“Hey, I’ve seen a blog. I just posted not too long ago…. It went… this way. It went this way….oh no.”
You will have to pardon my lack of blogging since we returned from Disney World in October of 2014. It was an amazing trip and Jacs was absolutely fantastic, the DMNs turned out to be a great way to introduce her to the characters. She was so familiar with them that we got a TON of great pictures and the meet and greets went off without a hitch.
As soon as we returned we went straight into the holiday season and I was so behind on blogging it was hard to catch up. We have still continued our DMNs but rather than trying to back-blog and to catch up, I’ve decided just to start from the most recent and go back in time as I can. Since we returned from WDW we have done Brave, Frozen, The Hunchback, The Jungle Book, Hercules, UP, Lilo and Stich, Peter Pan and Finding Nemo. Now you see how blogging can be a bit overwhelming when looking at catching up while also planning the next DMN and daily life with a “threenager”. But have no fear. I’ve missed it; I’m back and let’s get rolling. (Or keep swimming I should say.)
It’s kind of funny for this to be my first blog back in action. It was only July of last year when I finally gave in to requests to start the blog, and I had to get over my fear of failure, thinking my technologically-challenged self couldn’t work the interwebs. I guess Marlin overcame his fear of the ocean, so I can take some inspiration and get back to blogging in full force.
Finding Nemo was Jacs’ first movie to really watch from start to finish and she loved it. I think she was around a year old when we first watched it, and it’s continually been one where she will get completely lost in the story. When I was thinking of placement in the DMN line up I knew I wanted to do it in the summer time. If you’ve read the blog before then you know the menu usually comes first (we are in the South here people) and then the décor and such follows. At first I was thinking sushi since it would be in July and I am NOT turning anything but a crock-pot on around here. On further discussion we decided that a whole meal of sushi would be expensive (we can put down some of Nemo’s buddies up in the sushi bar) and more importantly “Fish are friends, not food.”
So instead of firing up the oven in July we went with a seafood theme involving only crustaceans. We also made it Australian themed by making my poor husband go outside in the 101 degree heat and fire up the grill for shrimp on the barbie. I have no idea why he puts up with me but I sure am grateful.
Speaking of the heat, we need something to cool us down and it just isn’t a DMN without a signature cocktail, right?! And how could we not do a fish themed movie without doing the classic fishbowl. I’m not a huge fan of a mixed drink and usually just have a taste of Jeff’s, but I actually really liked this one. We used my dollar store fishbowls from DMNs past so we did a drink per couple versus individual ones. (Well, my bestie Courtnei really had the whole one since my brother-in-law Dr. Chris doesn’t drink but he did have a sip or two. And Courtnei loves her blue drinks so she didn’t mind.)
I couldn’t leave Jacs out so she got a blue “squeeze juice” from the dollar store and snuck a few Swedish fish before they took a swim in the adults’ fishbowls. I’m glad we had prepared two different apps because after a fishbowl or two we needed some sustenance before we took a ride on the EAC, or at least before we sounded like Crush, haha.
The appetizers were jumbo lump crab, tomato and avocado salad with balsamic vinegar and warm lump crab dip (heated on the grill) with crackers to start.
Apps were followed by grilled shrimp on the barbie with an arugula, goat cheese, blueberry and grilled peach salad with a white balsamic and honey vinaigrette and parmesan risotto.
To finish the meal we had mini key lime pies for dessert. I’m not sure if half that is Australian but you can’t go wrong with risotto, the arugula looked like seaweed (go with me on this people) and key lime is my favorite dessert. I did mini pies so I could decorate them with white chocolate coral to make them more themed and it would have been more difficult to make one for a whole pie. For the coral I printed it out clip art from the internet and placed it under some wax paper. Then I piped the chocolate onto the paper with the clip art as the guide, before it dried I sprinkled some sanding sugar to make it have more texture and emulate coral. They turned out to be really cute and rounded out the “sea” menu.
As much as I love my menus you know I love my décor just as much. It usually stems from a bit of inspiration from the menu, a bit of Pinteresting and a bit from my crazy creative mind. Being set in the ocean we had to do the fish theme but since there are so many settings it was hard to nail down one to focus on. The action is pretty much divided into Marlin and Dory crossing the ocean in search of Nemo and the fish tank where Nemo is taken. I made two separate areas and made the tablescape “sea neutral” to bring the two together. I decided to make the sideboard the fish tank and make the kitchen island/bar area the ocean.
One of my favorite scenes in the fish tank is when Nemo is inducted into the group by braving Mount Wannahockaloogie, so I knew I had to include that in the fish tank sideboard. I wanted to keep with my dollar store price range, so I didn’t want to buy a volcano. I also really didn’t want to take the time to paper mache one (I haven’t done that since elementary school). While strolling around the Dollar Tree, I decided to take a planter bucket, turn it upside down, cover it with foil, and spray paint it. If it worked I had a volcano for $2, and if it didn’t then I was out some foil and could still use the planter. It actually worked! I had the spray paint on hand, added some green mossy color with a sponge brush for depth, and poured on some red for the lava.
