I wanna be like The Story Girl

I don't want to shock you by veering from our cooking, decorating, party planning blog. But, I believe our blog is a safe place for Ashleigh and I to basically talk about stuff we like (are obsessed about). And, I love reading.

Ashleigh prefers her TV and literary choices to be reality based. She throws So You Think You Can Dance Parties, DVRs Amazing Race, American Idol and Martha. She likes to read church books, parenting books, and blogs of course. We had to hog-tie her to read the Twilight series.

As for me, I have enough REALITY in my life. Did you know a spilled 32 oz. ICEE will stain carpet, clothes, skin and possibly internal organs? I do.

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When I have time to relax, I want pure fiction... as evidenced by my embarrassing admission that I've seen every episode of Charmed and Smallville. I love reading, I read fiction everyday. I don't require witches or superheros in all my books. But, I do need a good dose of "Calgon, take me away."

So, I am grateful for friends who can recommend great books. These are just some of the books I've read (or plan to read soon) and loved this year and all came from recommendations.

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The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale (thank you Sarah)
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Shaffer and Barrows (thank you Sharee)
More than You Know by Beth Gutcheon (thank you Alyson)
Kartography by Kamila Shamsie (thank you Lorren)
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson (thank you Lorren)
Matched by Ally Condie (thank you Katie)
The Help by Kathryn Stockett (thank you Katie)
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (thank you Sophie)
Revolution/ A Northern Light both by Jennifer Donnely (thank you Katie)
A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmell (thank you Leah)
Wings by Aprilynne Pike (thank you Kristen)
Graceling/ Fire series by Kristen Cashore (thank you Lauri)

If you love books too, then you must, must, must go visit my smart, insightful, cute and fun sister-in-law's blog called The Story Girl

She is a full time college student so don't ask me how she reads so much. My brain has gotten lazy and I don't always analyze why I like a book, I just know it made me laugh, or think differently about something. And then I read Lorren's review and she puts into eloquent paragraphs the exact thing I was thinking.

So go read The Story Girl and then tell me if you have any great reads I need to know about. I plan to put the computer down now and go escape reality. That is until a cough, spill, smell or child's bodily fluid forces me back.

Guest Post and a Giveaway!

Today is my 4th and final "cookie workshop post" over on Crazy Domestic!  I'm talking packaging today!  It has been really fun to get some details written down in these past few posts.  I really idolize appreciate Stephanie and I'm so glad she asked me to be a part of her crazy cool blog!

We've only done one giveaway before and we thought it was time again!  (Because it makes us feel like Oprah when we give away our favorite things). Also because there's a bunch of new faces on our sidebar/blog family and we want to tell you that we love you!


So in honor of the cookie workshop, we are giving away a cookie kit!  Yessssssssssssssss!  (You have to say that like Napoleon).  Kathryn and I have gathered up some basic supplies from around town in case there's some of you out there who don't have access to these goodies!  This should get you started on your road to cookie success:
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Here's a start to your sqeezie bottle collection.  These babies are my favorite way to apply royal icing.
There's a couple that you can interchange the tips on and a couple basic ones.
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And you'll need some meringue powder for that royal icing.  Then you'll want to tint it, right?
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And we know you're a festive bunch, so we thought you'd be making Easter cookies.  Here's some cutters and some gorgeous pastel sanding sugar so you can get working on that.
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And here's the icing on the giveaway cake... my favorite cookie cutter set!  This set isn't super easy to find.  (If you don't count Amazon, which is very easy to find).
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This set has 7 sizes of circles and 7 sizes of scalloped circles.  14 cookie cutters for the price of none!
You can make almost anything on a basic circle!  Let your creativity run wild!
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So, you want this stuff?  Here's what to do:
1.  Make sure you're an official member of our blog.  Be a follower!  We like seeing your thumbnail picts!
2.  Leave a comment, any (one) comment will do.
3.  Make sure there is a link or email address so we can find you when you win!

We are equal opportunity around here.  So we will use the random integrator thing-y to choose a winner in one week!  Next Wednesday, March 2nd!  The person who won our other giveaway is now one of my fave bloggers!  Hi Chris!  

p.s.  Don't forget to go see my post!

Pinewood Derby Fun

It's official, I am a Cub Scout frump. I have the shirt, the patches and the closed-toed shoes. I try to at least wear earrings with my uniform to somewhat unfrumpify. But, it doesn't matter because I love those little dudes!

When I worked with the teenage girls at church I made all sorts of cute handouts, of which maybe 60 percent make it onto their bulletin boards. 8 year old boys are a different animal. They just want to play tag and pound stuff. Of all the cute things you spent time glueing, scrapbooking or decorating zero percent will end up anywhere but the trash. Unless their mother happens to see it first.

