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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

{ Easy Cheese Balls & Dips }

I'm digging back in my archives for this post. WAY back for some of them. You'll notice the difference in photography alone.

Who cares what the pics look like though, because the recipes are still YUM.

I've rounded up some quick, easy, and tasty dips and cheese balls for your party tonight.

I've yet to decide which we will have tonight. I should probably figure that out soon.

1.2.3. Cheese Ball


This is my mother-in-law's recipe and it is a HUGE favorite around here. So, so easy.

Chocolate Chip Cheese Ball


This recipe is from my mom and is equally loved.

Buckeye Cheese Ball


The idea for this recipe started with the above Chocolate Chip Cheese Ball and ended up here, in Deliciousland.

Ranch Cheese Ball


This recipe came from a reader named Donna.

Now on to the dips!

Holy Moses Dip


This recipe came from my friend Lori, but the name is all me ;)

Reuben Dip


My recipe for Reuben Dip.  Sauerkraut is our "lucky" food for New Year's in Ohio.

And finally-

The Big Cheesy Dip


My Bean's favorite dip!

Wishing you a dippy, cheesy new year with many memories, blessings, and good things.


Thursday, December 18, 2014

{ Christmas Sugar Scrubs }

Whoa! SIX days til Christmas!

WHAT??? I know, right? SIX days!

What I've got for you here is a quick and easy last minute gift. You know you've forgotten someone!

These are inexpensive and oh so lucious. Good enough to eat, but don't. I mean, you COULD, it's all foodstuffs, but...

I've made you 5 different versions of sugar scrub.

All start with the same basic recipe: 1/4 cup of (solid) coconut oil to 1 cup of sugar. After that, the sky is the limit!

These all smell AH-MAZ-ING. I'm not messing around here. Delicious.

So, make some to give away. You can get a lot out of a jar of coconut oil! A lot!

Or... make some for yourself. Or both ;)

So, the scrubs I made today are:

Candy Cane

Hot Cocoa

Pumpkin Pie



Gingerbread Cookie

All of the scrubs make approx  1/2 pint. (I got slightly over 2 of these adorable 1/4 pint jars per recipe). You can easily double, triple, etc. any of the recipes.

Please note when using scrubs in the bathtub/shower, that it can get a little slick. The same applies when using on feet. Be careful!

Always test in a small spot of your skin for sensitivity. That said, I have extremely sensitive skin and have never had an issue. Everyone is different though!

To use, scoop a bit of scrub into your palm, then rub on arms, legs, etc in a circular motion. Rinse and pat to dry. You'll feel soft and smooth and smell like Christmas!

Note on the Cocoa Scrub. While this is my favorite smelling scrub here, it is also the messiest. Be prepared for chocolate everywhere ;)

I've also made you some sweet little tags. To use, right click on the file below and 'save image as'.

Just jar up your scrub, add a tag, and bam, you've got a great gift!

Happy Christmas!


Christmas Sugar Scrubs

by Tina @ Sugar Bean Bakers

Candy Cane:
1 cup white granulated sugar
1/4 cup solid coconut oil
1 teaspoon peppermint extract

Beat coconut oil on high until softened (30 seconds-1 min), add in sugar and peppermint. Store in airtight container.

Hot Cocoa:
1 cup white granulated sugar
1/4 cup solid coconut oil
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Beat coconut oil on high until softened (30 seconds-1 min), add in sugar, cocoa, and vanilla. Store in airtight container.

Pumpkin Pie:
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup solid coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Beat coconut oil on high until softened (30 seconds-1 min), add in sugar, spices, and vanilla. Store in airtight container.

Snickerdoodle:1 cup white granulated sugar
1/4 cup solid coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Beat coconut oil on high until softened (30 seconds-1 min), add in sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. Store in airtight container.

Gingerbread Cookie:
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup solid coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 ginger
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Beat coconut oil on high until softened (30 seconds-1 min), add in sugar, spices, and vanilla. Store in airtight container.

Monday, December 15, 2014

{ Sweet, Simple Christmas Tree Cupcakes }

As the Christmas holiday closes in, we all begin to panic, if even just a little.

There's just SO much to do. Every year I tell myself I'm NOT GOING TO DO ALL OF THAT, and yet, every year I still do it.

