Monday, July 30, 2012

10 Disneyland Tips

We took our kids on their first Disneyland back in July, and we all had such a great time!  There were a few things I was really glad we did or took with us, so I thought I'd share them with you.  This is by no means a complete list of tips and tricks for Disney. The internet has lots of lists like this one, but add my suggestions to others you find online and you're sure to have a great trip too!

1--Buy tickets online.  This will keep you out of an extra line at the park.  You can pay for your parking online too.  Just be sure to not lose your pages you print out for the parking and for each ticket!

2--Decide on a few things that are most important, try to get those all done, and don't stress about the rest.  We didn't wait in line to see any princesses, we didn't try to get any autographs, but we did see several characters in the parades. Our kids actually loved doing the rides, and the 6-year-old was the most fearless of all!  If you do want to meet lots of the celebrities, don't worry if you don't do as many rides.   And especially with this being our first family trip to Disneyland, everything was a new experience and the kids didn't "miss" anything they were missing!

3--Take snacks!  We bought some food in the park, but we also took several snacks--things that didn't have to stay cold like crackers, pretzels, and candy.  The kids loved the cotton candy I brought, and Smarties were a life saver when little people's temperments or feet started to feel a little grumpy :)

4--Sweatshirt or long-sleeve shirt.  Even though it was July, after the sun went down and a little breeze started up, I was glad we'd stuffed a little something for each person into the stroller.  I get cold really easily, and it definitely stopped the potential complaining of a couple of kids.

5--Personalize your stroller.  Our youngest is 3 1/2 so we don't use the stroller much these days, but it sure was handy and the park to let him ride--and to stash our extra belongings (snacks, etc)  I wrapped the sides and handle with Duck brand duct tape in the blue and white flower pattern and we were able to easily spot our stroller in the crowd when we got off a ride (even if it had been moved!)

6--If you are taking a stroller on the buses from the parking lots to the park, know that you have to fold the stroller up to get in on the bus.  Have a large bag (reusable shopping bag maybe) to carry all the things that you've stuffed into the bottom part of the stroller.  Otherwise there's a lot of hands-full juggling on the bus.

7--Restock the bag you're taking into the park each day.  Need more water? More snacks? More diapers?  Otherwise you'll spend more quarters than you intended because one of the diaper dispenser machines didn't work, and then the diaper you do finally get is too small for the child who you kind of wish was potty trained already anyway :)

8--Speaking of diapers, (if this applies to you) and your child is old enough to stand, practice changing diapers while the kid is standing.  Then in the park you don't have to worry if the restroom you're near has a changing table in it or not.

9--Take sunscreen of course, and if it's going to get pretty hot, bring a squirt bottle filled with water.  You'll be able to spritz hot arms and faces and cool everyone down.

10--Remember, it's supposed to be the happiest place on earth, right?  As parents, do your best to be patient and have a positive attitude so that your kids will have good memories of the day.  I'm not saying you should buy everything your child says they want, and you may have to deal with some kind of hungry-tired-hot-meltdown at some point during your visit.  Just stay happy!

So, if you've got a Disney trip in your future, I hope you found some of these suggestions helpful--have fun!  And be sure to check out my great collection of Disney craft ideas.

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Saturday, July 28, 2012

Our Pet Nigerian Dwarf Goats

It started innocently enough: family trips to the county fair each summer.  We stroll through the midway, check out jams and quilts, listen in on livestock auctions, grab a snack (funnel cake...plate full of curly fries...fried Snickers?) let the kids each pick a ride, and even get sucked into the commercial exhibits.  And then there were the goats.  Great with kids, easy to take care of, and just so-dern cute.

This is pretty much all my husband's undertaking, though I did help a lot with building the shelter in the back (a giant tarp secured over 3 arched cattle panels), putting up the fence to create an enclosure for them, and sometimes just standing around watching.

We've had them for a couple of weeks now, and honestly it's been pretty fun.  The kids each are able to have some assignments during the day and they love being brushed.

I'm sure you're dying to know what we named them, right?
On the left is Bludger and on the right is Snitch.

