Christmas lights, 2014

It’s so much nicer to walk around and admire neighbors Christmas lights, without needing to wear coat, gloves … although the rain that started while I was taking pictures was a bit unwelcome! Anyway, here is our house for Christmas (decorated by Margaret while I was in England) and an assortment of neighbors homes:

Christmas 2013

Our second Christmas in Florida, but our first where Florida is our only home! Happily everyone knew where to send Christmas cards. Lots of presents too, including comic annuals that Margaret brought back from England for me! And I got Margaret a lovely Winnie The Pooh & friends picture, which one day can go on the wall of our new home …

 

We also did a full British style Christmas dinner, with chicken, stuffing, roast potatoes, yorkshire puddings, brussel sprouts … and when we’re a bit less full, some of Margaret’s pavlova for dessert!

 

2014 calendars mailed

Yesterday we mailed out our annual calendar; it was a little more challenging this year, with less winter pictures due to spending 10 months of the year in Florida, and then a general tricky time picking “month relevant” pictures, with so much going on in the last year!

Also challenging this year was where to order! It used to be easy, we’d order from Kodak UK, which meant that the calendar has English dates marked (Mother’s day is different in England, for example), and shipping was inexpensive – almost all the calendars we send go to our family, all in England.
After Kodak closed, I tried Apple – their calendar creation within iPhoto is excellent, but they are incapable of shipping to England from a USA account! Stupidity. Turns out, their calendars are huge too, bigger than I like.

Last year I used Shutterfly, which went well – but visiting them again this year, their prices were very high ($15/calendar+shipping), and their website was awful. I got assorted glitches with the calendar creation, and terrible trouble trying to set up shipping. The program has an address book offering entries like “The Cull Family”, but shipping doesn’t recognize this and demands a first and last name for every address! I wasted some hours on Shutterfly.
I checked out Costco too, better pricing but still a challenging website – and like Apple, no idea about shipping to non USA addresses.

Then I visited Vistaprint; I’d tried them once before too, and found the quality to be low (thin paper, cheap feel); but now I saw that there’s an upgrade to card stock, with the final price still well below $10/calendar. What’s more, the online calendar creation worked very well, and I was able to add specific dates (so I could add UK Mother’s day, for example).
With shipping, it turned out that if I ordered all calendars to my address, there was a quantity discount – and now, even with paying about $7/calendar to ship to England, my final cost is less than $18; and the quality is good, too!
So I think I’ll check out Vistaprint again next year …

Disney Holiday D-lights tour

This evening we headed to Disney to join one of their Disney Holiday D-Light tours; we were surprised by how many people were on the tour (close to 40!) but otherwise very much enjoyed the evening …

We met the tour at Epcot, but were then coached over to Disney Wilderness Lodge for an early dinner. Logistically this works (the tour ends at Epcot, and it’s best to have dinner before it gets dark, when it’s better to see lighting), but it’s a little strange. After dinner we visited a backstage area where we learned about the icicle lighting nets on Cinderella’s Castle; sadly that was the only backstage info we learned (and there wasn’t much else to see, since everything is out on display now!)

Then we coached over to nearby Magic Kingdom, where we we got to see the castle lighting for real, catching the turn-on event. This was however a very crowded and chaotic part of the evening, since it clashed with Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas party and MANY park guests.

Next stop was Disney Hollywood Studios to see the Osborne Family lights. The excitement here was entering the park through a back way, coming out close to the lights …

We also saw a spectacular moving lights sequence, reminiscent of the Fremont Street Experience!

 

On again by coach, and back to Epcot. Again too, entering from a closed-to-public area that brought us close to the American Pavilion, in perfect time to enjoy our reserved seats at the Candlelight Processional (with Sigourney Weaver narrating)

 

The end of Epcot always brings fireworks, which we’ve seen many times – but tonight there was extra, with a crazy multitude of additional fireworks following the standard evening show. I presume it’s special for Christmas, but whatever the reason, we loved it!