Saturday, October 10, 2015

Gone To Disney!

Our family is off on another Disney adventure! We will be in Walt Disney World this weekend - stop and say hello if you see us! Then we are off for the idyllic Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort! It's one of our favorite places.

I'll be back to the blog in a couple of weeks; until then, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort Trip Report

Since we are gearing up for another fabulous vacation at Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort, I thought I would rerun this trip report post from last year's amazing trip. Disney does vacations right! If you want more information on this resort, or would like to book a trip, contact me at and let me set it up for you at no additional cost! Until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Let me start by saying this was quite possibly the best Disney vacation Mr. Photos From The Parks and I have had since the kids have arrived in our lives. I actually felt like I had a vacation. It's been a couple years since I could say that! Why was it so great? I think there were several things that made us wish we had bought into this resort at the beginning.

From our very arrival, we loved the atmosphere of this resort. Mr. Photos grew up vacationing on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and it immediately felt very much like home. As many of you know, I grew up vacationing in Fort Wilderness, before there was anything more than the Magic Kingdom & River Country (and eventually Epcot). This resort took me back to how it used to feel spending our days as a family at Fort Wilderness. There was lots of down time and plenty to do if you weren't in the parks. We did most of it then and loved it. Hilton Head brought all of that back for me.

The pace of this resort also made our stay wonderful. We are used to our Disney vacations being of the fast-paced, non-stop, I'll-sleep-when-I-get-home variety. It's just not possible to do that here. The pace on the island was easy. If we slept in, no matter. If we missed the storyteller, he'd be back in an hour. If we wanted to eat later, no ADRs to worry about. The kids did as they wished and no one bothered to worry about it. It was such a delight!

Additionally, this resort is small, roughly 15 acres. To give you are reference point, Disney's Boardwalk Inn Resort encompasses 45 acres. The entirety of the Hilton Head Island Resort has roughly the same footprint as both areas of Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. That's it. There are only 31 cottages here (with extremely spacious units), one pool and central activities area, as well as a few things to do at the check-in area. It's incredibly walkable with plenty to do without ever leaving the resort. But it's also easy to walk all around the Shelter Cove area, visiting several shops and restaurants.

The units were undergoing a major rehab while we were there. The color schemes were all updated to much more soothing blue/taupe/white theme. We had all new appliances as well as a full-size washer and dryer. This is the view of our main living area in the 2-bedroom villa. We had plenty of room to spread out even with all our baby/kid paraphernalia! There were several full sized closets as well as a mudroom for all our jackets, shoes, hats and stroller! That alone was a selling point for me! And although we didn't need it, both of these sofas fold out into beds. We could have easily slept 4 more people in our villa. It was more than enough room for us.

Disney also has a beach house and private beach area that is quite easy to get to. We drove, but Disney offers transportation, and there is also a very nice bike path for access. We had cool weather while we were there, but it didn't keep us from enjoying the beach and the amenities at the beach house. With the arcade and the beach, we were happy to spend the afternoon playing.

So, should you stay at Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort? I say absolutely! If you are looking for a relaxing place to get away from it all, this is just the place you are looking for. Less hustle and bustle but still all the comforts of Disney you've come to love and expect. And for those of you who like seeing it all in one place, I've created a PDF fact sheet for the resort. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Scrapbooking Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort

My regular readers will know that my family LOVES Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort. It is one of the properties where DVC members can use their points, but you DON'T have to be a DVC member to stay there! We had one of our most enjoyable family vacations there for Spring Break 2014. . . . and I finally got around to scrapbooking it! I wanted to share these pages with you as inspiration for your own scrapbooking or as inspiration to go there! If you want to book a trip through me, your independent earmarked Disney Travel agent, feel free to contact me at

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

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Bringing Honor To Us All Mulan Inspired Design on RedBubble

I have a soft spot in my heart for the story of Mulan. She is not one of the well-loved Disney Princesses but her story is every bit as brave as Merida's and spunky as Rapunzel's. She was just a bit ahead of her time.

This new design, now available on RedBubble, was inspired by Mulan. I think it's fun and functional and looks great on so many of the great products at RedBubble. And now they are featuring laptop sleeves as well as all the other great stuff they carry! Head on over for a quick look.

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

Saturday, September 12, 2015

DIY Disney T-shirt Quilt | Phase 5: Finishing

I am so excited to present my completed Disney T-Shirt Quilt! It was a long time in the making and a very big undertaking, but alas, I have persisted and completed this project!

I backed this with an old twin size duvet cover that the teenage had decided was too complicated to use. I also found this fun black and white polka dot fabric in my stash that was given to me a while back. I used it to make my own bias tape for binding.

So by the end of this project, the only cost that went into it was the bolt of iron-on Pelon I used to back the t-shirts. I'd say that's a bargain! Not only did it give new life to t-shirts we had outgrown, but also now is the coveted blanket for movie night!

I could not be happier with this quilt. It embodies all the qualities of love for a great DIY: reused items made into something useful and lovely. It is not going to win any awards for the construction, but it is definitely a family treasure, and that is better than any perfectly constructed quilt I could buy.

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

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Disney DIY Envelopes from Calendar Pages

Like many Disney fans, I have Disney calendars in the cottage. I love watching the months change throughout the year. And then, just like that, the new year is upon us and I have an old calendar with pictures I love but have no idea what to do with.

