DIY Christmas ornament curtain

I’ve been hanging Christmas ornament curtains on my little kitchen window for the last four years and everyone that comes to visit comments on how simple and pretty it is. So this year I grabbed my camera!

You’ll need a small white tension rod, ribbon and pretty ornaments. (I picked my tension rod up at JoAnn Fabric and Craft Stores. I think I only paid a $1 or $2 for it.)

The toughest part was getting my ribbon lengths the same for each ornament set. Now I just store them on the ribbon so I never have to do it again. {wink}

As always, I hope you’re inspired to craft, bake and create!

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allergy free Halloween treats

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Each year we get together with all of our neighbors and I host our annual Halloween block party. The premise is that everyone brings their favorite Halloween or fall treat and we all reminisce about the summer and tell any plans for the upcoming winter (besides hibernation of course!).

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This year I used my Candy Corn collection and gave it a little lighter twist from how I styled it in August for the shoppe.

And since I couldn’t control the desserts, or their ingredients, I made mostly dairy and nut free goodies. As many of you know my youngest has severe food allergies and I can’t stand for him to feel left out! There is nothing worse than that little face looking at me with sad eyes and asking me “Mommy, is that my kind?” His “kind” meaning made with soy milk or vegan butter. Of course unless I made it myself the answer is typically “I’m so sorry baby…” And any mother with a child who suffers from food allergies can attest that it breaks your heart!

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All of my desserts that night were inspired by the yummy candy corn and the first on my list was a cupcake… imagine that! By the way, Brach’s candy corn has milk in it, but the Kroger brand is dairy free (has egg though)!

So using a Duncan Hines Butter cake mix and Smart Balance Light vegan butter (be careful that you get the light; the others have dairy in them) I whipped up these cupcakes. My only advice on the butter is to use a little less than the recipe calls for because it has a very buttery taste.

And if your little one also has an egg allergy, which my little guy did for the first three years of his life, try making your cupcakes out of a brownie mix instead. Just make according to the recipe and fill your cupcake liners higher than normal. I would also suggest that you either use the tin/silver liners or you use cupcake wrappers, like we create for our collections, to hide the wrapper as brownies have oil in them and will discolor your wrappers.

For the icing I simply used Pillsbury Cream Cheese icing and tinted it using gel food coloring (liquid food coloring  thins your icing). Using resealable bags with a slit corner (for easy cleanup) I just piped one layer at a time. It was as simple as that!

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Next I made rice krispie treats, a dessert every kid… and let’s face it, every adult loves! These were gone in a flash! I used the normal ingredients, but in the place of butter I used Smart Balance Light vegan butter again.

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  1. While the treats are still warm mold them into triangles and insert lollipop sticks. Do this before you ice them or your could crack your icing, plus you want to form the treat back around the stick so that there aren’t too many pockets of air. 
  2. Gently push down, don’t crush the cereal, on the top of your treats. You’ll want a flat surface, or as flat as you can get it, for icing.
  3. Using a #7 tip, a connector and a resealable bag, outline your treats with white icing, leaving no gaps or your icing will run.
  4. Melt a small bowl of white, yellow and orange icing (one at a time) in eight second intervals. Carefully spoon the icing into the sections and pull icing to the corners with a toothpick. You want your icing warm, but not too hot and soupy or it will remelt your marshmallows. 
  5. Allow treats to dry completely before inserting them into cello bags.

I also served dairy free licorice, candy corn inspired pretzels sticks (made with tinted “real” milk chocolate so I’ll share those in a separate post) and my little guy’s favorite, gummy worms. My oldest will eat anything sweet so I knew he was covered! {wink}

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As for decorations, instead of using my cupcake picks in the actual cupcakes, I hung them from tree branches to create a dramatic and tall centerpiece (you all know how much I love height on a table!).

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And filled the glass apothecary jar, turned vase, with what else… candy corn!  You’ll notice that candy corn was also the fillers for the rice krispie treat bowl and the pretzel jar. Inexpensive and bright, just my style!

