Musings of a Museum Fanatic: May 2014


Crispy Roasted Duck Breast

When Kevin and I were on our honeymoon we got Chef Mickey: Treasures From the Vault & Delicious New Favorites as one of our souvenirs. At the time it seemed like only a couple of the recipes we really difficult, I mean come on a recipe that has ingredients on the sides of two whole pages ain't nobody got time for that! We ended up choosing this recipe since it didn't seem too difficult ... at the time! I know I usually just add my notes throughout the recipe but since they're a little more involved this time head right to the bottom!

Crispy Roasted Duck Breast With Marquise Potatoes

6-8 lb. fresh or frozen duck*
1 tablespoon olive oil

Marquise Potatoes (Potato Cakes)
4 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled
4 strips bacon, finely diced
1/2 C finely diced yellow onions
1 Tbsp finely chopped parsley
1 egg
1/4 C plus 1 Tbsp all purpose flour, divided
Coarse salt, freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp butter

Pomegranate Jus
1 C beef stock
1/4 C pomegranate syrup**

For duck:
1. Preheat oven to 300° F.
2. Roast duck for 25 to 35 minutes, or until medium rare. Rest until cool enough to remove breast, thighs, and legs, keeping the skin intact.
Wasn't sure it was totally done so we ended up putting it back in the over to roast after crisping the skin
3. Heat olive oil in medium skillet over medium heat. Add duck breast, skin side down, and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until skin is crispy.
Crisping the skin
4. Place thighs and drumsticks, skin side up, back in oven for 5 to 7 minutes or until skin is crispy.
5. Transfer duck to cutting board and let stand 15 minutes before carving.

For marquise potatoes (potato cakes):
1. Boil potatoes until tender, drain and cool on a perforated pan. Shred the potatoes with a box grater; set aside.***
Using my awesome Boil Over No More
2. Sauté bacon until crisp in a medium skillet. Add onions and cook until translucent.
3. Add bacon and onions to the shredded potatoes. Mix in parsley, egg, and 1 Tbsp flour. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

4. Form into eight 3-inch cakes. Dredge the cakes lightly in remaining flour, coating both sides.
5. Heat the butter in large skillet over high heat. Cook the cakes until golden brown on both sides.

For pomegranate jus:
1. Heat beef stock in small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce to low heat, and let simmer for 15 minutes.
2. Pour in pomegranate syrup and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes.

Before Kevin suggested using the juice
To serve fancy like at Disney
Place 2 potato cakes on 4 plates and serve with duck breast slices, thighs and drumsticks.
Drizzle 2 Tbsp of pomegranate jus over duck and serve remaining jus on the side.

Overall this dish actually did turn out pretty delicious but it was not without it's issues 

*So I did end up getting a whole duck and I thought the butcher would cut it up like a chicken but he ended up just quartering it. That made the whole cutting off each part a little more difficult. Now that we have made this once if we were to do it again I would search harder to find just duck breasts! Thought about it at the beginning but ended up staying true to the recipe haha.

** OH MY gosh where do I start with the saga of the pomegranate syrup. Called 7 different grocery stores and none had it. Attempted to make my own off a seemingly simple Alton Brown recipe. Didn't get syrup I really just boiled off a lot of pomegranate juice. We ended up just drizzling the warm juice over the duck and it was quite tasty. Still have no idea where you can get pomegranate syrup sorry.

***Seriously wait until they're cooled. Sort of burned my hands attempting to get it done sooner and ended up with mashed potato cakes. They were still really good and I'd totally make them again but just wait until they're cool.


Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

I was finally able to go visit the Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry a couple of weekends ago!! Ever since it was announced that this exhibit was coming to Chicago I had been chomping on the bit to go see it. It's be such a hit that they actually extended it's stay until August 3. Seriously I'm going to say this now, this exhibit was great, if you're anywhere near Chicago or going to be here before the closing go see it! Kevin and I ended up spending almost two hours just in this exhibit.

Kevin and I both agree that our favorite part overall about this exhibit was the fact that it wasn't just an ode to the movies and stuff but actually took you behind the scenes of how the magic was created. A large part of the exhibit was dedicated to showing how Walt got his start in animation and how he developed some amazing techniques and tools that revolutionized animation.

