Friday, February 26, 2021

Goodbye Old Logo

I mentioned recently that I'm working on updating my blog.  I'm ready to update and refresh... and this place has been the same since I started it back in May of 2013.  It's definitely time for a makeover!!!  And that means, as part of the process of updating my blog, it's time to say goodbye to my original blog header and logo.

I made my logo back at the very beginning.  After learning how to input photos into text, I was well on my way to creating something that was quite personal.  I always thought that I'd do a post with more detail on each of the photos, but I never got around to it.  (Better late than never right?)  So, before she rides off into the sunset, I thought that I'd give a little more information about the photos that have graced the top of my blog and my blog's Facebook page for the past eight years.

M- Mickey and Minnie Wedding Photo
Eliot's and my photo with Mickey and Minnie while we cut our wedding cake was one of my favorite pictures from our wedding day.  Obviously, I had to include it!

Y- Melissa and Mickey
This is my first picture with Mickey Mouse from when I was a child!

D- Melissa and Eliot on Cinderella's Castle (pictured below)
I loved our castle photos from our Magic Kingdom wedding photo shoot.  We were so excited that we got to go up the stairs of Cinderella's Castle!

I- Magic Kingdom Fireworks * * * 
I've always loved the night shows at Disney and what's a day at the Magic Kingdom without watching the fireworks over Cinderella Castle?

S- Sorcerer's Hat at Hollywood Studios * * * 
I've seen a lot of changes at Hollywood Studios through the years, but I loved the giant Sorcerer Mickey Hat.  I had to include it in my blog logo.

N- Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland * * * 
When I made my logo in 2013, I'd only been to Disneyland once with Eliot's family in 2009.  I hadn't fallen head over heels for it yet, but a few years later I would.

E- Spaceship Earth at Epcot * * * 
I had to put Spaceship Earth's texture in the "E" for Epcot.  I really love how it looks!

Y- Tree of Life at Animal Kingdom * * * 
I finished the word Disney with the last WDW park icon- Animal Kingdom's Tree of Life!

L- Cinderella Castle lit up with Christmas Ice Lights * * * 
I love the celebrating the holidays at Disney parks so I represented them with a photo of Cinderella Castle lit up with the ice lights.

I- Melissa and Eliot at Magic Kingdom Train Station (pictured above)
This was a photo taken right after Eliot and I got our first WDW annual passes back in April of 2012.  They were a gift from Disney Fairy Tale Weddings and we had just gotten the actual tickets at the Magic Kingdom Guest Services window.

F- Walt Disney Partners Statue at the Magic Kingdom * * * 
It might have all started with a mouse, but it wouldn't be anywhere without the man behind the mouse.  I had to make sure that Walt Disney was represented in my logo.

E- Melissa and Sorcerer Mickey
This photo of me and Sorcerer Mickey was taken at Hollywood Studios while we were on Eliot's second trip to Walt Disney World together back in 2010.

I also wanted to note that the photos with asterisks beside them (* * *) are all photos that I found after a quick Google search online.  This was before I knew how to properly credit photo sources online and unfortunately I have no idea where I found them.  I can't find the original images that I used to make the logo as they are all currently being held hostage on my old, dead laptop.  Lesson learned!

Of course, the photos in the logo are all cropped down to the outline of the letter so you can't see a lot of the other details.  Jeremy was completely cropped out of the first "Y" photo.   I had to find photos where the subjects would fit into the proper shape.  It took a lot of time to get the design and photos correct, but I was happy with the result.  I've loved my logo, the memories it evokes and how personal it is to me.

However, at the same time it feels old and stale at this point.  I've changed a lot in the past eight years since starting this blog.  It's time that I get a newer and more modern logo design that reflects me and what I dream for the future of my blog!

And there you have it- the story behind the photos used in my first blog logo!  Goodbye old friend.  Thank you for serving me well for the past 8 years.  °o°

Thursday, February 25, 2021

#tbt A Personal Triumph

Today, I thought I'd take a little bit of a trip down memory lane.  This is s rough day for my family as it's been six years to the day since we lost my Papa.  But, it's also the anniversary of a day of great personal triumph for me because today is also the four year anniversary of the day that I crossed my first Disney finish line and officially finished my first runDisney race.  So while Papa is obviously on the forefront of my mind today, I've decided to try to focus on celebrating the positives as well.

