Monday, November 30, 2009

Papa's Treats: Upcycled Hot Chocolate Tin

Yesterday we celebrated my Dad's 69th birthday. One of his gifts from us was a canister filled with decadent Oreo Bark, super simple recipe at the end of this post. Both the container and yummy candy would also make great homemade holiday gifts.

I think the brown and blue is a nice wintery combination. The cute container that I upcycled this time, to hold the Oreo Bark started out looking like...
this. I've hung onto it for two years, just knowing that one day I would find the perfect use for it. I used a big leftover scrap of paper from the Exploding Box and Mini Album we also gave him.
For the top I used my Martha Stewart Circle Cutter, it is a fantastic papercrafting tool. It's compact but cuts so many different sizes of circles, in really small increments. This covered right up the old label on top. I tied some ribbons to the handle, and tried not to go overboard so it would still look masculine. I also added a metal tag I've had in my craft stash for forever. The little punched star on the tag tied in with the star I also die cut for the side of the container.
I put on some dots of tacky white glue all over the outside, and then wrapped the canister with paper cut to size. The star and title "Papa's Treat's" were all die cut with my Sizzix Sidekick. I threw on a button too, because everything looks better with a button.
Of course the paper couldn't be long enough to go all the way around, that would be way too easy! So I punched holes and tied up the back kind of like a corset, once again trying not to make it overly girly. I've done this before and I always think it comes out looking so pretty.
This was my solution to avoiding having to buy another container, and the hot chocolate tin is so sturdy that it can be used many more times to hold a lot more treats just for Papa. Although, I have a feeling Grammy and Uncle Dave might swipe a few too☺
Oreo Bark

Seriously simple to make, who doesn't love only 2 ingredients! Plus you can get out all your frustration when you break up the cookies. We ended up with really thick pieces because of our narrow freezer and only used 1.5 bags of white chocolate chips.

1 (20 ounce) package Oreo cookies
2 (18.5 ounce) packages white chocolate
  1. Place half a package of Oreo cookies into a plastic bag at a time, this keeps crumbs from flying all over the kitchen.
  2. Crush and smash cookies.
  3. Line jelly pan, or if you have a narrow freezer a cake pan with wax paper.
  4. Pour half the crumbled cookie bits onto wax paper, spread cookies into a even layer on half of the jelly or cake pan.
  5. Melt chocolate in microwave according to package directions.
  6. Immediately pour melted chocolate over cookie bits and mix gently so that your candy does not turn gray.
  7. Repeat steps to make second half of recipe in the other half of the pan.
  8. Place pan in the freezer for an hour.
  9. Take out and break into pieces and enjoy your rich chocolate treat!

Thank you to Nicole at the Adventures of the Lil' Chef for telling me about this recipe. One of my Dad's favorite all time cookies are Oreos so when I saw her post I knew it would be the perfect little extra homemade gift for him. It's easy to make and really decadent tasting! You can also find the recipe on All Recipes.

This post has been added to:

Update: This is also my contribution for Day Four: Creative Wrapping at The Girl Creative's Creating Christmas Blog Fest.

Creative Mamas Monday at A Kindred Spirit's Thoughts
Make It for Monday at Cottage Instincts
Holiday Highlights #3 at The DIY Show Off
Strut Your Stuff Holiday Cards and Gifts at Somewhat Simple
DIY Day at A Soft Place to Land
and it is my first time linking up to:
It's also a part of the following recipe carnivals:
Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed with Grace
Tuesdays at the Table at All the Small Stuff
Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving Day

Have you all recovered from over indulging on Thursday? I was really good during the actual meal and carb counted my portions so I could splurge on dessert. I don't really like mashed or sweet potatoes and I was glad I resisted when my mom's pumpkin chocolate chip bars came out! They were so yummy and hey, pumpkin is a vegetable, right☺
We went to my parents' house, a good thing since I did not ever get around to cleaning my house last week. Oh it's not filthy or anything, but it was certainly not company clean. You all know what I'm talking about.

