Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Year in Review ~ Happy New Year!

It seems like the year 2011 has passed by faster than any year I can recall.  Though according to my dad, the older I get, the faster the years will go by.  I can't imagine a year passing faster than this one, but only time will tell!

It has been a great year for Pursuing the Magic and wanted to share with you my top five posts of the year:

#5 Disney Pirate League of the 80s 
This picture was taken of my family back in 1986 for our very first trip to Walt Disney World when I was just a teen.

#4 100 Things to Do in Disney #88 ~ A New (to us) Signature Dining Experience
Though we never made it to LeCellier this past trip as planned, we love the Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup.  This recipe is one of our favorite Disney recipes to create at home.  By the way, in January, you will find out why we didn't make it to LeCellier and what amazing experience we had instead!

#3 Cars Week Day #1 ~ A Cars Room Makeover
My Cars Week was a huge success!  I guess Joey isn't the only Cars fanatic out there!

#2 Hallmark Keepsake Ornament Premiere
We love collecting Disney ornaments and look forward to the Christmas in July weekend every year at Hallmark.  We picked up several of our favorite Disney characters who looked great on our Christmas tree this year!

#1 Cars Week Day #3 ~ Cars 2 3D Kindergarten Graduation Party
We were quite excited to celebrate Joey's graduation from Kindergarten this year.  Of course, he requested a Cars 2 theme, which he also had for his December birthday!

Over the year a lot of fun things have also happened ~
  • I invited some special guest writers to join in the fun of "Wishes Around the Web."  I invited several of my blogging friends to share their perspectives on the nighttime spectacular Wishes in the Magic Kingdom.  I am looking forward to starting a new series in January ~ In Pursuit of Pirates.
  • Before our prior trip, I started a series of posts called "100 Things to Do in Disney."  Now that we have returned from our trip, I will be completing that series.
  • Every week (well, almost every week), I participate in Focused on the Magic's Disney Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop.  It is a great week to show special moments I've experienced on our trips.  But my most favorite WW post of the year is "Joy."  Not only was it great fun choosing my photo, but it was very uplifting to go through all the amazing posts everyone else shared for the theme.  

Well, I hope that you are enjoying what I am sharing here on Pursuing the Magic.  I look forward to the new year and sharing my trip report with you!

I hope you and your loved ones have a happy and healthy New Year!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Disney Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop ~ My Potential Disney Calendar Cover


Focused on the MagicToday, I am joining in on the fun of the Disney Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop, hosted by Deb at Focused on the Magic.  This week's theme is to choose a photo you would use as the cover of your 2012 calendar.  As I looked through my photos, there were so many I wanted to choose, but I realized I started looking at specific ones that all had something in common - they were taken at night.  There is something about being in the Magic Kingdom after dark that just makes it all that more magical.  So with that said, here is the photo I would choose for a cover of a 2012 calendar:




Make sure you head over to Focused on the Magic to see what everyone else chose as their calendar cover!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Trip to Disney with the Kids ~ To Surprise or Not to Surprise?


This article was originally written for my Making Magical Memories column for WDW Daily News Newsletter back in June.  

I have really been enjoying the Disney Parks commercials that feature personal home videos, especially those that show a parent revealing to their children they are going to Walt Disney World.  Their reactions are priceless and I often wonder if I could ever pull off a surprise trip to Disney.  As much as I would love to show up at the airport and reveal our destination to the kids there, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this would be very difficult for our family for many reasons.

1. This is probably my most important consideration: My son.  Joey is definitely growing out of his stage of being afraid of just about everything and also improving when it comes to changes in schedule and transitions from one thing to another.  For now though, a surprise trip to Walt Disney World may be a little much for him without me prepping him for the things we will be seeing and doing.  He is easily overwhelmed by his surroundings if it is loud or if there are a lot of things surrounding him that he is unfamiliar with.

2. I don’t think I could contain myself.  How could I not talk about Disney 24/7 from the day we book our hotel stay until the day we arrive?  This would be extremely difficult for me!


3. Since we travel as a large group, and are three separate families, there are a lot of phone conversations to organize all the details of the trip.  I would like to say we could have these conversations without my children hearing them, but I swear the phone is like a magnet for my kids.  It doesn’t matter where they are in the house or the yard, the second the phone rings or I pick it up to dial a number, they are suddenly by my side.

4. I love that my children give their input for our dining reservations, our hotel choice and our itinerary.  I think I may feel guilty not letting them be a part of the planning process.

But on the other hand, there are so many reasons that I would just love to surprise my children!

1. Assuming they would react (and we know how kids are, it could go either way depending on the day), it would be a very magical moment to see their faces light up when we told them we were on our way to Walt Disney World.

2. Trying to contain myself from talking to them about the trip, just may elevate my level excitement (if that is at all possible) about going to Walt Disney World.

3. Maybe without all the prepping for the trip and just showing up, Joey wouldn’t have time to worry about the things that he can’t control.

Our next trip is already out of the bag, but I am going to put some serious consideration into making our following trip a surprise! How about you?  Do you like to surprise your children with trips to Disney or do you prefer to have them be a part of the planning process?

Monday, December 26, 2011

We Pursued & We Found the Magic This Week

What another amazing holiday and so much to be thankful for!  We hope that you and your family enjoyed the holidays this year!

Besides all the wonderful holiday happenings, a few fun posts were up on Pursuing the Magic last week.

Tuesday, I shared a story from our November Walt Disney World trip.  Let's just say, I had an "interesting" start to the vacation and someone, who I have no idea who they are, saved my vacation!  You can read all about it in my post Disney Magic Our First Day in Walt Disney World, an article I wrote for my Making Magical Memories Column for WDW Daily News.

