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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

TLC Extreme Couponing TV Show airs tomorrow night!

We're still on vacation in Orlando (yay!), but I wanted to post a quick update about a show that is airing tomorrow night.  It's called Extreme Couponing and it will air on TLC (The Learning Channel).  It will feature Nathan Engels, aka Mr Coupon!  I set our DVR to tape it so we can watch it over the weekend once we get home!  If you watch it, I'd love to hear what you think about it! 


~ Aimee

Friday, December 24, 2010

Do y'all shop the day after Christmas?

I do! I try to get the things I used up this year: Christmas cards, tissue paper, bows, ribbon, gift bags, gift card holders, plus new ornaments, lights, dishes, etc.  I also look for cute stocking stuffers for next year, Christmas-themed things like Kleenex, paper towels, and even candy - red hershey kisses and m&m's can be used for Valentine's Day, the green ones for St. Patrick's Day!  And don't forget cookie tins, ziploc bags, treat bags and other holiday baking products.  They'll also be on sale!   My favorite stores for after-Christmas shopping are Target, Wal-mart, Hobby Lobby & Michaels! Pier One has good stuff too, but they are pricier to begin with, so 50% off isn't really a good deal to me.  (Now at 75% or 90%, I'm in!!)

The dollar store is a treasure trove of Christmas clearance! I get tags, tissue paper and bags here for 50 cents.  Cookie tins too!  Check the clearance section of your grocery store too - chances are you'll find some good Christmas things there.

Most Christmas items will be 50% off on Sunday, and then for the next week or two they will be marked down again and again, up to 90% off! Stock up and save now, and you'll be way ahead of the game come next November!

Merry Christmas to you and yours!!
~ Aimee

Thursday, December 23, 2010

How to make Pretzel Turtle Candies & Pretzel Kiss Candies - yum!

So this morning, my sister called to tell me that the recipe I shared yesterday was like, old news.  It's been making the rounds evidently, and I was out of the loop. I feel dumb now! lol  Anyways, while we were talking she suggested I try this variation too - it's like a Turtle, but better because of the salty/sweet combination!

So my very kind husband ran to the store (okay, two actually) to get the ingredients for me.    I had some pecans in the freezer, so I toasted them with a little salt while we waited for R to get home with everything.  He brought three rolls of Rolos and a bag of square pretzels!! Thanks honey!  I laid out the pretzels, topped them with a Rolo and melted them in a 175 degree oven for about 6 minutes (watch them carefully!!) I also had 3 candy cane kisses from yesterday so as you can see, I added them on the sheet!

When the pretzels come out, smoosh (is that a word?!) a pecan on top of the melty Rolo.  Yummo!! Chill until set, then you can remove from the wax paper. 



I gave a small bag of these to my Father in law tonight and he said they were delicious!! I'm making more tomorrow for my family's get together tomorrow night.

~ Aimee

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Holiday decoration tour

Here are a few of my favorite decorations and ornaments this year....




This is one of Walmart's fab $1 glitter churches - I put it on some glittery basket filler, under a glass light dome from Goodwill, topped with a glittery bow. It adds so much sparkle to my bookshelf!




This is one of my fave ornaments.  It's a snowman painted onto a knife!! There is wire wrapped up the handle, to hold a bow and hook.

My baby, 16 years ago...love this ornament so much!

This is a special ornament David made in kindergarten last year.  Precious!

Can you guess what this is? It's a crushed coke can, painted to look like Santa! Katie made this in 1st grade!

One of my vintage ornaments from my Papa & Grandmother's collection.  Isn't she beautiful?

Not the best shot, but this is the kitchen table, covered with Randy's grandmother's tablecoth over a cream colored cloth.  I added peppermint candies to the vase for a pop of red and white after this was taken!

This is where my Vintage Ornament Tree ended up.  With 18' ceilings, anything tall is good!  I like how it looks up there, & it is safe from the kiddos!!

This was my Great Aunt Charlotte's.  It was passed on to me from my Grandmother's Christmas ornaments Dad gave me.  It's sequins, attached with pins into folded points of fabric on a styrofoam cone.  So vintage!! Another favorite!

The most precious things to me... my beautiful kiddos, December 2010.

