Monday, September 29, 2008

Old Navy Is Cute And Cheap

Dear Old Navy,

I think I have a crush on you.

Let me start from the beginning. This weekend, hubs and I visited The Newlyweds and Lynn at their beautifully decorated home in Leesburg, VA. We had a great time catching up, drinking tea + eating snacks, and watching their wedding video. After 2+ hours of fun, we decided to stop by Leesburg Outlet. I am sure you know the place well, as you have a store there.

To be brutally honest, I wasn't always so fond of you. For years I shopped at The Gap. But I think I am converted! I bought this super cute girly polo shirt that I love from you this weekend. For $10! I especially love the puff cap-sleeves, 6-button placket, and the contrasting color on the flip side of the collar! Eeek! It was love at first sight.

Online you are selling the same polo for $8. Why the difference? However, I am okay with paying a little bit more because the color I bought isn't available online. And I was in the market for a navy blue polo so I could match the hubs.

Overall, your prices are reasonable and your pieces are so darling. Now I just hope that my new polo doesn't fall apart after a couple of wash. It won't, right?

I only bought that one shirt this weekend, but I already have my eyes set on other pretty things. Can you tell I am a fan of those puff sleeves? Can you also let me know when is your next big sale? I am so there!
Your newest customer,
sugarlens

(1, 2, 3, 4)

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Snooze Fest 2008

Yesterday, on a rainy and humid Saturday, my mom and I went to the 2008 National Book Festival in DC. The festival is an annual event celebrating reading. It was my first time there. It was also my last.

The festival featured more than 70 award-winning authors, illustrators and poets in areas such as Fiction & Mystery, History & Biography, Children, Homes & Family, etc. I was most interested in Homes & Family.

We arrived just in time to hear George Duran, host of Food Network's "Ham on the Street", speak. He gave an advice on food photography. He suggested that instead of take pictures of dishes that look perfect, take pictures of food that have been bitten into it (ie. a hamburger with a bite). I will try it next time.

We also heard Warren Brown of Cakelove speak. One of his suggestions for baking good cakes is using a scale for precise measurements instead of measuring cups. He also suggested butter over oil, always. I guess that's why his cupcakes aren't the moistest.

Overall, the festival wasn't all that exciting. Not much to see, at least for me.

The festival was not a total loss, though. We received these tote bags. They will help me even more with my effort of "going green". Too bad they don't have a flat bottom.

The best part of the trip was after the festival when we went to Maine Avenue Fish Market. We left empty handed, but got full from eating tasty samples. I had some fried shrimps, fried fish, and strawberry shortcake. I know, strawberry shortcake at a fish market? Was it sanitary? I thought the same thing, but ate it anyway. It was delicious. I ended up having 4 slices. Best part of the trip. Hands. Down.

*All photos taken by me and edited in Photoshop using PW Action Set 1.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Miracle Baby: High Rise Building

It has been exactly one week since I discovered Miracle. On the same day I found him, after Luke came home from school, he built a little high rise building for the little fish. Using an empty dvd cake box and an old piece of lanyard, he made Miracle a private resort, decorated with rocks and a plant.

For the most of the time, Miracle still hides under the rock (guess he doesn't know that he's safe from the predators), but he eats very well. Whenever we feed the tank, we push a flake down to his home and watch him eat. I really enjoy watching him finishing a flake that's bigger than him. :)

I think he's growing, but it's hard to tell when I look at him everyday. Anyway, just a little update on Miracle. Will do it again in a couple more weeks!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Brown Sugar Bacon

My friends Tiffany (and her kids) and Meredith came over for brunch today. I made these yummy brown sugar bacon strips. They were a hit with everyone! I still got some uncooked bacon strips in the fridge and I am going to cook them the exact same way. Try it - they were so easy and tasted gourmet. They were literally candy-coated bacon that melted in my mouth.

The above photo is of Justin eating. The little guy wouldn't hold still, hence the blurry picture.

Brown Sugar Bacon:

- Thick cut bacon strips
- Light brown sugar

Preheat the oven* to 375 degrees F.

Line a baking pan with aluminum foil and lay the bacon out side by side, overlapping just a bit, if necessary. Sprinkle lightly with the brown sugar and place the pan on the top rack of the oven.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until the bacon is nicely browned and slightly crispy.**

Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

*I used toaster oven.
**Ovens tend to cook unevenly so some of the bacon strips will be darker than others. Don't worry; this will satisfy those who like well done bacon.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Friday, September 26, 2008

How I Feel About Economic Crisis 2008

Usually, I like to keep my posts light and fluffy, but influenced by several fellow bloggers and recent headlines, I feel that I should write something about the current economic crisis. However, I am probably the last person who can speak intelligently about the topic, so if I misspoke, please correct me.