On Wednesday, I joined in the fun of Focused on the Magic's Disney Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop.  The theme this month was "Joy."  A great theme to say the least!

On Friday, I shared my 2012 Disney Resolution.  Do you have a Disney resolution set for next year?

If you want to see our Disney "Cookies for Santa" plate and a fun Disney cookie decorating kit I found at Walgreens, head over to the Pursuing the Magic Facebook page.

I hope that you and your families had a great holiday season.  I am looking forward to more great Disney adventures in 2012!

Friday, December 23, 2011

My Disney Resolution ~ A runDisney Event

I tend to make unrealistic goals for myself.  Unrealistic in the sense that I attempt to accomplish way too much at one time and also have no plan to accomplish them, which has proven over and over a recipe for failure.  For 2012, I have one resolution that is set, and I have my plan in place.  I want to train for a runDisney event.  

Before this week, my goal was to train the entire year to run the January 2013 WDW Half Marathon.  If Disney can't motivate me to get into shape - nothing can!  But with the newest announcement by runDisney, I think I may have to change my resolution from train for a Disney race to run a Disney race.  I am considering running in The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler.  I think this would absolutely be a great first race!  Then, I would see where I would stand for the 2013 WDW Marathon Weekend.  I also find it interesting that just when I really set my mind to this goal, runDisney announces this brand new race.  Coincidence or sign?  I am going with this being a sign that for once in my life (since having kids) it is time to do something for myself, someone who has been forgotten over the last seven years.  (Disclaimer: That, of course, is not a complaint, I love my kids and would sacrifice anything for them!)

Imagine running at night and possibly "bumping into" villains around the course.  This leads me to imagine just what it would be like to run through the theme parks, something I have never done!  After the race, there is even a private party.  I can feel my baby weight (I know, I am way past the days of it actually being called baby weight!) dropping off as we speak.  The idea of training for and participating in something so amazing is my motivation and I can't wait!

My Disney Resolution:
On September 29, 2012, I will be ready and running in The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler.  (By the way, if you are thinking of registering for this race, registration opens on February 14, 2012.)

How about you?  When is your next Disney race?  Will it be your first?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

"Joy" ~ Disney Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop

Focused on the Magic

Today I am joining in the fun of the Disney Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop, hosted by Deb at Focused on the Magic (Thanks, Deb!).  The theme was a great one this week ~ "Joy."  Since I couldn't narrow down to just one, I have a few favorites that I think show just how much joy we had on our last trip to Walt Disney World.


Joy of a Princess & Her Grammie



Joy of Granting Wishes


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Disney Magic Our First Day in Walt Disney World

Our view from the beach at
Disney's Polynesian Resort
This article was written for my column, Making Magical Memories, in the WDW Daily News Newsletter #209, which was published on December 6, 2011. 

One of the things most of us talk about when returning from Walt Disney World are the magical moments we might experience with the characters, a favorite dining spot or a special cast member.  This trip I experienced some Disney magic from someone, and I have no idea who they are.  So, I am writing this in hopes that the person who made my vacation is reading and that they know how thankful I am.

After leaving New Hampshire the day after the very odd October snowstorm, we were relieved to arrive in Orlando without any glitches.  We made our way to Disney’s Polynesian Resort, checked in, made our way to our room and then I headed down to the beach with the kids and my mom. I will go into more details about our experiences at Disney’s Polynesian Resort in another article, but for now, let’s just say that being able to see Cinderella’s Castle from our resort, as well as hear the train’s whistle was something so magical in itself.  

I decided this would be the perfect backdrop to get some pictures of the kids on our first day of vacation.  We played in the sand, sat in the swing and really just enjoyed our surroundings.  Once the kids started saying they were hungry, we made our way to Captain Cook’s, grabbed something to eat and headed back to our room.  I wanted to take some pictures of our room, but could not find my camera.  I gave this no thought, since I am someone who rarely loses track of anything.  I unpacked our suitcases, put away our groceries and again looked for my camera.  It wasn’t there.  I started to panic.  How can I lose my camera on our very first day of vacation?

This is the last photo I had taken with my camera
before losing it!
I walked back to the beach where we had been playing, no camera.  I made my way over to Captain Cook’s, no camera.  I was in almost full panic mode at this point.  I went directly to Guest Services.  They had me fill out a form that had details of my missing camera.  The cast member I spoke with also gave me the phone number for lost and found.  He recommended I call the next morning, which was the morning of our breakfast at Chef Mickey’s.  How can I not have a camera for Chef Mickey’s?  

The next morning I called Lost and Found, which unfortunately did not open until 8:00.  So, we went to Chef Mickey’s camera-less, and honestly, I was so upset with myself for having lost my camera.  As soon as we finished breakfast, we returned to the hotel.  I called Lost and Found again, after saying several prayers that they had my camera.  Much to my relief, they did!!!  The woman I spoke to said that someone had found it on the swing on the beach.  I have never felt such relief!  They delivered my camera to the room within 15 minutes, and we made our way to the Magic Kingdom.  

So if you are the person who found my camera, I cannot tell you how grateful I am to you for turning it in to Guest Services.  I know there are worse problems in the world than not having my camera, but our Disney photos from past trips are my favorite souvenirs and something I enjoy looking at as often as possible!  


You can sign up for the weekly WDW Daily News Newsletter HERE

Sunday, December 18, 2011

We Pursued & We Found the Magic This Week

With just a week left until Christmas, I can say I for once am ready for the holiday.  Just two weeks ago, I felt so far behind, but luckily, have caught up and my to do list is quite short!  How is your holiday to do list coming along?

