Valentine Hearts

IMG_20150302_142241017Valentine crafting with kids is always fun. For this project, I decided to keep it simple. I went to Hobby Lobby and bought some felt hearts and some felt heart stickers and the girls made their own valentine creations.

I just dumped all the stickers out on the table and let the girls create whatever they wanted. They got pretty creative, even making a smiley face heart!

These are such cute little hearts, perfect for including in teachers valentine gifts or giving to friends instead of paper valentine cards!

A tad more expensive than paper valentine cards but by the time you buy candy to go with the cards, these end up costing about the same.

I will admit though, we did still end up giving paper cards and candy to friends – because the girls just had to give candy – and special friends and teachers were given the felt hearts.

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Graham Cracker Houses

Instead of gingerbread houses – which are way too much work with kids – we make graham cracker houses.

We invite a bunch of friends over and make graham cracker houses. I usually build a bunch of houses the morning before the party so they’re dry and ready for candy when the kids arrive.

Ingredients

Graham crackers
Powdered Sugar
Water
Candy or other toppings of your choice

Small candy’s are best. Red hots, mini pretzels, mini candy canes, grated coconut, mini chocolate chips, sprinkles, etc.

For the icing/cement I mix two cups of powdered sugar, and 1 Tbsp of water. Add more powdered sugar or water as needed to get a thick spreading consistency. I like to put my icing in a plastic sandwich bag, cut a tiny hole in one corner, and then pipe the icing out. The kids prefer to mix it in a bowl and then use a spoon to spread the icing everywhere – including their houses.

Graham cracker houses are really easy, and a great holiday party idea if you have kids (or if you just like playing with candy and icing)

Here’s my house.

Side of my house

One of the kids houses. It looks like a tent to me. They made many other houses as well. The party is always so much fun. Just warn parents ahead of time that there will be lots and lots of sugar! I always make a couple crockpots of chili and meat balls so there is protein to balance out some of the sugar.

And, a melting house. This batch of icing was a tad thin and ended up slipping but I think it looks pretty cool!

And, as a plus, these houses are just as much fun to eat as they are to make!

League of Little Laughers Play Date

Thanks to Bright Starts for such a fun party pack! They sent a giant box of toys for me to host a “League of Little Laughers” Play Date with friends. We had a blast!

Because this was around the holidays and I hosted Thanksgiving at my house this year, I ended up hosting two smaller playdates because I just didn’t have the time for a giant playdate.

Bright Starts sent some truly awesome toys for the kids to play with.

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This little guy is called a “Giggable” and he’s so cute. My 2yr old just loves him, because he loves dogs. It’s so cute it rolls, wobbles, and barks. Really it’s the perfect toy for 2 or more toddlers to roll back and forth to each other.

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This Learn & Giggle Fish was very popular at both parties. Everyone had to play with it! As far as noise level goes, for a toy that plays music constantly, it’s really not bad. The buttons light up and the kids loved trying to see if they could get all the buttons to light up at the same time!

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I think this Spin & Giggle Puppy is so adorable! The purple bowl spins and the puppy wobbles, tossing all the balls onto the floor. Luckily it’s a gentle toss because the kids were putting every little toy they could find in there just to see what would happen.

Oh, and see that extra pack of balls? It’s a good thing they sent extras because balls disappear at my house. I think we’ve lost half of them already!

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And last but not least, the Learn & Giggle Activity Station. This is so much fun for all ages. My 2yr old just picks it up and carries it to whatever room he wants to play in. Even the babies loved this one. It’s perfect for a new sitter because they can put their feet under the toy and be close enough to the toy to reach everything.

Every page in the book provides for different songs and such from the four squares on the station so there really is 65+ sounds and activities.

These toys were so much fun at our playdates and kept babies and toddlers of all ages well entertained.

I received free products in order to host the Bright Starts sponsored Play Date. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Summer with Snuggle Bear

As we’re winding down summer and starting our school year, I’m sharing one last post about summer before starting my school year series. Because I’m not quite ready for summer to end.

Snuggle has an online marketing page where you can qualify for free products and enter giveaways. Check them out here!

I received the Snuggle Bear Summer Mission, and for that mission we received a little snuggle bear in the mail. My 6yr old claimed the bear as her own, and it now resides in her bed.

I did manage to get a few pictures of Snuggle Bear hanging out with us this summer.

IMG_20150716_093704085_TOP See, she loves her snuggle bear so much, she’s bringing it on a car trip with us!

It’s actually very, very soft, and well, snuggly. And the perfect size for bringing along on trips or just playing with.