Case in point, Gingerbread Houses. Now, I do it the 'easy' way (see here), but I said I wasn't doing them this year. Yet, what did I find myself doing at 9 pm the night  prior to the party? Making Gingerbread Houses. Christmas comes but once a year. What's an hour of my time and a few dollars in candy? It's a tradition, after all!

I often think about how calm Christmas would be if I didn't host & attend parties. If I didn't bake, and bake, and bake, and candy make. If I didn't do gift boxes of treats, etc. It would be so calm. So peaceful. So... BORING, and SO not me.

So, I go. I do.

It's Christmastime, after all, and I love a good tradition!

One of my favorite traditions at Christmas is watching the Harry Potter movies with the best Christmas scenes. No, I don't watch the whole series at Christmas, I pick and choose. Goblet of Fire for the Yule Ball, Order of the Phoenix for Christmas at Grimmauld Place, Half Blood Prince for Christmas at The Burrow (until those dang D.E. ruined it!). The best of the best, is, of course Sorcerer's Stone. It makes me feel oh, so merry! I love all of the trees in the Great Hall. After watching the other day, I decided to make these cupcakes.

They are the sweetest little Christmas tree cupcakes evah. Totally cute and way easy. Don't tell though. What people don't know won't hurt them.

You just bake up any cupcake flavor of your choosing, frost with a little white, sprinkle on a little sanding sugar, pipe on a little green swirly tree, decorate, and... done!

You can make the trees any shade of green you choose (or, hey, get funky with some colored trees!), but I made mine a more 'natural' shade of green. To achieve this color I used (Wilton Gel food coloring) Leaf Green, Kelly Green, and wee bit of black.

Me gusta.

Hagrid would approve.

So, be it calm or be it hectic, I hope your Christmas is classically YOU.


Christmas Tree Cupcakes


Cupcakes, baked and cooled
Green food coloring
piping bag
Wilton 1M tip
White sanding sugar

Make sure your buttercream is sort of stiff. You may want to add a little more powdered sugar to your normal recipe.

Scoop out some white and set aside.

Tint the rest to the shade of green you prefer.

Frost cupcakes with the white buttercream. Sprinkle the edges with white sanding sugar.

Using your green icing, in the center of the cupcake, pipe your tree. Make 3 swirls, then lift up. Look! A tree! <3

Decorate as desired. Sprinkle with more white sanding sugar or powdered sugar, add silver dragees
or colored nonpareils,or other sprinkles, etc! Leave top plain, or add a star, snowflake, sixlet, etc.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

{ Peppermint Crunch Bark }

Hello Decemeber, hello Christmas!

I'm SO excited to see you.

Yeah, I have eleventy million things to do, but I loooooooooooove you, and you are finally here!

One of my favorite things to do at Christmas is bake with my awesome friend, Lori and also with my boy. Lori and I make trays of treats for teachers, neighbors, family members, and other friends. It's always an exhausting but great day. Together we make what could be a chore into a great time! Love me some Lori time!  Bean loves to make Buckeyes and Cake Balls, so we always do that together. Also, rolled and decorated sugar cookies because what is more Christmas than that? The boy LOVES traditions, and I love that.

I know that Peppermint Bark has been done and done again, but this is just a wee bit different.

This adds a layer of Andes Peppermint Crunch chips in the middle. I love the flavor it gives, but even more, I love the color. It makes a classic, lovely Christmas treat just that much better.

Isn't the red festive? I'm pretty smitten.

These are totally going on the Christmas trays this year!

Delicious, easy, and inexpensive to pack little boxes up as gifts for friends, family, co-workers, etc!


Peppermint Crunch Bark
by Tina @ Sugar Bean Bakers

6 ounces white chocolate*
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate*
6 ounces Andes Peppermint Crunch chips
2 candy canes, crushed
1 Tablespoon white sanding sugar
1 Tablespoon red sanding sugar

*Chips work great, but for even better flavor, use a higher quality chocolate, chopped into small pieces

Add crushed candy canes & sanding sugars to a small bowl and set aside.

For instructions on melting chocolate, follow this link: How to Melt Chocolate.