Here is what you could find at Pursuing the Magic this week, in case you missed anything:

Monday, the kids and I were featured over at Cooking with Mickey for our monthly column, Little Chef Disney Creations.  This month we created Mike Wazowski Pinwheels.

Wednesday, I joined in the fun of Focused on the Magic's Disney Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop.  It isn't really the season for it, but I shared a photo of all of us on our way to Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party all decked out in our Toy Story costumes.  I'll be sharing details of our experience in January.

On Friday, our Magical Fireplace DVD arrived.  Let's just say, we love it, and it is the perfect addition to our Disney DVD collection.

Saturday, I posted a link to the times for the Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade.

As you know, we are always searching for those magical Disney moments.  My friend Beth over at A Disney Mom's Thoughts had a great moment with her son.  Check out her post "Hey! I'm Aladdin, You're Abu" for a special Disney moment that happened at their home.  It's very sweet!

How have you found Disney magic this week?  I would love to hear about it!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade Air Times

Do you make watching the Disney parks Christmas Day Parade part of your Christmas day festivities?  I will admit we usually have it on, but my kids are so involved in their new toys from Santa, and Pierre and I are so focused on putting together those toys, that we usually really do not focus on the parade.  I am very excited that we finally have a DVR, so I will definitely be DVRing (is that a word?) the parade to watch at our leisure!

Were you in Walt Disney World for the taping of the parade?  I would love to hear what that was like!

Anyways, if you haven't seen the schedule yet for the times the parade is airing in your area, you can find them at the official Disney site.

Disney's Magical Fireplace

It has finally arrived - our Magical Fireplace DVD.  I saw this in a Disney Movie Rewards e-mail and knew it was something we just had to have.  Since we do not have a fireplace, but we do have a 57" TV, it actually looks quite nice.  If you haven't seen this DVD before, it is a virtual fireplace.  Throughout the 58 minute movie, Disney characters, fireworks and Mickey Ears randomly pop up.  From Mickey and Minnie to Cinderella's Pumpkin Coach to the the cast of Up and plenty of others in between, it seems the entire span of Disney and Disney-Pixar movies is represented.

At the DVD menu, you have the option of listening with special effects or music.  The special effects version will give you all the same character appearances as the music version, but instead of Christmas carols, you can hear the crackling of the fire.  If you choose the option of listening with music, it has a wonderful selection of Christmas carols, some even sung by our favorite characters!

My kids LOVE this and have asked to watch it already this morning.  Hayley even said that now that we have a "fireplace" we can hang our stockings in front of it.  I think this will be a great backdrop for our Christmas day festivities.

For more information, you can check out the official website at Disney's Magical Fireplace.  Do you have this bit of Disney Magic for your Christmas celebrations this season?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Disney Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop ~ Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party

Focused on the Magic

Today I am joining in the fun of the Disney Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop hosted by Debs at Focused on the Magic.  As you may or may not know, I am not really one for dressing up at Halloween, but how could I not for Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party?  So here we are:



Don't forget to check out all the great Disney Wordless Wednesday posts over at Focused on the Magic!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Little Chefs Disney Creations ~ Mike Wazowski Pinwheels

You can find the kids and I over at Cooking with Mickey today.  We have shared a Disney-inspired recipe from  Disney-Pixar's Monsters, Inc. for the next episode of Little Chefs Disney Creations, a series dedicated to recipes the whole family can create together.

To see this month's recipe, head over to

Sunday, December 11, 2011

We Pursued & We Found the Magic This Week

This past week we celebrated my littlest one's fourth birthday.  It is hard to believe she can be four already!  As you could probably tell, I took a short break from blogging but only due to the amount of things I had to get done around here. But I am back on track.  You will see just a few posts a week until the holidays are over and then I will be posting in depth reviews of our recent Walt Disney World trip.

Last Saturday, I shared a postcard we received in the mail from Walt Disney World.  Emily was very impressed by this!  To see what she had to say about it, you will have to read the comments section in my post A Disney Surprise in the Mail.  Very cute!

Friday, December 9, 2011

A Disney Experience I Must Experience (one of these days!)

There are a few things on my Disney to do list that I have never experienced in Walt Disney World.  Some of those things I have skipped because I don't have a strong desire to test them out, some are due to my fear of thrill rides and some are just due to time constraints of trying to get as much in as we can with three little ones.  But there is one thing I have made several attempts to experience in Walt Disney World, and it just hasn't worked out.  I will add that the lack of experience is not due to lack of effort!  It is due to lack of perfect weather conditions.  


Since I do not have any pictures
of Characters in Flight, I
thought I would share a picture
of my kids in Downtown Disney! :-)
It all started back in 2010 just before our March trip to Walt Disney World.  I happened to catch a You Tube video of someone's experience on Characters in Flight found over at Downtown Disney's West Side.  As soon as I saw this video, I knew I had to experience it.  The view looked just amazing, and I began to imagine all the amazing photos I would have the opportunity to take.  Well, if you have read any of my reviews of that trip, you may remember that the entire week was freezing cold with high winds.  Needless to say, the attraction was closed due to high winds all three of the times I made my way to Downtown Disney.  The first day I attempted to ride it was a little breezy, but certainly nothing I thought would have closed the ride.  Of course, being only 5'8" I could not tell the wind conditions at the height of 300', so I trusted that it wasn't safe and vowed to return on another day to try my luck again.


