Friday, September 30, 2016

Embarking on an Adventure

Today, we set sail on our first Disney Cruise adventure!

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I've been dreaming about this day since I first learned about Disney Cruise Line.  The first time I heard about it, I was a child visiting Walt Disney World.  I remember seeing a video presentation about what they were working on.  Then, we got to see a small scale model of one of the ships.

Since then, I've seen lots of ads for the cruises on the Disney Channel.  I've seen snippets from the Disney Parks Christmas parades.  I've watched a Disney Cruise Line special on the Travel Channel.  And I've also seen lots of pictures online.  All of those have got me so excited for what we're going to experience this weekend!

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I plan to fully immerse myself and to soak in all of the Disney Cruise Line magic that I can.  Thus, I'll be completely off the grid during our cruise.  I'm planning to keep my phone in airplane mode, but I'll keep it on me so I can take photos and videos.

I will let you all know how it went as soon as I can!!!  I'm sure I'll have a ton of photos, videos and stories to share!  But for now, it's time to embark on an adventure!!!  °o°

Thursday, September 29, 2016

September 2016 Photo Challenge

It's time for another photo challenge!  (I decided to post it a day early since we'll be leaving on our cruise tomorrow!)  As you know, I've been doing the Instagram Photo challenge put on by the Disney Colors Facebook Group.  This has been a busy month, but I've still managed to post all my photos!

Here are my September 2016 Photo Challenge Photos:

Day 1: Welcome- Nothing says welcome like this sign!

Day 2: Autumn- I love the fall decorations at the parks!

Day 3: Twirl- Festival of Fantasy Parade

Day 4: Blue- Hidden Mickey in The Living Seas

Day 5: Need for Speed- Tomorrowland Speedway at Magic Kingdom

Day 6: Balloons- I love Mickey Balloons!

Day 7: Tigger- They're bouncey, bouncey, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun!!!

Day 8: Fountain- My favorite fountain photo

Day 9: Thunder- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad model, Disneyland Hotel

Day 10: Show- Mickey and the Magical Map, Disneyland

Day 11: Gold- My first runDisney bling!

Day 12: Ice Cream- Dole Whip!!!

Day 13: Details- I love the details of the Storybookland Canal Boats models.

Day 14: Flowers- Flower and Garden Festival

Day 15: Royal- Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade

Day 16: Future- Tomorrowland, Disneyland

Day 17: Lanterns- Rapunzel in Mickey and the Magical Map

Day 18: Nature- Kilimanjaro Safaris

Day 19: Wonderland- Tea Cups at Disneyland 

Day 20: Space- Star Wars store in Tomorrowland, Disneyland

Day 21: Mouse- One Man's Dream

Day 22: Castle- I love the ice lights on Cinderella Castle!!!

Day 23: Celebrate- The Move It, Shake It Parade, Magic Kingdom

Day 24: Music- Soundsational Parade, Disneyland

Day 25: Disney Food- Because nothing tastes better than Mickey shaped food!

Day 26: Sparkle- I love sparkly fireworks!

Day 27: Selfie- Riding Dumbo with one of my favorite little donkeys.

Day 28: Parade- Boo To You!!!

Day 29: Imagination- I miss the imagination from the Animation Building.

Day 30: Laughter- Genie provided many laughs in Aladdin, California Adventure.

This was a lot of fun!  I'll probably skip October though, at least the daily Instagram posts.  It's a lot of work to go through my photos and I'm going to be away at Disney for the start of the month anyways!  At least I'll be able to get some more photos for next time!  Maybe I'll just post them all at once again like I did in May!  

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Disney Cruise 2016 Bucket List

I've dreamed about going on a Disney Cruise forever.  Now that we're finally getting the opportunity, I have a ton of things I want to try!  I decided to make a separate bucket list for our cruise.  It's only a three day cruise, but I have a lot of goals!

Melissa's Disney Cruise 2016 Trip Bucket List:
°o°  1.) Do the Castaway Cay 5K
°o°  2.) Attend the Sail Away Party
°o°  3.) Buy DCL Merchandise
°o°  4.) Go on the Aquaduck
°o°  5.) See the Fireworks
°o°  6.) Explore Castaway Cay
°o°  7.) Take Character Photos (Mickey, Minnie, etc)
°o°  8.) Buy a Special Piece of Artwork for our House
°o°  9.) Participate in a Fish Extender Gift Exchange
°o° 10.) Take a photo in a giant porthole
°o° 11.) Check out and Explore the Disney Dream
°o° 12.) Get Character Autographs on our Anchor
°o° 13.) Take pictures of my ears on ship
°o° 14.) Attend Pirate Night
°o° 15.) Take Videos of the Fake Porthole

I think this bucket list is definitely do-able!!!  We've already got plans to do quite a few of the things on the list!  I'm so excited.  I can't wait to experience all of these new things!!!  I'll check back when Eliot and I return to let you know how we did!!!  °o°

Monday, September 26, 2016

WDW Tomorrow!!!