It occurred to me recently that these calendar pages would make great envelopes! They are fun, brightly colored and easy to make. All you need is a little glue or tape for the back flaps and you are all set! And being such an good environmentalist will certainly earn you your Environmentaility Badge from Jiminy Cricket!

These are easy to make, just follow these simple instructions for folding an envelope:

And you are all set! You can actually post these, or use them for teacher notes, hand delivered sentiments, enclosed in a gift, or for gift cards or certificates! They are a handy little way to put just a bit more Disney magic into the world.

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

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Disney themed DIY Double-Sided Headbands

I've been trying to adopt some healthy habits now that the kids are back in the swing of school. And as a part of that, I've been working out a little bit more! But as such, I discovered that I needed more of these headbands for my workouts. I made one of these many moons ago, so I knew it wouldn't be tough. Now I just needed it to be Disney!

I also knew that I would need to make a minor adjustment with the elastic length. I have a big head (ahem). So the 5" elastic in the back was way too short for me. I increased it to 7" and lengthened the cover pieces an extra inch too. This worked perfectly. And now I have an ample supply to headbands for my workouts that are Disney themed! Disney makes everything better, right?

If you want to try your hand at this easy sewing project, you can find the pattern at Happy Together. The directions are very simple to follow and there is only straight stitching! Even a beginner could have success with this pattern. If you are wondering where I got such adorable fabric, I hunt for my Disney fabrics on Etsy. I got these fabrics over 2 years ago and have been hoarding them for the perfect projects ever since! I decided this was just right for me. And the projects were small enough that I still have a little bit left for something in the future! When I figure that out, you'll be the first to know! Until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

DIY Disney T-shirt Quilt | Phase 4: Putting It All Together

So it feels like I started this project 100 years ago, collecting old t-shirts, ironing on stabilizer, cutting out squares of fabric.  It was taking so long I had resigned myself to never really having a quilt. And then, all of a sudden, I had all the squares I needed! Just like that. And in the course of one day (a very long, dedicated day) I had not only completed the top the quilt, but also completed the "sandwich" (the top, the batting and the backing,) and the quilting on top of it. It was an amazing day.

Quilting is a lot like painting a room. So much time is spent prepping the space that when the paint finally goes on the walls it feels incredibly satisfying. Same with sandwich day. It all starts coming together and you can see the real progress you've been making all along. Granted, painting a room usually only takes a day or two (not a year and a half!), but the principle's the same.

I began the assembly part of the quilt project by laying out all the squares on the floor to get an idea of the layout I preferred. I started with the squares I liked the most in the center of the quilt and went around them until I was finished, trying not to put two of the same color shirts right next to one another. I tried not to worry too much if three Mickey's were next to one another. That nonsense can drive me crazy! I made sure to take a photo incase my kids decided to mess with it. Of course they did! I was glad I had that photo!

After I was happy with the layout, I sewed the squares together in horizontal strips, noting each row as I went. This made sewing them all together easy. Once I had each horizontal row, I sewed them all together in order to create the completed top.

And here is just a sneak peek of the top before it was sandwiched and quilted together! Once I have the binding made and attached I will reveal the finished product. But this was a very productive and satisfying step toward a new family quilt!

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

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Louis The Alligator Hand-Knit, Disney Inspired Socks

Because a girl can NEVER have too many pairs of hand-knit socks, I have created yet another pair to cozy up with this winter. And because I am a Disney girl through and through, they are, yet again, inspired by a Disney animated character!

These socks are my homage to Louis The Alligator from The Princes and the Frog. He and Ray Ray are my favorite characters from that movie! These socks, once knitted up in green, made me think of Louis playing his trumpet at Mardi Gras! They have festive bobbles along the leg and jazzy stripes throughout.

While this pattern was not one of my favorites (because lord knows purling most of the pattern can slow a knitting sister down!), I love the way they turned out. I probably won't make this pattern again, but I will be sporting them on Mardi Gras! You can find out all the particulars (like yarn and size) by following the link above to my Ravelry page, if that's your sort of thing.

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

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

DIY Mary Blair Small World Inspired Building Blocks

I've been working on this project for some time now and finally had the time and energy to finish it! My regular followers will know that I am a huge Mary Blair fan. HUGE. Her concept art for It's A Small World decorates a wall in my house. If I could find a way to make the mural at the Contemporary Resort mine, I would do it.

So when these plain, ordinary, wooden blocks came into my life I had the inspiration to decorate them with the same geometric shapes used in the It's A Small World mural. I like the idea of being able to play with that art.

For color, I decided to use my Sharpie markers mostly because I didn't want to wait for paint to dry on each side of each block before going on to the next one. If I were doing these for a baby or child who would be likely to put them in her mouth, I would stick with the non-toxic paint. Fortunately for me, my kids seem to be past that stage (another milestone!) in their lives.

I noticed that in using the Sharpies, the colors were exceptionally dark, especially on the sides where the wood grain was darker. I would certainly consider painting them if I wanted the color to be brighter. But since these are simply for me to play around with, the Sharpies were a quick and easy choice. Plus I feel like I have more control with a marker than I would with a paintbrush.

