Just for You... Reviews by Lissete



Saturday, February 27, 2010

Travel & such

I spend quite a bit of days each year in hotels. Sometimes for pleasure and sometimes for business. I evaluate not only hotels, but also restaurants, retail, cruise ships & some theme parks.

I mention this because when I do go for pleasure, I find myself looking at the little things. How many people actually get down and look under the bed the minute they get there? It annoys D to no end. Even the higher end hotels/resorts are not immune. Heck, during my recent stay at Disney's Polynesian, there were a few things that needed extra attention. Nothing that detered from my amazing stay, but I will be sending a freebie report to them. It can only help, and I am not complaining at all.

Now, on the not so good side. We decided to stay one extra night. It was last minute and we just needed a place to sleep. We checked in close to midnight. I'll tell you this, the one thing we barely did was sleep! We have stayed at the Orlando Vista before and it was fine. No frills but clean. Front desk staff was friendly and all. BUT, people were yelling in the hallway untill about 2AM. When D stepped out to ask them to quiet down, the guy just tells him that they're tryng to fix something. No apology. Guess what, the guy was an employee! Aside from that, the room was far from clean and the door was loose on the hinges. I was not happy!

When not work related, I usually give freebie reviews on Tripadvisor. Simply because it's an opportunity to help others in their decision making. I also go on there ALOT before making any final travel decisions. So my next review will be up there soon. Maybe the Orlando Vista will get their act together because the location is great when on a budget. I will also be posting my future personal travel (and non-travel) reviews right here on my blog to help my readers out as well. My reviews here and on Tripadvisor are personal and will have a more personal tone than my business reports. My paid for reports will not be posted unless the client specifically requests it.

Do you all check reviews before traveling? Or do you go in blindly? In today's day & age there is no reason to throw our money away on crap. JMHO. I LOVE to travel and spend a great deal of time researching my next adventure. Up next: St Augustine for our 22nd Anniversary Dinner, then back to Disney and on to Sarasota. Then Hawaii in October, unless something else pops up in between ;-)

Have I mentioned that I LOVE to travel?? LOL

OK Mother Nature, ENOUGH already!

Here I was finalizing my plans for our trip to Hawaii in October and I read about the earht quake off the coast of Japan then the next day, a larger earthquake in Chile. I just knew what was coming next. It doesn't take a rocket scientists. My thoughts and prayers are with everyone in Chile & those that may be afftected by Tsunamis.

All these disasters have me looking ahead to our own hurricane season which will be here in 3 short months. One of the few reasons that I stay in Miami, hurricanes and all, is the fact that we get advanced warning. I can not even immagine not being able to prepare.

I have a feeling that it will be a busy season and I am not looking forward to all the stress that it brings. If you've been around here for a while, you may already know that I have issues. Not only the possibility of a hurricane but the living in darknes part also drives me nuts.

Fortunately, Hawaii dodged the bullet this time. I have played around with the idea of buying a place in Maui. My plan is to rent it out as a vacation rental until we are ultimately able to retire there. With my so called issues, I wonder how I will handle living in a place that is susceptible to practically every natural disaster known to man?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

FREE 8x10 at Walgreens

I love when Walgreens has these free prints days. They not only make great gifts, but you can also use them as dart boards! ;-)

Today only! Enter code FREEPHOTO at checkout.

Monday, February 22, 2010

DisneySMMoms Wrap Up

Two week ago today, I was just wrapping up my whirlwind visit to Walt Disney World for the Disney Social Media Moms Conference. Seems like it was ages ago! Kathy Ireland & us. She is so tall.
Poor woman probaly felt as if she had landed in Munchkinland!

I mentioned in my last post that four other bloggers and I were asked if we would like to watch Kathy Ireland tape a promo. We watched her tape, then were asked if we would like to sit in while Kathy taped another video for her website. I did not realize that we were going to be actively participating. I was caught totally off guard. My mind was so full of information overload combined with lack of sleep, that simply answering a simple question like "what I learned at the conference" was quite daunting. Ask me today, after I had the opportunity to process and my response will probably be more on point. But Kathy is so warm and gracious that I somewhat got through it.

