Saturday, November 22, 2014

From Belle's Library | Disney War by James B. Stewart

Reading Disney War is like wading through a swamp. At the beginning, it seems like a formidable task, but you have the gumption, you believe in the team, you know you can do it. By the end I'm screaming at the book, "fire the son of a bitch already!!" It was a good read, a long read, a very informative and well documented read. I hesitate to say I liked the book. That's like saying you liked Schindler's List. It was a great movie, but to like it makes you a sadist. Same thing here, on a much lesser scale. (Although if I had worked for Michael Eisner, I might think the scale was accurate.)

This book, Disney War, is all about the rise and fall of Michael Eisner within the Disney company. I wasn't paying much attention to all of this political and economic drama. I was busy getting through my own high school and college drama. It just wasn't part of my world. But reading this book was extremely eye-opening. We had family who were shareholders at the time of the Save Disney campaign and I was paying a little bit of attention to their side of the story. But still. I had no idea the depths to which this saga sank. There's no possible way to sum it all up here. Suffice it to say, I can't imagine a person with such a lack of human dignity as Michael Eisner is portrayed. Nevertheless, there is little doubt this portrayal is anything less than accurate. Eisner had a habit of putting his thoughts on paper and in email that were later subpoenaed in two court proceedings. It seems the rumors of his narcissistic personality are true. And it's hard to believe this man had 20 years at the helm of Disney. As they say, the truth is stranger than fiction.

This was very interesting history and after having read two Pixar books it was interesting to read one from the other side of the table. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is a Disney buff and who is interested in corporate intrigue. It's extremely well written and kept me waiting for the inevitable investor coup.

Until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

DIY Hand Knit Cruella DeVille Inspired Cowl

 One of my favorite villains from the Disney library is Cruella DeVille. She has her own theme song, she's wickedly audacious and her penchant for fashion should make us all jealous. When I saw this cowl pattern (which also has matching gloves, hat and shawl!) I was immediately reminded of her. And I had to have it; all of it! I'm not usually drawn to these sorts of things, but I must have been channeling my inner Cruella. It makes me smile just to think of wearing it. And obviously, while I'm wearing it too!

This set of patterns is called Frost. (I actually was thinking of Frozen when I saw the name.) The booklet itself is $15 for all four patterns. The corset patterning of the knitting in this cowl gives it a little more interest and helps it stand up to the ostentatious "fur." This cowl is also shaped in such a way as to keep the right side facing out at all times instead of turning in on itself like most cowls do. I love this attention to detail. It's not the sort of mindless knitting I thought it was going to be, but it was worth doing it right. And the pattern made it very easy to follow.

I took some liberties with the materials, mostly because the yarn in the pattern book has now been discontinued, so I had to find a replacement. I decided not to splurge so much on this yarn and went with the Hobby Lobby brand Lace in ivory. I also went wanted something synthetic for the fur, (not so very Cruella of me I realize), but that would drape nicely and not look like fun fur. I went with Lion Brand's Romance in ivory. I am very pleased with how this looks! And bonus for me, all the yarn was 50% off, so the materials to create this cowl were under $10. This looks far more expensive than that! It's definitely going to be my "dressy" accessory for a night out at Dance Kaleidoscope! Until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Packing for Disney 101 | Packing Schedule for Peace of Mind

I've said it before and I'll say it again, packing for Walt Disney World can be a marathon! This is our packing area just a few days before our last trip!

 It's stressful to try and remember everything you might possibly need. I have developed a system over time for how I try and get everything done, so we can have the best trip possible. Today, I'm sharing my packing schedule with you too! This is just how we do it, and it only relates to packing. There are lots of variables, but it should help get you thinking about the things you need (and want) to have. I've also tried to spread it out over several weeks for the least stressful packing experience. If you fly, you might need to alter this a bit, but for the most part, it works for us in either situation. For your convenience I have compiled this Complete WDW Packing schedule as a downloadable PDF checklist.