Instead of going into the details – because 1) news does it much better and 2) I still don’t completely understand – I will just talk about how I feel about the whole fiasco.

First and foremost, I am infuriated. Luke and I had nothing with this mess. We sat patiently along the sideline waiting for the frenzy to end while others participated in the bidding war. We weren’t on either side of the sketchy mortgage transactions, but now our tax dollars are being used to bail out the irresponsible parties.

The Bush administration pushed us into a trillion dollar war that should have never started to begin with. Then the lack of governmental regulations contributed to the housing bubble and bust. Now the administration is pushing for a $700 billion bailout of the greedy financial institutions that didn't have the sense to prevent this fallout to begin with.

I feel like the good citizens of this country have gotten the short end of the stick.

I am worried that our tax will increase. Currently, Luke and I have not been affected by the economic downturn. However, if/when the tax increase happens, we will be the first ones to feel the pain. We are a two-income household with no kids or properties.

I am confused. The American people talk negatively about Europe having socialistic values. On the contrary, I would be happy to hand over my money to the government if it meant not having to worry about healthcare or higher education costs. Since the takeover of AIG by the U.S. government, all the American people technically own a piece of this mega insurance company. But where is my life insurace or auto insurance? What about providing me with retirement planning? We pay nearly as much in taxes as the Europeans, but we don’t get nearly as much in return. It seems like we are becoming socialistic, but not getting the benefits of it.

Finally, I am eager to see what happens next. I am also hopeful that the irresponsible parties will get more than a slap on the wrist and housing will finally be affordable again.

I have been following the news articles on Yahoo!. They are relatively easy to understand, even for a clueless person like me.

{Image Source}

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Dog Who Does Math

I don't usually watch Oprah unless I am eating or there is nothing else on TV. But after seeing a commercial on her upcoming show on dogs, I made sure to tune in.

I am beyond amazed. This little Jack Russell terrier, Maggie, can add, subtract, multiply and divide! Click here to watch her do math for Oprah. It's nothing like what I've ever seen before.

Pargo, what's one plus one?

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Dizzy: Photo Safari

Disney's Animal Kingdom used to be my least favorite park, but after this latest trip, it is now my second favorite (after EPCOT). It didn't appeal to me before because 1) too much walking (I am lazy), 2) Rafiki's Planet Watch (those who have been know what I am talking about), 3) no good places to eat, and 4) lack of interesting rides.

Well, most of the reasons still hold true. The park is still huge (AK is bigger than all three other parks combined), Rafiki's Planet still sucks, and the rides still aren't all that great (although Luke loves Dinosaur). However, we did find a new place to eat. The Tusker House, newly opened, is just marvelous!

The main reason why I looooove AK now is all the photo opportunities! The wildlife! The forests! The trails! The park is also full of little nooks to sit and relax, too. It's definitely a park where the rides aren't everything.

A photo of the Himalayan mountains.

The 50-foot wide Tree of Life is the centerpiece of AK. On the exterior of it are carved images of 325 animal carvings. Inside the Tree houses a theater that shows a 3-D film, It's Tough to be a Bug. This is truly Disney magic at its finest! There is a hidden Mickey on the tree; we didn't spot it, though.

All around the park were exotic birds waiting to be photographed.

I *heart* my zoom lens. Thanks Rob!

I had so much fun just snapping pictures. Unfortunately, our photo safari didn't last for too long. I got some...ahem..."girl problems" and had to leave the park earlier than we planned. Although, that wasn't a bad move because as soon as we got on the bus, it poured rain for the next several hours.

AK was the one park that I didn't get to spend as much time as I would've liked. I am looking forward in going back and photograph every corner of that park!

All pictures in this post were taken with my Canon XSi (with EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS lens) and edited by me in Photoshop.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

1968

Got some time to waste? Do you just need a laugh?

Go to this site and upload a picture of your head. For best results, pick a photo of you look straight ahead with nothing covering your face. Then click through the years to see what you looked like in decades past. Select a year and post the picture on your blog! Then comment below with your link so I can check it out. :)

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Monday, September 22, 2008

First Day Of Fall

Fall is in the air!

Here’s a little trivia: the first day of fall marks the day when there is light and dark outside for the same amount of time. Did you know that?

