Sunday, April 27, 2014

2014 Goal Update- April

Over the past few weeks, I've been re-focusing on my blog and where I want it to go. Which means that it's time for another goal update.  I originally planned on doing an update monthly, but I thought it might get boring since there isn't that much to update monthly.  (In the interest of not boring us to death, I'll do it every few months instead!)

As most of you know, I made some specific Blog and Disney Goals for 2014!

The best way to make sure I achieve my goals is to review where I am in accomplishing them.  For those of you who are new to my blog, or if you don't remember what my goals were, here's a short version of the list:

How am I doing so far with achieving the goals I set for myself?

1.)  Go to Walt Disney World
2.)  Participate in the WDW Half Marathon
As you know from my January Goal Update, I've been to Walt Disney World and participated in the Half Marathon.  #1 and #2 are good!

3.)  Make Disney D├ęcor for the Holidays
4.)  Do at Least One Tutorial Each Month
I totally missed out on Valentine's Day and St. Patrick's Day.  But I finally got my butt in gear for Easter.  I absolutely love the adorable Mickey and Minnie Easter Wreath I made. (And it's also a tutorial... double whammy!)  I have a few projects that I'm in the middle of creating.  You will eventually see them as tutorials!

5.)  Design an Imagineering Project
I have a ton of Imagineering ideas floating around my head.  I originally had a specific project that I planned to work on.  I wanted to try to do one project each calendar year, but now I'm realizing that might not be the best idea.  (In fact, trying to "finish" a project around the holidays at end of the year is probably the worst idea ever.)  I also realized that jumping into a huge project after being on a design hiatus for a few years is another roadblock.  Instead, I'm going to start with a smaller project.  I haven't finalized the idea, but I'm thinking something along the idea of designing one float.  I'll start small with a fun design exercise and then go from there!

6.)  Write 150 Blog Entries for the Year
In order to achieve this, I calculated that I needed to post about 12-13 times a month.  I'm on target for this goal!  I've already got 50+ entries for the year!

7.)  Have a Few Friends as Guest Bloggers
I also had my first guest blogger this month!  One of my best friends, BJ, was generous enough to tell us all about celebrating his birthday at Disneyland!  He had a great time writing and we're already talking about him stopping by to visit again!  (I'm also talking with a few other friends- yay!)

8.)  Have a Disney Themed Party
This is totally happening!!!  (And I'm so excited about it!)  That's all I can say at this moment in time.  I'm sworn to secrecy.

9.)  Blog About One Fun Find a Month
This hasn't been as spectacular as I intended.  I really need to contact more sellers on Etsy to see if I can share their products.  I'm determined to get this up and running. There are too many things I've stumbled across to not share them with everyone!

10.)  Take an Online Storyboard Class
I haven't had a chance to do this... yet.  However, I am still planning to take the visual storytelling class that is offered from Skillshare.  It's taught by an animator from the Walt Disney Animation Studios!

11.)  Make Disney Accessories
As you know, I've got my Etsy store Happily Ever Hatter open!  I've had quite a few hat sales over the past 3 months!  And I'm even more pleased with the results considering I've only listed three different designs!  My sketchbook is full of more ideas, and I've had a few custom requests over the past few days.  This is going to be a big year for hat and accessory making.  And I'm loving it!

12.)  Paint Disney Wedding Art for our Dining Room
I'm going to have a painting buddy for 6 weeks this summer!  I mentioned before that Eliot's sister Elissa is coming to visit us.  She's been working on some Disney paintings of her own, so I'm super excited that she and I can paint together and brainstorm ideas!

13.)  Finish Our Mickey and Minnie Bathroom
This is so close to being done it's not even funny!  I'm working with my Nana to get the curtains made.  I still have to design the fabric for the valences.  (Those of you familiar with my printable calendars will probably recognize the design.)  I also have to get that artwork done.  So close.

14.)  Make Disney Sweets
I love baking, cake decorating and anything that's sweet.  So, this goal was another given.  The party I can't talk about will definitely have some sweets.  It's happening.

I'm feeling really good about my goals so far!  I've definitely made a lot of progress since I last looked at them in January.  Hopefully I can cross a few more off between now and my next update!  °o°

Friday, April 25, 2014

We're All In!

Hey Everyone!  

