My Favorite Things – Blogs

This past week I watched The Sound of Music because I wasn’t feeling well. One of my favorite songs from the movie is “My Favorite Things,” so I thought it would be fun to have period posts of my favorite things. So for this edition of My Favorite Things, I thought I’d post about some of my favorite blogs.

First up is the blog that really go me into reading blogs. It’s an insanely popular blog, and you probably already read it, and it’s called Young House Love. It’s all about a young couple/family and the DIY adventures they take. They also throw in some personal posts in there as well. If you ever want to read a real world situation about making curtains, refinishing furniture, building things, etc, this is the place to go! I’ve been reading it long enough now that I feel like I almost know the writers, so I get pretty excited with their successes (and it’s a little creepy/unnerving to me). You should definitely check this one out!

Another blog I enjoy is The Disney Wedding Blog. I love all things Disney, so obviously I will be partial to the blog. I’ve also had a couple of friends get married at Disney over the past year, which really got me curious about all the different things people do for their weddings. It’s fun to see how creative people can be, and there are some wedding photographs taken by amazing photographers that are just fun to look at (especially the artsy photos)!

My other favorite blog is Ana White. Ana is amazingly talented at building things, and she is generous enough to share furniture plans so you can try your hand at building furniture too! The plans are incredibly detailed, so I don’t think it would be hard for even a novice to follow along. (And she does tell you how difficult it will be, so you have a better idea if you can handle it or not.) The plans include shopping lists, cut lists, estimated cost of the item, and the actual directions to building (with pictures). Seriously, the site is amazing! I’m in the middle of building my first project from her website, so I’ll be sure to tell you about it when I’m finished! (It’s a long process because I have to borrow tools, and I’m only doing a little bit at a time, so it may be a while before that post gets up here!)

So, those are some of my favorite blogs. What about you? Any other blogs you love to follow? Do you feel like you’re BFFs with John and Sherry? Have you completed a project from Ana’s website? If you have, please share!

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July 24, 2011. My Favorite Things, Other Blogs. Leave a comment.

WDW – Magic Kingdom – Frontierland

Frontierland in the Magic Kingdom park holds a special place in my heart, because it is the first location I worked at for Disney. Check me out in my costume:

Cute, right?

The land holds two of the major attractions in the Magic Kingdom (they are two of the three mountain rides in the park). The land packs a lot of attractions, shops, and places to eat, yet it feels almost sparse as you walk through it. (And rightfully so, it is a western-themed land based on the wild frontier!) One note about Frontierland – while you may think that you’re close to something because you are in Frontierland, you should know that the land is really quite large, and you may be a lot further away than you think!

Disney cast members (aka employees) divide Frontierland into two parts: upper and lower. Upper Frontierland is the area that is closest to Liberty Square, and Lower Frontierland hosts both of the mountain rides.

From Upper Frontierland, you can get to Liberty Square and Adventureland (through a breeze way shortly after you enter the land). You can also cut through Liberty Square to get to Fantasyland (without walking back to the hub, or castle area), if you walk past the Haunted Mansion. From the back of Upper Frontierland, where it connects with Lower Frontierland, you can also enter Adventureland, only that path will take you to the back side of the land, where Pirates of the Caribbean is located.

Upper Frontierland is the place in Magic Kingdom to get the giant turkey legs you see everyone walking around eating. (That was one of the most common questions I got when I worked in that park.) You can also get churros from one of the food carts there. It has Pecos Bill’s Cafe, a quick-service restaurant that serves mostly burgers (with tons of toppings, so if you’re a burger fan, this is the place to eat!). It also has Big Al’s shop, which is one of the few places you can buy the toy guns (another popular question), and the Trading Post, one of the largest pin locations in the park. (Trading Disney pins has become very popular. You can read more on that here on Disney’s website.) The other popular shop there is Prairie Outpost, a confectionary with all kinds of sweets. (There is a larger confectionary on Main Street, but this one will have many of the same items, and the “homemade” items from the Main Street location are also sent to this shop.)

There are three attractions in Upper Frontierland. The first is the Frontierland Shootin’ Arcade, located next to the Trading Post. The arcade does cost money to play. (When I worked in Frontierland in 2005, I believe it was $0.25. I don’t know if that has changed.)

