatan - came to a fantastic world and was just the thing that they needed to save the day. It's the tale of how an average man who was selfish became a great wizard who is selfless." -Sam Raimi, director

WARNING: Spoilers are contained in this review. I don't claim to be film critic, just a regular person who enjoys being entertained at the movies!

I vividly remember seeing the Wizard of Oz each year as a child. Initially, the Wicked Witch scared me... who wouldn't be scared of her as a youngster? But as I grew older, I came to learn the wonderful story and the lessons it holds, all of which are still true today.

It didn't take long to find myself immersed in this fantasy prequel. The film begins in Kansas, and everything is black and white, much like the original. James Franco plays the sleazy carnival huckster, Oscar "Oz" Diggs.

Once the tornado comes and Oz is swept away to a new world, the colors and set designs pull you in quickly. One of the most stunning scenes takes place early, when Oz and Theodora travel to Oz. This movie definitely is one to see in 3D and on a large screen, if possible, because of the visual effects.

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There are two computer generated image (CGI) characters in the film, Finley (voiced by Zach Braff) the winged-monkey, and and China Girl (voiced by Joey King). In many respects, these two steal the show with their quick wit. The three form an unlikely band of heroes who set off to steal the wicked witch's wand and free the people of Oz. (The citizens of Oz believe the wizard is the fulfillment of the prophecy that will save their beautiful land from the clutches of evil.) Along the way, you'll be reminded of "The Wizard of Oz" as you learn how and why certain events unfolded the way they did in the original movie.

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The witches each have their own magical powers. Evanora has lighting that comes from her fingertips, Glinda manipulates fog/water and has her magic wand, Theodora creates fire from her magic ring.

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One of the most amazing transformations -- as well as great acting -- comes from Theodora, played by Mila Kunis. When Oz meets Theodora, she is beautiful, naive and innocent, wanting only the best for her people. She falls to Oz's charm. However, after getting brushed aside by Oz, and with the "help" of Evanora (already a nasty witch), Theodora succumbs to a bite of the apple and her heart is hardened. She transforms into the Wicked Witch of the West we all know!

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While I found myself laughing out loud at some scenes, the movie also has a number of scary moments - a few startled me! As with any good vs evil story, there are very "dark" aspects in the film. The witch's evil baboons are huge, loud and quite scary, especially in the 3D world when they appear to be coming right towards you.

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Overall, I really enjoyed the movie. The special effects, set designs and costumes are first rate!

Interesting Facts about Oz The Great and Powerful:

** Production on "Oz The Great and Powerful" took place entirely on site at Raleigh Michigan Studios, the 675,000 square foot sound stage facility in Pontiac, Michigan.

** Costume designers Gary Jones and Michael Kutsche designed, created and assembled nearly 2,000 costumes.

** Over the course of the five-month shoot, staff applied character makeup more than 2,500 times.

** Each one of the trees was hand-carved out of foam and layers of plaster.

In the Parks

Epcot's Flower and Garden Festival features an Oz playground area for kids

Visit the website: http://www.disney.com/ozthegreat

"Like" OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL on Facebook:http://www.facebook.com/ozthegreatandpowerful

"Follow" OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL on Twitter: https://twitter.com/disneyozmovie

DISCLAIMER: I was a guest at a screening of Oz the Great and Powerful." This did not influence my review, and my opinions are my own.


March 14, 2013

Get Your Green on at Raglan Road

Deb's Digest Blog

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I'll admit, in the past when someone mentioned dining at Raglan Road I would make a skrinchy face. I had preconceived notions in my head I would not like the food. Hey, we all have our quirks, right?

How WRONG was I? Oh, about as wrong as I was when I didn't want to go on my first cruise! Ha!

Dining at Raglan Road is about more than just the food. From the moment you walk in the door, the detailed theming and memorabilia immediately transport you from Walt Disney World to Ireland. Whether you are stopping by for a pint or having a full meal, Raglan Road offers a setting where the family or just adults can relax and have a good time at night. The Irish pub features live music and step dancing Monday through Saturday. The pub has such a great festive atmosphere that it'd be hard not to have a good time, especially if you go with a group.

Today, March 14, begins the official Mighty Festival for St. Patrick's week at Raglan Road. A few days ago, I was invited by the pub to experience some of the pre-St. Paddy's Day festivities.

