Saturday, December 27, 2014

Sitting With Grandmother Willow | Carla of WDW Travel Prep


As part of our on-going series, Sitting with Grandmother Willow, I am happy to introduce you to Carla of WDW Travel Prep, and Etsy store Magic Travel Prep! This series of blog posts highlights artists and fellow bloggers of all stripes with one thing in common: a passion for Disney!

Carla has incredible planning tips and planners on her blog and in her Etsy shop, sure to give even the most seasoned planner a little help in making the most of the magic! As most of us know, the more you plan, the better your Disney vacation can be. And as the Disney experience grows, so does the need to get your ducks (or mice?) in a row! Carla is a terrific resource for making all those Disney plans. I'm so glad she could join us on the blog this month!




Disney by the numbers (with apologies to Harpers):

# of trips you have made: 3
Date of first trip: December 2011
Date of next trip: January 2015
# of Resorts stayed in: 3
Usual # in your travel party: 2, just me and my boyfriend
Pairs of mouse ears in your cottage: 2

WDW or Disneyland (or other)? Both!
How do you usually travel to Disney? Plane
Do you have any tips for trips? My favorite tip is to not over plan! Although Disney planning is my favorite thing to do, it’s important to make sure you don’t try to lay out every single second. Give yourself some wiggle room.
Do you have a favorite place to eat while in Disney? There are so many to choose, but the only place I go to every time is Aloha Isle for some Dole Whip.
What is your absolute DON'T MISS attraction? Expedition Everest is a must for me.
Stage shows, yes or no? Yes! The ones at Epcot are wonderful.
Parades, yes or no? Yes! Festival of Fantasy is my new favorite.
Best Fast Pass to get: Toy Story Mania.
Favorite park: Magic Kingdom
One piece of advice you'd give a novice about WDW/DL: It will always be more crowded than you think!
How do you create extra magic for your family? We buy matching pins to wear J

How can we connect with you? You can check out my website for all my current social media links! Wdwtravelprep.com

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

12 Days of DIY Disney Holiday Goodies | Grapefruit Cake from the Brown Derby

This is my go-to cake recipe. I know, the grapefruit sounds really weird. I hear that you either love it, or you hate it. I happen to love it. And at every event I've taken it to or served it for, it has been a roaring success. I first ran across it in a copy of Flour, Butter, Sugar, Eggs (which appears to be out of print, but still available through Amazon). I didn't even realize you could get it at Disney until a few years ago. This is a photograph of the slice I had during our lunch with an Imagineer in October 2012. THAT was as amazing as this cake. (If you've never done this and your family is full of Disney geeks, this is SO the event for you. We were with 10 others who were just as geeked out as we were. Squee!)

The Grapefruit Cake very dense and the frosting is of the cream cheese variety. I also tend to like my sweets a little less sweet and a little more savory or tangy. So there you have it. If you like a dense cake with cream cheese frosting, give this recipe a try. It could really surprise you. I think it's the perfect thing for finishing off your Christmas Dinner. Oh, and I make two cakes so my layers aren't super thin. Here's the recipe:

Disney's Hollywood Studios Grapefruit Cake:

Ingredients:
1-1/2 C sifted cake flour
3/4 C sugar
1-1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/4 C water
1/4 C vegetable oil
3 eggs separated
3 T grapefruit juice
1/2 t grapefruit zest
1/4 t cream of tartar

Prepare:
Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt into mixing bowl. Make a well in center of dry ingredients. Add water, oil, egg yolks, grapefruit juice, and lemon rind. Beat until smooth. Beat egg whites and cream of tartar separately, until whites are stiff but not dry. Gradually pour egg yolk mixture over whites, folding gently with a rubber spatula until just blended. Do no stir the mixture. Pour into an ungreased pan. Bake at 350 for 25-30 min., or until cake springs back when lightly touched with a finger. Invert pan on cake rack until cool. Run spatula around edge of cake. Carefully remove from pan.