The second time we were in Downtown Disney there was no surprise that is was closed.  I didn't even have to walk over to read the sign to know it was too windy.  On our very last day of that trip, I made my way back to Downtown Disney just to make my final attempt at experiencing it.  Well, since today's topic is something we have never experienced, I am sure you can tell how that worked out.  You guessed it, it was closed due to high winds again.  I was very disappointed, but I knew we would be returning to Walt Disney World  again within a year or two, and I would make another attempt to experience it.


Unfortunately, this past trip, with the three kids getting sick, it just was not in the cards for me to experience Characters in Flight.  The two times we made our way to Downtown Disney, I just couldn't leave my kids with my parents so I could take flight.  I felt too guilty just thinking about leaving them with three sniffly, sneezing little ones who really just all wanted to go back to the resort, nevermind actually leaving them!  


So though I still have not experienced Characters in Flight, it tops my list of things I can't wait to experience someday!  

What is one Disney attraction that you have yet to experience but really want to?






Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Minnie Mouse Birthday Celebration for Emily

I say this every year on each and every one of my children's birthdays - where did the time go?  It seems like I was just bringing them home from the hospital?  But it is true!  Time is passing much too quickly.  We spent this weekend celebrating my littlest one's fourth birthday.  She just loves Minnie Mouse, and this weekend was all about Minnie Mouse.

I make all of my children's cakes, and this time around was no exception.  The only thing I did differently was rather than create cake decorations out of fondant or frosting, I used my Cricut machine and created them from paper.    This made my life much easier because I could finish the task quicker than I would trying to create things with fondant, since my skills are lacking in that department.  What you see above was actually Emily's idea of what her cake should look like.  She told me she wanted a picture of Minnie and lots of bows like on "Minnie's Bow-tique" on Disney Junior.  Once she gave me that idea, I took out my two Mickey Cricut cartridges, which both include Minnie Mouse images, and was excited to find a cute Minnie face and a bow shape.

The Cricut cartridges I used to create the cake decorations
Since this was going to be a small family party, I baked a 9-inch, two-layer cake.  I edged the top and bottom with pink fondant flowers.  The rest I created with my Cricut (by the way, I can't wait because I know Santa is bringing me the Cricut Cake machine!!).

For the Minnie Face
Materials:
Mickey Font Cricut Cartridge**
Black Cardstock
White Cardstock
Skin-colored Cardstock
Pink Cardstock

  1. Cut the Minnie face shape using the black cardstock at 6" using the "minnie" key
  2. Cut the face layer from the skin colored cardstock using the "charm" function key, then the "minnie" key
  3. Cut the eyes from the white cardstock using the "silhouette" function key, then the "minnie" key
  4. Cut the tongue from the pink cardstock using the "end caps" function key, then the "minnie" key
  5. Cut the bow from the pink cardstock using the "end caps shadow" key, then the "minnie" key
  6. Glue the layers together in the order that you cut them
  7. Using plastic cake dowels (I used Wilton), I placed Elmer's glue spots onto the top of each dowel, then pressed them on the back of the Minnie.  I didn't want the paper to touch the frosting because it would give it a grease spot.  By using the dowels, I could push the Minnie down to the cake without actually touching the cake.
  8. Place the Minnie face about an inch from the front border of the cake.  This will give you room to place the candles across the top of the cake.


For the Bows
Materials:
Mickey and Friends Cricut Cartridge
Various Colors of Cardstock

  1. Cut the bow shape at 1-1/4 inch (height) in various colors using the "icon" function key, then the "minnie4" key (do this for each color bow you want)
  2. Using plastic cake dowels (I used Wilton), I placed Elmer's glue spots onto the top of each dowel, then pressed one on the back of each bow.  
  3. Press dowel into the side of the cake going around the perimeter.  I only added bows to the front, but it would be very simple to create enough to go around the entire cake.

Emily helped place all the bows on the cake.  When it was done, she claimed that the cake was the most beautiful cake she had ever seen.  It was the perfect cake for her Minnie Mouse party, especially considering most of her presents were from the new Minnie Bow-tique toys collection!

Disney Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop ~ Cinderella's Castle for the Holidays

Focused on the Magic

Today I am joining in the fun of the Disney Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop hosted by Debs at Focused on the Magic.  The theme this week is the holidays in the parks or at home.  On our recent trip we celebrated Halloween in the parks at the beginning of the week, and at the end, we were able to see all the Christmas decorations.



Don't forget to check out all the great Disney Wordless Wednesday posts over at Focused on the Magic!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

A Disney Surprise in the Mail

The kids were quite excited when I picked up our mail yesterday.  We had a nice card from our Disney friends.  I don't remember getting one of these after any of our previous Walt Disney World vacations.



 Have you received one of these postcards in the mail?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Our 1st Attraction for Our 25th Anniversary Walt Disney World Vacation

I can't believe I have not started posting about our recent trip!  Things have just been so busy since getting home, but I promise to be back on track very soon!  For those of you who are new to Pursuing the Magic or those who do not know, our recent trip was the 25th Anniversary Trip for my family.  We checked in this year 25 years and one day from our very first day at Walt Disney World.  Amazing how fast time has gone!  If you want to read about our very first trip, I shared some of the details of our 1986 trip over at DISTherapy for the 40 Years to 40 Days project, in which many Disney fans came together to share 40 years of Walt Disney World memories.

You may already know my family's very first attraction back in 1986 was the Mad Tea Party.  Just by chance, the kids' first request this trip . . . the Mad Tea Party!  As soon as we strolled down Main Street and took in all the fall decorations, we made our way to Fantasyland, hopped into a tea cup and spun away!

Here are my parents, who celebrated their 42nd wedding anniversary, while we
were in Walt Disney World


Hayley by far is our biggest fan of the teacups!


