Funky styles for girls: My Little Jules (Giveaway)

While I may not be on trend with fashion for me, my girls really like to be… and I don’t mind it at all.  I actually love when we find things that everyone else doesn’t have, pieces that are comfortable, stylish, and made to wear. We’ve loved My Little Jules before, and have fallen in love all over again with some of the newer pieces for fall/winter 2014- so many fun and funky styles for girls!

Look at my littlest one in this adorable Katie Mack Clothing tunic dress, leggings, and faux fur kitty purse. How can you even resist? The pink and brown are absolutely perfect together, and, quite frankly, mixing stripes and prints like this makes me downright giddy.  The faux fur purse?  Over the top.  Plus she can keep her 4000 Frozen lip balms in there and not in my pockets…

katie-mack-pink-brown

 

Even when she’s done with photos, she looks so adorable.  Don’t you just love the stitching on the sleeve cuffs and at the ankles?

katie-mack-pink-brown-top

 

The purse is far and above her FAVORITE thing right now.  It goes anywhere she goes….and everywhere. This kid loves her accessories and this one is just HER. To a “T.”  Moms favorite? She feels fashionable, has accessories, but still looks like a sweet little 5 year old.

katie-mack-kitty-outfit

 

My Little Jules isn’t just about cute and comfy, they also offer fashions that are a hit with the tweenagers in our lives.  My tween is getting very picky about her clothes, and I was very glad to find that she was not just ok with finding a cute cardi and skinny jeans to wear, but also excited.

mustard-pie-clothing-stella-cardi-close

Our little elementary school is pretty warm in the cold months.  Layers are a must because kids get hot during the day. This Mustard Pie Clothing cardi is perfect because she can rock her chevron (favorite print of the month) and because it’s a lightweight cotton, wear a layering tee or cami under it and not be so hot she has to take it off.  The ruffles down the front? Simply adorable.

persnickety-jeans-mustard-pie-cardi

The Persnikety Clothing skinny jeans are adorable with the cargo pockets, don’t you think?  These are pretty skinny from the ankle to the knee but have extra room from the knee to the waist.  My 9 1/2 year old is a gymnastics girl and has some pretty strong legs so that may be why these fit that way.  The waist is adjustable so you can get that perfect fit for your little one. (thankfully! I love adjustable waist).  SHE loves these jeans because she can wear them with her first “real” black boots that go to her knee and she feels like a big kid for sure in them.  I love the overall look — and as a mom, I love that she’s feeling trendy but still looks like a 9 year old girl.

mustard-pie-clothing-stella-cardi

 

 

Now I’m browsing My Little Jules again and trying to decide if I want matchy stuff for the girls or individual.  Maybe I’ll just do both :)

my little jules logo

One of my readers will win a $100 gift card to MyLittleJules.com!

 

Thanks to the fab folks at My Little Jules for once again outfitting my girlies in gorgeous, funky clothes!!

Timing holiday meals

 

I think the hardest part about prepping for the holidays is timing holiday meals perfectly. After spending so much time putting together a mouth-watering meal… it’s nice to have people actually be able to eat it while it’s warm.

 

Am I the only one that finds it slightly irritating if the meal that I’ve slaved over gets cold and then has to be microwaved or reheated in order for it to be enjoyed? I just want everyone to be able to enjoy it fresh, as it’s been prepared.

 

How do you do that for the holidays, though?

 

It’s hard to plan the meal with perfect timing.

 

On one hand, you don’t want to plan it too early and rush people to sit and eat the very moment they’ve walked in the door, leaving the late stragglers to fend for themselves….

 

And on the other hand, if you wait too long after your guests have arrived, you get the whining and moaning (sometimes even from the children) that they can’t bear to wait even one more moment to eat!

 

After many years of trying to find the best way to tackle this dilemma… I’ve finally come to a solution- appetizers and snacks!

 

Ristorante pizza by Dr. Oetker!