Line a baking pan with parchment paper. Melt semi-sweet chocolate. Pour onto pan and spread out. Tap on counter to remove any bubbles. Allow to harden by placing in the fridge (about 20 mins) or freezer (about 10 minutes).

Melt Peppermint Crunch. Pour on top of the hardened chocolate layer. Tap to remove bubbles. Return to fridge/freezer to harden.

Melt white chocolate layer. Spread on top of Peppermint Crunch layer. Tap to remove bubbles. Immediately top with crushed candy cane/sugar mixture.

Allow to fully harden. Cut or break into pieces. Store in airtight container.

Makes approx 1 1/2 pounds

This can be made in any quantity as long as the chocolate/Peppermint Crunch portions are even (adjust candy canes accordingly).

You can add a bit of peppermint extract if you wish, if you prefer it a bit more pepperminty. I like the mild peppermint flavor that the Peppermint Crunch adds.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

{ Old Fashioned Peanut Bar Cupcakes }

When I was a kid my mom and I would make what she called Peanut Bars. They were a spongey white cake that we cut and rolled in a glaze. After the glaze came the finely chopped peanuts. We would spend, what seemed like, hours making these. Bake, cool, cut, glaze, roll, dry, glaze, roll, dry. Then, we would wrap them in plastic wrap two at a time. We'd put them into containers and we'd take them to the local hospital's Christmas Bazaar. There, they would FLY off the table. They were super popular. Within an hour they would all be gone, and we would still have people asking. Mom always kept some at home though. They were my very favorite. Laborious, yes, but so worth it.

I've totally shortcut this process with these cupcakes. While not QUITE the same, these are a white cake, not a sponge, the taste is still there. My hub,who never had the peanut bars, very much adores these cupcakes.  They are so easy, so woohoo for that!

Make these for someone in your life who loves peanuts- you won't be sorry!

Upon my googling, I also found these Peanut Bars called Blarney Stones. I have yet to figure out WHY they are called such a thing, but who cares.. delicious!


Old Fashioned Peanut Bar Cupcakes

By Tina @ Sugar Bean Bakers

For the cupcakes:

You will use white cake. Use a favorite recipe or from a box.

For the glaze*:

2 cups powdered sugar- sifted
4-5 Tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a small mixing bowl, whisk milk and vanilla into powdered sugar until glossy.

For the topping:

2 cups finely chopped peanuts*

One at a time, dip cooled cupcakes into glaze and then roll in nuts. Allow glaze to dry. Once dry, repeat the glaze/nut process. Allow to dry again.

*Depending on how much you glaze or roll in peanuts, you may need slightly more or less

Monday, November 17, 2014

{ Peach And Pecan Kitchen Sink Cake }

I'm not sure how it happened, but suddenly, the holidays are upon us.

Every year I start shopping prior to vacation (we go the first part of September every year). You'd think this would afford me some relaxing moments prior to the holidays. It doesn't. Somehow, even starting in August, I'm panicking a week before Christmas arrives. Now, granted, I do shop both for my own gift giving, along with my 94 year old grandmother's gift giving. Still, you'd think August would be enough time.


So, I become a fan of shortcuts this time of year. I don't want to skimp, but quick and easy become my bros. My bros and I hang out together and chat about all their friends. One such bro is this Kitchen Sink Cake. Now, others know him by another name. I refuse to call him such things. It just doesn't sound appetizing. I think it's insulting because he really is a lovely creature. Basically, a Dump Cake is not welcome in my house. I have to make up nicknames for him. Like this.

Peach and Pecan Kitchen Sink Cake.

Granted, that isn't the tastiest sounding thing in the world, but, hey, it's better than the alternative.

This cake is easy squeezey.

It takes just a few ingredients and very little effort.

And it tastes amazing.

So quick and easy and a wonderful finish to your holiday meal or perfect for parties and potlucks.

Now I must rush back over to Amazon and place another order. Amazon is definitely my bro. Not just this season, but always. <3


Peach & Pecan Kitchen Sink Cake
by Tina @ Sugar Bean Bakers

1 box yellow or white cake mix (I prefer yellow)
2 small (15 oz) cans of peaches
1 stick butter- melted
1/2 cup pecans- finely chopped
1/2 cup brown sugar- packed
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 F

Prepare a 9 x 13 baking dish by lightly spraying with cooking spray.

