Saturday, February 29, 2020

Leap Year Day 2020

Happy Leap Year Day!!!  February 29th only comes around every four years.  To me, that makes it a special day like a holiday.  How did you spend your "bonus" day?

Four years ago, I told you all that I was spending my extra day of the year working on stuff that I had been putting off.  Nowadays, that feels like every day, so I took a totally different approach this time around- I simply lived in the moment.

This morning, Eliot and I got up really early to drive the 2 hours down to Burlington, MA to meet my brother Jeremy at our closest Disney Store.  (Please bring one back to Portland and Maine!)  As I've said, we're collecting the Disney Store keys.  Today, they released a Tigger key for the Leap Year!  Of course, Tigger is one of my favorite Disney characters, so here we are!  I love that they made a Tigger key!

All three of us ended up buying things from the new Disney Eats ice cream collection in order to meet the $15 minimum to get the free key.  I was really excited to add a few items to our kitchen collection!  After we left the Disney Store, we headed over to the Lego Store to check out the new Disney and Harry Potter Lego sets.  Then, we went to the food court for slices of pizza since none of us had eaten breakfast.  After that, we walked out to our car, said goodbye to Jeremy and headed back to Maine.  It was a quick trip down, but it was nice to visit with Jeremy- even if it was only for a little bit!

Of course, I like to dress up for holidays, but instead of going all out in orange and stripes to channel Tigger, I decided to take my cue from another one of my favorite characters.  Since we're celebrating having an extra magical day of the year, I decided to dress in casual Sorcerer Mickey Disneybound style!!!  

I really love how my outfit turned out!  I wore my comfy black leggings with a red long sleeve shirt.  Over that I wore my red buffalo plaid shirt.  Then, I added my Cakeworthy Sorcerer Mickey hat that I bought years ago.  It's a low-key, casual Disneybound, but I had fun wearing it.  But, I have to admit I'm shocked that no one said anything about my hat when I wore it at the Disney Store.  I figured Disney fans crazy enough to line up ahead of the mall opening for a key would recognize my hat!  Oh well; I loved it!

Eliot and I definitely had a great day!  I wore a fun outfit and ended the day with new Disney ice cream bowls and matching spoons, and three Tigger keys!  No matter how you spent it, I hope you had a wonderful and magical Leap Year day!!!  °o°

Friday, February 28, 2020

12 Years with Charming

Today is Eliot's and my 12th dating anniversary.  Wow... twelve years!  Sometimes, it's hard to wrap my head around the fact that we've been together for so long.  (It seems like time went into hyperdrive ever since we got married in 2012!)  But, here we are!

Five years ago, I did a blog post on our 7th dating anniversary.  I recounted how Eliot and I first met and how it was our love of Disney that brought us together.  From a mutual love of design and Imagineering, to our similar Disney plush collections back home (him with Eeyore and me with Tigger) to both of us totally geeking out over the Ducktales theme song, it's been an an adventure sprinkled with Disney magic.

Eliot and I have certainly had our share of ups and our downs, but there's no one else that I'd rather be on this journey of life with.  From our first photo together at my awards ceremony senior year in college to our photo with Buzz Lightyear in our matching hockey jerseys on a recent trip to Walt Disney World it's been an adventure!  Eliot really is my own version of Prince Charming and I love him to infinity and beyond!  

Cheers to 12 magical years and to many more years of adventure together!!!  °o°

Thursday, February 27, 2020

#tbt Saying Goodbye to IllumiNations

Today, I'm kicking off my #tbt posts by saying my final goodbye to IllumiNations.  I had started writing this post months ago with the intent to post it the day of IllumiNations final show, but I never got a chance to finish it.  It's been about five months since we said goodbye to the nighttime show as Epcot's IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth took it's final curtain call back on September 30th.  It was the end of another era, especially since this show has been running for the past 20 years.

I remember when I first saw this version of the show back during the WDW Millennial Celebration and being completed dazzled by it.  The fireworks, water fountains, fire effects, lasers and sparkling lights on the pavilions mesmerized me.  As soon as I saw the show, I purchased the soundtrack and I've been hooked ever since.  (I was also a hug fan of the Tapestry of Nations Parade... but that's another story for another day.)

IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth meant so much to me.  Through the years, I've seen it with so many people... not just my immediate family.  I always said that it was my favorite of the nighttime Disney shows, but I think that was primarily because I'm very sentimental and it held so many memories for me.

