Thursday, February 28, 2013

DIY Disney Gift Bag from Upcycled Park Map

Every now and then you need emergency gift wrapping while in Disney, someone in the party reveals it's their birthday, you find the perfect just-because gift, or you remembered the gift and the occasion, but forgot to pack wrapping paper. Whatever the situation, I know I've had need before. Well, here is your solution.

Every park, every resort and many other places around Walt Disney World have free maps available. I always grab two or three when we enter a park because I know my family, and they have a tough time keeping track of theirs. This means I usually come back to the hotel with extras. Even if you don't, just stop by the check-in desk. They always have them. This map is your new gift bag - it just needs to be folded. You may need to stop at guest services and ask if they have a glue stick (or tape) and a ruler you can borrow - or scope out the gift shop. It's Disney. Someone is bound to help a guest in need.

I'll save you the double post and simply direct you over to How About Orange's awesome tutorial on how to make a gift bag from a newspaper. The steps are easy to follow. The only change you will want to make is in the folding dimensions. The Disney maps are a bit bigger than the rectangle she uses. Instead of the sides of the bag measuring 4 1/2", you will want to make them 6 5/8". Everything else is the same.

Viola! You have the perfect wrapping for the perfect Disney gift, and it was upcycled to boot. Wouldn't Jiminy Cricket be proud? Until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Sometimes It Doesn't Go As Planned: Crystal Palace Lemon Square Recipe

The dirty little secret about a blog like this is that you often have to try things more than once. In fact, most things don't go as expected the first time out. Usually I can sprinkle a little fairy dust on it and make it just the way I like it. But every now and then, I have a complete flop; something that just isn't going to work no matter how many ways I try to salvage it. My most recent case in point: Crystal Palace Lemon Squares.

There are a lot of great sites out there with Disney recipes. And I am a huge fan of bringing a little Disney magic into the kitchen. And this lemon square recipe is ALL OVER the web. The same, exact recipe. The thing about it is, it's fatally flawed. The lemon curd part calls for a cup, A CUP, of butter. Most curds don't have any butter. I also calls for 1/2 an egg yolk; that's right, 1/2, whereas most recipes for lemon curd have several whole eggs. Not to mention the fact that there is no flour in it at all. I was skeptical about it, but I've never made these from scratch before, and butter is almost always better. Look at Paula Dean's recipes. But even as I was mixing it up, I knew it wasn't right.

My suspicions were confirmed. When it came out of the oven it was a liquid mess. The cookie crust was floating on a bubbling puddle of butter. It would never look (or taste) right, even after it cooled. And even Mr. Photos From The Parks couldn't salvage it. If HE can't make it work, then it's not going to. Period. Perhaps the most disappointing thing was the entire cottage's expectation for lemon bars, down the drain.

I do plan on asking for the recipe the next time we are at the Crystal Palace, just to see if it really is what they are giving out. (I desperately want to think that someone just transposed some ingredients or something.) If you happen to get there before I do and find the recipe, I'd love it if you'd pass it along to us. Until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

DIY Monsters Inc. Roz T-shirt

I'm a big fan of Monsters, Inc. The graphic design for the credits sends me over the moon! Every. Time. When I saw these eyeglasses (design id #7231) in the clearance shapes in the Silhouette shop a few weeks ago, they immediately reminded me of Roz. And I was struck with this t-shirt idea.

As I've mentioned before, I like to reference Disney without actually saying Disney. I suppose it's the Disney geek in me. This was the perfect way for me to do just that. I think if I were to do it again, I might try and add a chain to the glasses to give the illusion they are actually hanging around the neck. And of course, I made sure to wear it on a day we were in the Magic Kingdom, so it could be seen on the Laugh Floor.

This was my first attempt using the Silhouette stencil vinyl and fabric paint. I was VERY pleased with how this turned out. It looks and feels very much like silk-screening, especially after its first wash. And speaking of the wash, this shirt has survived many washings (and dryer-runs) with minimal cracking, and absolutely no peeling. Fabric paint is my new best friend.

A few tips on how to make this yourself: When burnishing the stencil onto the shirt, you have to work at it to get all the little pieces to adhere; keep at it, it's worth it. When applying paint to the a's and o's it's important to dab, not brush, and go slowly. You don't want to dislodge those inside circles. You may want to try on your shirt before you apply the stencil so you get the design in the right place. Use a safety pin to mark where you want the design to start. I was glad I did this, as the design was originally too low for my taste. And that's it! Follow the directions for the fabric paint and you are golden (or puce, as Roz might say). Until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

DIY Disney Door Slammer Jammer

This little gadget is the perfect take along if you are staying overnight in the Disney area. It would work beautifully for suites, adjoining rooms, DVC villas and even bathroom doors (if, like me, you have a toddler who likes to shut himself in yet can't get out). And it's small enough to fit in your suitcase with ease.