Though Joey likes the Mad Tea Party, I am pretty certain all he was thinking was "When
do I get to go on the Tomorrowland Speedway?"




Emily the Tea Party Queen herself (well, at home anyways) was NOT a fan of the teacups!

So in the coming weeks, I will be sharing all the details of our amazing trip!  My husband has already been asking when we are going back!  Considering he has just recently been converted to a Disney fan, this is tremendous news!!!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Happy Birthday, Minnie Mouse!

Yesterday, there was a lot of celebration for the birthday of Mickey Mouse.  Did you also know that it was Minnie Mouse's birthday too?  All this week, Emily has been very excited that Disney Junior has been celebrating Minnie all week.  She loves Minnie Mouse, as do I.  Emily's birthday is in just a couple of weeks and she has already let me know that she wants a Minnie Mouse birthday party.  I will share our Minnie Mouse birthday party when it gets closer, but thought for today I would share the over-sized Minnie Mouse treat I found at Goofy's Candy Company on our most recent trip to Walt Disney World.  And, yes, that price tag does say $49.95.



Of course, if you have been reading my blog for a while, you might have stumbled across my post about why Minnie Mouse is so important to this family.  Our most magical moment included her, and it is by far my favorite Disney memory of the last 25 years of Disney trips. If you missed that post, you can find it at 40 Days to 40 Years ~ 2008 over at DISTherapy.  For me, that moment is the true meaning of Disney Magic.

Happy Birthday, Minnie Mouse!


If you want to see the Mickey version of this treat, you can head over to Pursuing the Magic's Facebook page.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Happy Birthday, Mickey Mouse! Mickey's Birthday Blog Hop ~ Favor Bags


Welcome to our Mickey Mouse Birthday Party Blog Hop! This year Mickey Mouse will be turning 83, and we thought it would be fun to all celebrate with our little ones. I’ll be sharing about favors and favor bags for the party. You can find links to the other party ideas at the end of this post.


I love going all out for my children's birthdays, from the invitations to the food to the decorations to the thank you cards.  Everything is themed from top to bottom.  As my children have gotten older, there is one part of the prepartions I really encourage them to take part in.  That is the favors.  I think it is so important to teach my children about giving something back to those who have come to help them celebrate.  So, for each party, they help create their own favor bags, help choose the items to put in the favor bags and help assemble them.

Being someone who has an excessive (complete rookie scrapbooker mistake, but I digress!) amount of scrapbooking materials, it is very easy to pull out my drawer of embellishments and letters, as well as my Cricut machine and Disney cartidges, and give my children full freedom to create.  The two bags I have here were created mostly by Hayley, though Emily gave some input here and there.  

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Disney Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop ~ It's All About Mickey!

Focused on the Magic

Today I am joining in the fun of the Disney Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop hosted by Debs at Focused on the Magic.  The theme this week is Mickey Mouse, who we met at Epcot's Character Spot, which I will share our experience with next week.




Here are my three cuties with their "camera faces."  If you have little ones
you probably know what I am referring to!

Join in the fun over at Focused on the Magic's Disney Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop with your best Disney photo and check out all the other great Wordless Wednesday links!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Bringing a Tambu Lounge Favorite into My Kitchen

My favorite lounge in Walt Disney World is by far the Tambu Lounge at Disney's Polynesian Resort.  On this past trip, I had the opportunity to enjoy my favorite beverage at my favorite lounge - the Tropical Macaw.  What I love about this drink is that it is not too strong and yet not too sweet.  Upon returning home, I searched online for the recipe and came across it at Party through the Parks, along with plenty of bar and lounge menus, as well as recipes.  So last night, I recreated the Tropical Macaw, and it was a nice little piece of Disney to bring home with me, since I am having full on Disney withdrawals right now!

If you want the recipe, head over to 

What is your favorite Disney recipe to create at home?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Little Chef Disney Creations ~ Sorcerer Mickey Magical Treats over at Cooking with Mickey


You can find the kids and I over at Cooking with Mickey today for the next episode of Little Chef Disney Creations.  This series of posts is a way for us to share our Disney-inspired recipes that the whole family can create together.

Head over to Cooking with Mickey for this month's recipe:



Friday, November 11, 2011

A Salute to Our Veterans from Walt Disney World Transportation Cast Members

Disney magic seemed to pop up everywhere on our recent trip to Walt Disney World.  One very special moment, that is fitting for today's celebration of our nation's veterans, happened on the last day of our vacation.  My dad was with my three children waiting near the bus depot at Disney's Polynesian Resort, while Pierre and I were finishing getting ready for the day.  A Disney Cast Member noticed my dad's Marine Corps jacket, walked up to him and struck up a conversation.  My dad told him about his experiences as a Marine.  He thanked  my dad and handed him the card I have photos of below.  This moment was very special for my dad.  When he was a Marine, it was a time during this country's history that soldiers were not treated the way they are today.  I am so thankful that times have changed for our country.  I am also so thankful to this Cast Member because he really made my dad's day.

This is the front of the card

Disney Magic to the Rescue Again ~ Hayley's Moment with Snow White

I am sure we can all agree that Disney magic just seems to appear at the most unexpected and sometimes the most needed times.  We had a few such moments last week, but there is one that brought a smile to Hayley's face that even now a week later I can still see her beautiful smile and hear her infectious giggle from that exact moment.