I just love seeing the gradual change of colors from green to red, orange, and gold. This fall, I am determined to take some good pictures of fall foliage. I already have a few places to go in mind, but please let me know if you know of any secret spots around the DC area.

Other Fun Things To Do:

Take a drive in the country and see the changing leaves
Go to a pumpkin patch
Catch a ride on a hayride
Drink some hot apple cider
Decorate the house with mini-pumpkins
Pick some apples at an orchard and bake a fresh apple pie
Go to a local Oktoberfest in the area

I may or may not get to any of the activities mentioned above, but if I can get at least a couple of good iconic shots of the fall season, I will be a happy camper.

Enjoy one of the most beautiful times of the year!

{image source}

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Turn Your Photo Into Polaroid With Photoshop

Remember the good old Polaroid days? Photos came out instantly and you could write on the white space where/when the pictures were taken. My family never did own a Polaroid camera and to tell you the truth, I didn't like the way the pictures looked - with all the white space around the image. So it's funny that I just spent the past hour learning how to turn a regular photo into a Polaroid-like photo in Photoshop.

Polaroid is a fun way to make a photo more interesting and a collage of Polaroids is just a load of fun. This tutorial* teaches you how to make a similar collage to the one I have above.

1) Go to addictedtodesign.com, download and install the free Polaroid 600 Instant Film action. If you have never installed an action in Photoshop before, the website has a good tutorial on how to do it.

2) Select the Polaroid 600 Instant Film action and press the Play button.

3) Follow the steps as the action runs. It will ask you to select the photo you want to use. Then it will ask you to adjust the handles to crop the photo so it is the right size for the Polaroid.

4) Run the action on all the photos you want to use in the collage of Polaroids. Do not close the images as you make them. I used 5 images.

5) Using a fun typeface (I used Burst My Bubble), I wrote something to describe the photos.

6) I like to resize all my images before proceeding to make them easier to manage. Go to Image>Image Size. Set Resolution to 72.

7) After you have the images you want to use converted to Polaroid-like pictures, create a new image by going File>New Image. I made mine 30 inches wide and 10 inches tall with a transparent background. How big you make it is dependent on how big your Polaroid images are.

8) Now one by one, copy and paste each Polaroid-like images to the new blank image. Select each image (ie. Layer) and adjust it so it looks like it was randomly thrown there (Edit>Transform>Rotate).

9) One by one, select each image and bring up the Layer Style window (Layer>Layer Style>Blending Options). Select Drop Shadow and check the box next to it. Now play with the settings until the shadow looks right. Select Outer Glow, check the box next to it, and change the Opacity to 40%. Click OK.

10) After all you images are placed use the crop tool to cut out any extra blank space from your image and you are done. I recommend saving it with a transparent background.

11) You are done! Show it off on your blog! :)

*User must know the basics of Photoshop.

If you do not have Photoshop, you can still turn your photos into Polaroids! Just go to Photo Notes and have the .jpg file emailed to you.

PS. The above pictures were taken at Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton VA and Burke Lake Park in Fairfax, VA. My parents and I attended the grand opening of Workhouse Arts Center and on the way back, we stopped by Burke Lake to ride on the choo choo train. We also had some McDonald's and ice cream, too.
Pargo had a great fieldtrip.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Twenty Years Late

I've just finished watching Back to the Future, all three of 'em, for the first time. Wonderful movies! I don't know why it took me so long to watch them. :)

(I found it very amusing watching what people in 1985 thought the year 2015 would be like. 2015 is only 7 years away and we are so not gonna have flying cars and highways in the sky.)

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

We Have A Miracle!

It's a happy day here at sugarlens. I was doing my usual morning fish feeding duty when I noticed two eyes staring at me from under a rock. Could it be??!!

We have a little cichlid baby!

If you recall, earlier this year, we adopted a little blue cichlid. Well, the little guy is all grown up now (more pictures later). Besides tC, we have two other grown cichlids, Easter and Bunny, in the tank. These two cichlids "play" with each other often and the female, Bunny, has gotten pregnant several times.

Whenever she gets pregnant, she puts the eggs/babies in her mouth and stops eating for weeks. She eventually releases the babies, but they never make it because they always get eaten by the other fishes in the tank.

So imagine my excitement when I saw the little cichlid today! A survivor! The picture above makes him look bigger, but really he's only the size of my pinky finger nail. He's very smart and hides under a rock. The other fishes don't know about his existence (but we think Bunny knows because she goes to the rock sometime).

It's truly a miracle and I appropriately named him just that, Miracle.