This would also be a unique (not to mention really cute) addition to a baby gift for the Disney enthusiast. You can open baby's door without turning the knob. Nice and quiet.

You know how I like my nap time projects! I could have made three of these in that time. And if that's not enough to convince you to make one, it's another fantastic way to use up your scrap stash, as it only requires a 6x6 swatch of fabric and a minimal supply list.

I used this tutorial over at Beffie48. (Her Etsy store is full of great stuff. Pop over and take a look.) It was super easy. A novice sewer could whip these up in no time. Even if you are like a certain friend of mine who only likes to sew in straight lines, you're good to go with this project. Anything to make life a little easer (and a dash more magical!) is a good thing in my book.

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

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

DIY Disney Pressed Penny Coin Purse

This could be my favorite DIY yet. I'll admit, I'm a big fan of the pressed penny machines. I save my pennies and quarters all year long. I love having something to do with the littles while the thrill seekers find their thrills. I've tried a couple different ways of carrying coins into the parks, but they are heavy and awkward in a bag. When I ran across these awesome iconic Mickey coin purse frames, I knew I had my solution!

First things first (because I know many of you will need to know): I ordered these purse frames from Etsy; they came all the way from Hong Kong. If you want to find your own, try looking at this shop. Just realize that shipping will take a while to get here, so plan accordingly. I may have squealed just a little at the post office when I went to pick them up. They really are so adorable!

This is also a great way to use up fabric scraps. I found another shop on Etsy selling crazy cute Japanese fabric themed with Disney; if you're interested, simply search for it in the supplies category. You'll have plenty of choices.

To make these I used this wonderful Purl Bee tutorial, as well as this tutorial, to create my own pattern. They were both very instructive. I would recommend making at least one practice purse before using your favorite fabric. There is a small learning curve. The frames I purchased had holes for sewing; I like the look of them better. So I did not use the tutorial for attaching the frame, nor did I need the rope they used. Instead, I used their instructions as a reference, and sewed the purses in with embroidery floss that matched the frame color. The stitching was visible on the inside of some, but I liked that you could tell they were handmade. I was giving them as gifts.

We hope you enjoy pressing those pennies, paying for your souvenirs, or just remembering Disney when you reach for your change. Until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

DIY Disney Pirate Onesie

I've mentioned before that we love having plenty of T-shirts while at Disney; this is especially true for our toddler set. And I especially love coordinating the onesies with the Quick Change Trousers I've made for them.

I have been able to find packages of plain onesies at Dollar General very reasonably priced. I would look around at your favorite discount shops for the best deal. This is great budget-friendly project. And it's another quick project (for those of you who have to find your creativity during nap time). I found this Yo Ho image all ready to go in the Silhouette shop. For those interested parties, it's pirate swords, image id 9329. From there it was as easy as downloading, printing on heat transfer paper, sending it through the Silhouette, and ironing it onto a plain onesie. 

Not only was this a great outfit for our little one in the Magic Kingdom at Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party (a seriously easy "costume" to pack), it would be perfect for Disney's Pirate Adventure. Don't forget about these children's activities hosted throughout the resorts. They are the perfect thing for a non-park day. Your little one can experience a bit of themed magic and you can take an hour or so for yourself. Now that's what I call a win-win! To hear what other veteran Disney Mom's think of these children's activities, take a listen to this PassPorter podcast about child care in Walt Disney World. There are some great bits of advice in there.

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

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Disney Valentine Onesie DIY

We have a new little addition around the cottage these days, and I just couldn't resist whipping up a Bambi inspired Valentine onesie for her. It was so simple with the Silhouette SD and some fabric paint.

I used the baby deer shape (Design ID #5505 ), the hearts from the sheep card (Design ID #25095), and the font Coolvetica. The text is lifted from the main musical theme from Bambi, "Love Is A Song." I made sure that my design would fit a 4"x4" box, which was just right for a 0-3 month onesie. 

Once I had everything placed as I liked it, I cut out the shapes on stencil vinyl. This tutorial from the Silhouette blog was extremely helpful in getting it transferred to the fabric. From there, I painted the shirt with two coats of fabric paint and let it dry. Voila! A cute Disney themed valentine for our sweet new bundle of magic! I'm tempted to make one in an adult size for me. Happy Valentine's Day to you and your family. Until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

DIY Disney Toddler Pants

I have a passion for sewing. Baby and toddler sewing is so quick, it's almost irresistible for me. I also happen to have a kid with extremely sensitive skin, so souvenir clothes require washing before wearing, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Making and taking our own is a perfect solution.