The yummiest, easiest Christmas treat ever!!! (if you can find the ingredients at your store!)

I saw this yummy delicious Christmas treat on Welcome Sunshine Home, a wonderful blog I found recently through a blog hop and just LOVE!  You have to visit her post and see her candies  - they are much cuter than mine (explanation ahead!) and she has a link to a darling printable that goes along with these perfectly.  As soon as I saw these candies, I knew I'd be making them.  I HEART Candy Cane Hershey Kisses, so this treat is perfect for me!!

I woke my kids up to drag them with me to Target first thing this morning.  I didn't want to spend any cash (aka vacation money) so I had an Rx gift card to use, which I received for transferring a prescription.  BUT - they were out of the square pretzels, and they didn't have the candy cane kisses.  Oh No! I decided to get the regular pretzels and mint m&m's - I would figure out the kisses later! 


Getting off the point here, but then we had a side trip to my Mom's to drop off her loaf pans from my baking earlier this week, a run to Chick Fil A so Katie could buy herself a chicken biscuit with her work earnings, and a run to Honey Baked Hams for our Christmas dinner.  We got a delicious smoked turkey breast with sweet potato souffle, cornbread dressing, broccoli rice casserole and sliced ham for DH, too.  Big huge thanks to his office ~  every Christmas we get a very nice gift card for HBH from them.   We eat very well on Christmas Day!!

So back to the candy quest.  After a stop at Kroger for gas, we ran into Walgreen's.  All the while I'm thinking - nah - they are so small they won't have the variety.  Oh yes they did!! I got 2 bags of candy cane kisses, and paid 43 cents out of pocket thanks to the Wags gift card balance I had left! 




Dropped Katie off at work, and finally got home.  I lined my biggest (and oldest!) cookie sheet with wax paper, preheat the oven to 175, and started lining up the pretzels.  This first batch used one whole bag of candy cane kisses. (well, except the two that the tips were broken off of.  I couldn't make ugly candies, right? I  mean, that is why I HAD to eat those two...)  I finished the extra pretzels with some hugs I had leftover from some baking earlier this week.


I did learn from this first batch - the second time I placed the kiss more towards the bottom (larger hole) of the pretzel so it would melt more evenly over the pretzels.  I baked them for about 5 minutes, then started sticking the mint m&ms right on top.  It was tricky at first, the melted candy goes everywhere, so I had to get good at aiming it towards the hole-y part of the pretzels to cover as much as possible!



Then I put the whole cookie sheet in the fridge to chill.  20 minutes later I popped them off the paper and onto my favorite plate.



I'm bagging them up and will add the printable tag later - stay tuned for that picture lol! 
If you make some the right way, with the square pretzels, they'll look so cute!! I'm happy with these, but wish I'd found the right pretzels for them.

PS ~ Don't ya love the vintage poinsettia table cloth? It was Randy's grandmother's, and I just adore how it looks on the table!!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Another week, another Blog Hop post!!

Busy Mom's Tips Tuesday Blog Hop

Hooked up with this blog hop today ~  if you are a new follower, welcome!! Please leave me a comment so I can stop by your blog & follow you back!!

Only three more shopping days 'til Christmas....are y'all ready?!

And now it's Wednesday ~ here's today's hop:
Its Hump Day!

(and down to only two shopping days!)

Stone Mountain Christmas Review

Saturday we bundled up the kids and made the trek to a place my family always enjoys visiting for the summer Laser Show ~ Stone Mountain Park.  Located about 40 miles south of us, it's always a fun destination for all.   Stone Mountain is the world's largest piece of exposed granite, and is Georgia's most visited attraction!  This holiday season, I wanted to find out what Stone Mountain Christmas was all about.  We arrived at about 5:15 pm, which truthfully was a little later than we should have started our visit.  We simply didn't have time to do everything we wanted!

When you arrive at the gate to the park, you'll pay for a parking pass ~ it's $10 for the day, or $35 for the year.  If you plan on visiting more than once, it is worth it to upgrade and get the yearly pass! Then you can visit the park itself for free throughout the year.  

Once inside, we headed to the Crossroads area, which has been transformed into a beautiful Christmas village.  We had been given one day passes from Stone Mountain for our visit, so we exchanged those for armbands and entered the village.  The lights are gorgeous - trees are strung in all colors, and the buildings are covered in clear lights.  Everywhere you look there are sparkling lights! 

