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 amy@wishdrawals.com or visit our website at www.wishdrawals.com!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

DIY Disney's Once Upon A Time Hand Knit Mittens

When I saw this pattern I immediately thought of the opening of Disney's Once Upon A Time TV show. It perfectly captures the woods in all it's eerie beauty (the show AND this pattern). So of course I had to knit them up right a way. And at the rate at which we lose mittens in the cottage, I will be very glad this winter indeed!

I will say, this pattern was not as delightful to knit as the gorgeous Corona Flower mittens were. I think it's simply a matter of attention to detail on my part. Not only is the pattern not one you can memorize (it's all asymmetrical), but I absolutely couldn't make out the directions for the braided cuff, so I made it easy on myself and just made a standard checker-board pattern instead. I don't mind that change one bit. And if the attention to detail was a little tricky, it was worth it as these mittens actually fit my hands! That is a very difficult thing to do indeed!

For all the details on this lovely pattern and materials used, you can head on over to my Ravelry page. And until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Lunch with An Imagineer | Wish With Amy

 It wasn't too long ago that I realized Disney had a very special dining opportunity that was perfect for three of our family members. If you've never heard of Dining with a Disney Imagineer, then you really need to read this article! Especially if you have a Disney geek or two in your next travel party.

Dining with a Disney Imagineer is available at the Hollywood Brown Derby in Disney Studios at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. As far as I know, this is the only place you have the opportunity to speak one-on-one with an actual Disney Imagineer! For my husband, our oldest, and me, this was the highlight of our trip!

We booked this experience in October of 2012 and immediately upon arrival at the Hollywood Brown Derby, we were checked in an received our very own Walt Disney World name badges. Hayes was already in his glory. His face says it all! This experience is recommended for those 15 and over, but as an overachieving science geek, foodie and Disney expert, he was the perfect guest even at age 11. We knew he would enjoy a four-course gourmet meal and have thoughtful, reflective questions for whomever our Imagineer would be.

We were seated at a table in a private dining room with 9 other Disney geeks, given a souvenir menu and met our Disney Imagineer. We were lucky enough to be dining with Bernadette Mosher, or Bernie as she liked to be called. Her position at the time was Director of Creative Development Services. We heard all about her work solving the challenge of making Spaceship Earth a reality, as no one had been able to construct a complete geodesic sphere prior to EPCOT being built. She talked about the development of Disneyland Paris, where she was the lead Imagineer for the Haunted Mansion and the Grand Canyon Diorama. She had a lot of great stories to tell and was very engaging!

The end of our meal came all too soon, but we were each given a souvenir plate, autographed by Bernie, as a keepsake of our experience, as well as a photograph, our name badges and the menus too. But the best take away for our family was the conversation! We were inspired and awed by the stories we heard and Hayes was ready to sign up then and there to work for Disney (aren't we all?)!

If you are wanting to book this experience, you need to reserve Monday, Wednesday, or Friday at noon. I recommend booking on your 180 day mark, as I wasn't able to find any seats available at the time of this writing! The cost is roughly $60 per person. As of this writing, the Disney Dining plan is NOT accepted for this event. Currently only the Hollywood Brown Derby is participating in this program. In years past, other restaurants were included, but that appears to have gone away.

I'd love to hear your experiences with this Disney dining experience too! Until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

DIY Disney Fused Plastic Rain Bucket Hat

Are you looking for the perfect accessory for your Disney rain poncho? Well, look no further! You can upcycle some old shopping bags for this unique Disney look!

For this project I used 8 grey shopping bags for the lining, (available from Kohls, Lowes or Walmart in this area) and one large Disney shopping bag for the exposed side of this hat, as well as some white seam binding I had in my stash and purple thread for contrast! Which means that this Disney hat was completely free to make and helps the environment by not putting all that plastic in the landfill. Wouldn't Jiminy Cricket be so proud?

For all the details and instructions from fusing the plastic to creating the hat, I used this tutorial from Makezine. The only change I made was adding the seam binding to the two brim pieces before sewing them together. You could always just seam it the way the pattern suggests, without the seam binding. But I like the extra touch it gives this hat. So cute!

To fuse the plastic, I set my iron to somewhere between cotton and wool/silk, the highest and second highest settings on my iron. Fusing the plastic was the longest part of this project. It seemed to take forever! But setting the iron too hot was also a mistake; when it was set to the highest setting, the plastic shrank so quickly it pulled holes in the "fabric." Not so good for keeping the rain out!

To cut the pieces out, you can actually trace around them with ballpoint pen. That way you can see exactly what parts of the design will show. Just keep in mind that you will have a 1/4" seam around the pieces. And if you do try this at home, make sure the words will not be upside down when you sew the hat pieces together. You CAN pick the seam out of this plastic, but it is no picnic! My advice is to check everything twice before sewing!

I hope to see several of these hats the next time we are in the Disney parks! After all, what better place is there for a fabulous hat than Disney? Until next time, may all your days be filled with fairy dust!