In a small bowl, mix together cinnamon and sugar.

Pour peaches into bottom of pan- do NOT drain. Sprinkle dry cake mix over. Pour stick of melted butter slowly over the top, coating as well as possible.

Sprinkle mixture of cinnamon and sugar over top, then sprinkle on pecans.

For the final step, sprinkle the brown sugar on the top as well.

Bake for 45 minutes to one hour until brown and bubbly.

Serve warm with ice cream or serve chilled with whipped cream.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

{ Mummy Munch Party Mix }

Hey, hey, hey, here's my Mummy Bones & Mini Mummy Cookies in action. Cute, no?

But, before we get to that, let me tell you a little story.

Last week, I awoke to a delicious smelling breakfast. It was all mapley and wonderful smelling. I thought, aw, my sweet Bean has gotten up and fixed breakfast! What an awesome guy! What a total champ! I drag myself out of bed and to the kitchen to find... I'm the only one awake. Whut?

Hubs was at work that weekend, but I knew it was definitely not anything lingering because the man eats Cheerios every day. Huh. Maybe I was dreaming in Smellovision.

The next day, I awoke to the same smell. This time, totally convinced nothing was going down in my kitchen, I was starting to worry for my Old Factory sense along with, hello, my brain.

The third day it happened, I was really becoming concerned. Should I consult WedMD for 'awaking to delicious smells'?  Probably not. That never ends well.

On the fourth day, I noticed something. A basket I'd recently placed not far from my side of the bed. A basket I'd removed from my closet for fear it would smell up Bean's tuxedo which was hanging just above where said basket used to sit.

A basket... full of Scentsy wax melts.

Bad news? No specially made, delicious breakfast for me.

Good news? My nose and brain are in tact.

Better news?

I have an awesome Halloween Snack Mix for you.

I really like making party mixes. I have a few here on the blog.

They are so easy to make, always a big hit, and can be dressed up for any occasion. This party mix requires a bit more time than most, having the Mummy Bones, and Mini Mummy Cookies. They are definitely a fun addition, but if you are in a time crunch, the mix is still totally delish without them.

You'll just need a few basic ingredients and you are off.

Serve it at your Halloween party, bag it up and give as treats or party favors, or enjoy on your own while gathering around the TV and watching It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!

For more Halloween goodness you HAVE to go check out Darla's Mocha Cookies and Cream Cupcakes with Skull Cameos. They are AH-MAZE-ZING. Gorgeousness. You won't be sorry, so click on over to Bakingdom!

Happy Halloween!


Mummy Munch Party Mix
by Tina @ Sugar Bean Bakers

3 Cups Frosted Cheerios
3 Cups Rice Chex
3 Cups Popped Popcorn
1 Cup Mini Marshmallows
1 Cup Fall colored M&Ms
Fall sprinkles
6 blocks White Chocolate Almond Bark (or other white chocolate), melted
A few Mummy Bones (I only used about 12 for this mix)
A few Mini Mummy Head Cookies (I only used about 12 for this mix)

Line counter with parchment paper. Spread out cereal and popcorn. Pour white chocolate over. Allow to slightly cool, then toss with hands. Scatter sprinkles and M&Ms before chocolate is fully dried. Add marshmallows just before serving. Lay Mummy Bones & Mummy Head Cookies on top of the mix after you've put it into a bowl for serving. If packaging it up for party favors, add 1 mummy bone and 1 mini mummy head to each bag.

Store in airtight container.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

{ Mini Mummy Cookies }

Mummy Madness 3.0! Here we go...

These lil guys are KEY-YOU-TAH, right? They are also A. SUPER easy, and 2. Delicious!

You can make these little guys from any mini cookie, but for mine I chose Mini Nutter Butters because yum.

After the cookies, all you need is white chocolate, an piping bag, and sugar eyes.

These guys are totally adorable just piled up in a bowl, bagged up as party favors, or for trick or treaters. Imagine them bagged together with the Mummy Bones and Mummy Donuts. Too much cute! Or... how about in this snack mix?

For now,

Mummy out.