There is also the Country Bear Jamboree, an audio animatronic show that presents singing bears. It is a 17 minute show. The show is no longer as technically impressive as it once was. (The show hasn’t changed, but technology sure has!) It can be fun to watch, especially if you enjoy cheesy jokes. It also is a great place to relax and escape the Florida heat. It’s also great if you’re looking to do something without a line! While you will have to wait for the current show to end, you almost always can get in as soon as the next one starts, so your wait is rarely more than 17 minutes, and it’s only that long if you have terrible timing! And like I’ve said with several other rides, it’s become a sort of classic Disney attraction, so that also will draw some people in.

The last attraction in Upper Frontierland is Tom Sawyer Island. To get here, you take a raft across the Rivers of America (because it actually is an island). Tom Sawyer Island is a place where you can walk trails and explore different things such as an old fort, caves, and a small town reminiscent of Tom and Huck’s hometown. (The picture is of my friend and old Frontierland co-worker Taran playing in the fort on the Island.) The Island is another place that is usually good for escaping crowds, although it can be fairly popular some days.

Upper Frontierland also is home to a periodic Hoe Down, which is a street show that usually comes out 3-4 times daily. It used to be hosted by the Country Bears, but it has since changed to be Woody’s Round-Up and hosted by Woody and his frontier friends. Other frontier folk come out with the Disney characters to help lead guests in different dances (such as the hokey pokey). It can be a lot of fun to watch, but even more fun if you participate!

The back part of Frontierland, or Lower Frontierland, is home to a shop called the Briar Patch (a small general store with mostly general Disney merchandise), but, more importantly, it is home to two of the park’s three mountain rides.

Big Thunder Mountain is a roller coaster that is based on a runaway train. It is fast, but a pretty smooth ride. For most of childhood (like, until I was 18), I was scared to ride roller coasters and hated any one that my mom convinced me to try. Except for this one. While it scared me, it was smooth enough I was willing to ride it whenever my group wanted to. The worst part about the ride (aka the scariest part in my opinion) is that there are several quick dips in the track. But to me this ride is more about speeds than a crazy track, so it makes it easier for people who don’t like roller coasters to ride. This is definitely on my must-do list for Magic Kingdom, and I’d recommend doing it more than once. Almost every time I ride it I notice something new along the tracks (like an old man taking a bath, a goat eating his clothes, a rattlesnake, etc).

The other ride in Lower Frontierland is Splash Mountain, a log flume ride with a large drop (aka 52 feet at a 45 degree angle) at the end. The ride is based on Song of the South. For those who are not familiar with the movie, it tells the stories of Br’er Rabbit, Br’er Fox, and Br’er Bear. The WDW Splash Mountain is a long ride – it can take around 15 minutes for you to get through. The scenes along the route are fun and colorful. There are a few small drops as you ride along, but those just get you ready for the big one at the end. At this park, guests are seated in four rows of two per log. To me it’s funny to hear other guests on the ride because there inevitably is someone who thinks every drop along the ride is the “big one” and freaks out for just a second. Trust me, you will know when it is time for the big drop. Not only will you ride up a large hill, you will also hear Br’er Rabbit talking about a briar patch (what your logs drops you into) and you will see vultures (a sure sign of impending doom). Be ready to smile as you start your descent – this ride is a photo ride!

After you drop into the briar patch there is a little bit of ride left (you have to see the happy ending!). Fair warning – they sing Zip-a-dee Doo-dah at the end, and you won’t be able to stop singing it all day (unless of course you ride It’s a Small World).

After you get out of the log, you head to a gift shop where you can see your picture (and purchase it if you want to). The last time I bought a photo, the least expensive option was $12.95 for an 8×10 print, but that was in 2007, so it likely has changed. At WDW, if you want a 5×7 print, you have to get two because they don’t sell them individually (and in 2007 two 5×7’s cost $19.95). However, if you ride the ride more than once that day, you can get two different photos for your two 5×7 prints. (That’s something that very few people realize. The cast member may not know how to do it, but it’s possible for them to do it, so have them ask someone if they don’t know.)

The most common question I get about Splash Mountain is about getting wet. Yes, you usually get wet. How wet you get depends on the ride, where you sit, and how the boat is loaded. During cooler weather, Disney doesn’t let the ride get you as wet (they do things like turn off the things that shoot out more water as you approach the briar patch). But year-round, the further back you sit in the log, the dryer you usually stay. Also, the heavier the front of the boat is, the wetter everyone in the log will get. If you don’t want to get wet, don’t ride the ride or wear a poncho (bring one or be prepared to pay Disney prices for one). And please don’t yell at the cast members if you get wet on the ride. There are signs all along the line warning you that you will get wet. And if you really think you can ride a water ride without getting water on you, you got what you deserved.