Hayley explaining the importance of the flower and her
little sister's princess emergency

Hayley was feeling a bit under the weather
and was very serious meeting Snow White
We made our way to the Magic Kingdom for our very first trip to Cinderella's Royal Table.  We were unsure how this was going to go because Hayley was not feeling well at all.  She was in her Cinderella gown and Emily was dressed as Princess Tiana.  As we made our way through the Magic Kingdom turnstiles, the flower fell off Emily's gown.  Emily became very upset because her new Tiana gown was now "ruined."  My mom took Hayley to Guest Services to see if they had a safety pin we could have to reattach the flower, while I calmed Emily down.  The rest of us waited outside.  I won't go into the details, but as we waited, a person, to put it nicely, "lost their breakfast" right in front of us.  Joey started dry heaving and let's just say, it was unpleasant.  So my dad and Pierre took Joey and Emily over toward the Emporium to wait for us there.

As I started to make my way into Guest Services, my mom walked out without Hayley and starts pointing to the left of Guest Services.  As I look over, out walks Snow White holding Hayley's hand.  No one else was there, just the two of them.  Hayley was explaining to Snow White about how the flower was from Emily's dress and we needed to fix it.  Hayley was VERY serious about this because she knew how upset Emily was.  I pulled out my camera and just started clicking away.  I mentioned to Hayley how serious she looked and Snow White got right down on the ground with Hayley and started tickling her.  Hayley was beaming!  It was the first smile we had seen from her all day. It was just the Disney magic Hayley needed because she was suddenly energized and back to her regular self.

Hayley's giggle and huge smile while
Snow White was tickling her was
something I will never forget
Apparently, Snow White had spotted Hayley in Guest Services and just walked right up to her, held her hand and walked outside.  It is moments like these that I love.  They aren't planned, they just happen and create memories that will last a lifetime for Hayley and for those of us there to witness it.  These are the moments that keep me wanting to go back and share Disney with my children.  To Snow White, Hayley was one of hundreds of girls who happened to be in Magic Kingdom that day, but to Hayley, Snow White is the beautiful princess who has seven dwarfs as friends, married The Prince, and is now her "best friend."


Some of our best Disney moments have happened when we least expect them.  What is your greatest Disney moment that was completely unexpected?





Thursday, November 10, 2011

New TSA Regulations for Children Under Age 12

Hayley watching for our plane
at Manchester Airport
My children have traveled many times by plane to many destinations.  Even with all these trips under my belt, I can say that the most stressful part about traveling with little ones is airport security.  This year, after making it to the airport and relieved our airplane would depart on time even with the record breaking snow, I was very excited, but still had that knot in my stomach about getting the three kids through security and to the gate.  In 2010, Joey refused to walk through the security "door," as he calls it, because he was afraid it would zap him.  Of course, upon hearing that, Hayley and Emily began worrying and did not want to get zapped.  Let's just say, three crying kids, annoyed TSA agents and business people in a hurry to get to their flights made a nightmare of a morning.  In the end, we made it through to the gate and much to Joey's relief, no one was zapped.  I am not sure which was worse that incident or the year my children thought TSA was stealing their new Disney sneakers.  Either way, as prepared as I have always been, airport security gets me every time.

But this year was completely different.  As soon as we got into the security line, I had the kids start taking off their shoes.  The TSA agent informed me that there is a new regulation in place.  Children ages 12 and under are no longer required to remove their sneakers to go through security.  Now if your children can put their own sneakers back on without assistance this news probably isn't as exciting for you as it is for some of us who have really little ones.  Having experienced airport security in previous years with three children who could not put their own shoes on, or take them off for that matter,  this is a big time saver and stress relief for parents of little ones.

So, next time you are traveling anywhere and need to go through airport security with little ones, here is one less step you need to take to get yourself to the gate.  Keep their shoes on!  Adults of course still need to remove their shoes, but for us, this change in regulations made for a very smooth morning through security to the gate.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

We Pursued & We Found Lots of Disney Magic This Past Week in Walt Disney World

It is hard to believe that after a year of planning, our one week Walt Disney World vacation has already come and gone. We had a few bumps in the road, but overall, it was an amazing trip.  We tried several things for the very first time, we continued some favorite family traditions and created a lot of magical memories.  I will be sharing all my reviews and stories with you, but decided for today to start with the day before our trip.  That may sound odd, but you will see by the end why I decided to start our trip report there.

Travelling to Walt Disney World in October is one of our favorite times of year.  I love the fall decorations as you walk down Main Street, U.S.A. and being from New Hampshire, it is one time of the year that we do not have to worry about being snowed in.  Well, at least, most years.  This year was completely different.  Friday, two days before our flight to Orlando, we started taking the weather reports seriously.  They had been predicting snow all week, but honestly, no one in this house actually thought it would happen.  As the week progressed, the snow totals became higher and higher. Friday afternoon, my dad made the suggestion that we at least get hotel rooms near the airport Saturday night, so that we wouldn't have to drive in the snow Sunday morning.  Pierre and I agreed this would be a great idea and booked our room. The snow was originally predicted to begin at 7pm Saturday.  This was perfect for us because our Saturday schedule was full.  Hayley had a birthday party to attend, and Joey had his last flag football game of the season.  We decided that when Joey's game ended at 4, we would all go home, pack up my parents' van and make our way to the hotel in Manchester, which is over an hour away.

By the time we reached Concord (45 minutes away) the roads were terrible.  So much for a 7pm start time.  It wasn't even five and the roads were sheer ice.  The driving was terrible.  Luckily, my dad is a retired State Trooper, so he is a great driver in any condition.  He has had a lot of practice.  After a very long ride, we safely arrived at our hotel.  At this point, between the first snow of the season and the fact that we were going to Walt Disney World, the kids were pretty much wild, though in a good way.  As the four adults were worrying about our flight being canceled, the three kids were chattering away about making a snowman and what they wanted to do first in Disney.