Mini Mummy Cookies

Mini sandwich cookies (I used mini Nutter Butters)
Melted white chocolate (I prefer Almond Bark)
Sugar Eyes
Piping bag

Dunk cookies in white chocolate to cover. Tap to remove excess chocolate. Place on parchment paper to dry. Snip a tiny end off of a piping bag and fill with melted (but slightly cooled) white chocolate. Drizzle on cookies to give a mummy look. Add sugar eyes and let dry completely. When dry, break off excess chocolate drizzles from sides of cookies. Store in airtight container.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

{ Mummy Bones }

These little gems are quick, quick, quick and easy for a super fun spooky treat.

This is a three ingredient 'recipe'. You'll need pretzel sticks, mini marshmallows, and white chocolate (I use Almond Bark). Maybe a wee bit of oil to thin the chocolate. That's it.

This is a fun project to get the kids on. They can assemble the 'bones' while the adults handle the hot chocolate. These are great on their own, or in this snack mix. These would be great bagged up for Trick or Treaters, or as a party favor. Fun all around.

They taste yummy too, of course!

More mummy madness to come...


Mummy Bones

Pretzel Sticks
Mini Marshmallows
White chocolate (melted)

Assemble the bones by inserting a marshmallow onto each end of a pretzel stick. Coat with white chocolate. Allow to dry.

Store in airtight container.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

{ Mummy Donuts }

Hey there! Remember me?

I'm sorry, but I've been BIZZZZY. Like super busy. My friend's daughter just got married this week and they asked me to help them out with planning and decorating. I also shot the wedding photos, something I only do for super, duper special people in my life!

And now, suddenly, it's Halloween. How did that happen?

I've got a few super simple mummy posts in the works for you. This is the first.

This requires only a few items. Heavy weight paper stripey straws (or lollipop sticks), white chocolate, sugar eyes, an icing bag, and small powdered donuts.

You can also leave these guys off the sticks and just have a pile of mummy donuts. Either way, these are easy and cute for your little monsters or for a Halloween Party.

I'll be back with more mumminess soon!


Mummy Donuts

Items needed:

Small powdered sugar donuts
Heavy weight paper stripey straws (or lollipop sticks)
White Chocolate
sugar eyes
icing bag

To Assemble:

First, dip your stick in the melted white chocolate. Then insert into the donut. Allow to dry. After fully dried, snip a tiny end off your icing bag and fill with melted white chocolate. Drizzle the chocolate over the donut to look like mummy wrappings. Add sugar eyes, and... done!

Store in airtight container.

Monday, September 29, 2014

{ Disney World Tips & Walkthrough Guide: Epcot }

Well, I'm picking this up where I left off here. I talk a lot. Sorry. Except not sorry ;)

You can see my other Orlando posts here: Magic Kingdom and Hogsmeade trips (9/2012) and my Diagon Alley post  (9/2014). I share a lot of photos and tips in all of these.

In the last post I covered our resort (Port Orleans Riverside), MagicBands, FastPass+, the Disney Dining Plan, and general Tips. This post will be more park centric and I will break it down park by park.

This post will be dealing with Epcot.


I loved Epcot.

I know a lot of people don't, but I thought it was very awesome. There are fun rides in Future World but I loved roaming the World Showcase most of all. Although Future World did contain my new favorite ride.

Future World

Soarin' takes you on a virtual hang glider flight over California. You'll see, hear, and smell the different regions. It was awesome.

The girl's favorite ride (in all the parks) was also in Future World, Test Track.

While you wait in the queue for this ride, you get to virtually design a car. This is one of the cars we made. Classy, right? As you ride, your car is pitted against the others in nearby groups and you get to see how well your design did. Fun stuff. Plus, once you hit the outside portion, the ride speeds to 65 miles per hours!

We also rode Mission Space, which, as a claustrophobic I do not recommend. The ride itself was enjoyable, but I did not like the tiny space they put us in and I very nearly banged on the door in panic, but somehow refrained. It is a  motion simulator. Mission Space has a Green and Orange mission. Green is the less intense mission (this is what we did). Orange is the more intense.Choosing Orange you will experience 2.5 Gs of force over an extended period, and simulated weightlessness. In this mission your ship spins. While the Green still bounces you around, there is no spinning (or the G force or weightlessness). If you get to the park and can't remember which color is which, just ask the cast member for the less intense ride and they will be happy to point you in the right direction.

