Saturday, August 4, 2012

We are still on track

Hello Mouseketeers,

Have no fears, none of our plans have changed. You may have noticed a lack of postings lately, and it is because we started to notice that our own blog postings were becoming less and less about the relocation plans, and more about things unrelated.

Our vision for the blog is to document our journey every step of the way. Occasionally, we thought we would include some fun postings (Disney pictures, Hidden Mickey finds, Disney cooking), but it became clear that since we are still more than a year away from the actual move, we didn't have enough happening to sustain the blog in these early months.

So, we are still here, still making plans, and still saving money.  But we will not be posting again until we can contribute on a regular basis on the subject that was planned.

I'm hoping that what we HAVE written will still attract readers, so if you have just found us, please drop us a line. We are hoping to make many friends local to the central Florida area, as well as Disney fans in all parts of the world.

I am hoping that we will return in just a few short months.


Saturday, June 2, 2012

Photo blog - Hidden Mickeys °o° *•._.•* ‘ *•._.•* °o°

Oh yes, the most popular of secondary Disney activities; hunting for Hidden Mickeys.

These photos are from my own collection.  Feel free to send yours to me, I'd love to feature a post with all of your great finds!

Here are the first five:

This one was the hardest to capture.. it's found on the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and the coaster goes by the hidden Mickey very quickly. You need to know where it is to get the photo.

This one is in the queue of the Matterhorn. I was directed to this by the cast member when I asked him if there were any hidden Mickeys on the mountain.

And this last Hidden Mickey, was staged for the EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival. Photo credit: blot.  Thanks, My Hidden Mickey dot com!!!

Send your Hidden Mickey photos in, and I'll give you a shout out.  You deserve it!

Comments are welcome. Positive feedback encouraged!

Mouseketeer Ken

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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Where Are We Going to Get the Money For This? °o° *•._.•* ‘ *•._.•* °o°

It will come from sacrifice, pure and simple. When the decision was made that we would be moving to Florida, we immediately imposed a freeze (or at least a chill) on movies, eating out on a Friday or Saturday night and internet shopping (that was a hard one). Of course, freezing your frivolous spending doesn’t really earmark the savings, so we put a more formal plan into action as well.

Just around the time that we started dreaming about the move, and wondering how we would ever afford it, I was reviewing a history of book sales that I had made in the past year on I have been selling books for several years now, and I have been able to afford some things that I otherwise may not have been, including trips to Disneyland in California. I was looking at the numbers and wondered to myself how much money I had earned in one full year. I added up the  and found the amount was just slightly over $1400!

This boggled my mind. Had I stashed that money away into a savings account and not spent it on things that are unaccounted for today, I would have that money right now. Suddenly, I had a savings-account epiphany – what if I saved my earning for the upcoming year? How much would I have at the end of the year? If sales maintained at the level that it has been, then I could easily have the same amount by the end of 12 months, without any more effort than I was used to.

Then, another thought popped into my head. What if I wanted $2000 by the end of one year instead of just $1400? I did some quick math and divided the $2000 dream total by 24 (the number of paydays in one year). I would need to earn $83.50 every two weeks.

When I first think about socking away $83.50 every pay period on my current salary, my excitement kind of evaporates.  However, with the kind of sacrifices that I have been making recently, I might be able to supplement the balance of my book sales, UP TO the $83.50 goal. So for example, if I have a slow book sale week, in which I earn only $40, from my following work paycheck, I would transfer the difference ($43.50 in this case); a prospect much easier to swallow.

On good sales weeks, I might even go over the goal amount, in which case I would not need to supplement any deficit. Of course at the end of the day that translates to earning MORE than my goal amount.

The first thing I did was to adjust my payments account that that all deposits were made straight into my savings account, instead of checking. This way, I save myself the added effort of doing it, and I’m not tempted to hold any amount back when things are tight. I made a plan, and I need to do everything I can to stick to it.

The year was already two months in by this time, so I had missed three or four deposits and I wanted to make them up.

Since book sales had been decent, mostly approaching the goal, I didn’t need to supplement much more than 10-20 dollars, but there were those first few weeks in January and February that I needed to make up. It took some belt tightening, but I was able to double up on savings transfers and I matched the deposit, to the penny for the weeks that I was missing.