I was already going to be spray painting, so I wanted to do the rocks as well to really emulate the tank in the movie. I used a bag of dollar tree rocks and spray painted them blue to match the movie. It took about 6 applications of shaking them around in a box to get them all covered, but it only took about 30 seconds to spray and then I could head back inside to let them dry. All in all, it was maybe 10 minutes of time. To fill out the tank, I found a pack of treasure chest favor boxes at Hobby Lobby for $1.99 and used that for the treasure chest bubble maker. I only used one of the boxes, but Pirates of the Caribbean is DMN for March 2016 so I have the rest in my craft box until then. (Hey, justify where you can, am I right?!) I put one of Jacs’ necklaces in the box and it actually looked pretty close to the movie. There are also tiki faces in the tank, so I reused the ones I made for DMN: Lilo and Stitch which worked perfectly.
For the shipwreck, I used Jacs’ Lego Duplo Jake and the Neverland Pirates ship and added some seashells for filler. I got the shells at Hobby Lobby for DMN: The Little Mermaid, and they have come in so handy for this year’s DMNs.
For the background of the tank, I took some silk flowers and taped them to the back of the sideboard. I also cut fresh leaves from the side of our property for the greenery in the tank and used glue dots to hold them in place. To represent the bubbles in the water, I took glass ornaments that were 50% off at Hobby Lobby and put them in the sconces and used mini ones to cover my nail heads add depth to the background.
To complete the sideboard I used my Cricut Explore’s print-then-cut feature and uploaded the character images from Pixar Wiki. I am in love with that feature because it’s so simple and you can get the exact images instead of having to cut them out yourself or use a cartridge then build the characters. Along with the “bubble” ornaments I took Jacs’ bubble machine and turned it on when everyone arrived. It was fun for about 30 seconds then the bubbles were a bit overwhelming and the machine was loud so we turned it off; great for outside fun, not so much inside, but worth the try.
With the fish tank sideboard being so bright and colorful I wanted the tablescape to continue that but to also be somewhat elegant. I had my blue chargers from DMN: Frozen and my fish net and seashells from DMN: The Little Mermaid so I thought I could use those and just buy some orange plates and plastic ware for a pop of color. I also used my dollar store fishbowls and sat shells on top of dollar store blue marbles to reflect the chargers. I also hot glued a shell to each wine glass and tied some twine on the stem to mimic the fish net runner. Finally to fill out the centerpiece I added extra ornaments to the fish net to reflect the bubbles in the sideboard décor.
I couldn’t leave out Marlin and Dory so we made the ocean the kitchen island. I got a mask from the dollar store and since I was spray painting the volcano with black and brown I painted the mask black. I didn’t have painters tape so I used Glad press-and-seal wrap to cover the clear part. It worked except for one spot where there was a little over-spray but since it was floating in the ocean I’m gonna say its algae. For the green part I hand painted the green on the inside of the mask with the green I used for Mount Wannahockaloogie. For the tag I just printed out the green tag and cut it out and glue dotted with some cardstock to match. I had a dollar tree net from DMN: Lilo and Stitch so I used that too. I figured we had enough seashells so I printed out a blue keep calm sign to match the chargers and Dory and put it in my dollar store frame.
Along with themed food we always dress up Disneybound style using clothes on hand but this DMN I had something extra special for Jacs. A couple of months ago I found shark face tattoos at Dollar Tree so I grabbed it up and knew she would love it. I put her in her gray romper and with her face tattoo she was the cutest Bruce.
She also got to pick a prize to have as an activity to do while the adults were visiting and cocktailing. Instead of an art project she chose the dollar store fishing game. I also gave her a pink star glow wand for Peach and she already had the Nemo and Dory figurines from there so we played with those too.
Dressing themed always adds more fun to the evening, and it’s so neat to see the ideas that everyone comes up with. This DMN featured Courtnei as Anchor with Jacs as Bruce, Chris as Crush, Donna as Squirt and Senior as Bubbles, I was Dory and Jeff was Gill.
All the work that goes into the planning and executing is definitely worth it when we all come together for a fabulous meal with great company. The memory making is definitely my favorite part but the best part of the evening usually comes at the end of the night when we are all watching the movie. Inevitably Jacs will end up with Papaw snuggling with her on her pallet and sometimes she’ll get double blessed with Papaw, Nana and Jacs all snuggled up together.
That by far is the best gift of all; family and memories. It’s what Disney and DMNs are all about. Hope to see you next month when we fall down the rabbit hole during DMN: Alice in Wonderland.