The Seas with Nemo and Friends is a fun little ride that takes you through the movie as you ride in clam shells. After the ride, you are let out into a mini aquarium, which is neat. Be sure to watch during the ride though, there are live fish in there along with the animated ones!

Turtle Talk with Crush is also housed here.

I think Spaceship Earth is underrated. Of course it is very much a learning ride, but I thought it was fun and interesting. It takes you on a ride through time. (Sorry for the blur, low light, cell phone, and motion don't mix well).

Other rides in Future World (that we did not go on): Captain EO, Ellen's Energy Adventure, Journey into Imagination with Figment, and Living with the Land.

For lunch we went to the much praised Sunshine Seasons. It is in The Land pavilion (the same place as Soarin'). It was very, very good. Bean is very picky though and there is nothing at Sunshine he will eat, so, he went to The Electric Umbrella. The Electric Umbrella is a little way from Sunshine Seasons, but not too far. You could grab food there for your pickies, then head to Sunshine to eat, but they are teenagers, so they ate there and met up with us after. I've heard many bad reviews about Electric Umbrella, but both of the kids liked it. While Sunshine Seasons has food like Mongolian Beef with Vegetable Fried Rice, Grilled Fish Tacos, Roast Beets and Goat Cheese Salad, and Spicy Thai Green Curry Shrimp, Electric Umbrella has burgers, chicken nuggets, and fries. There were no complaints from my two.

One thing we did in Future World that a lot of people seem to totally miss is stopping by Club Cool. Club Cool is behind the fountain and right beside Starbucks.

In Club Cool, you can sample complimentary Coca-Cola soft drinks from around the world. There are self service machines, tiny cups, and interesting flavors. Try the Beverly... if you dare! The rest of Club Cool is jam packed with Coca- Cola items for sale, which thrilled Bean. He loves Coke.

Now, on to my favorite... The World Showcase!

The World Showcase

Upon entering the park, the kids bought World Showcase Passports. While these are a lot of fun and the kids LOVED doing them (in fact, Bean says it's his favorite souvenir from the entire trip) , they ARE time consuming though. In each country you have to seek out the person who signs the book, and is very often tricky to find. However, they will stamp your passport and write something in their language. The passports are around $11. They are also, potentially, more for little kids with the stickers and such, but both of these 17 year olds enjoyed it very much. The passport person is usually in or near the KidCot stations in the countries.

Here they are getting it signed in Morocco

Let's tour the world, shall we? Ok, and away we go...........


Inside of the pyramid, there is a twilight marketplace which is fun to explore. There are also a few restaurants inside: La Hacienda de San Angel (Table Service), San Angel Inn (Table Service), Cantina de San Ángel (Counter Service), and La Cava del Tequila (tequilla bar- Dining Plan not accepted).

Along with this there is Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros boat ride, which led to an embarrassing moment when I thought we were outside. It was was a twilight ride. As you can tell from the photo of the pyramid which I snapped right as we went in, it was NOT twilight in real life. So, yeah.

However... the ride was cute.

Viva Donald!


I loved the look of Norway. It was so pretty. We were able to ride Maelstrom (we enjoyed), which will  be closing next week (10/5/14). They are moving it to a Frozen theme. We actually saw a bit of the Frozen theme in the Stave Church already.

The Kringla Bakeri og Kafe is home to many tasty treats, but probably most popularly, School Bread. School Bread is my favorite treat of the week. School Bread ( “Skolebrød”) is a sweet bread that is filled with custard and topped with icing and toasted coconut. Delish and something I need to figure out how to make. 

Norway is also home to Akershus Royal Banquet Hall (Table Service), which is a princess character dining location. Princesses that frequent the Akershus are Cinderella, Jasmine, Aurora, Ariel and Belle.

Norway is currently (Sept 2014) not home to a Character Spot, Anna and Elsa were here a few months ago. They are slated to return to Norway this fall/winter.


Disney really outdid itself in World Showcase. Every bit of it is gorgeous.

In China there are two eateries: Nine Dragons (Table Service) and Lotus Blossom Cafe (Counter Service), shopping, and live entertainment (Dragon Legend Acrobats).

China is a Character Spot for Mulan.


