Brave By Design.


  1. 1.
    ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing courage.

Bravery takes on a different meaning for everyone, it’s one of those terms that you define on your own. I feel like everyone does something brave every single day.. rather it be walking into a room full of strangers, talking to a stranger, going outside of their comfort zone, starting a new business, running the yellow (OH WAIT IS IT RED?!) light, whatever it is to you, you are brave. Our bravery often defines us, it molds us and creates us, teaches us and sometimes, knocks us on our ass. 

This time however, my definition of brave is defined by my 21 year old Autistic daughter.   She is so brave. There was a time when we wondered if she would ever leave home.. then we thought she would never leave this town or be too far from us. But August 21st she moved. She moved 3 1/2 hours away from us to pursue her dream in Make Up Artistry. We knew she would never really go to college or get some big fancy degree. But here she is.. living on her own 3 1/2 hours from home and going to school full time and being amazing at it! There has been ups and downs, and tears shed, a meltdown or two had don’t get me wrong. Today though, was a victory. She needed a model for class. A friend of mine from HS that lives down there offered to do it so I didn’t have to drive down there. My daughter was so excited and my friend has been texting me all night telling me how amazing Kass was! Telling me how she went there to bless Kass and be a model but left with Kass blessing her more than she could have imagined. How creative Kass was, how fun she was, how she is going to do amazing things one day, how she is “nothing short of amazing” and how other girls in the class complimented the job she did on my friend today. It’s SO amazing to hear from someone else that she’s doing well.
Im sure her apartment is a disaster, her clothes are probably in a pile on the floor and not clean, dishes in her sink and her car is a mess, but she’s doing it, she’s really doing it!! My heart is soaring tonight!  

On a side note, mamma was so excited to decorate the “Cottage” we found for her to live in. Its a studio style apartment in a very small little 5 unit building, with a large garden thats private and only hers. She is in heaven with teals, purples and blues and of course.. mermaid tails.



This #pillowfort rug fit perfectly in this spot!


The “ya ya’s house” sign above the door was a gift from her brothers for Christmas a couple of years ago, when they were little they called her “ya ya”


This was a wall hanging I made a tray for the end of her couch


The “You got this” Hook on the wall from #Magnolia was perfect for her Cottage and this little corner is a great place for all her stuff from school!



Be Our Guest – Magic Kingdom New Menu Review

So you might (but probably don’t) recall, my Be Our Guest Review from December 2012, not too long after this very popular restaurant opened. If you don’t you can remind yourself here:

Be Our Guest has created a brand new prix fixe dinner menu for the restaurant. The jury is out as to whether this is partially intended to help calm down the reservations, because the menu went from “reasonably priced” to $55.00 per adult. With that $55.00 however you get 3 courses plus your drink (non-alcoholic) Appetizer, Main, and their new signature Trio Dessert, and yes.. it includes the grey stuff.

The new dinner menu has a few wine and champagne selections exclusively made for Be Our Guest. You cant find this wine or champagne anywhere else in the entire world, you can only get it if you eat there. So of course we had to indulge. Kassidie got the champagne and I got the chardonnay. Both were delicious and quite refreshing!


Kassidie with her exclusive Champaign

Lets start with our Appetizer. 

I had the Maine Lobster Bisque, and Kass ordered the french onion soup. The Lobster Bisque seems like a small portion, giant bowl, little soup.. but was delicious with more chunks of lobster than I expected. The French Onion soup if you read my last review had a lot to be desired but now, its delicious! I still say they have some things to learn about good rich broths, but it was way better than the first time we had it

Main Course

For our main course Kassidie ordered the Center-Cut Filet Mignon, and I ordered the Roasted Pork Tenderloin.

The Filet

The filet was beautiful, perfectly cooked, and a good size. Nice and thick. with a nice pile of roasted vegetables on the plate, including patty pan squash which I was excited about because you never see anyone serve that! I wish I had taken  picture of it after she cut into it, it truly was spectacular, and the taste. Wow! DELISH!! Our only complaint about the Filet was there was not enough of the wine reduction sauce, we would have liked more. Otherwise, the seasoning was perfection, and it was melt in your mouth delicious.


