Friday, December 30, 2016

New Year's Eve Traditions

I always get sad as the holidays wind down, it never fails!  This time of year is really magical and I absolutely love it.  New Year's Eve is the only event left of the holiday season and it's always a fun time for everyone.  How do you celebrate this special night? Maybe you and your family make special New Year's Eve snacks or drinks? I'd love to hear your traditions.

This year, my husband and I have a two year old to celebrate with.  Even though Scarlett is far too young to understand, I hope when she's older she will enjoy the fun event.  For this New Year's Eve, I think we'll snack on some cheese and crackers and maybe a few chocolate treats.  I'm sure Scarlett will have some of the goodies with us.  Don't worry, we won't forget a glass of pink champagne either.  I'm not sure we'll be up at midnight when the ball drops, but it might be possible.  

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

New Year's Eve Appetizer Ideas

If you're having a party on Saturday night and are looking for some delicious and easy appetizers to make, I have just the list for you.  Sometimes it's more fun to serve a variety of appetizers than it is to serve an actual dinner to your guests.  Spending time with friends and family during the holiday season always leaves us with warm and happy memories. 

This spinach dip would go perfect with crackers, flatbread, or chips.  For a unique idea, hollow out a bread bowl and fill it with the dip.  It makes for more of an interesting display instead of just being served in a bowl.  Everyone loves spinach dip and will surely be going back for seconds.

Seafood appetizers are always a hit at gatherings. Whether you serve shrimp cocktail, salmon puffs, or even baked clams, they're all delicious.  Your friends will go nuts for these beautiful king crab appetizers that will surely make their tummies smile.  Who can resist cheese and crab together? These tartlets will be the talk of the party and everyone will request the recipe. 

Caprese skewers are always a welcomed addition at any party.  The combination of tomato, basil, and mozzarella is simply divine.  If you choose not to make the mini portions on a skewer, serving a big platter of sliced tomatoes and mozzarella with basil in-between would be equally as tasty.  

Don't forget plenty of champagne and some sweet treats to ring in the new year with at midnight! 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Inlight Skincare Is Here To Help You Look Your Best

Like many ladies do, I own a lot of cosmetic and skin care products.   It's important to take care of your skin well as you only have one face. Why not keep it looking its best as long as possible? I frequently like to try new products and find new favorites that provide me with the results I'm looking for.

Inlight Skincare is an artisan luxury skincare brand that focuses on creating 100% organic products.  The brand takes only the finest, ethically-sourced, natural, and organic ingredients to harness them at their most potent to create a gourmet, luxurious diet for your skin.  The skincare contains the finest and most effective organic food-grade and cold-pressed oils, herbs, and purest essential oils and beeswax.  You'll love that the packaging is all made from recycled materials and the glass jars are up to 98% recycled.  It makes me happy when companies go out of their way to help the environment.   One less item in a landfill on a regular basis really adds up over time!

If you're looking for something to help keep your face looking fresh, the Try Me Collection is Inlight's essential trio of products in miniature form to cleanse, tone and moisturize for beautiful, radiant skin.  The collection includes a face cleanser, floral face tonic, and daily face oil that offers your skin just the right nutrients to keep it well nourished.  You'll feel fabulous after trying this collection.  Make Inlight part of your essential daily regime and see the difference for yourself.  These are also perfect for traveling on the go since they are small size. 

You'll love the Indulgence Collection and everything it has to offer.  The cleaner and reviving tonic will delicately cleanse away impurities, while the face oil soothes and moisturizes.  Try the sumptuous line softener combining 20 different bioactives, which work to plump and hydrate with extra concentrated care.  Once you starting noticing a difference in your skin, you'll be pleased.

If you're looking for true 100% organic skincare to address a variety of issues including acne, anti-aging, wrinkles, dry skin, eczema and so much more, Inlight Skincare is the brand for you.  

Scarlett's Love Of Food

Out of the struggles I face with Scarlett, I'm lucky that food is not one of them.  I have friends who have children who eat next to nothing and it's a fight to get them to eat.  That seems extremely stressful and I'm fortunate to not have to deal with that.

When I picked Scarlett up from her school's holiday camp yesterday, her teacher told me that she had finished her entire lunch and she seemed surprised.  I told her food is not a problem in our household and she likes to eat a little too much! I had packed Scarlett half a turkey sandwich, blueberries, tomatoes, and goldfish.  It was not surprising to me that Scarlett had eaten her entire lunch.  What can I say? That girl loves to eat!

Honestly, there's not much that Scarlett won't eat.  Her favorites are chicken nuggets with ketchup, chicken and cheese quesadillas, pasta and peas, and of course tons of fruits and veggies.  She also loves roasted potatoes and snacks like crackers and air popped popcorn.  I try to limit sweets and sugar even though it's harder as she gets older and goes to parties and events.  I do not buy juice at home and she primarily only drinks water and milk.  Chili is also on Scarlett's list of food she loves as well as cornbread and rolls.  She doesn't refuse much food but doesn't always seem to love pizza.  She will eat it on occasion and then other times she's not interested.

