Maine in Winter: Top 10 For Families

My family has started to make an annual trek to southern Maine for a weekend getaway before the holidays.  While, Maine might seem like a place to stop and enjoy a relaxing summer getaway, wintering up here is equally beautiful and fun (and prices can't be beat)!

1. Marginal Way
This approximately 1 mile walk along the water in Ogunquit, is hands down one of my favorite places in the world. It is impossible to not feel the power of the ocean as you stroll here. When we come to Maine I feel home when we stop here. You can enjoy scenic views, stroll with your family, and do some seaside exploring here.

2. Kennebunkport Christmas Prelude
This sweet little town is lit up like something out of Americana history! And if you time your trip right you can visit during the tree lighting and fireworks celebration (usually the beginning of December). I love the way it feels here! We always make sure to stop in the candy shop, candle shop, and general store here!

3. Nubble Lighthouse
This is my very favorite lighthouse and you can park just across the water from it and the a short beach stroll here.  Even if you only have time to stop and enjoy it for a few minutes, it is worth the stop to check it out, hear about the rich history, and maybe snap a few pictures.

4. Seashore Trolley Museum
Although this place is open year around, at Christmas your $10 per person trolley ride includes warm baked cookies and hot cocoa! And the trolley cars are decorated for the holidays with fresh wreaths and holiday lights!

5. Wells Beach
I love a beautiful beach any time of year, and this is no exception! I have never been here in the summer so I will leave it up to Trip Advisor to share some info and I will just share the love!

6. Weathervane Restaurant (and Outlet Shopping)
One of our family traditions is a stop for dinner at The Weathervane.  Located right near the outlets in Kittery, this is a chain but it is located right across the street from one of our favorite stores in Maine: The Kittery Trading Post. If these aren't up your alley, there are lots of other great options located within the outlets right here!

7. Fort William Park, Ruins
Although they are covered in graffiti and you have to be careful when exploring, our kids have the best time checking out the Battery Keys! The batteries are on the same park property where you can explore natural walking paths, breathtaking views of the ocean, and spot lots of great wildlife. You can also visit the lighthouse featured next!

8. Portland Head Lighthouse
My second favorite lighthouse to visit, and right in the same park at Fort William, parking can be hard but it really is beautiful! The last time we stopped here we spotted seals of the coast in the water!
As seen from the battery!
9. Cape Whoopies
We stumbled upon this adorable little stop on our way to exploring in Port Elizabeth and it did not disappoint! Amazingly friendly owner and workers, windows to watch bakers, and kombucha on tap! Can you ask for anything more?

10. The Sweatshirt Shop
We have to give a shoutout to our favorite shop- the Sweatshirt Shop in Wells! We stop here for souvenirs each trip and they are priced great and wonderful quality!

Holiday Gift Guide: Board Games to Keep Any Kid Busy!

I was ecstatic when Wonder Forge/Ravensburger sent over some games for our Holiday Gift Guide, they all looked amazing and after playing a few rounds with my family I think we all realized how quality, authentic family fun beats anything we can get out of digital media today. 

The first game we checked out was based on The Incredibles 2 and called Save the Day. The idea in this game is that all players work together to eliminate the threats to the city. We played two rounds of this one because we did not clean up the city as fast as we wanted during round one! I think this game is great for all ages. My family consists of a 10 year old, 12 year old, and 14 year old (plus two 35 year old adults) and although I think younger ages would take longer I think there is playability for all kids!

Next up, we tried out Pictopia which is a family favorite at our house! We had a copy a while ago, that the kids lost most of the cards to so we couldn't play anymore.  I will say that even though it is irrelevant to the game itself, the packaging has changed and I really love the new box/board. It is packaged really pretty! In this game, you basically see a picture of characters from a film or show and then you get to gauge your own knowledge and make a bet before being asked a question. This is so great for all ages because of the picture element. We have enjoyed it for years. You certainly have to be a Disney family for this one to work but it truly is full of fun! 

Last but not least, by far our favorite game of the night was Villainous. This game is probably better for older kids, its a little more complicated since each person is assigned a different villain (I was Ursula) and has their own tasks to complete to win the game.  There is a chance younger kids could "team up" with an adult to make it easier but the overall gameplay is more complex.  The design and art on this game is so beautiful and it was clear that it was put together with are from start to finish. We have been a family that quite enjoyed the Descendants flicks and loves to route for Jack Skellington when we watch Nightmare Before Christmas, so this game was right up our alley! 

Disney World Cinnamon Roll Recipe!

Magic Kingdom is one of my family's favorite places on the planet! We never miss a chance to walk right down the middle of Main Street U.S.A.! And we love to stop at the Main Street Bakery for cinnamon rolls and Starbucks or sneak out of rain showers at Gaston's for cinnamon rolls and Lefou's Brew! When my husband and I were up at 4am prepping our turkey this Thanksgiving (we smoke our turkey) I knew I wouldn't be able to get back to sleep so I buckled down and made my own homemade Disney Cinnamon Rolls thanks to a recipe from Disney Food Blog! I had the perfect amount of time to make and bake these so we could eat them warm while we watched the parade!

