Thursday, January 20, 2022

We're Going to the 2022 D23 Expo!

Earlier today, tickets for the 2022 D23 Expo went on sale to D23 members and the general public.  And this time around, I will be where the people are.  After missing out on the 2019 D23 Expo, and watching the 2021 event being pushed back to this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, Eliot and I are finally making our return!  It will be my second D23 Expo and Eliot's third.  (He also went with his family back in 2015.)  

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The best part of this year's expo is that my brother Jeremy and Dad will also be coming with us!  Eliot and I have asked Jeremy if he'd want to go in the past and he's always considered it.  (Jeremy and my Dad have gone to a few Comic Cons years ago.)  Now that it's almost impossible to get Comic Con tickets, this is a good alternative.  Plus, they both love Star Wars and Jeremy is really into Marvel and the Muppets.

Eliot's family is taking a step back this year.  His mom bought a three day ticket, but she isn't sure if she'll be able to go all three days.  It is a lot of walking and standing around.  If Elissa is able to go, she might go for a day if tickets are still available.

Regardless of whether they attend the expo or not, we'll probably see Eliot's family as his parents booked us a stay at their timeshare hotel.  Eliot and I are staying near the Anaheim GardenWalk at the same hotel we're staying at in a few weeks.  The hotel we were going to book for Dad and Jeremy sold out, but it all worked out for the best!  Eliot was able to get them a room at the hotel that's literally next door to ours!

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As of right now, we aren't sure if we're going to add a few days at Disneyland on to our trip or not.  Eliot has limited days off, but since it's Labor Day week, we might be able to work something out.  Dad also has a pretty big tax deadline on September 15th, so if we do anything, it will probably be at the beginning of the trip.  I'd love to take him to Disneyland since he's never been.  (Jeremy went once with me back in 2017 during my travel agent conference.)  We'll probably have to make some decisions about this in the next few weeks since the window to book flights opens up in early March!

Eliot and I are really excited about attending the expo this year.  We have been going back and forth about attending it for months now.  But the other day, we looked at our calendar and decided that we were going to make it happen.  I was really bummed out that we missed the event in 2019.  While it was great to have Eliot's mom there getting us some of the exclusive merchandise available, I was sad that we missed out on the fun atmosphere and the exhibits.  I would have loved to see the costuming one, and I definitely didn't want to miss out on this year's theme!

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Honestly, once I saw the photo of Mickey on the website, I knew we were going.  I couldn't miss it.  Disney is using this event as the official kick off to the "100 Years of Disney" celebration.  Usually, D23 Expos take place in the US on the odd years.  I assume that the 100 Years theme was supposed to be used for the 2023 event, but when they postponed the 2021 event to this year, they pushed that theme ahead.

There aren't many details about the event available yet, but they are having the large exhibit themed to celebrating the 100 Years of Magic that Disney has created.  Walt's plane is being restored and will be on display.  The merchandise features Mickey with the magical swirls around him.  I can only imagine the amazing products that will be available to purchase and the Disney history that will on display at the exhibit.

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Eliot and I are already planning our outfits.  I'm making a list of things that I want to do and see this year.  Most notably, I'd love to get in to see the Mousequerade fashion show.  I love to see the creativity of other people, and this event is always top notch!

There are so many things to look forward to about the D23 Expo.  I'm so thankful that this year, I won't want to be where the people are; I will be where the people are!!!  °o°

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Only 45 Days...

It's been 730 days since I last stepped into a Disney theme park.  If you had told me back on January 18th of 2020, that Eliot and I would be away from the magic for over two years, through a worldwide pandemic, and that we'd miss Walt Disney World's 50th birthday on October 1st, I never would have believed you.  Yet, here we are. 

It's been one year, 11 months and 30 days.  Or 104 weeks and 2 days.  Or 17,520 hours.  Or 1,051,200 minutes.  Or 63,072,000 seconds.  No matter how you slice it, it's been a long time since I smelled the popcorn on Main Street USA.  Eons since I last walked under the "Here You Leave Today" sign under the train tracks.  So long since I waved to my favorite characters.  It's been too long since I saw the castle.