I hope it's helpful for you and your families; until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Complete WDW Packing Schedule
©Merryweather’s Cottage

One Month Before
  • Decide if you are taking your own stroller; if not, place a rental order (same thing goes for wheelchairs and/or motorized scooters)
  • Place grocery delivery order if using this service in Florida
  • Get (purchase, rent, borrow) a car carrier if you need one and don’t already have one

Two Weeks Before
  • Get Tinkerbell Treasures/Road Trip goodies
  • Decide if you are going to ship anything to yourself at the hotel; order anything you may need from Amazon to deliver to your hotel (diapers, etc.)
  • Pull out luggage you will use and tag it with names (We have one bag per person, one bag with our pool gear, and one overnight bag for the family that we take into the hotel. Our road trip entails one overnight stop in the Atlanta area. This way we don’t have to unpack the entire van for just one night.)
  • Figure out which knitting project you are taking and collect all supplies needed to complete it
  • Download new audiobooks, apps, videos, etc. to devices
  • Make sure all meds are filled; call in refills if necessary
  • Make packing lists for all members of the family (I use the Travel List app.)

One Week Before
  • Vacuum your vehicle out thoroughly
  • Round up all Disney items that you like to have with you and pack them in bags
  • Package up road trip/airplane goodies and Tinkerbell Treasures
  • Pull out clothes to pack (especially if you are traveling out of season or the kids have magically grown a size!)
  • Start doing laundry!
  • Round up cameras and lenses and pack them
  • Clean up phone (delete texts, pictures and video that are taking up valuable storage space on your phone; use cloud storage to save special items.)

Four Days Before
  • Put a hold on all deliveries (CSA, milk, mail, Amazon, etc.)
  • If not using grocery delivery service, pick up any groceries for your trip, while on the road and at the resort
  • Stock freezer at home with a couple frozen meals for your return home
  • Pack dry goods in bags or boxes for the car
  • Confirm grocery delivery (if using)
  • Put car carrier on your vehicle
  • Locate your reservation info, tickets, magic bands, etc. and pack them in your carry on (or easily retrievable spot)

Two Days Before
  • Pack all clothes for all people (if using Travel List, print lists for those old enough to pack themselves)
  • Consider putting outfits in Ziploc bags by day to ensure your photos coordinate (at least early in the day!)
  • Pack up pet’s stuff for the kennel, or make list for pet sitter
  • Make sure insurance cards will be with you as well as any other travel documents you may need
  • Stock and pack your medical kit

One Day Before

  • Charge all electronic devices (including external batteries, tablets, phones, e-readers, camera batteries, etc.)
  • Round up all charging cords and plugs and put them all in one place (I use a small drawstring bag)
  • Pack toiletries (get ready from them the morning you leave to ensure you didn’t forget anything crucial.)
  • Pack diaper bag(s)

Morning of Departure

  • Collect all electronics
  • Pack cooler if you are taking one
  • Place all bags by the front door

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Scrapping On The Fly in Walt Disney World

I have made no secret of my love for Project Mouse. I have used it to scrapbook our family's last several Disney trips, as well as a few other layouts, and it's sure to be used to scrap the next several trips as well. But recently, I have also found the Project Life app. I love the flexibility it offers, how easily I can create layouts and record memories. 

I really wanted to be able to incorporate using the Project Life app into my scrapbooking as well. The Project Mouse kits are not offered as part of the Project Life app and I was lamenting this to my friend, Flora, on our recent trip to Disney. She suggested I save the cards from Project Mouse as pictures and then import them into the app when I want them. And you know what? It works! This is revolutionary for my scrapping habits, y'all! I could actually be current in my scrapbooking within the next year. That has never happened to me before! I welcome the possibility.

I am a devoted Mac user, so all my equipment is from Apple. If you are an android user, perhaps this could work for you as well, I have no experience with that. All I know for sure is that doing it this way, with iPhoto, the use of iCloud, and my iPhone, this process worked for me! 

