Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Halloween Costume Disappointment

For the past 6 years I have either bought my girls' Halloween costumes used from Craigslist or from the thrift store, or have made their costumes.  I tend not to spend a lot of money on costumes that the girls will only wear for a few hours max.
This year is no exception for Tottie.  My sweet, little 4 year old wants to be a zombie.  Where she got the idea from is beyond me, but that's what she wants to be.  Sooo...I took a pair of her old pjs, ripped them up, and sewed some red fabric behind the tears.  I then took them outside and stomped them in the mud.  To finalize the costume I will spray some fake blood on the pjs, put Tottie's hair in crooked pigtails, cover her face in grey makeup, and put a gash tattoo on her cheek.  She can't wait to see the final look and neither can I!!

Nutty, however, is a different story this year.  After being undecided on what she wants to be and searching through multiple used costumes for ideas, we ended up buying the above costume new this evening at the Halloween store just to get it over with.  It was $35 and does not include the boots or the rope!  It's a 4 piece outfit: skirt with attached belt, vest with attached undershirt, bandanna, and hat.  Though it looks great in the photo, it is SUPER thin, and SUPER cheaply made!!  I'm so disappointed!  The worst part is that because it is so thin and because we live in a cold state, she will have to wear thick clothes under it or wear a jacket.

Since when did Halloween costumes get so expensive despite being so cheaply made?  Do you buy your kids' costumes new, used, or do you make them?  And, don't they make ANY costumes for kids who live in cold states??

Monday, October 29, 2012

Pumpkin Picking--A Family Affair

Halloween is on Wednesday!  Have you picked and carved your pumpkins yet?  I'll share a secret, we haven't (GASP!).  No need to worry, we're going this evening.  After all, if you carve your pumpkins too early they get yucky before Halloween anyway.  Plus, we tend to turn our carved pumpkins around to the uncarved side after Halloween and use them for Thanksgiving decorations on our door step. 
If you haven't been to a pick your own pumpkin patch with your kids, I highly suggest you find one in your area!  It's so much fun to watch your kids walk through the field to find the perfect pumpkin...
...and even more fun to watch them try to cut it off the vine!  Walking through pre-picked "perfect" pumpkins or digging through a bin of pumpkins no longer cuts it for my family.  We enjoy the hunt!

Sooo...this evening we're going pumpkin picking...what are you doing?

Friday, October 26, 2012

Pinned it, Did it!--Not Really...

I didn't have time this week.  As much as I want to try all those fun things on Pinterest, I have a real life that requires time (shocking, I know!).

Between my PALS (Pediatric Advanced Life Support) classes in the middle of the week (remember, I'm used to only working on the weekends) and preparing for Tottie's friend birthday party on Friday evening and the family birthday party on Saturday evening, my life was CRAZY this week!

I had some awesome ideas from Pinterest to do for Tottie's birthday but that just didn't happen.  I ended up buying everything.  Sometimes you just gotta do that for sanity sake!

I DID however, manage to finish Tottie's zombie Halloween costume for her birthday party tomorrow!  I'm pretty proud of myself for that one and can't wait to show you the finished look of her in it!  Nutty has yet to determine what she wants to be.  Guess Hubby will have to take her shopping this weekend...

So how was your week?  Are you prepared for Halloween?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Alien Eggs

I had every intention of surprising my girls with something called Spidery Eggs for breakfast in the morning.  My nephew was over so I recruited him to help me make them.  The problem was, nothing went right so I ended up changing my plan.  I actually like these Alien Eggs better anyway!
I started by boiling three eggs.  One however, completely split while it was boiling.  No problem, I had two more anyway...

I then mixed a bunch of blue, red, and green food coloring together until I got something that resembled dark black water.  If you are one of those people that worries about artificial dyes, you can substitute boiled blueberry water for the dye water.

Next, my nephew and I carefully removed the hard boiled eggs from the boiling water and held them with a folded towel.  Now, my nephew was suppose to put his egg on the counter, cover it with the towel, then gently tap it with the end of a wooden spoon...this would have given a nice spider web looking crack on the bottom.  Instead, my directions got lost in translation and he accidentally stabbed the actual egg with the wooden spoon leaving a large hole in the egg.  The photo above is a recreation for the purpose of this blog post :)

Great, I thought.  I only have one egg now (with a perfect spider web break in it by the way)...

I took a look at my two majorly cracked eggs and thought, "those look disgusting...they kinda look like alien eggs!"