This has been another busy week!  Lately, that seems to be the new normal around here. But I'm not complaining; I like to be busy.  It's a lot better than being bored. Nevertheless, I can't believe that it's already Friday!

My parents and brother came to visit over the weekend.  We had a great Easter Sunday. As I mentioned the other day, it was also my Mom's birthday on Sunday.  Usually she and Dad are away on their post tax season vacation over her birthday.  But this year, they decided to go away a little later than usual so Dad could do more work before his April 30th deadline.  Therefore, this was the first time in years that we were all together to celebrate Easter and Mom's birthday!

Mom didn't really want to do anything in particular.  Her only request was that we go somewhere new and enjoy the spring weather.  We ended up having brunch at IHOP before going over to the local beach.  Eliot and I had never been there, and we can get special parking passes since we live here.  It sounded like a good plan so off we went!

We enjoyed the sun, surf and relaxation.  We were some of the only people on the entire beach!  It was far too windy to play ball so we left the toys in the car.  However, we all got to blow bubbles.  Well, the wind blew the bubbles for us anyways!  Since we had large bubble wands, the bubbles were huge!  Each dip into the solution could easily yield 20+ bubbles when the wind blew.  It was a lot of fun.

Next, we decided to go exploring some more and we all went to find a campground we were interested in going to this summer.  It's still early in the season, so there wasn't much to see, but it was nice to know where it was.  After locating our destination, Mom requested that we have some ice cream at Dairy Queen.  It wasn't birthday cake, but it sure was yummy!

It was nice to see my parents and brother.  (I don't think we've all been in the same place at the same time since we went to Disney World!)  While we were together, we talked about the 2015 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend.  Eliot and I had been planning to participate in it again. We assumed my family would be joining us, but we'd never actually talked about it.  I took the opportunity to ask everyone what their thoughts were...

Tuesday a few minutes before noon, Eliot and I sat at our computers ready to register. Eliot was registering himself, while I had the daunting task of registering 4 people.  I had a plan in place, and I was poised and ready to go.  After probably a hundred refreshes, (enough to crash on the site multiple times anyways) we were finally able to register.

Photo Source: RunDisney Website

Thankfully, my pre-planning worked.  I successfully got my mother and myself registered before I less frantically registered my brother and father.  And Eliot was registered before I finished.  A few hours later, some of the races were already filling up and selling out!

Here are the results of our registration for WDW Marathon Weekend 2015:

Melissa- Minnie 10K (6.2 miles)

Mom- Minnie 10K (6.2 miles)
Jeremy- Donald Half Marathon (13.1 miles)
Dad- Donald Half Marathon (13.1 miles)
Eliot- Goofy Challenge (Donald Half Marathon + Mickey Full Marathon= 39.3 miles)

My Mom and I both signed up to do the 10K that we originally planned on doing this year (2014) before it sold out.  I'm happy with this choice since I didn't finish the half this year. I'm confident that Mom and I can do the 6 miles together.  It will be a fun mother/daughter activity.  I'm focusing on finishing this race before eventually working towards doing the Princess and Tinker Bell half marathons.

Jeremy and Dad both decided that if they could do the half marathon this year, they could probably do it again next year.  I actually thought they might do the 10K with Mom and I so they could get a different medal.  But I'm excited that we can watch them and cheer them on when they cross the finish line!  (And the guys will be able to see us cross the finish line of the 10K!)  Plus, Eliot will also be doing the half on his quest to complete the Goofy Challenge.  Since all three of them are in the half marathon, Mom and I might even do the ChEar Squad so we can get a good view of the finish line!

Photo Source: RunDisney Facebook Page
Finally, my husband was seduced by the shiny 10 year anniversary Goofy medal.  To be fair, he's been waffling back and forth between the full marathon and doing Goofy ever since we got back from Florida.  He was leaning towards the full marathon, and then runDisney released the photo of the anniversary medal on their Facebook page.  Yep, that was all he needed.  I am very proud of him for challenging himself.  I just hope that it all goes well for him!  That's a lot of running over 2 days!

I'm definitely looking forward to going to Walt Disney World again with my family!  Plus, experiencing the races together is an added bonus!  Hopefully we'll all have shiny medals to show off by the end of the trip!  I'm also thinking about designing different t-shirts to coordinate with each of our races.  It would make for some fun photos!  I'm excited!