There was the first trip I went to Walt Disney World without my parents in December of 2006 when I was 22.  My best friend Katie and I went down for a week over our college winter break.  I remember sitting on the edge of the Italy Pavilion and putting my clunky digital camera on the cement under the fence so I could take some good photos of the show in focus.  I remember being so excited to get those pictures!  (Now, the quality probably looks horrendous compared to my phone but back then it was incredible!)

Then, the following year, I went to Walt Disney World with my parents, Jeremy, Nana, Papa and my good friend Justin who had never been before.  Justin and I stood in the same spot in the Italy Pavilion.  Unfortunately, that particular time we were in the direct line of the firework smoke and I ended up with debris in my eyes.  It wasn't the best memory of IllumiNations, but I look back at it now and chuckle.

Of course, through the years I saw it many times with Eliot, Mom, Dad, Jeremy, Nana and Papa.  I took Eliot to see it for the first time during our trip in 2008/2009.  Then, in turn we've taken his family members to their first times seeing it.

My favorite memory of IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth was from our wedding.  We had a Dessert Party in the French Pavilion at the Terrace des Fleurs and brought 40 guests with us- many who had never seen the show before.  During the show, Eliot and I had our photos taken with the fireworks in the background.  I absolutely love how they came out.  The best part was that we also have full professional video footage of the show on our wedding video.  I will always cherish those memories.

Now that the show is gone for good, the thing that I miss most is perhaps the most sentimental.  There was a song called "Promise" that was always played immediately after the show finished.  While most people were starting to make their way out of the World Showcase, Eliot and I always stayed.  Promise was our first dance song at our wedding.  After the show ended on our wedding night, we had a second impromptu first dance right there at the side of the Terrace des Fleurs.  Every time we saw the show after that, Eliot always took me in his arms and we danced to it.

It was really hard the last time Eliot and I saw the show together back in February of last year.  I made it through most of the show, but towards the end, the tears came.  I also cried during "Promise" and "Tapestry of Nations" since I wasn't sure if I'd ever see it again.  But I knew it was likely the last time I'd see IllumiNations with Eliot.

I saw it twice on my solo trip to WDW in September.  I took a few pictures when I went to see it before my Disney Cruise and I'm glad that I had a chance to see it one more time after the cruise.  I feel like I gave it a good send off as I soaked in my last show fully immersed in the experience of it.  Afterwards, I stood at the side of the World Showcase listening to Promise watching the lights from the pavilions dance on the water.  It was nice to quietly reflect on all of the times I've seen it through the years.

As with many other things, Disney is always changing and building for the future.  All is not lost.  Eliot and I will always have these memories.  We can watch the video from our wedding.  I can enjoy our photos with the fireworks.  And most sentimental to me, I'll always have the lyrics to Promise that Eliot had engraved on the inside of the band of my engagement ring saying "A new life has begun, when two of us are one."

Farewell IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth.  Thank you for many years of magic, entertainment, enjoyment and memories.  "We go on."  °o°

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Bob Iger Steps Down as CEO

Yesterday afternoon, the world was shocked upon discovering that Bob Iger was stepping down as CEO of the Walt Disney Company- effective immediately.  I have to admit, the news threw me for a bit of a loop too.  It was sudden and the news of it spread quickly.  I first heard when multiple Disney sites that I follow on Facebook all posted about it at the same time and it completely filled my newsfeed.

Basically, here's a quick run down of everything that unfolded yesterday.  Bob Iger stepped down and now Bob Chapek is the new CEO.  Iger will stay on as an executive chairman while still overseeing the creative endeavors.  It sounds like Chapek will start to take over the business side of the job.  Iger will stay with Disney to the end of his December 31, 2021 contract giving Chapek 22 months to fully transfer into the role.

Photo Source
Bob Iger first took over the CEO job in 2005 and he's done so much for Disney since then.  Without him, who knows if Disney would have acquired Pixar, Lucasfilm, Marvel Studios and 21st Century Fox.  He's also been a champion for expanding the creative side of the company.  Under his leadership, we got Star Wars Land, Toy Story Land, Avatar, a re-designed California Adventure, the Shanghai Disney Resort, more Disney Cruise ships on order and so much more.

I have to admit, I'm still a bit dumbfounded.  I suppose, it's something we all knew was coming.  Iger had announced that he was planning to retire at the end of 2021.  But still, I wasn't quite ready for him to be done.  I've been a huge fan of Bob Iger.  I think he's done a lot of great things creatively for Disney and I'm very relieved that he's going to help oversee the creative changes coming to Epcot in the next year or so.

Photo Source
Bob Chapek is only the 7th CEO of the Walt Disney Company.  I'm not really sure what happens next for the company as a whole.  I've heard mixed reviews about Chapek and his philosophy about the theme park experiences.  I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I'm a little anxious, but I'll wait to see what he does before I make any opinions.  The bar has certainly been set very high.