I really love the way these turned out. And I love having them at my desk to play with when I need a quick mental break! Until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Life Is The Bubbles Design on RedBubble

This is the perfect carefree design for the Little Mermaid fan in your life, OR the Disney Cruise Line aficionado, right? Inspired by Sabastian the crab's song, Under the Sea, this whimsical design pretty much sums up my feelings about Disney as a whole! And I think my toddlers would say the same!

You can find this little gem on my RedBubble page along with lots of other great products sporting this design, including kids wear, bags, tech skins and cases and even leggings! You just never know what is going to float your boat! Just scroll down the page at RedBubble to see everything this design comes on. And don't forget to look around at all the other great Disney inspired designs in my portfolio as well!

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

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Disney Lunch Box Notes | Back To School

School is already underway here at the Cottage, so I thought I would re-run one of my favorite items for back to school: lunch box notes. You can print and use these notes right away. I hope you will enjoy this post from 2013:

It's back to school time and those first few weeks can be rough getting back into the routine! If you have a student (or frankly, a teacher) in your life you know how hard it can be. These sweet lunch box notes are a perfect mid-day pick-me-up. There are lots of these out there but these are my favorites. Add a little magic to your loved one's lunch.

Disney Family has a cute selection, both boy and girl themed. These are the boy selection.
Disney Stationery has lots of great notes including these wonderful Wall-E notes. Check out the link for more from Mickey and the gang, your favorite princesses, a pirate and a few dwarfs.

And finally, if your kids are a bit older and enjoy trivia from the parks (*cough*, Doc, *cough*), then here are 6 from the cottage. We hope you enjoy them. Simply click here to download them for yourself. Special thanks to Disney Trivia for the questions and answers!

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

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Disney DIY Paper Airplanes

Our littles recently went to the local library and stumbled upon a paper airplane demonstration. You would have thought it was the second coming! They loved it and showed everyone the airplanes they made. And ever since there has been some paper airplane madness here in the Cottage!

I remembered having pinned some Mickey airplanes on Pinterest and decided to look them up. Sure enough, there they were! And now I am sharing them with you. You can find the cut-outs to download on the Disney Family website. They are simple to make and loads of fun!

In fact, even the high-schooler got in on the action, remembering he had this Star Wars book of paper airplanes hanging out in his room. That was even more amazing to the little ones. Even to this mama, this book rocks. If you have a Star Wars kid (or adult!) in your house, you should seriously consider this for them! I would definitely recommend it for those with a good attention span and a command of scissors. The designs are complicated and one even frustrated the teenager to the point of balling it up and tossing it out! 

These were a great boredom buster for our family, and as summer drones on for some of you out there, maybe this will be a good diversion. Until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Epcot's Food & Wine Festival Recipe: Banoffee Pie

Those of you who follow the blog may remember that my niece and I took a trip to Ireland last spring. It was one of the best vacations I have ever had. We did a lot of new things there, but one of our favorite memories includes having Banoffee Pie, something neither of us had ever encountered before. We sat and analyzed the pie, what we tasted, what it must be made from, and decided right there that we needed to make it for our family at home. And when I got home I realized how very simple it actually was to make!

It is, as the name would suggest, mostly bananas and toffee. Our first attempt at making it here was, well, overzealous and quintessentially American. Since it was for a party we decided to make an extra large pie. This is not a recipe that needs to be extra-large in any way. It would be like making a giant treacle tart. Who could eat that? It was overly sweet and sticky, but in the end, still quite delicious. Everyone at the table agreed.

We used a recipe from The Disney Food Blog, which is my first choice when it comes to finding out anything about food at Walt Disney World. Apparently this was part of the 2013 Food and Wine Festival in Epcot. We didn't use a chocolate crust, because we didn't have one in Ireland. We just used a ready made graham cracker crust. But everything else was the same. It turned out well for us, but as I mentioned, we'll use a much smaller crust and filling in the future.

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

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Winds of The Caspian Sea Hand-Knit Cardigan

Let me start by saying how much I love this cardigan! I love it. And apparently, so did the judge at our county fair! It won a blue ribbon and was considered for champion!

This cardigan is the perfect weight for a summer sweater looks great with a tunic or a t-shirt, and best of all, the pattern was very easy to follow. I don't usually like to knit lace because it takes such a long time and I wind up pulling or snagging it; but this sweater is durable enough even for me, a person who regularly wreaks havoc on nice things.

I fell in love with this yarn, Gloss Fingering from Knit Picks when I made the Corona Flower Mittens. It's a blend of merino wool and silk and has just enough heft as well as a subtle, smooth shine. I love the way it looks and feels when it is knit up. This particular color way is Kenai and it reminded me of the sea. (Although some Disney geeks will recognize Kenai as the name of the main character in Brother Bear, I chose to go with the ocean theme instead. It was a tough call.)

I named this cardigan the Winds of The Caspian Sea cardigan because I love the motion it has when I wear it. I floats and flutters in the way the waves ripple and roll in The Little Mermaid. And the color of course, speaks for itself. I also like the way this cardi can be so versatile, living in two worlds so to speak, a little like Ariel.

You can get the full details on my Ravelry page if you are so inclined. Until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Last Hurrah of Summer!

Merryweather's Cottage will be taking a break this week for our last hurrah of summer! We are on a balanced school schedule in these parts and school starts up July 30th! (I can hear some of you shrieking. Is that jealousy or disbelief??)