We're officially "all in" for Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend 2015!!!  °o°

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter

Happy Easter Everyone!!!

I hope the Easter Bunny was good to you and that you have a wonderful day!  I'm not gonna lie, I kind of miss the days when I got up Easter morning and went for an egg hunt around the house with my brother.  Some years the Easter Bunny even hid our baskets and left us clues to find them!  It was the best.  Being an adult sure has it's downside.

Instead, I treated myself to the Frozen soundtrack this morning as an Easter gift (to me from me).  It's about time- I've been listening to it online for weeks anyways!  Plus, it's on sale this weekend on iTunes for only $6.99!  That's too good of a deal to pass up!

Eliot and I will be spending Easter with my family.  It's also my Mom's birthday today!  We bought a bunch of spring toys last night including: bubbles, a big bouncy ball and a frisbee.  We're hoping to enjoy the spring weather while playing on one of the local beaches!  We may not be kids anymore, but we can still have some springtime fun!

Happy Easter!!!  °o°

Saturday, April 19, 2014

DIY Project: Mickey and Minnie Easter Wreath

Hi Friends!  I have one more tutorial for Easter!  I wanted something else to display for the holiday.  I was searching for inspiration on Pinterest when I decided that making a wreath would be the perfect idea.  Lately, I'm super obsessed with making wreaths and other door decorations.  I love how they greet you when you first enter the house!

I found a few pins on Pinterest that I got inspiration from. First, I found this wreath made with plastic eggs and Easter grass.  Then, I found a tutorial for cute Minnie Easter eggs.  I took both of those general ideas and came up with my own design for my wreath!

Here's how I created my Mickey and Minnie Easter Wreath:

Foam Wreath Form
Green Easter Grass
Large Plastic Easter Eggs
Red Spray Paint
Black Spray Paint
Sheet of Craft Foam
White Acrylic Paint
Paint Brush or Foam Sponge
Hot Glue Gun
Pen or Pencil
Smaller Ribbon

Optional: Flowers, Ribbon for bow, and Plush

Steps to Make Mickey and Minnie Easter Wreath:

1.) Make Foam Ears
Take your craft foam and 12 draw circles with your quarter.  Cut out the circles.  Then draw a crescent shape on one side of your circle that resembles the curve of your egg.  If you have to, use trial and error a few times to get it right.  Once you have a shape that fits your egg, use that circle and trace the shape on all of your circles.  Cut them all out and you have your ears!

2.) Glue Ears to Eggs
If you have hinged eggs, unhinge them using your scissors.  Mine had really small hinges that easily came off.  Separate the "tops" and "bottoms" of the eggs.  (The top part is the smaller side, and the bottom is the pointy side.)  Use hot glue to attach your ears to the tops of the eggs.  Get rid of any glue trails once the glue is cool.

3.) Spray Paint Eggs
Spray paint the tops of your eggs black and the bottoms red.  I had to use two coats on mine since the spray paint didn't completely adhere to the plastic eggs the first time.  I waited 30 minutes between coats.  Then I let them dry for about an hour and a half.

4.) Assemble the Base of the Wreath
While you're waiting for your eggs to dry, you can start assembling the wreath.  Tie a smaller ribbon around the wreath and glue it securely to the wreath form.  Then, take your Easter grass and slowly glue it around the wreath.  The hot glue will start to melt your grass, so you have to take your time with it.  I did small areas of 2-3 inches at a time, being careful to press the grass down into the glue.  Once you finish doing the front of the wreath, flip it over and secure the rest of the grass to the back.  (Covering the entire back is not as important as long as it's on a solid door where it won't be seen.)

After that, hang your wreath up so you can see where the extra grass hangs.  (I hung mine up on my wreath hook.)  Use your scissors to trim any grass that hangs.  You can see from my before and after photo how much better it looks with a little trim!  Have your vacuum handy since it can get messy!

5.) Decorate Eggs
Once your eggs are completely dry, reassemble the tops and bottoms.  Take your white paint and create two oval shapes for Mickey's buttons on his shorts.  Make Minnie eggs by painting white dots on the red part to mimic her polka dot dress.  I didn't bother to paint the back of my Minnie Mouse eggs since they won't be visible once they're attached.