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On the night of my visit, I had the pleasure of hearing the Willis Clan perform. The Willis Clan is an incredible family of very talented musicians, singers, dancers and writers. They've combined their talents with their Irish roots and formed an amazing musical dance troupe comprised of all 12 children who range in age from 2 to 20.

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All members of the family participate in one way or another. Some of the younger members danced on the raised platform to the delight of all who watched.

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The highlight had to be two-year old Jada, the youngest member of the family, who made her public debut dance performance and stole the show.

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Between sets, the Raglan Road Dancers performed. They are part of the troupe that performs nightly and also during the Rollicking Raglan Sunday Brunch. I believe we'll see them as part of the Mighty Festival, too!

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The folks at Raglan Road were very good with my shellfish allergy and prepared my food separately. I was very comfortable enjoying two appetizers:

Dalkey Duo - Dalkey-battered cocktail sausages with a Dalkey mustard dipping sauce. (The photo below also has scallops on it.)

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Heaven on Earth - baby back ribs in a Guinness and honey glaze. What I really liked was that the glaze was not too sweet, just enough to complement the ribs.

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In fact, they were both so yummy and plentiful that I passed on an entree and dessert.

I thoroughly enjoyed myself at Raglan Road and the next time someone suggests we go there, I promise, no more skrinchy faces. I actually plan to be at Raglan Road sometime on St. Patrick's Day. And while I won't be hoisting a Guinness (not a beer fan), I know my friends will more than make up for me!

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Raglan Road is on the Disney Dining Plan and is one table service credit for both lunch and dinner. The restaurant does participate in Tables in Wonderland with members receiving its 20 percent discount.

RELATED LINKS

Official Mighty St. Patrick's Festival Press Release

Official Rollicking Raglan Sunday Brunch Press Release

Great Irish Hooley at Raglan Road

AllEars Review of Raglan Road

Check out our Reader Reviews too

Raglan Road Lunch Menu

Raglan Road Dinner Menu

Raglan Road Kids Menu

DISCLAIMER: I was invited by Raglan Road to experience the preview of the Mighty St. Patrick's Festival. My food and beverages were provided to me at no charge. This did not influence my opinion or this review.

March 19, 2013

Top 10 Marketplace Picks - Flower and Garden Festival

Deb's Digest Blog

I'm excited about the addition of the festival marketplaces to the Flower and Garden Festival. I hope Disney does not increase the number of booths as that would really take away from the focus of the flowers. I will admit, it is nice to nosh around in the temperate springtime and enjoy the color!


TOP PICKS

These are my favorites from the new marketplaces (in order around World Showcase)

1) Florida Fresh: Watermelon Salad with pickled red onion, feta, arugula $3.50
Who knew watermelon and feta went so well together! I don't care to eat onions so just removed them.

Flower and Garden Festival Marketplace Items


2) Taco de Carnitas - pork carnitas topped with Taramindo salsa, served over flour tortilla with pork rinds $4.95
Loved the crunch the pork rinds added!

Flower and Garden Festival Marketplace Items


3) Rosita Margarita on the rocks - tequila, triple sec and rose infusions $8.50
What can I say, went well with the Taco de Carnitas (see #2)

Flower and Garden Festival Marketplace Items

4) Potato Pancake with house made Apple Sauce $2.75
Light, flavorful and crispy - I took off all the apple sauce - way too sweet!

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5) Panna Cotta al Limoncello and Chianti- Limoncello flavored Panna Cotta with wild berries $5.00

One of the best Panna Cotta - had zest of lemon which gave a new extra to the flavor - Of course Chiati - I"m in Italy after all!

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6) Smoked Beef Brisket with Collard Greens and Jalapeño Corn Bread $6.75
Not sure why I included this one as I don't eat collard greens or care for Jalapeno. I think the smells from here influenced me, yea that's it! But seriously, I thought the brisket was very good.


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7) Frushi - Fresh strawberries, pineapple and cantaloupe rolled with coconut rice atop a raspberry sauce sprinkled with toasted coconut and whipped cream $4.50

Something different and refreshing.

Flower and Garden Festival Marketplace Items

8) Baghrir - Moroccan pancake with honey, almonds and Argan Oil $3.00

Tell them LIGHT on the honey and easy on the oil and you'll have a most enjoyable munch.

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9) Chocolate Trifle $1.50

Chocolate - should I say more?

