Saturday, November 30, 2013

Disney DIY 12 Days of Christmas Ornaments | Wishing Star Ornament

Welcome back to our 12 Days of DIY Christmas Ornaments series! This ornament was so easy I can't believe I didn't think of this sooner!

About a year ago we had breakfast with the Princesses at Cinderella's Royal Table. We were even lucky enough to get seating before park opening, so we had some awesome opportunities for photos with just our family in them! Definitely something to think about when making your ADRs. There are lots of special little things that happen, and one of them is that you get a special plastic "wishing star" with your place setting. We are the sort of people who take all the little trinkets and freebies with us. It was cute, but it didn't really have a purpose and that gnaws at me a little. I like things to be meaningful and serve a purpose. So when I was thinking about my 12 days of Christmas project it dawned on me that we have 2 of these little cuties and they would be perfect on the Christmas tree!

The ornament itself was super simple. I cut a length of ribbon about 8", and stuck it in between the two stars while I superglued them together. That's it! So simple and a fun reminder of that morning at dinner. Of course, I could write the date and place on it with a Sharpie so the kids will know why it's on the tree when I am old and can't remember. But our tree is like that. It's a great big memory-keeper. And I love that.

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

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Disney DIY 12 Days of Christmas Ornaments | Park Maps Star

Today we have a very budget friendly ornament for your Christmas tree. I spent all of $1.00 to create it. And even better, this ornament is quite simple. I think anyone could make this for their own family or as an inspired gift. I like how this star shape references Disney's Hollywood Studios, but you could conceivably use any shape that suited your particular park map. (A castle for the Magic Kingdom, an animal shape for the Animal Kingdom, etc.)

I started with a paper mache star from the $1 bin at Michaels, and a map from Disney's Hollywood Studios. I traced the star onto the map making sure the parts of the map I wanted (i.e. The Sorcerer's Hat and Star Tours) would be visible. I then used Gel Medium to adhere the map to the star. If you don't have that, Mod Podge would work equally as well. I made sure to give it a good two coats and dried it thoroughly between each one. When it was dry, I went over the edges of the star with gold craft paint. It seemed to fit the glamor of Hollywood. As I have mentioned, I also love sparkly ornaments on the tree! And that's it! Once it was dry it was ready for display. You could further embellish this with a date from a family trip, or glitter and sequins. It's really all up to your creative whims!

I love the holidays, and I hope this project inspires you to  infuse a bit of Disney magic into your holiday season. Until next time, may your holidays be filled with fairy dust!

Monday, November 25, 2013

DIY Disney 12 Days of Christmas Ornaments | Silhouette Mickey Paper Ornament

Welcome back to our next 12 Days of Christmas project! You are going to love this ornament project; it was so easy! And if you have the supplies already, it might even be free! I didn't have the paper I wanted, so I went to my local JoAnn's and purchased this Disney themed paper for $1 a sheet. That felt expensive, until I realized I could make 9 ornaments from my 5 sheets of paper. That makes these ornaments 55¢ each. Not too shabby for trimming your tree on a budget! (Or for giving inexpensive gifts, or as a special embellishment for your gifts....)

To create this ornament I used the 3D Traditional Christmas Tree Ornament shape by Lori Whitlock (design ID 34926) for my Silhouette SD. I used the 7 setting on the blade for both the Disney paper, which seemed thicker than other scrapbooking paper, and the glitter card stock. It worked like a dream. I used bakers twine to create the hanger, but you could use any other ribbon or string you have on hand. I simply made a loop and taped it to the inside of the ornament. I used my tape runner to adhere the sides together and that was it! This is most certainly a nap time friendly craft. It took me under 15 minutes to make this from start to finish.

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

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Disney DIY 12 Days of Christmas Ornaments | Geodesic Ornament

Today we look at a beautiful geodesic orb ornament. And if cost-cutting is your objective this Christmas, you are gonna love this ornament! I was able to make if from completely free supplies and embellish it with objects I already owned. Nothing says "budget friendly" like "FREE!"

Here's the nitty gritty details:

I started with this tutorial from Balzer Designs.

My materials were all the same as those listed with the exception of scrapbooking papers; I used paint chip samples instead. I love them because the are nice and stiff and best of all, free! I used the larger ones, as I knew I would need to get a circle with a 1.75" diameter out of them. I also added a few supplies:
a bead for the end of the ribbon (from my mom's stash), a castle punch for embellishing (which I picked up at the parks years ago), a sharpie for personalizing the ornament, and glitter glue for the edges (both of which I already had on hand).