I'm 100% ok with our decision to wait.  Up until now, it's felt right waiting.  Even now, we're still in the middle of the pandemic, and numbers are still rising at an alarming rate.  However, I have to admit that I'm also getting a bit stir crazy.  I've had both of my vaccines.  Eliot and I are all boostered up as well.  We've both been doing everything that we are "supposed" to be doing according to the experts.

The past few weeks, I've finally come to accept that the coronavirus pandemic isn't going anywhere anytime soon.  I'm tired of it.  Eliot's tired of it.  All of us are tired of it.

I'm ready to move forward with my life, while continuing to do what we're "supposed" to.  But I'm not going to sit in my house forever and watch life pass me by.  I've done that, and frankly I'm tired of watching many people who aren't doing what they are "supposed" to do have all the fun.  And that ends now.

I'm friends with so many travel agents through my company.  My friends have all been continuing to travel around the world safely and responsibly.  They are living proof that it is possible.  Plus, now that Eliot and I have gone on our road trip to Virginia with my family and flew down to Pittsburg to visit his family, I'm ready to get out there again.  I had been worried about flying, but it ended up not being a big deal.

My wings are ready to spread once again.  I'm ready to leave the nest and get back to whatever the new normal is going to be in regards to traveling.  And I'm doing it.

Now, all that separates me from Mickey Mouse is 45 days.  

That's right; Eliot and I are officially booked, scheduled and reserved to visit our main mouse on March 1st.  And in a surprise twist of fate, our first trip back will not be to Walt Disney World to celebrate it's 50th Anniversary.  It will be to the place that the magic started... walking in Walt's footsteps at the Disneyland Resort. 

I'm so thrilled to go back to Disneyland.  I mean, at this point I'm excited in general to go to any Disney theme park, but I'm really looking forward to seeing Disneyland.  The last time Eliot and I were there, we had absolutely no idea when we'd be going back.

I want to add that this is actually a multi-faceted trip.  The original reason Eliot and I will be in California is that we're going to the San Jose Sharks home games on February 26th and 27th.  These were some of the only Saturday and Sunday back-to-back home games in the season, and we have had these on our radar since last summer.  Plus, there's another fun event that we have tickets to that Eliot and I have been wanting to go see.  It lined up perfectly like it was meant to be!  (More about that soon!)

Eliot's and my plan is to fly into San Jose Friday night, then go to the Sharks hockey games and the other event that weekend.  Then, on Monday February 28th, Rick, Elissa, Eliot and I will all drive down to Southern California to meet up with Nori.  We'll be staying at a hotel about a mile from Disneyland while we're there.

Eliot's family will be going a few of the days, but they haven't worked out all of the details.  However, we did get Eliot's and my Disneyland tickets and we are both officially booked as of last night.  (Hence, why I've started my countdown!)  We've had the San Jose Sharks hockey tickets, other event tickets and our flights booked for a while now, but I didn't want to say anything until everything was all set!

Eliot and I will be at the Disneyland Resort Tuesday, March 1st through Friday, March 4th.  Since you still have to book your park reservations in advance, we've selected to do Disneyland, CA Adventure, CA Adventure and then Disneyland on the final day.  We don't fly out of the Southern California area until Sunday night, but we've also got a few other plans.  Plus, we'll be going back to Disneyland sometime Saturday or Sunday to explore Downtown Disney and do some shopping.  (World of Disney anyone?)

In the meantime, I'll be eagerly counting down the next 45 days.  Only 6 weeks and 3 days.  Or 1080 hours.  Or 64,800 minutes.  Or 3,888,000 seconds.  Because that's all that separates me from finally stepping back into the magic.  °o°

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Happily Ever Hatter's 8th Birthday

Happy 8th Birthday to Happily Ever Hatter!!!

I can't believe that it's already been eight years since I took the plunge of starting my own business.  It's certainly been a ride and I've learned a lot!

This year, my main focus for Happily Ever Hatter is to get some new products in our shop.  Last year, Eliot didn't have much time to work on new 3D printed mouse ear designs.  I'm hoping we can get more designs done this year.  We also have 30-40 samples we're working on that we haven't gotten finished.  I have so many ideas for our 3D ears, including a few that are unlike anything anyone else is making.