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10) Potato, Chive and Cheddar Cheese Biscuit with Smoked Salmon Tartare and Sour Cream $4.25

Ok, this one isn't mine but Linda's. I needed a #10. She raved about the savory biscuit and the salmon went perfectly.

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Over the course of several visits I ate just about everything my palate would try. I'm allergic to shellfish and tend to stay away from fish. I also don't like things really sweet anymore (there was a time.....) I thought some of the food was over sauced/ over sweet - don't be afraid to ask for anything on the side or just for a little.

RELATED LINKS:

-- Marketplace Foods Photo Gallery

-- Marketplace Menus

-- Rate and Review the Festival Marketplaces

-- Even more comprehensive Flower and Garden Festival Information and Photos


March 24, 2013

Scotland a Brave Adventure - Limited Space Now Available

Deb's Digest Blog

NOTE: I announced this special adult only Adventure by Disney Scotland journey last year and within 2 weeks all the slots were filled. We just had a couple cancellations and so the opportunity exists (if you act fast) to join this exclusive adventure. If you are interested, contact Adventures@MouseFanTravel.com

SCOTLAND -- A BRAVE ADVENTURE

Adventures by Disney Scotland

This 9 day/8 night adventure begins and ends in Edinburgh with visits to Inverness, Isle of Skye and Isle of Lewis.

Join me for an adult-only experience that only the Adventures by Disney folks can provide, September 15-23, 2013!

Itinerary Highlights

Day 1 - A Disney representative meets you at the airport and a driver takes to you the Balmoral Hotel. Everyone arrives throughout the day and we gather for a welcome dinner to meet our guides and fellow travelers.

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Day 2 - Our first excursion is to the Palace of Holyroodhouse where a Blue Badge Guide leads us on a tour of this royal palace that is one of the Queen's official residences in Edinburgh. The National Museum of Scotland is next, where a private guide provides the tour. After a group lunch in the Museum it's time for the Dovecot Studios Tour. This 100-year-old studio creates tapestries through a rich collaboration between the artist, weavers and commissioners. Late afternoon and dinner we are on our own.

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Day 3 - After breakfast we journey by coach to one of the most famous islands of Scotland -- the mystical, magical Isle of Skye. A visit to Ft. William where the sea meets the Rivers Nevis and Lochy, with mighty Ben Nevis -- the highest mountain in the British Isles -- towering in the background. Time on our own is included. Back on the coach to the Cuillin Hills Hotel, overlooking the waters of Portree Bay, with spectacular views of both the Sound of Raasay and the grand Cuillin Mountain Range.

Day 4 - Breakfast first and then we board the coach to the rugged Sound of Raasay. Our day includes hiking at Brothers Point and a ride to Quiraing. After lunch at Flodigarry Hotel, we walk along Staffin Beach and visit Kilt Rock. At the Isle of Skye Baking Company we'll learn how to make scones! Dinner is on our own in Portree.

Day 5 - On the coach to our next destination, Eilean Donan Castle. This majestic national icon sits at the dramatic junction of three great saltwater lochs. We can explore the Loch Ness Exhibition Centre and enjoy an exclusive Lunch at the Loch Ness Café. Then we board a motor launch for a trek across Loch Ness. We disembark at the ruins of this once-mighty fortress that commands breathtaking views of Loch Ness. Finally we arrive at the Kingsclub Hotel & Spa, Inverness, the new annex of the Kingsmills Hotel, and enjoy dinner.

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Day 6 - We board a flight to the Isle of Lewis where we tour: the Blackhouse of Arnol, No. 42, Gearrannan Village and see the Dun Carloway Broch, the Callanish Standing Stones and then lunch at the Cafe. We then fly back to Inverness for dinner at the Mustard Seed.

Day 7 - We spend the day at the Rothiemurchus Estate! Horseback riding, bicycle (or casual) walking tour, and lunch at the Druie Café Restaurant.

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Day 8 - Our final full day of touring! After breakfast at the hotel we board a coach for a scenic three-hour trip to the Scottish Highlands! Dunnottar Castle and Glamis Castle are on the list as well as a picnic lunch, private guided tour and archery lesson. We have a welcome reception at Edinburgh Castle. Once the castle is closed to the general public, we have a private tour of this magnificent monument and then an exclusive dinner at Edinburgh Castle.

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Day 9 - Breakfast and then transfers to the airport. Whew! What an itinerary!

