My Disney Side Girl’s Night

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My son and I are big Disney fans. We live a little over an hour from Walt Disney World and are frequent visitors. We’ve celebrated two of my son’s birthdays as well as several holidays in the parks. We’ve attended Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. We enjoy going all out for these events- and I have absolutely no problem dressing as my favorite Disney Villain when most everyone is all about the princesses,

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Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party 2013

When the invitation came to apply to host a Disney Side At Home party, there was no doubt in my mind that I’d apply. I was thrilled to be chosen, and was blown away when I received the party package. It was HUGE! I think it weight in at 24 pounds- I couldn’t even begin to imagine what was inside. The parties were sponsored by Disney, HP and American Tourister, and the box was full of goodies from all three.  

I waited until my son was at school to open the box, that way I could look through everything without little hands helping themselves. When I opened the box, I was amazed to find an incredible rolling American Tourister suitcase! It is black with red lining and accents, and plenty of pockets. The suitcase was filled to the brim with party supplies and giveaways from the generous party hosts. I could NOT wait to begin to plan my party.

I decided to make my party a girl’s night that coincided with a visit from my good friend Kaytie (who blogs at Confessions of a Viking Wife.) We don’t get to see each other often enough since her move to Colorado a few years ago- and she often says she misses my cooking! I got busy perusing Pinterest to see what I could find..and decided to make dinner, plenty of Disney Parks inspired sweet treats, and a gorgeous and bright Sangria. Even though I *really* enjoy dressing up as a villain, I set up a table of beauty products and perfume  fit for a princess for all of my girls to enjoy. 

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For dinner, I decided to go with a slow cooker recipe so I had more time to focus on my sweet treats, since that is what I am known for by my friends. I found 2 pulled pork taco recipes on Pinterest, and I combined elements of each to come up with my recipe. I served the tacos with an Avocado Cilantro and Lime Cream and a Cilantro Lime Slaw. The pork and accompaniments  were big hits..even with the littlest Disney fans at the party.

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I’m known as a baker…so I spent two days making the sweet treats I featured at my party. There were several that could be taken home and enjoyed later, that way my girls could share with their families. The box of party goodies included adorable Mickey themed cookie cutters, so I made cutout cookies and provided chinese takeout containers so  everyone could take more home. I love the process of making cutouts,  time consuming as it may be. I’ve learned some tips over the past several years to make baking and decorating easier, so I’m always looking for an excuse to try them out.

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Two of the treats I drool over when every time I’m in the Magic Kingdom are the massive character shaped caramel apples and the chocolate dipped marshmallows. I’ve had the marshmallows in the park, but I’ve never tried an apple- while they do appear to be the size of my head, I have a hard time paying $9.95 for an apple. So! I decided to use a caramel recipe I’ve tried before and see if I could recreate these apples and marshmallows. I was flying by the seat of my pants, and it was definitely a learning process…but in the end I ended up with respectable Mickey caramel apples and marshmallows on a stick.  These took an enormous amount of time, but I learned some tricks for next time…and was able to sent my girls home with marshmallows and apples to share. My little guy and I shared an apple and it was as incredibly delicious as I’d hoped it would be.

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In my Pinterest searching frenzy, I came across two treats I’ve heard of but have never come across in the parks.The first is the Grapefruit Cake that is served at The Hollywood Brown Derby in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. .I’m not a big grapefruit fan, but I love making cakes and the fact that it called for blood orange syrup sealed the deal.  Supposedly this cake is a big hit at the restaurant and if you ask nicely the server will give you the recipe. I went ahead and made the cake and while it tasted amazing, it looked like a disaster. For some reason, I am completely unable to make a cream cheese frosting that isn’t runny. I don’t know what the problem is, as I’ve mastered American as well as Swiss Meringue Buttercream. It wasn’t pretty but it was tasty!

The second treat I was curious to try was The Grey Stuff that is served at Be Our Guest in the new Fantasyland at The Magic Kingdom. Beauty And The Beast is one of my favorite Disney films, and I know you know the song… “Try the grey stuff, it’s delicious- don’t believe me, ask the dishes!” I was curious as to what, exactly, The Grey Stuff was so I decided to find out…and I loved it! The recipe I used doesn’t come from the park itself, but from someone who tried to replicate what they had in the park. It’s definitely worth a try!