Scarlett's portions are big and sometimes it surprises me how much she can eat! She eats more than I do sometimes.  Her weight is fine and she's an active child, so I let her eat as much as she wants within reason.  It's hard to eat around her because she wants what you're eating even if she has the same thing.  My husband and I have to eat when she's napping or distracted by something else so we can have some peace!

People are often impressed with her zest for food and wish their children were like her.  I hope she always has an interest in food because it makes me one happy mom!
Monday, December 19, 2016

Let T-Fal Help You Chop Those Veggies This Holiday Season

My daughter Scarlett absolutely adores fruit and veggies of any kind.  I consider myself very lucky since so many parents struggle to get their children to eat them.  Scarlett's favorites are tomatoes, peas, carrots, and broccoli.  She eats them like candy and I couldn't be more proud of her.  I have to be careful that I chop the veggies small enough since hard veggies like carrots pose a choking risk.  There's constantly a box of Campari tomatoes in my fridge and a bag of mixed frozen veggies in the freezer.

T-Fal is a manufacturer of non-stick cookware, small kitchen appliances, and housewares. Their pots and pans provide quality results when cooking your favorite meals. If you're looking for small kitchen appliances, how does a toaster, deep fryer, electric kettle or pressure cooker sound?.  T-Fal makes high quality irons as well to keep your clothes looking their best.  Keep them in mind for your son or daughter's dorm while at school.  Whatever you need to furnish your new home with, T-Fal is there for you. Anything from the brand makes the perfect holiday gift too.

Holiday season is here! I'm sure many of you are planning your holiday party menu as well as Christmas Dinner.  A lot of prep work goes into making those mouth-watering entrees and appetizers, but it's time you saved your hand the trouble.  Salads require chopping and dicing and that can really wear on your hands after a while.  T-Fal's Ingenio 5-Second Chopper will make life so much easier to allow you more time to enjoy the holidays outside of the kitchen.

You'll be amazed by how fast and easy it is to prepare delicious salsas, sauces, guacamoles, chopped fruit, veggie, meat, and even baby food.  In just 5 seconds you can have 2 cups of your favorite foods chopped to the chop/puree level of your choice.  Unlike with a traditional blender, the manual pull knob allows you to have complete control of the chop level of your food.  The non slip base provides stability during the chopping process while the ultra sharp stainless steel blades provides clean cuts.  

I currently do not have a food chopper in my home, so I was excited at the thought of giving my knife a well deserved vacation.  The unit is attractive and modern with a round body and a black top.  It's compact and small enough to be stored in a kitchen cabinet or pantry shelf. I decided to use it initially to make my daughter a fruit salad for a snack.  Since Scarlett is only 2, I have to make sure that all fruits and veggies are chopped very small to reduce a choking hazard.  The fruits that she likes in a fruit salad most are apples, blueberries, and bananas.  Since blueberries and bananas are soft and don't need to be cut as much, the apples do.  

I cut the apple into small slices and put them into the chopper.  The area inside the chopper is a decent size and can hold 2 cups of whatever you want to chop.  The blades inside are rectangular and thin, not what I'm used to chopper blades looking like.  Don't be fooled by their small size, they pack a big punch! Once you cover the chopper with the lid, make sure you pull the easy pull red knob back enough.  At first when I pulled it nothing happened and I was confused at what I was doing wrong.  You really have to pull it back like you would a lawnmower when you want to start it.  Once I did that, I was presented with beautifully chopped apples that would have taken me a long time to do by hand. 

As a mom, I appreciate the luxury of saving some time throughout the day.  With a busy toddler, you can't take your eyes off of them for more than a few seconds.  The chopper really is a mom's best friend and will help cut your prep time in half.  Just throw it in the dishwasher and you'll be ready to chop time and time again. 

I can't wait to chop some potatoes for potato soup as well as tomatoes for salsa.  The chopping possibilities are endless and it looks like some cooking is in my near future!

If you're looking to save some time in the kitchen while creating some of your favorite appetizers and entree's, look no further than T-Fal's Ingenio 5 Second Chopper.  You'll absolutely love it.

*DISCLOSURE* Thank you to T-Fal for providing a product sample in order to facilitate this post.  All thoughts are strictly my own. 

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Mouthwatering Crispy Oven Potatoes

If you're looking for a fabulous side dish to compliment a hearty winter meal, look no further than my crispy oven potatoes.

These potatoes are not only perfectly crispy and soft, but they are full of fantastic flavor. What I love about cooking is how versatile it is.  You can use your own blend of seasonings or spices and a chicken or steak dish will turn out fantastic each and every time.  Don't feel intimidated by a certain recipe, cooking is all about trial and error and finding out what works and what doesn't.  