Germany is home to Karamell-Küche, which is a delicious smelling snack shop. In there Darla & I got a massive Rice Krispie Treat covered in caramel and chocolate and the girl got sea salted caramel covered in milk chocolate. Amazingly delicious.

We spent a fair amount of time in one of the shops picking out our tiaras!  I can't remember the name of the shop, but there is huge amount of sparklies to choose from.

Also in Germany is shopping, Biergarten Restaurant, a buffet (Table Service dining credit), Sommerfest (counter service), don't miss the miniature train display (it's easy to walk past), and the ever popular Glockenspiel.

Germany is the Character Spot to meet Snow White.


I loved the architecture in Italy. The buildings are supposed to present a Venetian, Roman, and Florentine feel.

In Italy there are a couple stores, for dining there is Tutto Italia (Table Service) & Via Napoli Pizza e Ristorante (Table Service), there is also various street performers.

The American Adventure:

The American Adventure is just one large building which is designed Colonial style. Inside of the building is the animatronic The American Adventure show. Also, in the pavilion rotunda, if you are lucky enough, you can catch The Voices of Liberty, an 8 member  a cappella group. They are dressed in Colonial style as well. We had just missed the last performance of the day when we arrived. I have watched them on YouTube though and they are very impressive.

The American Adventure show last 30 minutes and is housed in a blessedly air conditioned theater. It's an awesome way to relax in the cool air for a while and watch our country's history as told by Audio-Animatronic versions of Mark Twain and Ben Franklin. Much of the show is told on a large screen as well.

Up until last week (Sept 27, 2014), you could enjoy the Drum and Fife band. Sadly, they are no longer.

Also in the pavilion is Liberty Inn, a counter service restaurant that serves American fare like cheeseburgers, crab cakes, and hot dogs. You will also find a small gift shop.

There is a funnel cake stand at the very front of the area. It it housed in a little gazebo type building.


We were pretty excited about Japan. One reason is that for months and months Darla and I talked about doing the Pick a Pearl in Mitsukoshi department store. Bean decided to do this for the girl's birthday as well (she'd been waiting since July to find out what her gift was), so all three girls got to pick a pearl! Fun.

Here are Bean and girl picking her pearl. There is a whole show that goes along with it. You choose an oyster, then the girls working there make a big production out of all of the proceedings. It's super fun.

photo by Mr. Bakingdom
Here I am (with Darla and some stranger man) pointing to the oyster I want. Don't judge me too harshly, I'd just walked around 1/2 the park in the rain for Fish and Chips in the UK with Mr. Bakingdom while our smart families stayed behind in a dry restaurant (it wasn't raining when we left, nor did we realize how far it was!).

After you pick the pearl, you can just take it home in a baggie, or you can pick a setting to put it in. We all got necklaces. There are also earring settings and ring settings. To pick a pearl is almost $18. The settings start around $20 and go up to over $200 (possibly higher). The chains are sold separately from the settings (mine was around $18).

These are our necklaces:

Mine is the lotus blossom, the girl's is the top, and Darla's is the bottom. All very beautiful and we all love ours very much! I highly recommend it. You have a wonderful keepsake that is very functional and beautiful.

In addition, the teens are HUGE Pokemon fans, and Mitsukoshi department store is FULL of Pokemon and other anime/manga and related items. Needless to say, we spent a lot of time in Japan.

There are also a few different eateries: Teppan Edo (table service), Tokyo Dining (table service), and Katsura Grill (counter service). There is a collection of Japanese art in the pavilion as well. One of the most popular entertainers in World Showcase, Miyuki, a candy artist, sadly retired in November of 2013. However, you can still catch the Matsuriza drummers.


Morocco was gorgeous. Pretty much all of The World Showcase is gorgeous, but Morocco was so alive with vibrant color.

There is a good bit of shopping in Morocco. There is also three eateries: Spice Road Table does NOT accept Disney Dining Plan, Restaurant Marrakesh (table service), and Tangierine Cafe (counter service).  On Sept 27, 2014, Mo-Rockin' had it's last show in Morocco. It was rock and roll music set to an Arabian beat.

The character spot in Morocco is where you can meet Aladdin and Jasmine.


France is very lovely. It has a great 'feel' to it. However, there isn't a lot to do. There is shopping, of course, and food. In fact, you can totally get yourself a rockin' beret in France, because France.

