Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Disney Surprise Fun Bags for Extra Park Magic

I don't have any great pictures for this post, unfortunately. I have snoopy eyes over my shoulder, and I want the bags' contents to be a bit of a surprise for the little ones.

I loved this idea I found on Pinterest, making fun surprise bags for the kids to open at specific times during the trip. For mine, I used brown paper lunch sacks, a Sharpie, free Disney stickers from the Disney Movie Club welcome package, and washi tape to close them. Our bags contain:

  • Open when there's a rumbly in your tumbly: fancy lollipops - purchased on clearance in hopes of staving off requests for the pricy park ones.
  • Open in a looooong line: 1)squishy sensory ball and plastic Slinky, 2)Rubix cube and plastic Slinky. - all from Dollar Tree.
  • Open before Fantasmic and the parade: glow swords, glow sticks, light-up bracelets - Dollar Tree and Target Dollar Spot.
  • Open when people-watching: mini bottles of bubbles - Dollar Tree.
  • Open when you see a penny machine or a wishing well: homemade penny tubes.
They're nothing beautiful to behold, but I think the kids will get a kick out of opening them. They'll be stashed in our park snack bag until they're needed.


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Going to Disney - Road Trip Fun Bags

We're more fortunate than many in that our trip to Disneyland is only a 6 hour drive, and Nana's house is conveniently right on the way, so we can stop and eat and let the kids stretch their legs. I'm also crazy lucky to have won the roadtripping kids lottery. My kids love the car. Even so, I thought it would make the trip extra exciting if I packed up a few new treasures to bring along for the kids.

Target had their Skip Hop backpacks on sale for 70% off last week. Even though my daughter already has the fox and my son has the hippo, I couldn't resist these matching frog backpacks for just $6 apiece.

Two year old's road trip backpack.

Jamie's backpack contains:
Disney My First Look and Find book - purchased used on Amazon
Disney coloring book - Dollar Tree
Minnie Mouse crayons - I split up the three pack from Dollar Tree between the kids
kaleidoscope - Michael's dollar bin
dinosaur figures - Dollar Tree
Disney board books - from the Target Dollar Spot a few years ago
Mickey Mouse flashlight - Dollar Tree

Four year old's road trip backpack.

Meg's backpack contains:
Brave Look and Find book - purchased used on Amazon
Disney coloring book - Dollar Tree
Minnie Mouse crayons
kaleidoscope - Michael's dollar bin
dry erase flashcards and crayons - purchased on clearance from Michaels (cards) and Target (crayons)
sticky hand - Target Dollar Spot
Minnie Mouse flashlight - Dollar Tree

I'll also add a blank notebook for each kid and Meg's CD player and headphones. Blankies, sippies, and snacks are a given. I found a Captain Hook plush and a Monster's Inc. Boo plush for a steal during Target's spring toy clearance, and I might give them to the kids for the ride, or I might save them for the hotel room.


Thursday, February 6, 2014

Homemade Personalized Disney Autograph Album - Part 2

Last year, I shared the Disney autograph album I made for my kids to share. This year, I think my 2.5 year old will enjoy having his own album, so my daughter will keep the original album, and I've made a similar one for my son.

I used the same sketch book to start and again covered it with a piece of scrapbook paper and added letter stickers to spell out Disney and my son's name. I also added some chunky gold glitter and gold confetti stars. I coated the whole thing with a few coats of Mod Podge for durability. And, again, I knotted some grosgrain ribbon around the spiral binding.

I also added some silver star confetti to Meg's album to fancy it up and some baker's twine to both albums to hold the chunky clickable Sharpies in place.

The album worked so well last time. The pages are nice and thick so the Sharpie doesn't bleed through, the cover folds around to the back so it's easier for the costumed characters to hold, and the book still looks brand new after the beating it took at the park. I went through and labeled every left-hand page in each book as a photo page, so the characters will know to only sign on the right-hand pages and I can attach photos of the interactions when we get home. I also wrote our phone number and email address inside the covers as well as penciled in our hotel name and dates so the books can be sent straight there if lost while we're still on vacation.


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Disney Pressed Penny Machine Prep - Penny Tubes and Cleaning Pennies

We're working on a few projects this month for our upcoming Disneyland trip. Last year, my daughter (then 3) loved the pressed penny machines, and she still looks at and talks about those souvenirs frequently. She's really looking forward to making some more and has been saving her quarters and pennies (it costs $.50 per penny). We decided to shine the pennies up this time so they'd be even prettier when pressed. I read a tip online to use pre-1982 pennies, because the zinc in later coins can cause discolored streaks after pressing. I used these tips for cleaning the pennies.

We started by soaking the pennies for 5 minutes in a mixture of vinegar and salt. Make sure you don't do this with post-1982 pennies, or they'll turn black. After scrubbing with a toothbrush, rinsing, and drying them, they looked much cleaner, but I decided to test out the pencil eraser tip (method 5 from the link) as well, and I was amazed by the difference.

Check out the 1946 penny!

Rubbing them with the pencil eraser after the vinegar soak/scrub/dry took almost no effort, and the end result was so worth it! I decided to try the eraser on a penny I hadn't first cleaned with vinegar. It took a lot more rubbing, and the crevices didn't come as clean as the pre-cleaned pennies, but it still looked much better than it started.