I followed the tutorial exactly. I wasn't too concerned about getting an exact match for the folds of the triangles. Because of this, my edges were a little uneven in some places. I solved this problem by adding the glitter glue to the edges. It worked like a charm. I also decided to add some writing to commemorate the trip we took in 2012. If you decide to do this too, write on the pieces BEFORE you adhere them to one another. It's much easier!

The entire project took me about an hour, with the exception of the glitter glue which takes a while to dry. One could easily make several of these over the course of two nap times. All in all, not a bad way to add beautiful ornaments to your tree for free!

I used colors that were inspired by Cinderella and her castle, but you could easily alter this to reflect your favorite Disney character, park, resort, ship, etc. I hope you enjoy creating your own unique Disney ornament. Until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

From Belle's Library | Creating Magic by Lee Cockerell

This month's book selection is Creating Magic: 10 Common Sense Leadership Strategies from a Life at Disney, by Lee Cockerell. I absolutely enjoyed reading this book. I loved it. Mr. Cockerell sets out to share his 10 guiding principles from a life of management inside and outside Disney. At first I wasn't sure I would really like this book, because I am a stay at home mom and blogger. My world is my kids and my craft room. I mean really, what can a book on management strategies have to offer me? As it turns out, a lot.

As the title says, these are common sense strategies and I found that I was able to apply several Disney principles to managing my family. I especially loved Chapter 9 entitled, "Burn the Free Fuel," the free fuel being admiration and recognition of your employees (or family members). As Lee says, this is a renewable resource. In fact, the more you do it, the more of it you have to burn. And there are some great stories about how Disney Cast Members are recognized in ways we, the guests, would never see. I'm a huge fan of Disney and I know working for the mouse has not always been lauded as wonderful, but knowing these stories, and there are lots of great stories, confirms for me that what I love about Disney is prevalent throughout the company, not just isolated to the guest experience. I almost makes me proud.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone. Not just the obvious managers, but to teachers and administrators, stay at home moms, nurses and caregivers, anyone who has to juggle the schedules of others and themselves. It's the sort of advice that can apply to everyone. And the sort of advice it's easy to forget in the daily hum of life. Thanks for the reminder, Lee.

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

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Disney DIY 12 Days of Christmas Ornaments | Egg Carton Ornament Tutorial

I'm a huge fan of the holidays! So this year for our inaugural celebration on the blog, we are going to do 12 day of Christmas with handmade tree ornaments. From now until Christmas you will see tutorials for 12 different ways to bring a little Disney magic to your Christmas celebrations! It's not the same as being at the parks, but for those of us who can't be there, this will be a way to remember the magic at this magical time of the year.

When my mom and dad were just starting out, they were strapped for money (as most of us are). They didn't have a lot of money for decorating the Christmas tree, so they got creative. I guess making ornaments out of egg cartons was popular in the 70s. My folks made these ornaments for their very first Christmas tree. Even though we can all afford a bit more, these are actually some of my favorite ornaments on our tree. We still put them up every year. And of course, I wanted to make some Disney themed ones, so let me show you exactly how I made them.

Materials you will need:

  • empty paper egg carton
  • paint (red & white)
  • thread or baker's twine (to hang)
  • card stock (black)
  • Disney punch (I used Mickey)
  • glitter glue
  • a button or bead

1. Cut Out and Prep Egg Carton
I used the pointy part of the egg carton instead of the shallow cups the eggs sit in. I cut out two of these and painted the insides of them white. I used two coats of paint as the egg carton material really soaked up the paint!

2. Punch Out Mickey and Prep for Hanging
I used a Mickey Mouse punch and punched him out of black card stock. I trimmed the card stock corners so it would fit in the space inside the completed ornament. I used my awl and poked a hole in the top of the Mickey paper and strung some thread through it, tying it into a loop; this will be the ornament hanger, so make sure it's long enough to loop over a branch.

3. Insert Mickey
I wanted my Mickey embellishment to dangle freely inside, so I tied a button to the thread about a half inch above the Mickey. This served as a positive stop for the thread and left room for Mickey to dangle inside the ornament. I then threaded the loop through the top of the egg carton piece. Mine already had a hole in the top; if yours doesn't, then simply use an awl to punch a hole through the pointed side of the egg carton piece and thread your loop of thread through it.

