Tag Archives: travel

Dressing Shellie May

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We are having so much fun making outfits for Shellie May, aka “Princess”, to wear both at home and at the parks.

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We made these “cast member” shirts using iron on transfers that we made up.  Shellie May’s t-shirt was made from a Liberty Jane free t-shirt pattern here.  It fit her perfectly.

For an Epcot day, we made a kimono from McCalls 6670.  We wished we had Shellie May close by when making it because sadly, it ended up a little too small through the waist for her.

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She didn’t mind, though, because the Japan store and gallery are her favorites and the cast members there oohed and aahed over her in her kimono.  She even got a sneak peak at Gelatoni in the Kawaii exhibit!

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Disney Photography – New Trends

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On our recent trip to Disney World, we discovered a few new photography trends.  First, of course, is that there were no more “selfie” sticks.  The use of them didn’t bother us, but it is nicer to get pictures of say, the castle, without a backdrop of selfie sticks.

Although we never owned or used a selfie stick, we did utilize a couple things to make phone photography better in the parks.

First, is the Shoulderpod S1.  This is a smartphone grip with a handle and strap that we purchased from Amazon.  The grip is adjustable to hold various sizes of phones/cameras and tightens securely.

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The handle was a little short for my husband’s taste, but perfect for our daughter and me.  So nice to not worry about dropping your phone off of Astro Orbiters!

smartphone grip at Disney World

You can see it in use here.

The second smartphone grip we purchased was the Reticam, also purchased at Amazon.

reticam phone grip

You can see the grip fits a larger hand more easily.  Using these grips made taking video much more steady.

The 3rd phone accessory we purchased is the Gostrap.  These are on our phone cases at all times and make it a lot easier to securely grab a photograph or send a message with just one hand on the phone.  It has been particularly great with our larger phones.

smartphone go strap

The second photography trend we noticed was an almost absence of iPads as cameras in the parks!  It was wonderful to watch parades, fireworks, and shows in real life and not through the screen of someones iPad.

Chinese acrobats at Epcot

In fact, as this picture shows, most people were just enjoying the show as it happened and not filming every second of this show with any device.  It is a trend that we saw throughout the week we were there.

The 3rd trend is that again, we took even more photos than the previous trips.  We were in the parks for 6 days again this year and took a total of 1320 images.  Last year, in 6 days, we took 1242.  I was a little surprised to see the number go up, but attribute it to a couple of things.  Isabella only took a rest once or twice during the week, so we were active all day every day.  This year seemed a little less crowded, so she was able to meet many more characters and she was enough taller to be able to ride several new rides.

It sounds like a lot of pictures, doesn’t it?  But, from all those images, we’ve printed a photo book and edited the photographs and video into a movie already.  More images will be used in our Project Life Disney album which will also include the journaling from the trip.  And, because you can see that these memories matter a lot to us, they are all backed up multiple times.

Disney Footprint Art – Roller Coasters and Chewbacca

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We’ve been faithful about gathering a footprint from Isabella after each Disney trip, but got a little behind on finishing them up, so today, we’ve got two to show you.

First, is her footprint from our 2014 trip.  Disney Footprint art - 3

This was the first year that Isabella was tall enough to ride a “big” roller coaster and she loved it.

The next footprint is from our trip last month:

Disney footprint art - 4

This year, besides roller coasters, Isabella was crazy for Chewbacca.  Chewbacca will not sign an autograph, so this is our way of remembering her interaction with him.

It’s hard to believe that Isabella’s first Disney footprint was when she was only 2 months old.  Her feet were so tiny!

Disney Footprint Art

And here’s from the year she turned 2 at Disney World:

goofy footprint art 1

We’re having fun making a little collection for her and trying to guess what her 2016 footprint will be!  Making these is turning out to be one of our favorite (and free!) souvenirs.

 

 

 

Giving the Gift of Disney Memories

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Some of us were born minimalists and others of us had to learn it.  The good part about a more minimalist home is that it is easy to keep clean, you know where things are, and shopping doesn’t hold much appeal.  The bad part is that it makes it harder for people to know what to give you as a gift so our family loves to give and receive the gift of an experience more than anything.

In 2013, our Disney trip was over Isabella’s birthday and Christmas and our daughter came up with the perfect Christmas gift for us:

Disney gift card idea DIY

We received an envelope that contained a Disney gift card and a card our daughter made with a Contemporary resort graphic with instructions for how to use the gift card.

It was the gift of a an experience sampling foods from all the countries in Epcot.  We had so much fun and the memories of doing that as a family are more precious than any item we could ever receive.

The Good, Bad, and the Ugly – Photography at Disney

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Not too many years ago, there were only film cameras and a trip to Disney might mean upgrading from a 24 exposure roll of film to a 36 exposure roll that had to last you for the whole day or even trip.  One or two shots were taken per character and you didn’t realize the image would have bad lens flare until you got your prints back from the developer.