Kevin's favorite was seeing how the developed the multiplane camera and the mini model of the camera. This breakthrough technology was used first in Snow White and then in films that followed. It is why there is depth to the images. The photo below was taken looking through the multiplane set up. It's not the best image since it was take through the glass but you can still see how each layer gives the entire image depth. 

The above photo is of some of the sculpted models that were used during the drawing of the characters. In the front and left are a couple of the characters from Fantasia. 

We also got to see some pieces from a couple of my favorite movies, Sleeping Beauty and Bedknobs & Broomsticks. All three of these pieces were actually used in the movies. The book from Sleeping Beauty was actually quite large, I was surprised.

I really enjoyed the fact that they didn't just have artifacts (crazy right?). There were a number of screens throughout the exhibit that showed all sorts of film. They had clips showing how they mixed the paint by hand (Kevin's favorite), clips from Disney's first shorts, clips of Disney talking about the wonders that will become Disney World. They were well spaced and with only sound going on some of them there was no overlap and the feeling that there is way too much going on.

At the end of the exhibit there is a little classroom set up and there was someone showing you how to draw characters. We got to see about half of Donald and then stayed to draw Goofy. I am not an artist whatsoever but I think we both did a really good job!

Overall this exhibit was a magical experience and we had tons of fun!



In 1955 Disney started a television variety show with a regular cast of child performers called, The Mickey Mouse Club. Going off the air in 1959, it was brought back in reruns until the revamped versions of the late 1970's and early 1990's, The New Mickey Mouse Club and The All-New Mickey Mouse Club respectively. 

Annette Funicello was probably the most famous Mouseketeer from the first go-round of The Mickey Mouse Club. Annette stayed with Disney for a while and did some great movies like, The Shaggy Dog and Babes in Toyland. Even though she wasn't a big fan of singing Annette released a number of songs under Disney's label at this time. The early 1960's brought on her teens and her most iconic roles as a "beach picture" star in Beach PartyMuscle Beach PartyBikini BeachPajama PartyBeach Blanket Bingo and How to Stuff a Wild Bikini. She starred in all of these flicks with Frankie Avalon. 

The biggest star to come out of the 1970's revamp was Lisa Whelchel who starred in the Facts of Life in the 1980's. During the 1980's The Mickey Mouse Club had been running as reruns but obviously had become very dated so then came The All-New Mickey Mouse Club! This is where things get exciting and tons of currently huge stars got their starts. 

My favorite and probably the craziest of the Mouseketeer alums would have to be the always lovely and vivacious Britney Spears. Like many of the Mouseketeers at this time she was only on for a short time, 1993-1995 when it went off the air. 

Christina was on the show the same time as Britney. I like to think that while they were on they already had the whole pop princess I'm going to kick your butt with my amazingness thing going on like they did in the early 2000's. I bet they both had some sort of pre-teen triangle going on with Ryan Gosling. Seriously look at the three of them!

Especially look at Ryan! 1990's pre-teen hearthrob all the way. I can remember crushing on a number of boys that looked almost exactly like that. Cute smile that makes you giggle, hair in that 90's shag bowl cut, and that 90's print shirt *swoon*

 Which brings us to the 90's photo I'm sure Justin wants us to all forget! Although he did rock that ramen look for a number of years after that ... He wasn't the only N'Syncer to get his start with the Mouse. JC Chasez was rocking out with Disney two full years before JT came into the picture.

Honorable mention goes to Keri Russell also from the The All-New Mickey Mouse Club but since she doesn't have a musical career she doesn't count today. Sorry Keri!

Which Mouseketeer do you think is the biggest success since then?


Disney Trip Online Resources

One thing I love just as much as visit Disney is planning for our next trip. As of right now we don't have a trip on the books for sure yet but that hasn't stopped me from doing my research and we all know I love to do that!

Obviously the most obvious tool is to go right to the source, Some parts of the website are a little vague and take a little bit to get used to where exactly everything is but once you figure it out you're golden. Besides giving you obvious information like being able to book your hotel, general park information, etc. you can find details like menus from the restaurants and details about stores and other recreational activities.

My favorite site to tool around on all the time is Seriously I'm way too addicted to some of the forums on there. The forums are a great tool because they cover everything from Disney Vacation Club to Disney Solo Travel to one of my all time favorites ... Disney Food Porn. Seriously just distracted myself for a good five minutes. I think that it might be one of the best resources since you can make your own screen name and connect with people. I don't know about anyone else but being able to talk to people and get firsthand opinions and stories always wins in my book.