The Trim a Tree Shoppe

It was magical in the village, sparkly lights reflected everywhere  you looked from the rain ~ kudos to the decorating team!!




The theater where we saw Polar Express 4-D

  
We really wanted to go on the Sing Along Train ride, so the station was our first destination. Unfortunately, we found that the next train was already full, so we decided to go see the Polar Express 4-D while we waited.  Trains run about every 40 minutes, the movie is every 30 minutes.  When you enter the theater, grab a pair of 3-D glasses and you'll stand in a waiting room.  Watch the monitors for a prelude to the actual movie, then the doors open and you'll go in and find your seat.  Bottom line: my family loved this.  If we had been able to find the time, I know we would have gone to see it again that night - it really was that good! And the 4-D part was very fun: snow falls, water sprays to simulate the train wheels skidding on ice, you'll smell the enticing aroma of hot cocoa - it was a blast!  The show lasts 20 minutes, you get to wear funny 3-D glasses and you WILL get wet!  Everyone in the family will enjoy this attraction.



 After the movie, back to the train station we went.  After waiting in line for about 30 minutes, we found out that the next train was full also.  Luckily, there was some entertainment to keep my little guy from fussing too much - the Bubble Man!   He made some amazing bubbles and had the kids enthralled. 
 


Well, with another 40+ minutes before the next train, we needed dinner ~ it was a cold, drizzly night and we needed some warmth!  Miss Katie's Restaurant had a huge wait, so we got on the waiting list and visited the Glass Blower's shop.  There was time for a little window shopping too.  There are several stores to visit, including a Trim a Tree store, a Toy Store, Candy Store, and a gift shop in the train depot too.  Back at Miss Katie's, we were seated in a cozy booth and enjoyed their famous plate of pass arounds ~ fried dill pickles, sweet potato fries and fried onions ~ while we waited for our dinner.  Yum!  It's a little pricey, but it was filling and you can't beat the service.  Oh, and my kids liked the fact that the servers don't serve you rolls, they throw them to you - Miss Katie's is the home of the hand-tossed rolls!



 Next we went back to the train station.  The 8:40 train was also full.  They told us we could wait 40 minutes for the 9:20 train, but we would miss the Snow Angel finale and fireworks.  Both kids decided that they would rather ride the train, so we decided to stick it out and wait.  It was running a little behind, and we didn't board til 9:30, but we were in the enclosed car.  I was happy my toes had time to defrost for a bit!! The train ride was fun, with lots of Christmas carols for everyone to sing along to, and Christmas light displays around the base of the mountain.  Shortly before you arrive back at the station, the train stops for a live presentation called "The Gift", basically a retelling of the story of Jesus' birth.
Simple but beautiful, this story reminded us all of the real reason for the Christmas season.

David & Daddy on the train

When we finished our train ride it was almost 10 pm,  and everything was closing down.  I was really disappointed that we hadn't come earlier - there is so much more to see!! We had planned to watch some of the live shows - they have several, including Sleigh Ride, A Crossroads Christmas Carol, and more.  There is a storyteller several times a day,  plus a Christmas parade.  (We actually heard the parade going by while watching the prelude to the Polar Express 4-D).   We had hoped to take the kids to play in the Barn and there is also mini golf.  So much to do, and we just ran out of time!!  All in all,  Stone Mountain Park is a great time, and a super-fun family-friendly destination in the metro Atlanta area.  There are many festivals throughout the year, nightly laser shows in the summer, and so much more!

Here are my tips for visiting Stone Mountain Christmas:  Go early, obviously.  Get the day's schedule at the ticket window so you can plan your visit accordingly.  As I mentioned before, there are some great shows to see, plus a storyteller, the Polar Express 4-D, the Sing Along Train, the Summit Skyride up the mountain, and even a visit with Santa!   If you plan to ride the Sing Along Train, take along a blanket for the little ones and scarves, mittens and hats. You'll be waiting outside for the train, some of the line area is covered, but it is all outdoors.  There is one enclosed train car and several open sided cars.  Even in the enclosed car, it was cold and we saw many families with blankets!  Don't forget your camera because there are so many beautiful photo opportunities throughout the park. Finally, make sure you can watch the Finale & Fireworks show with the Snow Angel.  I'm still disappointed we missed them!