Image Girls night wouldn’t be complete without wine, so I made a pitcher of Blood Orange Sangria that was both pretty and tasty. I lucked into actually finding blood oranges at the store, so I bought a bunch. The recipe also calls for strawberries, raspberries and an apple, so it must be good for you if it includes so much fruit!

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The giveaways provided by Disney and HP were great for goody bags…and preparing goody bags is one of my son’s obsessions. He prepares goody bags all on his own, for no reason at all. It’s quite entertaining…Happy Tuesday- here’s some goodies! In addition to a few disney goodies I found for our bags, the party sponsors provided :

  • HP Photo Card Packs
  • runDisney bracelets, car window clings and ChEar cards
  • Disney stickers and tattoos 
  • Disney “So This Is Love” prints
  • Recipes from The Chew
  • The Muppets Most Wanted calendar cards
  • Craisin snack packs

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This Disney Side At Home party experience was so much fun for me-I am all for any opportunity I get to show my Disney Side. You can visit disneysidecelebrations.com for free printables, activities,recipes and party ideas for your own Disney Side At Home Celebration. I have all of the recipes I used (or those I used for inspiration) on my Disney Side Pinterest Board if you’d like to check them out.

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I’m back..and I baked you a cake!

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Did you miss me?

2013 has been a bit of a rough year for me, and the lack of posts here shows it. 

I suffered a knee injury back in January that unfortunately took over my life until just the last few weeks. It’s amazing how something rather simple takes on a life of it’s own!

I’m happy to be in working order again and back in the kitchen! I’ve spent a lot of time in the kitchen recently, and have quite a few things to share. I’m baking for fun less than I used to simply because I’ve started a carb cycling diet and having baked goodies around the house is more than I can handle. I still bake for family and friends when asked, so I’ll still have some things to share. I’ve been cooking a lot more- and trying to go about it in the healthiest way I can. I’ve got some great recipes to share and I’m excited to do it.

I’m starting with a Pumpkin Spice cake I made twice this week. Once for a paying customer, once for my mom’s birthday. I made it exactly as the recipe called for the first time, and changed a few things up the second time around to see if I could make it slightly less unhealthy. I’m happy to report that both cakes tasted fantastic. I found the cake recipe on the Tastespotting blog via Pinterest a few days ago and am so, so happy I did! The Swiss Meringue Buttercream is the same version I’ve made many times using Sweetapolita’s recipe, Her tutorial is amazing..I highly recommend it, as I’ve encountered every issue she explains…and having read her tutorial again and again, I’m sure she’s saved me from tossing several batches of buttercream.

My mom’s office requested a cake for their monthly birthday party that just happened to coincide with Halloween. I was given free reign as far as the flavors and design of the cake went…and this is what I came up with.

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Sorry about the poor picture quality..I had to settle for a pic my mom sent me from the party. I ended up making a pumpkin spice cake with salted caramel buttercream and chocolate ganache. This is the unedited version of the recipe, with about 9000 grams of sugar per serving. The cake got rave reviews from my mom’s coworkers, and the piece I got after the fact was insanely good…which is why I decided to make the cake again a few days later, with a few small changes.

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This cake was a slightly healthier version of the first- I substituted white wheat flour for the AP in the original recipe, and I used the Truvia baking blend instead of the granulated sugar. This was my first attempt at using both the wheat flour and the baking blend in a cake, and I’m pleased to say that the cake didn’t taste any different from the first. Both cakes were dense but moist and had an incredible flavor from the spices used. I’m not by any means calling this healthy, as there is still quite a bit of sugar in the frosting…I just wasn’t willing to experiment with the sugar substitute in that way just yet.

I’m not one of those people who do pumpkin spice everything the minute the weather starts to change..in fact I’m not even a big fan of pumpkin pie. This cake, though, is one of my new favorites! I hope you like it as much as I do!

 

Pumpkin Spice Cake adapted from the Tastespotting Blog

Printable Recipe

3 cups White Wheat Flour (or All Purpose)

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground ginger

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon ground cloves

2 sticks butter, softened

1 cup light brown sugar

½ cup Truvia baking blend (or 1 cup granulated sugar)

4 large eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 15oz can of pumpkin puree

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare two 9-inch pans with non-stick spray and parchment paper. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices in a medium bowl and set aside. Combine butter, brown sugar and Truvia in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on medium speed for about 3 minutes or until light and fluffy. Continue beating on low speed and add eggs one at a time, then add pumpkin and vanilla and beat until just combined. Add dry ingredients in two additions, beating on low speed until just combined.