Connecting with other bloggers who specialize in Disney is another great option too. Three such bloggers that I've found myself reading on a regular basis are:

WDW Prep School
Mouseter Planner
Love Our Disney

I've pinned some great posts from these bloggers about all sorts of topics from souvenir ideas to when is the best time to go.

20 unique Disney World souvenir ideas

Pros and cons of every Epcot restaurant.  This is a really helpful article -- and the links out to the menus (complete with prices) make it even more so!

There are also some great sites that can help you navigate the best way to do Disney on the cheap. I subscribe to the MouseSavers monthly newsletter. This site gives you not only discount information about the parks but also about other Disney trip experiences like Adventures by Disney and live events such as Disney On Ice

Happy Planning!


Our Magical Honeymoon

So it was brought to my attention by a friend of mine (not a blogger friend) that she was a bit confused why all of a sudden it has been all Disney all the time here. May is Disney month!!! I love Disney so much I couldn't just do a few posts here and there I decided to do an entire month : )

Kevin and I were extremely blessed to have been given our honeymoon hotel stay to us by good family friends, who just happen to be Disney Vacation Club members. We got to spend a week staying at the Villas at the Wilderness Lodge. Needless to say we are now really spoiled! It was the most amazing place.

Every Disney hotel has a theme, at the Wilderness Lodge the theme is sort of north woods and American west meet. When we stepped off the airport shuttle and walked into the massive five story open main lobby it took our breath away. There is wood and iron workings everywhere, the main lobby even has a little stream running through it to outside with a small bridge. Obviously the main lobby is the perfect place for photo opportunities! Everyone we encountered at the hotel was amazing and extremely helpful. After I figured out what all the concierge was able to assist us with including changing around our reservations, answering any totally random question my brain would come up with or just anything we needed in general they were my new best friends.

Since we were staying an entire week we decided to only visit each park once or hop. That would cut down on buying more tickets plus we had something else big we wanted to spend the money on ... a fishing excursion. Through my months of looking at every single page of information on the Disney website (seriously I look at everything and I still go back now and look, gotta plan for the next trip right?) I had found out that through Disney you could book a two or four hour guided trip on the Seven Seas Lagoon or Bay Lake right there on the property! It was incredible, they drove the boat, provided all the gear and directed you in the best ways to catch fish in Florida. We soon found out it was a little bit different than we were used to in Wisconsin. Even though it was different both of us came out with some great catches. I caught the three fish but they were the biggest and Kevin landed fifteen! He still is somewhat miffed I caught the biggest one though.

Kevin enjoyed it so much he ended up booking another excursion. I did not join him on that one, I went at got a massage at the Sturdy Branches Health Club, which is on the Wilderness Lodge property. There are fancy scmancy spas at Disney but our family friends suggested looking into the health clubs or fitness centers located at some of the hotels since they would be significantly cheaper. She was right! It was pretty amazing and I even fell asleep during part of it. 

One of the things I was most looking forward to was getting pictures with all of the characters! I know it seems a little lame but I can't help it. I think I was able to get one with almost every princess too. There are a couple that I missed but I guess that just means we will have to go back again ... really soon ... 

The food at Disney is probably the one thing that Kevin will rave about to anyone who brings up Disney. Since we were on our honeymoon and didn't want to nickle and dime the trip we decided to do one of the dining plans. Boy we are still so happy we did! The deluxe dining plan allowed us to do a casual lunch and really nice dinner at tons of places. We ate like kings for the entire week at places like Cat Cora's Kouzzina and Akershus Royal Banquet Hall. I wish I had taken more photos of the beautiful plates that we had, some of them were almost works of art.  

Most people think that Disney is just for kids and that everything there will be really childish but this was a wonderful and magical trip. One we won't be forgetting any time soon that's for sure!


Tunes on Tuesday: Under-appreciated Disney Songs

With so many all star songs that are always at the front of people's minds and the top of their playlists it's easy to forget some diamonds in the rough. From way back in the beginning up until now there are tons of songs that are worth a second listen. Here are some I think you should give a little listen to ...