Yield 4-6 portions

Cream Cheese Frosting:

Ingredients:
2 6-oz packages of cream cheese
2 t lemon juice
1 t lemon zest
3/4 C powdered sugar
1 16 oz can grapefruit sections (or one grapefruit, sectioned)

Prepare:
Let cream cheese soften at room temperature. Beat cheese until fluffy. Add lemon juice and zest. Gradually blend in sugar. Beat until well blended. Crush several grapefruit sections to measure 2 T. Blend into frosting (this makes it so pretty!). Spread frosting on bottom half of cake, cover with second layer of cake. Frost top and sides. Garnish with grapefruit sections.

It's a bit of work, but SO worth it! Until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The reality of our hectic life! And a Holiday pause...

So the reality of any blogger's life is NOT what you see on the screen. We all know that's true. You can be sure the the staged photos and projects you see here are not what the cottage looks like 90% of the time! And the end of this year has been particularly rough for us. Flu has descended upon us (5 of the 7 are struggling!), our nanny situation has been fluid for over month and the pressures of the holiday season abound!

I have been struggling to keep it all running on schedule, and still spend time with the family, but it is now evident that I need to just stop the madness, take care of the family in their sickness, and enjoy some quality Christmas time with them before it's over. And that's just what I plan to do. This will be my last post to the blog until January.

But do not despair! I still love the blog and will continue to keep it up once the new year is underway. We DO have a new nanny starting in January and I hope all this sickness will have run it's course by then. We all know that sometimes a family just needs some time to take a step back and regroup. I know my readers will understand. I sincerely hope you all have a very happy holiday season with your friends and family. Until then, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

12 Days of DIY Disney Holiday Goodies | Mickey's Strawberry Santa Hats


I found these delicious looking strawberry santa hats on the Disney Family website. And this is a direct lift from their page. These look great and I fully intended to make them, but Miss Minnie ate all my strawberries before I had the opportunity to give it a try! (She absolutely loves her berries!) I hope I will be able to get to it before the season is over, if not, we may have ourselves a little Christmas in July celebration this summer!

Enjoy this post from Family.Disney.com, and until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!





What You’ll Need
Large fresh strawberries
White chocolate
Vanilla wafer cookies
Small chocolate disks or chocolate mints
How To Make It
  • 1
    Wash the strawberries with cool water, and carefully remove the hulls. Pat the fruit dry with a paper towel.
  • 2
    Melt some white chocolate in the microwave or on the stovetop, following the directions on the package.
  • 3
    Working with one wafer cookie at a time, dip the surface in the melted candy so that it is generously coated. If needed, dip it twice.
  • 4
    Place the dipped cookie on wax paper (coated side up), and immediately set a strawberry (hulled side down) on top. Quickly, but gently, push two small chocolate disks against the base of the berry for ears, holding them in place for a few seconds to make sure they stick. If they don’t hold, use a little more melted candy to attach them.
  • 5
    Repeat steps 3 and 4 to make as many more hats as you want, reserving some of the melted white chocolate for the pom-pom tops. When you’re ready to add the pom-poms, let the melted white chocolate cool slightly so that it will thicken a bit. Then spoon a small blob onto each strawberry tip.
  • 6
    Finally, add a little texture to the hat trim, if you like, by using a fork to gently “scramble” what’s left of the partially cooled white chocolate (it should resemble flaked coconut). Gently press some of the white chocolate flakes onto the candy hat brims while they are still warm so they will stick in place. Once the candy is completely set, arrange the finished hats on a plate to serve.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

12 Days of DIY Disney Holiday Goodies | Matterhorn Macaroons

I am a fan of macaroons; not the almond kind (which are verboten around here anyway). I love the coconut macaroons, the lesser known and harder to find variety, naturally. The bakery in the France Pavilion used to sell them in Epcot, but not anymore. Since the recent remodel, they are strictly about the nut variety. I miss those coconut peaks!