If you plan to eat at the park, options include Miss Katie's Restaurant, several snack bars and even a Honey Baked Ham Cafe on site.  Scope them out early and make a reservation if you plan to eat at the restaurant.  If you need a warm drink while you're strolling through the park, visit the Hydration center which offers coffee, cocoa and soft drinks.   There are also kiosks throughout offering drinks, and even a S'mores station!

Stone Mountain Christmas is open through the 23rd of December from 10 am to 10 pm, and December 26th - 30th from 10 am to 10 pm.   Their phone number is 770.498.5690.

For more information on Stone Mountain Christmas click here
For Stone Mountain Park ticket, family value pass & annual pass information click here.

Disclosure: Stone Mountain Park provided me with 4 one day passes for our family to visit Stone Mountain Christmas.  I was not compensated in any other way, and all opinions expressed are my own.  ~ Aimee

Monday, December 20, 2010

The flu : (

David got very sick at school last Thursday.  I came down with it yesterday.  Yuck, yuck, yuck.

Randy took our van in for a check up before the kids and I head to Florida Sunday. : )
Katie is at work today, and David and I are staying in bed resting - so much fun stuff coming up this week, we've got to be better!

I am working on the review of Stone Mountain Park's Stone Mountain Christmas (we visited Saturday night), so hope to get it up here on the blog later today.  Hope y'all have a wonderful week!

~ Aimee

Friday, December 17, 2010

An easy way to recycle a Christmas decoration!

So I was reading this post from Skip to My Lou, one of my fave blogs....where she shared how to use the plastic insert inside your Advent calendar to make cute gift tags.  Well, that got my gears to spinning, and I am saving ours to make more adorable Christmas chocolates!!   You can use melted chocolate chips, melt some squares of chocolate bark, or candy melts from Michael's.  Just melt in the microwave, pour into the plastic molds, refrigerate for a few minutes, then pop those cuties right out!!

I am baking/making Christmas treats today, and thought of a really cute way to use these.  Katie decided she hates the chocolates in our advent calendars so I took the insert out of hers, and filled the cavities with melted white chocolate.  I made some chocolate covered oreos, then topped them with the white chocolates from the advent calendar! What do you think? I love how they turned out!




~ Aimee

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Cellfire has a Christmas present for you!

Log onto Cellfire today between 1 pm & 5 pm EST to find out which coupon Santa left for you - they are giving away coupons valued from 50 cents to $5 off your next shopping order.   Thanks Cellfire!!

Ballard Designs Free Shipping Offer

Ballard Designs is offering Free Standard Shipping on orders of $50 or more through Monday, December 20!



~ Aimee

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Back to blogging tomorrow....

Two days of craziness here! My sweet Nana is in the hospital because of her congestive heart failure, which makes me sick.  So I've been on the phone alot tonight with family near and far.   I've also been baking, wrapping presents, addressing Christmas cards, making vacation plans, etc etc etc.  Then tonight the ice moved in to Atlanta.  My husband works for the power company, so they made all employees working tomorrow stay in hotels near the office tonight.  It took Randy forever to get from here back to Tucker tonight.  At least an hour and 15 minutes - and it's only a 40 mile drive!! Lots of wrecks, a big fat mess. Atlantans don't do ice or snow well!!!!! 

Anyway - I know y'all are just as busy.  I wanted to check in, say howdy, and let you know that tomorrow I'll be back with something Christmas-y!! 

Have a good night ~ Aimee

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I thought I lived in the South?!

This is the 2nd day of single digit wind chills, and teen temps in the morning.  It is 12 degrees here, with a wind chill of one!!!!! ONE!!!!!  Drove my daughter to the bus stop because it is too cold to wait outside.  Not looking forward to making two grocery trips, plus one to the Dollar store....brrrrr!

Hope your day is warmer ~ bundle up, y'all!

~ Aimee

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Snowy day, and another blog hop!

