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- One Direction checks out new 3-D ride Despicable Me Minion Mayhem at Universal Orlando
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A couple of weekends ago I was supposed to be in Missouri’s Wine Country. I was looking forward to spending a few days with the other mamas at Travel Media Showcase, and then I was to take a train to Hermann, MO to begin exploring the area. Thanks to Gustav, my plans were foiled. No days of tasting vino, enjoying daily picnics and fine dining, or relaxing at various B & B’s.
Instead, I was either stuck at work answering 911 calls or visiting with all the people who ended up hanging out at my house because I had power. My washing machine washed non-stop as friends and family began to run out of clean clothes after Gustav. I didn’t mind, really. But I couldn’t help wishing I was somewhere else. Milk was running low, the bread had all been eaten, and I was getting very tired of eating Slim Jims. FEMA does a wonderful job of advising people what they need to prepare for natural disasters, but they did leave out a few things, like wine.
So, I decided to have my own wine tasting with the libations I have collected through my travels. My sister-in-law and my neighbor joined me in this exploration of the taste buds. Sometimes a mama just has to roll with the punches, so if this mama couldn’t get away physically, then I would take a mental vacation. We went high-class and broke out the fine Dixie cups we had on hand. At this point, we weren’t really concerned with rules of wine tasting or being proper Southern women. And so the journey began….
Louisiana – We started with Evangeline, a muscadine wine from Feliciana Cellars.
Tennessee – I stopped in at Shady Grove Meadery during a visit to Oak Ridge, TN. I like to read romance novels, and mead has been mentioned once or twice in a few of these books. I always wondered what it tasted like. We sampled the Poplar/Clover Mead It is a honey-based drink that is a bit heavier than traditional wines. On another visit to this beautiful state, I picked up some apple wine from the Apple Barn Winery in Sevierville. We tasted an apple-raspberry wine that was nice, but super sweet.
Germany – Ok, so I haven’t visited Germany yet, but I did go to Epcot at DisneyWorld in Orlando. On my last visit, I picked up a bottle of Eiswein. I had been saving it for a special occasion because it is so expensive, so surviving another Hurricane seemed as good a time as any. It is produced from grapes that were frozen while still on the vine. It is a very sweet dessert wine and should be served in small quantities. Did I mention that I LOVE Eiswein?
Hawaii – What can I say about the pineapple wine? Yummy!
We had to stop there before the room started spinning. We giggled and laughed and kept telling war stories about memorable hurricanes that have passed, like Andrew, Katrina, Rita, and Tropical Storm Allison. In the Gulf States, we refer to these storms by name (and call them a few names as well). We even came up with a new word, Craptastic. You know, when things get crappy but all you can do is laugh. Well, we had a craptastic time enjoying a few bottles of wine. Maybe one day I’ll get a chance to see Missouri’s Wine Country. I’ll add it to my list.
Everyone knows my home state, Louisiana, is near and dear to my heart. It also makes me feel so good to see New Orleans really starting to bounce back and bring in the visitors. An upcoming event, Tales of the Cocktail, is considered to be one of the most spirited events of the summer. Hehe. I like that. Spirited.
Ann, founder of Tales, invited me to Commander’s Palace last week to debut The CajunMama Cocktail to a few notable bartenders in the area. I have to admit, I was a little nervous. These are professionals, and a mixologist I am not. The actual purpose of the gathering was to learn how to properly mix a Sazerac, the official cocktail of Louisiana. So as an official Sazerac Ambassador, I invite all of you to New Orleans to partake of this potent libation that offers a taste of Louisiana history in each sip.
I’m partial to the sweeter things in life, so of course The CajunMama Cocktail is on the sugary side of things. This drink is perfect after dinner or for an evening with a breeze. I’ve put together this video to show you how simple it is to enjoy this rich cocktail. Garnish with flakes of Godiva Chocolate for added richness.
The CajunMama Cocktail:
1 oz Sazerac Rye Whiskey
1 oz Kahlua
4 oz Half and Half
Stir ingredients. Serve over ice in a crystal old fashioned glass. Garnish with Godiva Chocolate flakes. Enjoy!
If you watched the video, you’ll notice I mentioned a random giveaway for Boycott the Staycation. Yay! The winner for this giveaway is SavvyHousewife. Congratulations.
Yup. I’m the crazy mama. I’m the one that thinks Anthony Bourdain rocks. Here’s a sneak peep at his new season, which airs this week on The Travel Channel.
Can’t leave the US? Follow this cool dude along on his culinary adventures.