If you don’t want to ride Splash Mountain and stand on the bridge to watch your loved ones on the ride, be aware that during warmer weather the ride will periodically “splash” onto the bridge, so you may get wet. If it is cold out, the ride usually won’t splash guests on the bridge.

I think that one of the best photo places in the park is near Splash Mountain. If you stand in an area where Upper and Lower Frontierland meet, just past Pecos Bill’s Cafe (and near where you would turn to go into the back part of Adventureland), you can get a great shot of Splash Mountain.

Both mountain rides can get really long lines, so they are good rides for you to use Disney’s Fast Pass system on. (Although Splash Mountain’s lines are pretty short when the weather is cool, because people usually don’t want to get wet!)

Frontierland can be a great place to meet Disney characters such as Frontierland Goofy (Goofy dressed like a cowboy), Frontierland Donald (Donald Duck dress like Davey Crockett), Woody, and Jessie. Sometimes you can also get the chance to meet Br’er Rabbit and Br’er Bear. While you will usually find Disney characters around Upper Frontierland, they sometimes make an appearance in an open area around the exit to Splash Mountain (near the restrooms).

A quick tip about getting around Frontierland: if you are trying to quickly get from one end to the other, try walking on the boardwalk along the Rivers of America. Not only does it offer pretty views of Tom Sawyer Island, but it can also be significantly less crowded, so you can move quicker. It’s also a great shortcut to help you get around during a parade!

And that, my friends, is Frontierland in almost 1,900 words. (Yikes! I really rambled on on this one!) Anyone have any tips they’d like to share about Splash Mountain or Big Thunder Mountain? Anyone agree or disagree that Big Thunder is a good roller coaster for those who hate roller coasters?

July 23, 2011. Disney, Disney Parks, Florida. Leave a comment.

Fluffy Light

My posts have been light on the crafts and DIY posts, but I have been working on stuff. Part of the reason is some of the projects I’ve been doing have been time-consuming (such as the one I’ll talk about in this post), but the other reason is some of the things I’ve been making are gifts, so I don’t want to post about them until after I’ve given them. (Okay, they probably aren’t even reading the blog, but I’m still hesitating to post about them until after the gift giving.)

The past month or so I’ve been working bit by bit on a new light fixture to hang in my guest bedroom/office/craft room. The idea is kind of based on this Ikea light fixture, but also on ideas like this wreath made from cupcake liners.

To make my light I used a paper lantern and light fixture kit from Ikea ($5 and $3.99 respectively), approximately 600 coffee filters (I could easily have used another 100, but I was tired and decided people wouldn’t notice that I could have put more on because it would be hanging above eye sight), and a hot glue gun. I used the store brand coffee filters from Target, so they cost about $.84 per 100 (plus tax). The total cost of the light fixture was about $15, plus several hours of my time.

The first thing I did was put the paper lantern together, which was very easy. All you had to do was insert a square wire to hold the lantern’s shape.

This is what the light fixture looked like if I wouldn’t have done anything else to it. (I forgot to take a before picture at home, so here’s a shot from the store.)

Then I glued the coffee filters all over the outside of the lantern. I did this by putting my finger in the center of the filter and using my other hand to pull the filter over my finger, so the filter had a sort of “point” to it, which is where I put the glue to attach it. For the first half, I rested the lantern in a large plastic mixing bowl to keep it still. Once I had it about half done, I hung the lantern so I could finish the other side without crushing the work I’ve already done.

A quick word about the crushing comment: if you just sit the finished lantern down nicely for a short period of time, I didn’t have any problems with crushing the filters. I don’t know what would happen if you left it like that for more than I few minutes. I also wouldn’t do it while you finished the other half because you will be putting some pressure on the lantern, however small, to get the new filters to attach.

I have two tips for attaching the coffee filters. The first is just go for it. I hesitated and tried to think everything through, and that was just a waste of time. Just start glueing the things on. If you make a mistake, you can easily hide it or correct it. Just get going on the glueing.

The other tip is to not worry about getting the filters super close to each other, especially the first go around. It can get to be hard because when you move the side of a filter to get another one close to it, you can easily pull it off. I found it was better to just glue filters all over it, however close you can get without too much movement, and then go back when the glue had hardened a little bit to fill in the holes. By the time you work around the lantern once, the glue will be dry, and you can easily move the filters around to fill in holes. This method will not only help you work faster, it will also allow you to use fewer filters. If I moved around the filters on my finished product, I am sure that I could find holes to put more filters on the light. However, if someone is just looking at the lantern hanging, they won’t even notice it’s not perfectly filled.