I make these potatoes every so often, but more so during the cold months of the year.  They pair perfectly as a side dish for rotisserie chicken and would be equally as delicious with a juicy New York Strip Steak.  You can have crispy oven potatoes in about 25 minutes and it'll be like bringing a restaurant quality meal to your dinner table.

First, I line a cookie sheet with tin foil and spray it with non-stick cooking spray.  You could use wax paper to save yourself the trouble of greasing it ahead of time. Preheat your oven to 425F.  I chop potatoes into small wedges and then pour them into a mixing bowl.  Go ahead and coat generously with olive oil and a hearty amount of your favorite seasoning blend and mix together.  Rosemary is a great choice for potatoes, but you could really use anything you want including Adobe or seasoned salt.  Once you've done that, pour the potatoes onto the cookie sheet and spread them out so they cook evenly.

When your oven has hit 425F, put the potatoes in for about 22-25 minutes.  When the oven timer goes off, you'll be presented with the most beautiful golden brown crispy potatoes in the world.  The crispiness paired with the soft middle is irresistible.  You won't be able to have just one helping, I promise.  My daughter Scarlett loves the potatoes and is always excited when she has them with her meals.

If you're looking for a crowd pleasing side dish, these potatoes are definitely it.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Fantastic Kid Friendly NYE Ideas

Flickr Image: Calvin YC

Traditionally New Year’s Eve is a quite a grown up occasion and a chance for adults to let their hair down, have a few drinks and dance the night away as they ring in the start of the new year in style. However, if you happen to have young children, you’ve just had a baby or are currently pregnant it’s not feasible to do any of those things. Not to mention getting a babysitter that night is going to be harder than keeping last minute New Year resolutions! So we’ve come up with a few ideas that will keep the little ones happy, after all, they deserve to celebrate too, that you can enjoy as a family or with other parents and kids.  

Flickr Image: Joshua Ganderson

An Afternoon Of Glorious Games

Everyone brings over their favourite game and you set them up in a large, clear area making sure ones like twister, Simpsons monopoly and uno have plenty of room as they can get quite raucous. Set out a buffet style snack area with plenty of party food like sausage rolls, jello, and chips as well as smiley face salad, carrot sticks and lots of juice. Remember to set aside 23463572443_045d482190_k.jpgsome grown up snacks for the adults as well and if you know guests have dietary requirements take that into consideration. Why not adapt some birthday party games for the occasion such as musical chairs, red light green light and even pass the parcel? Think carefully about the ages of the children invited and if you need to pop away any valuables that could get knocked over by wandering hands.

Flickr Image: stu_spivack

Marshmallow Movie Madness

Get your kids to choose three of their favourite movies and spend the evening watching old favourites, Frozen will be amongst them, and discovering new ones at the same time while making s’mores. This could get a little messy so make sure you’ve got paper towels, warm water and wipes on hand just in case. You can buy online grocery or visit the store before setting up a surprise s’more station in the kitchen using sweet crackers, chocolate, marshmallows, candy and whipped cream. Either melt the marshmallow or grab a packet of them and some wooden roasting sticks. Gently caramelise the marshmallow either in front of the fire, by using a mini creme brûlée torch even an extra long lit match will work. Settle your kids in front of the TV, with drinks, their dessert creations and plenty of blankets or double duvets then simply sit back, relax and watch.

Flickr Image: Garry Knight

Take Them To A Winter Wonderland

At this time of year, there are plenty of ice rinks, winter festivals and NYE concerts to go to as well as county fairs packed with rides, games, stalls and food demonstrations. Bundle everyone into their best coats and enjoy the celebrations as a family with creamy hot chocolate, armfuls of soft toys won from the grab machine and delicious mince pies. Finally, let your kids drag you onto the ghost train, into the fun house or onto the ferris wheel they’ll love trying to look brave in front of mom or dad, and you’ll end up having a wicked time yourself.
Wednesday, December 14, 2016

PartiesByMel Will Make Your Party's Next Centerpiece Beautiful

When you have a party, you focus not only on the food you put out, but the centerpieces on your table too.  A successful centerpiece draws attention to your table but is also a stylish conversation starter. Whether you have flowers, handmade wooden signs, or even framed pictures as your focal point on the table, you can bet your guests will love it.

PartiesByMel is an Etsy shop ran by owner Melissa.  Melissa creates Sesame Street themed birthday banners, center pieces, and party decor.  If you have a child having a birthday with this theme in the near future, they will absolutely love the fun items Melissa can produce for their party.  Hang up a birthday banner on your front door as you walk into the party, or even have your child's name next to Elmo or Big Bird as a centerpiece.  If you don't see exactly what you're looking for, have Melissa create Sesame Street decor of your dreams!

Scarlett's Sesame Street themed 2nd birthday party was last weekend.  It was so much fun and everyone really enjoyed themselves.  This was the first actual home party that I planned as a parent and believe me I took it very seriously! Her first birthday party was in a restaurant and didn't have a theme.  I knew that for her second birthday I needed to step up the creativity, and you can bet I did.

