Etsy Store Now Open!

Big News!!!!!

My Etsy shop is now officially OPEN! Please drop by and visit! You will find a permanent link to the shop in the sidebar on the right side of your screen and can also reach the shop by clicking on the photo below.  I will be adding more items in the coming weeks, so stay tuned! I’m very excited to be beginning this new chapter and am grateful to have you along for the ride!

The Mom that Jack Built - Etsy Shop - Halloween Disneyland Map Necklaces

 

Order quickly because once these sell out they won’t be available again until next October!

These glass cabochon pendants are made from upcycled Disneyland maps. Each image is taken from a current, Halloween-time Disneyland map and hangs from an 18″ chain. Necklaces are available in 8 styles. Four rounds and four squares. Makes a great accessory for Halloween time!

These necklaces are water resistant, but should not be worn while bathing, swimming or otherwise be submerged as this may damage the necklace.

All items are handmade in my smoke-free studio and ship free anywhere in the United States. Items shipped to California will be charged 9.5% sales tax.

Mike Wazowski Halloween Wreath

So I got a little crazy with Halloween wreaths…

I’ve made three so far and have plans for a fourth because anything worth doing is worth overdoing, right?  Maybe?  Just me? Anyhow…

I wanted to share with you how I made this adorable Mike Wazowski wreath!

The Mom that Jack Built - Mike Wazowski Halloween Wreath

This is a very simple DIY project from Lowe’s Creative Ideas that I have Disney-fied. The original project link on the Lowe’s website is no longer up, but I found the blogger who originated the idea for Lowe’s over at Today’s Creative Life.  You can click here to visit her blog and see her original project.

For this project you will need: one ceiling medallion, black spray paint, glitter spray paint, ribbon, spider web, plastic spider and a print-out of an image of your choice (in this case, Mike Wazowski’s ONE EYE!)

I started with the 13″ Portfolio White Ceiling Medallion, available at Lowe’s for $14.98 and sprayed on two coats of Valspar Satin Black spray paint.  When dry, I finished the medallion with a coat of Valspar Glitter spray paint in Transparent Silver.  It goes on clear with silver glitter.  If you want your wreath to be more glittery, just add more coats of the glitter spray.  Be sure to let dry completely between coats.

Once dry, I glued my cutout of the Mike Wazowski eye to the back of medallion with a hot glue gun.  Then, I stretched out some silky spider web, arranged it how I liked it, and hot glued a plastic spider in place.

 

 

The Mom that Jack Built - Mike Wazowski Wreath

The final touch was the ribbon hanger.  I chose a bright green sparkly ribbon to coordinate with Mike’s skin tone.  I decided how long I needed the loop to be for my door and cut a length of ribbon slightly longer.  I hot glued the ends of the ribbon to the back of the wreath.  Lastly, I tied another length of ribbon into a bow and hot glued the bow to the ribbon hanger just above the medallion.

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Here you see it hanging from a wreath holder that I MacGyvered out of a coat hanger.  My nice, monogrammed wreath holder decided to go MIA.

The Mom that Jack Built - Mike Wazowski Wreath

I just love this wreath!  This is the one that will be gracing my font door this Halloween.  I really enjoy the subtle Disney touch 🙂

Here’s a titled photo for your pinning pleasure…

The Mom that Jack Built - Mike Wazowski Wreath

There you have it!  A simple project that can be completed in an afternoon with a minimal amount of supplies.

Have you made a Halloween wreath?  I would love to see how it turned out!  Share a photo in the comments!

 

 

 

Happy 60th Disneyland!

This month marks the 60th anniversary of Disneyland, Walt Disney’s vision of a place where parents and children can have fun together.  I don’t know if he ever imagined that it would become so much more to so many people.

Disneyland is a very important part of my life, and always has been.  It is my tangible happy place.  My very first trip to Disneyland was when I was three years old.  It is also my very first memory.  Of course, the only thing I remember is I was so excited that, when we got there, I threw up in the parking lot before we even made it to the gates.  Heck of a first memory!  Once inside, I’m told I danced with Chip and Dale and had a merry time!