Of course, second-hand books don’t list themselves, and they also don’t shop for themselves to be sold in my store.  As they say, your success is dependent upon the effort you put forth, so I started increasing my efforts. I had rummage sales to visit, and thrift store bins to dig through. Church and School fund-raisers were priority because they are usually on a much larger scale than a garage sale, and there is usually no shortage of books they are trying to unload and the church or school staff don’t mind taking lower price offers when I come up with a huge box of books and a five or ten dollar bill in hand. Rock bottom discounts are usually more frequently accepted as it gets later in the afternoon; no one likes to pack up heavy book boxes at the end of the day.

The rest of my afternoon is spent inspecting my booty, getting them listed for sale, then stored in the garage, awaiting their new owners. I like to think of myself as a book-broker; someone who goes out and finds an unwanted or abandoned baby, cleans it up, and gets it into the hands of its rightful owner; someone who will appreciate the beauty of the thing… at least until they have finished reading it and the cycle starts again; hey, kind of like Buzz and Woody and the toys of Toy Story 3, eh?

Comments are welcome. Positive feedback encouraged!

Mouseketeer Ken

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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Cooking Our Way to the Magic Kingdom (Meatloaf) °o° *•._.•* ‘ *•._.•* °o°

Mark and I decided that since it’s Mark's dream to work for Disney in the culinary arts, we would build a portfolio of culinary experiences.

Until we have more blog-news making experiences in the area of our relocation, this will be an ongoing feature (as budget permits), where we will choose a recipe that looks good, cook it up, take some pictures for you, and then include our review of the finished product.

We thought that a fun way to share these adventures (and to relate them to our theme-blog) would be to look to the Disney catalog of recipes, namely “Cooking With Mickey” volumes 1 and 2, and “Delicious Disney”, which collectively contain hundreds of park favorites.

This week we made an easy, comfortable choice; meatloaf! The comfort food of comfort foods. This relatively easy recipe was featured in Orlando at the Disney Village Market place in Chef Mickey’s Village Restaurant.

Unfortunately, Ken is STRONGLY anti-onion... and mushrooms, celery, bell peppers, and most seafood (and as Mark says, "basically, the fundementals of all cooking-the mirepoix"), so we will be cooking slightly altered versions of the Disney recipe, but we plan to stay as close as possible to the original.

The recipe was for a family of six so since there are only two of us, we decided to cut it in half. The full recipe is at the bottom of the post.

Photo credit:

Sadly, we do not have photos to share.  The day after baking this dish, we had a computer crash, and lost everything from the last 24 hours.  We were lucky-we didn't lose much, and we were able to recreate everything EXCEPT the meatloaf pictures. Thanks, WDW News!

This photo is courtesy of me.  Since the back cover lines up with the front to make one great Disney scene, I thought you would like to see it laid out.

RESULT: We had very good results for our first meatloaf.  The half recipe was the perfect size for a meal for two, and then left overs for lunch the next day.  The texture was surprisingly smooth, and the herbs and spices were just great. 

We cooked our loaf for one hour as called for, and it looked perfect, but we like a more crispy outer shell, so we gave it another 15 minutes.  That gave us a perfect, juicy inside with a crunchy outside.  I would suspect that if you were making the full recipe, you will probably need to bake for more than one hour in order to cook all the way through.


Chef Mickey’s Village Restaurant
Disney Village Marketplace

Yield: 6 servings

2 pounds ground beef
1 pound ground pork
1 ½ cups onion, diced
1/8 teaspoon garlic, granulated
2 cups bread crumbs, fresh
2/3 cup cold water
1/8 teaspoon thyme
¼ cup parsley, chopped
1 whole egg
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/8 teaspoon salt

Soak break crumbs in cold water and set aside.  Sauté diced onion until tender.  Set aside and allow to cool.

Preheat oven to 350 degree.

In a large bowl, combine ground beef, ground pork, onions, granulated garlic, and bread crumbs mixed with water.  Mix well and add remaining ingredients. Mix well and mold into loaves.  Form in either loaf pans or in a meat pan with sides high enough to hold juices.

Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Comments are welcome. Positive feedback encouraged!

Mouseketeer Ken

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We highly recommend this recipe!  8 Mickey Heads out of 10!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Disney Haiku - Installment Two

(Haiku: an unrhymed verse form of Japanese origin having three lines containing usually five, seven, and five syllables respectively.)
And now a little indulgence in language manipulation; Haiku, volume 2...