Changes in life are inevitable.  This is just the start of another chapter in the Disney story.  Walt taught us to "keep moving forward" so that's what we do.  And to Bob Iger, Thank you for everything you've done for Disney over the past 15 years.  °o°

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Making Memories- Intro to #tbt Posts

It's no secret that Eliot and I have been crazy busy making memories over the past few years.  Life truly flies by, and before you know it, a few years have passed by in a complete blur.  We've had so many fun experiences that I've wanted to write about, but I've found myself in a time crunch and I haven't been able to.  I went from doing a ton of blog posts, to barely writing about anything.  Here's a quick overview:

Blog Post Totals Each Year
2013- 73 posts (started blog in May)
2014- 147 posts
2015- 122 posts
2016- 163 posts
2017- 43 posts (Happily Ever Hatter got crazy busy)
2018- 18 posts (HEH continued to be busy and I left my "real" job in August)
2019- 63 posts (First full year self-employed and home full time)
2020- 5 posts (so far!)

As you can see, my blog post totals were starting to consistently get where I wanted them to be.  (I was shooing for about 150 posts each year.)  Then, it suddenly took a massive nosedive in 2017 when Happily Ever Hatter took off and I wrote 120 post less than the previous year.  In 2018, things were really coming to a head and I had no time... hence the decision to leave my job to be self-employed instead.

In 2019, I navigated the uncharted waters of self-employment.  It had a lot of wins and a lot of losses.  In the end, I didn't have as many posts as I wanted to; but, I was happy with my 63 posts and the fact that I was at least writing on my blog again.

This year, I've had a bit of a slow start in January when I was traveling through the 22nd.  Of course, then I was sick and didn't post anything again until midway through February.  But, now I'm making a little more time and I've been so happy to be back.

Unfortunately, due to my lack of time through the past few years, I have a ton of blog posts that I've started drafts on, only to not have time to finish them.  I don't want to delete them as I'd still like to share what I started to write.  If it was important enough to start, then it's important enough for me to take the time to finish and share it.  Thus, I've decided to do something new starting this year.

I'm going to start a new "segment" of posts where I look back at a past event, trip or memory and then I write about it.  I'm going to call them my #tbt Posts.  For those of you who don't know, #tbt is a popular hashtag on social media that stands for "Throwback Thursday".  People use it to post nostalgic pictures of their past and use that hashtag to describe it.  I occasionally post these myself and it's fun to look back at past memories.  So, every once in a while, I'll use the #tbt label for a Throwback Thursday post of memories I never had time to fully write about on here.  

Lately, I've been struggling trying to figure out what to do.  I needed a way to write about past trips, events and fun memories.  I know that I write about a lot of things in Year in Review posts or quick trip recaps, but sometimes I wish I could get more in depth about an experience.  I want to recount more of the details than I usually have time for.  This will allow me a place to recapture some of those moments when I do have time to.  And if you aren't interested in walking down memory lane with me, you'll just have to look for and ignore my #tbt posts.

I think this will be a great way to move forward!  I've got a lot of other ideas that I'll be rolling out as I'm working to streamline my blog.  I hope you'll enjoy these new ideas!  

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”  - Walt Disney  °o°

Friday, February 21, 2020

2020 Calendar Update

Well guys, it's high time that I admit defeat.  After months of trying to figure out what to do about my calendar conundrum, I've run out of ideas.  It's already more than halfway through February and at this point... I've decided to wave the white flag.

For those of you who hadn't heard, the short story is that the laptop I use to make the calendars on crashed last year.  I now have a new laptop, but the software I need is installed on my college laptop.  I don't have the software for my new laptop and right at the moment, we're not in the financial position to get it.  I've been left with no way to edit the calendars to the correct dates, months and holidays.

Photo Source
I'm incredibly disappointed that I won't be able to share my free printable Mickey and Minnie calendars this year.  Sharing them with all of you has brought me so much joy the past 6 years!  I love to see how you use them, or hearing about how you planned to use them to surprise your children with a Disney trip!

Fortunately, I've done some research and I found another alternative for you to use for the rest of 2020.  Disney actually makes a free printable calendar themselves.  You can find the Disney Family 2020 Printable Calendar at that link.  I thought these were really cute!  They have a different theme for each month.  Here are the movies that correspond with each month:

January-  101 Dalmatians
February- Princess and the Frog
March- A Bug's Life
April- Alice in Wonderland
May- Up
June- The Little Mermaid
July- Hercules
August- Mickey and Minnie
September- Ratatouille 
October- Monsters University
November- Incredibles
December- Lady and the Tramp

Disney Family has included the major US holidays on the calendar.  They also have fun random holidays like Popcorn Day, National Pizza Day, National Pretzel Day and Ice Cream Day.  (Clearly, I'm all about days that celebrate food...)  They have included the release dates of their upcoming movies as well.