A caveat: I find macaroons tricky to make. They take patience and this is an area in which I lack. When I saw this recipe for Matterhorn Macaroons (from Rumbly in My Tumbly), I decided I would give them a try. They don't sound difficult, and I am always looking for a new and different cookie recipe for the annual cookie exchange in my sorority. Unfortunately, these were a bust for me. Well, mostly a bust. The resulting cookie tastes delicious! But I could not get them to make peaks. Once in the oven they flattened right out. I didn't bother with the topping since they didn't hold their shapes. And don't forget to store them in an air tight container. If you don't they will get very hard on the outside.

Here's the recipe if you want to give it a try:

Matterhorn Macaroons
A Rumbly in my Tumbly original

Ingredients:
4 egg whites
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups flaked coconut

Topping:
1 bag of white chocolate chips (or white candy melts)
2 tablespoons milk or cream
confectioners sugar for dusting

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 300°. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl or mixer, beat egg whites, vanilla, almond extract, and ream of tartar until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in sugar and whip until stiff.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt, and coconut. Fold into the egg whites. Drop by heaping tablespoons onto prepared cookie sheets, shaping each one into a “matterhorn mountain.” This is messy, and I found it worked best if I wetted my hands before shaped each one.

Bake for 20-30 minutes (depending on size) until slightly golden.

Melt the white chocolate with the cream over a double broiler, and dip the top of each cooled macaroon into the melted chocolate. Sprinkle with confectioners sugar.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

12 Days of DIY Disney Holiday Goodies | White Chocolate Raspberry Cookies

These cookies have a reputation in Disneyland. They are said to be swoon worthy, cookies you make time for, cookies that might deserve their own FastPass! Well, they did not disappoint!

These cookies are some of the best we have baked, bar none. I mean it. They live up to all the hype around them and they are really fairly easy to put together. The hardest part is not over mixing the jam! Everyone in the cottage (and that's a fair amount of people right now!) raved about them. And they are vanishing into thin air. Proof positive that this is a keeper.

If you are looking for a new recipe for your traditional cookie exchange, this one will have the other members of your organization begging for the recipe. Thanks to bakerlady for this one.



Disneyland’s White Chocolate Raspberry Cookie
adapted from Rumbly In My Tumbly

2 1/2 C Flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 C butter, room temperature
1/2 C granulated sugar
1/2 C brown sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
Raspberry Jam (I used about 4 TBSP)
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions

1. Cream the butter & sugars until light and fluffy. Add egg/yolk, vanilla and almond extracts. Mix well. Add dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Add white & semi-sweet chocolate chips.

2. Scoop out about 1/4 of the dough into a smaller bowl. Add about 1 T of jam and cut it in using a butter knife. Be careful not to MIX it, or your dough will turn pink, you want more of a swirl.
3. Take the jam swirled dough and scoop by spoonfuls (I used a large melon baller/ice cream scoop) onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Flatten slightly with the back of a spoon or spatula and place in a 350° oven for 12-17 minutes. *Your bake time may be less depending on the size of cookie you make. I wanted mine big and bakery sized, so they took a little longer. Take them out when the edges are set but the center is still puffy and soft. Cool on baking sheet 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
4. Repeat steps 2 & 3 until all the dough is used.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

12 Days of DIY Disney Holiday Goodies | Mickey Mouse Snickerdoodles

This was originally posted to the blog in March of 2013. I'm sure some of you are new here. This is a great, easy cookie recipe to add to your cookie exchange list!

Sometimes it seems like a really long time between visits; that's when a little kitchen magic can really come in handy. I found this Disneyland Main Street Bakery Snickerdoodle knock-off recipe on Pinterest and decided a rainy afternoon was the perfect time for a little Disney pick-me-up. The family was happy to oblige!

It was simple to make them into Mickey heads. Instead of rolling only one ball, I rolled one larger and two smaller balls and laid them out on the cookie sheet as such. I tried not to smash the ears on too much, as they do spread in the oven.