I knew that Scarlett needed a special centerpiece to tie the party together.  When I came across Melissa's birthday centerpiece, it was just what the event needed.

As you can see, it's completely personalized to Scarlett.  Forget Sesame Street, it's all about Scarlett Street! Since she was turning 2, Melissa put a 2 on top to represent that.  Scarlett's favorite character from the show is Elmo, so of course had to be in the centerpiece.  She also loves Big Bird and Cookie Monster and I knew this centerpiece would not only catch her eye but look great on the table too.

The centerpiece contains 3 6" characters with google eyes and a 12" street sign with the name and age of your choice.  A clear vase with colored tissue paper of your choice is also included.  I stuck with red which was the default color.  I chose not to change the color because it matched Elmo well who Scarlett lives for.  The characters are made from card stock and stuck on durable lollipop sticks which then stick into a foam structure inside the vase.  The final product comes unassembled which gives you the freedom to assemble the signs however you'd like.  If you wanted different characters such as Grover or Ernie, Melissa can do that too.

Melissa did a fabulous job with the centerpiece and it turned out so adorable.  The character faces are large and look exactly like how they do on the show.  I noticed how bright and vivid the colors were and it was like Sesame Street was brought to life on my table! The sticks securely stayed inside the vase and did not move at all. My guests really loved the centerpiece and kept asking me if I made it.  I wish I had that much talent, but sadly I don't.  In cases like these, it's fantastic to be able to utilize others talents for situations like these.

Scarlett was very excited about the centerpiece when she saw it.  She enthusiastically pointed to it and smiled and laughed.  This child is Sesame Street obsessed, I knew she'd absolutely go wild over it.  It was also fun to have her name be apart of the centerpiece too, I'm sure she wishes Scarlett Street really existed.

Even though the party is over, we put the centerpiece on her dresser for her to admire and love every day.

I'm very satisfied with Melissa's work and would highly recommend her shop and services to anyone.  Keep her in mind for your Sesame Street party needs now or in the future.

*DISCLOSURE* Thank you to PartiesByMel for providing a product sample in order to facilitate this post.  All thoughts are strictly my own.  
Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Slow Cooker Chili is Always On The Menu

I recently made a fabulous slow cooker chili for diner that was just out of this world.  I haven't made chili before and tried a new recipe.  My husband absolutely raved over it and had two huge bowls.  This chili is hearty, satisfying and will stick to your bones on cold winter nights.  The best part is that it's so simple to make! Throw the ingredients in the slow cooker and go on with your day while a fabulous chili cooks.

I slow cooked the chili for 7 hours and the aroma of it was so fragrant that you could smell it from outside of my home! My kitchen is right near a window by my front door, so I'm assuming it traveled out that way somehow.  It was funny to be able to smell it from the outside, but I'm sure my neighbors were jealous!

2 lb lean ground beef
1 large onion chopped (1 cup)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 can 28 oz diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can (16 oz) chili beans in sauce, undrained
1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin 
1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

1. In 12-inch skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally until beef is brown.  Drain after.

2.  In slow cooker, mix beef, onion, and remaining ingredients. 

3. Cover and cook on low setting for 6-8 hours.

I added chili seasoning into the recipe.  Feel free to substitute or add anything else in.  The result is a flavorful chili that is utterly delicious.  You'll be requested to make this time and time again. 
Sunday, December 11, 2016

Make Your Belly Happy With Pizza from Domino's Today!

Pizza is loved by all and is the perfect party food.  Who can resist perfectly cooked dough piled high with marinara, cheese, and their favorite oppings? If you're planning a party with friends or family in the near future, pizza would definitely be a crowd-pleasing choice.  I like bacon, sausage, or pepperoni on my pizza best.  However you eat that triangular slice of goodness, make sure it's to your liking.

Domino's offers customers a full menu to choose from to make their bellies happy, including pizza, sandwiches, salads, pasta, cheesy breads, desserts, and wings.  This doesn't just offer the standard toppings like pepperoni or veggies, Domino's has speciality pizzas such as Philly cheese steak, buffalo chicken, spinach and feta and many more.  With different types of crusts to appeal to anyone, there's certainly a menu item that will make all happy.  What I love most about Domino's is that they are always adding new items to their menu to keep their customers satisfied.  Whether you're hanging out with family, enjoying the big game, or are wanting a quick and easy dinner, keep Domino's in mind.  Don't forget the order of lava crunch cakes to round out the meal!

When we order takeout pizza, Domino's has been my husband and I's go-to pick for as long as we can remember.  We live near a location so we can pick-up the pizza very quickly once ordered.  Jay enjoys veggie for his topping while I opt for more sausage or pepperoni.  The regular crust is what we both agree on and love how buttery and soft it is.  Domino's always satisfies and makes for a delicious dinner when you don't feel like cooking.

Scarlett's 2nd birthday party was yesterday and of course no party is complete without pizza.  We had a variety of different kinds of pizza for the event to ensure that everyone was happy.  You can't go wrong with chicken and spinach, veggie, plain cheese, bacon, sausage, or even pepperoni!