Left: vinegar wash, then eraser. Right: no vinegar wash, just eraser.

Once I finished cleaning the pennies, I stored them away in our penny tubes for the park. I made these from M&Ms Minis tubes wrapped with scrapbook paper, labeled with stickers (Meg did this part herself), and coated in Mod Podge for durability. I wish I could tell you where to find the Minis tubes in stores, but my kids received them as gifts last year from family, so I have no clue. Also, I can't take credit for this idea. It's all over blogs and Pinterest and Disney message boards.

The "penny" tube holds stacks of 2 quarters and a penny, for quick dispensing when we find a machine. The "pressed" tube holds the finished pressed pennies. The "wish" tube holds new shiny pennies for using in Snow White's wishing well.


Sunday, February 2, 2014

2013 Easter Luncheon

In keeping with yesterday's post on last year's Easter baskets, here's a little peek at the family Easter luncheon we had last year.

The spread. I discuss how my daughter and her friend made the colorful cotton round garland here. In this picture, you get a shameful glimpse in the lower left hand corner of the disastrous ;) deviled egg chicks. The caps wouldn't stay put, the eyes looked insane, and the bottom half cracked all the way down on every one from the pressure of the filling. It was also really hard to get the yolk out of the eggs when cut this direction. They were comically bad.

Simple food picks made from washi tape and toothpicks.

My husband's delicious pulled chicken sandwiches.

My very very very strong Greek salad. Did you know there's a difference between a clove of garlic and a head of garlic? Yeah. There's a reason my husband does all the cooking around here...

Ginger ale with blackberry ice cubes. Our favorite easy party punch.


Saturday, February 1, 2014

2013 Easter Baskets

I've had Easter on the brain lately, and as I was dreaming up what my kids might find in their baskets this year, I remembered that I never shared last year's Easter baskets.

Meg's Basket

Jamie's Basket

The kids' baskets are from Target, purchased on clearance the year before. They function as toy storage bins throughout the rest of the year. They each received a felt bunny hand puppet (tutorial and pattern here), a felt bunny finger puppet (tutorial and pattern here), and a new book (Meg, James). Meg also received a small wooden jewelry box for her rings, and James received some bunny beanbags filled with lavender-scented beans. I was inspired by these but was running low on time and slapped them together from memory the night before Easter. They're cute, and the kids like to play with them, but the inspiration picture is way cuter.


Friday, January 31, 2014

Big, Messy Art Party

Margaret's third birthday party was all about her favorite things: creating art, making a mess, and covering everything in rainbows.

The balloon banner was an easy and inexpensive way to make a big statement. I used a tutorial I found online to assemble it.

Get Messy!
Shaving Cream Color Mixing - We filled the sensory table with dollar store shaving foam, sprinkled confetti throughout, and offered cups of liquid watercolors and droppers for color mixing.

Fizzy Painting - We made fizzy paint by mixing corn starch, baking soda, water, and food coloring. The kids painted it onto the concrete with big brushes and sprayed it with vinegar to make it fizz.

Wacky Painting - We rolled out and taped down large pieces of butcher paper and offered up trays of tempera paint and a variety of odd painting implements such as potato mashers, dish scrubbers, paper towel rolls, and toy trucks.

A pool of water to wash off and cool down was one of the most popular spots.

We had a sensory pool filled with colored cooked spaghetti, water beads, and partially set Jell-O. We'd planned on the Jell-O being set and cubed up, but it had plans of its own and never gelled.

Baby James thought it was a giant snack tray. (We made sure to keep the water beads out of his mouth.)

A little baby haven in the shade in case things got too rowdy.

Inside, we had lunch and cake. The cups had dried food coloring in the bottoms, so when the water was added, it "magically" changed colors.

The cake? The cake was a disaster. See that big wedge taken out of the back? That's because the whole thing started falling apart while I was assembling and frosting it, and in a fit of frustration, I ripped off a chunk and threw it into the sink. *sigh* Cakes are no friends of mine.

I saw an idea like this online but forgot that the watermelon was supposed to be turned upside down. No matter, it worked just fine this way, too.

The PB&Js would have looked and tasted much better if I'd have used nonpareils instead of sugar sprinkles. Live and learn.

Yogurt pops - Colored yogurt frozen in Dixie cups in layers.

This party was a huge hit! The birthday girl had a blast, and a bunch of neighbor kids stopped by to join in the fun!


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Sunshine First Birthday

When it came time to brainstorm a theme for James' first birthday, only one seemed fitting. Though his first 6 months passed in a haze of colic, the final 6 months of his first year were simply sunshine. At the six month mark, he became the smilingest, dancingest, giggliest ball of love there ever was.

We served a buffet of orange and yellow foods that just so happened to be favorites of the birthday boy: bananas, egg salad sandwiches, butternut squash soup, carrots, and lemonade.

I like to always have a large butcher paper "guestbook" out at the kids' parties.

I'd planned to make rays out of a second round cake, and at the last minute, the cake was a crumbling mess, so skewers made an admirable stand-in. (I've told you before that cakes and I don't get along!)

I made Jamie's crown from a piece of lace stiffened with many layers of Mod Podge and painted turquoise.