 

Over the years of my childhood we went several times, averaging once a year.  We didn’t have much money and, even though we lived only an hour away, a one day visit was our big vacation for the year.  We ate breakfast at home and packed a lunch so we would only have to buy one meal there.  Those were the days that you couldn’t bring food into the park, so we rented a locker and put our lunch inside.  At lunch time we would leave the park and get our cooler out of the locker.  There were lunch tables set up with some shade under a section of monorail track.  We would watch the monorail overhead as we ate lunch and then go back to the park.  I remember being allowed one snack per kid and agonizing over whether it would be a churro or a chocolate covered banana.  When night fell the park became an ethereal place of twinkling lights.  We each got to have one glow necklace and that was an important decision too.  Violet was my favorite, but it didn’t last as long as orange or green.  We would get home and put our precious necklaces in the freezer to get one more night of weak glow from them, extending the magic as long as we could.  After the fireworks we were allowed to choose one souvenir each and we lingered over all the items trying to decide which treasure to take home.  We clutched our keepsake and rode the tram back to the parking lot.  Back home I would wonder why it took so long to get to Disneyland, but only a few minutes to get home.  As an adult, I realized it was because we fell asleep before we made it to the freeway onramp.   Those days spent at Disneyland, regardless of the frugality, are my some of my favorite childhood memories.  I remember feeling nothing but pure magic there. It was a place to be happy and carefree and leave the worries of a difficult childhood at the gate.

 

 

I carried that love of Disneyland with me into adulthood.  Every time I go, I leave the “real world” behind and bound through the gates with the exuberance of a happy child.  I marvel at the pageantry and let myself get carried away into the land that Walt Disney created.   I feel the love and care that he put into creating it.  He intended Disneyland to belong to the child in all of us.  It’s a place where it is perfectly normal to see a grown man wearing an ear hat and bowing to a princess or a grandmother blowing a kiss to Mickey Mouse.  We are all there for the same reason, to have fun.  It’s okay to be silly there, to channel your inner five-year-old.  It is marvelously freeing to focus on fun and forget about image and all the requirements and expectations that come with being a “grown-up.”

 

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I’ve been to Disneyland with my family, with friends, and with co-workers.  I’ve been to Disneyland with my high school marching band and been in the afternoon parade on Main Street twice.  I took my boyfriend (now hubby) to Disneyland for his 21st birthday.  I got engaged at Disneyland and visited Disneyland while seven months pregnant (in July!)  Jack is three and has already been twice (three times if you count when he was in my belly.) When we went last month, it was our first time there in two years.  I cried on the 5 freeway because I was so happy I was going “home.”  When we got there, my husband spoiled me rotten and bought me annual passes, even though we live a six hour drive away.  (I think the crying did it.  I cry every single time I see the fireworks, but crying before arrival?  Not so much.) I have seven visits planned before the pass expires.  I’ve been more times than I can count and I never tire of it.  It has never lost its magic for me.  In fact, it has grown.  Sharing my happy place with my son brings it to a whole new level.  The look on his face when he experiences something for the first time brings tears to my eyes.

 

I put together a pregnancy scrapbook and after the slew of photos of me pregnant and blissfully happy at Disneyland, I wrote this note for my son:

By now you might have noticed that your mommy is just a tiny bit of a Disney fan.  Faith, trust and pixie dust are at the core of who I am.  Disneyland is my favorite place in the world. It’s where any dream can come true and the world is full of love, happiness, and magic.  It’s a place to forget your worries, fears, and problems and feel joy.  When I was a little girl, I would dream of living there, in Sleeping Beauty’s castle.  I never wanted to leave.  After I met your daddy, we went there a lot together.  Every time, I threw pennies in the fountains and wishing well.  In the beginning, it was marrying your daddy I wished for.  My wish came true and he proposed at Disneyland.  Then, I started wishing for a happy, healthy baby.  Right after a Christmastime trip to Disneyland, we learned you were coming.  Another dream come true.  I couldn’t even wait for you to come out of my belly to share this magical place with you.  You and I will spend many a day carefree and joyful in this place where dreams come true.  It will only get more magical with your beautiful smile and infectious laugh filling the kingdom.  All my love, mommy.