They took a little longer to assemble than regular snickerdoodles would, so I was able to assemble one pan while the other was baking. It was just about the perfect amount of time. Be sure to let the cookies cool just a bit on the pan before moving them to the cooling racks - we lost a couple ears by being impatient! (Although, it was a good excuse for an early taste!) My apprentice chef became quite good at rolling and pressing out the Mickeys.

One small deviation from the recipe - I like a lot of cinnamon sugar on my snickerdoodles, so we employed the Joy of Cooking technique of rolling each ball of cookie dough in a bowl of cinnamon sugar, instead of sprinkling the tops as the original recipe suggests. A personal preference, but worth it, in my humble opinion.

And because someone will ask, the WDW serving tray was one of my parents' first souvenirs. It lived in our motor home until it died and now it comes out whenever we need a little shot of Disney magic! Until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

12 Days of DIY Disney Holiday Goodies | Disney's Famous Gingerbread


I know some of you may have seen this post before, but I wanted to share this incredible gingerbread recipe for all you Disney lovers out there. It's perfect for Christmas! This comes from our vintage Disney cookbook, Mickey's Gourmet Cookbook. It's the same thing you'll find at the Monorail Cafe in the Disneyland Hotel (is that place still around? -- I'm no expert on Disneyland!), and the Candy Cauldron in Downtown Disney.

If you've never made gingerbread cookies, I will start by saying, this is a process! The dough can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to a week. And this dough is stiff. It takes some real muscle to roll it out! But the payoff is TOTALLY worth it. Here is the recipe for the cookies and the icing. They are good without the icing; they are incredible with it! And if you don't have a pastry bag and tip for the icing, don't fret. Just put it in a ziplock bag and snip a hole in the corner of the bag as demonstrated here.

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

Gingerbread Mickey
yield: approx. 3 dozen cookies

1/4 C unsalted butter
1/2 C brown sugar
1/2 C dark molasses
3 1/2 C all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 C water

In a lage mixing bowl, cream butter and brown sugar. Add dark molasses and blend until completely absorbed.
Sift all dry ingredients together and add to butter mixture in thirds, alternating with water. Blend completely. (I added at least 2 tablespoons more of water and I think I could have even added more. the dough did not want to hold together.)
Store dough, wrapped in plastic, in refrigerator until well chilled.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease cookie sheet (or use Silpat mats)
Roll dough on a lightly floured surface and cut into desired shapes.
Bake on cookie sheet for 8-10 minutes, depending on size. Cool on a wire rack.
Cookies can be decorated before baking with nuts and candies, or when cool with royal icing.

Royal Icing

1 pinch (1/8 tsp) cream of tartar
2 egg whites
3 1/2 C powdered sugar, sifted

Add cream of tarter to egg whites. Beat egg whites in a small bowl with electric mixer at high speed until whites hold a soft peak. Reduce speed and gradually add sifted powdered sugar. Continue to whip frosting until a smooth, spreadable consistency is reached.
At this point, frosting can be separated into small bowls and colored with food coloring, as desired. Frosting will become very hard when dry.

Note: before preparation of frosting, make sure all utensils are free of any grease or oil and egg whites are free of any yolk. Egg whites will not whip if mixed with any type of oil or fat.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

12 Days of DIY Disney Holiday Goodies | Snow's Perfect Apple Punch

True confession time: I made this one up. You won't find it on any menu in the parks or the resorts; but when the wind is howling and the fire is crackling lively in the fireplace, (or you just need a warm and lovely pick me up!) this little beauty is exactly what you need to warm your winter's night!

I like a recipe for which you can make just one glass at a time, or an entire batch for a party. I've included both recipes for you here! You could certainly use this recipe without the brandy, but I think it's a marvelous addition!