I hope he gets bigger and stays out of trouble in the meantime. Look for updates in the upcoming weeks!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Luggage Tag

Whenever we are on trips, we miss Pargo like cuh-ray-zee. Hopefully this will help.

Taking advantage of the deal, I made a luggage tag with Pargo's picture! The above picture is obviously not Pargo; I got it from Shutterfly. The tag was $7.99 and because I needed the total to be at least $10, I ordered 14 4x6 prints. I ended up paying a whopping total of 10 cents for everything.

Now Pargo can be with us wherever we are in the world. Niiiice!

Let me know what you ended up getting!

--
Shutterfly $10 off $10 order w/ Free Shipping! Completely FREE!

Shutterfly.com currently has an amazing offer: $10 off a $10 order with free shipping. This offer ends today (9/19/08)! Simply add $10 worth of items to your cart, then put in both of these codes: 69AUTUMN and 68AUTUMN. The first code gives you $10 off and the second gives you free shipping.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Dizzy: Why We Love It!

People tend to ask us the same questions about Disney.

1) Why is Disney so appealing to you?
2) Are you sick of Disney yet?

Here is my roundabout way to answer the questions.

Disney World in Orlando is a short plane ride from DC and if lucky, airfare can be found for under $200. For our trip this year, we scored a super low airfare of $129 pp with JetBlue.

While Disney can be a pricey vacation, it's not the case for us. I mentioned it before that we take advantage of the free Disney Dining Plan promotion. Food is one of the biggest costs of vacationing and to have that completely covered is just great. Our vacation for 2 (5 nights/6 days) was $1200, including everything.

Disney is never our only vacation for the year. We average 2-3 trips a year. The reason we can do that is because we travel cheap. At Disney, there are high-end accommodations such as the Grand Floridian. Then there is Pop Century, a budget resort. Pop Century is our home away from home. We have stayed there 3 times now and love it more and more each time. It's clean, cheery, and the first stop of the Magical Express.

Disney is an all-inclusive vacation for us. Lodging, transportation, food, and park tickets are all included in the package. We have been there so many times that we don't always have to stay inside the parks. We visit other resorts, go to Downtown Disney, or just simply relax by the pool. We try different restaurants, people-watch, and just unwind. There are no agendas or schedules to keep, except for dining reservations.

Some people own a vacation home on the beach or by the lake; they go there several times a year on summer weekends to get away. Disney is sort of like that with us. It's nice to return to something familiar. To get away. To vacation without the hassle of planning.

To sum up, why is Disney so appealing to us? Close to home, friendly on the wallet, always fun, fantastic (free) food, close to our hearts.

Of course, sometimes we get irritated, too. Long lines at the bus stop/attractions, crowds of people, and hot sticky days. However, we are becoming smarter. We don't go to the parks until at least 10am; by then, the lines at the bus stop are shorter. We already formulated a game plan for next year (yep, we are already booked to go back!) on how to avoid the crowd even more.

We don't necessary have to ride the most popular rides. I actually like less popular rides such as Spaceship Earth, Journey Into Imagination With Figment, and Carousel Of Progress. For the popular rides, we utilize FASTFASS to bypass the long line.

Aside from the rides, I love taking pictures around Disney. There are so many photo opportunities. This picture is of Mexico, one of my favorite countries to visit at EPCOT.

I can see that all the waiting in line, rushing to get on the rides, or staying at the parks from opening to closing may get old fast for most people. However, because we take things slower, being at Disney is really enjoyable and relaxing.

So nope, we are not sick of Disney! We miss it already and can't wait to return next Sept!

I will end this post with another slide show!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Thursday Riddle

Why does Peter Pan always fly?

Becase he can never never land.

(Puahahahhahahahhahahaah)

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I Am Alive! I Am Alive!

by Pargo
Hi peeps. Remember me? I know, I have been a bad blogger.

I overheard dad telling mom the other day that I haven't posted in a while. I apologize for my long hiatus, I have been keeping very busy! Between visiting the grandparents and meeting doggy neighbors, I am just exhausted.

What else have I been up to? Well...

I eat my treat,

I take time to smell the flowers,

and I practice walking properly (head up high, one leg in front of another).

You know, the important stuff.

Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that I am still here! Mom and dad have been busy too lately; they are looking for a little sister or brother for me again. I am still angry about last time when the plan didn't work out. >:-( I think it would be fun to have a buddy, even though I don't really like other dogs. I am sure Pesto will be different, though. I am really hoping for a brother, but they have been looking here and sometimes you just have to take what you can get. Us doggies are very lovable and people can't get enough of us!