I have edited the recipe below from the one posted above with my own tips and tricks! I highly recommend using a stand mixer for this recipe, I did not get many pictures but I did send a few snapchats to my stepdaughter as she slept while I baked :)

Cinnamon Rolls Recipe
Yield: 12-16 rolls
Prep time: 2 hours, 15 minutes
Baking time: 20 to 30 minutes

1/2 cup warm water
2 packages yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1 (3 1/2 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding
2 cups milk
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon salt
8 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 cups brown sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened (room temperature)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk

1. In small bowl, combine water, yeast, and sugar. Stir until dissolved and set aside.
2. In large bowl, mix pudding according to package instructions with milk.
3. Add 1/2 cup melted butter, egg, and salt. Mix well, then add yeast mixture and mix well.
4. Gradually add flour and knead until smooth.
5. Place in a very large greased bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double in size (approximately 30-45 minutes).
6. Punch down and let rise again for second time (approximately 30 more minutes).
7. Roll dough on a very large floured surface. Dough should roll out to a long rectangle and dough should be around 1/2" thick.
8. Take the 1 cup of melted butter and use a pastry brush to spread over entire dough surface (pictured above left).
9. In small bowl, mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle over top of buttered dough (pictured above right).
10. Roll dough up like a jelly roll.
11. Measure dough every 2 inches and cut with a knife.
12. Take each roll into the palm of your hand and gently pack the roll (this keeps it from coming apart during baking).
13. Place each roll in a buttered baking pan and allow to rise in a warm place for about 20 minutes.
14. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven until golden brown in color, about 15-20 minutes.
15. In mixing bowl, combine all ingredients for icing and mix until smooth.
16. Spread icing on the warm rolls.

My buns ready to bake!

Holiday Gift Guide: Books for Disney Lovers!

If you are looking for gifts for the Disney lover in your life, this holiday season is chock full of amazing choices! In the "books we love" category check out these three amazing choices!

First, From All of Us to All of You: The Disney Christmas Card is sure to wow anyone who loves Disney Animation, Walt, or the history of the conglomerate. This coffee table book even comes with replica cards attached inside the book for you to keep or send! 

Practically Poppins in Every Way is a great addition to anyone's Jolly Holiday! This large hard cover completely covers the art of Mary Poppins- from book to stage to screen! If there is a Mary Poppins lover in your family, there would be no greater gift than this book (as well as maybe a copy of the awesome film Saving Mr. Banks which is one of my favorite Disney films to date)! 

And last but certainly not least, the main mouse himself turned 90 this year and with that came the release of a coffee table book called The Art of Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse that features amazing artist interpretations of Mickey from some features, famous, and long working Disney artists! I don't want to spoil my review with a sneak peak! These Disney art books never disappoint! 

Happy Birthday, Mickey Mouse!

As most of you know, my love of Disney is how I first started blogging in the first place! My original website Picturing Disney is now owned by a wonderful friend who has more resources and a more dynamic location to bring together everything I envisioned for the site. 

What better way for some birthday self-care (even if it isn't my birthday) then a bubble bath with a celebratory bath bomb featuring the mouse who started it all! Junk Food x Disney sold some adorable bath bombs (as well as some great clothes and accessories) featuring Mickey and friends at Target recently! They work great and smelled great! (The one features is coconut!)

Happy Birthday, Mickey! Thank you for all the ways you helped my family created forever memories! 

This is the Greatest Show: 10th Birthday Party Edition

For her 10th birthday slumber party my littlest was dead set on a Greatest Showman themed party. We planned your standard slumber party events around the empowering musical: face masks and doing nails while watching Hugh Jackman tear it up. We had a Greatest Showman themed photo booth, and we gave out Barnum's Animal Crackers in lieu of goody bags. It was fabulous! The kids had a blast and because the circus theme was engrained in it was so easy to find adorable decorations on Amazon thanks to it being a popular baby shower/first birthday theme!

We ordered her invitations (at center) as a special order from the wonderfully talented OeeWrites Etsy shop after seeing the art print at center and we could not be happier how they came out!

We also got our photo booth props and sign from the wonderful Killerwebs Design Etsy shop
And if I am not finding inspiration from Etsy I am finding it on Pinterest and that is where our cake design was inspired from. A wonderful big top adorned with her name and "The Greatest Showman" through the tent opening. 

Party Playlist:
The Greatest Show ~ Hugh Jackman
A Million Dreams ~ Pink
Life's a Happy Song ~ Muppets
The Other Side ~ Hugh Jackman & Zac Efron
This is Me ~ Keala Settle 
Come Alive ~ Hugh Jackman
A Million Dreams Reprise ~ Willow Sage Heart
How Far I'll Go ~ Auli'i Cravalho
Have it All ~ Jason Mraz
That's How You Know ~ Amy Adams
Rewrite the Stars ~ Zac Efron & Zendaya
Tightrope ~ Michelle Williams
Remember Me ~ Benjamin Bratt
Rainbow Connection ~ Muppets
Hello Sunshine ~ Langhorne Slim
Whole Wide World ~ Cage the Elephant
Learn Me Right ~ Birthday & Mumford & Sons
Never Enough ~ Kelly Clarkson
From Now On ~ Hugh Jackman
The Greatest Show ~ Panic! At the Disco

Explore the world beyond the Four Realms with Disney Books this Holiday!