The Three Little Pigs from Silly Symphonies
When people talk about really good Disney songs they tend to miss the really early songs that were part of films like the Silly Symphonies or Make Melody Mine. Just in general these films are really neat and should not be missed! Most of them are based on some of the lesser talked about fairy tales or American folk tales like "The Three Little Pigs"

Bella Notte from Lady and the Tramp
This one almost made it to our wedding playlist instead of the Lion King song. I have always thought this was a beautiful song. "Bella Notte" has that old school Disney way about it starting off with the characters singing and then going into a choir/chorus singing the rest of it.

I Won't Say I'm In Love from Hercules
Hercules seems to be a more recent movie that has just been totally forgotten which is really sad. A great soundtrack going along with some great main and secondary characters. This song is wonderful because you get the sassy muses and strong willed Meg rocking out in this soulful not so typical love song.

I'll Make a Man Out of You from Mulan
A huge favorite of most Disney fanatics this is another song that goes under the radar in favor of the more popular "Reflection". This is a staple on my workout and cleaning playlists. Seriously try it sometime and I'll bet you'll get right down to business!!

Stand Out from A Goofy Movie
I was obsessed with this song and movie when it came out. It's so ridiculously amazing. I mean come on he's pretending to be a pop star, pulls off this awesome stunt and one of his friends/sidekicks is Pauly Shore. It's been so long since I've actually watched A Goofy Movie it really needs to get on my Netflix queue.

Forget About Love from The Return of Jafar
Usually I'm a HUGE snob about the whole sequel thing but I honestly think that Return of Jafar and this song are alright. So with that in mind I felt like it needed a mention.

Portobello Road from Bedknobs and Broomsticks
Bedknobs and Broomsticks is an amazing movie, made during the time where Disney did a ton of half animation and half real people movies.

Pink Elephants on Parade from Dumbo
There really are no words when talking about this song. I'm guessing it's not a very widely promoted song since it was an hallucination alcohol induced dream. It's so ridiculously crazy but at the same time great fun.

What Makes The Red Man Red? from Peter Pan
This song is definitely one of a few Disney songs that are really really controversial. Growing up I can remember playing this song and the entire Peter Pan record really over and over again. Yes the song definitely plays off of Native American stereotypes but I can't help but think about how as a child I thought it was the neatest thing that they first started blushing when they kissed a girl. If you haven't given any of the songs from Peter Pan a listen to you really should, it's got some fabulous songs.

Shiver My Timbers from Muppet's Treasure Island
Everyone seems to forget that the Muppets are Disney. Muppet's Treasure Island was the second Muppets film put out by Disney, following after Muppet's Christmas Carol. This has an all star human cast with Tim Curry and Billy Connolly, who was the only person to die in a Muppets movie! You really can't go wrong with a pirate song!

What's your favorite under the radar Disney tune?


Disney Inspirations

So last week ended with a lot of sass being thrown around so this week switching things up and throwing some inspiration your way. What you get inspired for that's your choice. One thing I've always loved is that in so many cases even though these are children's movies and many of the characters are children themselves they say some pretty darn profound things.

These are just a few of my favorites from Disney the man and the movies. I hope reading these has brightened your day a bit! I know I'm feeling incredibly inspired right now ... inspired to ... clean the house! Since that's what my Friday night is going to consist of I guess I had better use my new found inspiration to it's max right?!


Disney History

I didn't want to spend the entire month just chatting about my favorite Disney things we obviously need go back and take a look at the man behind the magic right?! When I started researching and writing this topic I didn't realize just how much happened in his life and all he did. This one will definitely be a to be continued topic!!

Walter Elias Disney was born December 5, 1901 right here in Chicago. His home, 2156 N. Tripp Avenue, is located in the northwestern Hermosa neighborhood. Born to Irish-Canadian father, Elias Disney, and German and English mother, Flora (Call) Disney, they spent four years in the Chicago area before moving to a farm in Marceline, Missouri.

During this time Disney's love of drawing and trains developed thanks to neighbor Doc Sherwood and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway trains running through the town. Spending just another four years in this location the Disneys soon packed up and moved to Kansas City. One of his favorite things to do in Kansas City was to take his little sister Ruth to Electric Park, in his later years he acknowledged the role it had in his design of Disneyland.