The pizza's arrived on time and as soon as I opened the door it smelled fantastic.  When you open those boxes, it's like being greeted by a little slice of heaven.  If you're having a bad day, the aroma of cheese will instantly make you feel better.

The veggie pizza was loaded with olives, onions, spinach, peppers, and tomatoes.  Each bite was like an explosion of flavor in your mouth and it was utterly fantastic.  The combination of all of the veggies pairs well with the cheese and makes your mouth happy.  I loved how perfectly cooked the pizza was and how the crust was soft and chewy, just how I like it.

My party guests gobbled up the pizza in record time and exclaimed how delicious it was!  The pepperoni pizza was a big hit especially with how large and in charge the pepperoni slices were.  I loved the hint of spice from the pepperoni which made my taste buds dance.  You can't deny the classic combination of pepperoni and cheese, it never goes out of style!

Scarlett enjoys pizza from time to time but seems to stick with her go-to choice which is cheese.  She can eat a whole slice cut up with no problem, her appetite knows no bounds!

Each pizza featured the perfect amount of toppings as well as the ideal balance of sauce and cheese.  In my opinion, it's essential to have pizza and soda together.  There's just something about the combination of Sprite or Coke with pizza that's fabulous, it's a sin to not have them together.  It's like ice cream and cake, they just are a pair.

Everyone was very happy with the pizza and there was even some leftover at the end.  I had some people take some slices home as we can't freeze or finish everything ourselves.  There were no complaints about that!

I can't wait until the next time we order from Domino's, hopefully it will be soon! I'll have to remember to have lava crunch cakes and cinnastix in my order this time.  If you're looking to make your family happy, go ahead and place and order with Domino's.

*DISCLOSURE* Thank you to Domino's for providing pizza's in exchange for this post.  All thoughts are strictly my own. 

Stop and Shop is Your One Stop Shop for All Birthday Needs

Birthdays only come around once a year and that makes them very special.  Everyone's big day should include not only a fantastic chocolate cake and presents, but memories that will last for years to come.  Being surrounded by your friends and family on your birthday is what it's all about.

Stop and Shop is a retail grocery chain that has 419 stores throughout New Jersey, New England, and New York.  The store features a deli, bakery, produce and meat department, as well as a seafood and floral section.  Whatever entertaining or birthday needs you could possibly have, Stop and Shop is there to make your event fantastic.  You'll love the fresh seafood for creating a fantastic restaurant quality meal at home, but don't forget to visit the bakery afterwards.  The bake shop's fantastic cookies, cakes and pies will be sure to delight for an after dinner treat.

I've been buying my groceries at Stop and Shop since I moved to New England in 2012. The food is fresh, delicious, and very affordable.  I make a visit to the store a few times a week as I like to cook with fresh fruits and veggies.  My daughter Scarlett loves Stop and Shop's apples as well as tomatoes and oranges for snacks during the week.

Scarlett's 2nd birthday party was yesterday and it was Sesame Street themed.  I had been planning her party for weeks and knew that she needed a cake to match her party theme. Stop and Shop makes a Sesame Street cake that I knew would be perfect for the event.

You can customize the cake to your specific taste, but I chose buttercream vanilla icing with chocolate cake.  The cake ended up being a double layer cake to be able to feed everyone at the party.  On top there's a scene of Elmo and Big Bird driving in separate toy cars on the road.  The clouds, road, sky, and grass are all made out of icing.  Stop and Shop did a fantastic job on the cake and wrote "Happy 2nd Birthday Scarlett" in pink frosting.  Scarlett enjoyed the fact that the toy cars came off and could be played with.

The cake was truly fantastic and extremely fresh as it was made the same morning I picked it up.  I was in love as I took bite after bite of sweet, rich frosting paired with perfectly moist chocolate cake. What could be better? Scarlett loved the Elmo candle that we put on the cake.  You can never have enough Elmo on your cake and this added a little bit more of that furry monster happiness.  She enjoyed the cake and didn't seem to want to stop eating it.  I was happy that she was happy!

My guests devoured the cake and said it was the best cake they had in a long time! Some asked what bakery it came from and were surprised when I told them it was from the grocery store.

We have a lot of leftover cake even though I gave some to people to take home.  I can't stop myself from eating it, it's going to be a problem.  I definitely know where I'm going for any of my future cake needs!

Keep Stop and Shop in mind for not only birthday cakes but holiday entertaining orders as well.  They'll provide the freshest and most fabulous foods to make your party stand out.

*DISCLOSURE* Thank you to Stop and Shop for providing a product sample in order to facilitate this post.  All thoughts are strictly my own. 
Saturday, December 10, 2016

Turn Any Party Into a Mini Photo Booth With CaptivatingCreation3's Photo Props

Have you ever been to a wedding or a party that had a mobile photo booth complete with props? You know the kind where you step into the Photo Booth wearing crazy hats, flashy feather boa's, and huge sunglasses? As you make silly or funny faces, multiple pictures of you are taken at once.  I recently went to a wedding that had one in April and it was so much fun.  As I was planning Scarlett's birthday party, I knew she'd enjoy Sesame Street themed photo props!

