Thursday, December 18, 2014

Mama Sparkles Holiday Gift Guide - Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved

Welcome to Mama Sparkles' Holiday Gift Guide! This week, I'll be sharing a few of my favorite gift ideas for everyone on your list. Be sure to check back often as I add more items.

If you're a Disney fan who likes rhythm/motion games, you need to play this:

This new innovative game for the Xbox One, allows players to enter the magical realm of Fantasia. The concept is loosely based on the original Fantasia short starring Mickey Mouse. The goal of the game is to match the on screen patterns with your hands and arms. It's brilliant. One or two players can play, and the game requires Kinect. Last weekend we went to Disneyland, and Bean couldn't wait to get to Innoventions so he could play the game. I think it's fast becoming one of his favorites:

He even had a few cast members commenting on what an awesome player he was! The eclectic song list includes a great mix of classical pieces as well as modern ones. The graphics are also gorgeous and add some great dimension to the game. It's so easy to just pick this one up and start playing immediately. Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved is available on Amazon. Is this on your wish list this year?

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Monday, December 15, 2014

A Disney Christmas (plus New Ways To See Disneyland)

I don't need to convince anyone how amazing Disneyland Resort is during the holidays. Here's what we did on our recent trip last weekend for Family Media Day:


Jingle Jangle Jamboree is bursting with holiday spirit! This is the place to go to see plenty of Disney characters, shows, crafts, a petting zoo, plus you can meet Santa and Mrs. Claus! The decorations are top notch, as usual.

A Christmas Fantasy Parade had our kids smiling the entire time. It really is spectacular to see so many Disney characters all at once. Santa is the highlight at the end, but this was delightful from start to finish.

Certain rides take on a holiday spin, with Haunted Mansion Holiday, Jingle Cruise and It's A Small World Holiday. Try and ride Small World Holiday at night because really, is there anything more beautiful than this?

YOU MIGHT MISS (If you're not looking)

And now, here a few things you might miss if you're not looking carefully. We're always looking for new things at Disneyland, and this time we tried to look at things from a different perspective.

We've all walked by Monstro, but have you ever noticed how cool the water reflection looks?

Get a good look at who's making your popcorn...by the way, Disneyland's popcorn is the best I've ever had. No joke.

While our son was busy playing video games at Innoventions, we noticed this eloquent quote on the wall.

How's this for natural beauty? Anybody know what kind of fruit that is?

A sea of Baymax balloons - not hard to spot, but too beautiful not to share.

Who knew that the beautiful Grand Californian Hotel also had a Santa in the lobby? Pinga was overjoyed to see him.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Special thanks to Disneyland Resort for giving us a magical day at the parks!

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Mama Sparkles Holiday Gift Guide - Disney Princess Hairstyle Books

Welcome to Mama Sparkles' Holiday Gift Guide! This week, I'll be sharing a few of my favorite gift ideas for everyone on your list. Be sure to check back often as I add more items.

It's so much fun having a little girl...but I have no idea what to do with her hair! Most of time it's just hanging in her face. I don't think this makes her very happy.

Let's try something different, shall we? I received these two books to review and to help me with my dilemma:

Disney Princess Hairstyles: 40 Amazing Princess Hairstyles with Step by Step Images and Disney Frozen Hairstyles: Inspired by Anna and Elsa are beautifully put together and offer clear, concise directions for creating gorgeous hairstyles. Classics like Cindrella's bun, Elsa's Frozen braid plus other favorites from Rapunzel, Snow White, Tiana, Belle, Pocohontas, Merida, Belle, Ariel, and Aurora are all represented here. There's also a helpful braiding tutorial at the beginning of each book:

All hairstyles are shown with a colorful, attractive backdrop on a real model so you can see what it's actually supposed to look like:

Okay, here's my attempt at doing hair for my princess. We went with Belle, since that's her favorite.

Not bad for a first attempt at doing hair, right?! There was quite a bit of squirming involved, but even so, I think she looks beautiful and definitely a lot happier. Both books are available on Amazon and make wonderful holiday gifts!

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Monday, November 24, 2014

Our #Disneykids Preschool Party!

I feel like we just recovered from Halloween and am going crazy thinking about Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other various projects that need to get done. So of course we decided to add a party into the mix, Disney style! Disney sent us an awesome box of goodies for us to throw a preschool playdate, which got Pinga extremely excited.

To ensure we didn't go completely bonkers, we opted to keep things simple and just let the kids let loose and have tons of fun.

Pinga dressed up as Princess Belle and anxiously awaited the arrival of her little friends.

We served pizza because it's delicious and kids love it. Plus, it was awesome not having to cook!

Thanks to the amazing toys and activities we were sent, the kids were pretty much occupied for the rest of the evening. They colored, made Disney fortune tellers, and played with puzzles, an awesome Mega Bloks car and a Barbie house that Pinga had been begging to put together all week. After some root beer floats for dessert, they played a bit more before calling it a night. Our guests got some fun goodies to take home and Disney memories were made!

