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Monday, November 30, 2015

DIY Gifts Galore Wrapping Kit with Caboodles

Today I'm so excited to show you how I used a Caboodles storage box to put together a convenient kit for gift wrapping!  It's the perfect way to organize all the wrapping necessities in one compact, cute place!
Whenever I've got a birthday or holiday party or a shower to attend, there's always a hustle crazy mad dash to gather tape, ribbon and tags, wrap that gift and run out the door.  Without fail, I'm searching in vain for scissors or markers and losing precious minutes!  I never seem to plan enough in advance for these things.  :)

So I decided it was high time to get organized in this department and save myself from the recurring stress and chaos that always happens before these events.  
I remember having serious Caboodles envy as a teenager.  I watched all the girls with their perfectly stored makeup in a pretty carrying case.  Now, I'm all grown up and I love my Caboodles box for makeup, but this time the organization gods urged me to use it for craft storage!

Caboodles On-The-Go Girl Cosmetic Organizers lend themselves perfectly to keeping gift wrapping supplies beautifully all in one place! And, it helps that they are pink, which just happens to be one of my favorite colors.  :)

I grabbed mine at Walmart and then set to work embellishing it and loading it with goodies!  These are available in the makeup aisles, while supplies last.
The compartments were just asking to be filled with my ribbon and bows, washi tape and such.  :)

I wanted to personalize and label the box too, so I added some vinyl polka dots (remember how I'm obsessed with polka dots?) and a "Gifts Galore" description that I cut out in a jiff with my Silhouette machine.  

Here's what my design looked like in Silhouette Studio.  I made a single circle in the size I liked, then resized it a few times and copied and pasted them all around.
Then, after the designs were cut, I transferred them to my Caboodles box, placing the polka dots randomly around for a fun effect.
Then, I filled my Caboodles box with markers, pens, baker's twine, bows, tape, gift tags, ribbon, washi tape, and scissors...all things needed for wrapping that perfect gift!
Isn't it cute?  This is cause to get extra excited about parties!  :)  I love that I can tote it wherever my heart desires! I couldn't be happier with my convenient kit!  I'm feeling so much more organized!
Now, I'm all ready to wrap a gift in a hurry!  I'll never be late to another party again.  Well, no promises there.  But this time, I'll blame it on factors other than the wrapping.  :)

Be sure to follow Caboodles on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest to keep up with the latest!

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Caboodles, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #cuethecaboodles  http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV

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Saturday, November 28, 2015

Chocolate Peppermint Candy Cupcakes

Hi guys! Johlene again from FlavoursandFrosting.com :) I´m here today to bring you this Chocolate Peppermint Candy Cupcakes Recipe. Made with chocolate buttermilk cake mix with crushed peppermint candies and topped with pink peppermint cream cheese frosting!!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Cranberry White Chocolate Cashew Cookies

Dried cranberries, white chocolate chips, and cashews marry to create the perfect holiday cookie!  Think neighbors gifts and party platters! 

I feel like I should offer a warning before anything else goes down.  These cookies are ridiculously addicting!  So if you're counting calories (although who does that this time of year? That's what New Year's Resolutions are for. Ha!) these pretty things will not be your friend.

Although I'm trying to mind my waistline, I still attached myself to these tasty confections, because, after all, I am a cookie fiend!  And the diet can start tomorrow.  :)
That's what the holidays are for, am I right?  Enjoying yummy food (especially sweets) and not worrying about the consequences until the new year?  At least, that's my take on it.  :) 

Makes about 2 dozen

1 cup salted butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
2 large eggs
2 1/2 cups flour (+ 1 or 2 Tbsp...add later only if needed)
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup cashews, roughly chopped or halved

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together butter, sugars, vanilla and eggs.  In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking soda and salt.  Add to wet mixture and mix until combined.  Stir in white chocolate chips, cranberries and cashews.  At this point, if the dough is a little too sticky, you can add up to 2 Tbsp. more flour.  My dough needed one more Tablespoon, but I'm high elevation, so odds are you won't need any extra.  If the first batch comes out too flat, stir in a tablespoon at a time of flour until it's just right.

Scoop cookie balls by the rounded tablespoon or with a 1 1/2" cookie scoop and place six balls, evenly spaced (two across and three down), on a greased or nonstick baking mat-lined cookie sheet.  Bake for 8-10 minutes or just until they don't look doughy.  Don't overbake or they won't be soft and chewy!
 This is probably the worst time of year to concern myself with avoiding desserts for the sake of fitting into my skinny jeans.  For this reason, I have a love/hate relationship with the holidays.  Neighbors and friends bring baskets loaded with homemade yummies and then we attend parties where loads of delicious food await our enjoyment.  It's just the pits, isn't it?  No, just kidding.  I love it! 

I just don't love what the scale says after it's all over.
But I'll gladly accept and live with that number if it means eating these phenomenal cookies!  And then I'll layer myself in thick sweaters and heavy jackets all winter to hide it.  Ha!

Your friends will thank you whole-heartedly for bringing these to the party!  