One other question that Kathy asked was "What we would say was the secret to our success ."

The other bloggers run their blog differently than I do. My blog is currently personal. I don't run my blog as a business...yet. So the only success garnered from my blogging is the relationships and connections made with other bloggers. I've "known" some bloggers for many years, although we have never met in real life. We have seen each others children grow and we share our daily lives. Both ups & downs.

I have enjoyed success in business as well, albeit not blog related. I sold real estate for many years. My business was primarily based on referrals from my clients. To this day, I have former clients calling me. But I took a permanent hiatus from real estate after my heart attack and no longer work in RE. The only "secret" to my success in business was treating my clients how I would want to be treated. Plain & simple. How I live my life is how I ran my business. It wasn't just about closing a sale, it was about making them happy and forming relationships. I would get invited to not only housewarmings, but to birthdays, weddings & christenings. I know, that's not how many realtors would choose to run their business, but it's how I choose to run every aspect of my life.
As for answering Kathy's question, the one and only way that I measure my success is through my daughters. Knowing that they have grown to be wonderful, thoughtful & giving young ladies. Seeing that they have embraced the values that we have instilled in them as they move towards making a life on their own in the near future. Is that a secret? Not really, but they are my main success. Bigger than any of my other accomplishments. In business or otherwise.
My response felt strange compared to the awsome responses from the other bloggers. But it is what it is.
I was secretly hoping that they would edit me out. No such luck. ;-)

There really is no way to fully describe how awesome DisneySMMoms was. I was able to acquire knowledge and information about all aspects of blogging from both speakers and attendees. If I finally decide to change the direction of my blog, I now have some fantastic tools and references. For me it has always been about building relationships No matter how I choose to run this blog, be it business or otherwise, this will always stay the same.

Not only was the conference itself amazing, but the events were out of this world! No one does it like Disney! A special shout-out goes out to
Leanne @leannej and Laura @LauraSpencerOne for all they did to make this event rock!

So in a nutshell, aside from the actual conference, which as I've mentioned 1000 times was fantabulous, I also met many new bloggy friends. I had the opportunity to stay at Disney's Polynesian Resort after so many years. I was able to go with my family and enjoy the parks. We had a Magic Fast pass, 'nuff said!

We're going back to Disney in March for our anniversary and will miss that little card! And the Poly of course.
Until next year... hopefully.

Although I did pay a greatly reduced rate for this event, all opinions are my own. I was not asked to write about the events or The Walt Disney Company.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Full Day of Conference. Fun & Surprises Included!

Friday was conference day. The schedule called for an early morning with the conference running till late afternoon. My family was planning on spending the day at the parks and actually felt sorry for me! Well sort of. I, on the other hand, was very excited about attending the conference. Period. I have been to several conferences in my life. Not a social media conference, but conferences nonetheless. Nothing could have prepared me for a conference put on by Disney!

I was already in awe of everything that we had already, not only received, but also experienced!

So I wake up early, strike that, I roll out of bed early. The bags under my eyes are practically touching my knees. I drag my exhausted body to the bathroom and hop in the shower. That is the only way that I would wake up. I decided to be a rebel and put on a sleeveless top, with a light cardigan and SANDALS! I’m in FLORIDA for crissake!

So I, and about 100 other moms jump on the monorail to the Contemporary Resort. Mind you, it is about 8:00 AM and that monorail was full of happy chatty ladies. Myself included. That shower worked wonders!

We arrive at the Contemporary and are led to the conference room. We walk into the room and the tables are all set for breakfast. Not just set, beautifully set. If that were not enough, we were then led to another conference room. This room was even more beautiful!

Each table had a plush doll from Build-a-Bear, each dressed as different Disney Princesses. There were also individual vases for each person. Plus Mickey confetti scattered on the table. The stage had a castle cut out that was all lit up and was surrounded by Mickey balloons.

The first speaker of the day was Maxine Clark, founder & Chief Executive Bear of Build-a-Bear Workshop. She spoke to us about her inspiration to create this company. Two quotes that stand out from her speech are:
“It’s about doing what you love, and loving what you do”
And my favorite:
“You can never have too many shoes or too many teddy bears!”