Here I used Anna Maria Horner's Quick Change Trousers pattern from Handmade Beginnings. I love this pattern because it's reversible. Those of us who have experience with kids in the parks know that sometimes, a reversible pant can save a photo op! Theme parks seem to have a way of throwing dirt on my kids without them even knowing it. This way, I don't have to carry multiple outfits into the park, and a mess truly is just a quick change to a clean pant. It's a win-win.

If you are an avid sewer, or fabric collector, these may even be a very budget friendly project. The smaller sizes requires under a yard for the main fabric, and the bottom patch can be made from less than 1/2  a yard easily. It was a great stash busting project for me!

I have had very good luck finding Disney licensed fabrics at JoAnn's, including what you see here, Winnie the Pooh, Phineas and Ferb, and Princess & Fairies galore! But don't think you have to spring for the licensed stuff. You can easily find fabric that calls to mind Disney without the branding (especially when those fabrics are in the parks). I have found fish/shark fabric in a Finding Nemo color scheme, generic pirate fabric (bottom right), little people dressed as you might find them in It's A Small World (top right), and non-Disney fairy tale illustrations. I've even used holiday fabric for the reverse when we were going to be in Disney over Halloween or Christmas. Use your imagination and take some time to browse. If you find it difficult to get to a store without a child nipping at your heels, Etsy has some terrific finds and you can browse those stores from the comfort of your own home. Etsy has it's own bonus as well: you can find fabrics there that aren't sold in the US (or wherever you're cottage is located). I love Japanese prints and there is definitely a Disney market in Japan. Sometimes you can find really unique fabric that's worth the time and cost of ordering.

And because some of you will ask, the licensed onsies were found at Walmart for under $5.00 each. The other two I made using the Silhouette SD. Stay tuned for tutorials on how to make your own Disney onsies. Until then, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Tinkerbell Treasures: DIY Haunted Mansion Ts

Last year, most of our kids were old enough to know that Tinkerbell is really me, so to speak. So instead of doing a daily gift, I made a sort of Disney care package. Something to get the vacation off to a magical start. And nothing is better than a one-of-a-kind Disney souvenier to pump the excitement level up another notch.

We usually travel in the fall, with a crew of boys and girls; the bigs are between the ages of 12 and 9 and the littles are still toddlers. It can be tricky to make something that appeals to all ages and both genders, but with a little tweaking, it can be done.

T-shirts are the great equalizer. All kids need shirts and most of ours are trashed by the end of our vacation (Mickey ice cream bars, those sharpies in Epcot, turkey legs, and ketchup do a number on our kids' clothes). An additional T is always welcome. 

I like to reference Disney without using the licensed images when I can. It fosters creativity and is almost always cheaper. Here, I used my Silhouette SD, design id #12940 (bat flourish) to reference the Haunted Mansion. I then added my own monogram using Ravenscroft font. You can certainly find commercial iron-ons and patches, but I like to make our Ts something that no one else in the parks will have. It's especially satisfying when a complete stranger asks where they can get one of those Ts! For these, I used Silhouette Printable Heat Transfer Paper for the T-shirt on the left, and inkjet transfer/iron-on paper (which can be found at any office supply or craft store) for the T-shirt on the right. 

The trick is remembering to reverse the image before printing or you will get a mirror image of the original design. As you can see, I forgot to do that for the T-shirt on the right! Fortunately, the image was fine both ways.

One criticism I have of the Silhouette heat transfer paper is that it only lasts about 4 washes before the image starts to peel right off. It helps to wash the shirts inside out. Otherwise, these were perfect for Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party. And If you've never been to this special ticketed event, our family highly recommends it. The lines are super short, the parade and fireworks are more magical than ever, and they are giving away candy all over the park. We've attended the Party two different years, and we've been delighted both times.

You can expect to see lots of custom T-shirts featured here in Merryweather's Cottage; as I said, we can never have too many! Stay tuned for more great designs, and until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Tinkerbell Treasure Hunting

We all know that Disney merchandise is expensive in the parks. It's unique, only available on property, and there is something terrific about buying your souvenirs there. And I am a firm believer in finding something special on every trip. But doing some legwork before you go can save a little money and most importantly create a bit if extra magic for your family.

When the kids were littler (& believed that Tinkerbell visited our rooms each night) I liked to leave small items every day. Of course you could be sure to leave a little fairy dust (glitter or mickey confetti) around to encourage that idea. Little ones don't usually need a lot of help imagining that Tinkerbell actually visited, especially if you are staying on property. You are, after all, in a magical place. Just be sure to tip housekeeping a little extra if the glitter gets carried away. It also helps to promote the idea of Tinkerbell's visits if you don't get all your trinkets from the gift shop in your hotel. Our savvy kids started to catch on to this. (Another good reason to look for Tinkerbell Treasures - a little cheaper - before you go.)