So we are off on a family vacation. We will see you all again next week with more great Disney related posts. Until then, may all your summer days be filled with fairy dust!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

From Belle's Library | I Must Say: My Life As A Humble Comedy Legend by Martin Short

Martin Short is one of my favorite comedians. He's smart and funny and has been in several Disney productions. He has worked as a voice actor (B.E.N. in Treasure Planet), under the Miramax label in both Father of The Bride movies, but perhaps best of all he can be seen in one of my favorite Circle Vision Films, Oh Canada in Epcot.

I Must Say: My Life As A Humble Comedy Legend by Martin Short was and especially great audio book, as it was read by the author. He performed many of his characters and does spot on impressions. It's definitely worth listening to. It was a very fun read (as you might expect) as well as enlightening. I loved hearing about his start with so many amazing comedians in Toronto and how he has tried to live an authentic life in the midst of fame.

Not really knowing much about his background I found all of it fascinating. I love that he is friends with so many people we have come to know and love and he tells about his unique relationships with them. And you'll definitely want to find out more about his regularly scheduled Colonoscopy Sleepover Party with Tom Hanks and Steve Martin, his Annual Christmas Party and what it was like to grow up in Toronto.

This book is much more life-affirming than I ever would have expected and still very down-to-earth and humble, just as the title proclaims. I am surprised by how much I like this one. I highly recommend it as a great summer read. Until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Back To School | Unique Disney Notebooks/Journals

I have to admit I am a sucker for school supplies. I love to restock my own studio with new school supplies  when we go shopping for the kids. (And that time is now, here in the midwest. Our first day of school for the district is July 30th. I know some of you on the east coast just finished school and can't imagine going back now!)Oh how I wish I could have had access to THESE notebooks for school when I was a kid! Classes would have been even better.

Now that RedBubble is selling notebooks, all these designs (and more!) are available for you back to school shopping! And you don't even have to leave your house to do it!

You can find my RedBubble profile here, with all my designs. Simply click on the design you like and scroll down the page to find the product you are looking for! And don't forget there are tote bags and drawstring bags and studio pouched too! Enjoy your back to school shopping; until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The GREATEST Good Design Now On RedBubble

There are a few Disney movie lines that our family comes back to over and over again. This line from the Incredibles is one of them. I absolutely love it every time! If you are unfamiliar with it, I have provided a clip at the end of this post for your viewing pleasure. My husband and I love the domestic struggles of these superhero families! The folks at Pixar absolutely nail it. You know this is the stuff that goes down in their houses all the time. It certainly is the stuff that goes down around the cottage!

This design is featured here on a brand new RedBubble product, the drawstring bag! This is a perfect pack for you park days, or, if like us you are already gearing up for going back to school, this would be ideal for that too! Think sports clubs, after school activities and the like. Of course, this fabulous tribute to Mrs. Frozone, Honey, is also available on t-shirts, tote bags, tech cases and now spiral notebooks too. Another great back to school item!

Have fun with this new design and don't forget the browse the other ones in the RedBubble shop too. Here's that clip I promised you:

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

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Disney DIY Hot/Cold Packs

Our kids have been all about the ice for the ouchies these days and have been making me wild with the amount of mess the melted ice makes all over the house. So I decided that I needed to get an alternative. I had seen these little bags used as hand warmers/hot packs, and I wondered if I would be able to use them as cold packs. As it turns out, you can!

I found the instructions for these easy packs at Bee In My Bonnet, using rice. I then wondered if the buckwheat groats I had on hand would work as well. I found The Momma Stuff blog with a similar pack and a she used buckwheat! You can find that information here.

I whipped these up using the scraps from other projects on the blog. Knowing I wanted to use them for ice packs, I used the Where's Perry flannel. It seemed like the best choice for insulating the cold against the skin. And I also decided to try some with just one layer of cotton and a smaller size for the Tigger bags. Both seem to work very well and the kids like the Disney characters! These are so practical that I think I will make many more and stash them in the freezer at the grandparents houses and in my travel medical kit.

These are so simple and easy to make anyone with a sewing machine could do it. And they are a quick project too. Win-win. Until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

DIY Disney Beach Sand-off Bags

We do a lot of summer travel. This summer we will have climbed sand dunes, visited several Lake Michigan beaches, as well as the Chesapeake Bay. And we have another blissful trip scheduled for Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort this fall. In every one of these scenarios we will be covered from head to toe in sand. Last year I found a deal for these powder pouches and bought them for our summer travel. We loved them and used them often. The concept is simple: the talc dries the water causing the sand to fall off your body. It works brilliantly!

Of course this summer, I can't find those pouches anywhere! But I reasoned that they couldn't be too hard to make for myself. A quick search through Pinterest brought me to this super easy tutorial for these talc filled bags. Mission accomplished!

If you are in the straight line sewing club, you can do this. If you happen to have two 4" square scraps of fabric, a small bit of ribbon and some talc laying around the house, then you could actually make this for free! And they didn't take long to make either. I whipped up these three in less than 30 minutes. (You may recognize these fabric scraps from the cute toddler pants I made several years ago for the littles.) We simply keep these talc pouches in a plastic bag in the back of the van (although if you have a dedicated beach bag, that would be awesome too) so they are ready for all our sandy adventures!