Okay, until next time! Happy Hump Day!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

birthday no. 30

Yesterday was a glorious sunny breezy day. The sky was blue with fluffy clouds. Just look at this picture I took. Perfect.

It was also my birthday! I turned 30. Whoo-hoo!

I had been dreading of turning 30 for the past few weeks, but I survived the trauma, with a smile on my face. Now I can happily go on to live the "best years of my life." Instead of writing a novel on how I feel about turning 30 (I will save that for next time), this post is about what I did on the milestone-y day.

It started out as an ordinary Monday. I put on my favorite black dress, ate cereal, and went off to work. It was a quite day at work, very uneventful. Throughout the day, I received happy birthday wishes from friends, family, and coworkers. After I left work, I went to the mall to use a coupon that was expiring.

Luke was already home when I got back. I took Pargo to get mail and brushed him while Luke wrapped up his work. Then off we went to DC for my birthday dinner! Traffic was amazingly good. We arrived at 4:30 for our 6pm reservation. As it was a mild day, we took an easy walk to the National Zoo.

I will never go to the zoo on a weekend again. Going to the zoo on a workday was a whole new experience. We saw all 3 pandas and didn't have to fight with the kiddies to get to the front.

Luke knows taking pictures with both of us in them makes me happy so we did plenty of that, too.

Just as we were leaving the zoo, we saw a wild deer. I got as close as I could get without scaring it away. I hope the deer gets meatier before the winter comes.

Hand-in-hand, we walked back to Adams Morgan to one of our memorable date spots, The Little Fountain Café, for dinner. The restaurant really is little!

The table outside was available, but we decided to sit inside, but near the patio door. I really liked the cozy atmosphere.

A 6pm dinner is late for us, but apparently early for everyone else. We had the entire restaurant to ourselves until the very end when another couple walked in. Contrary to what most people may think, I had the big juicy piece of steak and Luke ordered the seafood stew (one of the specials). I am not a food critic so I won't go into much details, but everything was scrumptious!

After dinner we walked around Adams Morgan a bit. We were about to get a red velvet cupcake, but it was sprinkled with coconut so we passed. Then we went to an ice cream shop, but walked out empty-handed because we didn't see anything appetizing (blame it on too many sundaes at Disney). But it was mostly because I knew there was an ice cream cake waiting for me at home and of course, Pargo.

Luke surprised me with a cake from Baskin Robbins. Remember those anniversary cake toppers I made? I later made some birthday cake toppers for this very occasion. The cake was chocolate cake with cookies 'n cream ice cream. My favorite! Thank you husby!

I also opened my card. I love getting cards from Luke because they are always full of drawings. This time, he drew a picture of our future trip to Jamaica! Inside, he wrote, "This card is good for one trip to Jamaica and is guaranteed by Pargo Wargo Baby Bargo." =]

And with that, my birthday festivities came to an end. We played with Pargo for a bit, watched some television, showered, and fell asleep happy. Thanks hubs for a terrific day! :-*

My birthday was low-key, just the way I wanted it. Now, with the help of this post, I will always remember how I spent the first day of my 30s.

I am thirty (and thriving)! ;)

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Dizzy: Self Portraits

Carrying the big camera to the parks was a pain in the neck, but luckily it was worth it because we got some really nice pictures! Since we have been on all the rides before, we spent most of the time walking around and taking fun shots of one another. In fact, my goal for each day wasn't getting on the most popular rides, but it was to take nice pictures (either of us or the immaculate Disney grounds).

I have a ton of pictures to share and to make it easier, I created two slide shows - one of me and one of Luke. :)


I like to zoom in whenever I take pictures of Luke. I may be biased, but I think he's quite photogenic!



Okay, thanks for sitting (and watching) through this completely self-indulgence post and exercise in vanity. I promise that my next one will be more universal!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Dizzy: Eat Eat Eat

Going to Disney World isn't about the rides anymore. For us, it's all about the food! And boy, did we stuff ourselves silly for 5 days straight. Luke gained at least 5 pounds. As for me, I am still afraid to step on the scale.

We tried a couple of new restaurants and snacks this year. I didn't take pictures of everything, but here is a sample of what we put in our tummies!

Snacks:

The pineapple float at Aloha Isle (Magic Kingdom) was such a refreshing treat. It is basically pineapple juice with pineapple dole whip soft serve on top. It took us back to Hawaii. We visited it twice during the trip.