CaptivatingCreation3 is an Etsy shop ran by owner Isabel.  The very talented Isabel creates banners and photo props for your upcoming special occasion.  Whether you're having a baby shower, New Year's Eve party, Bachelorette party or any other themed shindig, Isabel will create exactly what you're looking for if you don't see it in her shop already.  All photo props are hand made on card stock and lollipop sticks.  Ribbons and glitter are optional and entirely up to you.  The props are durable and will truly be a fun addition to any party.  If you're looking to make your next event one to remember, photo props will certainly make that a possibility.

When I was in the planning stages of Scarlett's party, I knew that it would be exciting if the kids had something interesting and interactive to do.  I had a face painter and balloon twister coming to the party to entertain the kids, but I thought they'd enjoy something else creative on top of that.  When I found out that Isabel creates custom Sesame Street photo props, I knew it was just what the party needed!

I worked with Isabel to give her my specifications on exactly what I was looking for, and she was very happy to create precisely what I wanted.  In the end, I received 15 Sesame themed photo props that I absolutely loved including Elmo's Face, a cookie for Cookie Monster, Oscar the Grouch's trashcan lid etc, as well as two that said Scarlett Street and Happy Birthday.  Each prop is related to Sesame Street. 

On the day of the party, I had all of the brightly colored props in a red bucket ready for the party guests to use.  Of course the adults had to get in on all of the action too! I enjoyed turning the lower half of my face into Elmo, as did my husband.  Scarlett's friends liked holding up the Happy Birthday sign as well as the cookie and the cupcake.  The photo props are very unique and really add fun and smiles to any party.  

The props were made well, securely adhered on, and easy to hold.  I noticed they had weight to them and were not flimsy in the slightest.  My party guests mentioned to me how unique the idea for the props were and wanted to do them for future parties for their own families! I told them that was a great idea.

I had originally envisioned using a blank wall in my living room as the "booth", but people ended up just using them wherever they wanted.  Sometimes it's more fun to just let people do things how they want to, rather than how you want them to.

If you're looking for a untraditional and exciting way to liven up your next party, it's time to place your photo prop order with Isabel!

*DISCLOSURE* Thank you to CaptivatingCreation3 for providing product samples in order to facilitate this post.  All thoughts are strictly my own. 

CookieDivaFe Will Create Beautiful Cookies For Any Event

Cookies are everything to me.  There's nothing quite like then.  I could eat them every single day without fail.  My dentist probably hates me.  How can anyone resist freshly baked, warm cookies? Of course you can't forget a tall glass of milk either.  Chocolate, sugar, and snicker doodle are just three of my favorite types of cookies.  If this doesn't appeal to you, I don't think you're human.  Go ahead and have a cookie or twelve today!

CookieDivaFe is an Etsy shop ran by owner Felisha who creates fabulous hand-made custom sugar to order.  Whether you're having a birthday party for a child and want Spiderman themed cookies or you're taking cookies in the shape of keys to a friend who bought a new house, the cookies she can create are so unique and fun! The treats are not only delicious and sweet, but they are brightly colored and will really catch your attention.

Keep CookieDivaFe in mind for Christmas cookies as well as other themes like baby shower, wedding, birthday, and so many more.  If you don't see exactly what you're looking for, have her create the special cookies you're envisioning! 

Scarlett's Sesame Street themed 2nd birthday party was today and it was so much fun! She really had a wonderful time.  You can't have a party without cookies, of course.  When I saw that CookieDivaFe makes custom Sesame Street cookies, it couldn't have been more perfect for Scarlett.  These freshly baked yummies come in the shape of Elmo and Cookie Monster's face, as well as a chalkboard style that has her name and "123" and "ABC" on it. I love how bold and bright the cookies are and you can tell a lot of dedication and hard work went into creating them.

I wish I had even a quarter of the talent that CookieDivaFe possesses! Since I don't, I'll have to just sit back and admire her work. The cookies were truly a hit at the party.  Scarlett was ecstatic when she saw them and pointed at them and smiled.  Many people stopped to ask about where they were from and how creative they were.  Each cookie truly looked like Elmo and Cookie monster and it was certainly a job well done.

The sugar cookies were decorated with royal icing and were soft and chewy, not hard.  You could taste how wonderfully sweet and rich the sugar cookie flavor was.  I'm not a fan of hard cookies and these ones were truly delicious.  All of the party guests mentioned how tasty and fresh they were.  Scarlett's friends gobbled the cookies and I even sent them home with a few extras.

The best part about these cookies was the fun boost of personality that they brought to the party.  I'm definitely going to be keeping CookieDivaFe in mind for any of my future cookie needs.