If you are planning to stay at any of the resorts in Disney that have a sandy beach, these would be a great little item to have packed in your suitcase! Until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Scrapping Disney | Ratatouille Birthday Party

Sometimes there is the perfect scrapbooking kit for you pages, and sometimes what you want is so obscure you just have to figure it out for yourself! This was one such moment when I found myself in need of some Ratatouille themed Project Life cards. Well. Good luck! I knew it was going to be a hard sell. So instead, I purchased some PNG files from Pinky Katie over on Etsy and made my own! You can click on each layout to enlarge it for further detail.

The key to creating you own filler cards, is to stick with a color palette and not over embellish. These rules, simple as they are, can be tricky for me! I did my best. I played around a lot with my styles and patterns and I really love the way it looks! And I'm not so big on journaling right now. I'm just too tired by the time I get around to actually scrapping the photos. The pictures tell most of the story. However, if you want to read all about it, you can check out this blog post to get all the details on the "how to."

I mentioned it before, but if you have never made your own marshmallows, it is SO worth it. They are entirely different than what you will get in the store!

It was so much fun to relive this party through scrapping it. I think that's part of the reason we scrapbookers do it, to be reminded of all the good stuff. Until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Summer Reading From Belle's Library | Peter and the Starcatchers

This summer I thought I'd rerun some of my favorite Disney related book titles for summer reading recommendations. I know I am always looking for another good book for summer travel! This book captivated me and I think it would be perfect as a summer read: lighthearted and eternally young!

Today we want to share our love of Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson (of the Kingdom Keepers series). As many of you know, I am a fan of audiobooks. I'm not sure I'd get anything read if it weren't for listening to them with the kids! And here's where the first little delights comes in.

I must confess, I am a huge fan of the Harry Potter books (we're not talking about the movies here); I read them all as they were released, and then listened to ALL of them again on our various road trips. I think Jim Dale must have envisioned the same thing I did when reading these books, as his voices and cadence were perfect. I was DELIGHTED to hear the familiar narration of Jim Dale again as he read Peter and the Starcatchers! What a treat. His voice is one of my very favorites for audiobooks.

And the story delighted me as well. If you've ever wondered how Peter Pan and the lost boys, Captain Hook and Tinkerbell came to be, this story will tickle your imagination! I throughly enjoyed the twists and turns, the adventure and the magic of this first book in a series of (what I imagine will be) fantastic books. I do love young adult fiction (especially fantasy and adventure), and while reading the Kingdom Keepers I was recommended this Peter and the Starcatchers series by an Instagram friend, Kaifers. I am so very glad I took the recommendation to heart! And I hope you will too. This is a marvelous series; I highly recommend it! I think it's perfect for both boys and girls (and certain young-at-heart adults!).

If you have a book that is (if loosely) related to Disney in some way, I would love to know about it. Until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

From Mrs. Potts' Cupboard | Megara's Brew

Megara is one of the more obscure Disney heroines. She's Hercules' love interest, for those of you struggling to place her. She starts off a little iffy, indebted to Hades, not quite on the up and up,  but she really comes through in the end. This tea blend, on the other hand, is a winner from the very start. Perhaps the way Megara wished it had been for her, definitely the way it was for the gods on Olympus.

All the ingredients of this tea are from the Mediterranean area, so I figured it's something Megara could have concocted. It's so much better if you have the fresh ginger, but dried ginger could be used in a pinch. I love the freshness of this tea and the hearty homey feel it has. It would be perfect with some shortbread cookies or snickerdoodles.

This all-around brew and would be interesting as an iced tea too, as the days continue to stay warm and stuffy in these parts. I hope you decide to try it and enjoy it as much as I do. And until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Surviving July 4th at WDW | Wish With Amy

Did you know that July 4th is one of the peak travel days at Walt Disney World? Here are my six best tips to help you be prepared for and actually enjoy your Disney vacation:

1. Use My Disney Experience (MDE) Now- even if you missed some of the big things, even if it's the morning before you go in the parks, make your Fastpass reservations now. Also, if you plan on having a table service meal, make your Advanced Dining Reservations (ADR) now. You can use the MDE app for that too. Having a plan for the day will help you navigate the crowds and assure that you get to do some of the fun things you've been looking forward to doing.

2. Use My Disney Experience in the Parks - know your wait times, check to see when the next show is in your "land", use it to book last minute dining reservations. This is your biggest tool to help you navigate through the parks on a busy day. I use it while I'm waiting in line. I check the wait times for the next thing we want to do and for any nearby meet and greets, shows, experiences that we may want to hit on our way to the next thing. If you don't have an ADR you can see if there is anything available on the app and make the reservation right there!

3. Be Flexible - realize that during busy times, you won't get to do everything you'd like to do. Too many other people are trying to do that too. If you have planned for your Fastpasses and ADRs use these as benchmarks for your day. You know you can do those things, you have a reserved spot. Enjoy the journey to the next thing. You may run into an experience you haven't had yet, or something you might never had considered. There is plenty to do in Disney. Find the magic.