 

This Thanksgiving, I plan to serve my meal a little later, and simply have several appetizers out and ready for guests when they arrive. They can snack on those until the final dinner is ready.

ristorante-close

What I love most about using Ristorante for this is the versatility. While it can be used for a full meal, it can also make the perfect appetizer too. It’s all about how you cut it! Small squares allow your guests to munch a bit, without completely ruining their appetites for dinner!

ristorante-appetizers-wider

Not just the pizza, for appetizers, but we can do some Mini Turkey Trifles for the kids (really, I love them too) and set out crudité for the adults.

mini-turkey-trifle

These Honey Gorgonzola Appetizers are to die for amazing. I’m making them again this year but adding very thin slices of pear before popping them in the oven, at my friend Ally’s suggestion.

gorgonzola cheese appetizers

 

 

 

Creamy Spinach and Artichoke Dip is always a crowd pleaser

 

Creamy-Spinach-Artichoke-Dip

Since discovering this solution, I expect the holidays will run much more smoothly. We won’t have anyone getting cranky from hunger, and we won’t be rushing to eat while excluding anyone that isn’t able to make it right on time!

 

What’s your holiday trick for getting the meal on the table at the perfect time?

 

 ristorante-post-prize-pack

Enter to win a Holiday Host Prize Pack valued at $75 including Dr. Oetker’s Ristorante Pizza coupons along with entertaining essentials from Crate & Barrel and Pottery Barn.

 

This post is part of my Ambassador Program with Ristorante Pizza. Opinions are my own.

 

 

 

Getting rid of pet hair #NeatoVacuumBestForPets #Giveaway

The word chaos does not even begin to describe my home at times. Especially in the winter, when we are all confined to the indoors for a large majority of our time. Don’t get me wrong, I love every minute of it…. But I also often find myself dreaming of cloning myself. Just one extra me would go along ways in helping me to maintain my sanity.

I find myself running behind the kids and their various friends throughout the day reminding them to clean up after themselves in an effort to keep the house tidy. Then, as much as my children are running around leaving things behind, my pets seem to jump right in and pick up where the children left off! Those are a bit harder to chastise for not being neat and tidy. Especially when the problem is shedding, something they can’t easily control.Getting rid of pet hair is one of my biggest challenges!

Then… there was a Neato Robot Vacuum.

The Neato Robot Vacuum is seriously the “Best for Pets“. Not just because I said it, (although come on, you guys!) but because they’ve also won numerous awards titling them as just that! Not only does the Neato keep floors neat and tidy… it’s hands free and effortless! No more daily floor cleaning with standard vacuums or sweeping with brooms… the Neato handles that for you.

How does it work?

You pick the time and date and schedule when you’d like the Neato to clean, or use the one button start. When it’s time, it moves around your house picking up debris. The Neato actually learns your house! It uses laser mapping and laser guided navigation to do this. It also includes boundary markers/sensors to protect pet bowls, stairs, and your important valuables.

The wide suction area and edge cleaning brushes can be used for through clean. The stealthy vacuum can also easily maneuver under furniture, around corners, and the square edge gets in corners and hard to reach spots!

This vacuum literally saves hours a month! It’s the next best thing to having a full time maid! And guess what happens when it’s done cleaning? The Neato Robot Vacuum just returns itself right to it’s base to recharge! How “neat” is that (see what I did there?).

What room could you use a Neato in?

Be sure to check out the Neato Robot Vacuums “Best for Pets” pet-friendly webpage dedicated to providing pet shedding resources, tips and even a Pet Shedding Solutions Guide featuring content from PetMD and Pet360.

Sweepstakes Offer – you could win a Neato Botvac 85 Robotic Vacuum! Enter here by November 25.

Be sure to check out the Neato Robot Vacuums “Best for Pets

Sweepstakes Offer – you could win a Neato Robotic Vacuum!

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Visit Neato for more information on why the Neato Robot Vacuum is best for pets! And be sure to enter our sweepstakes for a chance to win your own Neato Botvac™ Robot Vacuum!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Neato Robotics® Best for Pets Vacuums. The opinions and text are all mine.

