September 2017

Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion – DIY Home Decor

No, this is not Disneyland, it’s our house! I made our front window into a display as a tribute to the Haunted Mansion ride. Complete with the ride sound effects.  As much as I wanted to try to replicate an entire scene from the ride, I knew that it would be impossible given my house set-up.  As a result, I tried to highlight some of the ride’s features into a literal window display at my home.  So the set-up that you see is through the screen of the front window.  I also blasted my the soundtrack so that you could get the total effect.

You can see how I pulled this off if you scroll down.

I started with getting a large floral or fishbowl that you could get at a craft store.  Then I inserted a perfect photo of Madame Leota on the inside and surrounded it with tulle.  The trick here is to get the photo color right so that it can glow against a black light.  Then I flipped the entire thing over onto a silver charger.  Voila.  Instant crystal ball!  And no, it doesn’t talk, but it’s just the idea that makes it cool, right?

I also wanted to recreated the wallpaper from the ride.  I used the same print that you see at the beginning of the ride where they have the long hallway, the grandfather clock and etc.  It has a really cool purple and black gothic pattern with eerie eyes.  I printed these out on large pieces of paper and then I simply taped them together to create the look.  I flanked both of these faux wallpaper strips on both sides of the inside window.

I found a few of the images online of the famous stretching photos and then I printed those out on large 11″ x 18″ sheets of paper and tried to perfected cut the edges.  Then, I mounted these onto foam core boards.

I made a sign for my front door.  I was so tempted to get the one from Disneyland, but really feared that it would break or walk-off.  So I found a mirror at a craft store which I painted so that it looked the part, I created letters using a Haunted Mansion font that I found online and printed it against a black background to cover up the entire mirror by using a little bit of Modge Podge or decoupage technique.  Then I  mounted this on my door.   I think that it turned out pretty good for about $20!

I did purchase the Haunted Mansion outfit from the Disney Store.  It’s actually the apron and not the shirt that they had available.  I liked this options since it had ruffles and I could wear anything black as an outfit.  It is a great cosplay option.

I also added a few battery operated flickering candlelights for decor.  There was no way that I would add real candles, especially with this set-up and the windows being open.  Add in a few oversized tarot cards and flying fluorescent instruments.  Most of these items were either placed on a table or mounted behind the window using a faux pipe and drape set-up.  It made it easier to position and tape or hang fishing wires from the pipes.  I also had a big boombox which played the Haunted Mansion soundtrack.  You can download a copy or purchase a CD soundtrack which they do sell at the Disneyland resort.  Then add in a LOT of big black lights and voila!  The entire thing will light up and transform your house.

I learned a few things about this process and set-up:
1] This set-up appealed to the little kids as well as this was deemed not-so-terrifying.  Since it’s Disney related, it certainly had more appeal to them.
2] The adults LOVED the set-up and I think that it offered a visual break to their chaperoning efforts.
3] The bugs love it, too.  I think that the UV lights attract them from the black lights, so keep that in mind.

NOTE: I do plan to expand on this decor as I pulled this off without much planning.  Stay tuned to see my additions to this decor!

“We are ready for Halloween! 999 happy haunts!  Happy Halloween!”

Posted 9/30/17.

Lego Ninjago Birthday Party

Lego has come out with some great characters and think that their Ninjago line is one of their most popular.  After all, they did just come out with a new Ninjago attraction at Legoland and The Lego Ninjago Movie new movie will hit theaters the summer of 2017!  My sons have been huge fans and my oldest wanted a Ninjago themed party.

Calling out Kai, Jay, Cole, Zane and the rest of the Ninjago gang!  Here are a few ideas on how you can add some fun Ninjago elements for your next birthday bash.

I went with an easy red, black and white colored themed party.  I had the table cover already, and went to this really great discount Japanese store called Daiso.  If you have never been, you need to see if you have one in your area.  It’s basically like a Japanese dollar store, but most items are $1.50.  It’s such a deal for some really cute things.  Below, you will see some fabric signs with Japanese writing and black nylon fish hanging.  Yes, each one was $1.50!  Then, I went to the Dollar Tree and picked-up some $1.00 nunchucks and ninja stars.  I also make a banner with my son’s name on it and used a Ninjago looking font and kept with the colored theme to tie it all in.