Accommodations

While in Edinburgh we will stay in the Balmoral Hotel, a 5-star luxury hotel. The Balmoral was named as Scotland's Leading Hotel at the World Travel Awards 2011 and as the Top UK Business Hotel outside of London at the Condé Nast Traveller's Readers' Travel Awards 2011.

The Cuillin Hills Hotel , a four-star luxury hotel, will be our home for our two nights in the Isle of Skye. It's set within 15 acres of mature private grounds overlooking Portree Bay, with magnificent views over the Sound of Raasay to the Cuillin Mountain range.

While in Inverness, our home is the Kingsclub Luxury Spa Hotel. All rooms at the Kingsmills Hotel are ensuite with satellite TV, wifi, and tea and coffee making facilities.

DINING

The Adventure includes 8 Breakfasts, 6 Lunches and 5 Dinners. The guides will assist you by providing recommendations for the "meals on your own".


Want to join the fun? Download this pdf file and contact Adventures@MouseFanTravel.com


WHY ADVENTURES BY DISNEY

I absolutely love the Adventures by Disney product and my experience on my two trips were equally wonderful. Every little detail is taken care of for you. Your pre-trip planning consists of learning the rich history about the areas you will visit, not trying to determine where to stay and exactly what to do!

Before my first AbD, I found the offerings intriguing, but so expensive. Everyone I spoke with who had done an Adventure raved about it and said it was worth every penny. I had never done an organized tour before, wasn't sure what I'd think of it. I now stand with those folks and can only sing the praises about the incredible experience.

Here are some of the reasons I love Adventures by Disney:

A Disney representative meets you at the airport and a driver takes you to your hotel!

Everyplace we went, our rooms were ready and our luggage was already in them! No check-in lines, our guides had us all pre-registered and handed out the keys as we entered the lobby of each hotel.

Our guides were like the Energizer bunnies. No matter what time of day, where we were, or what the situation, they consistently went over and above. They made the Disney Difference.

We were treated like VIPs at almost every place we went. The Disney name goes a long way! We only had to mention at any of the hotels we were with the "Disney" group and folks couldn't do enough to make us happy.

Not every single moment is planned -- free time is built in for your own explorations.

Each stop we had local guides on the tour sharing their knowledge and expertise. They were able to answer just about any question asked and knew the special things to point out to us, things you wouldn't necessarily find in a printed guide.

It was wonderful to be able to look out the bus windows and see the scenery along the way. Since we weren't driving, one person wasn't missing the highlights.

All gratuities are included except for the Disney Guides.


FIRST-HAND REPORTS ABOUT ADVENTURES BY DISNEY

Read all about my Southwest Splendors Adventure by Disney!

Here's my trip report from the Backstage Magic Adventure!

Beci shared her Adventure by Disney to Ireland!

Erin enjoyed the Costa Rica Adventures with her family!

March 26, 2013

Easter Festivities Continue at Walt Disney World

Lots of Easter-related activities happening this week at Walt Disney World.

Spring Fling, Limited Time Magic, runs from March 25- March 31st!

In the Magic Kingdom, an Easter Pre-Parade features Mr. and Mrs. Easter Bunny, the Fantasia Hippos and more.

Mr. and Mrs. Easter Bunny also greet guests on Main Street USA on Bunny Lane (Main Street).

In Epcot, at the United Kingdom, Mr. and Mrs. Easter Bunny are also greeting guests along with Easter Egg relays and Easter Egg Hunts.

Head over to the Grand Floridian and check out the beautiful hand-made chocolate Easter Eggs on display.

Church Services are being held March 31 in the Fantasia Ballroom at the Contemporary Resort Convention Center.

• Catholic Mass - 8:00am-9:00am
• Protestant Service - 9:00am-10:00am
• Catholic Mass - 10:15am-11:15am

Staying at a Walt Disney World Resort? Inquire at the front desk if there are activities for you and your Family on Easter.

RELATED LINKS:

Vinylmation Egg-sperience Character Egg Hunt - Limited Time Magic -Epcot - March 18-24

Mickey Helps Prepare Easter Baskets at Disney Resorts

Last Official Full Length Easter Parade - Spring 2000

Return to Blog Central

About March 2013

This page contains all entries posted to Deb's Digest in March 2013. They are listed from oldest to newest.

February 2013 is the previous archive.

April 2013 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.