Sooo...I put them in the black water to cool...I dunked them and covered them just like Easter eggs making sure to let them sit in the water extra long on the really cracked sides...
I debated and debated how to photograph the finished eggs.  There's so much you can do with them.  I guess it depends on if you are going to eat them or just use them for a party decoration.  I have every intention of having my girls eat them so I pealed them but took photos along the way to show different presentations:
There you have it--Alien Eggs!  My nephew (10 years old) thought they were pretty cool.  I'm not sure if my girls will actually eat them but I know I will if they don't!

What do you think?  Would your kids eat Alien Eggs?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

If You Had Months to Live...

Last week my local news did a follow up story on the family of a woman named Amy Taylor.  Her life was cut all too short at the age of 34 due to breast cancer.  She left behind a husband and two small children.
What's so different and special about Amy that she made the local news?  It was her attitude and what she left behind for her children that made an impression on many.  
When Amy was told that her breast cancer was un-treatable, she chose not to dwell on dying, but to live and to continue "living" for her children even after her death.
Please watch the video below.  I'm warning you though, you WILL need tissues! 
I will be 34 at the end of this month.  I can not imagine leaving my children behind, not being there for all of their "firsts".  This amazing woman found a way to be at her children's "firsts" despite not physically being there.

What if you knew you had less than a year to live?  What would you leave for your children?  How would you spend those last months?

For those that are wondering, here is the follow up story from last week: (bring on the tissues again)
P.S.  Did you know, For every new Like on the Twin Cities Chevy Girls page, $1 will be contributed to the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer initiative?  See our post about it here.

Nevella To Go! #SweetnessToGo Challenge

This month I started a 5 month long weight loss challenge.  My goal?  20 lbs (but I'd be happy to lose one pant size no matter how many actual pounds I lose).  

One of the biggest things that gets to me as far as calories go is sweetened drinks.  Coffee in the morning (decaf of course), iced tea in the afternoon, some alcoholic drinks that are sweetened with extra sugar in the evening...they all add more calories that interfere with weight loss.  

At work I've been suffering with using the fake, yucky sugar substitute that they provide because I have yet to find a good, portable alternative--until now...

These little babies arrived in the mail last week.  What are they?  They are Nevella To Go--completely portable, easy to use, zero calorie, natural, liquid sugar substitutes.  

As you can see, Nevella To Go comes in 3 varieties:

  • Sucralose To Go--(My favorite) is sweetened using sucralose, the main ingredient used in Splenda® brand products. This sweetener is made using a process that starts with sugar and converts it to a zero calorie and zero carbohydrate sweetener that is almost 600 times sweeter than sugar. 
  • Monk Fruit To Go--(I had never heard of Monk Fruit until now) is a fruit from Asia that has been used for nearly 800 years by locals as both an all natural sweetener and for other potential health benefits. Monk Fruit contains mogrosides, a naturally occurring zero calorie sweetener. 
  • Stevia To Go--Stevia is a plant that grows mainly in the plains areas of South America. Stevia contains rebiana, a naturally occurring zero calorie sweetener.

I've been adding a squirt of these babies (equal to 1 teaspoon) to any drink I can think of that needs sweetening and I have not been disappointed.  (Ok, in the interest of transparency, I'm not thrilled with the Stevia To Go but I do like the Sucralose and Munk Fruit.)  They dissolve quickly because they are liquid and they taste great!  Best of all, they can go anywhere with me (including  work)!

I took the Sweetness To Go Challenge using Nevella To Go. These handy little bottles fit perfectly in your purse or pocket, come in stevia, monk fruit, and sucralose varieties, and best of all, they're calorie, carbohydrate, and guilt free! Take the Sweetness To Go Challenge yourself and click here to get your $1 off coupon!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Nevella. The opinions and text are all mine.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Easy Spiderweb Making

We don't have a lot of store-bought Halloween decorations for our house because we prefer to make them. Here's an easy, fun, and occasionally messy way to make spiderwebs for decoration!
To make them you'll need:
  • White yarn (or black if you want to make your spiderweb shadowy)
  • Simple flour and water paste (mix four and water together to make a paste)
  • Paper
  • Pen
  • Wax paper
  • Scissors
Start by drawing a spiderweb on your paper.  We made ours a corner spiderweb but you can make a full round one.  Yes, I realize that I drew my lines wrong above.  We figured that our half-way through making our web!  If your children are a little older, you probably do not need to draw a spiderweb first.

Cover your paper with wax paper to prevent sticking when you glue it together.

