Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Mickey Cookie Cutter and Silicone Pancake Mold

Cheap souvenir alert! I picked up these babies on our last trip to the World and they have gotten so much use since! If you are looking to pick up a little memento on a few bucks, these are it. In the last few months, I have used these to make pancakes, cookies, Rice Krispies Treats, and eggs, just to name a few. And my favorite part is that I use them to create treats that bring me right back to Disney... they're the mementos that keeps on making magic!

The pancake silicone mold takes a little practice...and in retrospect, I would have picked up more than one since you need to leave the mold on for quite some time to allow the pancake to set up. Even though it's just my husband and I right now, a rate of one pancake at a time is a little slow! Even still, it works like a charm and at only $6.95 it was worth the price!

Now the small metal mold with handle is the most versatile out of the two.... I've made pancakes in this one as well and they turn out just great. For making sugar cookies, I use the Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie Mix in the bag - there's a version of the directions on the back for making cutout cookies. The applications for this cutter are endless... Mickey grilled cheeses! Mickey fruit cutouts! Mickey shortcakes! Mickey brownies! Mickey ice cream sandwiches! (Ok, you get the idea.) And this one is only $3.95!

I bought mine in the Emporium in the Magic Kingdom, but I know they're also available at Mouse Gears in EPCOT. While you can get them though eBay and other retailers online, they're twice the retail price or even might want to wait until your next trip to get your paws on these cuties.

What are your favorite inexpensive souvenirs?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Real Bokeh: Get Mickey Shapes on Your Photos!

Finding this app started with a Google search for "How do you put sparkles on your Instagram photos?" Many of my favorite Instagramers regularly use these effects on their Disney photos to make them even more magical. From here I learned that these added shapes of sparkles, hearts and dots, etc. are called "bokeh."

Now, the term bokeh actually refers to the blurry look of spots of light that is produced in a photograph when the camera lens captures out-of-focus light. This dreamy effect is very much "on trend" right now and Pinterest is full of tutorials on how to produce a photo with bokeh (the Christmas tree is a popular subject.) There are even tutorials on how to manipulate the shape of the bokeh by carving a tiny shape of your choice into a card and placing it over there lens as a mask.

"Now, shapes, you say? How about Mickey bokeh?" I've seen these translucent Mickey heads popping up on pics every now and then, and I am sure that some have produced this effect with a professional camera lens, and more enterprising IGers have used Photoshop to get this lovey effect - an effort and a dedication that I admire and applaud! However, I've been seeing these Mickeys more frequently in recent days and speculated that some app out there somewhere accomplishes this faux effect for us iPhone-only shutterbugs. Enter Real Bokeh.

Available for $1.99 in the Apple App Store (also available for Android), this fairly easy to use app delivers what you're searching for - the elusive Mickey bokeh and many more shapes to choose from.

Here's a photo I've already doctored with my favorite photo editing app VSCOcam (free!) that I uploaded to Real Bokeh. As you can see, the editing choices are few and fairly simple. The bokeh shapes menu is located at the bottom left of the screen (where you see the Mickey, since that's the last one I used.) Clicking there opens a number of options - 30 shapes and the ability to change the size of the shape that you'll apply to your photo. I went with "mixed" which includes a smattering of all the sizes at random.

Back on the main menu, the next icon over is an artist's palette that allows you to choose the colors of the bokeh. I chose shades of blue, green, and yellow. Your can choose as many or few as you'd like and the sliding bar with a sun icon above the color choices adjust the brightness of the colors themselves.

The other menu choices represented by the sun and magic wand icons can apply various filters over the photo - since my photo was already edited to my liking, I did not utilize these options this time.

Then you're ready to decorate! You can either run your finger along your photo to leave a neat trail of the Mickey bokeh or dot them in by tapping the photo in various places. In the finished photo below, I ran my finger up the left side and across the top, and dotted the Mickeys by tapping along the right side and bottom. Both leave the desired effect.

All in all I am very happy with Real Bokeh! Right now this is the only app on the market that I know of that allows you to add these colorful Mickeys to your photos. For the bit of enjoyment I get from smattering my WDW pics with a little more magic, I think the $1.99 is well worth it. There's not a lot of frills in this app, but it gets the job done.

Have you tried Real Bokeh yet? What other photo editing or "bokeh" apps do you use? Tell me in the comments!