 

I can’t wait to go back home.

Thank you, Mr. Disney.  Happy Birthday to your dream come true.

 

Father’s Day Grill Plate

The Mom that Jack Built - Father's Day Grill Plate

Father’s Day is fast approaching and I am hard at work on this year’s father’s day gifts.  I will post about those soon, but for now, I will share with you my hubby’s favorite father’s day gift so far.  It was his very first father’s day gift. Jack was 8 months old and I knew that I wanted to make a grill plate with his hand and foot prints on it.  I hit up Pinterest and searched and searched looking for something that my limited drawing skills could pull off.  I found an adorable plate with a foot made into a person standing next to a grill with handprint flames.  I saved the picture on my phone and Jack and I headed off to the ceramics studio.  Just the two of us.  I was confident delusional.

When we arrived at the studio I gathered all my supplies and wheeled Jack’s stroller over to a table.  First up, the hand print.  Jack had other ideas and they did not involve hand prints.  While he fussed and fidgeted, I wiped the red and yellow smear off the plate and realized I needed a new plan.  Not only was the handprint out, but he clearly did not have the patience to sit and watch while I sketched out all the little details the original plan entailed.  While I read a story and bounced him on my knee, it hit me.  I would turn his footprint into a steak.  That would take minimal effort and time and it would still be adorable (I hoped.)

First up, I started with a plain, unpainted plate.  Normally, I would have painted the whole plate a background color and let it dry.  If your little one is in a cooperative mood you might have better luck with that.

Next, I chose a dark-ish red that I hoped looked meaty and made a single footprint in the middle of the plate.  I entertained Jack while the footprint dried.  It only took a few minutes.  When it was dry, I painted a thick, white line around the footprint to make it look like the fat around the cut of meat.  Then, using puffy white paint, I added marbling to the foot and WHA-LAH!  It looked like a steak!

Wording was next.  I used the paint pen to free-hand the text, “Dad’s Grill” above the footprint and “featuring Jack’s fine steaks *aged 8 mo.” below.  Jack had settled in with a snack by this point so I decided to add a red border around the plate and jazz it up with some black polka-dots.  I signed it on the front so that it would always be visible (okay, that’s a lie.  I forgot to write it on the back before I started painting and I couldn’t wait for it to dry to flip it over and do it on the back.  It sounded good though.)   Finished!

Here is my oh-so-enthusiastic little artist posing with the finished plate before it was fired.

The Mom that Jack Built - Father's Day Grill Plate

And below is what the plate looks like today.  It has been three years and it’s still going strong.  Hubby loves to use it when he is grilling.  We take pretty good care of it in hopes that it will last many more years.  It never goes in the dishwasher and never soaks in the sink.  It also gets placed on a high shelf in the cupboard to avoid chips and scratches.

The Mom that Jack Built - Father's Day Grill Plate  The Mom that Jack Built - Father's Day Grill Plate

The Mom that Jack Built - Father's Day Grill Plate  The Mom that Jack Built - Father's Day Grill Plate

 

Have you made a father’s day grill plate?  I would love to see it!  Post a picture and show yours off!

 

New content coming in June!

It’s been two months since the official launch of The Mom that Jack Built!  I haven’t posted much yet, but with good reason.  I have been spending the last six months or so working furiously on planning a family Disney vacation.  If you know me, you will know that this is the equivalent of a full time job for me!  I obsessively carefully plan each day of the trip in great detail.  There is nothing I hate more than spending hours of precious vacation time with “What do you want to do now?” “I don’t know, what do you want to do?” or eat fast food because nobody planned ahead and made reservations.  It would probably kill me to spontaneously go on vacation.  Seriously, nobody surprise me with a trip!