Divide batter between prepared pans- I weigh mine to ensure they are equal- about 1 ½ lbs each. Bake for approximately 35 minutes or until cake pulls away from the side of the pan and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Cool layers in the pan on a cooling rack for about 15 minutes before turning cakes out of the pan and removing parchment paper. Let cool completely before trimming or frosting.

 

Swiss Meringue Buttercream from Sweetapolita– Please read her tutorial. It will save you many, many headaches and she explains the process far better than I…and has pretty pictures to help you out!

Printable Recipe

10 large egg whites

2 ½ cups sugar

6  sticks unsalted butter, cut into cubes

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Other flavoring as desired ( I used the Salted Caramel Sauce from Always With Butter)

 

Separate eggs, being careful to not get any yolk in with the whites. The slightest bit will make it impossible to get a good meringue base. Cut butter into cubes, and let sit out to soften a bit. Butter should be cool, but not cold and hard.

Wipe the inside of the mixer bowl and the whisk attachment with a bit of lemon juice on a paper towel to eliminate any traces of grease that will interfere with your meringue.

Combine egg whites and sugar in mixer bowl, and stir until combined. Heat over a pot of simmering water, stirring frequently, until sugar dissolves and temperature reaches 160 degrees on a candy thermometer. (Be careful not to let water boil…you’ll get egg whites cooked to the side of your bowl. Trust me.)

Place bowl on mixer stand and beat on medium to high speed until meringue is thick and glossy, and the bowl no longer feels warm to the touch.

Switch to the paddle attachment and begin to mix on low speed. Add butter, 1-2 cubes at a time until incorporated. Your meringue will get runny, don’t panic. After all of the butter is added, keep mixing until it comes together. It can take some time, but it will happen. This is where the Sweetapolita tutorial saved me from tossing several batches of buttercream. It can appear curdled or too runny, but if you let it mix long enough it will be fine. Once it comes together, add the vanilla and any additional flavorings, then turn the mixer to medium-high and beat until smooth.

Refrigerate leftovers in a covered container, and let come to room temperature. Re-whip if necessary.

 

What a great combination of flavors this is. I hope you’ll try it out…you won’t be sorry!

 

Happy Fall!

 

 

Book Review: You Be Sweet by Patsy Caldwell

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You be Sweet is a wonderfully southern collection of sweet recipes accompanied by sweet stories that make you want to read more. The book is full of recipes- more than I expected it to contain- that range from punches to pies, candy to cakes… and then some! Many of these recipes have gorgeous photos along with them- but they aren’t your typical cookbook photos. These photos are stunning- and they appear as if they were taken a family gathering.

I am an amateur baker, a food blogger, a home cook and cookbook collector. I love that this book is more than a compilation of recipes and more like a book. Each chapter begins with a story, and many recipes have a comment or note at the beginning that makes them seem personal.

Baking from family recipes is a trip down memory lane, and this book truly makes you feel as if you are a part of the author’s extended family. I can’t wait to try out some of these delicious sweet recipes and see if I can add to my family’s favorites!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “€œGuides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”

Holiday Memories Giveaway

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I have another great giveaway for you! I would LOVE to win this one myself, as I’m a little tired of my point and shoot camera. This is a great giveaway, just in time for the holidays. Check it out!

Welcome to the Creating Holiday Memories Giveaway Event!

Hosted by Mom Blog Society

Special thanks to our lovely co-hosts Mom to Bed by 8, Shannon’s View from Here, Sommerfugl Design, JadeLouise Designs and Health, Beauty, Children & Family!

The versatile and functional Fujifilm FinePix S4250 14MP Digital Camera gives a sensational shooting experience. The Fujinon lenses are used popularly in numerous situations including satellites in outer space, TV, film, surveillance and compact cameras. With the highly adept manufacture of Fujifilm, high precision optic and technology are provided for the best 24mm wide angle and 24x optical zoom. The lens elements used in the FinePix S4250 have been treated with multilayer Super EBC (Electron Beam Coating), the same process used for Fujinon broadcasting video lenses and large-format camera lenses acclaimed by professionals. Reducing ghosting and lens flare, the treatment promises clear image quality. The powered 24x zoom features smooth 42-step zoom control, giving you the ability to frame every shot with precision accuracy.

One lucky reader will receive an Fujifilm FinePix S4250 Digital Camera!

Giveaway ends October 28th at 11:59pm, open to US and Canadian residents, ages 18+. To enter please use the Rafflecopter link below. Good luck!