BABW was started in 1997 and now boasts 400 stores in 18 countries! All I can say is wow! I have read that BABW is one of the top companies to work for and that in itself is a great accomplishment. I have been in several BABW stores and have always been treated beary special.


The next guest speaker was Marissa Jaret Winokur. She starred in Hairspray as Tracy Turnblad and most recently was on Dancing With the Stars. Marissa said that she does not do speeches but she does interviews. So, she set up a mock interview and had a q&a on stage. Did you know that she is a cancer survivor?
Marissa credits her success on DWTS to her willingness to meet with the media outlets, including bloggers. She says that exposure made her more appealing to the voters.

Somewhere in between we broke for lunch. And what a lunch it was! YUMMY!

Yes, I took two cheesecakes! So what? They were minis!


We then heard from Kathy Ireland. former supermodel and now the CEO of a design and marketing firm, Kathy Ireland Worldwide.
I was VERY impressed with Kathy. Not just for her accomplishments. She is genuine. Plus she is a fantastic speaker!
She said:
“There’s no career more challenging, rewarding, or important than that of being a mom and raising children”
I agree with that quote 110%! (More on this later)
She also made a valid point when she said that "cyber footprints never disappear. Only put messages out there that you want the world to see;" an important lesson that we need to teach our children.


Next up was Chris Brogan. Ok, I am one of those that were oblivious to whom he was. But let me tell you, he is one funny guy! Chris is President of New Marketing Labs, and best-selling author of Trust Agents. He is a blogger and a social media expert. I like that he is into making connections. One thing I need to work on is brevity! Since I currently just blog on a personal level, I tend to ramble on and go off on tangents! I need to work on that!

Quote: “Treat your community like gold and never sell out.” This applies for both business & personal relationships.

My all time favorite quote of the day came from Chris:
"Don’t ever treat a ‘little blogger’ like poop, because little bloggers grow up!” So yeah, don’t treat me like poop! ;-)


We were asked to leave the room so that they could set up a special surprise. I was very happy to get up and run to the restroom, which of course had a line out the door. There were some ladies using the men’s room and one poor man was turned away. I stayed in line, because there’s something about urinals that freaks me out a little.
When we returned to the lobby area outside of the conference rooms, I, along with four other moms were asked if we would like to watch Kathy Ireland tape a promo. I’ll post about this tomorrow.

Photo courtesy of WDWPress

When we returned to the conference room, they had set up some munchies and a bar to get us all liquored up! More food! I haven’t eaten so much in one day in a very long time. And we haven’t even gotten to dinner! Maryellen Hooper did a stand up routine, which was pee in your pants hilarious! Mainly because I could relate to most of what she was poking fun of! I was so happy to get a copy of her DVD ~“Stinky Flowers”: A “Stand-Up” View of Marriage, Motherhood, & Life. I played it for my husband and he was cracking up… because he knew she was talking about HIM!

Did I mention that we got more goodies? First of all, we all got a pink fleece jacket, which came in handy because it was freakin’ freezing that night! We each also had a number printed on the back of our badge, which corresponded with a prize. Mine was Minnie plush. We each took home a vase from the table. Other lucky ladies won door prizes and one lucky lady won a night in Cinderella’s Castle! I would LOVE to just be able to SEE the suite! Oh, and the Build a Bear plushes on the table were given to one person at each table via a tag under our seats.

It had been raining all day and by nighttime, it was freezing. While waiting in line for the bus to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, we were each given umbrellas! Yet another thoughtful touch by Disney. We were once again taken through a super secret entrance to the final evening event. Due to the rain and the crappy weather, the event was moved indoors. After a bit of dinner and some dancing, we headed out to Toy Story Mania. We had it all to ourselves and were able to ride it over and over! Good thing because I loved the ride. It’s sort of like Buzz Lightyear in the MK, only this one you wear 3-D glasses and stuff flies at you! Danny beat me each time. In my eyes, guys will ALWAYS win at this one. If you’ve ridden it you will know why.
The night ended by going back out the super secret way, boarding the bus, and heading straight back to the Poly to sleep! My thoughts on the whole experience coming in the next post. This post is already longer than it should be. Sorry Chris!

