Magnificent Medieval Times!

We were recently talking about taking our 7-year-old to Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament and so I booked tickets for this past weekend as a Father’s Day surprise for my husband. He and I had been there with adult family members about 15 years ago. The show’s format was basically as I remembered, though this time, the yelling and screaming and cheering for our knight and chanting our knight’s colors “Red & Yellow! Red & Yellow!” all while sitting with our excited, bouncy kid, made the experience even more fun.

Magnificent Medieval Times | theinspiredparent.com

Our closest Medieval Times is in Schaumburg, IL — a suburb outside of Chicago. There are currently nine locations in total (eight in the U.S. and one in Canada). I often see coupons/discounts online for the show and by doing a quick web search, I found a “summer discount” of 40% off each ticket and applied the coupon code at checkout. Discounts vary by location and days of the week, but if you are flexible with dates, you can definitely find some great deals for the show.

There are three upgrades to the basic tickets — the King’s Royalty Package, the Celebration Package  & the Royalty Package — they include various levels of priority VIP seating and other fun extras such as group photos & announcements by the King during the festivities. We went with the least expensive upgrade — The Royalty Package. This gave us Priority Castle Access, VIP seating, Priority Seating Access, Knight’s Rally Towels, Cheering Banners and VIP Lanyards. The package was an additional $12 per person and was worth it as we truly did have awesome seats & it was quite fun using the rally towels & cheering banners during the show.

Medieval Times | theinspiredparent.com

Doors opened 75 minutes prior to our 4:30 p.m. show. They recommend getting there as early as possible after the doors open to obtain the best seats — they are assigned once you arrive at the castle in whichever category you purchased. It’s quite the brilliant strategy on their part from the sales standpoint, as it gets show-goers in the castle nice and early in hopes of obtaining the best seats & that means there is more time to browse & buy souvenirs & drinks while meandering through the castle before the show begins. There are several kiosks with everything from light-up swords to fancy crowns to toys and decorative figurines and more. They also have a few bar areas set up where you can purchase beverages of both the alcoholic and non-alcoholic varieties to take with you while you explore. You can even pre-order bottles of wine for during the dinner show.

Although you are slightly bombarded with things to potentially purchase, it was a lot of fun arriving early. They do some pre-show festivities during that hour in the Great Hall. For those who pay a bit extra, you can participate in a knighting ceremony — we didn’t purchase that experience, but it was fun to watch. The actors did a great job with the pre-show theatrics and getting everyone pumped up & excited to be there.

After we watched several guests participate in the knighting ceremony, we decided to explore the castle. They have some neat artwork in different areas as well as various historic artifacts on display. We strolled through one section and ended up running into the Royal Falconer along with a beautiful, 9-year-old falcon named Liberty who was going to perform in our show. It was very cool for the kids (and their adults!) to see the falcon up close and have the chance to ask lots of questions & learn about how falcons were used back in that time period. Arriving early was worth it for that experience alone.

Medieval Times Royal Falconer | theinspiredparent.com

The Royal Falconer & 9-year-old Liberty. It was wonderful having the chance to see the falcon up close before the show and to learn more about these gorgeous creatures!

You can also see the horses ahead of time if you head to another area when you first arrive, but we didn’t get over to that section of the castle in time, so the horses were already “backstage” prepping for the performance. We’ll definitely head over there early on our next visit.

If you have time and are interested, there is a Torture Museum at the castle as well — I hear it’s pretty cool so we’ll have to check that out down the road. We skipped it this time around since we figured it might be a bit too intense for our little one.

Just as we finished up talking with the Royal Falconer, they announced that the doors to the arena were opening. Since we had purchased one of the VIP upgrades, we were allowed to enter the arena right away. The servers were fantastic and ours, in particular, was great fun! He joked with the kids in our row every time he came by and got a great reaction when he told our daughter and the little boy she was sitting next to that the chicken he was serving was actually a baby dragon like Spike from My Little Pony. That got huge “eewwwwws” from all the kids as well as lots of giggles!

Our awesome server (center) took part in the opening ceremony & he made sure to wave to our section to get all of us cheering for the Red & Yellow Knight. He made our dining experience such a treat!

Our awesome server (center) took part in the opening ceremony & he made sure to wave to our section to get all of us cheering for the Red & Yellow Knight. He made our dining experience such a treat!

The food was great — I remembered it being tasty last time as well. The kids all got a kick out of the fact that there are no utensils so you have to eat everything with your hands & drink your soup out of the bowl without a spoon. The meal consisted of garlic bread, a super yummy tomato bisque soup, roasted chicken that was perfectly moist with a still-crispy skin, corn-on-the-cob, herbed roasted potatoes, two rounds of select beverages (our choices were cola, lemon-lime soda, iced tea & lemonade). For dessert, we had an apple turnover & they served coffee as well. During dinner you can also order other beverages from the bar, for an additional charge.