Thank you to Disney for providing such a fun box of supplies to host a fun party!

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Monday, November 17, 2014

Home Cookin' Chicken 'n Waffles with Chick-Fil-A

It's no secret that we are huge eaters of all things Chick-fil-A. Our kids seem to think that where there's cows, there's chicken to be had which, in our case is actually pretty accurate.

*Insert obligatory cute pictures here:

There's also this cool thing called the Chick-fil-A Mom's Club which I'm a part of. Aside from getting to offer valuable input and feedback, I also occasionally get treated to yummy goodies. The #DressUpYourNuggets promotion is my opportunity to share with you my best semi-homemade idea to dress up those addictively delicious chicken nuggets. I came up with two different ways to serve CHICKEN 'N WAFFLES because really...is there anything more satisfying?

We'll start with the easy way:

Step 1: Get a box of mini Eggo waffles. Sure, you could make your own waffles, but why on earth would you want to do that? Plus, these are way cuter. And don't forget the Chick-fil-A chicken nuggets!

Step 2: Toast the waffles. You can do that, right? Put them on a plate. You can even make pretty patterns, if you like.

Step 3: Stick some butter in the middle of the waffles, drizzle with your favorite syrup, and eat it all up!

Okay, now for my gourmet version.

This is what you would serve at a party, or if you wanted to make it seem like you have some mad cooking skills. The thing is, it's still totally easy, which is key. Get a load of this:

Seriously? How cute is that?! Okay, the trick here is the adorable mini plate. In this case, I used one from my daughter's play kitchen. Spread the waffle with a bit of butter - honey butter if you wanna be extra fancy, delicately place a chicken nugget on top, and drizzle lightly with syrup.

Enjoy - I know I did.

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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

A Disney Halloween (plus Five Ways To Stay Cool at Disneyland)

This past weekend, my family got to check out Disneyland Resort for Family Media Day. Halloween Time is such an awesome time to visit!


For starters, there are the fun, spooky costumed characters to interact with:

There are creative pumpkin carvers and crafts at the Halloween Carnival at Big Thunder Ranch. You can also pet animals and watch a magic show here:

And rides like The Haunted Mansion and Space Mountain get spooky, ghostly makeovers:

At the media reception, we also had the opportunity to pose for a Disney silhouette. I highly recommend visiting the Disney Silhouette Studio on Main Street and getting one of these done...only takes five minutes and these guys are magicians with scissors! This makes for such a sweet souvenir, and Pinga's came out great:


And now for some tips on staying cool! October tends to be a hot month at Disneyland, and this day was no exception. That didn't take away from the fun though! Here are five things we did to beat the heat:

1) Visit the Animation Academy at California Adventure

This place is huge and we had a blast chatting with Crush the Turtle, creating simple animation and interacting with all the cool exhibits. Bean was fascinated with the zoetropes. It's all indoors and if you wanna just relax, you can take a seat in the main foyer and watch the cartoons on the walls.

2) Watch a Sneak Preview of Big Hero 6 at the Magic Eye Theater

Nothing's better than sitting in a cool theater on a hot day. The Magic Eye Theater in Tomorrowland offers up an exclusive sneak peak at Disney's latest animated feature. Big Hero 6 is presented in 4D, so be prepared for some exciting in-theater special effects! Both kids loved this, and we're looking forward to seeing the whole movie when it comes out.

3) Hang Out at Innoventions

One of Bean's favorite places at Disneyland is Innoventions, also located in Tomorrowland. He loves playing all the video games. Turns out, it's also quite cool inside. This time, he got to play a new game called Fantasia: Music Evolved for the Xbox One. It's a rhythm motion game that Bean happened to excel at. The cast members said he was the best player they had ever seen! Pinga also got in the action. Do me a favor and watch all 30 seconds of this video. Then try and tell me this isn't a genius way to wear out your kids:

4) Make Reservations At A Restaurant

Traveling with kids has made us realize that they get hungry. A lot. So this time, we decided to make a reservation at a restaurant and make sure that they get a proper meal. We chose to eat at The Blue Bayou, which turned out to be awesome. It got us out of the hot sun, plus the food and atmosphere were amazing. We got to see the boats of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride as they passed by, plus our drinks glowed! And take a look at this scrumptious pork chop, only available at Halloween Time. To die for!

5) Get Some Dole Whip and Chill At The Enchanted Tiki Room

Here's the skinny on Dole Whip: it's delicious. You can't not get it. And since you're getting it, you may as well eat it in comfort. Get it, then head to The Enchanted Tiki Room right next door, where you can sit, eat and hear the adorable birds sing. I guarantee it'll make you smile.

Finally, end your day by looking at this and you're golden:

Special thanks to Disneyland Resort for giving us a magical day at the parks!

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