But, I have to have a little fun, right? PS I am sooooo lucky to work with an amazing Cubmaster. Most of these ideas are hers. She's the brains, I'm the right arm. So here are a few tips and tricks for a fabulous Pinewood Derby.

Once the cars are weighed in the cars and boys stay in "The Pit." You have to have a "pit pass" to be admitted. This prevents any Down and Derby moments. `This is serious stuff :) I made these in Photoshop and laminated them. I bought the lanyards from Oriental Trading. These get re-used until their last Derby and then they can keep it.

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The boys made these cute neckerchief slides during check in. Made of a clothespin taken apart and glued the opposite way, four wooden screw covers colored black and a pony bead for the driver. We had them glued together, the boys just colored them.

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Another fun thing we do is have the boys make these car stands a few weeks before the derby. Our super Cub Scout dad cuts all the pieces. The boys sand them and screw each piece together. That way they pass of a woodworking requirement and they get a cool trophy like thing to take home to ease the sting if they don't get an actual trophy.

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As fast and organized as we try to be, the Pinewood Derby can be a long night for those supportive Cub siblings. It has worked really well to have a play area in one area of the gym. We have a table with car coloring pages, matchbox cars and tracks, a tv with the movie "Cars" playing, and pennant flags for the kids to make to cheer on their brother. Even the teenagers made their way over to the coloring table. I won't name names.

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We have some car themed music playing for some ambiance. "Life is a Highway" Rascal Flatts, "On the road again" Willie Nelson, "Leader of the Pack" the Shangri-Las, "Born to be Wild" Stephenwolf, "Hit the Road Jack" Ray Charles, "Little Deuce Coupe" the Beach Boys, "Route 66" Chuck Berry.

And, we make Certificates to give out so everyone wins. This was made with a digital kit called Punky Monkey. The car was just clipart.

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This was made with Do a Good Turn Daily Digital Scrapbook kit and the same store has a really cute Pinewood Derby Kit

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When all the prep work is done, the best part of the Derby is this right here. Watching the 4 seconds of your race like your life depends on it.
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Guest Post and Some Project ADD

Today is my 3rd post in my cookie series on Crazy Domestic.  I'm talking about some tips and techniques for frosting with royal icing.  I'm sure there are some of you out there that are obsessed with sugar cookies too, right?
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I just can't get out of the kitchen lately!  But I really need to get going on the other 90 projects that I have unfinished.  I have lots of ideas in my head and I have yet to see if they will actually come to fruition.  I'm re-doing my craft room, starting with a new desk/table (built by my main man/handyman).  But I haven't gotten around to finishing it.  I just know I'll love it, if I ever finish it.
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Oh, and I've got to pick a paint color for my living room, because I have some plans for this room.  Lots of mini projects are going to have to be done to make this room come together.
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And when you bought stinking cute fabric like this, then all you want to do is sew!
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I love all of these projects that I do, but I'm well aware that they can wait.  I go in phases, and its been a food phase, and a holiday phase, and I'm always in a motherhood phase.  :)

So, while I strive to focus and get some things done, I nominate Kathryn to do the next few posts.   ;)

p.s.  Don't forget to check out my guest post!

Valentine's Cake Pops

Happy Valentine's Day!  
I hope you are celebrating with the ones you love, and with chocolate!
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I'll take some chocolate cake pops over traditional chocolates any day of the year!  Yum!
I adore the fabulous bakerella for inventing these!  {I finally picked up her book this week!  Love!}
I almost died the day she featured my chicky snacks on her blog.  Yeah, you can call me a "pop star" if you want!
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It's hard to make these any cuter, but I stand by my policy that everything is better with some cellophane,  some ribbon and and tag!
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They make fabulous gifts, I'd say.
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I enjoyed making these with my daughter this weekend.  (All 410 of them).  We had some good talks, but the best part was getting to eat a few "cake flops."  That's what we called the mess-ups.  We would celebrate if there was one that turned out ugly because it gave us permission to eat it!

I also have to hand it to my Valentine this year.  What a wonderful surprise date he planned!
I feel lucky to be surrounded by so much love, and so much chocolate!  Have a great day!

This project is Sew Dang Cute!

Not to toot my horn or anything, I just had a burning desire to title my post that. Because.....
We're guest posting on Sew Dang Cute!

We loved being a part of Crafting with the Stars- Season 1 and we are having lots of fun watching the fabulous talent in Season 2. Seriously, don't you people have laundry to do? Stop being so crazy good at everything :)

So here's a little peek at one step of my project so go check it out. I'll apologize in advance for the time you will spend blog surfing on this amazing blog.