Center-Cut Filet

Roasted Pork Tenderloin. They had me at pork belly.

When he sat the plate down in front of me I thought to myself, “wow that might feed a small child” the portion size seemed very small much like the Lobster Bisque. The taste however, was divine. Absolutely delicious. 2 small cuts of pork loin and pork belly in the middle on a cauliflower puree. I have to say never have I ever had a cauliflower puree that tasted so good. The seasoning on the pork was perfectly done and it had a medium cook on it which is how pork should be done. My only complaint other than the small portion size was there was not nearly enough of that puree, and the vegetables were delicious but very few.


Roasted Pork Tenderloin

The Dessert Trio

The Dessert trio was perfect!! All 3 desserts on the plate were so good. Im not a big raspberry dessert fan but the macaroon with lemon jam and raspberries ended up being my favorite thing on the plate. The “grey stuff” is served in a white chocolate “Chip” cup. The truffle was rich and yummy with a nice little surprise in the middle we didn’t expect. Absolutely adorable and delicious. Want to know a secret? The beautiful paper all of this is sitting on? Edible! No, really!! Rip off a little piece and put it on the truffle and I promise you will thank me! 😀


Pretty much everything else in Be Our Guest is the same, the Beast is introduced occasionally as your “host” for the evening, and announced that he will be accepting guests, which is when you can go into the other room and take pictures with him. Keep in mind this is the only place in Disney you can see the Beast, and only at Dinner. So make those reservations as soon as you can.

In my last review I gave Be Our Guest 2 thumbs up, this time, I give it 4 1/2 stars! Although pricey, Im  highly impressed with the new menu. Well done!

20th Annual International Epcot Food & Wine Festival

It’s that time of year again! Every year I say Im going to blog about the festival and I rarely manage to do it, so YAY me!

Firstly, I realized that out of 20 years I’ve only missed about 5! Wow! (No Im not that old 😛 )

Here are some of the dishes I ate, my not really worth it picks and my festival favorites.

I spent two days at the festival and will surely go a few more times before its all said and done. That being said Annual Passholders are able to get a free commemorative port glass this year! Go to Innovations and get a stamp in your passport each day you attend. Third stamp = free glass! This may not seem like a big deal to some but especially with the new insane cost of passes, anything free I’ll take, please and thank you.

Warning: Food Porn ahead!


Brazil -Crispy pork belly with black beans and tomato; this dish has been there before but it is most certainly one of my favorites! Its one of the ones I hope they never take away! **FESTIVAL FAVORITE 


Japan -Spicy hand roll: Tuna and salmon with Kazan Volcano sauce; last year Iw as so disappointed this was not on the menu.. they had some sort of chicken sushi roll crap, wtf? Chicken is NOT sushi no matter how much you try.. and no, not even chicken of the sea. Happy to see it back this year!


France – Croissant aux escargots with garlic and parsley and a Sparkling Pomegranate Kir; The Kir was delish as always, but the new way they are doing the escargots, eh.. Ill take years past over this new version.


America – Hops & Barley Market; New England Lobster Roll 
NOT to be confused with the Lobster Roll of Festivals past. While the lobster roll was delicious, I kept hearing all this buzz about “the Lobster Roll is back the Lobster Roll is back” no… its not. This is not the same Lobster Roll we all fell in love with a couple years ago.. This was more like a Lobster Salad on bread. Delicious, but bring back the past please.


Australia – Grilled sweet and spicy bush berry shrimp with pineapple, peppers, onions, and snap peas;
This was MUCH better than the shrimp they had in previous years! Little Tangy Little spicy, delicious!


Festival Center – Drinking Chocolate

A lot of times unless you book a class many people don’t make it into the Festival Center. I however, always make a point to go see the Festival center shop, and more importantly, go to the Ghirardelli section to see the chocolate creations, get my little piece of free chocolate, and a cup of drinking chocolate.. To. Die. For.


Chew Lab – Olive Oil-Poached Salmon with Fresh Corn, Bacon, and Pepper Jam
Chew Lab is a new booth with food that The Chew TV Show host and hostesses created, Yummy stuff! I also had the White Sangria from the Sustainable Chew booth. The Chew was filming onsite this year, total bummer I had to miss it, but fun stuff!


