Make a Gift Box for Your Fish Extender Gift Exchange

Ok, full disclosure: I’m an obsessive vacation planner.

These past few weeks have been spent in preparation for our upcoming Disney cruise. It’s sooooo easy to obsess over planning a Disney vacation in particular. I’ve been making Disney dresses, pajamas, fish extenders and now, boxes.

Attached – and at the top of this page – are the details on how to make your own 6×4 box for your fish extender gifts.

Click here for the printable file to make a 6×4 box like the one I’ve made: 6×4-box-with-disney-pictures.


Have fun!


Are You a Crafty DIY-er?

Me. I am.

Faithfully, every Friday, I head over to Pixie Faire’s Freebie Friday page and add yet another pattern to my growing pile. Pixie Faire is where I found Miche Design‘s clogs for 18″ dolls. Freebie Friday is an excellent way to be introduced to a designer’s style. Do you love their patterns? Are their instructions easy to follow and understand? A freebie introduction is the perfect way to decide if you and the designer are a good match.

So, what brings me to blog about them today? Tomorrow’s freebie.

It’s a Mary and Laura Ingalls’ (ala Little House on the Prairie) set of dress patterns depicting life in frontier North America. Love it! I already have a pattern or two from this designer, Thimbles and Acorns, and am delighted to be able to add this one to my collection.

Pixie Faire’s offererings aren’t limited to clothing or just to sewing. Knitters, crocheters, and crafters of all kinds can find projects here ranging from period piece costumes to modern bags for dolls.

There’s only one drawback to this shop. Stopping. Seriously. I can’t wander out to look around without wandering out with a new pattern.

Pillowcase Dresses for Dolls & Girls

So, spent a chunk of the weekend working on pillowcase dresses for my two granddaughters and one American Girl doll. Picture above, though I hope to replace it with one soon of all three recipients wearing their dresses.

I was going to make these outfits for the first week of school, but now I’m thinking the colors make them good gifts for a Disney vacation. I got the material from Fabricland, just enough left in the bolt to make two kid dresses and a doll dress.

The pattern for a pillowcase dress is fairly standard and can be found at lots of places online, some free, some paid. This particular pattern came from Pink Poodle Bows. Depending on your sewing skills you might be able to do one on your own (without a pattern). The headband pattern came from Punky n Munky – excellent, easy-to-follow instructions – and I got a great price and shipping rate from Hairbow Center for headband blanks, which delivered the goods within a week, a rare thing given that I’m located in Canada.

I love the pillowcase dress look for young girls. Lots of flexibility and room to move, adorable look, and very easy to work up.

Etsy at Glenbow: A Fabulous Opportunity for Alberta Artisans

For me, it’ll be a chance to unveil the Western outfits I’ve been working on for our little family of 18″ dolls. Pictures to come of coonskin* caps, jeans, chaps, cowboys hats, boots, and period piece dresses.

*No raccoons were harmed in the making of this craft project 🙂

In the meantime, here are the details from Etsy:

Etsy is teaming up with Glenbow Museum in Calgary to offer our Alberta sellers the unique opportunity to create new products inspired by their vast collection of art and artifacts.

Glenbow’s collection represents Western Canadian art and culture, both as a repository of important cultural history but also as a living record of contemporary life in this part of the world.

… If you think you would be inspired by Glenbow’s collection, and if you would love to see your product stocked in their shop. Please submit this short application form by September 2, 2016.

Interested? You can find the application form here.

Fish Extenders on a Disney Cruise

So. We’re planning our next cruise. December 2016, aboard the Disney Dream. *Doing the happy dance* You will notice from my previous posts (and more likely with upcoming posts) that we’re a family of Disney enthusiasts.

We’re going with our daughter, son-in-law, and our two granddaughters (who will be 6 and 2 at cruise time). Four nights and five days of all Disney, all the time.

Disney ships have this ad hoc fun activity that originated from its passengers, not Disney proper. Called Fish Extenders, it’s an activity organized by the passengers of a particular cruise. Sounds like fun, right?

Full disclosure: I did a stint as a travel writer, so I’m prone to researching the heck out of anything, especially if it’s travel-related.

What is a Fish Extender?  If you’ve ever cruised before, you’ll know that each line has a sort of a signature mail holder beside your door. It’s where mail – special cruise offers, meet & greet notices, etc. – are left. On Disney, that mail holder is a fish.

A Fish Extender is a pouch (or row of pouches) that hang from this brass fish. You can make your own, or purchase one from Etsy (hmmm, that gives me an idea!) or eBay. They can be very simple or very elaborate.

How does a Fish Extender work?

Some variables dependent on what the group decides:

  1. How big is the group?
  2. Is the size of the group determined by the number of cabins, or the number of people?
  3. Gift for each person? Each kid? Each cabin?
  4. Frequency – once per trip? Or more?
  5. Does the gift drop happen on a certain day or time, or is that left to the individual giver to decide?
  6. Is there a price limit?
  7. Is there a theme? For example, we’re cruising close to Christmas so we might design our little gifts around a Christmas theme.

How do you find out about the Fish Extender activity on your cruise? You can often find your “meet & greet” group on sites like Cruise Critic (Look for the Roll Call for your cruise ship and date) and the Disboards (specific to the Disney brand of travellers) or Facebook. You’ll often see that someone on your cruise has already introduced the idea of a Fish Extender.