*DISCLOSURE* Thank you to CookieDivaFe for providing product samples in order to facilitate this post.  All thoughts are strictly my own.
Friday, December 9, 2016

Take The Family Out To Dinner At Smokey Bones Today

There's nothing like spending quality time with your family while enjoying a delicious meal. On the weekends, my husband and I like to dine out with our daughter.  Since it's the weekend, he has more time to dedicate to us since he works during the week.  We catch up and talk about our day and what our weekend plans are.  Family is very important to me and having meaningful conversation is always high on my list.

Smokey Bones is a franchise restaurant chain in certain locations of the United States that offers smokehouse and barbecue dishes.  There's something for everyone whether you like burgers, pasta, sandwiches, chicken and seafood, or even fire-grilled favorites.  How about sinking your teeth into smoked beef brisket, ribs, BBQ chicken, or even southwest mac and cheese? The food is fresh, flavorful, and delicious.  There are weekly drinks and meal specials that will make you want to come back time and time again.  Don't forget to end the meal with a sweet treat like the leaning tower of chocolate cake!

If you're having a holiday party whether at work or home, why not feed your guests tasty BBQ options like slow roasted pork? Smokey Bones has BBQ party packs that will be gobbled up in no time.   Wing lovers will love the all you can eat wings restaurant special, but don't forget the blue cheese!

Smokey Bones is definitely a restaurant for the entire family to enjoy.  If you're looking for a fresh and exciting place to dine, it's time to make a visit!

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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Crabtree & Evelyn Products Are High Up on Every Woman's Christmas Wishlist #HolidayGiftGuide

If I had ample space and unlimited funds, I would spend hundreds of dollars a month on bath and body products.  Nothing would make me happier than to see my bathroom cabinets filled with lotions, scrubs, and bath fizzies.  I'm one of those people who immensely enjoys receiving skincare and bath gifts.  One of the best ways to relax is with a bubble bath, especially when it's cold outside.  When's the last time you treated yourself to some new bath products?

Crabtree & Evelyn has been a pioneer in botanical formulations for over 40 years.  The brand blends the very best of nature and science, along with tradition and innovation to create fabulous bath, body, and home fragrances.  With such enticing products as fragrances and body mists, lotions, bath and shower products, hand and nail care items, as well as soaps, you can't go wrong.  Delight a friend or family member this Christmas with a Pear and Pink Magnolia body soufflé, or a Rosewater Deluxe Giftset.  They'll absolutely love it.

All bathrooms around the world should contain bubble bath or hand cream from Crabtree & Evelyn.  Keep the brand in mind for gifts this holiday season, or a present for virtually any occasion.  

I've shopped at Crabtree and Evelyn for years now.  Their products are always beautifully packaged and smell out of this world.  I can guarantee that you've had something from their line in your bathroom at one time or another.  Everyone has, I'm sure!

If you're looking for a fabulous present for yourself or a loved one this holiday season, how about the Pomegranate, Argan and Grapeseed Deluxe Gift Set?
Crabtree & Evelyn has bundled a treasure of abundant goodness in a festive box.  Cleanse, moisturize and scent with antioxidant-rich pomegranate, nourishing grapeseed and argan oil will make you feel wonderful.  The beautiful porcelain bird ornament is a keepsake for many holidays to come.  The gift set includes bath and shower gel, lotion, and ultra-moisturizing hand therapy.  You'll quickly fall in love with this scent and want to use the products all the time. 

Monday, December 5, 2016

Scarlett 24 Month Update!

Can you believe it? Scarlett is just days away from being two years old! I haven't given everyone an update on her since September, so I thought now was as good of a time as any.

Scarlett turns two on Friday.  We're having a Sesame Street themed birthday party for her on Saturday.  I'm beyond excited for the party and hope that she'll have so much fun.  I can't wait to show everyone the pictures.  A face painter and balloon twister is coming to the party to entertain the kids, and we're doing a special Sesame Street themed photo booth too! You'll love the decorations, they are adorable.

Potty training is something I really need to focus on now.  I bought a potty for Scarlett when she turned 18 months, but we haven't been talking about potty training as much as we should.  When I first got it, I bought a special potty themed book to introduce her to it.  She seemed interested but it was short-lived.  She still occasionally likes to sit on the potty and has actually peed in it once, but it was pure luck.  I think she views the potty as a special chair and doesn't get the true connection of it.  
Now that she's going to be 2, it's time to really start the training.  I want to be done with diapers!

We may be starting speech therapy soon.  Scarlett is talking up a storm but it's all just noises and sounds.  My husband and I had an evaluation for her in September and they wanted us to start then, but said we could wait to see if there was progress by her 2nd birthday.  She says cheese, mama, dada, uh oh, and yeah.  She's speaking way more than she used to which is fantastic, but she's not at the speech level she should be.  Hopefully the therapy can get her to where she needs to be.