We all settled in and had the kids in bed by 8:30.  At 9:30, the power went out.  Both Pierre and I began to worry a little more than we already had about flights being cancelled.  Apparently this hotel had no generator, because no power also meant no heat.  I was in and out of sleep all night.  At 4:41, the power came back on. I grabbed my phone, checked our flight status, which still read "On Time."  I was relieved but still knew that may not be accurate in a few hours for our 10:45 flight.  At 5:12, we heard a large cracking sound and a branch from a tree just outside the hotel came down and the power went out again.  Any relief I felt prior to that was gone.  I am sure you can probably guess, I did not go back to sleep.  Luckily, in less than an hour, the power was back on and our flight was still listed as "On Time."  Apparently, the falling branch and the power going out at the same time was just a coincidence! Thank goodness!

We were all up early and ready to go.  Since the flight prior to ours was cancelled, we decided to get to the airport as soon as we could.  The hotel was just about a mile drive from the airport parking garage and made it there without an issue.

Tomorrow I will share with you the new airport security rules that were implemented within the last two weeks in regards to children under 12.  Moms who travel with little ones will rejoice, as I did, when I saw how much easier getting through security was this trip compared to the one I wrote about in my previous article T.S.A. or S.T.R.E.S.S. 

Well, I am happy to be back, and the wheels are already turning for when our next Walt Disney World vacation will be!! I can't wait to share with you all our Disney experiences from this week.  By the way, according to the reports I read, this storm broke snow records that were established 140 years ago.  We were very lucky we decided to head south to the airport.  Some towns north of us ended up with over 30 inches of snow and some places even were without power for days!  I am going to just say that it was Disney magic at work that got us to the airport safely and on a flight that left on time.  That is always a great way to start a vacation.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

I'll Be Pursuing the Magic on Location Soon!

October 1986
I just wanted to let everyone know that next week I will actually be out "Pursuing the Magic" at Walt Disney World.  I will be doing "extensive" research on my family's favorite attractions, continuing our Disney traditions and taste testing all that the Disney eateries and Food and Wine Festival Booths have to offer.  We'll be enjoying Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party for the first time decked out in our Toy Story costumes and so much more.  We have plenty of firsts to look forward too, including a diaper bag free vacation (this is a milestone for us!) and new thrill rides Joey and Hayley are tall enough to ride finally.  This means I will have a lot to share when I return!  Even better, we are checking into our hotel 25 years and one day from the day we checked in for our very first trip to Walt Disney World.  That's right - this is our family's 25th Anniversary of our very first trip back in 1986.  You can find all the details of that trip over at DISTherapy for the 40 Days to 40 Years series, a countdown to Walt Disney World's 40th Anniversary.

I also have VERY exciting news, but I can't reveal all the details just yet.  Let's just say that some Disney magic has already come our way, just when we needed it most, and we haven't even landed in Orlando yet.

March 2010
While I am away, I hope that you find some Disney magic in each of your days.  You know you can always come here and find ways to pursue Disney magic while you are home and waiting for the arrival of your next Disney vacation by checking out my Disney Magic at Home ideas.

If you are looking to read about some favorite magical moments of mine, feel free to check out my tab Our Magical Moments.  Each one of these are some of my favorite memories of our trips to Disney.

I cannot wait to get to Walt Disney World and hope that you all have a great week! I look forward to sharing with you everything we get to see and do when I return!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Wishes around the Web Part 4 ~ A Disneyland Perspective with "Remember . . . Dreams Come True" from Chad at Days in the Park


Today I am excited to welcome Chad from Days in the Park for the 4th and final part of our Wishes around the Web series.  Each month Chad or Sarah from Magical Days with the Mouse will be bringing their Disneyland perspective to our series.  I have never visited Disneyland, but these two bloggers continue each day to inspire me to make the trek across country to experience it for myself.  Without further ado, here is a little Disneyland magic for you.



First, I wanted to say a huge "Thank You" to Beth for allowing me to take over space on her blog.  She's always been one of my favorites and I've been reading her for over a year now, and it's a huge honor for me to have been asked to participate in her "Wishes" segment.

Unfortunately, as some of you may know if you read me on my own blog, I'm a "Lander" and not a "Worlder" (my own terms and nothing derogatory is meant by it), so I have absolutely no familiarity with "Wishes" whatsoever.  It might lead you to wonder why on earth Beth asked me to participate; it sure did me!  But when I asked her about it, she encouraged me to go ahead and participate and write about something we had at Disneyland we had which might be similar.  Well, we might not have "Wishes", it's true, but it seemed entirely prudent to write about the fireworks show that we do have, and it's one that is near and dear to my heart, and something I truly love: "Remember... Dreams Come True".  And, since it does in fact share some of the music from "Wishes" in Orlando's Magic Kingdom, or so I have heard, it seems like the perfect tie-in!

"Remember..." made its debut at Disneyland during the 50th Anniversary Celebration at Disneyland and opened on May 5, 2005.  One of the coolest things about the show, even from the first time I heard it, was that it's narrated by Dame Julie Andrews.  Come on!  How cool is that?!  A Disneyland fireworks extravaganza narrated by Mary Poppins herself?  Even from the beginning I knew that "Remember..." was going to be something special.  I can remember being in The Park with my parents and little boys (I only had two at the time) and seeing it for the first time and how it just melted my heart.