I can't believe I leave for Walt Disney World (and for our cruise) tomorrow!!!  I'm so excited, but I've still got so much to do!!!  Ahhh!!!  Catch me if you can!!!  But, as crazy as it's been the past few weeks, I know it'll be worth it.  I'm looking forward to a week and a half away from my everyday routine.  I'm also really excited to see all of my fellow travel agent friends again!  And to meet some new friends!!!

If you see Eliot and me at Disney, please feel free come say hello!  We'd love to meet fellow Disney fans!  I promise we don't bite!  (Unless you are a candy apple.  Then, I make no promises!)  However, if I'm with my travel agent group, I probably won't be be able to say hi... I think we'll only be in the parks touring as a group on Thursday, but I'm not 100% sure.  Otherwise, I'd love to meet you!

As always, you can virtually follow along with the fun from the comfort of your own home.  If you aren't already, follow My Disney Life on Facebook for pictures, posts and updates.  I'm also on Instagram as @MyDisneyLifeBlog if you want to follow the photo fun there!  In the past, I tend to be more active on Instagram during our Disney trips.  I like to post photos "live" from the parks.  Don't have an Instagram account?  If you follow this link, you should be able to see all of my photos online!

During our Disneyland trip, I was able to live broadcast on my Facebook account.  If you are following me on Facebook, you might be in for a few treats!  You should get an alert when I'm live.  If you can't tune in to the live feed, you should be able to watch the videos at your own convenience if you go to my page.  Hopefully, this will allow more people to see my videos!

However, with all that being said, I will be offline during our cruise.  I will be sure to post photos and videos afterwards though!  There are data plans available, but I've decided to go cold turkey for the 2.5 days so I can get the full cruise relaxation experience!

Stay tuned for lots of Disney photo and video spam... See ya real soon friends!  °o°

Friday, September 23, 2016

One Week!!!

Only one week until we embark on our first Disney Cruise adventure!!!

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Two weeks ago, I started to tell you about how we were preparing for our cruise and trip to Walt Disney World.  I posted another update last week, when we started to get a bunch of our Disney Cruise Line items in the mail!  Since then, it's been a flurry of excitement around here... and there's no sign of stopping!

Mostly, Eliot and I have been working almost non-stop on mouse ears.  Mouse ears for my Key to the World travel agent friends.  10 sets of breast cancer awareness mouse ears for a customer on Etsy.  Other mouse ear orders from Etsy.  Mouse ears for us to wear.  Mouse ears here, mouse ears there, mouse ears pretty much everywhere!!!

However, I'm still not stressed out.  (Yet anyways!)  Maybe it's because I'm enjoying all of the new designs and it's sparking some creativity.  I've even taken some time to work on a few new ear designs for Eliot and I to wear during our trip!  A few are designs I've wanted to make forever... so I'm really excited that those are done now!

Earlier this week, Eliot finished a few soaps orders for some Etsy customers... so we switched gears to focus on making our fish extender gifts!  We also told my parents we'd make gifts for them to give out!  I think he's pretty much done with my family's fish extender gifts.  Now, he's just working on completing both sets of ours!  Plus, they're a little bit different so we're not all handing out the exact same thing!

I've completed most of the shopping on my list.  A lot of the list consisted of supplies, so I had to get those ahead of time.  I also got a few more supplies in the mail.  At this point, I'm only expecting two more things in the mail!  Hopefully they'll arrive soon!

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We still have stuff to do this weekend, but we're in good shape!  I'm finished with work, so I have today, this weekend and Monday to finish up some more projects.  I also have to make our fish extenders.  I have to finish a bunch of ears, and start one more secret ear project for Eliot and me.  I also have to put together my outfits, and start packing.  I have a list, but I haven't started to pack anything yet!

It might be a busy weekend... but at least the final countdown has started!!!  °o°

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Our 4th Wedding Anniversary

Today is Eliot's and my 4th wedding anniversary!  It's hard to believe that four years have passed since we had our Disney Wedding.  It was a dream come true and sometimes, it still feels like it was a dream!

Thankfully, we splurged on photos and videos so we'll always have reminders of our special day!  I was going through a few of them the other day, and I created this short slideshow video for my Instagram account.  I thought I'd share it here too!  (Note: It's made to be viewed on Instagram so the photos are not a very high quality!)

We don't have any big plans for today.  Honestly, we've been so busy with ears that I've barely seen Eliot this month!  But, it'll totally be worth it when we're at Walt Disney World and on our cruise in a few more days!!!  (10 days until our cruise!)  We've already decided that we'll celebrate more then!  And what better place to celebrate then where our Happily Ever After first started?