My Aunt Margie came and brought the famous family strawberry jello salad, that I shared the recipe for previously. In this picture you can see how pretty the layers of pink and white are. It's kind of amusing that she one who makes it now, she reminded me as she was leaving that she didn't even like it growing up.
My mom was glad to not have to deal with making a bird this year. That's because Brad's mom aka Grandma Norma brought it along with the stuffing. Both were very good, Norma! Isn't her shirt cute? Her gentleman friend Ray isn't a big fan of it, but I think it's very pretty and flattering.
My Dad and brother Dave right before dinner, you can see the family tree centerpiece I made to the right. Sadly, that's how many of our family members were present. This was the first year without my Grandparents and Great Aunts. They are all getting old and if truth be told a little cantakerous. It's too hard to bring them out from their nursing homes and assisted living places. My Uncle John was sick so he wasn't there either and various other relatives weren't there for one reason or another. It was weird to have such a small gathering.
Do you think Brad's used to me taking pictures? He immediately stopped mid bite and posed when I told him I need to get one of him.
Brad and Dave all ready for the second half of the meal, dessert! Everyone thought the turkey cookies we made were cute and they tasted good too. I wasn't sure if they'd be edible or if candy corn would be weird. We "only" had an apple pie, pumpkin pie, apple cake, pumpkin bars, and cookies. Somehow we managed.
Grandma Norma, ER, me and Brad in our obligatory family picture. Much like the one with my parents and brother only taken later in the day.
This one made laugh. Do you ever stand behind one another and give each other horns when taking pictures? We often have someone dance about or wave their hands behind the photographer's head, to get ER's attention or to make her smile. This time she's trying to give herself horns.
There are only so many photo takes a toddler can take, afterward things quickly turned into a tickle fest. ER currently thinks it's hilarious to go around and tickle everyone. Grammy is a great target because she always get a good reaction.
I am so thankful that we have been able to live back by our family for the past two years. I know I've mentioned this before but it really is a blessing to be able to have ER growing up so close to her grandparents. She is surrounded by so much love and we try to see them all often.

We especially appreciate this because we never thought it would happen. Brad has always told me that his field of work, he has a PhD in physical chemistry, would take us out of state. Most of the jobs are on either coast, so we feel so fortunate that she's able to have this experience to see and get to know them in her daily life and not just during special visits.
I'd love to see how you celebrated Thanksgiving. On my other blog ABC & 123, we've got a Thanksgiving Blog Hop linky to share your holiday post. Please come by and link up!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Online Poster Printing 16X20 Rolled Canvas Giveaway

Giveaway now closed, thank you to everyone who entered and congratulations to Keri, comment number 6 , who said i follow your blog via google!

Did you capture some great family memories last Thursday at your Thanksgiving gathering?

How would you like to turn one into a 16X20 rolled canvas print, perfect for home decor, photo prints and signage, from Online Poster Printing?
I have not gotten or seen a rolled canvas print from Online Poster Printing yet, but I know it will be of very high quality with vibrant colors. That's because I already HAVE a stretched canvas print from hosting a previous giveaway. I think a rolled canvas print will be pretty much the same except for it won't be stretched onto a frame.

The previous canvas print, from Online Poster Printing, is right at the front entryway of our house and it never fails to get noticed by visitors. Everyone wants to know where we got it from. We're not the only one's happy with their products, see what other people think, on Yelp!

Giveaway Prize:
(1) 16x20” Rolled Canvas for One Lucky Winner, from Online Poster Printing!
Size: 16x20 rolled canvas
Shipping: FREE UPS Ground Shipping in the US

To Enter:
Tell me what picture you'd have turned into a rolled canvas print.

Extra Entries: {leave a seperate comment for each entry}
  • Publically follow my blog, using Google Friends Connect
  • Subscribe via email to my blog posts, use the gadget at the bottom of the page.
  • Post about or text link to this giveaway, leave me a link so I can check for it.
  • Post my link button.
  • Follow me on Twitter and tweet about this giveaway. Leave a link to your tweet in your comment.
Giveaway open through December 4th midnight EST to US residents only. Winner has 36 hrs to respond to my email as I must provide the sponsor with the winners information by Dec. 7th. Winner will receive their prize code via email on December 12th directly from the sponsor.

Disclaimer: I will be provided with a complimentary rolled canvas print for hosting this giveaway, thank you to Online Poster Printing for also providing the giveaway prize.