I also made custom water bottle wraps.  They are a super inexpensive way to decorate and something that you can use during or after the party.  I added these to the table and basically used them as fillers in the back.

I had a really hard time trying to find a Lego or Ninjago pinata.  So, I made my own.  It was actually pretty darn easy and really glad that I figured it out, while using a really simply square design.  I found a really durable box and got lots of red tissue.  You literally just cut long even strips and tape– from BOTTOM to TOP and affix with Elmer’s glue or homemade flour paste.  Then you cut to fringe.  I covered some cardboard food tubes for the top part to complete the look.  Don’t forget to cut a hole at the top so that you can put the pinata loot as well as adding a hook on the top so that you can suspend this thing.  This held up WAY better than the store bought ones and helped to add to the table decor as well.

I always have so much fun trying to incorporate the theme with food!  Here is a snapshot of a few things that I did for the party.

Chocolate Bars” – Not only did these serve as fun decoration, but I encourage kids to enjoy them as well.  I simply got Hershey chocolate bars and designed a Ninjago custom designed wrapper which simply went over the bar.  If you want this template, I have a generic version without my son’s name here for you to download.  Click here for the .pdf file.    

“Sushi” – Ok, this is not really sushi, but made to look like the real deal.  100% kid friendly!  You start with Rice Krispie Treats.  I would purchase these vs. making them.  Why?  When you purchase them, you get even sizes.  I would suggest that you cut them down to bite size rectangles.  PLUS, it’s a semi-homemade approach.  Then, you can get Swedish Fish.  Target has generics that you can use as well.  Now for the dark seaweed wrap.  That was a little tricky.  You can’t just get regular fruit roll ups since they have really abstract colors.  Go to the produce aisle and get those bigger sized natural fruit rolls ups that you see in the healthy snack area.  Hopefully, you should find grape as the color is pretty dark as you can see.  Cut everything down to size and you can easily make these ahead.  Be sure to make extras as you will need a bit of practice and maybe a few tasters as well.  🙂  They actually taste really good!  The adults loved them, too!

“Veggie Snake” & Water Bottles – I had to add a few healthy options and added some baby carrots and sliced up a large English cucumber since it has sort of a scaled look.  I used a knife to carve out eyes and the mouth.  Added an extra slithery tongue from a carrot.  I also have water bottles in the very back which I wrapped with custom paper.  You can download a copy of my template here. 

“Edamame Beans” – Actually, super simple.  Just green grapes.

Sammy Sushi Rolls” – At Costco, they have these great ham and cheese rolls.  I though that they would be perfect as faux sushi.  You could very well make these on your own as well, but loved the overall concept.B

Fangs” – The Constrictai fangs were just plan Bugles corn snacks.

I purchase a 9-inch round from the grocery store and had them add only the red trim on top.  I had already pre-ordered a rice paper printed design from Etsy and added that to the cake.  I also added red M&M’s and these really cool ninja star gummies which I found at Oriental Trading.  I only used the red, black and white ones.

I also had little cupcakes that I featured on the table.  Mostly there to hand out to the kids as it’s way easier than cutting slices of cake!  I found this really cool Ninjago dojo looking cardboard stand as well.  I actually purchased two so that I could flank on either side.  The set-up was a bit easy.  I would not recommend using the bottom pegs as I think that it was a bit safer to let the bottom part just lay flat, especially with all of those cupcakes!  I also added some more ninja star gummies and little Ninjago faces on top which I cut-out with my die-cut puncher and affixed to paper straws with non-toxic Elmer’s glue.

This was the favors table that I set-up.  I tried to replicate the Ninjago dojo front door by using a huge piece of cardboard and added various elements on top, including paper plates and black washi tape.  We had fun favor bags which had Ninjago characters on the front.  Inside each bag, we had various Lego sets which we found online, along with some sweet treats.

Posted on 9.10.17