(Remember my ode to Harry Potter last summer?  Well, our 8 year old has now read the entire series, watched each movie with us, as you might imagine, loves them) 


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Friday, July 20, 2012

Blog Makeover Tips

In case you mostly see my posts in a reader, here's what it looked like around here before.  

I must say I'm pretty proud of myself that I did it all on my own.  With the help of some online tutorials I messed with html, backgrounds, headers, widgets and css.

Here are some things I learned along the way
  • It's a good idea to set up a test blog.  I went to my blogger account, added a new blog which I made private (so only I could see it)  Then as I played with new images or sizing, I wasn't disturbing my real blog.

  • Save, or export, your current blog before you go changing any html.  That way, just in case you accidentally change some html that you didn't mean to, you have your original blog to re-upload if you need to.  (I didn't have any problems, but I saved just in case) 

  • You can easily upload your own picture for a blog background.  Go to Template--Cusomize--Background Click on the little down arrow by the current background image and select upload image.  There are also tons of preloaded backgrounds, and some of them can be customized further under Advanced-Background and changing the colors.  That's actually how I did mine, but it still feels custom and original!

  • Play around with different color palettes.  It's great if you have an idea of what you want (Pinterest is a great source of color scheme inspiration)  But don't be afraid to throw in a "surprise" color.  I wasn't planning on adding any green to my design, but ended up picking a shade that I think goes along great with the whole look.

  • Spend some time on your favorite blogs too.  See what you like about their layout and feel.  Not to say you should be copying their site, you want to be original of course, but do you like where they put their bio, or how it's worded?  Does it have a lot of white space or lots of fun colors?  Do you like where they have their search button or categories or social media buttons located?

In addition to using GIMP and Make the Cut to design all my new elements, I also used all of these links for help. Go ahead and check them out if you're looking for tips for a blog makeover.

How to create images with more than one link in them--Something Swanky
(like my new header)
How to install a custom header--mayura4ever
How to adjust sidebar title spacing--Southern Speakers
How to center sidebar widgets--SNAP
How to remove the blogger nav bar--Blogger Plugins

To go along with my new colors I redesigned my blog buttons.  If you currently have one on your blog somewhere, I'd love for you to grab the updated one (but the old one will still work on your site--I didn't delete it from Photobucket)

Crafting in the Rain

Let me know if you have questions about anything else I did here, and I'd love to know what you think about my new look!

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Paper Bag Exploring Journals

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I first shared this at Honeybear Lane.  Did you see it there?  What about The Burly Crew--are you familiar with it?  It's a musical about the Lewis and Clark expedition and I remember all the way back to 4th grade, getting props ready for the play.  We cut out colorful paper handprints to make leaves on the trees, used blue fabric for the water and made little leather books out of brown grocery bags.

I thought it would be great to recreate the project with my kids and help them make their own exploring journals.  Here's what you'll need:

Brown grocery bag 
Printer paper
Needle and thread
Image to print on the cover (mine were all from The Graphics Fairy)
Brown ink (optional)

Step 1:  Cut out a piece of the bag and tape it down on a piece of printer paper.  

Step 2:  Choose your cover image and arrange it to print on the bottom left of the page (rotated 90 degrees clockwise).  Each of my kids picked what they wanted on their cover.

Step 3:  Run page through the printer to put your image on the brown paper.

Step 4:  Take brown paper off the printer paper and crumple over, and over, and over.  My kids each started out working on this part, but got bored before it was finished.  It takes about 20 minutes of wrinkling and flattening to give the paper bag a soft fabric-like feel.

Step 5:  Flatten the paper out and cut it to about 5.5 x 8.5 inches.  It doesn't have to be perfect. Then fold it in half.

Step 6:  Cut a few sheets of printer paper to 5.25 x 8 inches.   Rub edges with brown ink, for an "old" appearance, if desired.  Fold in half and make sure they'll fit into the cover (if they don't, trim them down a little)

Step 7:  Stack the filler paper and cover and poke holes (with the needle) down the crease line, about 1/2 inch apart.  Then thread the needle and sew the book together down the center.  Tie it off and cut the thread.

Step 8:  Get out and explore!  We have a lake a few miles from our house with some great trails around it, so we went out for a walk, and I had the kids watch for things around them and take notes in their journals.  We had a blast!

