Naaaaants ingonyama bagithi Baba Sithi uhm ingonyama…. Sorry y’all; had to do it. #sorrynotsorry It’s one of – if not THE best – openings to a Disney movie. Just seeing the image of that sun rising over the savannah and I’ve got goose bumps. Needless to say, this month was pressure since it’s one of our family’s favorites. I was super excited about this theme, but it was a little hard being creative without having an African lodge at hand. We’ve never stayed in any of the Animal Kingdom lodging, but if I win the lottery y’all will find me calling my friend Sarah and booking my vacation at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas with LBAC Travel the next day. The sunrise over the savannah is one of the quid essential images from the movie so I thought I would incorporate that over the sideboard. I knew that would bring the feel of the movie without solely using animal print to represent the African savannah; plus having a red dining room wall was perfect for the red hues in the sun. I took poster board (2 for $1) in various oranges and yellows and freehanded the sunrise. Then I used my Cricut to cut out the sun and the tree of life from cardstock I had on hand. The sunrise was rising from the top of the sideboard so I needed to hide the nails that hold my dining room painting up bring some height to the backdrop. I cut out some zebra heads from my Animal Kingdom cartridge and thought that would help to represent masks that might be on the walls at a lodge. Not perfect, but for $0.20 I’ll take it.
Once I got them up, I felt there was a hole in the middle of the backdrop, so I used my Cricut craftroom to recreate the logo. It was perfect for bringing the theme and the movie together. I couldn’t figure out what to do with the sconces, so I borrowed some tall planter decorations and placed them in front of them. It brought great height and took the focus up to the masks and really completed the look of the lodge, along with highlighting the scene from the movie. I didn’t want to pull focus from the sunrise, so I just used my chargers on the sideboard for the appetizers. They would be short height-wise, but still pull the themed food together with the décor.
Since I had recreated the sunrise and used the logo I thought that I would use that same theme as a screen saver in the living room. I found a google image from the movie and used Photoshop to recreate the logo and add Disney Movie Night to the bottom. I attached my HDMI cable to the laptop so the photo was up on the TV screen until we watched the movie. It was cool to have that showing the whole time, cause we got more excited about watching it as the evening progressed. I loved seeing Disney Movie Night up there.
With the tablescape I knew I wanted a nod to animal print (without going overboard) so I tried to focus on the colors of black and gold with a little leopard here and there. Another important image from the movie is Rafiki’s drawing of baby Simba.
I thought it would be cool to have that in black vinyl on my dollar store chargers. I used that as the main focus of the tablescape. (Dollar Tree usually carries the chargers around Thanksgiving for the holiday season, so snatch them up when you see them.) Unfortunately, there is not a Cricut cartridge for The Lion King; fortunately I’m a Craftroom-machine and managed to weld shapes together into enough of an homage that I think it worked. I didn’t want to cover up all that work so I borrowed my mother-in-law Donna’s glass plates so you could see the design.
Since the chargers were gold, I used black cutlery with the place settings so it would tie in with the black vinyl and bring the black out of the animal print. I also cut out lion manes for napkin rings to represent the mane that Rafiki adds to Simba’s drawing when he finds out he is alive. I liked the animal print napkins and wanted to tie that in with more than just the napkins themselves, so I took my dollar store wine glasses and mod-podged the napkins onto the bottom of the glass. It looked really great to have that pop on the table by dressing up the plain wine glass. I love keeping the clear glasses on hand because they’re so versatile; it’s also great because the napkins just wash off when soaked in warm water, so you can change the look of the glasses to fit whatever theme you want.
Since the place settings were so busy, I wanted to keep the centerpiece plain; I borrowed the small planter that matched the big ones on the sideboard and used black candle chargers on hand with dollar store candles to fill in the centerpiece. I also cut out some more “masks” out of cardstock and placed them on the windows with some glue dots. I thought this was a fun way to have the masks on either side of the table and complete the feel of dinner at an African lodge.