Japan – Miso Udon: steamed shrimp, vegetables, and noodles in a spicy broth
I LOVE LOVE Brothy dishes. I was excited to see this on Japans menu,  A New item this year, it was good, but not as good as I wanted it to be. If your in Japan, the Spicy Hand Roll is way more worth the money.


China – Happy Peach with peach liqueur and dark rum
This drink was good, but it wasn’t as sweet as I expected it to be (nor as peachy) if you don’t like sweet this may be a great drink for you, but I won’t be getting it again. On a side note, Candied Strawberries were one of my festival favorites for China. They didn’t have them last year, then they had them for Flower and Garden Festival, now they don’t have them again! What are they doing to me?!?! UG!


Mexico – Tacos de camarón: Battered shrimp, pico de gallo, pickled onions, and chipotle mayonnaise
While the San Angel Inn (inside by the ride) is one of my very favorite restaurants in Epcot, Ive always been a bit disappointed in the F&W Festival Kiosk in Mexico. This year they turned me around! Despite that they didn’t bring my my jalapeño margarita I love so much, the shrimp tacos were WAY better than previous years! Straight up Mexico! Love!


Patagonia– Grilled beef skewer with chimichurri sauce and boniato purée paired with Terrazas Reserva Malbec

Another year of Patagonia, another year of beef skewer goodness.


Refreshment Port – Pineapple Dole Whip soft-serve ice cream with Bacardí Coconut Rum
This year they made this stand (Which is always there year round) and actual stop on your passport. We didn’t mind considering they had Dole Whip with Rum, but WAIT, don’t get TOO Excited yet.. This ain’t your mommas Dole Whip. This is just Soft Serve with Rum Poured on top, This is NOT like the Dole Whip Served at Magic Kingdom. But still O so Tasty!


Dominican Republic – Soufflé de yuca: Yuca soufflé topped with riddled cheese
This is where the Puerto Rican booth was last year, while I wish the cheese was a bit hotter so it didn’t harden up as much as it did, it was still delicious. and the Yuca Soufflé? omg. So good!

I ate many more foods but these were the tips and thoughts I wanted to share for this round. Stay tuned in hopes that when I go again, I actually sit down long enough to do another blog post!

Thanks for reading!

Connor’s Potato Lasagna!

My son recently decided he wanted to be a “Vlogger” it came as a bit of a surprise for us because he doesn’t enjoy attention or the spotlight very much. Well he started a couple weeks ago and while he’s a bit behind on everything he wants to do (because its A LOT) He uploaded a video of a recipe he made today.

He often comes to me and says “What if we do this, and make it like this” and I often take him to the store and let him get everything he thinks he needs and go to town. With the exception of teaching him a little technique along the way, he does every bit of it himself. Sometimes, I think he’s better than me! You may remember his Stuffed Chicken Parmesan? Well this “Potato Lasagna” AKA “PBC (Potato Bacon and Cheese) is one of his latest creations. He wanted to make it a Vlog, so here it is! Hope you enjoy it, because Im here to tell you it was DELICIOUS!

As Connor would say “If you like this video, like, subscribe and share it with your friends!” 🙂

Jesse’s Beer Battered Fried Green Beans!

My son Jesse loves the fried Green Beans at a local restaurant so decided he wanted to make some with dinner tonight! He knew he wanted to use beer (Can you tell he’s our kid?) And Flour, salt and pepper, but I had him add a little Baking Powder to make it raise a bit, and a little garlic salt.

Personally, I would of loved to add some cayenne pepper, or chipotle powder but he doesn’t do a lot of spicy so I refrained. Something to keep in mind when you do yours though!

What you need:

  • Fresh (We used organic) Green Beans
  • 2 cups of a good beer
  • 2 cups of Flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon of Baking Powder
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon of garlic salt
  • Peanut Oil (can use Canola if you want but I love the flavor Peanut Oil gives!)

What to do:

  1. Mix all the batter ingredients, poor the beer so it doesn’t really foam. Put the Green Beans in the batter and fold until all the beans are coated.
  2. Fill a deep fry pan with Oil about 1/4 inch from the top
  3. Once the oil is hot enough add the Green beans carefully so you don’t splash hot oil on yourself.
  4. Once they are golden brown, remove from oil and place on paper towels
  5. Salt the Beans while they are hot.
  6. Serve

We didn’t even make a dipping sauce, these were so delicious by themselves!! ENJOY!