Disclosure: I received no compensation for this publication. My opinions are my own and may differ from those of your own. CRAFTYMAMAB is not responsible for sponsor prize shipment. 

 

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DIY Spider Queen Halloween Costume

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As a parent, I look forward to Halloween every year- I love how excited my little guy gets about dressing up (not to mention how stinking cute he is!) I’ve dressed up a few times, but usually with my old standby “doctor” costume. Last year, I decided I wanted to do something a little more creative, but without spending a ton of money.

Pinterest led me to the MissChevious.tv  blog, and I was absolutely hooked on the Spider Queen look I saw there. I loved the contrasting colors- the pale skin and the dramatic  blue and black eyes and lips. I decided to give it a try- and was pretty pleased with the results.

The site listed above lists the products used to create the original look, but I wanted to go with what I had on hand and use her look as inspiration.  I found a cheap black wig, used makeup I already had (with a few cheap additions- purple glitter face paint), bags of spider webbing and plastic spiders from the dollar store- and managed to pull off a fun costume!

I wore black pants and a black shirt underneath, had my mom help wrap me in the webbing and add a few spiders for fun.  I also painted my fingernails purple with the black crackle coat on top just to complete the look.

I had a great time at the halloween party I went to- and I’d say the makeup held up pretty well!

I can’t wait to find this year’s costume inspiration- and I’ll be starting on MissChievious’ site to do so. She is one super talented lady!

Mickey Mouse Halloween Giveaway

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Welcome to the Mickey Mouse Halloween Event!

Hosted by Mom Blog Society

This adorable 3′ Tall Airblown Inflatable Halloween Mickey Mouse self-inflates in seconds. It’s easy to set up and store. Stakes and tethers are included.

3′ Tall Airblown Inflatable Halloween Mickey Mouse Features:

  • Measures 3’H
  • Lights up
  • Weather-resistant design
  • Self-inflates in seconds
  • Deflates down for easy storage
  • Quick and easy set-up
  • Stakes and tethers included

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Mickey’s Great Clubhouse Hunt is an Halloween themed DVD premiere based on the popular series on the Disney Channel. Mickey takes you on the ultimate adventure to find his friends and to put back together the clubhouse, which has mysteriously broken into parts and disappeared with his friends inside! Featuring favorite characters Minnie Mouse, Donald, Goofy and Daisy Duck.

Have the happiest candy haul ever this Halloween night carrying the glowing Disney Store Light-Up Jack O’Lantern Mickey Mouse Trick or Treat Bucket. The frosted features of Mickey’s pumpkin face light-up in rotating red, green, and yellow tones.

$25 Wal-Mart Gift Card

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German Potato Salad

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We’re having a rough morning at my house…and I’m desperately rying to get to my happy place. You know the one, where all of the carbs and bacon hang out? While I don’t have any of this soul-satisfying salad in the house, I very well make some today. I am finding ways to keep myself busy, as my lovely little boy refused (and by refused I mean had a massively embarassing meltdown between the school parking lot and his classroom that lasted 45 minutes) to go to school today. Otherwise, I’d be sleeping- since I’m working the next three nights.

So, Carbs. Bacon. Happy Place.

While my heritage is mostly that of a mutt, there’s a bit of German in there- and I love me some German food. Specifically sausage and potato salad of the german kind.

This recipe came to my family from a good friend of my grandparents, Betty Bernard. The Bernard family lived next door to my mom’s family when she was growing up, and there are all kinds of good stories involving the kids of both families. Many of the recipes in our family collection came from the Bernards. There’s nothing quite like having good food with good friends, and having other kids to blame things on. Too bad for my son he’s an only child with no children nearby!

German Potato Salad from Betty Bernard

  • 8 medium potatoes, boiled in skin then peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 8 hard boiled eggs, coarsley chopped
  • 1 lb bacon, fried until crisp and crumbled (reserve grease)
  • 2 medium yellow onions, coarsely chopped

Dressing:

  • 4 heaping Tbsp flour
  • Enough bacon grease, to make paste
  • 1/2 C. sugar
  • 1 1/2 C. white vinegar
  • 1 C. water
  • 1 Tbsp mustard
  • 1 Tbsp celery seed

Combine first four ingredients in a large bowl, and stir to combine. Combine bacon paste and remaining ingredients in medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir constantly, until thickened and smooth. Pour over potatoes, and stir to combine. Let cool and refrigerate.