Friday, November 27, 2009

PakNak Review & Giveaway, 3 WINNERS

Giveaway now closed, thank you to everyone who entered for supporting my blog! Your entries help me bring more great reviews and giveaways to you☺ Congratulations to #15 Clemencia, #47 Meg Hitt, and #7 brandon and jakell. The winners have been emailed and have 48 hrs to respond.
Stocking stuffer alert! How cool are these? PakNak's are fun, soft, and rubbery 3D decorations for kids that can be used to personalize all sorts of things like purses, backpacks, computer bags, lunch sacks, headbands, and household items such as vases, canvas storage bins. and even headboards. I think they are a fun and innovative product, that let kids give their belongings a personal look with lots of options. Change your PakNak to match your outfit, mood, or on a whim, all are possible.There are over 40 designs and each one has a customized velcro® dot on the back. One side is attached the back of the PakNak and the other is backed with super strong adhesive. You simply remove the backing and apply the adhesive side to your surface. The hook and loop tape on them, that makes each one interchangeable. They are weather resistant, and it's quick and easy to apply them. We got three PakNak's to try out and ER already loves changing them around and swapping out where on the bag each one is. Her little hands can easily grip them and move them about independently. They are approximately 2.25-2.5 inches in either direction so they are sized nicely for little hands and big enough to make a visual impact. We were sent three really girly ones because that's what our 3 year old would want but there's a wide range of choices and even extra loops so you have more options as to where they can go.Visit's PakNak's gallery to see more cute ways to decorate and customize your things with PakNaks. I especially love the idea to put them on a flower pot or to use them as a gift tag for gift. Each PakNak is $3.99 and would make fun stocking stuffers, gifts from the tooth fairy, or party favors. My only regret is that they are not available in my area. Guess I'll have to plan ahead and order online!
In honor of today, traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year aka Black Friday, save 15% on your PakNak order, just enter JOY15 at checkout. Good for a limited time only so hurry!

THREE winners will each win FOUR PakNak's of their choice!!!

Tell me which four PakNak's you'd pick and how you'd use them.

Extra Entries:
  • Publically follow me, using the Google Friend's Connect gadget on my blog.
  • Post my link button on your blog.
  • Follow me on Twitter
  • Follow PakNak on Twitter
  • Tweet about this giveaway on Twitter, leave a link to your tweet.
  • Post about this giveaway linking to my post and PakNak.
Enter by Thursday Dec 10 midnight EST to US residents only. Good Luck!

Disclaimer: PakNak sent me these samples to review, and this post reflects my personal and unbiased opinion and experience with them, yours may differ.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving! Fun Turkey Cookies

We decided to do something just the three of us the day before Thanksgiving. These super cute Thanksgiving Turkey Sugar Cookies were simple to make and fun family activity.
Begin with one package of refridgerated sugar cookie dough. Break up the cookie dough, knead in 1/4 cup flour until well blended.
Shape dough into a log shape and refridgerate for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Slice log into 16 cookies. If like us you have an over eager toddler, who insists on doing this herself, you may need to reshape mangled dough into balls and press with a glass into circles. Good thing we have our master baker on hand! I know these premade packages are supposed to be easier but I never fail to burn mine. Bake as directed on package.
Distract toddler by letting her froast her own cookies while you get the remaining cookies ready for decorating.
Spread frosting on outer edge of the top of each cookie. Add candy corn for feathers. Then use orange decorating gel to add the beak and feet details. Add little dots for eyes and then stick mini M&M on. Add black gel on top of mini M&Ms for centers of eyes. Yummy and very easy to make! Couldn't resist sharing these two of our little cookie chef in training. We gave her two cookies worth of dough to mash around and cut up over and over. She was so sweet talking about what she was doing the whole time and it kept her occupied while we cleaned from cookie making part one.
Love the tongue sticking out look of extreme concentration, so cute! Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and enjoy all sorts of delicious family treats today! We can't wait to share our newest sweet treat with the family at my mom's house.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

SmartKnitKIDS Review and Giveaway

This giveaway is now closed, thank you to everyone who entered! The winner is MaryAnne, comment #10. who said, I entered their holiday contest. Congratulations!When I taught special education, I had several students with sensitivity issues that benefited from therapeutic treatment with an occupational therapist. We worked on sensory intergration and tried to provide them with ways to overcome their adversion to different textures. I wish I had know about SmartKnitKIDS socks then, I bet they'd have helped us get a lot more learning time in!SmartKnitKIDS socks are 100% truly seamless; they have “No Seams to Bug Ya!” A truly seam free socks is great for kids with Sensory Processing Disorder, Autism, or for those who simply cannot stand annoying sock seams. You also don't have to worry about that sometimes annoying tight elastic bands at the top of the sock that can pinch or feel binding. SmartKnitKIDS socks have a non-binding Halo Top™ that fits comfortably without slipping down the leg.Even though, thankfully, we don't have to worry about sensory issues with ER. I still found several reasons to be a fan of SmartKnitKIDS socks. Besides being completely seamless, they have no heel. Making them perfect for little ones like ER, who are learning how to dress themselves. The socks go on easily and any way she pulls them up, they're on "right". She's so proud of herself when she doesn't need me to check her afterward.

