Friday, September 26, 2014

Check out these American Girl PRIZES!!

OK everyone, there's an exciting event for Haleigh Ann coming up next weekend -- the American Girl Fashion Show!! This is a yearly event where girls model American Girl fashions and dolls, and the Girl of the Year doll is revealed as well.

For this year's show, Haleigh Ann gets to carry a Bitty Baby and wear a super-cute Tea Time Outfit!! This morning she had her fitting and even got to see the Bitty Baby in matching clothes she will carry. I tell you, seeing all those American Girl Dolls and clothes got us way excited for the show!!

And get this -- the show she is in next Saturday will be the FIRST AMERICAN GIRL FASHION SHOW IN THE COUNTRY THIS YEAR!! I know it sounds crazy, but little 'ole Northwest Arkansas will be THE place to see the upcoming American Girl dolls and fashions.

And guess what else? Because this show is a fundraiser for children's theater programming at the Arts Center of the Ozarks, the girls are selling tickets for an AWESOME AMERICAN GIRL PRIZE DRAWING!! The prizes are for some adorable SETS -- the DOLL and ACCESSORIES too!! Can you say, "Christmas gifts done!" There are SIX sets up for grabs, valued from $138-$261. In other words, each entrant has six chances to win a prize. If you're like me, ANY of these sets would be a winner. You just can't beat it. This is a super-great deal as far as getting your hands on these dolls and accessories.

Here's the deal -- since I have so many friends all over the place who I know love American Girl, I'm going to set up PayPal so everyone can have a chance at these sweet prize packages. Just click below and order your tickets. Be sure to include your name, mailing address, and email with payment. I will send you a picture of your completed, numbered ticket. If you win (fingers crossed!) I will mail the prize to you. It doesn't get any easier than that, right?! The last day for ticket sales will be Friday, October 3, 2014, at NOON (Central Time).

Prize Drawing Tickets $2 each
{ Buy 5, Get 1 FREE }

Look at all these cute dolls and accessories!! Squeeeeeeee!!

If you live in the area, be sure to attend one of the fashion shows Oct. 4 & 5 for more American Girl goodies!! There will be goody bags, ice cream, cupcakes, and of course things to buy (some exclusive to the Fashion Show). For tickets, go to the Arts Center of the Ozarks website. I just know it's going to be a fun-filled day for all the girls, young and young at heart!!

Here are the prize packages*:

1.) Bitty Twin: Bitty dolls, kitty cap and cardigan, puppy cap and cardigan, two sippy cups, rolling carrier
2.) Bitty Baby: Bitty Baby doll and stroller
3.) Samantha: Samantha doll, Meet Samantha paperback, bicycle, doll stand, sparkly hair pick
4.) Kit: Kit doll, Meet Kit paperback, reporter set, brush, stand
5.) My American Girl Doll: Doll and book, sleepover tent, camp treats, brush
6.) Girl of the Year Doll: Starter Collection (doll, book, accessories, case, clothes), kitten, stand, brush

*Prizes of comparable value may be substituted by American Girl Programs

Just in case you are wondering, winners for each prize will be drawn 1 through 6. Like I said, they're all winners!! Thank you in advance for helping us raise money for children's programming through this event!!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The, the, the Grinch Cake!!

In our house, The Grinch is a fixture any time of year. But now that Christmas is nearing (and fast!!) he is even more present. The classic cartoon, the movie, the music, the book, the stuffed animals, the clothes -- he's everywhere, and mostly because of my 4-year-old daughter.

Last year for her 4th birthday party she requested a Grinch theme. Since her birthday is only two days before Christmas, I thought it was a fitting idea and set out to come up with a fun cake for her. I love to bake and decorate, and although some of the work on this cake definitely wasn't my best, in the end it clearly was an original and was made with lots of love.

Many hours and days were spent trying to figure out how to make it work and incorporate my daughter's ideas -- the Grinch needed to be "stealing" Christmas, there needed to be a tree, and of course Cindy Lou Who needed be on there. The whole thing came to me as I was trying to go to sleep one night, one of those instant a-ha moments, and I couldn't wait to begin making my plans the next day. I love that the cake turned out as much my ideas as my daughter's -- she is so creative and often pushes my own creativity to places I normally wouldn't go. Instead of thinking something may be too hard to figure out, I do it anyway because it's for her. :O)

The big features of the Grinch birthday cake were:
  • The Grinch, red Santa sack, Cindy Lou Who, and the Whos were made with color flow icing. The Grinch, Santa sack, and Cindy Lou Who were made with different colors of icing. The Whos going around the cake were made with white icing, and their clothes and features were colored on with markers. They were so small it just would have been impossible to make them with multiple colors of icing. 
  • The Grinch had his arms out, ready to steal the tree!! Cindy Lou Who watched from nearby. 
  • A Christmas tree made out of an ice cream cone covered with green frosting using a star tip. Round sprinkles were added for a look of ornaments. 
  • The top layer was made to represent a Who-house, with lights and ornaments going all around. 
  • The bottom layer was made to represent the ground and snow cover of Whoville for the Whos to stand on while holding hands and singing their famous song. 
  • Plastic presents were added underneath the tree for the Grinch to steal.
Watch out, the Grinch is about to steal the Christmas tree and shove it up the chimney!!

The presents may be gone, but the Whos down in Whoville will sing their favorite song!!

The very happy Birthday Girl with the finished cake!!

The cake itself was chocolate and very yummy. And of course my husband made me cut the cake, which is SO HARD to do after spending all that time decorating. But it's to enjoy after all, and enjoy we did!!