We ultimately opted to join the Facebook group which we found by joining Disney Cruise Meet Facebook Group. We were directed to our our specific cruise date/ship where we found a fun, lively, well-organized group with daily posts from others on our cruise.

The Fish Extender group is ideally composed of 10-15cabins. Ours had ten, which proved to be the perfect number as we sifted through the information on what kinds of things people made/purchased as gifts. We knew we wanted to make our gifts – that’s half the fun. And the options are literally endless.

There you have it. Everything you need to know about Fish Extenders in a single post. As for me, I’ve started on the follow up post to this. Homemade amigurumi Disney characters to fill the Fish Extenders of the cruisers on our ship.

Stay tuned for pics and patterns of my fish extender efforts!

BONUS Research: The history of the Fish Extender.

Word is that the Fish Extender started out on the Disboards as a gift exchange on the Disney Magic (westbound Panama Canal itinerary) in 2005 when cruiser Debbie Chitester gave out hanging fish extenders to her fellow cruisers.


Chapter One: In the Dark, In the Night

Evelyn lay in her bed, listening to the thunder crash outside her bedroom window. Once, twice, three times, a flash of lightning lit up her room making it look like day instead of the middle of the night. She clutched her doll closer to her.

“Don’t be afraid, Annabelle,” she whispered into her doll’s ear. “It’s only a storm. Mommy and Daddy are just in the next room.”

She wanted to go to Mommy and Daddy, but she also wanted to be brave. She wished her little sister, Alice, would wake up and call for them, but Alice slept through.

Evelyn remembered her Dad telling her that if you count the number of seconds after you see a flash of lightning until you hear the thunder, you can figure out how far the lighning is. What had he told her? Every five seconds between the lightning and the thunder meant 1 mile of distance.

She waited, breathing quietly.

Then it came. A brilliant flash, lighting her room.

“One-Mississippi, Two-Mississippi, Three-Mississippi, Four-Mississippi, Five-Mississippi,” she whispered to Annabelle. One mile. “”One-Mississippi, Two-Mississippi, Three-Mississippi, Four-Mississippi, Five-Mississippi.”

A clap of thunder seemed to shake the house. Two miles, the storm was only two miles away.The rain pounded on the roof and she could hear the rain gushing down the gutters.

The room lit up again. “One-Mississippi, Two-Mississippi, Three-Mississippi, Four-Mississippi, Five-Mississippi.” Thunder crashed. How could Alice and her parents sleep through this? One mile. It was getting closer.

Another flash of light. “One-Mississippi,” Evelyn spoke the words outloud, but the thunder drowned out her voice. This time the house did shake, and the sound of the thunder seemed to boom inside her own head.

Evelyn bolted up and ran out of her room into her parent’s bedroom. They were both awake, standing by the window and watching the storm. She leapt into her father’s arms, crying.

“It’s very noisy, isn’t it?” Her father stroked her hair and held her close. “Don’t be afraid.”

Evelyn wiped her eyes. “Why is it so loud?”

“Well,” said her father, putting her down. “In ancient times people believed the sound was caused by clouds running into each other.”

Evelyn smiled. “But clouds are so fluffy.”

Her father nodded. “The sound of thunder is actually caused by the heat of the lightning causing the air to quickly expand. That creates something called a sonic wave and that sonic wave is what we hear as thunder.”

“It’s kind of scary,” Evelyn looked at her mom. “Is it okay if I sleep with you for a little while?”

Her parents looked at each other and her mom nodded slightly. “For a little while, until the storm quits.”

“I’ll get Annabelle,” Evelyn ran out of her parent’s room and tore the blanket off her bed. No Annabelle. She shook out the blanket, thinking maybe Annabelle was stuffed into one of the wrinkles of her big, fluffy comforter. Nothing.

She looked under the bed. No Annabelle.

A crash of thunder sent Evelyn running back to her parent’s bedroom without her beloved Annabelle. She crawled in between her mom and dad, and she held their hands tightly.

“I couldn’t find Annabelle,” she said. Would Annabelle be afraid? She was, Evelyn knew, just a doll, but she felt badly for leaving her dear friend alone in the bedroom during the storm.

“Annabelle will be fine,” her mother said, planting a kiss of the top of Evelyn’s forehead. :”Try and get some sleep.”

As Evelyn drifted to sleep, the storm moved away, the lightning flashes fading and the thunder growing quieter and quieter with each burst.

Where was Annabelle? was her last thought before the darkness of sleep slipped over her.




About Evelyn & Annabelle’s Adventures

I have two lovely granddaughters: Evelyn and Alice.

When Alice was about a year old, I bought her the book Alice in Wonderland. My older granddaughter, Evelyn, asked, “Why is there no book about me?”. Good question.

During my life, I’ve been a writer. 🙂 A travel writer, a novelist, a non-fiction writer. In that part of my life, I’ve published hundreds of articles, three non-fiction books, and one novel.

So, yes, Evelyn. Why is there no book about you? Here it is, in installments: Evelyn & Annabelle’s Magical Adventures. A book about you and your American Girl doll, Annabelle.

The adventure begins …