I also have some completely new products that I'd like to bring to the shop.  One of them I've wanted to make for a few years now.  The other was a new idea last year, but I'm really excited about it.  I'm hoping to dive into that when we have some extra money to buy supplies... probably when we get our tax refund!

Hopefully, there will be a lot of fun, new designs coming to our shop this year!  I'll be sure to share our new creations with you here as well.

As always, thank you to everyone who has supported me and my dream over the past eight years.  I would never be where I am today without all of you!

Happy Birthday Happily Ever Hatter!!!  Cheers to many more years and ears!!!  °o° 

Friday, January 14, 2022

Fun Find: Encanto Lyric Videos

This entire week has been brought to you by Encanto.  Ever since Eliot and I first watched it on Sunday, I've had the soundtrack stuck in my head.  I've given into it and Alexa probably thinks that's the only music she's allowed to play in my presence.

Working on posts for my blog?  Encanto soundtrack.  Cleaning the house?  Also Encanto.  Working on orders for our businesses?  Still listening to Encanto.  Putting the dishes in the dishwasher... you guessed it!  Encanto.  It's all been Encanto.

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Like I said the other day, the music is so catchy.  It has a great rhythm and it's easy to dance to.  It makes me want to dance around the house all day while cleaning.  Of course, I wan't expecting anything less when I found out that Lin-Manuel Miranda was writing the music for the movie.  I knew it would be incredible, and that there would probably be some speedy lines that would be hard to memorize.

Luckily, Disney made some lyric videos of all the songs from Encanto.  I'm not going to share all of them with you today, but these are a few of my favorites from the movie!

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CAUTION: Major Spoiler Alert!!!  Spoilers are ahead if you haven't seen Encanto yet!  Most of these songs help tell the story, so you'll definitely spoil some plot points for yourself if you haven't watched it!  Proceed ahead with caution!

The first song of the movie introduces us to the "The Family Madrigal" through main character Mirabel's perspective.  I thought this was a genius way to tell the movie viewer about each member of the family and their special gift.

"We Don't Talk About Bruno" is my absolute favorite song from the movie.  It is just SO darn catchy... Trust me, you'll catch yourself humming it randomly throughout the day like I do.  I can't help myself... I can't stop singing it.  But we don't talk about it.  Hehe.

Another song that really resonated with me was "Surface Pressure".  All of us have been under intense pressure at one point, whether it's from family members, friends, co-workers, peers, or ourselves.  This is another one you won't get out of your head.  

"All of You" is the final song of the movie where the ending is coming together.  This song also really got to me on a personal level.  Each member of the family is realizing that they are more than just their special gift.  And I love how they make Mirabel her own doorknob and she sees her own reflection looking back at her.  I thought that moment was so beautiful and it really spoke to me.

So, what did you think?  If you haven't seen Encanto yet, do yourself a favor and go watch it!  Lin-Manuel Miranda is an absolute genius with his lyrics.  These songs are incredible!  Plus, they remind me a lot of Hamilton (which he also wrote).  I had to listen to that soundtrack over and over again until I learned all of the lyrics.

I'll definitely be watching these videos on repeat until I memorize every single line!  °o°

Thursday, January 13, 2022

#tbt 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend

Hi friends!  Today I wanted to share a Throwback Thursday post.  The past few days I've been having a bunch of photos pop up from our first Run Disney race experience back in 2014 and I thought it might be fun to take a stroll down memory lane.

Back in 2014, I wrote a pretty detailed review of our 2014 trip including our visit to the Race Expo, our 2nd trip to the Expo, and participating in the 2014 Walt Disney World Half Marathon.  Today, I just thought I'd take a look back at the overall experience.

Eliot and I first started talking about doing Run Disney races right around the same time as our wedding.  We wanted something else to look forward to after all of the planning and preparing for our Disney wedding was over.  We didn't sign up for the 2013 races since we were still in pretty deep with wedding planning in 2012.  Instead, we signed up for the 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend as our first event.