I think this was a fun marketing program by Snuggle. It let me get the kids involved and we had lots of fun taking Snuggle Bear with us.

Plus now we have another stuffed animal, isn’t that exciting! *insert sarcasm here* because I just needed one more stuffed animal in my house… At least it’s a tiny one, and well loved!

#TeamSnuggle #SnuggleSelfie #Sponsored

CSA Week 2

Here’s what came in my second CSA box. Recipes for some of these items will be on the blog tomorrow!

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Basil – I’m seeing lots of italian foods in my future! Did you know, basil is a spice that does better on the counter instead of the fridge. Just put it in a jar of water kind of like you would a flower, cover it lightly, and leave it out. It’ll keep longer. Not the most beautiful flower but it really does smell so good!

IMG_0689Kale, I really love kale. It’s one of my favorite greens. Plus I have a great recipe! (once again, come back tomorrow!)

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Lettuce, luckily we love salads around here. This is such a big head! We’ve had a great spring for lettuce growing and it really shows.

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More green onions, we got green onions last week as well. Apparently, it’s been a great spring for them. We don’t eat a lot of green onions so I’m struggling with what to do with them. I don’t mind them as toppings for salads, soups, tacos, etc. But no one else likes them, so I have to find a way to hide them when I cook with them. Check back tomorrow and see what I came up with.

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More strawberries, they didn’t last long. We ate them up within hours of getting them home. They’re so sweet and juicy!

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One green pepper. It’s pretty large, and looks delicious!

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Carrots, my 6yr old has been begging to make some carrot soup. So we did, come back tomorrow and see how it turned out!

My Disney Side Party

Thanks to Disney Parks and MomSelect for the awesome box full of Disney party supplies and sponsor products! We had a great time showing our #DisneySide!

There were several hostess gifts, A full-size box of laundry packets from All – which I’ve been wanting to try but didn’t want to spend the money and find out I don’t like it, so now I get to try it for free! Horray!

Also included was a Mickey Mouse pan and this awesome Duff Tie-Dye cake mix. Which you can purchase at Target. How did I not know about this already?!

My box was perfect! We celebrated my little girl’s 4th birthday this weekend and she wanted a Minnie Mouse party. Guess what! I got the Mickey and Friends box, she was super excited!

There was nail polish – the peel off kind, that I love for the girls – two Palace Pets, Minnie and Mickey party supplies and some fun Mickey Mouse party games like “pin the smile on Mickey”, Disney bingo, and a princess word search.

I already had her Birthday party scheduled at a local Bounce House place and I couldn’t bring food to that so I used the Minnie treat boxes to make the gift boxes for the kids that came to the party. I put in them the purple confetti that was packed in the box (it was used as packing material and purple is my 4yr old’s favorite color so this worked out really well). The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse pencils, crayons, stickers, and each child got a Mickey or Minnie luggage tag, and I assembled the Disney Diamonds and put candy in them. It made for a cute and easy treat box! I posted a video to my YouTube channel showing off my gift boxes!

The cake tower was so much fun! I didn’t have a way to integrate it into the party so we ended up using it for cupcakes on her actual Birthday and had a mini celebration on our own.

We have lots of family that lives in town, so, not to leave them out, we had another Birthday party the day after her party with friends (I know, 3 birthday parties, it doesn’t get much better than this).

I made the Mickey Mouse cake for this party. I had trouble getting the cake out of the pan – I ended up getting it out in pieces, piecing it together, and using lots of extra icing and it turned out great. Plus, everyone loves extra icing! The TieDie Cake mix is awesome! Everyone was so impressed with my cooking skills and it was so super easy! I’ll be making more TieDye cakes for parties. This is such a perfect party cake and really way easier to make than it seems it would be.

For my Sunday guests, I passed out the HP photo paper and we played the Disney games with the kids. Such fun! We had an awesome week of showing our Disney Side!

I received free products in order to host a Disney Side @Home Celebration. The opinions expressed here are my own.

My Favorite Sites

A while back someone asked me to post a list of my favorite sites. Some of these include links that give me stuff if you sign up, other’s don’t offer that option, but either way, I hope you find something that you like! And sign up with my links just in case 🙂

Site with Points for Searching and Shopping:

1. Bing – You earn points for searching. It’s 1 point per 3 searches and a maximum of 30 points per day – or 40 points if you want to install and use the mobile app as well. I like to redeem my points for groupon gift cards and then get some free food with my groupon bucks. Actually, these days, I get free lunches for my husband with my groupon bucks, but either way, it saves us some money and he gets tasty lunches during the week.