But who wants to share something this good?  

I may be a little selfish when it comes to my desserts.  :) But it is the season of giving, so I sent a plateful with my husband to a meeting and they received rave reviews! 

These are one of my favorite cookies of all times.  You must make them ASAP!

Trust me, you're going to want a handful of these after you finish your Black Friday shopping today!  :)

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Kids' Lunch Idea with Free Printable Thanksgiving Lunch Box Jokes

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #HorizonLunch #CollectiveBias

Send the kids off to school with a yummy lunch container filled with cheese and crackers, baby carrots, cashews, and a Horizon Squeeze Pouch and Milk Box!  Then, don't forget the Thanksgiving lunch box joke for a good laugh!
I've mentioned before that my kids may be the pickiest in the universe. They refuse to even eat sandwiches.  But yet they love to bring home lunch every day.  So, needless to say, I feel stumped when preparing their lunches in the mornings before school. 

And because I have a new baby and can't devote much time or thought to what the older kiddos will be eating for their midday meal, I need easy and yummy options. We're talking ones that can be thrown together in minutes before we run out the door, and I mean run, because we're usually very tight on time before that first bell rings. :)

Without fail, I can count on a coat being missing or an "Oh no! You need to fill out this paper and sign it! It's due today!"

You know the drill.  Nothing like being pressed for time to help you suddenly remember everything you need to do. :) 
So lunch is basically an afterthought around our house. Yet, I pride myself in sending my kids to school with sustenance I can feel good about. Those tummies need to be happy and content with all the rigors of bookwork and recess, after all.
So I went to Walmart and picked up some Horizon Kids Aseptic Chocolate Milk Boxes (The kids took immediate notice of the cute Peanuts Movie packaging.  It's in theaters now!) and Horizon Mixed Berry Squeeze Pouches. 
The milk boxes are on the aisle next to the toaster pastries and the fruit pouches are easily found next to the canned fruit.
Convenience is key, so I'm all about things that I can just throw into their lunch boxes but that also look like I put some thought into it. :)

I paired it with some cashews, baby carrots, cheese squares and crackers, because we know how those kiddos turn up their noses at the sight of a sandwich.  :) But they get super excited about chocolate milk and fruit squeeze pouches, so no complaints there.

Pretty much all my kiddos care about is that the food tastes good (no surprise there), but as their concerned mother, I'm a fan of the fact that these Horizon products contain lots of calcium and protein, but no high fructose corn syrup. 

Because Thanksgiving is just a few days away, I added in a cute and silly joke.  You'll want to tuck these away for next year too!

Download and print your free Thanksgiving Lunch Box Jokes HERE.

My favorite is the one that says, "What smells the best at Thanksgiving dinner?"

Your nose! Ha ha!

I bet you didn't predict that one.

I can just see the kids chuckling at the lunch table. 
Now I can send the kids off with an easy lunch that I'm proud of and I know they will thoroughly enjoy.

What are your favorite things to send in your kids' lunches in addition to fruit squeeze pouches and milk boxes?  I'm always up for new ideas!

Happy lunch packing! 

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Monday, November 23, 2015

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

If you are a chocolate chip and oatmeal lover like me, then these cookies are for you!
I just love the chunky texture oatmeal lends to cookies.  Not only does it provide substance, but it's so yummy when combined with other flavors like (ahem, loads of chocolate).   These cookies have lots of dimension and are so versatile!  Add nuts, raisins, candy pieces, coconut, butterscotch chips, white chocolate chips, caramel pieces, or what have you, and they are the bomb! 

I got this recipe from a good friend, who got it from someone in our church.  It seems like it calls for a lot of oatmeal, but the oatmeal is what makes these cookies!  Just think of them like a granola bar, but a hundred times better because they're cookies! :)

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that we just moved into a new home.  My advice?  If you think you want to move, think again!  

No, just kidding.  We love the new place, but it was just a TON more work than I thought it would be, or maybe that was just the nine month pregnant me speaking.

I unpacked like crazy after closing on our home so we could feel settled before baby arrived.  The kids started school and are making new friends there and enjoying their teachers.  


3/4 c. shortening
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. sugar
1 egg
3 1/4 c. oats
1/4 c. water
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
Chocolate chips

Add all ingredients (except chocolate chips) to the bowl of an electric mixer and mix until combined.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Roll into large balls, place six on a cookie sheet, spaced 2" apart, and bake at 350 for 14 to 15 minutes.  If making standard sized cookie balls (walnut sized) bake for approximately 9 minutes.  Don't overbake or they'll be dry!  Allow to cool on cookie sheet for a few minutes, then remove to a cooling rack.  Store in an airtight container.
Another huge adjustment has been getting used to my new kitchen.  It literally takes me twice the time to make anything because I find myself opening every cupboard in search of the baking soda or my cookie sheet. 

I'm also getting used to baking in a new oven.  So far I like it, but every one is just so different, you know?  And, I won't even get started on the altitude adjustment.  We are high elevation.  So I basically play a guessing game every time I place something in the oven to cook.  But, with time, things will be normal again.
My first attempt in the new oven turned out delicious, if I do say so myself.  My kids and husband can second that.  You need these Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies in your life! 