Here's exactly how I made it happen:

  1. I selected all the cards I thought I might want while on our last Disney trip and imported them into iPhoto.
  2. I moved all those cards into an iCloud album called Disney Cards.
  3. When I was ready to journal on one of them, I opened it up in Rhonna Designs (I used this app because I love the fonts available, but any app that allows you to add text to photos would do the trick.)
  4. I added the text I wanted to the photo and saved it to my camera roll (or photos).
  5. I opened up the Project Life app.
  6. I added the card I just edited as a photo in the layout. Voila! The layout is done and my favorite Project Mouse cards were used!
All these cards were scrapped in the moment (or shortly there after) in Walt Disney World or on the road home. I cannot tell you how much I love being able to capture my thoughts about our trip, and any of the little details, before they are gone. 

I don't like scrapping out of order, so I am usually having to remember long after the fact what we were doing and who was happy (or not) about it. But by creating these cards the day the moment happens I can get those thoughts down before they are gone. And when I save the image, it's in order in my photo stream so I will see it when I go to scrap the layout! No more forgetting the little things! I could not be happier! Scrapbooking just got a whole lot easier.

Until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Organizing your Disney Parks & Road Trip Paraphernalia

To say that we have a lot of Disney merch is to put it mildly! And we have lots of things we like to take back to Disney on every trip. We're nostalgic that way, and enjoy making the most of our Disney toys. (You could not have convinced me in 2005 that the spinning Stitch light toy Doc just had to have during the Main Street Electrical Parade would still be played with in 2014!)

However, it's getting harder and harder for me to remember everything we have! So I decided to divide our stuff into two boxes, one labeled Road Trip and the other labeled Disney Parks. This way, depending on where we are going, I can quickly grab what I need without the mental effort of trying to remember what we've taken in the past and what we might want now.

So, what's in the boxes? Here's what I have in there:

Road Trip Box:

  • Car games (auto bingo, magnet boards, hangman)
  • Crayons and coloring books
  • Color Wonder markers and books
  • Any goody bags that didn't get used the last time
  • A note to myself about what the kids liked or didn't use last time

Disney Parks Box:

  • Disney hats (mouse ears, Merryweather's hat, etc.)
  • Our park bags
  • Disney books (hidden mickeys, trivia, etc.)
  • My Pal Mickey (yes, we still have ours!)
  • Pressed Penny books and coin purses
  • Pins and lanyards
  • Parade Toys from years past
  • Extra luggage tags from the Walt Disney Travel Co.
  • Disney ponchos

Sorting this as soon as we get home, and storing it in an out of the way place makes it so much easier for me to pack it up the next time we go! And around here, packing for Disney is an art form! I'll have a future post on my packing process, but this should help tremendously. I'm always curious about what others take with them to the parks. Feel free to share in the comments! 

Until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

DIY Crocheted Adult Sized Mickey Beanie

Show your Disney Side by sporting this cool Mickey Mouse crocheted beanie! It's starting to get cold out there and this could be the perfect accessory for those missing the magic of Disney.

This pattern from Repeat Crafter Me was easy to follow and FREE. It makes a hat for a baby. I, of course, needed something a little larger for me, so I used the measurements from a basic crocheted beanie pattern that used the same needles and yarn sizes, the ears from this pattern and voila! A new adult sized hat was born! I can't remember if I increased the size of the ears from the original, but you could always add a few more rounds if they seem too small for your taste. And by the way, Mr. Photos from the Parks is a gem for posing for these pictures for me!

If you are interested in making your own Mickey beanie, just search "Mickey Hat" on and you will find a wealth of patterns! Some are free and some you need to pay for, but I find that the patterns I pay for are generally easier to follow with extremely clear directions. Just something to consider.

Until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Sitting With Grandmother Willow | Amy of Main Street Designs

As part of our on-going series, Sitting with Grandmother Willow, I am happy to introduce Amy of Main Street Designs, a wonderful Etsy shop. This series of blog posts highlights artists and bloggers of all stripes with one thing in common: a passion for Disney!

Amy features Disney themed, special even stationary! Whether you're on land or at sea, Amy has a design that fits your event! I hope you will enjoy getting to know her as much as I have. A big thanks to Amy for taking the time to interview with us! And be sure to visit her shop for a great selection of Disney themed stationary!