And of course you can skip the garnish if you wish, but do yourself a favor and don't skip it. A pretty drink always makes me feel a little more special. And who couldn't use that, especially at such a busy time of the year! Cheers to a yummy winter warm up! Until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Snow's Perfect Apple Punch

For one glass:
pour 2/3 C cider into mug, heat in microwave until steaming hot
add 1 jigger brandy, stir well
sprinkle with cinnamon and cloves to taste
garnish glass with one apple wheel, a cinnamon stick

For one punch bowl:
pour one gallon cider into pot
add several tablespoons of mulling spices
Bring to a boil, turn heat down and simmer for about 20 minutes
remove from heat and allow to cool slightly
add 3 cups brandy
Pour into punch bowl and float apple slices on top

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

12 Days of DIY Disney Holiday Goodies | Pumpkin Fudge

That's right, it's time to being our Christmas series on the blog again! If you missed it last year, you can use the 12 days label to search 12 handmade Disney ornaments. This year's theme is one everyone loves: food! I will be researching and posting a recipe for 12 different holiday goodies you can find around the Disney parks and resorts, or themed to our favorite Disney characters! It should be fun and a great way to inspire you for your next holiday party or cookie exchange.

Today, since we are still so near to Thanksgiving, (and you may need an extra little something for your dessert table!) we will start off with Pumpkin Fudge! You can find this fudge at Marceline's Bakery in Downtown Disney at the Disneyland Resort in California, and the Main Street Bakery in Walt Disney World once fall rolls around! Thanks to Magical Recipes for the recipe. And until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!


Ingredients

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2/3 cup evaporated milk
2/3 cup pureed pumpkin
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cloves
2 cups white chocolate chips
1/2 lb marshmallows or marshmallow crème
3 Tbsp maple syrup

Instructions

Line a 12×8 inch baking dish with foil, letting it hang over the edges.
In a large sauce pan, whisk together the sugars, butter, evaporated milk, pumpkin, and spices.
Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. 

Continue boiling for 10-12 minutes or until the candy thermometer registers 235 degrees Fahrenheit – soft ball stage (soft ball stage occurs when you drop some of the mixture into a bowl of cold water, and it forms a “soft ball” when it cools and is removed from the water).

Stir in the white chocolate chips first, and then the marshmallows or marshmallow crème and maple syrup. Stir until melted, and then immediately pour into the prepared pan.

Let cool on a wire rack for 2 hours or until completely cooled.
To cut, lift the foil from the ends of the dish.
Cut the fudge into 1 inch squares.
Store in the refrigerator or freezer.

Monday, November 24, 2014

DIY Knit Bambi Mittens

These mittens were so fun to make! They are my second pair of stranded mittens; getting the tension right is always the hardest part for me. And getting the hang of the thumb shaping in this pattern was a bit tricky, but once I saw it happening it was much easier to knit.

I love this design so much I might actually make a second pair! I've been trying to find something Bambi related for a very long time! Thanks to Drunk Girl Designs for such an adorable retro pattern! You can find this pattern at the link above. And just as a heads up, if you are easily offended, her other mitten patterns are probably not for you. I find them hilarious, but I have a former middle school teacher's warped sense of humor. So there's that.







I started knitting these mittens with the intention of making them for myself. They would have totally gone great with my winter coat! But as fate would have it, I started knitting them on an airplane, on the way to Walt Disney World. I thought I would go a little ways, check the gauge and adjust as necessary. Well, I got all involved in listening to my book (which you absolutely need to read NOW) and by the time we landed I was halfway through knitting the first mitten and had completely forgotten about my plan. And then I realized as I was finishing up the first mitten (on the way home) that I was knitting something for a GIANT. The gauge was way off even though I followed the pattern and used the same yarn! (This is a rather common occurrence for me, which is why I try to check the gauge!) Instead of ripping out all that work and starting over, I decided to just knit another giant mitten and felt them both. What the heck? I wasn't going to be able to wear them the way they were.

As it turned out, it worked! And although they were too small for me once they were felted, they are a perfect fit for my favorite 5-year-old! So she can enjoy the total cuteness of the Bambi mittens. They match her totally cuteness in general! Also, don't let anyone tell you you can't use your front loader for felting. Mine worked perfectly. So until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

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

Disney Road Trip 101 | 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!