6.) Arrange Eggs and Flowers
Once your eggs are dry, you can take your wreath and decide how you want to arrange them.  I decided to add yellow silk daisies to my wreath to symbolize Mickey and Minnie's yellow shoes.  Also, if you'd like to add bows to your Minnie eggs, you can do this now.

7.) Attach Eggs, Flowers and Decorative Elements
Use your hot glue gun to attach the eggs and flowers to your wreath.  Remember that the glue will melt your grass so press the eggs and flowers down firmly so they'll be secure. Add any other decorative elements such as the flowers.  I made a simple ribbon bow to add to the top.  You can also add small Mickey and Minnie beanie plush to the center if you'd like.  Once everything is glued down, you're done!

I absolutely love how cute the wreath came out!  I'm bummed out that I didn't make it sooner!  I'll probably end up leaving it up until the end of April.  And I'm sure I'll get a few requests to make some more for family members... watch out after Easter sales!  I'm coming for you!

I hope you guys enjoyed this tutorial.  If you make your own wreath let me know in the comments.  I'd love to see how they turn out!  Enjoy your new Easter wreath!!!  °o°

Friday, April 18, 2014

Flashback Friday- Easter

Easter is only a few days away so I thought it would be fun to relive some of my Easter memories through photos.

Unfortunately, I still haven't had the opportunity to raid my Mom's family photo albums.  I did however, find these two gems to share with you guys!  There must be a ton more out there somewhere... maybe this summer I can find some.

Here's my brother, Dad and me having a picnic at one of the ponds in Acadia National Park.  (Mom took both of the photos.)  My parents used to take us on bike rides around the park all the time when we were younger.  I think this photo is from Witch Hole Pond (the trail Eliot and I always go on) or Duck Brook.  I was so excited to put our new plush Easter bunnies in the baskets on our bicycles.  Of course, I took them out to join us on our picnic.  I also remember watching the fish swim around in the pond!

Here's us at our kitchen table dying Easter eggs!  I loved making Easter eggs.  I haven't done it since freshman year of college.  I had plans to make some with Eliot this year, but things have been pretty busy around here.  Next year, it's totally on my to do list!

I'm really looking forward to this Easter!  It's also my Mom's birthday and we're planning on going out to celebrate!  °o°

Thursday, April 17, 2014

DIY Project: Mickey Easter Egg Centerpiece

I have been dying to make something crafty for the holidays.  Both Valentine's Day and St. Patrick's Day passed me in a complete blur.  They were over before I even had any good ideas of something to make!  Therefore, it's been my personal mission to make something for Easter.

The past few weeks have still been pretty busy around here.  I haven't decorated at all and at this point I probably won't bother.  But I wanted to have a few Easter items on display.  I decided to create a project I could make that was quick, simple, inexpensive and didn't make a huge mess!

Here's how I created my Mickey Easter Egg Centerpiece:

Plastic Easter Eggs (I found a bag of 42 eggs at Wal-Mart for $1.97)
Address Labels or stickers in different colors (already had)
Mickey Paper Punches (already had)
Craft Scissors with scalloped or zig zag edges (already had)
Easter Grass ($.33 a bag at Wal-Mart)
Charger Plate ($2 at Michael's)
Optional: Hot Glue and Glue Gun (already had)

My Total Cost for Project: Under $5 

Steps to Make Mickey Easter Egg Centerpiece:

1.) Make Egg Decorations
Take the address labels and punch Mickey stickers out with your paper punches.  Cut scalloped and zig-zag strips of stickers with your craft scissors.  You could also cut lines out with normal scissors.  (If you don't have different colored labels, you can color white address labels with markers!)

2.) Put Decorations on Eggs
Take the "stickers" you just created and put them on your plastic easter eggs.  Make different patterns.  I put some on vertically, some horizontally.  I make polka dot Mickey eggs.  Layer your stickers.  The address labels come off of the plastic pretty easily so you can re-arrange your patterns.  (Please note that since the eggs are tapered, it will be hard to keep a horizontal line straight the entire way around the egg.)

3.) Place Grass on Plate
Once you're done decorating your eggs, take your Easter grass and arrange it on your plate. I did not glue mine down, but if you want less of a mess, I recommend using hot glue to keep it in place.