Halloween is over so in this house, it is officially Christmas season!
This holiday season Disney is delighting audiences by turning the wildly popular Christmas ballet to the big screen and Disney publishing has not disappointed with book options for children of all ages! My ten year old loves listening to Read Along Storybooks in the car.  Sometimes she actually follows along in the book, but often she daydreams or draws as the story plays. We have not gotten a new one in a while so when these arrived she was stoked!

The awe continued as we went through the other Four Realms books. The extended novelization expands upon the story in the film, has some illustrations, and is beautifully crafted with gold foil cover design, sewn in ribbon bookmark and a gorgeous handcrafted style. It is probably most appropriate for middle grade readers but younger kids could read it easily with a little help.

This preview illustration and opening to the storybook  caught my entire family's attention. We weren't sure the kids would want to see this film at first because they are so excited for Ralph Breaks the Internet, but after I started reading this to my littlest and they all were so mesmerized I think we will be making a movie trip! This storybook follows the film with fantastic illustrations.

Disney's The Nutcracker and the Four Realms books are available wherever you buy your books! Check them out and don't forget to add them to your holiday wishlist!

The Family that Cosplays Together Stays Together

Left to Right: Lazy Susan, Dipper, Wendy (back), Mabel (front), Gruncle Stan
When we decided to trek to NYCC this year, we figured we would go hard or go home! We binge-watched Gravity Falls on rainy summer days and I had already picked up some pieces for a Back to School picture shoot that was brewing in my head. From there, our family cosplay idea was born. We had a great time putting our outfits together and this DIY was fun and inexpensive! For my entire family of five's costumes I only spent $120 out of pocket ($24 each!) I scoured Amazon, a couple craft stores, and a local thrift shop.

My husband and I were Susan and Stan

The kids were Dipper, Mabel, and Wendy

So, how'd we do it?

1. Stan
My husband wore black casual pants and a white dress shirt (both staples found in his closet).  We decided to forgo the ribbon tie and used a red lanyard for his NYCC pass instead. This just left accessories.  Hubs classes are similar in shape to Stan's so we focused on his cane and fez. I bought a cheap walking stick, and a foam ball which I painted like an 8 ball and crazy glued in place of the walking stick handle. I had trouble with shipping timelines or I would have just ordered an 8 Ball squishy and saved the painting time. 

2. Susan
For my Lazy Susan costume, I knew that it would be too cold for dress and I would be rocking leggings underneath and I also knew I could not sustain a wig or grey spray color so I decided to just lay it on thick with her crazy blue eye shadow, tease my hair, and use a half apron I had already. What I really needed was her dress and I found the perfect on on Amazon (with prime shipping available)!. 

Here are my ShopLooks for our adult styles:

3. Dipper
For the kids I decided to double their purchases as back to school clothes where I could. We had already owned a Dipper Pines trucker cap from a recent trip to Disney World and my son already owned grey shorts. I ordered him a nice quality (and $6) tee from Amazon, and purchased a good quality Columbia fleece vest (both to be used for school).

4.  Mabel
My eldest daughter was Mabel for Halloween last year so we already had this one down.  I had painted a plan pink Hanes sweatshirt with her signature shooting star sweater design, we ordered a cheap purple pencil skirt from Amazon, and she paired it with crew socks, ballet flats, and a pink headband.  My younger daughter reused much of this but I double checked costs and it is still just as affordable!

5.  Wendy
As for another double up on school clothes cosplays, Wendy's outfit entirely worked for my older daughter.  We purchased a similar style flannel and a crazy winter hat and she paired it with chocolate brown Ugg boots, and her AE skinny jeans. Voila!

Here are the links to the kids ShopLooks :

We had a great time putting these together. It was great to get our teen to dress up with us, as this was her first year officially not dressing up for Halloween, and the younger littles were not very enthused that they would not be trick-or-treating with us (its a swapped holiday between my husband and his ex-wife) so they got to dress up with us for the event. A nice unintended side effect was how dressing up together for NYCC took some of the anxious pressure they were putting on themselves away- all three kids relaxed a bit about their previously vocalized stress about Halloween once we had our cosplay experience together. 

It just goes to show that there is nothing better than making memories with your family. Even if you are up until 1am painting a fez the night before a trek to the city for comic con!

Soccer Saturdays

One of my own fondest childhood memories are weekends spend on the soccer field. I learned about passion and life and friendship in bonds forged and broken in my soccer career.  When both of my stepdaughters decided to focus on soccer this year, my heart was all a-flutter.  I could not have been happier knowing they would get to be a part of something that I so dearly loved and kept close to my heart. 

Of the 28 games my amazing little ladies played over the course of the last two months I will have been to two dozen of their games, I will have watched 36 hours of soccer,  roughly 2175 minutes. There is no place I would rather be.