Rudolph turns 50 #Rudolph50 #ShineBright #giveaway

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is the longest-running and highest-rated holiday TV special of all time, and it is inarguably a beloved part of the American holiday tradition.

50YearsRudolph

 

This year is the 50th anniversary of the story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.  Yes, the sort-of fuzzy and very dated little reindeer with the bright red nose who couldn’t join in any reindeer games. Fifty  years! Hard for me to believe that I’m only 10 years younger than Rudolph…. but really- so very many of my holiday memories are entwined with the story of Rudolph, Clarice, Yukon Cornelius, Hermey, and the friends from the Island of Misfit Toys. Books, toys, songs, quotes, stuffed animals… there are so many ways that I’ve had Rudolph as a part of my holiday life (and beyond) and I just love that I can continue sharing the love of Rudolph with my kids. I’m pretty sure I’ve watched Rudolph, read the books, or both every single Christmas season of my life.

I’ve heard stories about me singing Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer off-key for most of a year, I think when I was 4 or 5?  It’s kind of fun that my youngest spends a whole lot of time singing it as well (she’s just 5 herself).  Growing up, every year we would all watch when CBS aired Rudolph on TV, no matter how old we were, or what stage of life we were in. My husband thought I was so strange that I would not just watch, but would make sure to be ready to watch (popcorn, not multitasking) when Rudolph was on TV.  Trust me when I tell you, he’s a changed man. It’s taken 14 years but he’s turned into a Christmas guy, and loves watching all of our beloved holiday friends almost as much as I do.  He knew the holiday lineup of shows before I did last year.  I was VERY proud.

So naturally, when I heard there was a TO DO for Rudolph, the best reindeer ever, I had to be involved.  The anniversary celebration includes a major tie-in with the U.S. Postal Service, tribute promos from CBS, a collector’s edition DVD with new bonus material, a new stage musical, theme park and in-mall entertainment, and a social media campaign – #ShineBright – that celebrates uniqueness in association with PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center. (Note to self: go get Rudolph stamps ASAP for holiday cards!)

 

We received 6 Rudolph books in honor of the big anniversary to enjoy.  They go from toddler all the way up to a special anniversary edition- and several in between.  When I showed the kids the books, my son, age 7, sat down, opened the book, and emerged an hour later asking for book 2.  (Is there to be a Rudolph series?)

ABOUT THE BOOKS

Square Fish, an imprint of the Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, is releasing 6 new Rudolph-themed books that span a variety of formats, including the first ever graphic novel starring Rudolph and company, RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER: THE ISLAND OF MISFIT TOYS, by Brendan Deneen. Other formats include a classic storybook, a picture book, slide-and-find and lift-the-flap board books, and a ‘My Reader’ edition specifically designed for beginning readers. There’s something for the whole family!

 rudolph-books

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Classic Story Deluxe 50th Anniversary Edition for ages 4-8

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: Slide and Find Board Book for ages 2-4

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: Life-the-Flap Board Book for ages 2-4

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: Rudolph Saves the Day Paperback picture book for ages 3-7

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: My Reader Level 2 Paperback Reader for ages 5-7

This is the stage my youngest is reading, and she was REALLY excited about this book.  She could read every word, with the exception of names and Christmastown.

rudolph-early-reader

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Island of Misfit Toys Middle-Grade Graphic Novel for ages 7-12

island-misfit-toys-book

 

Visit Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group Official Website

Follow Macmillan Kids on Twitter

RudolphBooks

One reader will win the 6 books pictured above to celebrate Rudolph’s 50th!