This week I was watching the Disney Channel and a really nice commercial came on the screen. It was a two minute, fifteen second ode to poetry aimed to opening children's eyes to all things iambic!  Perfectly fitting when I have a Haiki post upcoming.  You could even say serendipitous!

Please to enjoy.

A cool mist sprays out-
Mickey’s imagination
On a summer night

The Main Street Parade;
Magnetic musical sounds
and sparkling lights

Disguised in grass skirts
a bear and man-cub dance for
Bare Necessities

Looking for villains
My favorite trading pins
to fill my lanyard

Scat Cat and a rat
Foil Edgar’s evil plan,
to change Madame’s will

And one more written just for this blog.  As sweet as a spoonful of sugar....

Poppins is her name
Very sweet and witty
Rosy cheeks, no warts!

Comments are welcome. Positive feedback encouraged!

Mouseketeer Ken

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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Scouting Orlando – The Arrival °o° *•._.•* ‘ *•._.•* °o°

In planning for our relocation to Central Florida, Mark and I felt that we needed to budget in a trip to the area for scouting and research to make sure this was the right thing for us to do.  We visited the Orlando area March 23rd to the 31st of 2012... 

Our flight to Orlando was scheduled to leave at 11pm. We were due to arrive in Orlando at 4am Friday morning. We figured that with even an early check-in we would not get a room before 11am, so we planned on taking our time picking up our luggage, checking in with Hertz for the rental car and maybe getting a bit of breakfast in our future home.

The flight over to Florida was about 3 ½ hours, but I didn’t sleep for one minute which was hard considering I fall asleep at 10:00pm on the dot when I have to get up for work the next morning.  It was a packed flight, full of Spring Breakers heading to Orlando for the theme parks. They weren’t a rowdy bunch, thank goodness, but it did mean a lot of people to maneuver around and wait for loading and unloading.

Mark and I anticipated the extra charge to check our luggage, so we planned to share our larger suitcase so that we would only have to check one bag. Everything else we were able to carry on (lap top, and a carry-on bag each). Still, $50 bucks each way is not chump change!

Four hours later, we were searching for the luggage carousel that would spit out our green suitcase. This is a big airport compared to ones I’ve been to, and we didn’t find the signage very user friendly. After a few wrong turns, and what felt like a mile of hiking, we had baggage in hand and started the trek to the rental car counters.  Of course, Hertz was the furthest one down, but was thankfully empty of people.  The rental agent was nice enough, tried to upsell the vehicle without mentioning an extra charge (she made it sound like she had a nicer vehicle on hand, and was going to upgrade as a courtesy).  We declined, and found that we were happy with what we got.

Walking through the outside of the airport at 4:30 in the morning, excited to be in the city that we will be moving to eventually, all of our senses were alert.  We noticed a light fog around the area, something you rarely see in Phoenix.  That temperature at that hour was on the cool side of lukewarm, but the humidity was noticeable.  We didn’t know if the humidity that morning was high, or low, but we were both surprised that it was humid at all considering the cool temperature. 

During the 20 minute drive from the airport to the Radisson Hotel Orlando we soaked in the view of the environment, lots of grass, lots of small bodies of water, certainly more tree-life that in our desert home. 

I was pleased to discover that Orlando did not have a strange smell when we got off the plane.  Sometimes, you may find that a strange city has a scent (Phoenix smells like dust sometimes, and when it rains, it’s a distinctive dirt smell).  Certain parts of the valley has a lot of horse property, so in the morning hours, you will smell manure for miles.

(The crystal chandelier from the lobby of the Carlton)

We arrived at the hotel by 7am after a quick breakfast at a nearby Waffle House.  We were pleasantly surprised that the staff was able to put us into a room right away.  We were very happy with the room; a nice size, clean and with nice décor.  I have to admit that both of us were drop-dead tired, so after a quick wash up, we both dropped onto the bed and slept until late afternoon.

The first day of our Scouting Orlando trip had begun with a nap!

Comments are welcome. Positive feedback encouraged!

Mouseketeer Ken

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Monday, May 21, 2012

Why Florida & Not California? °o° *•._.•* ‘ *•._.•* °o°

When I made my announcement to my friends and family a couple of months ago, one of my friends asked me “Why Florida and not California?”.  A fair question, because we did think about that.