If you've followed my journey here for a bit, you've heard about my struggles with RunDisney races.  Eliot and I have done quite a few at this point, but I've never been able to finish the longer ones.  For the most part, I've chalked it up to the damage done to my right knee when I was 18.  I had a meniscus tear and they weren't able to fix it, so I only have 30% of it left.  Walking, jogging or running can cause me a lot of pain and it's not good for my knee joint.  Eliot and I don't usually train for these events like we should- but I'm not really sure that would help in my case anyways.  Try as I might, I've never finished a half marathon.  But four years ago today, I did finish my first 10K.

Eliot and I woke up that morning much like any other RunDisney morning- super early and after not enough sleep.  That day felt different though.  I was finally at Walt Disney World for Princess Half Marathon Weekend.  Not only that, but I really wanted to finish the Enchanted 10K race and to do it in honor of my Papa.

Throughout the race, I thought of him often.  As Eliot and I progressed farther along the 6.2 miles, I felt more and more like it was possible.  We kept a decent pace through the Boardwalk area and we just had to make it through Epcot.  As I approached the finish line in the Epcot parking lot, I couldn't help but feel a sense of immense pride.

Afterwards, I was exhausted and sore, but I'd done it.  That 10K medal will always be my favorite and I treasure it.  I couldn't wait to text my Mom and tell her that I'd finished the race.  The rest of the day, I wore my medal proudly around my neck for all to see.  

That night, Eliot and I had drinks to celebrate at the Pop Century bar.  Papa often joked about going down to the pool bar to have a drink with me.  That's one thing we never had time to do on our trips as we were usually exhausted by the end of the day.  I wish that we had made time to get one together.  That night, exactly two years after we'd lost him, I finally made it to the bar.  Even though we had the half marathon the next morning, Eliot and I both enjoyed a fruity concoction in Papa's memory.

February 25th definitely isn't my favorite day on the calendar, but I'm glad that I have something good that has come out of it.  I wish that Papa had been here to hear all about us finishing the 10K.  I know he would have been proud of me and I know he was there in spirit, cheering Eliot and me on to triumph.  °o°

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

WDW 50th Anniversary Details

There are only 220 more days until Walt Disney World officially turns 50.  The WDW 50th anniversary celebration is something I've been looking forward to for years.  As we get closer to the event, more and more details are expected to be released.

Like many other Disney fans, Eliot and I have been anxiously awaiting the news of what they have planned.  Last Friday, Disney finally released some of their 50th anniversary plans on Good Morning America for what they're dubbing "The World's Most Magical Celebration" which will officially start on it's October 1st birthday.  There still aren't many details, but we do finally see a few ways of how they're incorporating the iridescent shimmering 50th anniversary logo.

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In fact, the WDW 50th anniversary is such a big deal that Disney has made a new word to describe the shimmer and sparkle of the decorations- "EARidescence."  I'm all about shimmer and sparkle so I'm 100% fully on board with this.  But I digress... 

First, Disney released photos of the Cinderella Castle updates.  Then, it appears as if Tinker Bell flies by to add a little extra pixie dust and sparkle in the form of golden ribbons around the turrets, some sashes and a large 50th medallion.  I was already a fan of the updated color scheme and I can't wait to see how it looks with the added anniversary decor.  It's both beautiful and elegant.  I was really impressed with the Disneyland 60th decor on Sleeping Beauty Castle and I can't wait to see this!

The other renderings released were images of each of the park icons.  At night, each icon will be lit with special lighting in order for them to become Beacons of Magic.  I really recommend you going to the Disney Parks Blog where they show short animated videos of these icons.  It will give you a better idea of how the projections will look!

Cinderella Castle looks like it's covered with an extra sprinkling of pixie dust.

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The Tree of Light at Animal Kingdom has fireflies with blue, teal and purple lights.

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The Tower of Terror at Hollywood Studios has golden details.  I'm assuming that all of it's anniversary "decor" will be projected and only visible at night time.

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Epcot's Spaceship Earth looks like it's color scheme will be updated in shades of blue, teal and purple.  It also has a new lighting system that will make it's reflective surface look like stars.  According to the Disney Parks Blog, the new star lighting will be a permanent fixture and will remain after the 50th celebration is over.

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Finally, Disney also released photos of Mickey and Minnie's special "EARidescent" 50th anniversary outfits.  They have beautiful shades of blue, teal and purple, purple Castle embroidery details, rhinestones and gold accents... and I am obsessed.  I hope they make little Mickey and Minnie plushies that match these outfits.  I also want an adult sized version of Minnie's dress for myself, but I'd settle for something similar.

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Even though I've temporarily stopped making ear hats, I immediately started to look for supplies to make hats of their outfits.  You might recall that I made Eliot and I hats to match their Disneyland 60th outfits.  I'd also like to have ear hats of these costumes to display with the WDW 50th merchandise that we're sure to be purchasing.  Hopefully, we'll be able to take pictures of us wearing them with Mickey and Minnie!