I won’t spoil the theme & background story of the show, but as for the logistics, each section of the arena is assigned a specific knight who is yours to cheer on to victory. We were seated in the section for the Red & Yellow Knight. We were also technically able to cheer on the Green Knight and the Blue Knight since they were on our side of the arena as well, but had to watch out for the Yellow Knight, Black & White Knight and the Red Knight…they were our foes.

Go Red & Yellow Knight!!!!!

Go Red & Yellow Knight!!!!!

Red & Yellow Knight - Medieval Times | theinspiredparent.com

The two-hour show includes demonstrations of Falconry, Horsemanship, Weaponry & Jousting. Some segments of the show are in tournament format — knight against knight — and some other parts add to the drama of the overall story. In addition to enjoying the various games & battles (the sparks coming from the swords during the battle scenes were a huge hit!), we all really enjoyed watching the horses.

The price of the tickets was more than worth it just to see the reaction of sheer amazement from our daughter when the first horse came running out through the fog…her jaw dropping to the floor paired with her long, drawn out vocalization of “WHOA….they are BEAUTIFUL…!!!!!!” was priceless to us. The horses truly were stunning & their gentle gracefulness was lovely to see.

Medieval Times | theinspiredparent.com

Medieval Times | theinspiredparent.com

Medieval Times | theinspiredparent.com

Medieval Times | theinspiredparent.com

Medieval Times | theinspiredparent.com

Medieval Times | theinspiredparent.com

Gorgeous horses, beautiful costumes, great show!

The Royal Falconer & Liberty, who we met pre-show, did a fantastic job during their performance. It was really cool watching Liberty soar throughout the arena and overhead, as well as work with the Royal Falconer.

Medieval Times | theinspiredparent.com

Medieval Times | theinspiredparent.com

Our Red & Yellow Knight didn’t win this particular tournament, but he sure was fun to watch! Our daughter was quite happy that he threw a flower to her during dinner, too. :)

Medieval Times | theinspiredparent.com

The six knights ready to compete!

The six knights ready to compete!

Medieval Times | theinspiredparent.com

Medieval Times | theinspiredparent.com

Of course there has to be a villain…the mood sure shifted when he was around…and at the end he appears to have been captured, but you won’t know for certain unless you go and see the show!

Medieval Times | theinspiredparent.com

Medieval Times - Capturing the Villain | theinspiredparent.com

We will definitely head back again and this time we won’t wait another 15 years. As we were leaving the show our daughter asked if we could come back the next day. We told her that maybe we’ll go back this fall for her birthday…in this case, maybe is definitely a “yes.” We look forward to surprising her with the timing of our next visit.

Hope you have a chance to see Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament sometime soon! It is well worth the ticket price & a great way to spend a few hours with family or friends!

 

 

Thanks for sharing!Share on FacebookPin on PinterestTweet about this on TwitterShare on StumbleUponShare on Google+Email this to someoneShare on Yummly

Great Plants for Spring Color

Lilacs getting ready to bloom at a local park and Lady's Mantle in our yard after the morning rain.

Lilacs getting ready to bloom at a local park and Lady’s Mantle in our yard after the morning rain.

Ah, spring has officially sprung and all of the lovely plants are blooming and the buds on the trees are popping open. I love seeing all of the new growth this time of year (even if it makes my allergies kick in a bit). Seeing those pale greens and yellows at first…then all of a sudden some happy little daffodils & tulips start popping up and it’s so nice to get outside and start exploring.

Late last week we had two mornings of overcast skies & a light drizzle — perfect for capturing some of these early spring plants — so I threw on my rain jacket & went on a couple of rainy morning strolls with my camera.

Love the different colors when planted in a large group.

Love the different colors when planted in a large group.

Yellow Tulips | theinspiredparent.com

We live near a pretty park that is known for growing many varieties of lilacs. A few lilacs like the ones in the cover photo were just starting to show signs of deep purple blossoms getting ready to pop. Masses of daffodils were blooming and some of the tulips were just starting to say hi. :) I will definitely head back there over the next couple of weeks as more tulips & lilacs begin to bloom.

Found these little treasures at the park - so pretty!

Found these little treasures at the park – so pretty!

Love the ruffles on these daffodils!

Love the ruffles on these daffodils!

Last fall we planted some daffodil bulbs in our backyard — two pretty varieties to add some cheerful color to the areas where our purple coneflower and shasta daisies will bloom later this summer. We’ve really enjoyed having the early-season color from the daffodils in that bed this year.

One of the varieties that we planted in our backyard. It's a long wait when you plant the bulbs in autumn, but such an exciting treat once they bloom in spring!

One of the varieties that we planted in our backyard. It’s a long wait when you plant the bulbs in autumn, but such an exciting treat once they bloom in spring!

A little early for the wonderful lilac scent, but that will be happening very soon by the looks of these!