4. Consider a Resort Day - crowds will be heavy at the parks, this is a known fact. Consider spending a day at your resort; all resorts have a recreation line telling you what there is to do while you're there. In the past our family has spent time at the mini golf courses, using the arcades and pools at our resort, planning our own cocktail tour, even eating at resort restaurants we haven't tried yet. All the transportation on property is free. Consider taking a boat from Downtown Disney to Port Orleans for a pleasant stroll, or riding the boat from the Boardwalk or the Yacht Club round trip, or taking a monorail tour. If you are staying on property, none of this will cost you a dime.

5. Hydrate and Use Sunscreen - I cannot emphasize this enough. Even this veteran Disney traveler (with 40+ trips under her belt) finds herself in a spot every trip realizing we don't have allergy-friendly snacks, or another water bottle, or forgot the sunscreen for myself! You can usually find these things wherever you are, but the frustration can seem insurmountable. Find a cast member if you need help locating something. Also, set an alarm on your phone, or have your significant other double check you before you leave the room. These are the things that make happy Disney people into bloody stumps of human beings. Protect yourself.

6. Enjoy your family - I know it can be hard when everyone seems to be needy at the same time. I hate seeing people upset with their families in Disney. (Like, maybe, shouting at your husband on the bridge to Be Our Guest; guilty!) I try to say yes as much as possible when in Disney, and try to remember that this trip is making memories for me and my family. I want to make them good ones. Although that's not always possible. As my therapist likes to say, it's either a great trip or a great story!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Eggs Kamehameha from Disney's Papeete Bay Verandah | Forgotten Disney

At that time there were no autograph books or handlers rushing the characters from table to table. In fact, it looks like we were one of two families in the restaurant in these photos! It was fun and we used to get Mickey balloons and a small token to remember the day by. I think leis were also given from time to time.

The 80s, perhaps, were not know for their amazing culinary moments. Even in Disney. I have mentioned before, one of my favorite Disney cookbooks for it's vintage recipes, Mickey's Gourmet Cookbook. Mostly, I love it for the cocktail recipes! But the Eggs Kamehameha reminded me of Minnie's Menehune and I just had to give it a try. The recipe is pretty simple, but I was suspicious of it's wine sauce. I was right to be. Suffice it to say, this recipe has potential, but needs some reworking in my opinion. I hope to work that out soon and post an update.

Here is the recipe for Eggs Kamehameah. It's good, and it's fast; two things that matter to this busy mom:

4 eggs
4 slices of bread, fried in butter
1/2 C Gruyére cheese, shredded
1/4 C dry white wine
cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Arrange fried bread in oven-proof serving dish. Melt cheese in a saucepan with wine. Season with salt and cayenne pepper. Pour wine and cheese over fried bread.

Melt butter in frying pan and fry eggs. Place 1 egg on each slice of bread. Put dish in oven or under broiler for 2 minutes to glaze tops of eggs.

Serve at once; yields 2 servings.

I tweaked it by not using the oven. The sauce, did not come together as a sauce for me (as I suspected it wouldn't), but I put the cheesy wine on the toasted bread and  then put the cheese lump under the egg so it still looked good. And I used paprika instead of cayenne, as I prefer the flavor. Not a bad dish, just not as good as it could be. Definitely worth the stroll down memory lane!

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

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Summer Reading From Belle's Library | Jim Henson, The Biography

This summer I thought I'd rerun some of my favorite Disney related book titles for summer reading recommendations. I know I am always looking for another good book for summer travel! This book remains, for me, one of the best Disney reads ever.

I grew up watching the Muppets and Fraggle Rock. It was appointment TV! I have an incredible love for the Muppets and for Jim Henson's creative genius. Reading Jim Henson, The Biography, by Brian Jay Jones was simply inevitable. But it WAS a commitment! This book is long and Mitchner-esque in scope. No stone is left unturned. But if you feel the same way I do about the Henson creations (including that work which is NOT highlighted by Disney), you will find this book an incredible journey into the creative spirit that was Jim Henson; this book is a joy to read.

I have an affinity for non-fiction. I realize it doesn't appeal to everyone, but I love to know how people have dealt with the challenges of this world and come out the other side the people they are (or were). Even with all the history and rather dull information that was included in this book, the personality of Jim Henson comes through in such a way as though I feel like I actually knew him. And to hear about his creative process, the incarnation of his imaginings, the successes and the failures, the collaborative process, and the joy he had for life was thoroughly enjoyable. In fact, I'm not sure I can convey how touching this portrait of Jim is, except to say, I actually was brought to tears in the end. Not something that generally happens to me!

Even realizing how many projects Jim Henson was involved with in his short life was truly amazing. I bet you didn't know the Muppets were a part of Saturday Night Live for a while, did you? Reading about his collaboration with Frank Oz, and his friendship with David Lazer were simply fascinating. And finally getting the details about the negotiations with Disney and how much Jim enjoyed working with the imagineers was inspiring.

If you are involved in the creative arts in any way, or just loved the work of Jim Henson and that of his Creature Shop, then this book is definitely for you. I highly recommend the audiobook, as the narrator does a bang-up job of voicing all the people (and muppets) in Jim's life.

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

Saturday, June 20, 2015

DIY Disney Upcycled T-shirt Dress

This dress came about on a whim. Millie loves her dress that this was copied from, and it too is made from jersey knit fabric. Her favorite dress is from Christmas and has long sleeves and matching leggings. It's beyond cute, but we needed an alternative for our sweltering summers here in the midwest. Especially since she was insisting on continuing to wear said Christmas dress!