In addition, a Disney trip means I feel the need to MAKE EVERYTHING DISNEY UNDER THE SUN!  My craftiness goes into mega-overdrive and the people close to me slowly back away and go into hiding lest they be pressed into service.  Just a few of the items I’ve made over the last several months include: magnets, luggage tags, T-Shirts, pillowcase, custom men’s camp shirt, camera strap, and much more!  This has left no time for blogging and even less for sleep (hello 3 a.m. bedtime!)

The good news is that, starting in June, I will have a PLETHORA of content to blog about and the time to actually write up all these great tutorials!  The methods I used can be applied to any theme project, but, if you are into Disney, you will win the Disney tutorial jackpot!

Make sure to subscribe so you don’t miss the avalanche!

Also, if you are here because you bumped into me on said Disney trip, a special welcome to you!  Thanks for joining me and I hope your trip was magical!!

Lamb Cake Perfection!

Lamb Cake Perfection - The Mom that Jack Built

It’s a tradition in my family to bake lamb cakes for Easter.  My grandmother made them for my mother and uncle, My mother made them for me and my brothers, and this year, I made the first lamb cake for Jack.  The same mold has been passed down so I am lucky enough to have my grandmother’s lamb cake mold.

1979 Lamb Cake - The Mom that Jack Built

This is my mom with me and my first lamb cake in 1979

Jack's 1st Lamb Cake - The Mom that Jack Built

Here is Jack with his first lamb cake – 2015

 

I tried to make one last year, but it didn’t go so well.  In fact, it was a lambastrophy (heehee.)  About 60% of the cake stuck in the pan.  I had made a lamb cake once before for my baby brother when he was small.  That went better that last year, but I still had to reattach the head and ears which didn’t make it out of the mold.  Given that I had made two cakes with less-than-desirable results, my mom suggested we do some searching online to find out if anyone had any tips on making lamb cakes.

Boy, did we hit the jackpot!  We found Retro Ruth at www.midcenturymenu.com!  On her blog, she wrote about her quest for the perfect lamb cake, “The Eight Days of Lamb Cakes.”  On day two, she baked the Renalde Lamb Cake recipe that came with the vintage lamb cake pan.  This is the recipe I decided to use for the cake.  Because I like to live on the edge, I didn’t test it out before baking it on Easter Sunday.  I meticulously followed the recipe and Ruth’s lamb cake tips.  If you are going to make your own lamb cake, be sure to visit The Mid-Century Menu and read all Retro Ruth has to offer on the subject.  I couldn’t have baked this cake without her!

Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures of the baking process.  Since I chose to make the cake on Easter Sunday, we had about a million other things going on at the same time and the pictures just fell to the wayside  🙁  Sorry about that!

Here is the recipe for the cake as I baked it.  My notes/additions are in italics:

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, unsalted
  • 2 cups baker’s sugar
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 cups sifted cake flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Instructions

  • Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. I always use baker’s sugar as I like the ultra-fine granule.  I find that it dissolves and incorporates more easily into just about everything.  The original recipe did not specify it needs to be baker’s sugar and I’m sure it would be just fine with regular granulated sugar.
  • Add egg yolks one at a time, beating thoroughly after each one is added.
  • Sift dry ingredients together 3 times and add to creamed mixture alternately with milk and vanilla, beating until smooth after each addition. I wasn’t sure about whether the flour should be sifted before or after measuring.  The way I read it was to sift first, then measure so I went with that.  I sifted the flour and then measured out three cups.  I then added the baking powder and salt and sifted three more times.
  • Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites.  If you aren’t sure what stiffly beaten egg whites should look like (I wasn’t), click here for a one-minute video tutorial.  I didn’t watch this first.  I decided to wing it and ended up with egg whites all over the kitchen.
  • Grease cake mold thoroughly; fill face part of mold with batter. Cover with other half of mold and place in hot oven face down, baking for 45 mins. Bake at 450 degrees for first 15 mins, finish baking at 350 degrees.  Per Retro Ruth’s tips, I greased the mold and then floured it with cake flour.  I filled the face side of the pan to just under the rim and spooned batter into the ears. I also followed her tips on adding structural support and tying the mold closed with baker’s twine. I placed the mold onto a cookie sheet for a flat baking surface and ease of putting it into/taking it out of the oven.
  • Remove from oven and let cool for 15 mins before loosening to take out.  Here I followed Ruth’s lead and let it cool in the pan for 15 minutes before cutting the twine and taking off the back of the mold.  I let it cool another 15 minutes before removing the cake from the remainder of the mold, making sure to loosen all the edges with a butter knife before tipping out the cake.