Mark and I have been to Disneyland in California several times together. We both have countless visits to the West coast parks logged in before we even met, but we have only been to Florida a couple of times each, and never together (until recently on our Scouting Orlando trip). 

When the idea started to gel that we wanted to move to another state, and then the idea to live near Disney started to percolate, Florida was the first place that popped into my mind.  We both dearly love Disneyland because of the intimacy of the park, as well as the history and nostalgia of the original, but there were a lot of factors to weigh in against.

My first concern about relocating to California was about the cost of living. From what I have read, and what friends have told me, it costs a LOT to live there.  I realize that income may be commensurate to the cost of living there, but I would rather make a lateral move than to try to win an uphill battle.  In addition to that, we want to own our home.  With the cost of real estate anywhere in the state of California, it would be totally prohibitive.

We had to ask ourselves where were we likely to find more available jobs as well?  With Florida’s unemployment rate as low as it is right now, I have been keeping tabs on a regular basis, and I have been seeing recent signs of improvement.  It’s staying even with Arizona’s rate, which are both slightly better than California’s.  The cost of living index is very similar to ours here in Phoenix. This doesn’t guarantee either of us a job of course, but I think both Mark and I are more competitive with our job skills in Florida, then we would be in California.

By size comparison, our “intimate” park is approximately 1 square mile in total.  That includes both parks (Disneyland and California Adventure) and downtown Disney.  Disney World is 47 square miles!  One of the questions friends ask is “Don’t you think you’ll get tired of Disneyland”?  Well, in truth, we might. With as much as Disney World has to offer, however, we can move from park to park to park.  Add in two water parks, Downtown Disney, DisneyQuest, the upcoming Pleasure Island as well as all of the other parks in the vicinity, and beaches on either coast (don’t forget the Florida Keys and Miami) I don’t think we’re going to be bored!

Now let’s talk weather.  I guess no one would choose scorching heat and dripping humidity over the breezy, mild climate of Southern California. But when you consider where we are coming from, we are trading hot-as-hell for hot-as-hell (if you will pardon the phrase).  In Phoenix, you spend your summer months indoors as much as possible, and you run from air conditioning to air conditioning as quickly as you can.  I imagine it will be the same when we get to the tropical heat of central Florida, but the difference is that we will be living less than 30 minutes away from Disney World (and we will have a pool in the back yard)!

It wasn’t a quick and easy decision. We wanted to make an informed one, so we have done a lot of research, and have discussed endless scenarios. I think we both have fallen in love with the idea of living in a state that is so much different from the one we live in. 

Besides, Mark is scared of earthquakes.

Comments are welcome. Positive feedback encouraged!

Mouseketeer Ken

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Scouting Orlando - Budget °o° *•._.•* ‘ *•._.•* °o°

In planning for our relocation to Central Florida, Mark and I felt that we needed to budget in a trip to the area for scouting and research to make sure this was the right thing for us to do.  We visited the Orlando area March 23rd to the 31st of 2012... 

Mark and I have known for a while that it might not be a smart move to just up and move our lives to Florida without ever having visited the area. So, when we first made the decision to move, I set up a budget so that we would know how much this was going to cost.  Part of that budget included a “Scouting Orlando” section. 

Among the costs we budgeted for the Scouting Orlando trip looked like this:

4 days/3 nights
Rental call
Standard Car-$116-$154

DW tix (1 Day)
$87.30 x 2


$1,279 bucks.  Economical, right?   Well, the reality ended up being something different:


8 days/7 nights
rental car


DW tix
for 6 days (each)


So allowed us to bundle the flight, hotel stay and rental car.  Since we decided to extend the visit from just 3 days/4 nights, to twice that at 8 days/7 nights, I think we stayed within budget. I’m not sure how each cost broke out for the bundled flight/hotel/car, but having upgraded the hotel a bit so that we would be comfortable for such a long stay it works out to $120 a night for hotel, $200 each for flight, and $89 a day for the car.  The rental car was the most surprising cost.  Even taking the most basic insurance coverage they offered, we were shocked at the additional fees and charges that weren’t explained on the Priceline itinerary.  That and the extra hundred bucks that U.S. Airways charges to check your suitcase provided some wallet shock!