So I traced the pieces of her favorite Christmas dress, adding a half-inch seam allowance to the pieces and made this little sleeveless number from two old t-shirts that were begging for new life!

The Donald Duck t-shirt wasn't quite wide enough for this pattern, so I had to use an additional T. This one was actually from my alma mater, but it didn't really matter since you couldn't see the design. I used the overlock stitch on my machine to create the rough edges of the ruffle you see here. I completely made this up and won't even attempt to explain how it was done. I'm not even sure myself! But I love that we gave new life to a grumpy old Donald shirt and a this girl seems pretty happy with it.

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

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Merryweather's Top 5 Father's Day Disney Movies

Disney movies have traditionally been about mean step-mothers or absent fathers. There is no doubt that these themes are relatively easy to find in the classics. But there ARE some Disney movies that highlight some really great Disney Dads. We thought we'd share our list of favorites with you here before Father's Day. There's still time to order a digital copy or plan a family viewing if you need a last minute gift!

5. 101 Dalmatians: Here we have a movie about a father who goes to extraordinary lengths to save his children from a murderous villain! It's charming and the music is great. Particularly good if you have a dog lover for a dad.

4. Hercules: This movie is all about finding your place next to your dad, be it a peasant or a god. The Greek chorus is what keeps me watching. Especially great if you (or your dad) love that Danny DeVito dry/sarcastic humor.

3. Finding Nemo: Leave it to Pixar to make a dark and scary story into a heartwarming one! This dad will meet almost every hazard in the ocean, dealing with his friend Dory along the way. If your unassuming dad loves adventure and maybe hovers a little too much, you should pop your corn and snuggle up together to watch this classic tale.

2. The Lion King: Ok, I bet you thought this would be #1. I love this movie. It's the best thing to come out of the Michael Eisner Disney era. It has is all, a coming of age story, a beautiful family, comic relief. It's perfect. This is always a winner. Watch it with your dad.

1. A Goofy Movie: I think this is the ultimate Father's Day Disney flick. I mean, Goofy as a dad has to be a trial, but he is such a great dad to Max. And Max finally sees the light. If you've never watched this one, you need to have it in your repertoire. Watch it with your classic-Disney-loving dad. It's a keeper.

No matter how you spend your Father's day, I hope you enjoy it. And until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Summer Reading From Belle's Library | Creativity by Ed Catmull

This summer I thought I'd rerun some of my favorite Disney related book titles for summer reading recommendations. I know I am always looking for another good book for summer travel! This book remains, for me, one of the best Disney reads ever.

Creativity by Ed Catmull is one of the best reads of the year for me. I adored this book. If you are
creative in any way, or work with creative people, this should be required reading. I think Ed Catmull has a unique experience finding a way to manage creative people without stifling their creativity. That has to be one of the toughest jobs around! I'm glad he took the time to put pen to paper on this one. We need more managers (of work, and of life) reading this book and thinking about their own management style/work ethic with this scaffolding. Heck, I'm thinking about it in the way I manage my own family.

I think Creativity, Inc. is a little like The Artists Way, by Julia Cameron. There is a lot to chew on when it comes to fostering creative forces. Catmull's perspective on creating an atmosphere of candor and enrichment, not fearing the inevitability of failure, and knowing when a change in leadership is needed, all still have me pondering. It's a refreshing take on meshing management and creativity so that it is not only successful, but enjoyable too.

And then there's the chapter on Steve Jobs and how, at least in Catmull's opinion, there has not been enough written about the other sides of the Pixar executive. In all honesty, I love my Apple products and now I would jump at the chance to work at Pixar, so I know I come to this biased; but Catmull paints a touching portrait of Steve Jobs and does share a different side to him than that which has been prevalent in the mainstream media. It was nice to read; I even found myself tearing up.

This book resonated with me and I can't recommend it highly enough. It would be an excellent Christmas gift to anyone you know who has an affinity for Disney or Pixar, a creative streak, or is now or soon to become a creative professional. You can't go wrong.

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

Saturday, June 13, 2015

What Are The Best FastPass+ Selections? | Wish With Amy

If you are headed to any of the Disney Parks, then you may be wondering about FastPasses and how to choose them. FastPasses are a reserved time slot for a particular ride or experience at one of the Disney Parks. If you are staying at a Disney Resort, you will be able to make your reservations 60 days in advance of your trip. If you are not staying at a Disney Resort, you can make your FastPass reservations 30 days in advance. This is another reason I highly recommend staying at a Disney Resort.

This is a question I get all the time: What are the best FastPass+ selections? And while the answer completely depends on your touring style, the ages and heights of the people you travel with and your personalities, there are a few ways to figure it out.

First: There are some rides that have wait times that consistently exceed the 60 minute mark no matter the time of day or time of year. If you are at all interested in them (and tall enough to ride them), these are the FastPasses to get first. Peter Pan's Flight (MK), Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (MK), Meet & Greet with Anna & Elsa (MK), Toy Story Midway Mania (DHS), Test Track (EP) and Soarin' (EP) are all in this category. If you want to do these things without spending and hour or two, a FastPass is your best option.