Beer Battered Fried Green Beans

Beer Battered Fried Green Beans

Connor’s Stuffed Chicken Parmesan

My son Connor (12) wanted to cook everyone Chicken Parmesan for dinner, I thought it was a bit ambitious, but lets do it! We went to the store to purchase everything needed, and while there he decided he wanted to make the chicken STUFFED. He decided what he wanted to stuff it with and he also picked Green Beans for his side and knew exactly how he wanted to cook them. Needless to say the end result was out of this world! I knew he did well in the kitchen but this dish was a pretty big task to take on for a 12 year old, he even made the sauce from scratch and he rocked it! Here ya go! Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Simple Sauce:

Take Approx. 20 vine ripened tomatoes, cut off the tops and cut them in half, lay them out on a baking pan (With sides) drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper, mix well coating all of the tomatoes, put in the oven at 375 for about 45 min or until all the tomatoes are looking brownies and roasted on the edges. Whiz the tomatoes skin and all in a food processor

While the tomatoes are roasting, get out a pot and warm up 3 table spoons of olive oil, sauté approx. 10 cloves of diced garlic and a half of a diced yellow onion, add a pinch of salt.  Once the garlic & Onion is sautéed add chopped fresh basil (approx 8 leaves) and fresh oregano chopped (approx 2 tsp) Sauté it all together. Add Salt and Pepper to taste.  Once the tomatoes are done, add the tomatoes and simmer the sauce on low while your prepping the rest of dinner

Chicken Stuffing:

What you need:

  • Approx. 6 cups of fresh spinach
  • 2 Large Portobello Mushrooms Diced into medium chunks
  • 4 cloves of fresh garlic chopped fine
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Olive Oil
  • Fresh Parmesan grated (approx. 1 1/2 cups)

What to do:

  1. In a sauté pan warm up your olive oil, enough to coat the pan
  2. Add the garlic and sauté until light golden
  3. Add the Mushrooms and a pinch of salt and pepper, sauté until the mushrooms are darker and have released some of their juices
  4. Add the Spinach and salt and pepper, Stir well (add a little more oil if needed) sauté spinach until just wilted remove from heat and allow mixture to cool
  5. Once mixture has cooled mix in the grated parmesan cheese really well (Connor found this was easier to do with his hands although he said it “felt weird” lol)
    1. NOTE: You may need to drain some juices from the mixture before mixing in the parmesan


What you need:

  • 4 thick Chicken Breasts
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Flour and seasoned bread crumbs
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

What to do:

  1. Slit the chicken from one end to the other down the side of the breast with a sharp knife without cutting the ends
  2. Stuff with Spinach/mushroom/parmesan mixture (Be sure not to overstuff)
  3. Place the stuffed chicken in a mixture of flour, seasoned bread crumbs, salt and pepper
  4. Fry the breasts in shallow olive oil on both sides till golden brown (Make sure the stuffing is in it good so it doesn’t leak out during the process)
    • NOTE: You don’t have to coat and pan fry the breasts, if you want a healthier version you could just season them and cook them as is, pan frying them seals in the juices however, and helps them stay juicy.
  5. Once the chickens are golden brown place in a pan and coat with a little of your sauce, Cook on 350 for 40 minutes.
  6. After 40 minutes place Mozzarella Cheese on top of chicken (We used real honest to goodness mozzarella but you could use shredded or sliced)
  7. Once the cheese is melted and bubbly remove from the oven and serve over Spaghetti with extra sauce!
Connor prepping his tomatoes for roasting

Connor prepping his tomatoes for roasting

Connor Chopping up his herbs like a pro!

Connor Chopping up his herbs like a pro!

Spinach and Mushroom mixture for stuffing the chicken.

Spinach and Mushroom mixture for stuffing the chicken.