Dip pieces of yarn into your paste mixture and put them on the wax paper following the lines you drew.  Make sure to press together the places where your yarn meets.

Wait till your spider web dries completely before gently pealing it off of the wax paper.  You can use a hair dryer to speed up this process a little.

Cut off any excess string and hang it where you want!

Where would you hang your spider web?

Friday, October 19, 2012

Cotton Swab Skeletons--Pinned it, Did it!

I saw this pin on Pinterest and could not resist.  What a perfect craft for Halloween and we had everything on hand!

We used:
  • Cotton swabs (or as Tottie calls them--"ear waxers"
  • Glue
  • Wax paper (to prevent glue from getting all over the table
Unfortunately, the photo in the pin did not link back to a website for directions so we had to guess how to make it.  Not too complicated though, we simply followed the photo...

This craft was a little more difficult than I thought it was going to be.  Getting cotton swabs to stick together with glue is not as easy as it looks!  

Cutting the cotton swabs was fun though!  They are hard to cut (at least ours were) so when we snipped them, the small end flew across the kitchen!  Tottie thought it was funny!
Hint:  Make sure to let your skeleton dry completely before you try moving him!  He's fragile and can easily come unglued! 
Our skeleton vs. their skeletons. We only made one because Tottie got frustrated and I didn't want to waste any more cotton swabs.
We hung our finished skeleton in our front window.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Nine Awesome and Unique Halloween Treats

We've scoured the internet in search of awesome, unique, and fun Halloween treats.  Below you'll find nine of our favorites from our search!

1) Shrunken Heads In Cider--Creepy is all I have to say about this drink!

2) Cheese Witch Brooms--Cute and healthy!

3) Eyeball Donuts--Easy and fun!

4) Weiner Worms--Just plain gross!

5)  Icky Intestines--I'm not sure anyone would actually want to eat these!

6)  Mad Scientist Potion--Cool for kids AND adults!

7)  Melon Brain--Genious and healthy!

8)  Finger Food--A little too realistic for me!

9)  Pumpkin Seed Brittle--Um...Yum!

What awesome Halloween treats have you made?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Chevy Makes Strides Against Breast Cancer

As many of you are probably aware, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  When was the last time you checked your boobies for suspicious lumps?

Last week (I kid you not) one friend announced she was finally free from breast cancer while another announced her diagnosis.   Unfortunately, breast cancer has become a common phrase among my friends and acquaintances.  I support the fight against breast cancer so that I no longer have to utter that phrase in my circles again.  

The Select Heartland Chevy Dealers in Minnesota have decided to support the fight against breast cancer too!  For every new Like on the Twin Cities Chevy Girls page, $1 will be contributed to the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer initiative. 

In other words, all you have to do is "like" Twin Cities Chevy Girls and you'll be donating $1 to the fight against breast cancer!  You don't even have to use your own money!  How easy is that?!

They have a goal to reach $2000 by October 31st.  What are you waiting for?  Go "like" Twin Cities Chevy Girls and donate "your" dollar.  Then go check your boobies!

P.S.  You don't have to be from Minnesota to like the Twin Cities Chevy Girls.  They have all kinds of fun stuff on their page that relates to non-Minnesotans as well!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Simple, Beautiful Sun Catchers

Last month Tottie and I made Fall Sun Spiral Sun Catchers.  Today, Nutty and I bring you simple, yet beautiful sun catchers that older kids can make!
To make them for yourselves, you'll need:
  • Fishing line (shhh...don't tell my husband that I stole some from one of his fishing poles!)
  • Small mirrors (6 per sun catcher)
  • Beads (6 per sun catcher)
  • Hot glue gun (or similar glue)
1)  Make sure you give yourself plenty of fishing line.  You'll need a longer string than you think because you'll have to put a hanging loop at the top.
2)  Start by tying two beads at the bottom of your string.  
3)  Next, glue two mirrors back to back a little further up the line making sure your line is in the middle of your string.  (Click on the photo to enlarge it if need be)  Your sun catcher should look like the photo below.

4) Repeat steps 2 and 3 two more times moving further up the string.

5)  Make a loop at the top to use for hanging.

*Helpful hint: Put a dot of glue on each knot to prevent slipping because fishing line comes un-knotted super easily!

You're done!  Aren't they beautiful?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Introducing "Local Events"!

Look up, see the "Local Events" tab in our navigation bar?  After many requests from both our local readers and media companies we have worked with, we decided to add local family friendly events to our blog menu!  (Quick!  Take a look because some are tomorrow--October 15th!--sorry for the late notice!)