4. Glue Egg Carton Pieces Together
I used Gel Medium/Mod Podge to glue my egg carton pieces together, but Elmer's glue, Perfect Paper Adhesive or even Super Glue would work. To keep them in place, I used small hardware clamps. You could also use bulldog clips if you have them. I set this aside for about an hour to let it fully dry. Once it's dry you should have something that resembles an ornament. You just need to decorate it!

5. Paint the Ornament
I used red craft paint to cover the outside of my ornament. It only needed one coat of the red, but make sure you don't have any missed spots. I found that the egg carton paper made it difficult to get all the spots without a little touching up.

6. Glitter the edges
I like my tree (and my Christmas!) to sparkle. So I decided to use some glitter glue around the edges of the ornament to give it some pizzazz. I think it also helped to cover up some of the unevenness of the egg carton paper. Let it dry and you have your very own unique Disney-themed Christmas ornament! And for me, it was completely free. I had all the materials I needed at home! And wouldn't Jiminy Cricket be so proud of us?

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

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Thanksgiving Prep the Disney Way

Thanksgiving is a big deal holiday in our family; on par and sometimes even bigger than Christmas in terms of getting together and preparing. We have even done Thanksgiving in Disney a time or two, the most fantastic was definitely when my Aunt and Uncle reserved a Grand Villa at the Boardwalk and prepared our traditional Thanksgiving feast for the entire family. What fantastic memories we have!

One of the things we always do is create a schedule for cooking. Mr. Photos from the Parks is a sensational cook and always in charge of our meals. (Sometimes we have two feasts, one with our traditional menu and one with a less traditional menu. This is usually our "friendsgiving" meal.) I am usual in charge of the baking. We have a couple resources that we like to use.

The first is this adorable Disney Planner. You can download it here.

The second is this handy chart that King Arthur had in one on its magazines last year. It's extremely helpful in timesaving for this busy mom! It gives a break down of everything that can be prepared up to 5 weeks in advance and how to freeze and reheat. Life altering.

I hope this eases your holiday cooking burden and makes it at least a little more fun! Until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

DIY Disney Incredible Superhero Cuffs

Happy has been very into playing dress up lately; especially pretending he has super powers! It's something Doc never really liked. So we are a little sparse in the costume/superhero department. When I started scouring the inter-webs for some quick and dirty costumes and accessories, I found these incredibly easy (pardon the pun!) superhero cuffs from Kate's Creative Space. How could I say no?

When I say easy, I mean it. This fits well into the department of nap-time friendly crafts. Kate has the tutorial and the printables all on her blog. All you need is a couple of empty toilet paper tubes and some glue, and you're all set. She shows you how to embellish them a bit too, if you're so inclined. I just love how these turned out. And talk about budget friendly too! I don't care what Happy decides to do with them. I didn't invest much time and they didn't cost me a dime. It's hard to beat that kind of Disney magic. It might even make you feel a little Super.

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

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Getting Fit With Disney

We have made a commitment to a healthy lifestyle here at the cottage. Having kids late in life can do that! And true to my passion for Disney, I have infused a little Disney magic into my workouts. Now if I were a runner, there would be no doubt that I would register for any number of runDisney events. But my old knees have been battered enough and running just doesn't do it for me. Too bad, as that would be a serious motivation for me! But instead I use an exercise bike, walk the neighborhood with the kids (or the dog), and go to yoga and bootcamp classes at a local fitness center.

The easiest way to get a little Disney in my workout is though music. I especially like Mouse House (which we bought at DTD in 1996!) and the Millennium Celebration Album. Lucky for you, both albums are available; Mouse House can be downloaded through iTunes, and the Millennium Celebration can be purchased though Amazon.  I also like a little Mickey Mouse Disco thrown in here and there! If you grew up in the late 70s and 80s, you know exactly what I'm talking about! You can also get this album through iTunes.

When I am working hard on the bike, there is nothing better for me than the Millennium Celebration album. I also have a map of Epcot hanging where I can see it. One lap around World Showcase is 1.1 mile. I can currently do 6 laps in 30 minutes! I love imagining which countries I'm passing as I cruise around the lagoon. Anything to make that time go by just a little faster, right?

When I'm walking, I like to listen to podcasts. It's s little easier to concentrate when I'm not pushing myself as hard as I do on the bike. Even the little ones like to listen. If you are new to Disney podcasts, let me recommend my three favorites: WDW RadioCommunicore Weekly, and Wedway Radio. All of these podcasts offer their take on Disney related "stuff" from music to film to books and events. These guys know their stuff! You're guaranteed to learn something new, and if you're a a Disney buff, there's plenty to spark those great memories. (And if you are road tripping to the happiest place on earth, these are a great way to pass the time too!)