Although I did pay a greatly reduced rate for this event, all opinions are my own. I was not asked to write about the events or The Walt Disney Company.

Up next: Kathy Ireland Up Close & Personal and Final Wrap up

Dinner: Impossible and Rockin the Glow Stick

After a long day at Epcot, I had about an hour to run back to the Poly to freshen up for the evening event and get my rear back to Epcot. Have I mentioned how much I LOVE being right on the monorail line?

When we arrived at Future World, we joined a huge crowd waiting to be let in. Credentials were being checked and hand warmers & cool little flashing glow stick type lights were handed out. Come on! Who thinks about giving their guests hand warmers? Disney! That’ who! Who needs hand warmers in Florida? Me! That’s who!

This was an outdoor event and it was cold outside! Prime and most desirable tables were not near the stage but near a heater! The tables and food stations were set up on the bridge between the Fountain of Nations in Future World and the World Showcase Lagoon.
Earlier in the day, I was told that this was a Dinner: Impossible event headed by Robert Irvine. Let me tell you, in my book, it was a smashing success! The food stations were plenty and you never saw a line for food. I LOVED the Cobb Salad and the Short Ribs with cornbread buttons were delicious! If you know me, you know that desserts trump food in my book. The desserts did not disappoint! Although, I totally missed the berries with the vodka sauce stick! I dropped the ball on this one and did not get any food pictures. For an amazing pictorial of what was served at the event go to The Disney Food Blog, which just happens to be one of my favorite blogs.

After dinner, it was time for the show. The opening band had all the tweens and teens in a tizzy! That was nothing compared to when Demi Lovato and Joe Jonas took the stage to perform and debut their new song, Make a Wave. This song was recorded for Disney's Friends for Change: Project Green and will be featured in the upcoming Disneynature film OCEANS, which opens on April 22, 2010. I really liked this song and it's a great way to get the message to kids.

"just a pebble in the water can set the sea in motion,

a simple act of kindness can stir the deepest ocean"

The main message of Friends for Change: "when people work together, small steps can add up to a world of difference." Very true. So, like the shampoo commercial back in the 70's, (what? I'm not old!) I'll tell two friends, and you'll tell two friends and so on, and so on...

I was rockin my glow sticks and was not plugging my ears, so there, I'm not that old!
I forgot to mention that I left my camera on the bus that took us to ESPN. I totally panicked! Not only was it my baby, my Rebel, it also had tons of pictures on the card. I asked a CM about contacting lost & found. He immediately called someone for me and had them ask the bus driver to pull over to check if it was still on the bus. He then asked them to bring it to us. Within 15 minutes, I had my camera back. Magic I tell ya!
Although I did pay a greatly reduced rate for this event, all opinions are my own. I was not asked to write about the events or The Walt Disney Company.

Next Up: A Full Day of Conference. Fun & Surprises Included!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Disney's Give a Day, Get a Day

Today was an early morning for this night owl. Actually, every morning was very early for me, but I was running on adrenaline. I look at pictures and I see the bags under my eyes getting worse as the days go by. But it's all good. I would not trade those days for anything.

Today's early morning included breakfast at Epcot's American Adventure and a presentation by Guy Kawasaki. To start off, we were back doored through a super secret entrance which I'm sure I will never see again. The World Showcase was completely empty except for us. It was cool & eerie at the same time. That is also something else that I will never experience. Except, of course, next year when I attend DisneySMMoms again. {wink,wink hint, hint}.We enter the American Adventure Pavillion and the tables are all beautifully set around the rotunda. There is a buffet set off to the side and we are asked to serve ourselves right away.

Afer a nice breakfast and great conversation with some awesome ladies, we are introduced to Guy Kawasaki from Alltop.com. He spoke and showed us how to use Twitter as a marketing tool. Guy says:“Why do I care that lonelyguy15 says there’s a long line at Starbucks?” He uses Twitter primarily to drive page views.

For someone who is looking to maybe change the direction of my blog, this was very interesting. So many things on Twitter that I was totally oblivious about. But still, I will probably still tweet about my life and even about the line being long at Starbucks. Because to me, it's all about the connections not just the clicks.