The amount of photography taken at Disney parks is insane.  One site states that 100-200,000 photos are taken each day just by Photopass photographers and that is probably a conservative number.  Add in cell phones, iPads, digital cameras, etc. and the numbers must be staggering.

Now, I will go out on a limb and speculate that many of the images/videos/etc. that are taken, will not make it beyond Facebook or Instagram and stand a good chance of being lost when a hard drive crashes or phone gets dropped in the lake.  But, that is each person’s individual problem and their responsibility to prevent.  And to be honest, it’s easy to assume that many of the images are never looked at again, anyway.

ipad blocking view at WDW

That is what makes some of the photography trends at Disney parks kind of interesting to look at.  This was what we saw over and over in 2013.  Huge tablets with full keyboards videoing EVERY SINGLE MINUTE of the Christmas parade.  We even saw one person carrying a 17″ laptop through the park during Christmas week.  Crazy.

ipad as camera at disney world

Luckily, it seems as if the iPad is not a Camera message was getting through, because 2014 was the year of the “selfie stick”.  And in my opinion, it is a HUGE improvement over the iPad craze.  At least you can see through it and don’t have to watch a live event in the screen of the person in front of you.

Disney sketchbook

I didn’t take any pictures of the selfie stick craze, but you can see it in my sketchbook.

A lot of articles are floating around seeking to ban the selfie stick at theme parks, but if that means the return of the iPad as camera, I say keep the selfie sticks around.

No matter what the trend of the day is, it would be fascinating to know if many of the thousands of photos and videos get edited and make their way off of the phone/tablet/etc. and into a easier to view format?

As for me, I will stick to whatever images I can get while carrying the least amount of gear – a Sony RX100 II.  At 2.3 inches by 4 inches and a weight of about 9 ounces, it is a great theme park camera.  Unobtrusive, lightweight, and a battery that lasts 2 days since the flash is almost never used.

ISO 3200, f1.8, 1/250

ISO 3200, f1.8, 1/250

Seven Dwarfs Ruffled Peasant Tunic

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seven dwarves ruffled tunic diy

Isabella wanted to meet Snow White on our second day at the Magic Kingdom and she was just tall enough to ride the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, so the search was on for an outfit to fit the occasion.

A trip to Joanns yielded this adorable seven dwarfs fabric which was perfect for that day:

Seven Dwarves fabric

Isabella’s top was a basic peasant-style tunic with a ruffled collar attached and princess style sleeves.  There are a number of free peasant dress patterns and tutorials online including this one from Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom and this one from Create Kids Couture if you want to make your own.

Girls Seven Dwarfs top DIY

We used the free Flounced Ruffle Capri pattern from Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom in a cotton interlock for her pants.

Our goal is to find/make unique, but comfortable outfits for Isabella.  Snow White gave this one her seal of approval.

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Disney Trip Sketchbook

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This is the second year that I brought along a watercolor sketchbook to WDW.

The reason I bring a sketchbook (even though my artistic abilities are minimal and we don’t stop for a lot of sketching breaks) is that there are things you just can’t capture with a still or video image.

For instance:

Disney sketchbook - Donald in Mexico

While waiting in line to see Donald in Mexico, it was fascinating to watch the family in front of us.  This year, we saw many children (big and small), sitting in strollers glued to iPads.  The boy in line in front of us never looked up until his parents insisted he get out and get a picture with Donald.  A couple of quick snapshots and he was back in the stroller playing a game on the tablet.

It seemed kind of sad that even Disney World was not enough entertainment for so many children, much less the adults who couldn’t pry themselves away from Facebook or Instagram to enjoy the experience.

Last year, I used my beloved Circa punch and discs to make a sketchbook.  This year, I brought a Strathmore 400 Series Hardbound Journal.  This year’s choice was a mistake.  I didn’t like not being able to fold the book back on itself like a disc or wire binding allows.  And a small water bottle leak in my backpack caused the binding to disintegrate, even though none of the pages were damaged.  I’m going back to a Circa disc bound sketchbook as soon as I finish the Strathmore one.  The flexiblity of adding and removing pages at will just works better for me.

Tinkerbell Christmas T-shirt Printable

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Isabella’s favorite Christmas song is Jingle Bells.  As we got ready for our Christmas break trip to WDW, she started singing “Tinkerbell, Tinkerbell, Tinker all the way!”

SO, her clever Mama designed a graphic for a shirt for her to wear to the Magic Kingdom to meet Tinkerbell.

tinkerbell

 

It was one of the only Tinkerbell shirts we saw on this trip and Tinkerbell herself heartily approved!

The shirt is made from our trusty Oliver and S Raglan t-shirt pattern and a cotton interlock from Joanns.  We used an iron-on transfer paper to get the design on the shirt.

Here is the graphic if you want to make your own.  Remember to flip it horizontally before printing or the text will be backwards when you iron it on.

Tinkerbell Christmas Iron-on Printable

Tinkerbell Christmas Iron-on Printable

Christmas 2013 Trip Report – Day 2 – Epcot

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Today was Isabella’s birthday!  We woke up and got ready to go to Epcot.  After getting dressed and eating breakfast, we headed over to the Contemporary to catch the monorail.