 

 

This post is brought to you by our sponsor, Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group

Cake Boss Halloween Demo and Giveaway

Buddy Valastro, star of TLC’s hit TV series, Cake Boss, teams up with his talented 11-year old daughter, Sofia Valastro, and Carlo’s Bakery lead decorator, Gabrielle Parisi, in co-hosting Holiday Baking Live with Cake Boss™, an interactive baking demonstration that will be broadcast live from Buddy’s expansive Cake Boss baking facility in Lackawanna, New Jersey.

buddy-sofia

Holiday Baking Live with Cake Boss™ will be available for viewing on www.CakeBossBaking.com and Cake Boss Baking Facebook Page, www.Facebook.com/CakeBossBaking on Wednesday, October 22, 2014 at 8:00 PM EST/5:00 PM PST. Baking enthusiasts and fans of Cake Boss who tune in to these brand sites will be able to interact with Buddy and his team in real time with questions and comments posted online via a live chat feed during the broadcast.

holiday-baking-cake-boss

In the approximately 60-minute, Brandlive Holiday Baking Live with Cake Boss™, Buddy, Sofia and Gabrielle will demonstrate decorating tips and tricks for upcoming fall holidays, including Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Both easy and intermediate level cake decorating ideas that will cover working with fondant and icing, and applying cake fillings, will be shown using an assortment of “Buddy approved” Cake Boss baking and decorating tools and equipment.  Additionally, Buddy and his daughter will share personal stories of how they celebrate the holidays, and answer questions from fans live throughout the event.


cake-boss-ghost-cake-pan-cakelette

Engaging demonstrations on Halloween baking, which kick-starts this exclusive live broadcast, will spotlight the new Cake Boss Ghost Cakelette Pan, specially designed to bake six ghostly-shaped mini cakes. To celebrate Halloween and the start of the holiday baking season, Kohls – the exclusive retailer of the Cake Boss Ghost Cakelette Pan – is offering a valuable 30 percent savings promotion on this specialty baking pan, and all other Cake Boss products on www.Kohls.com in October. These pans are already at a great price point so saving 30% is HUGE!!

cake-boss-thanksgiving-turkey-cake

 

One thing to note about this demo on Wednesday- viewers are able to interact with Buddy and his team in real time with questions and comments posted online via a live chat feed.

cake boss christmas

Buddy, Sofia and Gabrielle will demonstrate tips and tricks for upcoming fall holidays, including Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Easy and intermediate level cake decorating ideas, such as working with fondant and icing, and creating mini-size, individualized holiday treats will be shown using assorted “Buddy approved” Cake Boss baking and decorating tools and equipment.

 

Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday baking tips will feature the new Cake Boss 4-Cup/2-Tier Round Cakelette Pan, available at www.Amazon.com.  This pan makes 4 mini cakes easily and the options for decoration are endless.

 

Everyone who RSVPs to the event on http://bit.ly/CakeBossLive will be automatically entered to win the new Cake Boss Airbrush Kit, valued at $120.00. Other pre-broadcast Facebook Page promotions include chances to win the new Cake Boss Ghost and Cake Boss 4-Cup/2-Tier Round Cakelette Pans featured in the live broadcast.

For more information on Cake Boss baking products, please visit www.cakebossbaking.com, www.facebook.com/CakeBossBaking, or follow Cake Boss Baking on Twitter @CakeBossBaking.

During the event, Buddy, Sofia and Gabrielle will be (in part) focusing on the following products from The Cake Boss line:

Cake Boss Ghost Cakelette Pan

Cake Boss 4-Cup/2-Tier Round Cakelette Pan

Cake Boss Cast Iron Cake Decorating Turntable

One of my readers will win a Cake Boss prize pack including all 3 of the above items!

This post is brought to you by our friends at Cake Boss. Opinions are my own.