Enjoy infusing a bit of Disney into your workouts or family life this week. Until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Sitting With Grandmother Willow | Meet Steph of Capturing Magic

As part of our on-going series, Sitting with Grandmother Willow, I am happy to introduce Steph, of Capturing Magic, a fabulous resource for creating and keeping those wonderful Disney memories. This series of blog posts highlights artists and bloggers of all stripes with one thing in common: a passion for Disney! I hope you will enjoy getting to know Steph as much as I have. And be sure to visit her website for a host of unique Disney memory ideas!

Disney by the Numbers (with apologies to Harper's):

# of trips you have made: WDW 6; DL 13 (I think)
Date of first trip: May 1983
Date of next trip: November 2013 I will be doing Disneyland and Disney World within the same week. I'm hoping to hit all 6 parks within 24 hours. We will see if I can make it or not!
# of Resorts stayed in: onsite at WDW 3; this next trip we will hit 3 different resorts.
Usual # in your travel party:  it varies widely from 1 all of the way to huge groups of Disney friends
Pairs of mouse ears in your cottage: 5

WDW or Disneyland (or other)? 
I love them both for different reasons and I'm not sure I could pick one over the other. There is a distinct feeling in each park and though different, both are equally magical!  I love WDW because it's so affordable to stay onsite compared to DL; I love all of the resorts. I love WDW because of the size and vast amount of things to do. I love DL because of the rich history. I also LOVE Radiator Springs and World of Color (my favorite nighttime show out of all 6 parks). I love how excited Cast Members get at DL when the realize I travelled more than just an hour or two to come to the park. 

How do you usually travel to Disney? 
FLY. I would need to move to live close enough to drive to either DL or WDW...which would be fine with me! ;) 

Do you have any tips for trips? Oh my! Sooooo many tips that I share on my site and podcast.  Probably my number one tip is to always PLAN! The people that I talk to that don't like Disney are also the ones that didn't have a good plan in place (they are also the people that went to WDW during Spring Break and DL during the summer). Take the time to figure out what parks will have the lowest crowds on what days and how you will tour them. Do this before leaving home and it will not be time wasted!  My other tip is to pre-order PhotoPass. It will save you a lot of money and knowing ahead of time that you have already paid for the photos, you will stop more to get photos, and the photographers will take more photos if you let them know that you will be getting the downloads. If you will be riding rides that have photos, GET PHOTOPASS+!!

Do you have a favorite place to eat while in Disney? 
Disneyland: Almost everything! My sisters and I joked on our last girls trip that we ate our way around the park. On that trip, we got to eat at Club 33 for the first time. The food was really great!  I love Carthay Circle, Bengal Tiger, Carnation Cafe, Jolly Holliday...the list is long.

What is your absolute DON'T MISS attraction?
DL: Radiator Racers and Toy Story Mania; WDW Toy Story Mania

Stage shows, yes or no?
I love Mickey and the Magical Map at Disneyland and I can't miss "World of Color".

Parades, yes or no?
yes! I love them! "Mickey's Boo To You" parade during the "Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween" party at WDW is my favorite parade from all of the parks.

Best Fast Pass to get:
Disneyland: Radiator Racers; WDW: Toy Story Mania

Best fireworks:
Halloween Scream during Mickey's Halloween Party at Disneyland is my favorite fireworks show out of all of the parks.

Favorite park:
At WDW it would have to be Magic Kingdom (although I love them all); Disneyland...I'm going to say that now, it is California Adventure. I spend more time there usually than DL because of the overhaul and Radiator Springs.

One piece of advice you'd give a novice about WDW/DL:
You can't do Disneyland in one day!
You need at least a week to see WDW!

How do you create extra magic for your family?
On my last trip with just my sisters, I made them each a shirt with my Silhouette that had either their favorite character or a favorite quote on it.  I also gave them each some little Disney related gifts that weren't expensive, but they were thrilled with the unexpected magic. 

How can we connect with you?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

DIY Disney Road Trip Plastic Bag Dispenser

Disney Themed Plastic Bag Dispenser from Lysol Wipes Canister
This may be the first thing I ever pinned on Pinterest. I thought it was BRILLIANT! Seriously. We are always looking for a trash bag, a puke bag, a doggie pick-up-the-mess bag, a toss the diaper bag,  you name it. Traveling with the family can be messy! And now that I have an empty Lysol wipes can it's time to get to work!