Contemporary monorail

Of course there were a few photo ops along the way.  Even though we were early getting to the park, it was still pretty crowded.  We saw Pluto immediately after the entrance and had to stop.  Isabella warmed up to him even more than Santa Goofy and liked touching his nose.

Pluto

While some of us were using a Fastpass+ for Soarin, the rest went to meet Chip and Dale.  I didn’t know if Isabella would go by herself to a character!  We went to the Character Spot, where she got pictures with Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy.  Isabella officially became character-obsessed!Mickey Mouse

Minnie Mouse

We headed over to World Showcase next.  After a little shopping in the stores at the entrance to WS, we made our way to Mexico to try our first snack, churros.  We then went into the pyramid and rode the Gran Fiesta boat tour.  Isabella liked looking at all the jewelry in the gift shops inside the pyramid.  Outside, Donald Duck dressed in Mexico attire was meeting, so we hopped in line to see him!  He was great – he acted like he fainted when Isabella blew him a kiss.  I think he was one of the best characters we met the whole trip.

Epcot Mexico

Disney World

We traveled on to Norway, where we looked through the Stave Church with a Frozen exhibit and got our second snack, a sweet almond pretzel.

In China, we played with the animal marionette puppets at an outdoor gift shop.  The snacks at Joy of Tea were not that appealing, and most of the tea was caffeinated, so we skipped it.

We stopped for a while in the African Trading Post.  Isabella liked banging on the drums and sitting in the jeep.

In Germany, we got some caramel corn.  The first batch was pretty stale tasting, so we asked for another, which was unfortunately not much better.  Not one of the most successful snacks ever.

Italy was the first country we stopped at that we saw street entertainers.  There were a group of ladies doing an act all dressed in red, the Ziti Sisters.  We got some gelato as our fourth snack and sat to eat it in the back of the Italy pavilion.  After Italy, we stopped at the American pavilion where Isabella ended up taking a nap.

Epcot Christmas

We moved onto Japan where we got kakigori as our snack.  It is basically like a snowcone, which is one of my favorite foods ever.  We watched the drummers perform, which was really neat.  Then, we saw the Holidays Around the World performance where a Japanese lady told the story of daruma dolls.

By that time, we had to head back to get ready for our dinner reservation at 5:45, so we took the boat across the lake from Morocco, where we saw a belly dancer, to Future World.  We rode the monorail back to Bay Lake Tower, changed clothes, and walked over to the California Grill in the Contemporary (see my full review here).

California Grill

The atmosphere was great, but the food was very underwhelming.  It was neat to see the castle all lit up in sparkly ice lights from the roof top.  We saw a bride and groom, and Isabella made friends with a little boy from France.  After dinner, we went back down to the lobby of the Contemporary and met Chip and Dale dressed as toy soldiers!  They were adorable.  We looked around in the gift shops and then went to our villa so that Isabella could open birthday presents.  We finished off the night with another fireworks display from the BLT Skybridge.  Isabella even stayed awake this time!

Disney fireworks

Disney Memory Keeping – Watercolor Sketchbook

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Watercolor Sketchbook Epcot #DisneySide 014

We always keep a camera, or two or three, with us when traveling, and have years of scrapbooks to show for it.  But, always being behind a lens can have drawbacks.  It doesn’t tell the whole story and the quest to photograph everything can sometimes take away from being immersed in the experience.

I envied people who traveled with a sketchbook and could jot notes and sketches of their trips, but I had never drawn before and wasn’t sure if it was even possible to learn how at my age.

A search led to a workshop by a teacher named Marilynn Brandenburger on how to keep a watercolor sketchbook.  She taught how to get started and how to see things in a way that it was possible for a beginner to translate onto paper.  One of the biggest lessons she taught was that “It isn’t a painting, it’s a sketch.”

Disney World

Disneyland and Disney World are filled with scenes that could fill a sketchbook, but since our primary reason for being there is to experience it with our granddaughter, sketches have to be made very quickly.  Usually, it is when someone stops to look at a shop or take a bathroom break.

Sketching at Disney  World

On our last trip, I put together a little sketching kit that fit compactly in my bag and could be drawn out when there were a few free minutes.

travel watercolor sketching kit

For this trip, I decided on a 6″ square sketchbook.  It is bound using a Levenger Circa punch and discs.   The beauty of this type of “binding” is that you can make any size or shape of book you want and take pages in and out as desired.  Park maps or other paper ephemera can be punched and added at any time.

A  Micron pen and mechanical pencil get the sketch started.  A little 2″ x 4″ box holds a kneaded eraser, a waterbrush and a little tin of watercolors.

watercolor sketch kit

Inside the tiny Altoid tin, I used Sculpey to make a little watercolor travel kit.

Altoid watercolor tin

Using a waterbrush means not having to carry a cup of water to be able to paint.

An added bonus is that Isabella can paint, too, while we stand in line or wait for a parade!