Jeremy and my Dad also decided to race the half marathon with us.  In hindsight, we probably should have signed up for something a little less ambitious than the half marathon the first time, but it is what it is.  None of us were as prepared as we should have been, but everyone did their best come race day.

I am so proud of Eliot, Jeremy and especially my Dad for all finishing it!  Eliot had a little bit of training that he'd done, so he was able to jog and walk a lot of it.  Jeremy used to run cross country and track in high school, so he was also able to do some spurts to keep ahead of the pace.  My Dad didn't have any training at all, just sheer ambition and motivation.  I'm incredibly proud of all three of them for accomplishing their first half marathons!  It was so special watching them each cross the finish line.

Me, well I made it farther than I should have.  That particular morning was a special type of humid... I think it was 95% or more.  It was miserable even at 4 am when we first gathered into the pre-race area.  The women in my family (Mom, Nana and I) usually mind the heat, so I already had that against me.  

In the end, I made it to just outside of the Magic Kingdom... about 5 miles into the 13.1 miles... before I got pulled.  I hadn't realized that I got behind the pacers, and by the time I knew, there was no way I was hoofing it down the hill by the Contemporary Resort (where the boats drive over the road) and up the other side of it.  If I had stayed on pace, and not stopped at the bathrooms twice, I'm confident that I would have at least made it through the Magic Kingdom.

I'm a little disappointed, not that I didn't finish the entire race- especially considering all of the circumstances.  There were people who finished the marathon but couldn't finish the half because the weather was so miserable for racing.  No, I'm disappointed that I didn't get to run through the castle.  But now, seven years later, it doesn't really bother me as much.  Do I wish that I'd made it, yes.  Is it the end of the world, no.

Since then, I've tried a few more half marathons and I've never finished one.  A few years ago, I finally came to the conclusion that my flat feet and my right knee (the one I had surgery on) aren't really built for long distance.  I always wanted to finish one to say that I did it, but at this point, I don't really care.

However, I do enjoy the races and I'm definitely planning to do more of the 5K and 10K events.  I was so happy when I finished my first 10K at the 2017 Princess Weekend.  I felt so proud of myself and I knew I could do it.  It really reminded me that there's nothing wrong with me that I can't do the longer distances.  And finishing a 10K is still more than many people will do in their lifetimes.

Plus, the entire Run Disney race experience is fun.  I would never want to sign up for a race somewhere else.  (Other than a 5K.)  Disney makes running, something I pretty much hate, actually fun.  I love the atmosphere and excitement before a race.  I really enjoy going to the expo center and exploring all of the booths.  I love the feeling of camaraderie with the other runners whether it's at the race events or in the theme parks after the races.  And I love the sense of accomplishment after finishing an event. 

Now that Run Disney events are starting to take place in person again (after being turned virtual due to the pandemic), Eliot and I are contemplating our return to these events.  The Dopey Challenge's 10 year anniversary is next year and Eliot always said he wanted to do that one.  However, that was years ago and now that it's almost upon us, I'm not sure if he has that same goal.  But, I'm sure that we'll be making our way back to in person Run Disney events at some point in the next few years!  °o°

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Encanto Movie Review

This past Sunday, Eliot and I finally sat down and watched Encanto on Disney+.  

Honestly, I wish we'd watched it sooner.  Jeremy and Eliot really wanted to watch it when it came out on Christmas, but since it was Christmas Day I had insisted that we watch a holiday movie, so we watched Noelle.  Everyone enjoyed it, and I don't regret not watching Encanto then, but I wish we'd seen it sooner.  Between Christmas and leaving for Pittsburg a few days later, Eliot and I have been too busy to watch movies.

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This one was incredible.  I wasn't really sure what to expect.  Everything that I had seen regarding the movie had kind of flown out of my head, so I was like a clean slate- free from expectations.  I knew the music would be incredible because Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote it, but other than that, I was going into it with an open mind.

I could not have been more impressed with Encanto.  The animation was so beautiful and detailed.  The colors were fun, bright and vibrant.  The characters were all well-developed.  The story had me completely entranced the entire time, needing to know what happens next.  And the music was everything I wanted and more.