Also, if you notice that one of my 3 kids is missing from our outing, it's true.  Between rain, sickness, and planning for vacation, we ended up just having one afternoon available to do it and she was at day camp.  But she came home from camp and wrote in her journal about it :)

Today's Creative Blog

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Fluffy Flower Headband

Last month I guest posted on Flats to Flip Flops.  If you haven't yet checked out Ashley's sweet personality and super cute style, you should!  Then come back here and see how I made this easy headband.
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For supplies you'll need a glue gun, a strip cut from a t-shirt, felt and fabric (I used a piece of a white sheet that I've used for lots of other projects too)

Cut from your fabric 4 flower shapes about 2 1/2 inches across.  Cut 4 circles about 2 inches across and 4 flowers about 1 1/2 inches across.  From the felt cut 2 leaves and a circle about 1 1/2 inches. They don't have to be perfect!

1--glue t-shirt strip onto felt circle

 2--fold each fabric cutout in half once, then half again, and glue near the bottom to secure

3--glue folded fabric down starting with large flowers, then circles, then small flowers

4--fluff each layer with your fingers

5--glue felt leaves to the back

6--tie the ends and try it on (you can skip the awkward-smile-self-portrait though, and just go straight to looking fab)

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Monday, July 16, 2012

Cute Fanny Pack

We're back from vacation!  California was lots of fun, but isn't it always so great to come home and sleep in your own bed?

If we're Instagram buddies then you saw a few bits here and there of our trip, and maybe even saw that we have pet goats now!  That's a whole post by itself for another day.

But today I will share a few vacation pictures and even my cute fanny pack I made for Disneyland!  What? You say there's no such thing?  Ok, you're probably right.  Maybe "cute-ish" is the word.

We survived an 18 hour car ride

Spent 2 days at Disneyland

Went to the beach

I met and had a great visit with Jaime from Polkadots on Parade

And played with lots of cousins and Grandma and Grandpa

On to my fanny pack (we were bringing a stroller into the park, but I wanted to keep our tickets, phone, camera and chapstick on my person at all times)  I bought this zipper pouch at IKEA for about $4, an 1/8 yard of fabric and a package of D-rings.  

I cut my fabric in half the long way and sewed one strip into a tube, then turned it right side out.  I sewed it onto the pouch as best I could (I couldn't reach all the way to the ends with my sewing machine and I was in a hurry--no hand stitching here!)  

Then I attached the D-rings to one end of the "belt" and turned in the other end and sewed it closed.   Then, since I can't think of another time I'll use it, I decorated it just a little for Disneyland--Mickey head and ear rosettes from the other half of my fabric strip.

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If I were to do it again, I would either add interfacing to the belt part, or just use nylon straps (you can find these on the notion wall at Joann's) to make it sturdier so it wouldn't slip through the D-rings with the weight of the items in my pack.

Anyway, there you have my cute(ish) fanny pack!  Or hip pack.  Whatever.  Have you, or would you, wear one at Disneyland?

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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Felt Magnet Bookmark

My 8 year-old loves to read.  I think it's fabulous, even when it means she'd rather stay in bed and read than get up and get ready for school.

She also usually has more than one book going at once, which means books turned upside down to mark her place on the counter, the couch, the table, her bed...Not the best way to save a place when I'm trying to clean up.  I'm hoping that having a magnetic bookmark might both encourage her to use it, and also keep it from falling out of the book.


super strong magnets (3.99 for 9)
felt sheets (about 50c each)
glue gun (on hand)
scissors (on hand)

Total Project Cost: $8.00 to make 4 bookmarks


Step 1--Cut these pieces from your choice of felt colors:
1 strip (3/4 inch by 10 inches)
4 circles (1 3/4 inch diameter)
1 flower and one circle (or other shapes you want)

Step 2--Place one of the small magnets on a felt circle, then top with the other, sandwiching and end of the strip inside.  Glue edges to close.

Step 3--Do the same with the other side, making sure that the attractive sides of the magnets are going to be facing each other when the bookmark is folded over the book pages (otherwise the magnets will repel each other, and you'll be annoyed)

Step 4--Add the felt flower and center and mark your book.

These would make great favors for a book themed party, don't you think?
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