But, the absolute best part (at least in my opinion), is that they've also included a few cool Disney milestones!  There are a few dates marked by theme park ride openings, anniversaries of movie releases, and Disney characters birthdays!  I had a lot of fun hunting for those.  These different milestones would also be fun to celebrate!

I hope you enjoy these calendars and that they are a good alternative for 2020. 

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Now, I'm looking ahead at trying to figure out how to get my calendars put together for 2021!  I'm hoping that they'll be back and better than ever because there's a great, big, beautiful tomorrow, shining at the end of every day.  °o°

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Halfway Point: 30 Things to Do During My 30's List

We've reached the halfway mark!  My 35th birthday was exactly three months ago so I thought it was time to check in on my 30 Things to Do During My 30's List.  

To recap: I decided to make this list after discovering that a lot of people make 30 things to do before turning 30 lists.  I didn't have time to do it before I turned 30, so I decided to make one for myself while I was in my thirties.  Then, I kicked off my 30th year with a Rapunzel and Tangled themed birthday party.  Instead of looking at turning 30 with dread like most people do, I chose to look at it as the next big adventure.  

Photo Source: Disney
I've been really excited about this bucket list for the most part.  However, I recently decided to make a few changes to my list.  (The changes that I made last year are in red.)  Priorities and passions change over time, so I decided to change my list to reflect that.  I've also gone ahead and crossed off all the goals that I've accomplished so far.  

Here's where my goal list is now that I'm halfway through my thirties:  

30 Things To Do During My 30's (Updated List):
  1. Visit Disneyland During the 60th Anniversary 
  2. Buy Our First House 
  3. Go On Our First Disney Cruise
  4. Get a Puppy
  5. Have Kids
  6. Attend a D23 Convention
  7. Ride in the Lily Belle Train Car
  8. Go to Disney for Dapper Day
  9. Ride a Horse
  10. Get My Photo Taken with Every Disney Princess
  11. Visit Pixar Studios
  12. Go on a Christmas Disney Cruise
  13. Visit Walt Disney World during the 50th Anniversary
  14. Ride in a Hot Air Balloon
  15. Go to Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party
  16. Take a Walk in Walt's Footsteps Tour
  17. Read a Book in French
  18. Finish 5 Disney Races of Any Distance
  19. Go to Aulani
  20. Visit the Walt Disney Family Museum
  21. Swim with a Dolphin
  22. Go on all of the Opening Day Attractions at Disneyland in one day
  23. Reach Gold Level in DCL Castaway Club
  24. Visit Disney Animation Studios
  25. Travel Somewhere New
  26. Go to a Disney Christmas Parade Taping
  27. Learn 10 New Crafting Techniques or Mediums
  28. Go to the Magic Kingdom on it's 50th Birthday (October 1st of 2021)
  29. Launch Other Business Ideas
  30. Have a 10th Anniversary Vow Renewal
As of right now, I have 9 of these goals crossed off.  I know that logic says that I should be halfway done with them since we're past the halfway point, but a few of these goals are pretty close to being done.  Plus, I'm feeling like I'll have quite a few more checked off within the next two years.  I've got a private list in my Notes on my phone, iPad and both computers with all of the specific details.  So no, I'm not exactly halfway through checking things off the list... but some of them I have to wait a few more years to complete.  (I'm looking at you WDW 50th anniversary goals!)

Once I'm nearing the end of my thirties, I'm thinking that I'll do 3 posts with a recap of 10 goals on each.  I also have a list of cool things I've done in my 30's that I wasn't expecting to do!  That's shaping up to be a fun list that I'll share in another post, or two depending on how much I have to share!

Overall, I'm feeling pretty good about this so far.  I'm looking forward to crossing a few more of these goals off soon!  On to the next adventure!!!  °o°

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Sickness and Positivity

Hi friends.  I'm sorry that I've been radio silent on here since the new year started.  It's been a ride the past few months... that's for sure.  Here's a quick overview:

As most of you know from some of my previous blog posts, Eliot and I have been busy doing a lot of traveling as of late.  We went to Walt Disney World for Thanksgiving week with Eliot's family.  Then, we had back-to-back Disney Cruises and spent a few days at Walt Disney World before and after those with my family for about 2 weeks in December.  We went to my parents' house for Christmas.  Then, we were home less than 24 hours before hopping on a plane to California to spend the end of the year and New Year's skiing in Tahoe 
with Eliot's family.  