After Guy's presentation, we were given yet another gift. A Disney Sociall Media Moms T-shirt. Then we went to the Give A Day, Get A Day presentation. As we enter, we see a large wall of balloons on stage which I believe is just decoration. More on that later.

Celebrating volunteerism is Disney's goal for 2010. Disney hopes to inspire 1 million people to volunteer in their communities. Through the Give a Day, Get a Day program, Disney is offering those who perform volunteer service for a participating organization a free one-day admission ticket to a Walt Disney World Resort or Disneyland Resort theme park. To date, 600,000 people have volunteered and the program just started in January! On a side note, I have looked in my area and have yet to find an opportunity to volunteer. Maybe soon.

We are then told that there is something behind the balloons. It turns out that it's a sculpture. A sculpture made with over 115,000 individual cans of food. The sculptue has been certified by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s largest structure of canned food.

Ty Pennington is then introduced for the big reveal. Mickey & the gang come out as well. Then Ty gets a megaphone and yells "Raise those balloons!" All I can say is WOW!

Later that day this awesomeness was dismantled and packed to be distributed to the needy. There were supposed to be volunteer opportunities right there in Epcot that day, but apparently they had too many volunteers. I also just found out that Carter Oosterhouse was there as well, how did I not know about this???

We spent the rest of the day at Epcot and took full advantage of our Super Magic Fast Passes! In one day I had Fish & Chips for lunch in the UK, a Napoleon in France and a ton of Candy in Japan!!
Although I did pay a greatly reduced rate for this event, all opinions are my own. I was not asked to write about the events or The Walt Disney Company.
Next up: Dinner Impossible & Rockin the Glow Sticks

Monday, February 15, 2010

Day 1 & What's in the future for Disney!

Our first evening in Disney World included a press conference at the Disney Wide World of Sports which will re-open within the next couple of weeks as the ESPN Wide World of Sports. We were informed about several new and exciting developments happening at Disney World, Disney Cruise Lines and the ESPN Wide World of Sports.

Photo courtesy of Disney World

One thing that is really exciting for me, is the return of "The Main Street Electrical Parade." I LOVED it as a child and the music alone brings back fond memories.

It will headline a season of after-dark excitement. WDW parks will light up the night with "Summer Nightastic!"

The Tower of Terror will have new surprises as well. New lighting effects and a new drop sequence which was created especially for "Summer Nightastic!"

I, personally, am also looking forward to the return of "Sounds Like Summer" concert series in Epcot.

Photo courtesy of Disney World
A huge Fantasyland expansion is scheduled to break ground in 2010 qnd construction will last approximately 3 years. They call it the largest expansion in Magic Kingdom history. I cannot really do it justice, so here it is straight from the official press release:
For the first time, guests will be able to step into their favorite Disney fairy tales to have more magical & immersive encounters with Disney princesses. Each princess will have her own themed village within Fantasyland Forest. At Dreams Come True with Cinderella, guests can meet Cinderella face to face in her country chateau, share a dance or train to be one of her Royal Knights. At A Birthday Surprise for Sleeping Beauty, it is a party inside the Briar Rose Cottage, nestled in a lush, forest setting. The three good fairies give Aurora the Sweet 16 party she never received, and everyone's invited to join in the surprise celebration. An enchanted mirror will transport guests from Belle's father's cottage to Beast's castle for an enchanting storytelling performance during Enchanted Tales with Belle.

The new district will include the Be Our Guest restaurant inside Beast's castle and another themed eatery in Belle's Village called Gaston's Tavern. The area will also includ a ride through adventure called "Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid."

Photo courtesy of Disney World

One other addition to Fantasyland will be Dumbo's Flying Circus. This will be twice the size of the current attraction and will fly high above the new circus grounds. There will be midway games and other fun activities inside the tent.

Although I know that change is good, I stll miss a lot of the "oldies". I hope that I still recognize Fantasyland after this change.