We greatly appreciate our national and international readers but also want to support our local community.  The event posts will not show up on the main page of our blog because we do not overwhelm our readers with a bunch of  "advertising".  Most of these events we will receive no compensation for posting about, we will simply post a copy of the press release for the event.  

Some of these events may include reviews or giveaways that will be relevant to our non-local readers.  If that happens, we will post something about it on our main page for everyone to see.

We look forward to being a resource to our readers for local, family friendly events!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Apple Nachos--Pinned it, Did it!

Apple Nachos were one of the very first things I pinned when I opened my personal Pinterest account over nine months ago.  As with almost everything I pin, it has just sat on my board waiting to be made--until now!

As the original site says, there is no real recipe for this tasty treat.  It's simply whatever you think would be good with apples!

I had left over caramel, chocolate chips, and cashews from yesterday's chocolate caramel popcorn (which did not last long in our house by the way) and we added apples and peanut butter.

Yum!  What a great way to add some fruit and a little bit of hidden protein to your child's diet!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Chocolate Caramel Popcorn

Warning: there is potential for making a large, ooey-gooey, yet yummy and fun mess while making this tasty treat!
We get gourmet popcorn delivered to us at work all the time from families or doctors we work with.  One day we had chocolate caramel popcorn and it was SOOO yummy!  I thought to myself, "I could make this at home!"  So Tottie and I tried...

We used:
  • Microwave popcorn (because I'm lazy).  We used the buttered kind but it would probably be better with plain popcorn.
  • Caramel bits
  • Milk chocolate chips
  • Cashews (because they are my favorite nut)

We popped the popcorn in the microwave then spread it, along with the cashews, in a thin layer on wax paper lined cookie sheets.
Next, we melted the caramel in the microwave.  (Be careful when you do it because you can easily burn it if you are not watching!)  

Then, using a spoon, Tottie drizzled the caramel all over the popcorn and nuts.  We had a problem with the caramel though...it hardened again quite quickly so I kept having to re-melt it.

We repeated with the chocolate chips...melt and drizzle.  The chocolate chips were MUCH easier to do!
To speed up time, we put the cookie sheets in the freezer for a few minutes to help harden the chocolate back up.

Then we broke apart the popcorn chunks, mixed them up a bit, and did a second layer of chocolate and caramel.

It was messy.  It was fun!  Though our chocolate caramel popcorn didn't look as fancy as the gourmet stuff, it tasted just as good!!

Do you and your kids eat gourmet popcorn?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Disco Fundraiser 2012!

Working in the health care field as a pediatric nurse, I am constantly reminded that not every child is freely able to run and play.  Some are left out of normal childhood activities, such as playing at the park, because they have disabilities that do not allow them to climb on or even sit on the playground equipment.

The nonprofit Madison Claire Foundation is working to change that.  Their mission is to "enhance the lives of children and families living with physical and developmental disabilities by giving them the opportunity to play alongside others through the creation of a universal playground. Playgrounds should be for everyone!"

The foundation's first project will be a $1 million totally accessible  playground in Woodbury, MN.  As their website says, "every playground claims to be handicap accessible. But any parent of a disabled child, or disabled parent themselves, will tell you that accessible and inclusive can be entirely different. Madison’s Place will be the first fully inclusive playground built in the Twin Cities."

As of this October, they are just $300,000 away from reaching their goal and breaking ground.  That's where the Madison Claire Foundation Disco Event comes in...

Here's the skinny--On Saturday, October 20, 2012, you can get get down and feel tha funk with Boogie Wonderland at the Fine Line Music Cafe while supporting this wonderful organization!  This isn't your normal, drag fundraising gala...no!  It's all about socializing baby!  Drink hip cocktails, eat cool hors d'oeuvres and boogie the night away!  (Don't forget to stop by the live auction with far out items up for bids!)  For more information please visit the website.  Can you dig it man?

Got jack squat for mulah but still want to attend?  No problem baby!  You can enter to win  tickets right HERE (Contest ends October 15th).  

Don't have a pad in the Twin Cities?  Chillax, you can do me a solid and donate some bread to the cause by clicking HERE.

What are you waiting for?  Don't be a square, snag your tickets, join the cool cats and support a great cause--this party is going to be off the hook!  (If that's not enough to convince you, it's my birthday weekend--come help me celebrate!)  See you on the flip side!
I received a ticket to the Madison Claire Foundation Disco Event in exchange for helping to promote it.  The text and opinions are all my own.  This cause is one I support 100% as it is dear to my heart.

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