Celebrating Moments #FridgeworthyMoments #Giveaway

Celebrating life’s moments- big and small- is part of what being in a family or group of friends so awesome. Capturing those moments and declaring them Fridgeworthy- hanging those photos on the fridge so you can remember all the time- it’s a wonderful way to keep those memories and feelings alive. From that first day of school photo (all 3 kids going on the bus this year!)….

fridgeworthy-first-day-school-2014

 

to the very first visit to an American Girl store…

fridgeworthy-american-girl

 

Playing catcher for the first time…

fridgeworthy catcher

 

The first dance recital with a best friend…fridgeworthy-recital-moment

 

to first swimming medals…

fridgeworthy swim awards

 

 

the first time a handstand was captured on film…

fridgeworthy handstand

 

to the first time they drove a duck boat… driving duck boat fridgeworthy

it’s all of those big and little moments that earn the term Fridgeworthy.  PediaSure, a brand who knows all about fueling kids’ bodies so they can have the energy to make those moments, understands just how special Fridgeworthy moments are, and why we want to celebrate and remember them on our refrigerators.

PediaSure is packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and DHA. That means kids who need some extra vitamins and minerals can get them- in a tasty form- giving them the power to go after those Fridgeworthy Moments.
pediasure-strawberry-shake
-Clinically proven to promote growth and development
-Enriched with DHA (omega 3 fatty acids), an essential part of a growing child’s diet, which can usually only be found in fatty fish and nuts
-25 essential vitamins and minerals in a patented, easily digestible formula for optimal digestion and metabolization
Multiple formulations for parents who just want to be sure their kids get all the nutrition than need to parents of children with nutrition and weight gain issues

PediaSure minifridge

One reader will win  a branded mini-fridge and a year’s supply of Pediasure!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

fridgeworthy-pediasure
After you enter here, head over to the CafeMom site for another chance to win a HUGE PediaSure prize: a new full-size fridge and year supply of PediaSure awarded as a $2,000 gift card! The photo contest ends 11/2, so head over and enter today!
PediaSure partnered with bloggers such as me for its PediaSure Fridgeworthy blogger program. As part of this program, I received compensation for my time. PediaSure believes that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. PediaSure’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines and social media engagement recommendations.

Delta Temp2O Shower Head #DeltaFaucet #HappiMess #giveaway

Life gets messy.  In my house, kids get messy.  Really messy. Truthfully, we all do, especially when we play together, which is something we put a lot of emphasis on. Weather permitting, we play outside together before and/or after dinner each day. Even if it’s raining or snowing. We figure it’s more important to be together and enjoy another’s company than worrying about getting messy.

Besides, we have ways to clean up after getting messy. So what’s the big deal? Puddles are made for jumping.  On hot summer days, why shouldn’t we run around outside and get soaked playing in the rain? Cake plates are made for licking.

licking plate

 

We do a lot of soccer outside- all 3 kids love the game and that works for us! It’s fun, and it gets us moving.  Given that the kids are 50% mine genetically, they have my lack of grace, and fall often.  Muddy and grass stained knees are part of our daily routine as a result. But- it doesn’t matter. Grass and mud are a quick thing to get off in the shower.  The together time is more important than the worry about cleanup.

messy

Each of the kids also plays soccer for the town. Which means dirty, messy kids after a hard practice and/or game. The littles have practice that ends in a game, and our oldest is on a team that plays other towns so she’s played up to 4 games in a day.

Chickens are pets in our house. They are held and we pet them. That’s a guaranteed shower right there!

baby chicken

Messy. Happy messes, but messes nonetheless.  I find the tradeoff from a happy mess (aka HappiMess) more than worth it, and don’t mind for a second doing that extra laundry. (We won’t talk about folding it).

crafting

Showers are an almost daily thing here for our kids.  We recently installed a Delta Temp2O™ Shower Head and have been really pleased with the results.  It took a few minutes to install- and the water itself powers the temp screen to let you know just how hot (or not) the shower water is. This is REALLY a great thing for us because we are at the point where the kids want to shower themselves, and not have mommy help… but I worry that they may have the water too hot- or too cold. Now I can peek in above their heads and be sure that water is in the safe zone. (It also told me that our water temp doesn’t seem to be set at 120 anymore, so we had to take care of that).