ChEars to four magical yEars!!!  °o°

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend 2017

"Here we go!!!"  I'm registered for the 2017 Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend!!!

This event takes place at Disneyland May 11th to 14th.  Eliot signed me up for the Pixie Dust Challenge- which consists of the Tinker Bell 10K Saturday and the Tinker Bell Half Marathon Sunday.  So that's 19.3 miles total in two days!

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Early registration for Annual Passholders and Disney Vacation Club members opened last Tuesday at noon.  I didn't even realize Eliot was planning to register us early, until he called me at work asking me what shirt size I was.  He registered himself and his entire family as well.  Registration opens for everyone on Tuesday!

This also means that Eliot and I are both registered to do the Coast to Coast challenge in which you get a pink medal!  I'm very excited about this.  I've wanted to do these two events for years now.  Next year is my year.  I've already started to work on my training plan and it goes into full swing once we're back from Walt Disney World.  I haven't had the best luck with runDisney events in the past, but I'm really determined this time!

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In addition to my registration, Eliot also pre-ordered my pins and the "runner bundle" which included a Tervis cup and an ornament.  I also got those items from Princess weekend!  I'll have to make sure I save a spot on our Christmas tree for them!

Here's to the start of another runDisney adventure!!!  °o°

Friday, September 16, 2016

Two Weeks Until We Set Sail!

After getting all of the negative energy out in the open this week... I think it's time to focus on something positive: only two more weeks until our first Disney Cruise!!!

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My to do list is at an all time high, but weirdly, I'm not freaking out.  Eliot's pretty much stressed to the max, but I'm feeling pretty good about it.  I have a tendency to wait until the really last minute, so maybe that's why I'm chill now.  We've got about 50 pairs of ears we're making in the next 1.5 weeks, but all I say is "BRING IT ON!!!"

Today, I got an awesome package in the mail.  When I placed my order, I wasn't sure if I'd be able to get it on time for our trip.  I think I screamed when I got the shipping notification a few days ago!  I'm so excited.  A few of the products didn't come out exactly how I was hoping, but I can work with them- and improve them when I have more time.  I'm not going to spill the beans yet, but here's a little sneak peek!

I also got a few of the things I ordered last week in the mail.  The supplies I ordered to make part of our fish extender gifts came, so that's a relief.  Eliot also found another supply we were looking around the house for- also a relief!

I got our character autograph anchor in the mail the other day.  I absolutely love how it came out!  I purchased it from Brock's Trophies on Etsy.  I'm really excited to have something we can hang in our master bedroom after the cruise.  I have an idea for a display and this is going to be perfect for it!  Now, I just need to get silver Sharpies!

I received two sets of magnets for our stateroom door.  I found a ton of porthole room number designs I liked, but I finally settled for getting a cruise wreath since it's generic and we can use it again.  I also ordered both us and my family "Our First Disney Cruise" signs.  I'm planning to put ours on our refrigerator when we get home.  Finally, I got some Halloween themed Disney name tag magnets with our names on them- a few more souvenirs that we'll be able to put on the fridge to remember our first cruise. 

I also got our Bitbelts for our MagicBands in the mail.  I'm so excited for all of the color options!  Now I can mix and match!  These are perfect and Eliot and I love them!

This morning, I've been busy placing a few more last minute orders.  I've got one more outfit I'm putting the finishing touches on.  I've already driven to Portland once to get crafting supplies, but I'll probably be going out to get more in the next few days!  I've still got a few things to get on my list!  Then, it's back to business!

This weekend, my main focus will be completing a bunch of ears.  I'm also hoping to make our fish extenders since I ran out of time to order some.  I found a few ideas on Pinterest, so I'll see what I can do with that!  Once Eliot is done with a large order of soap weddings favors... we'll be starting to make ours and my family's fish extender gifts!  In the meantime, I've got to go get back to work.  I reiterate, "bring it on!!!"  °o°

Thursday, September 15, 2016

A Low Point

Still hanging in with me?  Ok, good.  A lot of you are probably wondering what brought on my multi-day rant.  While these thoughts have been mulling around in my head for months now, I had a moment this past weekend that cemented my need to get them out in the open.  My gut was telling me that it was time.

Last weekend, I was looking on Etsy for supplies for new products I'm designing in my head.  One search lead to another, which in turn lead to another one.  Eventually, I happened to stumble across an Etsy shop selling ear hats.  I decided to check it out, and what I saw left me speechlesss, angry and upset.  One of the few items in their shop was a design almost identical to my Anna ear hat.

No one else has been making ear hats like mine at all.  I'm very aware of the ear hat market.  Everyone and their uncle is making ear headbands, but ear hats are harder to find. One shop makes felted designs with painted images.  A few paint the ear hats that Disney sells.  But no one else has designed there's in a similar way to me, until now.