The fixture does get to be pretty large. You could look for a smaller paper lantern somewhere else, or you could also use cupcake liners to make it a little smaller. (The nice thing about coffee filters is that they are much cheaper than cupcake liners!) Just keep the size in mind when you plan out where you want to put your light!

Once you finish glueing on the filters (which I did in spurts over several days, and it probably added up to 8 hours or so), I just put the lighting kit in the lantern according to the directions, and I was ready to hang the light! You don’t need to turn this into a light. You can easily just leave it as cool hanging decor. Below are some pictures of the light as it hangs today. Please don’t judge how it is hanging. I am living in a temporary place (I’m only here for another 6 months or so), and I didn’t have anyone to help me, so I didn’t spend a ton of time getting it perfectly positioned. It’s really hard to do that without someone on the ground telling you how to position the light!

And here’s the light turned on:

And I was feeling a little artsy, so here’s a close-up:

How fun is that picture?!?!

I would love to see one done with the coffee filters died a few different colors (or even multi-colored cupcake liners). You know, like a pink and purple one for a little girl’s room or a red, yellow, and blue one for a boy’s room. Or even just whatever colors matched the adult room it was hanging in! Unfortunately, none of my friends who would appreciate a gift like that live close enough for me to make them one (just to try it out). And while it is pretty light, it is very large, so mailing isn’t an option. If you make a colored one, please comment on where I can see photos of it! I’m really wanting to see how it turns out, because I think it could look amazing!

July 17, 2011. Crafts, DIY. Leave a comment.

After all this time? Always.

If you’re a Harry Potter fan, chances are you knew what this post was about before you started reading this. If not, well, by now you know it’s about Harry Potter.

This afternoon I got to see the last Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. It was very bittersweet. It feels like I’ve been waiting forever for the movie to come out, but now I have no more to look forward to. Sigh.

I know what you non-HP fans are thinking, aren’t you a little old to be into Harry Potter? Truth be told, I think most of the fans who were most excited about this movie are around my age or older. We’re the ones who grew up with the books, and then the movies. Maybe I’m wrong. But the fact that there were only a dozen or so kiddos in the entire full theater when I saw the movie today definitely supports my theory.

The movie is wonderfully done. I love it. Yes, there are a lot of things that didn’t make it from the book, but I think we’ve all realized that after the first one or two, there is just too much in the book to put it all into the movie. If you’ve read the book, it almost feels like you know a secret when you know the story behind something they didn’t explain? Just me? Okay then.

If you haven’t ever gotten in to the Harry Potter series, I do recommend it. Yes, they are children’s books, and yes, the style of writing is not very adult. But the story is wonderful. It’s not just a story about wizards and magic. It’s a story of good vs evil, friendship, love, and coming of age. It has wonderful messages in it that transcend generation. And the story is delightfully intricate. As you read your way through the seven books, there are so many details and things that all end up fitting together. Seemingly meaningless or minor details and events come back to pull everything together. It’s a terrific series. And I enjoy all of the movies too. I think you get more from the books, because it would be impossible to put all of the details and storylines in the movies without making the hours and hours longer, but this is one of the few cases of movies from books being well-done and likeable, even if you’ve read the book.

Are there any other HP fans out there who were as excited as I was to see this last installment? What did you think of the movie? Anyone have another series that they grew up with that they’d rather talk about?

July 15, 2011. Books, Harry Potter, Movies. Leave a comment.

Lasagna in a Bun

I like this recipe because it is easy to do, you can prep it in advance, and you can just cook the buns as you need them so it’ll taste like a fresh dish for each meal, instead of reheated leftovers!

Ingredients:
8 hoagie buns
3/4 lbs ground beef or turkey
8 oz tomato sauce
1/4 cup chopped onions or 1 tbsp dried onions
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp basil
3/4 cottage cheese, drained
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Hollow center of buns.
Brown meat with the onions. Drain. Add sauce and spices, and cook 5 more minutes.
Spoon beef onto buns, then cottage cheese, and top with mozzarella cheese.
Replace bun tops, wrap sandwiches individually in foil. Bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes.

July 13, 2011. Main Course, Recipes. Leave a comment.

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