I really love the 6 settings for the Delta Temp20 shower head. We haven’t had one that adjusts in a while and I forgot how much I like the options! 3 of the options have massage in their name, and that’s what I like. I like feeling like I’m having a little indulgent spa time even on a regular day. It’s also water-efficient so I’m not using excess water just to have a little indulgence, and I don’t need to feel guilty about it. It’s a really great blend of form, function and design- and packaged at a great price.  Parents having a little ‘spa’ experience AND the knowledge that the temps are where they should be is a pretty great package if you ask me!

Delta-Temp2O-Shower-Head

You can see in the photo above that the shower head shows different temps in different colors.  That’s the cool technology working.

delta shower temp

Shower is off.

When you turn the shower on, within a second or two, the color lights up and a temp readout pops up.

delta shower cold

Blue = cool temps.

As the water gets warmer, the display changes color

delta shower purple 104

Purple = happy zone

And if you get that water too hot, it’ll turn red to warn you

Too hot!

Too hot!

 

 

“Why do people treat mess like it’s a bad thing? It’s actually the evidence of a life well lived. When you’re out there making, creating, doing and playing, embrace your #HappiMess and let Delta kitchen and bath innovations help clean up so you can do it all again tomorrow.”

delta logo

 

Temp2O™ (pronounced Temp-Two-Oh) Technology is a digital temperature display featuring LED color indicators to signal different water temperature ranges. Giving consumers convenience and peace of mind knowing the temperature of the water flowing from their shower or bathtub spout before getting in, this new offering is available on a variety of handshowers, showerheads and tub showers.

  • Handshowers and showerheads featuring Temp2O™ Technology are hydro-powered, offering consumers a versatile, transitional design that comes in: Chrome, Brilliance® Stainless and Venetian® Bronze finishes.

 

 

One of my readers will win a Delta Temp2O™ handshower or showerhead

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Delta via Mode Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Delta.

Energy Bites Recipe

Quaker has asked me to talk to you about their For the Love of Play campaign, in partnership with the NFL and Fuel Up to Play 60, designed to help fuel healthy families so they an get out and be active for 60 minutes of play a day. 
Physical activity, in combination with good nutrition, is essential to a healthy lifestyle. This isn’t rocket science.  We’ve most of us heard and seen this for years. It’s not even a suggestion.  Our bodies need fuel and they need to move. Today I’m sharing some of the ways WE play in our family- and also a quick and easy family favorite Energy Bites recipe so we have the fuel we need to play for 60 minutes each day.

For the Love of Play wants to inspire us- all of us- families and communities- to get up and get active – at school, at home and everywhere in between.
Play is fun and easy! Whether its flag football with friends, active brain breaks at school, a game of tag in the backyard with your family or organized sports – the ways to play are endless.Playing outside has seemingly endless options to stay active. There are probably 100 different games of “tag” alone.

Getting up and getting active isn’t always super simple when you are indoors. It’s easy- too easy- to get into that comfort zone of sitting on the couch/chair and vegging out, especially in colder months or in less than ideal weather. We try to still be active and keep moving in our house- and one way we do that is with the kids’ toys.  Our house is set up so that the downstairs is a circle. At least, for kids running around, it’s a circle. The floor needs to be refinished anyway, but the ‘turns’ in the doorways?  The finish was worn far before any of the rest of the floors.  Our kids have run laps on that floor since they could move their little bodies independently. We’ve played thousands of hours of chase with them.

captain-america-dad

Now, they are bigger. So we have different ways of play.  My son got a Captain America shield that shoots little foam discs… all of us, including my extended family, have taken turns for the past few years to don the mask and strap on the shield to hunt stinky feet.

captain-america-mom

 

Playing together doesn’t have to be planned. Or serious. We tend to have the most fun playing silly, made up games in our house.  We’ve spent hours playing chase with Beanie Boos and other stuffed animals. It’s about moving and being active.

Outside? Soccer. Taking walks. Bike rides.  Chase. Tag. The kids do cartwheels and somersaults all over the place. Basketball games, hopscotch. Baseball.  There are endless ways to get moving outdoors. The point of the whole For the Love of Play campaign is to encourage us- ALL of us- to geet out there are DO things. Or get in there and DO things. Move. Wiggle. Jump. Shake. Put on the kids’ dress up clothes and pretend right along with them. You might be surprised at how much fun you’ll have!