I like to scope out the Dollar Store first. They have a plethora of licensed merchandise that works well for a daily gift. In the past I have found bouncy balls, jump ropes, mini Frisbees, stickers, crayons & coloring books, stamps & ink pads, small puzzles, and wrist watches. It's especially plentiful if a new animated movie has come out recently.

The second place I like to check is the dollar bins at Target. They often have themed merchandise in the $1.00 - $3.00 range. Don't forget that Disney also encompasses the Star Wars stories and the Avengers. I can often find this for our boys at the Target stores.

Finally, I like to check out the clearance and $1.00 bins at JoAnn Fabrics. They will often have little craft packs that are perfect for the airplane (or car), or the days you don't go into the parks.

The most important thing is to keep your eyes peeled. You never know when you might stumble upon something that's just perfect. And keep in mind you have to get this all into your suitcase for the trip there; the smaller treasures are always my first choice! Happy hunting, and until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Tinkerbell Treasures

The first time I thought about leaving "Tinkerbell Treasures," we were traveling with a group of 21. My husband and I had booked everything - including Cinderella's Royal Table for, that's right, 21 people! (certainly my biggest Disney coup!) We felt like the unofficial hosts of the party even though most of us had traveled there together too many times to count. I decided to try and make some things before I went that would be a fun little surprise every morning. I made up little personalized magnets, embellished acrylic picture frames, gave everyone 2 quarters and a penny for the pressed penny machines. And it proved to be big fun; quite possibly I had the most fun preparing everything. I'm like that. Planning is half the fun when going to Walt Disney World.

Since then, the Tinkerbell Treasures have grown a bit more sophisticated, and the DIY gifts have become a staple of our trips. We are lucky, we have good friends and family who love Disney as much as we do, and go just as frequently. It offers a lot of opportunity to make some extra magic along the way!

When planning my Tinkerbell Treasures I usually go one of two ways. I either use licensed merchandise (available at most discount/department stores), or allude to Disney experiences, movies, etc. without the licensed products. You'd be surprised at what you can do with just a little money. I try and set a budget for the Tinkerbell gifts, but as with most things Disney, I tend to go over that budget. But those of you with more will-power can easily set a budget of $1.00 - $3.00 a day. The excitement you generate, and the mood you set for the day, will pay off in spades. Trust me.

Tinkerbell Treasures will be a regular feature here in Merryweather's Cottage. We hope these magical ideas will add some unexpected delight to your trips.

May your days be filled with fairy dust!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Making DIY Disney Magic

I grew up going to Walt Disney World. It was the only place my family traveled to that didn't involve staying at grandma's house. I have fond memories of our drives in the motorhome listening to Kenny Rogers 8-Tracks, tallying license plates from all 50 states, talking with my dad in the wee hours of the morning while the fog was still thick on I-75. It was all like a dream - and then we arrived at the most magical place on earth: Walt Disney World.

I was about 9 years old when I realized that my Dad was doing little extra things to enhance the magic of our trips. My favorite was when he made us all golf cart licenses. We always stayed at Fort Wilderness, and getting around that resort can be difficult. That year, each camp site in our party had a golf cart and naturally, all the kids wanted to take a turn driving. He went to the Trading Post, grabbed some Disney stationary, and a couple hours later we were all earning our driver's license, Disney style. I was hooked.

Since then, there have been a string of DIY projects prior to our trips; everything from a Monorail Cocktail party for planning, to making ornaments to hang on a tree at our campsite one Christmas (the housekeeping staff was not too keen on that one), to designing my own backpack. Disney holds a special place in my heart and I absolutely love making each trip as special as can be. You can never have too much pixie dust in Disney.

I now have three kids of my own, and love to keep surprising them with magical moments in Disney. Doc is our eldest; at 11 he already knows Walt Disney World like the back of his hand. He's been to every park, eaten lunch with an imagineer and found just about every hidden Mickey the parks can offer. Happy is our two-year-old. He's so easy going we never have to worry about him while in Disney. And Minnie is our littlest wonder. She's only been to the parks in utero, so our next vacation will be her first big trip!

We'll be hosting all sorts of projects on the blog. Disney fans young and old are sure to find treasures here. If you have an idea you'd like to see come to life, or if you'd like to share some magic of your own, don't hesitate to ask! We encourage a free flow of ideas here in the cottage. Nothing is too big or too small to consider. Until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!