Things I’ve learned over the years:

  • This recipe is amazing right away, when still warm.
  • It is exponentially better if you refrigerate, wait 24 hours, then reheat. It’s hard, but you can do it.
  • Accidentally leaving out the celery seed doesn’t lessen the awesomeness of this salad.
  • Any combination of white and/or apple cider vinegar works just fine.

Trust me.

Now, won’t you join me in my happy place? I promise, it’s worth the effort!

$25 Cotton Candy Totes Giveaway!

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CraftyMamaB  is excited to participate in the $25 Cotton Candy Totes giveaway sponsored by Mama’s Mission. I have not personally used these bags, but from what I see they are definitely worth checking out! Here’s what Erica at Mama’s Mission has to say about her experience with Cotton Candy Totes.

Mama’s Mission together with Cotton Candy Totes is bringing you a fabulous $25 Gift Certificate Giveaway just in time for the Back to School season!

I love Cotton Candy Totes. They make custom made to order Diaper Bags (retail $45) and Lil’ Mama Purses (Retail $25). You get to pick your fabric and design idea. You can even have it monogrammed with your child’s name! So far I have 2 Diaper Bags and 1 Lil’ Mama Purse in my collection. I also purchased an additional Minnie Mouse inspired Lil’ Mama Tutu Purse for my niece as a birthday gift (she was over the moon!).

Recently my family traveled to California with Baby Em’s riding as a lap infant. As such, she was only permitted a stroller, car seat and Diaper Bag. Most traditional store bought diaper bags are so confined because of their shapes and sizes that there is no way I could ever have gotten what we needed to Cali. I packed and brought my two custom Diaper Bags from Cotton Candy Totes, one I brought on as my carry on/personal bag. I got what Baby Em’s needed into just one bag so I used the other bag for miscellaneous toys, a few extra bottles, blankets and some of my own personal items. Each bag has 3 over-sized long, deep pockets. The shoulder straps are wide and long making carrying the bag a breeze. A cute ribbon adorns the top and ties to close the bag. I was worried that the items might fall out, but let me tell you, that ribbon held everything in place!

The only regret I had was not taking along my Lil’ Mama Purse which had been customized with one really long shoulder strap to fit across my stroller handlebars (it is normally made with two shorter straps). Why do you ask? It is real simple, the Lil’ Mama Purse is wonderful for those quick short trips to the store. I can fit a few diapers, a wipes travel case, an emergency pacifier, a bottle (or two), my HUGE wallet/clutch, and even a change of clothes for Baby Em’s. Did I mention that my Lil’ Mama Purse is reversible? I had it made with print fabric on the inside and out for just that purpose (you can choose prints or solid fabric colors for the inside).

The Diaper Bag on the left was my first. I had it monogrammed with my daughters name for only $12 more ($10 for the smaller bags). The Lil’ Mama Purse in the middle is the one I gifted (really wanted to keep it for myself, I guess I’ll have to order another one). The two bags to the right (Diaper Bag and Lil’ Mama Purse) I got during one of Cotton Candy Totes awesome sales of B1G1 Free, you may have seen me advertising that special as they were running it just last week again. For the Diaper Bag I chose to have one side printed with the Castles and on the opposite side it has the “Once Upon A Time” fabric. For the Lil Mama Purse I used those same fabrics but one on the inside and one on the outside (thus making it reversible).

After our trip from the East Coast to the West Coast, a flight in between and then back I simply emptied my bags, threw them in the wash with the rest of Baby Em’s stuff and out they just looking just like new (they really held up beautifully during the trip)! Enough about me and my bags, lets get on with the giveaway that Cotton Candy Totes has been ever so gracious to sponsor for my readers!

1 winner will receive a $25 Cotton Candy Totes Gift Certificate. The winner will be able to use this gift certificate to choose from a ready to ship (upon availability) or custom made Lil’ Mama Purse. The gift certificate can also be applied towards the purchase of a Madison Diaper bag which retails for $45. Each bag can be custom monogrammed for an additional fee of $10 (Lil’ Mama) and $12 (Madison). Shipping will be included for the winner for one item in the US only. The giveaway is open World Wide, you must be 18 and older to enter. The giveaway will run from August 31st until September 15th.

These bags are made with quality fabric and are designed to meet your needs. I simply can’t get enough of these bags and have tons of fun creating my own designs. Cotton Candy Totes is very dedicated to making their customers happy and providing them with individualized service. Enter the giveaway using the rafflecopter below. Enjoy!