After his father acquired shares in the Chicago O-Zell jelly factory the family moved back to Chicago in 1917. While he was attending high school Disney started night classes at the Art Institute of Chicago, working on his cartoons, but he soon dropped out of school at 16 an attempted to enlist. Rejected for being too young, he did end up driving an ambulance in France after the 1918 Armistice was signed. Right away in 1919 Disney decided he would head back to Kansas City and decided to keep pursuing a career in drawing. With the help of his brother, Roy, Disney landed a job at Pesmen-Rubin Art Studio where he met his short lived business partner Ubbe Iwerks. They formed the Iwerks-Disney Commercial Artists company but since both actually had to make a living to survive they started working for the Kansas City Film Ad Company.

It was here where Disney got his first taste of animation through making commercials based on cutout animations. After learning more about the different types of animation at the time Disney came to the conclusion that cel type animation was going places where as the cutout animation was not! He then decided to start his own company and took coworker, Fred Harman, with him. Together they started to produce their cartoons called Laugh-O-Grams. Unfortunately being so debt ridden and unable to pay his employees salaries Disney ended up bankrupt.

Only down for a little bit Disney decided to take his dreams out west to Hollywood and started Disney Brothers Studios with Roy. In 1925, Disney hired a young woman named Lillian Bounds to ink and paint celluloid. After a quick courtship, they married that same year, on July 25, 1925. After some success with their live action and animation series, Alice Comedies, Disney a bit of a bump in the road with Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. While it was a success when Disney attempted to get increased pay, Universal Pictures said no way and let him know that they owned the rights. Again loosing all his staff because of the refusal Disney found himself starting again.

Right away Disney hopped right back on the horse and worked on developing a new character, a mouse based on a former pet. Originally the mouse was supposed to be named Mortimer but some nudging by wife Lillian to come up with a more approachable name, Mickey was born. Drawn by Iwerk and voiced by Walt, Mickey came alive first in Plane Crazy and The Gallopin' Gaucho, both of which were silent films. It wasn't until Steamboat Willie, came out with sound that people finally started to enjoy and love Mickey. 

As the 1930's progressed Mickey's popularity only grew. Silly Symphonies was a huge hit and gave the world many of Disney's more popular early shorts, including the most successful Disney short of all time The Three Little Pigs.

Soon after Disney started on what would be his first full length animated film. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Despite being dubbed Disney's folly after it's release in 1937 it was a smash success! Disney won an Oscar and was able to expand his Burbank studios. Soon after beloved classics like Pinocchio, Peter Pan, and Fantasia were in the works. During World War II Disney was asked to send animators to South America and develop Saludos Amigos as part of the government's Good Neighbor policy. After a couple of war films that didn't perform well and Bambi under performing at the box office, Disney released another Good Neighbor film in 1945, The Three Caballeros

To be continued ... 


Disney Sass

Now that I'm older and wiser to the ways of the world as I watch Disney movies I've begun to notice and incredible amount of sass. We're not talking just a little here either, sometimes the comments can be downright mean! The looks that some of the characters give are out of this world too. It's funny you would think that it's just the more modern movies but oh no old school Disney has it's share too.

I think after that we've had not just our daily but weekly amount of sass!! Hopefully I didn't miss any really good ones! Happy sassy weekend ; )



DIY Photo Canvas

Even though we took a ton of photos during our honeymoon at Disney I've realized that we only put up one. I've been looking to find new ways to add more photos to our condo without having to buy frames. I realized a few weeks ago that the canvases I stocked up on (thanks Michaels for the buy one get three sale!) would be perfect to try out a new DIY project on. 

- Pre-stretched canvas

- Cute paper or fabric, pre-cut to fit the sides of your canvas
- Photo(s)
- Paint brushes or sponge brushes
- Mod podge 
- Towel
- Ruler


1. Make sure your strips of paper or fabric are cut to fit the sides of your canvas. Trust me you don't want to double check after you've started applying Modge Podge.
2. Apply Modge Podge to the each side of the canvas and adhere the paper/fabric. As you're applying it make sure to smooth it down so there are no bubbles. I find that using the edge of a ruler and going nice and slow really helps with the smoothing. Let dry.
3. After the sides are dry apply Modge Podge to the front of the canvas.* Place the photo on top of the canvas and start to smooth out the photo. It's usually best to start from the middle and work out. Also if needed a soft towel can help you with this. Let dry.

4. After it has dried go back and apply a very thin layer of Modge Podge on the front of the photo. It will look milky when you apply it but will soon dry clear.

*You could apply it to the back of the photo and flip it but I prefer my chances with it already on the canvas!