Basically, from November 25th to January 22nd, we were only at our house for 14 days total.  (In other words... we were home for 2 weeks in an 8 week period of time.)

Of course, all that traveling makes you very susceptible to illness.  I knew going into all of these trips that both of us would end up sick.  Unfortunately, I became ill after our November trip, and continued to be sick all they way through the beginning of this month.  Eliot was also sick after the November trip and was through mid-January.

On top of all that, this was the first time since I was a child that I got the flu.  I spent the last few hours of the last day of our Walt Disney World annual pass laying in the Magic Kingdom First Aid Center curled up under my new It's A Small World blanket trying to rid myself of a 102 degree fever.  The next morning, I was in the emergency room, diagnosed with the flu, and stuck in Florida for 2.5 extra days since I couldn't fly home.

Since Eliot's and my return to Maine (four weeks ago today), I've been desperately trying to get better and to get myself back into the groove of our everyday life.  Let me tell you, that's really weird when you haven't had a "normal" schedule for over two months.  (And even then my "normal" schedule is weird anyways with being self-employed.)  Thankfully, things are heading in a more positive direction now.  I'm not quite into a groove, but I'm finally feeling like I'm making progress.  

After spending the past four weeks focusing on getting better and resting, it's nice to finally feel like I'm accomplishing something.  I've spent most of my days laying in bed, sleeping or relaxing on the couch.  Most recently, I've been focused on cleaning the house and getting stuff more organized.  I'm trying to catch the spring cleaning bug early since the weather here has been freezing or snowy.  We still have a lot of house projects to work on, but I'm hopeful that they will get done this year!

We've also been busy working on Happily Ever Hatter.  Eliot and I made a bunch of new designs for all of our recent Disney trips so we could take photos in the parks and on the Disney Dream cruise ship.  Since we've been home, I've been updating photos and listings.  We still have a lot of samples that are works in progress so I'm working on those.  We're also launching a new product in March so we're working on finalizing designs, samples and listings for those too!

Eliot also asked me to help him with his Snowblade Creations Etsy shop.  I've already made listings for his new business card holder designs.  We've got a lot more designs that he's going to be working on, but those will probably come out slowly over the next few months since we've got so many other things we're working on.

The "upside" of my being sick for so long is that I've spent a lot of time on Pinterest, Etsy and Instagram as well as doing research.  I have a ton of new ideas for our home decor business, Happily Ever Hatter, Snowblade Creations and for some personal projects for the house.  I have lists for my lists and they've only grown.  But, if that's the positive side of being sick, I'd like to think that it will all have been worth it as we start to create my ideas over next few months!

Thankfully, it hasn't been all sickness, rest, work and no play.  There have been a few shimmering moments in between all of the naps and couch potato time.  I very much enjoyed eating my Mickey cake pop and the Minnie Mouse candy apple that I brought home from Disney.  Eliot and I also went to our first Maine Mariners hockey game a few days ago.  (They started playing in Portland last season and we never made the time to go.)  We also got to see Elissa at a University of New England hockey game last week.  I can still count the number of times I've left the house on one hand, but it's been good to get out of the house... even if it is freezing out! 

Now that I'm settled back into everyday life in Maine, I'd also like to get back on here more often.  I had so many things I planned to work on in between our California and Florida trips and once we returned home from Florida.  I usually do a "Year in Review" before the new year and this year I also I wanted to do a post about "Looking Back at the Decade".  I also have a bunch of other blog posts that are half written up.  I'll be working on getting those together in the next few weeks.  They're a little less timely now, but I still want to write them up.  I enjoy looking back at them myself and I know that I'll be disappointed if I don't finish and post them!

Finally, I know a lot of you come to my blog for my free Mickey and Minnie monthly calendars.  Obviously, my health has been my top priority the past few weeks.  I haven't been able to find a solution to my conundrum and lost software.  Unfortunately, I've come to the conclusion that the calendars are not going to happen this year.  I've been stressing out about it and avoiding answering any emails until I knew what was going to happen.  I've decided that I need to just let it go for now.  All is not lost though... I'll be posting about an alternative in the next day or two for those of you still looking for something to Disney-fy your calendars!

Long story short: being sick for weeks on end was definitely not in my 2020 plans.  But, if that's what it takes for me to get myself well-rested and back on track, I'm going to trust that it was all for a reason.  After all, my 2020 word of the year is "positivity" and I'm determined to focus on the positive.

You haven't conquered me yet 2020.  Now, let's get down to business... °o°