Disney Cruise Line will be welcoming the Disney Dream in 2011 and the Disney Fantasy in 2012. The new ships will be two decks taller than the Magic & the Wonder and will more than double passenger capacity.
The new ships will have virtual portholes. The virtual portholes hang over beds in inside staterooms and stream live footage from video cameras mounted around the ship, with 24-hour views of the water and sky, punctuated occasionally by the appearance of a Disney character on the screen. Passengers have the option of turning the video off, so no worries.

Another addition to the new ships is water coaster, called the AquaDuck. It will send a two-person raft on a flume ride around the perimeter of the ship's top deck, propelled up and down by water blasters. One loop of the ride juts 13 feet over the side of the ship, 150 feet above the ocean.

As for the Magic, she will be sailing to Europe in 2010. In the Summer of 2011, the Wonder will sail to Alaska for the 1st time.

After the press conference, we were led to the Tailgate Dinner party. We were treated to fun food & drinks. Including peanuts & Cracker Jacks in keeping with the Sports theme. I could have sworn that I had taken pictures of the food but I can't find any on my drive, except for this one :

This was our table!

I found the food to be very good. Actually, I had the best hot dog of the entire trip at the Tailgate party. Oh and Beer Cheese Soup with croutons... 'nuff said! Yummy!

We were also entertained by a DJ, Mickey & the Gang, Streetmosphere Characters and a performance by the cast of High School Musical 3.

On the way out we were given ESPN Wide World of SPorts caps to add to our SWAG!

It was a great night and a fantastic beginning to the Disney Social Media Moms Conference.

Although I did pay a greatly reduced rate for this event, all opinions are my own. I was not asked to write about the events or The Walt Disney Company.

Next Up Day 2: Give a Day, Get a Day & Dinner Impossible!

Disney Social Media Moms Conference: Arrival

This past week has been an amazing ride! I just returned home at 2:00 AM this morning from Disney World. I attended the Disney Social Media Moms Conference thanks to an open invitation from 5 Minutes for Mom! I am still getting my thoughts together and I will post each day separately. For now, I will share our arrival. The beginning of the magic and a glimpse of what was yet to come. Just a glimpse,mind you, because I would never have even imagined how magical it could actually be!

I was looking forward to the conference since it would be a great learning experience and give me the opportunity to connect with other moms. On top of that, it was being held at Walt Disney World and I was also invited to bring along my family! To me, that is what it's all about! Those that know me, know that my family is my heart, my soul and my every single breath. More on that later. For now, I'll start with our arrival at Walt Disney World.

I drove to Orlando with my husband and younger daughter. My oldest had classes that she couldn't miss andn would not arrive until Friday. We were set up at Disney's Polynesian Resort. For those of you not familiar with Disney or their resorts, the Polynesian is one of Disney's first resorts. This is a Deluxe resort right on the Monorail line. This alone makes it a very desirable property for quick and easy access to The Magic Kingdom and to Epcot. I have mentioned before that I stayed at the Poly soon after they opened. I was 5, yet I remember quite a bit. In short, I will tell you that it is still magical. I have stayed in about 80% of the Disney hotels that are now available but I still hold the Polynesian very dear to my heart.

We arrived at the Polynesian at 2 PM on Wednesday, February 10th. We were greeted with a warm Aloha and a flower lei for each of us. Check in was a breeze and my building request was honored. The girl checking us in was "earning her ears" (in-training) and she was as nice as could be. Actually, all staff that I came in contact with were friendly and greeted me with a smile each time.

Once I was checked-in at the resort, I was directed the the Hospitality Suite to check in for the conference. There I received our credentials & itinerary for the next 3 days.I also received (4) 7 day park hoppers for me & my family, a bag of SWAG and the Media Fast Pass! Oh my, how am I ever going to be able to do Disney without this!

From there, I proceeded to my room in the Tokelau building! For this part, I will show you in photos.

Our standard Garden View room was large and comfortable. The room was clean and the Polynesian theme was consistent throughout. I just love this resort! Not only for the nostalgia but for the convenience of practically being in the Magic Kingdom.

Next up: Day 1 & What's in the future for Disney!

Although I did pay a greatly reduced rate for this event, all opinions are my own. I was not asked to write about the events or The Walt Disney Company.

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