Most importantly, the celebration is going to be 18 months long much like the other celebrations in the past.  I'm so thankful, because we aren't 100% sure when we'll be able to go.  I've been at Walt Disney World during the 20th, 25th, 30th, 35th, 40th and 45th anniversary years, so I'd really like to be there for the 50th.

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In fact, Eliot and I had talked about going down for the actual 50th anniversary this October, but the Magic Kingdom is already "sold out" for that day.  We've decided to stay away from the park that week due to the pandemic and it probably being super crowded, but we'd still like to go sometime during the celebration.  

Screencap of Mickey's Jacket Detail from Video Above

After hearing the news Friday, Eliot and I talked about going sooner than we had been planning.  We've been talking about going for the Festival of the Arts next year since we really missed it this year.  But Eliot mentioned going during the holidays to see the holiday decor... so maybe we'll go for the holidays as well?  I guess time will tell.

Regardless, I'm sure we'll get down there at some point during the celebration.  The decor, renderings and the concepts all look and sound incredible.  Plus, I'm pretty obsessed with iridescence and I love blues, teals and purples.  I'm going to start saving money for the merchandise now because I'm sure it's going to be amazing and I'm going to want everything.  After all, this is a celebration 50 years in the making.  °o°

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

A Shop Refresh

I'm definitely in a mood for refreshing things as of late.  Between working toward finishing the house and preparing to update my blog, I want to redesign everything.

I've been playing around with updating my Facebook cover photo for a while now.  In fact, I started a Canva account a few months ago.  However, I never took the time to finish it as I kept getting stuck design wise.  After working with Elissa a few weeks ago and using Canva to help make her blog header, I felt more confident and decided it was time to get back to my abandoned project so I spent that weekend playing with it.

First, I went back to the draft of my new HEH Facebook cover.  After a few layout revisions, I was ready to add photos.  Then, I changed the font of the text to a fun, somewhat bold font.  I added the "making 3D printed mouse ears since 2015" to the bottom- both for good measure and since I'm very proud of that fact and I wanted to make it stand out.  Before I knew it, my new Facebook cover photo was done and uploaded online!  But I still wanted to design more... 

Naturally, the next thing I wanted to do was update my Etsy banner to reflect the same design as my new cover photo.  For the most part, both of our Etsy shops are in a good place, but one thing that has needed some TLC is our Etsy shop banners.  Both shops have been a little bit neglected in that aspect.  Eliot deleted his banner once he started selling our 3D printed items last year.  (His old photo was of soap and since we're not selling that right now, he didn't want to mislead people.)  Happily Ever Hatter has had the same logo that I designed way back when I first started the company seven years ago.  It's a bit tired and old... plus, I'm not sure that anyone can actually see the hats I tried to make the letters into.  (The "H", "E" and "H" are supposed to look like mini Mickey and Minnie top hats.)  Thus, I decided it was time to update those.

I used my cover photo as the basis of the design for the Etsy banner.  After adding an additional photo to account for the wider layout, I formatted the text- keeping the same text from the cover photo.  Then, I found photos that fit the layout and I was done!

After that, I knew Eliot needed a new Etsy banner too.  I decided it wasn't worth it to reinvent the wheel so I copied over my Happily Ever Hatter Etsy banner.  However, I did make a few changes to the layout to account for the wider photos of the desk set, and the taller photos of the pen holders.  Then, I changed his background to teal (Go Sharks!) which I knew he would like.  I found another font to use and got his approval on it.  Finally, I found photos that fit in the layout.  Now, he has a Etsy banner again!

Then, last week, I've been working on square photos that I can use as "ads" for both my blog update, as well as for Elissa's blog.  (She's asked us to send photos to put on her blog too!)  I pretty much used the same process to create those.  I started with the square template and then added the elements from both my cover photos and shop banners.  I made sure to find photos from Happily Ever Hatter that were bright and vibrant in order to catch peoples' eyes.  For Snowblade Creations, I also found colorful photos that I thought would draw attention in to the photo.  It was a little harder since the photos are smaller, but I think I achieved my mission.

Finally, I decided that I'd finish my shop refresh by creating a new Facebook cover photo for Snowblade Creations.  This past Sunday, while Eliot and I watched the NHL's outdoor hockey game at Tahoe, I played around with layouts.  I could have used the same layout as Happily Ever Hatter but wanted something a little bit different.  Since we have so many new desk products I decided to create a layout that would showcase as many as possible.  After a spending quite a bit of time playing around with the sizes of the boxes, I finally found a balance between small and large (see below).  Then, I went through our photos and added a wide variety of our products to the design.