I can’t let you go without pointing out the crepe trim on the cake plate (shown in the first and third images). I just made tiny folds back and forth to give it a ruffled look and then attached it to my square cake plate with just a drop of hot glue here and there. It looked lovely, only took minutes and came right off with a light tug.

As always, I hope you’re inspired!

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giveaway: like us on Facebook

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We recently started a Facebook page and we want you to join us! We’re giving away a FREE set of printables, the winner’s choice, each time we hit another “oo” mark (e.g., 400, 500, etc.). Plus, when we reach 1,000 likes, we’re giving away a party package, winners choice again, of plates, napkins, cups, printables (if available for the collection chosen) and custom invitations for a party of 16 valued at $100 (must be a U.S. resident to win party package; printable giveaway is open to everyone).

And just so you know, the giveaways don’t end there. We often design and giveaway freebies (the next set of printable freebies are being featured in a popular mom magazine in June; can’t wait to give them to you!) and now that we’re on Facebook, our friends there will be first to know. Plus, you can get updates on what we’re working on before it ever hits the blog and you can give us feedback. We value you ladies (and you guys too) so very much!

Please join me on Facebook and leave me a comment. I love hearing from you all!

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planning for a rainy day

rain-date-on-invitationIt’s the worst when you’ve planned your child’s birthday party or your girlfriend’s baby shower to be outside and it rains! You want to hang pom poms from your pergola, all the games require open spaces, your living room just can’t accommodate 15 running and jumping children… What do you do!?

Well it has become so common that almost 15% of the invitations we print have a “rain date.” Typically it’s the next day, but we’ve also seen some moms plan for the next weekend. Either way, we wanted to share this brilliant way to ensure the event you’ve so painstakingly planned for doesn’t get drenched.

Happy planning!

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gift wrap embellishments

giftwrapI know how tough it is to simply get around to purchasing the gift for an upcoming birthday party, much less finding the time to wrap it. But if you can muster the energy, you can add a lot of fun to your gift with only a few minutes of effort.

Most craft stores have a section filled with wooden die cuts and often they sell ones that are already painted, like my little dinosaur here. For less than a dollar you can really add interest to your gift.

And this is not exclusive to boxes. Even if you’re sending your child out the door with a gift bag, a fun accessory gives it a personal touch.

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twist on the placecard

Chair placecardI love this idea from Southern Weddings magazine. We always put the placecard in the same place. Makes perfect sense; it goes on the table. Right? Well it doesn’t have to. This idea is perfect when you’re having a gathering:

  • with more than one table,
  • where everyone knows each another already, or
  • when you have limited space for each place setting.

Think outside, or in this case off, the table.

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appreciate your hostess

We’ve all been there, someone invites you to a party or a family dinner (i.e., Thanksgiving) and when you ask what to bring, they say “nothing.” Take it from me, they don’t really mean it… plus etiquette compels you to ignore them. Here’s our advice, if it’s a dinner, take at least a bottle of wine (your meal will cost much more than it and you didn’t even have to cook). If it’s a cocktail party, the bar is stocked… give your hostess a personal gift. Remember, she worked hard and thought enough of you to invite you.

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who sits where on Thanksgiving

One of our “Party Chat with the Experts” readers on OpMom.com asked a great question today. What do you do when you’re having the entire family over for Thanksgiving and the “main” table isn’t big enough for everyone to sit at? She also asks whether or not the kid’s table should be in the same room. Here’s what we think.

The “main table” situation is always tricky. You know your family best and who might take offense to being at the “second” table. If someone is going to raise a fuss, put them at the “main,” unless you really don’t want to! {smirk} Or, if you want a more diplomatic way to arrange, you could let everyone draw a number and sit in the seat they drew. (See how to make cute turkey placecards.)

As for the kid’s table, location is definitely tied to the age of the children. If above 4, I would say in another room is just fine. They’re going to giggle, play at the table and probably get up after 10 minutes anyway. {wink}

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memorable thank yous

Building on yesterday’s idea, develop the pictures you took of each child and insert them in your thank you notes. It’s a guaranteed way to make the moms smile and to make your thank you note (and party) memorable to your guests.

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