We waited in line forever for this raspberry lemonade slush at Enchanted Grove (Magic Kingdom). We sweated bullets while a group of Italians ordered espressos. Espressos on a hot summer day?! The slush cooled us off, but we probably won't get it again. It was just eh.

This root beer ice cream float from Plaza Ice Cream Parlor (Magic Kingdom) was just okay. In hindsight, we should've gotten a double scoop ice cream cone. We rarely (no, make that never) have soft drinks so I am not sure why we got this in the first place. Although, since I never had a root beer float before, it was certainly something different. :)

Mrs. Potts' Cupboard at the Magic Kingdom is one of our old favorites. The fudge brownie sundae we got was a big piece of brownie topped with chocolate soft serve, hot fudge, and whipped cream. We ate this near the end of the day and definitely didn't need it, but we had snack credits left to be used.

After all the sweet snacks, we decided to go for something salty at The Village Fry Shoppe (Magic Kingdom). We ate the McDonald's fries under the rain!

You may have noticed that all the pictures thus far in this post are of us wearing the same t-shirt. No, we did not wear the same shirt every day and yes, all theses pictures were taken on the same day (which was also our last day). The reason why we pigged out so much on the last day was because we still had 5 snack credits (more on that later*) left to use. Of course, we weren't about to let any of it go unused. So on that day, we ate our way through the Magic Kingdom. We only went on 3 rides total, and that was really to take naps.

Table Service Restaurants:

Our lunch at Liberty Tree Tavern at the Magic Kingdom included salmon club sandwich (perhaps the best salmon sandwich I've ever had), chicken pasta (marinated chicken, applewood smoked bacon, mushrooms, and basil with creamy marinara sauce), strawberry shortcake, and toffee cake with vanilla ice cream (think warm chocolate chip cookie with ice cream).

This was our first time dining at LTT and we will be back!

The service at Teppan Edo (EPCOT/Japan) was top-notch. The food was great too! The shrimp sauce was delicious and a bit tangy. Luke and I both got the Asakusa entree (sirloin steak and shrimps with seasonal vegetables, Udon noodles, and steamed rice). It was lots of fun watching the chef cook in front of us. A wonderful (yet very long) meal! I guess it may be a reflection of how long a meal takes in Japan?

Yucky yucky yuck! I didn't like all-you-can-eat buffet at Biergarten (EPCOT/Germany) at all. Maybe it was because I was still full from the Japanese lunch, but everything tasted gross and sour. They had live entertainment during dinner, but I didn't find it interesting. It just made it hard to have conversation, especially when we were seated next to the band. Blah, Germany is on my X list.

The meal we had at Tusker House (Animal Kingdom) ended up being Luke's favorite. The buffet featured carved meats, stews, and salads with an African twist. I especially liked the curry triangle thingies and pearl couscous. It was neat; I tried all sorts of different exotic foods, but things like bite-size corn dogs or rotisserie chicken were also available. I highly recommend this restaurant!

My colorful plate.

We ate at 50's Prime Time Cafe (Disney Hollywood Studios) last year and Luke loved the PBJ milkshake. This restaurant was the only place Luke requested to eat at, so we did. I ordered chicken pot pie and he got pot roast. Both were decent, a bit too salty. The best part of the meal was the drinks! Luke got his PBJ milkshake again and I got the stawberry smoothie. The smoothie was so light yet flavorful at the same time. I loved it!

Counter Service Restaurants:

We ate at a couple of counter service restaurants, but my favorite will always be Everything Pop Dining at Pop Century Resort. We didn't stay inside the parks as much as we did in the past, so this time, we actually ate at Pop three times! My favorite is the pan-seared fish of the day, which is always salmon. Always juicy, always tender. Triple yum!

Ok, so how much did all these food cost? I estimate no less than $500. How much did it cost us? $0!

Here is why.

Every year (or at least for the past 2 years now), Disney offers free Disney Dining Plan from late Aug to late Sept. DDP usually comes with a hefty price tag, but for that period of time, Disney throws it in for free when you book a 5 nights/6 days package.

Between me and Luke, we had 10 counter-service credits, 10 table-service credits, and 10 snack credits. *On our last day in the park, we still had 5 snack credits left to use (hence the reason why we did nothing but ate the whole day).

September is a great time to visit Disney, in my humble opinion. Yes, it's hurricane season, but less crowd and "cooler" weather make up for it. Besides, the free DDP just rocks. I always say I don't know how anyone can afford eating at Disney otherwise.

So, we ate a lot during our vacation. The other thing we did a lot was took pictures. I will post our best shots next!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!