You’ll notice that we bought 6-day park hopper tickets for the Disney Parks.  I had originally decided that we would only go ONE day out of the 4 that we were going to be in Florida.  We were waiting for a price deal to crop up before buying the ticket, knowing that if we didn’t find one, we would just buy tickets at the gate.  It wasn’t until just days before the trip that Priceline send an email with a discount offer, in which the best deal was 2 days free if you buy 6 days.  We decided that if we went with that deal, at roughly $50 a day, we could still tour the city, and then just drop in on the park for a few hours here and there for a parade, fireworks and a few rides, then head back to the hotel.

I think we ended up spending about $3500 in full. It took some sacrifice to save it up, but by now, we have resigned ourselves to the need to reduce our spending for the next year and half so that we can have as much money as possible in our hands before it’s time to make the big move.

This Scouting Orlando trip was a necessary evil in terms of spending our hard earned savings.  It opened our eyes to some of the challenges that we will be facing when we arrive in Orlando, and begin the second, most-important half of our journey.

This posting marks the first in a series on the subject of “Scouting Orlando”. 

Comments are welcome. Positive feedback encouraged!

Mouseketeer Ken

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Monday, May 14, 2012

Mission SLIMpossible Follow Up #2 °o° *•._.•* ' *•._.•* °o°

Trying to lose weight can sometimes be a real mind-trip.  I was in my boot camp class Wednesday in which we have a dozen exercise stations that we rotate through, that are scattered throughout the space.  When the timer sounds, we all move to the next station and do that exercise.  The 5th station was facing a huge floor to ceiling mirror.  So I was forced to watch myself from beginning to end for a solid five minutes. 

This was not good for my self-esteem.

As you have read by now, my total weight loss has been 22 pounds.  I have lost enough that friends and co-workers are noticing and are commenting (my favorite one was "You've done something different to your hair, didn't you?").  My clothes are obviously fitting looser, but when you are still 60-80 pounds overweight, without a lot of gym-floor coordination and your shirt sticks to your body because you are drenched in sweat, that doesn’t help to provide much of a morale boost. 

To make matters more uncomfortable, I am the only overweight boot camper in the class.  It appears most of the members at this gym studio are female, around 24, perky bodies dressed in juicy couture, seem to be in perfect shape and never break a sweat.  Compared to them, I’m like Mr. Snuffleupagus, loping around the room.

All self-deprecation and shortage of self-esteem aside, as awkward as I feel in these classes, nothing is going to stop me from seeing myself through this goal.  Sure I have my challenges; I tend to get dizzy or hyperventilate when I over exert, and it feels like it’s taking forever for that to improve, but I am seeing improvement, slowly but surely (and I had to lay my old jeans to rest… they don’t even stay up with a belt any more).  Not only that, but I will never cross paths with those perky dancercisers again.

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The upside to the mind trip is this; the rocks that you see in the photo above are very symbolic for me.  Every time I hiked the Perimeter Trail of Piestewa Peak, and made it to the point that is referred to as the “Saddle”(this is the top to me; the trail continues over the saddle, but it goes back down and around the mountain), I would search for a small, white rock for a souvenir.  I even have a set of "rules" in place; I can't take a rock from anywhere except the very top, however, if I find a rock on the way up, I can carry it up and leave it in a hidden spot for the next time I climb.  I have a secret stash of a dozen rocks waiting to go home with me now.

But I digress...  these twenty-odd stones represent the twenty-odd pounds that I have lost so far. I certainly didn’t lose one pound on each climb, but they collectively stand for the weight that I am leaving behind on the Piestewa Peak trail.  Hopefully, when I’ve finished this journey I will have a collection of one hundred rocks.  It will be nice to see them displayed in a glass container so that I can think back on how many times I struggled with making it up that steep slope, always trying to beat my time from the last time I hiked.

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Back to the mind trip...  Today's official weigh in does not give me a lot of confidence.  It's only a 1 pound loss in 2 weeks.  I'm hoping this is not a plateau since it's been four months into my journey, and maybe the next weigh in will show a greater loss.

Official weigh in

Highest weight: 275 (January 1, 2012)
Previous weigh in: 250 (April 16th, 2012)

Current weigh in: 249 (April 30th, 2012)
Comments are welcome. Positive feedback encouraged!

Mouseketeer Ken

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