For those who might be unfamiliar, since "Remember..." was created for Disneyland's 50th Anniversary, it does much what you might expect it to, and goes through 'movements' celebrating the various areas, and iconic Disneyland attractions, all around The Resort.  It begins with Julie Andrews narrating about Disneyland and importance of wishes and dreams (against the backdrop of the music from "Wishes") and moves into several Disney characters quoting about their own wishes.  That might in fact be my favorite part of the show, but there are so many to choose from!  But hearing Ariel calling out, "I wish... oh, I wish I could be part of that world!" always pulls at my heartstrings.  It's just absolutely beautiful.

"Remember..." then moves into the homage segements and moves all around Disneyland (beginning with Main Street USA and Walt's Dedication Speech) with the pyrotechnics set to music and famous quotes from all of my favorite attractions.  Some of my favorites include clips from Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room in Adventureland, "Grim Grinning Ghosts" from The Haunted Mansion in New Orleans Square, "Ev'rybody Has A Laughing Place" from Splash Mountain in Critter Country, and Captain Rex yelling out, "R2, Lightspeed to Endor!" from the original Star Tours attraction in Tomorrowland.

The nearly 20-minute show then ends with a conclusion from Julie Andrews talking about how Disneyland has grown to be "the happiest place on earth", again against the backdrop of music from "Wishes", while Tinkerbell makes one final flight from the Matterhorn Bobsleds to Sleeping Beauty Castle and the firework's finale. 

Hopefully I've managed to do a good job of describing the fireworks show and what it's all about to anyone who may not have had the blessing to see it before.  Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of "Remember...", but that's in fact by choice!  And there's a reason for that.  It might not make sense to anyone else, and others might not "get it" necessarily, but here it is.  And I hedge what I'm about to say with this: there is no doubt that the fireworks portion of the show is beautiful and awesome and cool to look at.  But to me, the beauty of "Remember..." has always been in the music of the show.  As of now, it stands alone as the only fireworks show from any of the Disney Parks that I have committed to memory.  I actually have two copies of it, on two different CDs from Disneyland, and I listen to it several times a week in my home.  I was listening to it for inspiration as I started this article, in point of fact.  It's just that gorgeous!  It's just an absolutely beautiful piece of Disneyana to me, and I truly love it.  It wouldn't be entirely out of the realm of possibility to stand next to me during the show, and see me with my eyes closed, mumbling the words to myself as the show moved along.  There are just so many memories of Disneyland wrapped around this show... it definitely gives one pause and makes me think about just how much history I'm a part of every time I step into the gates.  I couldn't be more thankful that "Remember..." has been a mainstay at Disneyland since it debuted, and that I get to hear it each and every Sunday night when I go out for several months out of the year.  I know it will probably leave completely at some point in the future, and I know how sad I'll be when it does.

Now that I've painted myself a complete sap(!), I hope that you've enjoyed reading my "Wishes" article.  I did the best I could, and I hope that one day I get to see "Wishes" for myself inside the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World.  Maybe the truth is that wishes really a dream that your heart makes, whether you're in Orlando watching "Wishes", or Anaheim watching "Remember... Dreams Come True".  Two parts of the same coin?  Come on out and see "Remember..." for yourself, and you decide.

Days In The Park button
Thank you so much, Chad for sharing your Disneyland perspective! 

If you have not checked out Days in the Park yet, I highly recommend that you do.  Mark and Chad's love of Disney shines through every post and picture they share.  You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.


Make sure you checkout the rest of the Wishes Around the Web series:

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Virtual Food & Wine Festival ~ Brazil


Welcome to the Virtual Food & Wine Festival!  After you see what the kids and I have shared, make sure you visit all the other blogs who have joined in.  Do you have a favorite international dish?  Feel free to add your link below and join in the culinary fun!

One thing I love to do is cook with my kids.  The recipe I am sharing today, the four of us created together.  These sweet treats are called "Brigadeiros" and originated in Brazil.  The first time I made these was in the sixth grade for a report I was doing on South America.  Brigadeiros are coated in chocolate sprinkles.  You will notice in the photos below, my children opted to make them a little more seasonal.  If you know my kids, you will probably guess who made which ones.  Just in case, the pink "princess" ones were created by Emily.  The ones with Halloween sprinkles were created by Joey, and the fall ones were created by Hayley.  Also, note the arrangement of them on the plate - that was done by the kids too!

Ingredients:

  • 1 - 14.5oz. can of sweetened condensed milk (1 1/3c/)
  • 1/4c. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1T. butter or margarine
  • 6 to 8 T. chocolate flavored sprinkles
  • Small foil or paper decorator cups


In a 2-quart saucepan, combine condensed milk, cocoa powder and butter. Cook and stir constantly over medium-low heat 7 to 8 minutes* or until candy forms a ball around the spoon and pulls away from the sides of the pan.  Cool to room temperature.

With buttered hands, shape cocoa mixture into 1-inch balls; gently roll each in chocolate sprinkles.  Place in individual decorator cups.  Cover and chill before serving.  Refrigerate remaining candies.  Makes 25.

*Though the recipe says 7 to 8 minutes, it usually takes me about 15 minutes to reach the stage that the candy forms a ball around the spoon.

The kids' creations

If you plan to attend Epcot's Food and Wine Festival this year, you will not find any Brigadeiros at the Brazil Marketplace, but they do have a few things on the menu that I can't wait to try:
  • Brazil’s National Dish - Feijoada (a black bean and pork stew)
  • Seared Mahi Mahi  with Steamed Rice, Hearts of Palm and Coconut-Lime Sauce
  • LeBlon Frozen Caipirinha cocktail

The recipe I used in this post was from The Avon International Cookbook, published in 1983.

Check out all the great recipes from around the world and feel free to link in with your own recipe for the Virtual Food and Wine Festival!