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Friday, March 9, 2012

Smoked Chicken Salad

My husband has a fascination with his smoker and loves to use it to cook different cuts of pork and beef for barbeque. Man is it good!! Last week I got him to put some chicken in there and it was beyond delicious. The smoker is a great way to add a lot of flavor to your food.

That night we ate some of the smoked chicken for dinner, and I saved the rest to make some chicken salad. Make it a day ahead if you can resist it that long -- it really does taste better that way. :O) Here's my recipe:

Smoked Chicken Salad

1 1/2 cups smoked chicken (cubed or shredded)
1/4 cup grapes, halved
1/4 cup celery, chopped
1/4 cup pecans, chopped
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. honey
salt and pepper to taste

Mix honey and mayonnaise together. Add remaining ingredients and toss to coat. Chill 3-4 hours before serving; overnight is best.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

{What I Love Wednesday} Daddy-Daughter Time

I'm going to try to write this without crying -- I'll let you know how it turns out at the end -- but I really love watching my daughter play with her daddy. I know they are creating some very special memories!! The weather was nice a few days ago and one evening they both got on their bicycles and rode up and down our street. It was so precious to watch our 4-year-old riding behind her daddy. She had so much fun following him around on her little princess bicycle. One of my favorite things will always be watching these two together. :O) OK, I made it to the end. No tears "fell." LOL.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Easy DIY Canvas Photos

I absolutely love the look of these photos mounted on canvas. Simple, clean lines really allow your photo to pop and not be distracted by a traditional photo frame. If you have some photos to show off, definitely give this easy, inexpensive technique a try. It's so easy my 4-year-old made one all by herself!!

I first saw a tutorial for DIY canvas photos at one of my favorite craft blogs, Ginger's tutorial was the easiest I've found, and I love how she simply painted the edges of the canvas black. I've seen others who Mod-Podged scrapbook paper to the sides, but the painting is much more simple and (I feel) doesn't distract from the photo you're wanting to show off in the first place.

To make your own canvas-mounted photo you'll need:
8x10 Canvas
8x10 Photo Print
Black Paint
Mod Podge (matte)
2 foam brushes

I found canvases to be cheapest at the local Hobby Lobby ($4 for a 2-pack). Sometimes you can catch them half-off, but if not, just use the handy 40% off coupon they normally have on their website (or access it from your smart phone and show it at the cash register). The photos I used were inexpensive reprints. We purchased a CD of photos with reprinting rights, so I don't feel bad permanently affixing a 50-cent picture to canvas. :O)

First you will paint the outer edges of your canvas black with one of the foam brushes.
After that has dried, use the other foam brush to apply a coat of Mod Podge to the top of the canvas.
Then carefully lay your picture on top and smooth it out with a soft cloth to make sure there are no bubbles.
Once the picture is glued in place, go over it with another layer of Mod Podge to give it a brush-stroked look.
Let it dry and then you're ready to showcase your creation!!

My favorite way to hang pictures is with Command Picture Hanging Strips. The strips have adhesive on both sides, so all you have to do is place it on the frame and then stick it on the wall. Skipping the hammer and nails is definitely a plus in my book. :O)

Here's a look at my little canvas photo collection:

Oh, and my 4-year-old seriously may have done a better job on the canvas she made than the ones I did. She wasn't as focused on getting even, straight brush strokes like I was. And although you can't tell from far away, up close you can see the nuances in brush strokes and it gives a great look to the finished photo. She's getting crafty, that one. I wonder where it comes from? :O)

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Monday, March 5, 2012

Shred Chicken with a Stand Mixer!

I found yet another reason to love my stand mixer -- shredding chicken!! Yes, it seems silly, but the process couldn't be easier. No more chicken-in-a-can for this house. :O)

All you have to do is:
1) Cook your boneless, skinless chicken breast, and
2) Put it in your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and let the mixer do its magic.

When I tried this last week I used the shredded chicken to make Chicken Sour Cream Enchiladas. The chicken was perfect and tasted much better than the canned kind. Mostly I only use canned chicken for these enchiladas and chicken salad. But with this simple way to shred chicken, now I can make it on demand or freeze it in small batches.

To cook the chicken, I boiled it in water with some chicken base for extra flavor (bouillon cubes, broth, or stock would do the same).

What is your favorite way to use shredded chicken?

Friday, March 2, 2012

Pocket Wall Organizer

I desperately needed a better system for putting important mail, checks, gift cards, coupons, etc. so I would remember them going out the door. Piling everything into a basket just wasn't working (shocker, lol). There was always a mad rush to sift through the basket before going shopping to find a certain store coupon, but where was it? Where was that birthday party invitation with the address?Where was the check I needed to deposit?

Then one day I saw the pocket board tutorial in my Better Homes & Gardens magazine and knew I had the answer. I even had the perfect place in mind for the board where I could have all these items nearby on my way out the door!!

The instructions in the magazine called for a big piece of plywood, but I came up with a lighter, simpler solution: a cork board on clearance after the back-to-school sales. The rest of the materials I already had on hand.

I followed the instructions per the BHG tutorial with a few minor exceptions. Since I used cork board, I didn't feel the need to put foam on top. I also chose to create different sized pockets to suit my particular needs -- I left the first row as one large pocket, the second row as two pockets, the third row as three pockets, and the fourth row as four pockets.

I have used the pocket board for several months now and it works great!! I have room for my gift cards and coupons (I put them there right away after they come in the mail), outgoing mail (to take outside to the mailbox), invitations (parties, weddings, baby showers), and more. Now I feel more organized and less scatter-brained about finding things when I need them. I'm so glad I took the time to make this for myself. It was really simple to make (about 1 hour), and cheap considering I only had to buy the $4 cork board. :O)

This is a very versatile board and could easily be used to organize other items. Get creative and utilize your wall space to organize your stuff!!
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