The pacifier is still a problem.  If I have another child at some point, I am not introducing a pacifier to him/her ever.  Scarlett is very attached and the addiction is not lessening.  She's very dependent on her paci and looks to it for comfort.  I'd like to redirect that comfort to maybe a toy or her stuffed Elmo if possible.  I don't want the pacifier to affect her teeth and it may be why she's not speaking as much as she could be.  We're attempting to take it away soon and I know we're going to be in for lots of screaming and crying.  It's not going to be a fun time in our house!

Scarlett is still a good eater, thankfully.  She still loves tomatoes as well as all fruits and veggies.  She can be picky from time to time, and we're working on having her not throw her food to Lynnie on the ground.  Some of her favorite foods are pasta and peas, chicken, turkey meatballs, and chicken and cheese quesadillas with pineapple salsa on the side.  She also loves cinnamon graham crackers and honey Teddy Grahams too.

I've seen lots of improvement in Scarlett's level of comprehension over the past few months. She knows her animals and can identify shapes and colors too.  It makes me happy as a parent to see her pointing to a specific item in a book correctly when asked.  You know you're doing a good job as a parent when you see that! Next on the list, I'd like to start heavily introducing her to her ABC's and numbers.  Even though she's young, it's never too early to start teaching them.

Scarlett still has a huge love of books which makes me happy.  She has her list of favorites on rotation but truly enjoys reading all books.  She tends to go for animal based books first and loves to turn the pages herself and babble to the book.  Clifford books as well as Good Night Moon are what she asks us to read to her most.

She enjoys playing with puzzles lately and has a big interest in crayons and coloring.  I like that she wants to be creative and draw, but she doesn't keep the crayon in the book for long. Scarlett tends to wander from the coloring book and starts to draw on the walls and my wooden floors.  The other day she took a marker to my fabric dining chairs.  It's a little too stressful for me, so we have to limit the coloring to practically a minimum.  She is upset, but I can't handle my walls being drawn on! 

I can't wait to see what the next year brings for her.  It's hard to believe that she'll no longer be one, but two! Time is going by so fast and my husband and I are trying to enjoy every moment. 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Christmas Treats That Belong On Your Holiday Table

If you're having a Christmas party in the next few weeks, I'm sure desserts are on your mind. Everyone loves a sweet treat or two during the holidays.  Wondering what to serve? Look no further.

These Christmas tree brownies are not only adorable but tasty too

Your kids will love helping to make these delicious reindeer cupcakes

Individual fruit pies are sure to be a big hit

There's so many tasty treats out there, I'm sure you'll find something delicious and crowd-pleasing for your Christmas parties!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Let CreativeQueenBee Make Your Next Wooden Sign Fabulous

Scarlett's birthday party is just days away! Can you believe it? It's hard to wrap my mind around how she's going to be two years old.  All parties need a beautiful centerpiece to compliment the table and catch your eye.  No matter if it's flowers or a hand made sign, it will look fantastic and your party guests will love it.  What centerpiece are you planning for your next party?

CreativeQueenBee is an Etsy shop that features gorgeous wooden signs that are crafted by hand.  The shop has ready made themes available for purchasing like Christmas, Halloween, or even a new baby's room.  You'll love the attention to detail from the hand painted signs.  If you don't see exactly what you're looking for, feel free to request something made to your liking.  The signs would look great hanging from your front door as well as being displayed on a mantel.  If you're looking for a unique gift for someone for the holidays, CreativeQueenBee is ready to take your order.

Since Scarlett's birthday party is going to be Sesame Street themed, I knew I had to have a unique centerpiece for it.  What I envisioned was not something that could be bought at any party supply store, I wanted something that was really different.  When I came across CreativeQueenBee's Sesame Street Birthday Party Lamppost Sign, it was exactly what I had in mind.  

What child wouldn't be thrilled with seeing their name on one of Sesame Street's most famous signs? Turning Sesame Street into Scarlett Street for a day seems like the perfect idea.  The base of the sign is hand painted green while a stake announcing "123 Scarlett Street" fits into the base.  The letters of the sign are green, yellow, and white, just like on Sesame Street.  An adorable styrofoam ball is at the top of the sign to look like the light of the lamp. 

The sign did come unassembled, but came with glue to assist.  I had to glue certain pieces of it together, but it took only about a minute.  The letters of the sign are each cut out individually and applied, and you can tell the shop owner did a wonderful job of creating it.  Each color is bright, vivid, and easy to read. I'm really excited about this piece and think it's a lot of fun!

I plan to put the sign on the middle of the table when it's party day.  I know my guests will love it and it'll certainly be a conversation starter.  There's nothing quite like having a custom piece that you can't buy in stores, it's really exciting.  Now all I have to do is sit back and wait until my home gets transformed into Sesame Street for the day!

Keep CreativeQueenBee's Etsy shop in mind for all of your wooden sign needs both current and future.  You'll be very pleased with the results.

*DISCLOSURE* Thank you to CreativeQueenBee's Etsy shop for providing a product sample in order to facilitate this post.  All thoughts are strictly my own.