But...since we live in Georgia, the flurries were lovely but didn't stick!  We have had the craziest winds today, up to 30 mph - we were under a wind advisory!!  The temperatures will be in the teens when we wake up in the morning.  I'm kind of hoping that the schools will close for the cold/wind.  Hey, it's happened before!!

Here's the Monday hop I'm linking up to...



Hope y'all are staying warm, have a great Monday!!

~ Aimee

Saturday, December 11, 2010

How to make memorable holiday Appetizers

I'm pretty sure these came from Southern Living ~ just not sure when!!

Ham & Cranberry Cream Cheese Sandwiches (Actually, we don't eat pork so I use turkey instead - yummmm!)

1/2 c cream cheese (use the tub of cream cheese versus the block of cream cheese!)
1/2 c whole berry cranberry sauce
28 slices cinnamon swirl bread, crusts removed
28 very thin slices smoked ham (or turkey) about 1 1/4 lbs

Combine cream cheese and cranberry sauce, mixing well.  Spread a heaping teaspoon of the cream cheese mixture onto each bread slice.  Top half of the bread pieces with two slices of the meat.  Place remaining bread, cream cheese side down, onto meat.  Cut each sandwich into four trianles using a sharp knife. 
Makes 56 appetizers

Savory Kalamata Cheesecake Squares
1 1/4 c Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
1/2 c very finely chopped pecans
1/3 c butter, melted
1 8 oz pkg cream cheese, softened
1 3 oz pkg cream cheese, softened
1 8 oz container sour cream
1 Tbsp all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 large egg
1 egg yolk
1/2 c kalamata olives, pitted and sliced or chopped
1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary

Combine first 3 ingredients,stir well.  Press firmly into a lightly greased, foil lined 9" square pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes, set aside to cool.  Beat cream cheese, sour cream, flour and seasonings at medium speed with electric mixer until smooth.  Add egg and egg yolk, one at a time, beating just until blended.  Stir in sliced olives and chopped rosemary; pour into baked crust.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, or just until firm.  Cool to room temp on a wire rack, cover and chill. 
To serve, lift foil out of pan, cut cheesecake into squares.  Garnish serving platter with fresh rosemary sprigs if desired.  Makes 3 dozen.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Cute Gift Ideas on a budget...

I've been using some of these for years, others I wrote down years ago, intending to use them....maybe one of these days! : )

Make a small gift basket with pancake mix, strawberry or blueberry syrup, and other breakfast items.  On the gift tag, write "Have a "berry" nice Christmas!!"

Make a loaf of fresh bread, on gift tag, write "S-breading some Christmas cheer from our home to yours!"

Make a pampering basket - fill with bubble bath, soaps, bath salts, etc - on the tag, write "May your holidays "bubble" over with happiness! Merry Christmas!"

Fill a Christmas mug with Hershey Kisses & Hugs.  On the tag, write "Kisses and Hugs ~ Merry Christmas!"

Fill a pretty candy jar or bag with Hershey Hugs.  On the tag write "A friend always knows when you need a Hug!"  (Could work any time of year as a gift or pick-me-up!)
OR
a tag that says "A Teacher can't live by apples alone! She needs hugs, too!"

Give a bag or tin full of Christmas goodies, with a tag that says" Hope your Christmas is sweet! Merry Christmas!"

Fill a Christmas mug with a bag of homemade hot cocoa mix.  Attach a tag that says "May your cup runneth over with joy this Christmas!"

Make a movie basket with DVDs, popcorn, drinks, candy, etc.  Attach tag that says "Hope Yule Enjoy the Show! Merry Christmas!"

Fill the inside of a whisk with Hershey kisses, wrap in tulle or cellophane, tie with a pretty ribbon.  Attach tag that says " We Whisk You a Merry Kiss-mas!"

Fill a candy dish with red and green Jolly Ranchers, attach tag that says "Have a Holly Jolly Christmas!"

Wrap a loaf of homemade bread in a new dish towel, then attach tag that says "Loving from our oven ~ Merry Christmas!"

Give a pretty candle with a tag that says "May your days be happy, your heart be light, your Christmas Merry, your New Year Bright!"

Fill a candy dish with red and green m&ms, give with a tag that says "Have a "M"erry & "M"ost Wonderful Christmas!