Garlic Onion and Herbs before adding the tomatoes puree

Garlic Onion and Herbs before adding the tomato puree

Connor adding his tomato puree

Connor adding his tomato puree

The Completed Sauce, YUM

The Completed Sauce, YUM

Connor stuffing his chicken breasts

Connor stuffing his chicken breasts

Connor stuffing his chicken breasts

Connor stuffing his chicken breasts

Connor getting the chicken ready for the oven. Sauce on top!

Connor getting the chicken ready for the oven. Sauce on top!

Finished Product! Gorgeous AND Delicious!

Finished Product! Gorgeous AND Delicious!

Finished Product! Gorgeous AND Delicious!

Finished Product! Gorgeous AND Delicious!

The inside

The inside

Eggplant Gratin

Eggplant Gratin            

2 medium eggplant, sliced 1/2″ thick

salt & pepper to taste

olive oil

3 cups tomato sauce (recipe below)

1 Tbs. minced thyme leaves

1T sp. minced Basil  

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

2 cloves garlic minced

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/4 cup provolone cheese

1/4 cup asiago cheese

Preheat oven to 375.   Brush Eggplant slices lightly with olive oil, then season with salt and pepper.  Heat a large skillet or griddle pan over med-high heat and fry eggplant slices in batches until golden brown on both sides.  Set aside and put cream in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Reduce to about 1 cup, then stir in half of the grated parmesan, all  of the provolone, Asiago, the garlic, and all of the chopped herbs. Use a small roasting pan (approx. 9in. Round makes a pretty presentation) lay the eggplant in a single layer, Cover with a thin layer of the tomato sauce and a sprinkle of parmesan.  Make two more layers of eggplant and sauce, covering the top with tomato sauce. Pour over the cream and cheese mixture and sprinkle on a final layer of parmesan cheese.  Bake uncovered until browned and bubbling, about 25-30 minutes.  Allow it to rest for approx. 5 min after removing it from the oven. Serve. 

Tomato Sauce:

5-6 large tomatoes

Fresh Basil  (5 leaves, minced)

Fresh Oregano (2 sprigs minced)

4 cloves fresh garlic finely chopped

Salt and Pepper to taste

Quarter your tomatoes, mix with a little olive oil, sat and pepper and east in the oven on 375 for approx. 30-40 min, When finished roasting, blend the tomatoes until smooth. In a small sauce pan sauté the garlic with a little olive oil, add the herbs and tomato puree, allow to cook on low heat for 15-20 minutes, until groovy. 


Chicken Pot Pie.. No, the BEST Chicken Pot Pie!

What you need For The Best Pot Pie

3 whole Chicken breasts
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves fresh garlic minced
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
5 cups chicken stock, (I prefer homemade)
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) real butter
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 cups medium-diced carrots
2 cups fresh peas
1 sprig minced Rosemary
2 tbs fresh thyme
1/2 cup of a good white wine
Fresh Biscuit dough (see below for recipe)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Place the chicken breasts on a baking sheet and rub them with olive oil. Rub with salt and pepper and part of the rosemary. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, or until cooked through. Set aside until cool enough to handle. Dice the chicken into Large cubes.
-In a large Dutch oven, melt the butter and sauté the garlic and onions over medium-low heat for 10 minutes.
-Add the Carrots, thyme and remaining rosemary then sauté for another 3-4 min. Add the flour and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes until thick.
-Add the chicken stock and wine to the sauce. Simmer over low heat for 1 more minute, stirring, until thick. —Add 2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and heavy cream. Add the cubed chicken, and peas,Mix well.
-Divide the filling equally among 4 ramekins. Place Biscuit dough on top of the filling in each ramekin, brush with melted butter, sprinkle with salt and pepper then place on a baking sheet and bake for approx. 1 hour, or until the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbling hot.

Biscuit Dough
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 tbs baking powder
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp fine salt
7 tbs cold real butter, sliced
3/4 cup milk
1 cup shredded cheese (I like Parmesan and provolone but you can use anything)

In a large bowl whisk the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt until combined. mix 2 tablespoons of the butter into the flour with your fingertips, until it is all absorbed. Work the remaining butter into the flour until it is in even pieces about the size of a pea. Gently stir the milk into the flour mixture. You will have a loose dough. Add the cheese, stir it in well, your ready to top your pies!
chicken pot pie 2chicken pot pie