There is killer gelato at L'artisan des Glaces.

and this view, of course

and this hedge is quite fun (though the better one is in UK, I'll get to that next!).

The restaurants in France are: Monsieur Paul- which is a signature restaurant. On the Disney Dining Plan it will cost you 2 table credits per person. In cash, it will cost you a lotta! Les Chefs de France (Table Credit), and Les Halles Boulangerie & Pâtisserie (quick service credit with a selection of snack credit pastries).

For entertainment in France there is a film entitled Impressions de France and  Serveur Amusant which is an balance/acrobatic routine by waiters in front of Chefs de France.

France's Character Spot is home to Aurora & Belle.

United Kingdom

It's no secret that I love the UK. I love Harry Potter, Doctor Who, Downton Abbey, Sherlock, Broadchurch, Call the Midwife, and much more.

So, I was very excited to shop amongst these stores. I went in every single one.... and bought nothing. LOL. I think I was too overwhelmed by it. So many wants.

As I mentioned in the Japan section, Mr. Bakingdom and I did have the fish and chips from Yorkshire County Fish Shop. It was very good. It would have been even better if we didn't have to eat it hunched over the condiment cart (there is only outdoor seating with umbrellas, all of it was taken). Yorkshire County is a quick service restaurant. The other eatery in the UK is The Rose and Crown Pub, which is a table service restaurant.

There is a hedge, as I mentioned. This one is a maze. Upon seeing it, we laughed. It is only about thigh high. Not the tall, classic hedge we were expecting. However... I totally got messed up and couldn't find my way out. Yeah. That happened.

Sadly, we hit UK as it was getting dusky. None of my photos are excellent here (or Canada, which is up next).

This photo is taken from inside of the maze. The hedge you see at the bottom of the photo is part of it.

This is a very popular photo op area:

The UK is home to character greetings for Pooh, Alice in Wonderland, and... the girl's very, very fav... Mary Poppins.

Off Kilter, a Celtic Rock Band played between the UK and Canada. Their last show was Sept 27, 2014.


Canada is our last stop on this trip around the world.

We are at the end of the world already? Sigh!

Canada is very picturesque. It has a canyon, pond, waterfall, totem poles, and gardens.

The main attraction in the pavilion is O Canada!, a Circle-Vision 360° film of Canada's cities and scenery.

There are a couple shops in Canada and one restaurant, Le Cellier Steakhouse. Le Cellier is another signature dining restaurant, costing 2 table service credits per person on the Disney Dining Plan, or out of pocket entrees will run you around $30-60. It is one of Disney World's highest-rated restaurants, but I have never personally eaten there.

That brings us to the end of the World Showcase. It is about 1 1/4 miles around the World Showcase from Mexico to Canada!

Illuminations: Reflections of Earth

Illuminations: Reflections of Earth is the Epcot closing show. It is full of lasers, fountains, and fireworks, of course! It's a fun show. Not as impressive as Magic Kingdom's fireworks, but definitely worth a watch.

On your way out in the evening, be sure to look for the twinkling sidewalks. They are near Spaceship Earth (the Epcot ball).

I found many other 'hidden gems' in this post.

I very much loved Epcot, and it is a park I cannot wait to go back to. We spent a day and a half here and there is still SO much to see. I've heard a lot of people say it's not a great park for younger kids, and I can see why, but I can't help but love every inch of this park. There aren't that many rides, especially for younger kids, and a lot of Epcot is just looking and shopping. The World Showcase really only has 2 rides (The three Caballeros and Maelstrom- which is soon to close and be re-themed). There are a lot of entertainers and movies in World Showcase, along with the 'feel' of being in the countries. All of the workers in World Showcase are from the country in which they work, which is really cool!

If you are tired or just want a relaxing few minutes, hop aboard a Friendship Boat. There are two stops for these boats. One is by Mexico and the other close to Canada. The boat from Mexico will let off in Germany and the Canadian boat will drop off in Morocco. 

There are also various carts with items or food for sale that I didn't mention. I'm sure I missed a lot of things. 1 1/2 days was definitely not long enough for me!

Be sure to check Disney's official website for character greeting & show times.

Happy World Touring!



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