Secondly: If your children have high expectations and don't deal well with adjusting and/or being flexible, you might want to consider opting for their favorite(s) at the best time(s) for them (like making sure you are there after breakfast but before nap).

Third: Decide if you are willing to use one of these strategies to go without a FastPass:

  • Use the single rider line; if you don't mind riding as a single rider, you can easily cut your wait time in half.
  • Be at the park for rope drop; if you can get up early and walk in as the park opens, you can go straight to your favorite ride. This has worked for us at several of the biggies with less than a 30 minute wait.
  • Utilize extra magic hours; as a resort guest you can often get into a park an hour before it opens to the public, or stay an hour (or more) after the park closes to the general public. This allows for much shorter lines, and wait times.
  • simply wait in line; sometimes it's just what you need to do. Arm yourself with snacks and games and just wait. More and more queues are becoming interactive too, with things to do/games to play as you wait.
If you are trying to make your decisions for FastPass selections, feel free to use this FastPass+ Selection printable we give to our clients. And until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Monsters Inc. Code 2319 Play Tent

On a rainy day this summer, the littles and I needed a new project. We were all feeling a little stir-crazy! So off to the Dollar Store we went for some supplies. Among (many) other things, we picked up a couple of hula hoops. I had in mind a special play tent for them.

I could not be happier with the result! This is perhaps one of the easiest, fastest and cheapest projects on the blog! It's not often they all come together in one! I scoured Pinterest for ideas on how to make a hula hoop tent and loads of tutorials popped up. But really, all you need is an old sheet (I used a flat twin here), a hula hoop, and some string or bungee cords to hang it. Simple.

I used my sewing machine and without even pinning (reckless!) I sewed the long side of the sheet over the hula hoop. I overlapped the ends about three inches, which allows it to be completely closed. If that's not important to you, simply don't overlap the edges. My kids love "surprising" one another and jumping out of it screaming "I've got a 2319!" We are Disney Geeks to the core!

To hang it, I strung a clothesline of sorts in the house, between two decorative pillars and then attached the bungee cords to that. It seemed a better plan than the hook in the ceiling I had originally planned. Our kids play with reckless abandon. We are not the people who can have nice things! This seemed like a less destructive way to hang it up, incase they decided to pull on it (which they immediately did!). And this way I think we can use it outside over a tree limb. But we have yet to try that.

The whole project from sewing to hanging took less than 30 minutes. It was ready for them as soon as nap time was over! And they love it. Until next time, dear readers, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Why Use A Disney Earmarked Travel Agent? | Wish With Amy

There are about as many ways to plan a Disney trip as there are people on the planet. We all have different priorities and expectations. But the one secret I wish more people knew about was the Disney Earmarked travel agent. Now, if you grew up going to Disney and you've planned so many trips you've lost count, then it's possible our service is not for you (although if you want to leave some of the hassle to us, you most certainly could!). But most people planning their first trip could really benefit from a travel agent, especially one who gives concierge level service up through the last day of your trip. That's what my team does.

Here are some of the most common ways we help you plan the best Disney experience possible:

1. We know when promotions are traditionally released and Disney notifies us of new deals all the time. We can't get you a cheaper price than what's offered by Disney, but we can be some of the first people in line for you.

2. We know the dates for your ADRs, FPs, Festivals, and Special Events. We can make sure that you are informed of the deadlines for your dining reservations, your FastPass+ selections, as well as special events and festivals that might be happening during your travel dates. We want you to make the most of your days at the Disney Resort.

3. We can get you the best chance at the dining reservations you want. I can't count the number of times a client wanted an Advance Dining Reservation but couldn't get it because they waited too long to book their trip, or worse, didn't communicate their desires to the agent. And even better, we will make all these arrangements for you; getting up early, staying up late into the night, whatever it takes to get you closer to your dream vacation.

4. We can get you the best chance at the Fast Passes you want. We know how the system works, and often that means staying up until the wee hours of the morning to get the first FastPasses available. That doesn't mean we can get you everything you want, but it does mean we'll take the first bite at the apple while you and your family are snuggled up tight in your bed.

5. We can help you come up with the best touring plan for you and your travel party. If you have never been to WDW before it can be tricky traveling through the parks. You can find yourself backtracking and criss-crossing the park several times in a day. If you have the expertise of people like us, you can spend less time walking and more time actually enjoying your day. We can help you come up with an efficient touring plan so that your meals, FastPass+ times and must-see experiences are more localized and move you through a park with ease.

6. We are on call during your stay. If suddenly you walk out of Peter Pan's Flight and realize you are caught in a downpour, we available via phone and text to help you decide your next move. If you decide that you want to skip one park and go back to another, but aren't sure about what to do, you can call us and we can help you get the most of that day. We are here to make sure your stay is the best it can be.

7. We've seen almost everything and know how it works. Confused about the dining plan? We have experience using them all. Uncertain of the best Disney transportation to use to get to your destination? We already know. Wondering if your ticket gives you access to waterparks on the same day as theme park access? Text us; it probably does. Want to view the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom but don't have a park ticket? There are ways to make that happen. Not sure what is free around the resort and what you have to pay for? We can help.

In short we can put our expertise to work to make sure your trip to Walt Disney World is as hassle-free and full of magic as can be. There is SO MUCH to see and do. Let us help you make sense of it all. Get a quote from me at or visit our website at!