Everyone has figured out that my family really enjoys the area around The Great Smoky Mountain National Park. It reminds me of my childhood family vacations and the ones I spend with my own little family. In fact, the CajunMama family will be spending the last week of July in the Smokies. Last year we lodged at Oak Tree Lodge, which had an swimming pool with an awesome slide, kiddie play area, and even a great continental breakfast (with waffles too). It was right in the middle of Sevierville, which was close to all the family action. This year we booked a cabin at Vacation Rentals by Owner so that we can experience more of a rustic mountain feel.
The CajunMama family prefers to take a road trip to this destination, but those wishing to fly can get wonderful deals by flying into Knoxville, TN. It is about a 45 minute drive to the area around the park, where the accommodations, attractions, and restaurants are plentiful.
Here are a few top family attractions around the mountains:1. The Great Smoky Mountain National Park
The park offers easy to moderate trails for a morning stroll or a day hike. More adventurous families may opt to overnight in the park, but be sure to watch out for bears! Guided ranger walks depart daily from the Sugarlands Welcome Center and kids can even complete tasks to become a Junior Ranger. This is a fantastic way for a family to discover nature.2. Dollywood
During the summer, Dollywood hosts KidsFest, which offers entertainment and activities for kids of all ages. Last year we went and enjoyed some of the live music, we learned about Appalachian families and their way of life and even got to see an old schoolhouse. The kids even did activities and science experiments, like making Goo. There are rides that thrill, such as The Mystery Mine, and those that relax, like the Dollywood Express. This year during KidsFest, the Kratz Brothers (Zaboomafu) perform a live show throughout the summer.3. Dolly’s Splash Country
If you liked Dollywood and you enjoy water parks, then Dolly’s Splash Country is the place for you. I’ve visited many a water park as a Traveling Mama, and I have to say that Splash Country is one of the cleanest I’ve come across. I felt safe taking my children, and they even offer wristband technology that helps you track members of your group throughout the park. For extended families, cabanas and riverside cabins are available for daily rentals to provide a shaded area for your group. The entire water park is themed around the destination, My kids really loved places like Fire Tower Falls that reminded them of their daddy, who was away fighting wildfires. It was a fun day to spend with the kids and a great way to stay cool!4. WonderWorks
This place is definitely an amusement park for the mind. If you are looking for an entertaining place on a rainy day or the evening, then you’ll find WonderWorks full of visitors. It is also great anytime. I took the kids at about 6:30PM one evening and they had to kick us out at midnight. It is full of cool scientific activities and optical illusions. Just look for the upside down house and you’re there. And if you’re hungry, the onsite Hoot’n’Holler Dinner Show is a blast.5. Forbidden Caverns
Open from April to November, these caverns give families a glimpse of what is hidden beneath the mountains. There are trails that weave in and out of sparkling formations and secret grottos. The Eastern Woodland Indians once frequented the caverns, and in later years became a place to hide moonshine. Now families can experience this geological wonder.6. NASCAR Speedpark
Feel the need for speed and can’t get to Daytona? No worries. NASCAR Speedpark offers tracks to accommodate each member of the family. Indoors is a full arcade and a burger restaurant. An all-you-can-ride pass will run you about $30 per person.7. Ripley’s Old MacDonald Mini-Golf
I know, I know. Mini-golf. My son BEGGED to play mini-golf and we ended up having a wonderful time giggling and laughing at all the barn animals that heckled us during our game. And don’t get me started about the arcade. My son beat me in Air Hockey and I couldn’t get my daughter off of Dance Dance Revolution.8. Rainforest Adventures
This place is home to hundreds of animals. It located on NASCAR Drive, near the Speedpark. We didn’t get a chance to check it out yet, but all the locals rave about it.9. The Apple Barn and Cider Mill
As someone who lives to eat, my entire family enjoyed breakfast at The Apple Barn. Each table is served with an Apple Julep, Apple Muffins with Apple Butter and a few other enticements. And this was all before we even ordered! My son is a big fan of this place and will only eat Apple Barn Apple Butter with his biscuits. No other brand or homemade concoction can compare for him. In fact, when we ran out, he had a major meltdown one morning before school. Thank goodness my grandmother had an extra jar. This place isn’t just a restaurant, there is the winery (hello!), a Christmas store, the candy store where you can watch candy being made, the ice cream shop, and even an apple pie/cider bar. I think I gained ten pounds just from one visit. And yes, we bought a case of Apple Butter.10. Dixie Stampede
No need for silverware when you can eat with your hands! Dixie Stampede offers a musical version of an American Civil War re-enactment complete with live animals and tasty vittles. Kids will enjoy this dinner and a show where they get to drink soup out of a bowl and eat their baked chicken with their hands. It really is a whole lot of fun.
Be sure to visit the Sevierville Visitors Center for money-saving coupons and coloring books for the kids and visit their website for great info for your visit.