The cake came out PERFECTLY!  The cake completely filled the mold, didn’t stick anywhere and left the mold with head and ears attached!!  I actually danced, whooped, and high-fived everyone in the kitchen at the time of unmolding.  I left the cake on the cookie sheet to cool and moved on to the cupcakes.  I may have strutted across the kitchen to the remainder of the batter…

According to the recipe, you will have enough cake batter to fill the lamb mold and make six cupcakes.  I had enough to fill the mold, make 24 mini cupcakes and 2″x4″ silicone loaf pan!  I left some of the cupcakes plain and added sprinkles, mini chocolate chips or mini M&M’s to the others.  They all tasted fantastic!  I will say, that I didn’t take the trouble to grease and flour the cupcake tin as I had the lamb mold.  I used baking spray instead.  I was VERY glad that I hadn’t taken that short cut on the lamb cake because the cupcakes stuck and tore as I pulled them out of the tin.  I can’t imagine what the lamb cake would have looked like if I hadn’t done the recommended greasing and flouring!

For the frosting, I didn’t really like the sound of any of the vintage recipes I read through.  To be fair, I didn’t look at all of them.  The ones I saw were shortening based, and I really dislike that kind of frosting.  I am a HUGE fan of buttercream.  So, I decided to use a dear family friend’s recipe for Coconut Buttercream Frosting.

Coconut Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (one stick) salted butter
  • 1 pound powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. coconut extract
  • Coconut milk

Instructions:

  • Beat butter until fluffy
  • add in powdered sugar and coconut extract and beat together
  • slowly pour in coconut milk until desired consistency.  For me this was about six tablespoons.  You will want the frosting thin enough to spread easily but thick enough to not slide off the cake.

To decorate the cake:

  • Smear a line of frosting on your platter where the cake will sit and then place the lamb on the frosting to help anchor it.
  • Frost the cake making sure to cover all over.
  • Next, cover the cake with coconut flakes.  I used “Let’s Do…Oganic” brand, fine shred, unsweetened coconut.  This was a HUGE improvement over the sweetened flaked coconut I used in the past, both in taste and appearance.  There are two methods of covering the cake in coconut.  One is to throw the coconut at the cake, the other is to cup it into your hand and gently press it onto the cake.  The first bit I always throw onto the cake because it’s way more fun.  Then I remember that it’s a rather messy method of application and finish up by pressing the coconut onto the cake.  After the coconut is on, sweep any loose coconut off the platter and put it into a zip top baggie of coconut for the grass later.
  • Add a face.  I chose to use two blue, mini M&M’s for the eyes and a pink jelly bean for the nose.  I cut the jelly bean in half lengthwise and only used half so it would adhere better and not stick out too far.  You could use candy eyes, decorator icing, paper cutouts, whatever you like.
  • Tie a ribbon around the neck.  I found a four-pack of Easter ribbon in the dollar spot at Target for $1.  Each piece was the perfect length for a bow around the neck.  I chose the purple ribbon with little white bunnies printed on it.
  • Add the grass.  For grass I put some of the remaining coconut into a zip top bag and added green food coloring. Close it up and shake it like a Polaroid picture.  When it’s a nice, even green, spread it out around the lamb on the platter.  For a finishing touch, I added Cadbury Mini-Eggs around the lamb.

There you have it!  Lamb cake perfection! Be sure to place your masterpiece in a prominent location so everyone can ogle the cake during dinner and get super excited about dessert.  Jack was VIBRATING with excitement to eat this cake!  I never saw his dinner disappear so fast!  The cake was a hit and my mom said that it tasted like the one her mom used to make.  Now that I it can be done tear-free, I would highly recommend making the lamb cake a part of your family’s Easter or Spring traditions!  If you make one, send me a picture!