Energy Bites 

 

kid-friendly-energy-bites

Ingredients

1 C. Quaker Oats, either Quick or Old Fashioned are fine

½ C. peanut butter

½ C. flax seed

½ C. mini baking M&M’s (optional – you could also use mini chocolate chips)

1/3 C. honey

Directions 

EnergyBites1

#1. Add all ingredients to a medium size bowl and mix well. Place the bowl in the fridge for about 15-20 minutes so the ingredients set.

#2. Remove from the fridge and use a small round cookie scoop to scoop the mixture out. Use your hands to roll evenly into balls and place on a baking sheet.

#3. Once all the dough is rolled into balls, place the baking sheet in the fridge for another 15-20 minutes.

#4. Store the energy bites in the fridge in an airtight container.

*Makes approximately 2 dozen small energy bites.

EnergyBites3

2014 Hot Toys #Giveaway

Have some kiddos on your holiday shopping list, but aren’t sure what to get them? Maybe you’re just curious what this year’s hot toys will be so that you know what to buy now before they sell out. Or you could be like me and you just love toys, and you’re curious what’s out there this year.

2014-hot-toy-list

Here are a few of the toys that are likely to be on multiple wish lists this year!

Paw Patrol Look-Out Playset

2014 Hot Toys: Paw Patrol Look-Out Playset

LeapFrog LeapTV Video Game System

2014 Hot Toys LeapFrog LeapTV

Little Live Pets Bird Cage

2014 Hot Toys Little Live Pets Bird Cage

Disney Frozen Cool Tunes Sing Along Boombox

2014 Hot Toys Disney Frozen Cool Tunes Sing Along Boombox

Disney Planes: Fire & Rescue Blastin Dusty Vehicle

2014 Hot Toys Disney Planes: Fire & Rescue Blastin Dusty Vehicle

My Little Pony Equestria Girls Dolls

2014 Hot Toys My Little Pony Equestria Girls Dolls - Twilight Sparkle

Transformers Age of Extinction Stomp and Chomp Grimlock

2014 Hot Toys Transformers Age of Extinction Stomp and Chomp Grimlock

Nerf Mega ThunderBow Blaster

2014 Hot Toys Nerf Mega ThunderBow Blaster

Disney Princess Glitter Glider Castle Playset

2014 Hot Toys Disney Princess Glitter Glider Castle Playset

Razor A Kick Scooter

Razor A Kick Scooter

A few of my bloggy friends and I would like to help bring a couple of these hot toys into your home this year!  So we partnered together to bring you a giveaway that will include both the Paw Patrol Look-Out Playset and the Little Live Pets Bird Cage (total ERV $50).  For your chance to win, just enter on the Rafflecopter form below.  Giveaway is open to US & Canadian residents ages 18+ at the time of entry (please see the complete rules on the Rafflecopter form).
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Eye of Newt Cupcakes

Halloween is coming fast and furious. It’s time to start thinking about spooky treats and frightful delights. One of my favorite things to do is have some fun with holiday foods- and for some reason, I keep thinking about witches brews and the eye of a newt lately. So when I heard that Sweetworks candies wanted to do some fun holiday themed posts, I got excited.  My eyes of newt (eye of newts?) were going to be a reality. Listen- any cake or cupcake recipe will do.  I’m not reinventing the wheel here.  The added elements are what makes these FUN and festive, not the cupcake itself. I mean, it’s still a cupcake, so let’s make it rock. This is a Fashionista Event and a promotional item was provided to me by Sweetworks. Hosts for this event are Still Blonde after all these Years and ModlyChic.