Disney By The Numbers (with apologies to Harper's)

# of trips you have made: Between WDW, Disneyland and Disneyland Paris I think it is around 12. I wish it were more but flights from the UK are so expensive :(

Date of first trip: My Grandma first took me to Disneyland Park in October 1992 when I was 6 years old!

Date of next trip: October/November 2014 for our Disney Fairy Tale Wedding! We are so excited!

# of Resorts stayed in: Sadly we have never stayed onsite but for our wedding trip we are staying at Bay Lake Tower :)

Usual # in your travel party: 3

Pairs of mouse ears in your cottage: 3

WDW or Disneyland (or other)? Oooh! That is tough! We always go to WDW but my heart is with Disneyland. So many happy memories from both.

How do you usually travel to Disney? We take a 9 hour flight from the UK. It's long but definitely worth it!

Do you have any tips for trips? We try to get to the parks for opening, we find the crowds and temperatures lower so we can get more attractions done!

Do you have a favorite place to eat while in Disney? Yes! Beaches and cream! We go multiple times during our trips :)

What is your absolute DON'T MISS attraction? Pirates of the Caribbean has always been my favorite.

Stage shows, yes or no? Generally no but now we have our daughter (she will be 10 months old on our next trip) I'm sure we will be stopping to watch.

Parades, yes or no? Again, generally no, we like to take advantage of low wait times on the attractions during parade time. But, we are really looking forward to seeing Festival of Fantasy, it looks amazing!

Best Fast Pass to get: Soarin' and Toy Story Mania

Favorite park: Magic Kingdom

One piece of advice you'd give a novice about WDW/DL: Research, research, research! But be sure to have plenty of rest periods, WDW can be really overwhelming at first.

How do you create extra magic for your family? I love to show them new things each trip. My favorite was the first year we saw the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, I told them we were going to see 'some Christmas lights'. They were not expecting what they saw and their faces were priceless! It's still one of our favorite memories :)

How can we connect with you?
(Please feel free to include any social media outlets and your user id's so we can find you online!)
You can find me on Etsy:
Instagram: Mainstreetdesigns

Thursday, November 6, 2014

DIY Stitched Disney Park Map

Here's a fun way to add a little dimension to your scrapbooking, or create a unique keepsake from a special day at the Disney Parks: stitch a map with your route that day. It's simple and easy.

One thing I love about Disney are the maps. They are such an excellent tool, as well as being a great souvenir of the day! I am always trying to find new ways to use them, and new ways to enhance my scrapbook pages. This one turned out even better than I imagined!

I simply took a contrasting embroidery floss color and used a running stitch to chart our course from October 22, 2014. I stitched through the numbers on the map of the places we went. I plan on incorporating it into a scrapbook page with pictures of the day. I think this could easily be adapted for any of the Disney parks, and would be especially fun in Epcot's World Showcase where you could document kids at the Kidcot stops, completing Agent P's missions, or the adults frequenting the Food and Wine Festival booths! The possibilities are endless!

This would also look great framed, commemorating a special day in the parks. You could use a shadow box to put other ephemera around it, or just pop it in an 8x10 frame (this would cut off the legend though).

Let your imagination run with this idea! And if you do, I'd love to see how you use it! Until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

DIY Dole Whip Knit Hat

I saw this hat pattern on Pinterest and I knew right away that I was going to do a Dole Whip version for Doc! We are crazy for Dole Whips here in the cottage and we stop to get one whenever we have the chance. (Incidentally, we were delighted to find them at the Hilton Head resort too!)

This was a fairy simple pattern to knit up. The most difficult part of this pattern was figuring out how to put it together once I had knit it. It starts as a parallelogram. Easy enough to knit. But then you have to sew the cast on edge and the bind-off edge together to make a cylinder. That was not specified in the directions, and I had a devil of a time figuring that out! After that, I just gathered the top of the hat with something like a basting stitch and sewed up the gap. I had intended to put a pompom on top, but it was so cool just like this that I decided not to! And the gathered top was not nearly as bad as I thought it would look, so I decided I didn't need to hide it with the pompom.

You can find a link to the pattern and all the details for my hat on my Ravelry page. Until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!