Along with the sideboard and tablescape, I always try and do something on the island in the kitchen since that’s where we always end up hanging out while we drink our signature cocktail and eat our appetizers. Since one of the appetizers was from Timon and Pumba’s oasis, I wanted to give a nod to that on the island. I took my cookbook holder and put one of Jacs’ Lion King books and used a page with Simba getting his “grub” on. I used gummy worms to represent the colorful bugs that were their delicacies and set them out on candle chargers on hand. I also had some fresh fruit in the fridge, so I set it out on a charger to go along with our apps.
If you’ve read my blogs before, then you know that we have to have a signature cocktail to go with the theme. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge’s restaurant Jiko has an amazing list of African wines, and even offers a signature wine tasting and cheese pairing. Since we are wine lovers and the movie is set in Africa, what better signature drink is there to start with than an African wine?! Well, that was easier said than done. Apparently there is only ONE bottle of South African wine in the whole of Shreveport/Bossier. Even after contacting my wine rep friends, I ended up finding one in World Market. I know, should have looked there in the first place, but I was told they didn’t have one the first round. I should have done my homework. DMN lesson learned.
I was worried at first, it would be too sweet because it was a rosé. It turned out it was a cabernet-rosé and was perfect as a light but flavorful drink to go along with our appetizers. I will definitely be purchasing it again. The guys aren’t huge wine fans. They liked it, but they chose to follow the theme with a tequila sunrise. (Hey, gotta get the sunrise in there somewhere, right?) I still can’t decide if my favorite part of planning the DMNs is deciding the menu or the décor. I guess it’s the menu since my décor is set around what particular table setting I do, based on the food. This menu was particularly enjoyable. I wanted to do something fun for our appetizers. When Simba meets Timon and Pumba they show him how to Hakuna Matata and show him the ropes of the jungle, including eating bugs. The first thing Simba tries is a grub and I wanted to recreate this moment, so I used spinach leaves to represent the leaf and herbed Boursin and cream cheese to represent the “grub”. I piped the cheese mixture on a spinach leaf and served atop a crostini to make eating it a bit easier. We also had to include some melon for Rafiki, so we had prosciutto wrapped cantaloupe as well.
While we all enjoy our appetizers, I always have some crafts or an activity for Jacs to do while the adults hang out and have a cocktail. She has a coloring book of various Disney animal characters so I took some Lion King pages out of it and set out the monkey mask we had on hand. I found a Simba book at Dollar Tree so I gave that to her for something new to read along with her coloring.
Themed décor, themed drinks, themed food, themed activities, of course we have to have themed attire! And yes, you guessed it – Animal Print. The ladies had fun with dressing in animal print and the guys matched us with safari attire. All guys have khaki shorts or pants, right?
Nana (Donna), Jacs and I wore our animal print, but Courtnei and Ivy kept it low-key with some accessories. I guess less is more. We all agreed that Jacs stole the show with her pigtails and romper.
For our main course we had grilled antelope steaks with truffle butter and Gorgonzola cheese served alongside sweet potatoes with homemade cinnamon-brown-sugar-butter and grilled asparagus. It was delicious; so delicious that I completely forgot to take any pictures of the deliciousness.
Fail. But, trust me, next time I will not fail you fair readers! At that point I did not know I would be writing an actual blog but now that I am up and running, my obligation to you will include lots of pictures of our delectable food- Pinky promise. (And no, when I did DMN: Aladdin, I did not have the blog either, DMN: Toy Story was my first blog in real time.) For dessert we had Asante Sana Squash Banana’s Foster (see what I did there) over vanilla bean gelato. It was so amazing! I did the Brennen’s banana’s foster recipe from my Pinterest, but subbed cream for banana liquor because I don’t care for bananas. Why do banana’s foster when you don’t like them, you ask? Duh. Because they’re cooked in butter, brown sugar and rum; take out the bananas and you have alcoholic caramel sauce over gelato. If that’s not #winning I don’t know what is.
I felt like this DMN came together beautifully, and everyone seemed to concur. Jacs watched the whole movie and LOVED it! Jeff and Jacs said it was their favorite DMN so far; which made my day. Stay tuned next month when we go to a whole new DMN world with Aladdin!!
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