If you have young ones in the house and are as Disney-crazed as we are, chances are you know all about the Handy Helpers. If not, let me fill you in. Disney Jr. made a genius decision when it started running The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Finally a way to connect a younger audience with the classic characters. It's fun, educational (as much as these things can be), and pleasant to listen to (unlike certain other Nick Jr. explorers). In the clubhouse, Mickey's Handy Helpers do everything from answering the door, to getting the mail, to finding Goofy's stinky shoes. A sort of butler system. So naturally, I thought of the Handy Helpers when I was creating this Road Trip Bag Dispenser.

To get the how to on rolling the bags to fit the canister, check out this tutorial from Tatertots and Jello. It's really easy. Don't worry if you have air bubbles as you roll the bags. It didn't have an adverse effect on ours in any way.

And of course I used my Silhouette SD to cut out the vinyl for the canister. I created a png of the hand from some clip art I found on line. And I used the font Minnie to create the lettering. Once I cut it out and removed the excess vinyl, I used the transfer tape to adhere it to the canister. Realizing this canister is going to be rolling around on the floor of our van for the rest of it's life, I decided to keep the transfer tape on it to help keep the vinyl on and legible! And that's all there is to it! Quick, easy and very handy.

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

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

DIY Disney Princess Candies

I've been wanting to try my hand at making hard candy for a while now. Last Easter we were living in our nut-free, dye-free world and I decided to make all our Easter candy from scratch. I was really floored by how easy some candy making can be. And I remember long ago in my childhood making hard candies - it was either a women's circle project at church, or a 4-H project. I can't exactly remember; except I do remember feeling like the process was magical. There were only a few ingredients and at the end of the day, they transformed into something truly beautiful. The same thing happened this time too.

Our local JoAnn's recently started carrying LorAnn candy making supplies and I decided it was time to give it a try. We don't do artificial colors and try to steer clear of artificial flavors so I went with the Lemon Oil. The recipe on the back of the box makes a lot more candy than I was prepared for! I had one lollipop tray and one hard candy tray ready to go. As it turned out, I could have used twice that. So I quickly pulled out some additional candy making molds (stars and lego men) to use up what I could. Next time I'll be prepared with more candy trays than I think I'll need. I was also pleased to learn that my Wilton candy making trays worked just as well as the LorAnn trays even though they look like they are made from different material. I lightly oiled the Wilton trays and poured in the candy syrup with the same great results as the LorAnn trays.

If you try this I highly recommend a good candy thermometer. Ours has been used so much that the numbers have scrubbed off and is no longer good for showing temperatures. The old school way of dropping syrup in cold water worked for me, but I couldn't get a good hard crack in the syrup, hence my candy is a bit stickier than I would have liked.  I dusted them in confectioners sugar to keep them from growing too sticky. Nevertheless the candy is very tasty and looks very appropriate for a Disney princess, like glass. The roses reminded me of Belle and the hard candy are shaped like gems. Wouldn't these be adorable at a princess tea party? I'm delighted with how well the first batch came out!

If you are looking for a unique Tinkerbell Treasure, these would certainly fit the bill - and your friends will think you are simply amazing to create something so difficult as candy! No one else has to know how easy it really is. I won't tell them if you don't! Until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

DIY Disney Boxer Briefs from Tshirts

Ok, I could hardly wait to share this project with you! I think it is A-DOR-A-BLE! I made these underpants from some Tshirts our travel group purchased a few years back. We were all mousekateers for Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party. (If you've never been to this special event, you really must go. The parade and fireworks alone are worth the price of admission!) These mousekateers are just the kiddos; the adults were in on the fun too! And because I know someone will ask, we ordered the Ts from Zazzle. It was easy for each family to get just what they wanted (and spell all the names correctly!)

And from those fabulous Ts, comes these fabulous unders!

I was shocked at how easy it really was to create these. I plan on making several pair for the potty training days ahead! I used this tutorial from Sew A Straight Line. I used the no-fly version since this was my first attempt at sewing with jersey. I highly recommend reading through her tips on sewing with jersey too. It was extremely helpful for me. (And just as an aside, if you are not familiar with the Celebrate the Boy event hosted by Made By Rae and Made, you really need to be. Such great stuff!)

I used regular elastic for the waistband on these boxer briefs and the ringer edge from the cuffs and collar of the shirts for the leg edges. I cannot tell you how much I love these! And such a great way to reuse shirts that were too small to wear anymore. Jiminy Cricket would be so proud!

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