Hearts in my House and a Guest Post!

Today I'm guest posting again over on Crazy Domestic!

But I also wanted to share a little bit of my Valentine's stuff.  I love decorating in my jars.  The ones that have blank paper hearts are for our warm fuzzies.  The kids (and us)  can go grab one and write something nice on it.  Then we secretly leave it for the person.  So these little hearts with nice comments end up all over the house.  It's kind of like heart-attacking our own house!
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I get the kids a small gift for Valentine's each year.  They've been talking about it for a couple weeks.  Just to increase the anticipation, I wrapped them early and set them out.  They can hardly wait, and they know it's only something little.  There is so much excitement and over $5.00 gifts.  They're pretty easy to get excited.  Where do they get that from?
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I love my subway art I downloaded from Eighteen25.  I'm also still loving my shadow box.
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And, I also love our little sweet shop here. I don't know why the cinnamon lips are looking a little empty???   And, just so I could keep them out, I found some cupcake candles that fit in my cupcake stands!
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Simple decor, but it makes us happy!
But don't forget to go check out my post on Crazy Domestic!
I'm talking about royal icing, which in my opinion, is the eighth wonder of the world.  I've learned a lot about it, and yet, it still does new and wonderful things, each time I work with it.

My Funny Valentine

He looks good with a mustache.
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He's ready to saddle up and ride into a western movie, with this look.
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I tried making a hairy mustache by piping the individual hairs.  If I piped it all at once, the icing would meld together.  So I did some and let it dry for about 15 minutes in between layers.
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But that was taking too long and I was tired.  So I took the easy road and made some plain and simple ones.  I like them just as much.
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My son thought the mustache was pretty hilarious when he played with it in front of a mirror.  His favorite part was eating them, which he started to do before I was done taking pictures.
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This was his "Valentine" that he handed out to his friends.  I intended to make a cute tag that said, "Love, your funny Valentine."  But that didn't get done.  Some days are just like that.  But I did get the cellophane and ribbon on them.  I'll pat myself on the back for that.  Just imagine that cute tag, yes?
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So now I have to think of Valentine ideas for my other 2 kids.  I'm off to scour blogland for some fabulous ideas.

Turtley First Birthday

I have been in denial that my baby is one. All of my friends know to never say "He''s getting so big!" I prefer, "He's such a tiny thing, are you even feeding him?" or "What is he like 6 weeks old now?"

By posting his birthday, I may just have to face reality. It's probably the first step on the way to even thinking about letting him go to kindergarden.

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We just had a little party where the main attraction was the birthday boy eating cake. I made a turtle cake in honor of our mom who loved turtles and tortoises. She tried to teach us a love of animals and to appreciate diversity when she brought the 3 legged water turtle home. His name was Gambi and we were not allowed under any circumstances to make fun of him for his disability. Even when he swam around in circles. Awwww! Memories!

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When I did a quick search of turtle cakes online they were mostly a 3D version with cupcakes for legs. I wanted just a simple turtle shape. I drew the turtle on cardstock and used the template for his shirt, hat and cake. Small turtle for his hat and his cake to maul. Large turtle for his shirt and the cake to serve up.

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And, the fabulous Ashleigh, cookie artist extraordinaire agreed to decorate my turtle cookies for favors.
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The birthday was a success, he dove right in to the cake and loved all the attention. But, if you see me out buying size 3-6 month clothes for him, you'll know I need an intervention. Until then, I'll just have another cookie.

Guest Posting on Crazy Domestic!

Have you guys seen this fabulous blog?
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Here's what I love about it:

-The name.  Seriously...Crazy Domestic?  It's so perfect.  I'm pretty sure I'm crazy half the time and domestic is what I'm trying to be the other half of the time.

-The ideas.  I can't get enough of their crafts and treats and tutorials.  I'm an everything kind of girl.  I love it all.  Crafts, food, refinishing, paper stuff, organization, the whole she-bang.  And crazy domestic covers it all for me.

-The gals behind the blog.  These bloggers know what they're doing.  Professionals, I tell ya!

-I'm guest posting (no small feat for a beginner like myself) on their blog today!  Yay!  And they've invited me back every Wednesday this month.  WOOOOHOOOOO!  I'm going to be diving right into the nitty gritty of sugar cookie decorating.  I get a lot of questions and emails about this, but up till now I've been too lazy to write down every little step.  So today is post 1 out of 4!

I love this blog so much, I made a cookie about it.

Go check out my post and their fabulous blog!

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