Ok, let me be honest, the Anna ear hat is not just similar, it's pretty much identical to my design.  It's one of those situations where you know there's no way the seller came up with that design without seeing my design first.  It would be one thing if it was similar but a little bit different.  This is the same, down to the gold edging of the center of the bow.  It has the same pom poms, the same layered design of the cloak.  And the exact same back.  It's my Anna design- except she's charging twice as much for it.

I'm furious.  The more I look at it, the more angry I become.  It's a complete slap in the face.  This accidental discovery stopped me in my tracks and took the wind out of my sails.  That's why I've taken time out of my incredibly busy month to address my grievances the past few days.  I'm relieved to get all of my thoughts out.  And for those of you who have stuck by me this week, I am forever grateful.

The rational part of my brain tells me that I shouldn't be that surprised.  I have a pretty successful shop.  It's not the most successful.  I'm not rolling in money.  I don't have hundreds of sales.  I don't make thousands upon thousands of dollars.  But I'm very happy with how well my shop is doing.  And I'm sure others have taken notice.

I'm proud of the designs I've created.  It's something beautiful when you create something from what was once nothing but a pile of supplies.  I love the design process and making my ideas come to life.  I've got so many ideas, sketches, lists, and designs.  Happily Ever Hatter might be a few years old, but I still feel like this is only scratching the surface.  This is just the beginning.

My sales and reviews speak for themselves.  I've had so many wonderful customers and experiences with them.  They've shared pictures with me.  They tell me how much fun my designs added to their Disney trips.  Those stories always make my day.

I have a successful Facebook and Instagram presence.  Sometimes I get discouraged with my relatively small following on Instagram.  Compared to some of the other ear shops, a little over 200 isn't much, especially when they're in the thousands.  But, my shop also hasn't been on Instagram as long.  I haven't posted as many photos and I don't use it as much as I should.  However, I have 710 fans on Facebook.  I'm so proud of that.  I gain new "fans" all the time.  I wish I knew how they found me.  Every time I see another "like" I smile and remind myself that I built something from nothing.

I'm exploring new designs all the time.  I'm not able to make new designs as often as I'd like, but hopefully that will change soon.  Once we're completely settled into our house, I'm hoping I'll have more free time.  I've got supplies for at least 10 new designs. I'd love to explore those.  Some I've been dreaming of making for years now.

Eliot and I are also incredibly proud of our IllusionEars line.  They're so different and original.   And the sky is the limit with the potential designs.  We've got a lot of new designs we'll be releasing soon.  We just have to finish all the orders from my travel agent friends between now and our trip.  Once we're back from Walt Disney World, Happily Ever Hatter is going to launch a ton of original IllusionEars designs.

Plus, Happily Ever Hatter isn't the only thing I've got up my sleeve.  I've hinted at a few other business ideas over the past few months.  One of them is actually coming to fruition sooner than I thought.  (I've got a package for one of those ideas that is scheduled for delivery tomorrow!!!)  I'm so excited about this new opportunity.  I'm definitely exploring a few other businesses with less saturated markets.  Hopefully I'll be able to share more about that with you all soon!

For the most part, running a business is something I love.  This... this I don't love so much. I guess I can say I've officially had my first experience with someone making something just like mine.  Days have passed and I'm still upset, but I'm not as upset as I was.  (That's probably mostly because my rational brain has finally won out.)  Plus, I've got a lot of ideas that I'll be rolling out soon.  Now, I'm more motivated than ever.

And for those of you wondering, I did look into my options with Etsy.  I will not be pursuing them at the moment- especially since they encourage one shop to contact another.  I'm not planning to get into the middle of that.  I'm not going to call out the shop publicly, or on Instagram, or in other methods.  I've decided to try and take the high road and to let my designs, number of sales, and customer reviews speak for themselves.  If things eventually get out of hand, I will reevaluate my plan if necessary.

The other day I mentioned that if someone wants to copy something I've made for their own personal use, who am I to stop them?  I said that after I had seen this on Etsy- and I still stand by it.  You open yourself up to people copying you when you post a photo of your product online.  That's just how it goes.  I've seen my ear hat designs on a ton of peoples' DIY Pinterest boards.  You want to try to make one for yourself because you think mine costs too much?  Great!  Go for it!  I won't stop you.  It's when others use my ideas for their own profit that I have a problem.

So, tomorrow is another day.  I've got all weekend set aside to work on ear orders.  I've made myself a few new designs for our trip.  I'm hoping I'll have time to design a few more.  At this point, I'm really ready to roll.  This past week was not the highlight of Happily Ever Hatter's year, but hopefully it will be the low point.  And if that's what this is, then I'm going to make sure this weekend will make up for it!  °o°