If you absolutely can’t wait to win and must have a bag now or want one to gift for a baby shower, Cotton Candy Totes is offering 15% off all bags through 11/1/12. When ordering you must provide coupon code MISSION.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: CraftyMamaB received no compensation for this review. CraftyMamaB is not responsible for the shipment of this prize. The prize must be redeemed through Cotton Candy Totes and will be shipped by the prize Sponsor.

DIY Sticky Note Holder

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Teaching has to be one of the hardest (not to mention thankless) jobs on the planet! As the beginning of the school year was approaching, I was trying to come up with a “Back to School” gift basket for B’s new teacher. I found this great DIY Sticky Note Holder idea from Paper Wings via Tricia on Pinterest and thought it would be a great addition to the basket.

This has to be one of the easiest DIY gifts I’ve ever made- and it’s cheap too! I knocked three out in about 5 minutes, and for less than $3.00 each. I tend to have bits and pieces of partially used scrapbook paper and ribbon around, so this was a great way to use up the scraps! The best part about these little holders (besides how freaking cute they are) is that the possibilites are endless…and they are actually useful, unlike a lot of gifts out there.

Supplies:

  • 4×6 Plastic Picture Frame ( $0.96 at my Walmart)
  •  1 pad Sticky Notes (Super Sticky Post-its 5/ $5.96 at Walmart)
  • Scrapbook Paper cut to fit frame
  • Coordinating Ribbon
  • Embellishments  ( Flower Embellishments 4/$1.50 at Michaels and Chipboard Letters 26/$0.99 at Target)
  • Glue Gun

The assembly is pretty straightforward- slide the scrapbook paper into the frame, slap the stickies on the front and use the glue gun to add ribbon and embellishments.

We added the Sticky Note Holder to this cute little gift basket filled with some other goodies, wrapped it in cellophane and tied it with a nice bow to present to the teacher on B’s first day of class.

Happy Crafting!!

It’s Back to School time!

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I have been looking forward to this day for a long time! My little guy starts Kindergarten today and I couldn’t be happier. I’ve been a single mom from day one, so I’ve made a lot of life decisions based on the fact that I knew I didn’t want to be working Monday-Friday 9-5 when it came time for B to go to school.

When I returned to work after my maternity leave was up, I immediately knew I needed to go back and finish my college degree. I knew that my dead end, $10/hr desk job wasn’t going to cut it for the two of us. I decided health care was the place to be, but Nursing wasn’t for me (based on what I saw of my mom’s career as  a Registered Nurse in the Long Term Care field.) I stumbled upon Respiratory Care in the college handbook, and decided to look into it…and here I am, almost 6 years later.

I’m still a single parent, but I’m a hybrid of both the working and the stay at home mom. I work 3 12-hour night shifts a week, which allows me to be home during the day. Because I made the decision to move us back into my Mom’s house, my mom watches B for me at night when I’m working, and drops him off to me on her way to work. I’m able to drop him off at school,go home and catch some ZZZZZZ’s and then be there to pick him up at the end of his school day.

Is this arrangement always easy? Heck, no. Some days, I want to sleep through the alarm in the afternoon. Some nights, B is upset that I can’t cuddle with him before bedtime. I have, however, already been able to chaperone a field trip B went on during his summer camp. Chaperoning more trips, being present in the classroom, and being able to attend school functions without having to rearrange someone else’s schedule are the reasons that this crazy schedule is totally worth it.

The first day of Kindergarten has made me realize that time flies, and my little guy is growing up way faster than I ever imagined. The older he gets, the more fun I have with him- which is why Back to School isn’t a sad time for me, I welcome it with open arms. I love to watch B learn and grow, and the opportunities for us to learn together are endless, and I can’t wait!

I have been on Pinterest looking for some fun Back to School projects, and this one is one of my favorites. I’m planning to do this at the beginning of each school year, so when B is all grown up we have something to look back on and reminisce about.

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The inspiration for this interview came from Meet the Dubiens , originally pinned by Danielle on Pinterest. I asked Ben the questions, and then we put his school uniform on and went outside to take some pictures.

I think this is a great way to document images as well as your child’s personality! Mr. Personality wasn’t thrilled with my picture taking plans, so I had him give me his grumpy faces first…Image So I could get a nice sweet B picture….

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Happy first day of school!!