After watching it Sunday, the songs were stuck in my head.  Late Monday afternoon, I wasn't feeling very well and Eliot still had to be at work for a few hours.  I decided that I needed to watch the movie again and I was just as entranced as the first time.

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I really love the magical house.  Obviously, as an interior design major, the house is something that I'm paying attention to.  But this was also a magical house that could move and I loved it.  The house was it's own special character and the animators did a great job of bringing it to life.  No spoilers, but I was so happy at the end of the movie!

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I also liked getting to know each of the characters in the Madrigal family.  In so many movies, it feels like you get to know the main character but not the others.  In Encanto, each of the characters' relationship to the main character was very much a part of the story.  I also really liked how there was no traditional villain in the movie.  The real villain was intergenerational trauma and family expectations.  It felt more realistic.

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The attention to detail was also astounding.  I read something that said Dolores claps with her fingers because the sound of herself clapping is too loud for her ears.  Now, I'm dying to watch the movie again so I can look for that part.  There are also reports that you can see the character we don't talk about in the background of many of the scenes.  (If you look closely on most of the movie posters with the family, he's there!)

Of course, as a Disney nut, I was also keeping an eye out for the Easter eggs.  I was so enthralled with the movie that I didn't really think about them the first time I watched it, but the second time I caught a few.  I swear I saw a young Mama Coco walking into the casita, and I definitely caught the "Let It Go" reference both times.  I missed the Wall-E boot with the plant, but I'll be looking next time!  (Read about more here.)

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I also loved the symbolism with the butterflies throughout the movie.  I don't speak Spanish, but I looked up the English translation of "Dos Oruguitas" this afternoon and it tells the story of two caterpillars who have to separate and make their own paths; then, they turn into butterflies and still have to make their own way.  It was so beautiful, yet heartbreaking, much like the story of Alma and Pedro in Encanto itself.

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The music will stay with you long after the movie ends.  I knew it would be amazing, and it definitely was.  After listening to Hamilton so much, I could definitely hear Lin-Manuel Miranda in certain parts of the songs.  I knew there would be a great variety of styles, and speeds to the songs.  Much like Hamilton, it didn't take long for the medleys to get stuck, even if I had no idea what the lyrics were.  (More on that later this week.)

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Overall, I was deeply enchanted by the magic that is Encanto.  Honestly, the only thing that I'm really disappointed about is how Disney hasn't realized that we'd like an adult size skirt like Mirabel's.  Maybe one is coming soon and they're all stuck out on a ship somewhere, but if not, get on that Disney!  There are a lot of ladies in my Dress Shop Facebook group ready to shell out for our own Mirabel skirts!

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If you haven't seen Disney's Encanto yet, do yourself a favor and go watch it.  I'm sure you will absolutely love it!  In the meantime, I've gotta restart the soundtrack!  °o°

Friday, January 7, 2022

Fun Find: Disney Enchantment

Happy Friday Friends!  It's my first Fun Find Friday of 2022 and I thought that it would be fun to start the year off with a bang... quite literally! 

While scrolling on YouTube the other day, I came across this suggested video.  The first time I saw Enchantment, I wasn't thoroughly impressed.  It lacked the depth of magnitude I was looking for with Walt Disney World celebrating it's 50th Anniversary.

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However, I decided that I'd watch it again with a fresh perspective.  I have to admit, this time, I really was able to enjoy the show and the castle projections.  This video has a wonderful edit with multiple camera angles.  I felt like this edit of the show really made the show appear as spectacular as it should be.  And although I still haven't seen it in person, this video of it made me really excited to experience Enchantment in person!

I've also had a chance to listen to the soundtrack a few times.  I do really love the song.  It goes along with my whole Magic Maker philosophy and how the magic lives inside of each of us.  We all have the power to make our dreams come true.

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I hope you enjoy this video of Disney Enchantment and that it inspires you to have a magical 2022!  "Doesn't matter where you are, 'cause the spark is in your heart."  

You are the magic!!!  °o°