4.) Arrange Eggs on Grass
Finally, arrange your Easter eggs in the grass and set it on out on display!  You're done!

This project took me less than an hour and a half from start to finish.  I just did it tonight, and spent most of my time decorating the eggs and playing around with different patterns. It wasn't messy at all.  It had quick clean up.  And it was incredibly cheap and simple! What more could I ask for?

This is a good craft for kids to do.  You could even use this for a "kids table" Easter centerpiece since none of the parts are breakable.  (I really would recommend gluing the grass down if you do this.  You don't want grass everywhere.)

And the best part?  Since the stickers should be easily removable, you can take them off after Easter if you'd like to do something different with your plastic eggs next year!

Eeyore also got in on the Easter fun.  He and Duffy posed with my favorite egg.  He's ready for tonight's San Jose Sharks playoff hockey game!  Go Sharks!  °o°

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Minnie Easter Printable

Hi Friends!

Easter is only a few days away so I figured that it's time to try and get some decorations up.  We've been really busy the past few weeks and I haven't even started!  Yikes.

To celebrate, I've got another printable for you!

I know you guys love the holiday printables I post.  I used the Minnie Easter Candy Box printable from Spoonful.  I tried to get Donald, Daisy and Thumper to work, but I couldn't download the template from Spoonful and kept getting an error message (seen below).  If I can get them to work, I'll be sure to share them with you guys!  But after trying for 5 days, I'm not optimistic that it'll work for this year.  Maybe next year?

Like my other printables, I enlarged Minnie's face.  Next, I printed it out on sturdy card-stock and cut it out, being careful to cut directly around her face.  I added Scotch tape to the back and viola: a simple Minnie Easter cupboard decoration!  It's very springy looking too, so you can probably keep it up past Easter if you'd like!

If you'd like to make some, but don't feel like going through all of the steps I did, I've posted my modified file below.  I do not take any credit for creating this! It is property of Disney and Spoonful.  I just modified it to fit my needs! Ok? Got it? Good.

The possibilities with this are endless.  It would make a fun project for kids to make their own masks!  You can also make it into scrapbook embellishments.  If you're going to Disney over Easter, you could print it out on magnetic paper and put the design on your Disney Resort door!

Enjoy!!!  °o°

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Boston Strong

Up until a year ago, April 15th meant one thing to me: Tax Day.

Growing up as the daughter of two accountants, it was a day filled with clients' cars filling our driveway, the doorbell and phone both constantly ringing and last minute trips to the post office.  The day always ended in joy and a tired relief that we'd gotten through yet another tax season.  One year when I was younger, Mom and Dad took Jeremy and I with them on their late night trip to the post office.  On the way home, we stopped at Denny's to celebrate with desserts.

A year ago, April 15th changed forever.

On April 15, 2013, I woke up to another Monday.  Another Patriot's Day celebrated only in Maine and Massachusetts.  Another Tax Day for the rest of the country.  Another "extra" day for my parents to complete taxes.  

I went about my day cleaning and organizing our house after our move from the suburbs of Boston to Southern Maine.  My mind was with my parents and tax season ending. Sometime in the middle of the afternoon, I went online to check my email and play around on Facebook for a few minutes.  What happened after that shook me to the core. There had been a bombing at the end of the Boston Marathon.

As most of you know, I went to college in downtown Boston.  It's where Eliot and I met. Where I lived for almost 10 years.  Where I'd probably still be living if Eliot hadn't gotten his job here.  Naturally, we have many friends from college who still live in Boston. Thus, I found out about the bombings through social media.

I quickly read through every post I could, and I gathered what happened.  I proceeded to spend the rest of the afternoon on the couch glued to CNN and any news outlet that had information.  I only got up to call Eliot and tell him, to use the bathroom, and to call my Mom to seek comfort in hearing her voice.  It wasn't enough.

The hours dragged by as details slowly emerged.  Three people were killed.  Countless others were severely injured.  Eliot and I contacted as many of our college friends as possible.  Cell phones weren't working in the city; people couldn't contact their loved ones.  Eventually, after what seemed like forever, we had heard from everyone.