2. Swagbucks – Points for searching and a few other things, the search points are random so you may get 20 points or no points, you never know. There’s also surveys, daily polls, and you can click through when you’re shopping online. So, there’s multiple ways to earn points here. I like to redeem my points for Amazon gift cards.

3. My Points – This is another site where you click through when you’re shopping and you get points you can redeem for gift cards. They have a great selection of gift cards on here. Also, Bzz Agent (discussed below) gives you My Points when you interact with brands, so you can earn two ways.

4. Coke Rewards – Collect bottle caps, enter the codes for points you can redeem for merchandise or free cokes. If you’re drinking it anyway you may as well get a few free ones!

5. Kelloggs – If you eat cereal, crackers, or plow through the eggos like my kids do, this is a great way to get some free cereal bowls or other merchandise. Just enter the codes from the inside of the boxes.

Product Review Sites:

1. Pinch Me – They offer a small box of free samples every other week. You have to be on there right when the samples become available to order yours or you won’t get any. These are all sample size and a bit of a hassle to get but if you want to try out interesting products, you can give it a try.

2. Smiley360 – Free products to try and review. They recently updated their website and it’s so much easier to use and they have so many more products available. I’m currently trying out a new Nescafe instant coffee, and I’m waiting on some scented markers to arrive for the kids to test. They seem to have a lot of home stuff like soap and toilet bowl cleaner and other fun things like markers and coffee.

3. Bzz Agent – Free products to try and review. I get lots of food products from here. I just tried a new Sara Lee Pound Cake (the blog review for this is coming soon), and several Kroger $5 off coupons to promo their digital coupons and their community rewards. Plus they do toys – which the kids love, and other products like deodorant, roomba, etc. Usually the products are totally free. (I got a huge discount on my roomba but I did still have to pay something – if you don’t want to pay you just say so and don’t accept the campaign). They offer you a product and you say that yes you’d like to receive it and review it. I’ve been using this site for years and love all the fun products I get to try!

Survey Sites:

1. YouGov – Mostly government related surveys. Usually about 1 survey a week, they have a few decent redemption options.

2. My View – I’ve been using this survey site for a long time. They have a great selection of rewards.

3. Toluna – Surveys mostly, there’s also a few other activities you can do on the site for points to redeem for gift cards.

4. Schlinger & Associates – A few surveys for points. Mostly, these are research studies and they’ll tell you up front what they’re offering you to participate. Sometimes it’s a check and other times it’s a gift card.

5. Pure Profile – Surveys, you redeem for PayPal in $25 increments.

Dress Up Your Nuggets

Chick-Fil-A Moms is hosting a Dress Up Your Nuggets challenge. Sounded like lots of fun. I chose an Around the world Theme to show off some different ways to eat Chick-Fil-A nuggets.

First up is French. They’re all about their minimal servings. Though I doubt they eat barbecue or chicken nuggets in France, if they did, this is what it would look like. And Chick-Fil-A is such a quality nugget, it could be served in a gourmet restaurant, right?

Next we have Chinese. They pair everything with rice. Add a little sweet and sour sauce and you have a meal!

Third we have Mexican. I love a good taco! My 6yr old thought this one looked so good she claimed it for herself as soon as I finished photographing it. Of course, I had to remove the lettuce, because she doesn’t eat lettuce on her tacos. A little mexican rice, cheese, lettuce, and chicken for a delicious chicken taco.

Last of all, I came back home to the Southern US and did Fried Chicken and Waffles. No one can beat some savory fried chicken and sweet syrup, especially when the chicken is boneless and oh so tasty!

Easter

I love Easter! It’s probably my favorite holiday after Christmas. Sometimes, I wish it was a month long celebration like Christmas always turns out to be. Really, I think it should be, there’s so many fun things you could do for this holiday!

First of all, we’re celebrating Jesus rising from the dead. So, it’s a celebration! The kids love it too, on Palm Sunday they get to wave palm branches (which is probably their most favorite sunday school activity), and then on Easter they get to go with us and see our service – which is more fun than usual because there’s lots of kids in there and it is a Sunday of celebration. If I could just find a decent recipe for a resurrection cake I’d be all set…

Next, there’s lunch, and I make some of my favorite foods! Corn pudding, sweet potato casserole, glazed ham, green beans, rolls, salad, desserts, and anything else that sounds yummy.

And after the meal there’s the egg hunt. I like to put candy and small toys in the eggs. I have some special candy hidden away from the kids this year that they don’t get to see until they open their eggs!

And, best of all, it’s spring! so it’s a nice warm (or at least warmish) holiday. It’s the beginning of the growing season and I have a whole spring and summer to look forward too. What better way to celebrate new life and growth than by celebrating resurrection and life!