Eye of Newt Cupcakes

eye-newt-cupcakes-halloween-cupcakes

Ingredients:

1 box chocolate cake mix. Or 1 box vanilla cake mix.  Really, anything would work.  I’d actually contemplated doing a black cupcake, but that seemed a little bit much for my house. It would be REALLY fun to do black cupcakes (start with a chocolate base and add black food coloring gel.  Dark base has a better chance to turn black).

Of course if you REALLY want to save some time, buy some cupcakes from the bakery. I won’t judge.

1/2 cup vanilla pudding (again with the color- I want the elements of the yuck without looking yuck. I’m more cute and fun not super realistic and gross. BUT if you wanted to gross out your friends… add some black to that pudding.  Or do a chocolate pudding with black coloring gel)

Buttercream frosting (This is the recipe I prefer for my cakes and cupcakes, and I really recommend NOT using store bought because the eyeballs really just won’t sit as high on your cupcake and squish the black ooze out as effectively with a can frosting). You could also go all Sandra Lee on us and get pre-baked, pre-frosted cupcakes.  Again, I don’t judge.

Sweetworks Spooky Eyes Gumballs 8oz bag

Black Cookie Icing (the bottle kind works best- it’s just easier to squeeze and let the extra flow down the cupcakes. Black blood adds to the effect.

Eye-newt-cupcake-ingredients

Directions:

Prepare cupcakes as directed. Allow to cool.

filling-eye-newt-cupcakes

Either with an icing bag or a spoon, add about 1 full teaspoon of your pudding into the center of your cupcakes. Be careful not to break the sides of the cupcake! This is the brain matter from the newt.

filled-eye-newt-cupcake

Once cupcake has been filled with brain matter, generously ice the cupcake with buttercream.  I left mine white but you can do a color, too.  I wanted the  stark contrast of the black ‘blood’ and the white eyeball and surrounding area.

black-icing-eye-newt

After icing, take your black cookie icing and push the tip about 1/3 of the way down into the icing.  Give it a GENEROUS squeeze (maybe like a tablespoon). It should kind of start to puddle and even run down the sides of the icing.  This is what you want.

eye-newt-cupcake-close

Now grab a Spooky Eyes Gumball and pop it into your mouth.  Enjoy chewing your eyeball gum and grab another one and then push it down into that black icing until the eyeball is just above the icing level.  Watch the magic happen, people.  This is where the magic happens.  This is where the black starts to look like newt blood and I get all happy.  (Also black. I get black.  That icing always gets all over me!) Basically, if it starts to look at all gross, you’re good.

Let set for a while before serving- the more the black icing drips down the icing and cupcake, the better.  It’ll really make those Spooky Eye Gumballs POP! Off that cupcake.  Gross, yet awesome.  And SO delicious.

sweetworks-candies-eye-newt

If the Eye of Newt isn’t quite your thing- have some tamer fun with other Sweetworks fall and Halloween goodies.  There’s a whole array of goodies that you can use to add some fun colors and festive designs to! I’m partial to the Halloween Mix Sixlets to just add some pops of color and fun to a cupcake.  Plus they are chocolate… and chocolate is yum. The Autumn Mix Pearls can be carefully arranged atop some buttercream icing to create fall leaves… or flowers. It’s amazing what a few fun candies can do to a plain old cupcake. Sweetworks is FUN to work with- you can eat any of their brands on their own, but you can also bake with them and decorate with them.  Versatile and fun.

sweetworks-festive

 Sweetworks candies offer a variety of sweets in so many fun shapes, sizes and colors.  Tons of fun shapes and colors to go with seasons, events and holidays. You can buy the Sweetworks Sixlets in multi color packages or individually by color. There’s so many sweets from Sweetworks: gum, chocolate, jawbreakers… each of Sweetworks’ confectionery brands have a strong history of partnership with consumers and retailers seeking high-quality gluten-free, nut-free or kosher candies. SweetWorks® markets its confections in over 65 countries.
Celebration by SweetWorks® Pearls™ and Gumballs, and Oak Leaf® candies are gluten free, Kosher and nut free. Sixlets® are gluten free, nut free.

 

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