Still, I wasn't comforted.  Boston was my home for almost 10 years.  For about 1/3 of my life.  I struggled with the question many people involved in tragedy do: why here?  How could it happen here?  I think the simple answer is that it can happen anywhere at anytime.  But if it does, nothing can ever prepare you for it.

Days passed and I tried to come to terms with what happened.  I felt violated.  Even though I'd moved away, Boston was a part of me.  I'd walked on Boylston Street many times with my friends as a college student.  I'd stood across from the Boston Public Library watching the Duck Boats pass for the New England Patriots' SuperBowl Parade in 2004.  The images on the screen were places I'd been and it was all too close to home.

A few days later, on April 19th, I sat glued to my television as the city of Boston was on, for lack of a better word, lockdown.  When I woke up, I read countless messages from friends in the Boston area urging everyone to stay inside.  A lot had happened.  A police officer at MIT was killed.  The suspects tried to get away in a stolen car.  There was a shoot out in Watertown.  One of the suspects was dead.  City officials ordered that everyone stay home while the remaining suspect was still at large.  The entire city was shut down; I'd never seen anything like it.  Friends posted photos online: the streets were empty, there were no cars on the roads anywhere, the park was deserted.  

I was completely terrified.  At that point, no one knew what to expect.  Everything already seemed so surreal.  It was like we were living in an action movie gone bad.  I sat in fear as the news crews went to Watertown were the suspect was reported to be hiding.  Eliot came home from work and joined me on the couch.  We sat in silence and didn't move. Late in the day, the final suspect was apprehended.  I clicked through three different news channels and didn't believe it until I'd heard the news from all three stations.

Then, I released the breath that I didn't even notice I'd been holding.  They'd caught him. He wouldn't be able to hurt anymore people.  I felt the sweet sensation of relief, still intermixed with the intense sadness and pain.  It was over.

Although, once you experience something like this, it's never truly over.  You move forward, but you don't forget.  

My friends and I shared photos and messages of inspiration online.  Boston pulled together as a community while the world sent encouraging words of comfort.  We sang the national anthem, raised flags and showed our American pride.  We thanked our first responders.  We prayed for those affected to heal and find inner strength.  We remembered those we lost.  We talked of strength, resilience and hope.

Boston Strong became the anthem of our endurance.  I felt completely helpless but I wanted to help spread the message.  Students at my college started a t-shirt campaign to raise money.  I bought one of their shirts to proudly wear as I trained for my first run Disney race.  I also bought a B Strong hat.  The proceeds from both purchases were donated to the One Fund.  It wasn't much, but it was something.

And I did return to Boston.  My family went to Boston one sunny day last May.  We wanted to take a day trip and to go pay our respects.  And I wanted to attempt to come to terms with what had happened less than a month prior.  I proudly wore my new B Strong hat around the city.  My city.  While we visited the sites where the bombs went off, I struggled to make sense of it.  It doesn't make sense.  It probably never will.  We also visited the memorial for the victims that had spread over a small section of Copley Park. It was completely heart wrenching.

In September, my family went to Boston twice.  We took my Nana and Papa for a day trip over Labor Day.  We went to the Museum of Science, the Prudential Center Mall, and the Copely Mall.  All things I did frequently while in college.  We also went down over Eliot's and my anniversary for a Red Sox game.  We celebrated when the Sox won the AL East Championship.  The city rallied when they won the World Series.  And Boston celebrated with the traditional Duck Boat Parade.  Although, this time it meant so much more.

And as you know, I returned to Boston once again this spring for a weekend trip.  I think being surrounded by friends from college, going to our favorite places and enjoying the city as we always used to has helped me heal a little.  It's still not the same, and it never will be.  But I was comforted by the normalcy of it.

A year later, April 15, 2013 seems like just yesterday.  I can't believe that it's been a year. I watched the memorial ceremonies this afternoon, and I've been watching the news coverage on and off all day.  I still feel the sadness and despair I felt that day.  But there's something new there: strength, courage, resiliency, defiance and hope.

Yes, everything changed last April 15th at the Boston Marathon.

However, as I heard the survivors' stories, as I listened to "Go the Distance" (from Disney's Hercules), and as I watched the American flag rise during the national anthem at this afternoon's memorial ceremony, I know that we will stand united.  We will heal.  We will move forward.  And we will forever be Boston Strong.  °o°