Can't wait for cake! - The Mom that Jack Built

Jack only had eyes for the cake! To say he was excited would be a very large understatement, haha!

Lamb Cake Excitement - The Mom that Jack Built

He did a LOT of grinning!

Jack's 1st Lamb Cake - The Mom that Jack Built

Here is Jack with his first lamb cake – 2015

 

 

 

 

Dreamy “it’s a small world” Nursery

www.themomthatjackbuilt.com

This morning I was sitting in Jack’s bedroom with him, reading stories in the rocking chair, and I looked over to the window.  I noticed the little sliver of wall between the window pane and the plantation shutters, and it made me smile.  For a moment, I was transported back to the baby days and Jack’s dreamy “it’s a small world” nursery.  We painted the room before we had the shutters installed, so now a little tiny piece of his nursery is preserved. We are working on designing his big boy room and have stripped away most of the small world elements.  I miss it and I’m grateful for my little time capsule in the window.

Before I even got pregnant, I knew I wanted an “it’s a small world” nursery.  I spent ages scouring the internet trying to figure out how I would pull it off if I ever decided to have a baby (I call it being a planner, my family calls it a sickness.  They are probably right.)  I found an amazing “it’s a small world” nursery on Instructables and knew that it was the nursery of my dreams!  The gentleman who designed it gives a basic outline of how he pulled it together and sells his images as vector files for a small fee.  Click here to see the nursery he designed and purchase the graphics. Keep reading for the details of how I put my nursery together.

When we purchased our home, Jack’s room was a blue so dark it was nearly black so we started off with a LOT of Kilz primer.  Once we had the blue covered, we gave the entire room a fresh coat of white.  We decided how high up on the wall we wanted the decals to sit and painted the wall light blue from a few inches below that line to the ceiling. Hubby then marked off with painters tape where we wanted the two-tone strip of water to sit, with the top being where the decals would sit.  We gave the strip very gentle curves on top so that the decals would sit more evenly on top of the waterline.  The colors we used were the Behr Disney paints from Home Depot which are now discontinued. You could ask at your Home Depot if they still have the color formulas in the computer.  The shades used were Mickey’s Gloves (white), Bother Free Blue (light blue sky), Blue Wonder (blue water), and Sea Song (green water.)

We purchased the graphics from the Instructables tutorial and used Microsoft Excel to scale and print the images on full-sheet clear labels.  My dad altered the image of Big Ben to reflect the time my son was born.  We cut out the images and applied them to the walls.  The only problem I encountered was wherever the label overlapped the blue water, the water did show through and the images did not stand out as much.  This was only a real problem with a few images that were largely over the water, such as the buoy, etc.  I tried printing them out on full-sheet white labels.  That solved the issue of the wall color showing through, but the adhesive on the white labels was not as strong as on the clear labels, and they didn’t adhere to my textured walls as well.  If I had to go back and do it again, I may have taken the time to paint the wall under those few images white and then layer the label on top.

To finish off the room, we installed a sun shaped light fixture from Ikea and decorated with items purchased during a pregnancy-induced shopping spree at Disneyland.  We purchased a Mary Blair “it’s a small world” pillow for the rocking chair, a replica of the “Partners” statue, and an Olszewski Gallery of Light box. I also included a Jiminy Cricket figure reminding to “always let your conscience be your guide” that I found at Hallmark.

The icing on the cake was the quilt.  My mother-in-law makes beautiful quilts.  I gave her a color palette and print-outs of some of the images we had purchased for the walls.  At my shower, she presented us with the most amazing quilt I could have imagined.  The animal print on the back even resembles the style of the ride.  After Jack was born, she stitched his time of birth onto Big Ben.

The final product was a tranquil yet playful space that felt light, airy, and soothing.  As an added bonus, it was easy to pull together and didn’t cost a lot of money!

Are you working on your own “it’s a small world” nursery? Do you have a different idea of what makes a dream nursery?  I’d love to hear about it or see pictures!    Share your thoughts in the comment section below.