The kids enjoyed them as an after school snack with a tall glass of milk!  Mmmmmmm.....!!!

If you're a cookie monster like me, you'll want to check out THESE cookies too!


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Friday, November 20, 2015

Play Creatively with Bunchems

Bunchems are a perfect way to keep the kiddos creatively happy when the after school boredom hits!

Every day when that bell rings and the kids' backpacks hit the floor after walking in the door, they grab a snack and then immediately plop on the couch.  They could veg like this for hours!  Their little minds have been working all day and they are tired! Though I completely understand and always allow them some time to just sit and unwind, I love for them to keep busy while being productive.  If not, I get to play referee instead of getting dinner done.  :)

So after a little while, I encourage and then urge them to go upstairs to the toy room to play. :)
My kids were ecstatic last week when they came home to see this box waiting for them to open!  They immediately started dreaming up fun designs to make with their new Bunchems pals.  I love when those wheels turn in their cute heads!
They quickly dug in, grabbing the colorful, squishy balls and bunching them together.  
The creative options are limitless with adorable eyes, legs, wings, and hat accessories to add and so many colors to choose from.   

Bunchems easily pack together to make cute designs.  The more imperfect, the better!  I loved the character and personality of each creation the kids showed me.  They were so proud of their masterpieces and kept pulling them apart with ease and re-inventing!
The clean freak in me didn't worry at all, because when the kids were done playing, they literally stuck them back together in a split second and placed them in the box. 

My daughter thought that by creating her own little Frosty, she could bring us good luck for lots of real snow in the months to come.  :) Here's to hoping.

Oh how I adore the little embellishments she added.  The eyes and nose poke easily into the indentations in the Bunchems.

Just in case the kids drew a blank on what they wanted to make next, they could search through the Bunchems pamphlet for loads of inspiration!
The Bunchem balls were just asking to be formed into a fuzzy-looking caterpillar, so we indulged! 
Because Halloween is always in our hearts, the kids put together an adorable bat.
And then my daughter formed and named "Mr. Cool Sunshine".
Apparently these are "The blob twins".
Meet "King Prickly".  

We had lots of good laughs while naming the kids' new "pets" and coming up with stories to go with them.  

Bunchems provide hours and hours of creative entertainment for kids!  And after that time has passed, they have something adorable to show for it!  Productivity at its finest.  :)  I love when the kids find fun ways like this to beat the boredom!

These make perfect holiday gifts too!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Gratitude and Acts of Kindness Kids' Turkey Craft

My kids and I really enjoy crafting together, and since we don't really have many Thanksgiving traditions, we started a new one this year with this adorable Gratitude and Acts of Kindness Turkey Activity!
As I mentioned, our family Thanksgiving traditions are pretty typical and really just center around getting together with loved ones and friends and enjoying good food and conversation.  Other than that, we don't really have anything special that we do leading up to the day.  I wanted to change that this year.

I'm doing my very best to teach my children good values like being thankful and helping others. I love that we have this time of year to really realize and appreciate our blessings and to turn outwards in serving those who are in need.  

I'm a leader in my church over what's known as "Activity Days" for girls ages 8-11.  It's basically an organization where we meet every other week for an evening and have an activity where we accomplish certain goals and learn values through crafts, games, educational demonstrations, etc.

As I was thinking about what we could do for a creative Thanksgiving-themed craft, this particular, simple idea popped into my head.  The girls had so much fun with it and I hope they will take it to heart and really act on it.

Then, I went home and my other kiddos wanted to make one too, so we did.  :)

I love that the supplies are super inexpensive and ones that you probably already have on hand.

You'll need:

Construction Paper
White Paper Plates
Markers (be sure to use washable if there will be little ones)
Small Googly Eyes
A glue Stick
Start by cutting"feathers" out in various colors of construction paper.  You'll need about seven.  Cut out a half circle for the body and a head and neck shape, a beak, legs and a gobbler thing (sorry, not shown). 

Cut your paper plate in half.  You can use the other half for another turkey if you'd like.
Let the kids label each of the feathers with something they're thankful for.
Now turn those feathers over and help the kids note an act of kindness they will perform in relation to what they said they were thankful for on the front.  (e.g. Parents-be obedient, siblings-share my toys, friends-cheer someone up, teachers-be a classroom helper, etc.).  Encourage them to really put some thought into this.  
Put a little of glue on the very tip of the back of the feather and stick it to the paper plate. 
Fan the feathers all the way around the plate.
Now glue the body over the feathers.
Add the head, eyes, beak, and gobbler.
Don't forget the feet!  That's it!
Isn't Tom Turkey cute?!
Now encourage the kiddos to perform those acts of kindness in secret so the person receiving the service won't even suspect!  The goal is for them to choose a feather each day for the week leading up to Thanksgiving or just randomly throughout the month of November and perform that act of service.

This craft is a perfect way to get the kids in the spirit of being grateful and giving!

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