No heel also means that she won't grow out of them as fast. I also liked how they came up high on her leg and stayed put. I know her ankles are being kept warm when she runs and climbs outside on the playground at preschool. Plus these are not flimsy socks, they are quite plush and thick feeling.
They are also form-fitting, meaning no wrinkles or bunches to worry about. Their form-fitting design makes SmartKnitKIDS perfect for infant socks. No matter how much your little one may wiggle, the socks don’t come off. You won't have to worry that one might fall off during the cold winter, that quickly approaching for most of us.

SmartKnitKIDS socks come in several colors: white, black, pink, purple, and navy for infants up to kids. They are currently on sale for $6.26 a pair. A few pairs of these tied up with ribbon would make great stocking stuffers!
Win 3 pairs of socks from SmartKnitKIDS and keep your kid's toesies and ankles all warm and toasty this winter!

Tell me which size and colors you'd pick if you won 3 pairs of socks from SmartKnitKIDS.

Additional Entries: {Leave a seperate comment for each extra entry}
Giveaway open through December 9th midnight EST to US and Canadian residents. Good Luck!

Disclaimer: Thank you to SmartKnitKIDS for providing the review and giveaway products, this post relates my unbiased and personal opinions and experience with them. Yours may differ.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Family Tree Centerpiece

My mom asked me to try and come up with some kind of centerpiece decoration for our Thanksgiving meal. I'm not sure if this is what she had in mind, but it was just the push I needed to finally finish this kit. I've had it half finished for the past year and a half. The tree, leaves, and frames are all preprinted chipboard punchouts. All I had to add was pictures. Sometimes it's the easy things that take the longest to make!

Growing Tree Toys Review

We just learned about a new online source for great educational toys and I am excited to share them with you!

" is more than just a toy website – it’s the perfect virtual representation of our store, offering customers the amazing service, wonderful toys and robust features they deserve while shopping online. Featuring a carefully chosen, well-rounded toy selection, unique product details and descriptions, great information on play, helpful suggestions for gift givers, the best gift finder available, and so much more, is truly a specialty toy website with the health and happiness of children at heart."
They sent us a Transparent Marble Run set by Quercetti Toys to play with. ER was very excited because for quite some time she's been enthralled by marble set displays at local toy stores. She couldn't wait to start playing with this set!

We have been wanting to add a marble run to her collection because we knew that it's a challenging toys that stimulates creativity, problem solving skills, and intuitive reasoning. It also develops the eye tracking and observation skills as kids put together a multiple level marble run with countless configurations.
It comes in a sturdy handled box that is suitable for storing all the pieces together. The Transparent Marble Run has 45 pieces, including a good number of transparent, colored tubes for building exciting maze creations, bases for stability, wheels, ten marbles, and more.
There are no instructions included with the set, but several examples of structures you can build are shown on the box. We could see how a younger child might need more suggestions to get them started.
However, since the age recommendation is 4 and up and ER is 3, we knew that she'd be playing with it only under our direct supervision. So the ideas provided on the box were more than enough for us to get started with. By the time Brad had completed a couple, he'd already start getting ideas for his own designs.They got to work and made three different structures the first time they played with the set together. I liked how there is a little loading piece and one that catches them all at the bottom. It kept all the marbles from shooting out and going everywhere. It's very fun to see and watch the marble go through the transparent pieces all the way to the bottom. The wheels are also especially fun to see spin when the marbles hit them. ER was very excited and want to send her marbles through over and over.
Since my husband Brad is the one who actually tested this toy with our daughter I thought it was only right for him to give his feedback as well. Here's what he had to say:

"One caution on the product is that the plastic is a little thin so a energetic child might break the ramp pieces during assembly if they do not take their time. This might be a difference between the transparent and wooden marble runs.

I would also like some sort of path splitter that adds some randomness to the marble path. With this set the path of the marble is entirely determined by the starting location."
Overall, we thought the Transparent Marble Run was a great starter set and value for your money, less than $20! It's an inexpensive option to see if your child is interested in and would play with a larger more expensive marble run set. We also liked how the Marble Run with Motorized Elevator can be combined with it, so the set can grow with your child and become more complex and elaborate.
You can purchase a Transparent Marble Run at GrowingTreeToys for only $19.95. It would make a great holiday gift that will provide hours of hands-on cooperative and independent play for your child.

Stop by to see their wide range of educational toys and find out about their "Deal of the Day". One toy at a super discount price is offered every day, until it sells out. What a great way to save money on the upcoming holiday and be able to get all your shopping done at one stop without leaving the house.

This product was provided as a courtesy of Growing Tree Toys for me to review.
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