A little early for the wonderful lilac scent, but that will be happening very soon by the looks of these!

Lady's Mantle - one of my favorites! | theinspiredparent.com

Lady’s Mantle – one of my favorites!

The photo above is of one of my favorite perennials — Lady’s Mantle. I shot this image last week during our morning rainstorm. I first noticed this little gem many years ago in Toronto at Casa Loma where they have a huge bed of it — the sprinklers had just gone off and I was intrigued by the water droplets on the leaves. When we moved into our house, Lady’s Mantle was at the top of my list of plants I wanted to add to our yard. I still love the way the leaves look after it rains — especially on the baby leaves that are just starting to sprout.

These are just a few of the happy plants I saw the other day. I also adore magnolias, but the timing wasn’t quite right to capture those the other morning since it was quite windy. Hoping to get some new shots of those very soon and will definitely keep shooting more of our plants as they start to bloom so I can post more of those throughout the season.

What are some of your favorite spring plants?

Thanks for sharing!Share on FacebookPin on PinterestTweet about this on TwitterShare on StumbleUponShare on Google+Email this to someoneShare on Yummly

Happy Earth Day!

There always seems to be a bit of debate regarding the origins of this quote but it still remains one of my favorites & is such a simple but important message: “We don’t inherit the Earth from our ancestors…we borrow it from our children.”

Hope you all have a fantastic weekend & are able to do something great for this third rock from the sun that we call home. We’ll be doing some gardening this weekend. :)

Every day is Earth Day!

Top Photo: Sand Beach at Acadia National Park in Maine. Bottom Photo: Lilacs ready to sprout at a local park this a.m.

Top Photo: Sand Beach at Acadia National Park in Maine. Bottom Photo: Magnolias on my nature walk this morning.

Thanks for sharing!Share on FacebookPin on PinterestTweet about this on TwitterShare on StumbleUponShare on Google+Email this to someoneShare on Yummly

Quinoa Enchilada Casserole

We love quinoa. This gluten-free, ancient superfood has been a staple in our home for several years — it’s a great substitute for pasta, rice or couscous. Mild in flavor, this extremely versatile grain pairs beautifully with all sorts of flavor combinations.

Quinoa Enchilada Casserole | theinspiredparent.com

We’ve made quinoa bowls for quite some time (black beans, quinoa, veggies, etc.) and decided to give it a try using enchilada sauce to change things up a bit. Added some of our favorite cheese sprinkled on top & baked it & our Quinoa Enchilada Casserole was born! We’ve cooked it at least once a month ever since. It’s a great dish if you’re feeling like comfort foods — keeps you filled up, reheats beautifully and is just as tasty at room temperature as it is piping hot out of the oven, so it’s great for a party if you’re serving buffet-style.

Best part is that you could easily change things up…maybe try a different bean combination, add some other veggies, make it spicy or keep it mild. The options are only as limited as your culinary imagination. Any which way, this is just one tiny sample of how scrumptious quinoa can be. Happy eating!

Quinoa Enchilada Casserole | theinspiredparent.com

Enjoy!

Quinoa Enchilada Casserole

We often make this with an additional 1/2 c. finely chopped red bell pepper as well (added in with the casserole ingredients). We also love making this with a combination of 1 c. red quinoa and 1 c. white quinoa…makes for a very pretty dish with the different colors. Our favorite cheese for this dish is Kerrygold Dubliner. We are not affiliated with the brand, we just happen to love that particular cheese.

Ingredients

    For the Quinoa Prep:
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • 1/2 c. carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 c. quinoa
  • olive oil
  • 4 c. water
  • For the Casserole:
  • 28 oz. enchilada sauce (canned or homemade)
  • 2 (4 oz.) cans chopped green chiles
  • 2 cans black beans, rinsed & well-drained
  • 3/4 c. frozen corn kernels
  • 2 c. shredded cheese (we use Kerrygold Dubliner, but you could use cheddar, muenster, or monterey jack or a combination of your favorites)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a medium saucepan, sauté the onion in a tablespoon or two of olive oil 'til translucent. Add the salt & garlic and sauté for another minute, stirring constantly. Add the quinoa and continue stirring for another minute. Add the water and bring to a simmer. Cover the saucepan & simmer for 14 minutes. Uncover & remove from heat.
  3. In a large mixing bowl place the cooked quinoa, enchilada sauce, green chiles, beans and corn - stir well. Add 1 c. of shredded cheese and stir to combine.
  4. Spread the mixture in a 9" x 13" baking pan (or similarly sized casserole dish). Sprinkle the remaining 1 c. of shredded cheese on top. Bake for 35-40 minutes until the cheese is lightly browned & bubbly.
http://www.theinspiredparent.com/quinoa-enchilada-casserole/

Thanks for sharing!Share on FacebookPin on PinterestTweet about this on TwitterShare on StumbleUponShare on Google+Email this to someoneShare on Yummly