I am so excited about these designs.  It might not seem like much, but this is a HUGE moment for me.  I have missed my Adobe InDesign software terribly and this makes me feel like I have it back to a degree.  This works very similarly to that in that it's easy to see markers where elements line up with each other.  You can also input photos into the template.  But it's different in that you can use their library of templates to design your own.  It's so much faster than starting from scratch!  I haven't upgraded to the Canvo Pro version, but I'm really tempted to.  This will be such a huge help for our businesses that I'm really leaning toward paying to upgrade it!

The best part is that it will be really easy to change our cover photos and banners for the holidays.  I'm always impressed when Etsy shops update their banners to reflect the current season.  Online, your Etsy Shop Banner is the only "storefront" decoration you really have.  I've been known to change our Facebook cover photos seasonally, especially since it's literally just changing to a different photo of our ears.  

These new cover photos and banners will allow us to have more flexibility with these changes.  For Christmas, I can make a green backdrop for Happily Ever Hatter and fill the photos with our holiday mouse ear designs.  (I made a quick example using photos from our new holiday ears from last summer.)  For Halloween, we can have black with orange text and Halloween ears.  And I can do the same for each of the seasons and holidays.  For Snowblade Creations, I can update photos if we have products to match, or I can simply change the background and text colors to reflect the season.  

The possibilities are endless.  I'm really excited about these small updates to our shops and all that we'll be able to do with the designs in the future.  Every time I open our websites, I now feel a sense of refresh and renewal.  It's a wonderful feeling.  °o°

Monday, February 22, 2021

Magical Merchandise: Beauty and the Beast Home Collection

Do you want to live in your own enchanted castle?  Well, now you can!  A week ago, Disney released their new Beauty and the Beast Home Collection online.  I'd seen a few sneak peeks and I thought this collection was really cute!

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Last Monday, everything finally arrived online and I was not disappointed!  This new home decor collection really evokes the magic of the enchanted objects as characters in the movie.  I love how it will add a little bit of magic to any house!

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Here are a few of my favorite items from the collection!

Lumiere Cake Stand- This is my favorite item and I already own it.  The Lumiere cake stand was available a few months ago and it has been brought back because it was so popular!  If you love it, be sure to get it this time around!

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Stained Glass Wall Art- I've always loved the stained glass scenes and how they tell the tale at the beginning and end of the movie.  (I think that's where my love of stained glass started.)  This wall art is super cute and the colors are gorgeous!

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Chip Succulent- I love a good faux succulent and this Chip one is super cute!

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Cogsworth Desk Clock with Pen- This is cute and functional.  It's the perfect way to add a little extra pizazz to your work desk.  (Maybe we need to make a Beauty and the Beast desk set for Snowblade Creations next...)

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Lumiere Light-Up Figure- I love how this shows Lumiere's fun attitude.  I can picture him singing "Be Our Guest" to me while dancing on my table.

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Wardrobe Jewelry Box- This is an adorable idea for a jewelry holder!

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Enchanted Mirror- I love how realistic this mirror looks!  It's just like the movie!

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Enchanted Rose Snow Globe- This is small but it packs a really adorable punch!

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Journal- This journal looks like it belongs on a shelf with all of the classic fairytales.

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Be Our Guest Throw Blanket- This is really cute.  I love how it has the sheet music along with the characters from the movie.  I hope they make these for more movies!

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There are a few more new merchandise items but I didn't want to spoil the entire collection for you!  You can find more of the new Beauty and the Beast Home Collection online at Shop Disney.  Which new item is your favorite?  °o°

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Blog Updates & Re-Branding

Well, I think it's time that I let you in on a few of the changes I'm planning on making around here.  I've hinted at them for a while now, but it really is time that I start to focus more on those goals.  There are a lot of behind the scenes projects that I'd like to get working on if I'm going to continue on this blogging adventure.  

Other than this paragraph, I've actually had the rest of this post typed up for months and I've held off on posting it since I wasn't ready to dive in.  But after helping Elissa with her blog the past few weeks, I suddenly find myself chomping at the bit to get redesigning and updating mine.  Now that I'm excited about this big undertaking, I'm ready to officially jump in to this project.  After writing and posting 775 blog posts, it's time for blog that's more personalized to my style... so here we go!

First of all, as I've mentioned before, I'm planning on changing the name of my blog and to do a re-branding.  I started this blog wanting to talk about my experiences and how Disney has impacted it.  However, over the past 5 years, I've also included posts on Harry Potter, the San Jose Sharks, the New England Patriots and other aspects of my life.  I always feel a tad guilty when I write those posts... as if no one will care or want to read them since they aren't necessarily Disney related.

Thus, I've decided to focus on myself as my "brand" and theme.  Obviously, Disney is still the main entity impacting my life.  All of the rooms in our house are Disney themed in some way.  Eliot and I are running a mouse ear business, and I'm home doing that full time.  We also run his business where we sell Disney inspired desk accessories, soaps and more.  We're also opening two more magically inspired businesses later this year.  The names we've picked out for our future puppies are mostly Disney themed.  I'm even trying to incorporate Disney into baby names we like.  
Obviously, we go to the parks pretty often- other than during our current pandemic situation.  So in reality, the Disney posts aren't going anywhere.  I'll just continue to post a few non-Disney posts every once in a while- as I have been doing anyways.

Plus, after watching and learning while a few other blogs have gone through their re-branding, I've decided that including the word "Disney" in my name isn't something that I'm comfortable with anymore.  I don't want to confuse people.  I'm not affiliated with Disney and I don't want to get into trouble for including the word in my blog name.  So, very soon I will be updating my blog, Facebook and Instagram accounts to reflect this new name and new branding.  (Don't worry, I'll give you all advance notice!)

Along those lines, I also want to update my blog layout.  When I first started this blog, I used templates already set up for me by Blogger- mainly because I had absolutely no idea what I was doing.  I'm still not as blog tech-savvy as I'd like to be, but I'm willing to take more chances now.  I'd really like to make my blog more reflective of my personal design style.  Therefore, I'll be updating my blog logo, layout and themes as part of my re-branding.  (The blurry outdoor scene has run it's course after almost 8 years...)

I've also done some research on adding tabs and other pages from the main page.  I'm really hoping that this will make it easier to navigate my blog.  I'd love to have all of my DIY posts in one section and all of my travel recap posts on another.  I think that will make it a lot more user friendly as I move forward.

Finally, something that I've been meaning to do for a long time now is to set up some affiliate marketing.  For those of you who don't know, affiliate marketing is how a lot of bloggers make income from their blogs.  Businesses partner with bloggers or social media influencers (or their "affiliates") and they reward their affiliates when visitors click the link and are brought to their website.  In most cases, an affiliate will make a small percentage when the visitors make a purchase from the website.  Many companies use affiliate marketing such as Amazon, Home Depot, Shop Disney and Hot Topic.

This blog has never been a monetary stream for me.  It never even crossed my mind to start a blog to make money when I first started it.  I started blogging about 8 months after Eliot and I got married.  We'd moved to Maine and I wasn't working anywhere since Eliot still didn't have his driver's license.  After all the hours I had spent planning our wedding, I found myself unemployed with nothing to do during the day while Eliot was at work.  So, I decided to start a blog and My Disney Life was born.

In fact, as of right now, I've never made a penny off of it unless a reader has seen one of the products from Happily Ever Hatter or from Eliot's Snowblade Creations shop and bought something through those.  All of the ads on the side are either from my own companies or for my friends who I don't charge for the ad space.  Up to this point, all of the products I've linked to are just that- web links.  They don't give me any portion of the sales if you buy the item I'm talking about, or anything else on their website.  If I change over to affiliate marketing, I can use my own links so I can collect a small amount off purchases made using those links.

I've got a list of over 20 companies that offer affiliate marketing that I've collected over the past five years.  (Yes, that's how long I've been considering doing this.)  I have decided that I need to take the time to start applying for a few of these programs so I can start using them on my blog.  Of course, I will be making all of my readers aware if I'm including an affiliate link in a post.  (I hate when other websites don't do that.)

And let's face it... this is long overdue.  With all of the time it takes to write some of these posts, I really should consider my time worth making money through this, even if it's only a small amount.  Everything helps.  They say that "time is money" and that's especially true when you're self-employed.  My time literally is money and time spent on here is time that I'm not working on products or samples for our businesses.  I'm hoping that by having affiliate marketing on here, I'll be able to make a small amount of money to help sustain the time it takes to devote to my blog.

That's a brief overview of everything that's going on behind the scenes.  Overall, I think all of these changes will finally keep my blog feeling fresh, and it will give me another reason to continue doing it- besides the fact that I enjoy it.  With the launches of two more businesses quickly approaching, my time is extremely limited and I need to make sure that I'm doing everything I can to keep myself afloat while being self-employed. 

So, those are the big changes that will be going on around here over the next few months!  Please bear with me as I'm going through these growing pains.  I'm really confident that by the end of this, I'll finally have my blog where I want to be!  °o°