Give a decorated gingerbread house with this fun tag: "Nibble nibble, like a mouse.  We hope you'll nibble at this house! Merry Christmas!

Give a bag of mulling spices with this tag: "May your Christmas be Merry & Spiced!!"

Fill a new oven mitt with homemade goodies, attach this tag: "We have to "admitt" you are a great neighbor! Merry Christmas!"

Give a bag of soup mix and a bowl with this tag:  "You are a soup-er friend.  Merry Christmas!"

Silly gift:

In a  Christmas treat bag, pour some Whoppers or Milk Duds.  Attach this poem:
Christmas is coming, and so are reindeer.  Listen closely and bells you will hear.
Along with them comes a special treat: Reindeer droppings for you to eat!
Merry Christmas!!

It's the weekend!!

And I couldn't be happier! My kids are home, the candles are lit, the tree is shimmery and lovely, and life is good!  I have my favorite winter blend simmering on the stove for adding moisture to the air & scent to the house - water with liberal dashes of nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon.  It's amazing!  Our house gets very dry in the winter and we get chapped lips, dry skin, etc.  So this is a daily thing for me.  I really love the fragrance it gives our home, very welcoming, home-y and comforting. 

Here's the first weekend hop I'm linking up to.  You can link your GFC, Twitter, Facebook and more! 



Here's blog hop # 2 for the weekend!




 And here is # 3 Blog Hop ~ Swingin' By Sunday!
Y'all have a blessed weekend!!

~ Aimee

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Friday Blog Hop time!


Check out Bee Friendly Friday here !!

~ Aimee

Exciting things coming here on the blog!! : )

I'm very happy to announce that I'll be featuring more reviews of family-friendly places, both locally and in other parts of Georgia & Florida here on the blog!  Several years ago, I authored a column called Just Kidding Around Atlanta (& was Features Editor) for AtlantaChristianWeekly.com (which is no longer published, sadly).  I enjoyed sharing fun, family-friendly places, attractions, shows, and more with my readers through my column.  When I started this blog earlier this year, that was one of my goals: to start reviewing again!  In addition to the reviews, I hope to have some great giveaways for local attractions here on my blog in 2011.

For our trip to Orlando that's coming up December 26 , the kids and I will be visiting and reviewing Ripley's Believe It Or Not! Odditorium and Pirates Dinner Adventure.  I'm working on a few other places to visit, too!!   If you're planning a trip to Central Florida next year, I hope these will be helpful and show you a few other things to do down there besides the two big theme parks!

Later this month, we'll be checking out A Stone Mountain Christmas at Stone Mountain Park.  It's a wonderful place in Atlanta and I can't wait to see what their Christmas offerings are! So stay tuned for pictures and lots of reviews of these and other fun places to visit with your family!! 

I promise to be back tomorrow with some Christmas gift ideas.  We have one week of school left, and I've got a few ideas for easy teachers gifts to share!!

~ Aimee

Monday, December 6, 2010

Very proud mama!!


Yesterday was a great day.  We took both kiddos to my husband's office down in Atlanta for a very special Artists Reception.  Both our kids submitted drawings to a Christmas card contest his office sponsored back in October.  David drew a really cute mantle & Christmas tree scene, and Katie drew a lovely pastel church on a black background with a full moon shining above, and snow everywhere.  And lo and behold, she won the grand prize!! Her drawing was selected to be the company's Christmas card this year, going out to vendors, customers and others.  David didn't win for his age, but the company still honors each artist at the reception.

First the kids had their pictures taken in front of a large board that had all of the pictures mounted on it.  They received name tags that had a color copy of their drawing on it too.  We joined the other families in the office's cafeteria for a delicious light lunch of Zaxby's chicken fingers, veggies, and Christmas treats.  Then it was time for the awards.  Katie was called up first, she received a savings bond and a $100 gift card to Target.  She also got her original drawing matted and framed ~ so lovely!! And of course, 25 copies of her Christmas card, which credits her inside, and has my husband's name as well - he is very proud!! We met the company's President, who congratulated Katie for winning and thanked my husband for having the kids participate.   Soon it was time for David's name to be called.  He was very happy to receive a $10 Target gift card, which he will totally spend on books! That boy loves to read!

Katie with her winning pastel drawing. 

DH missed getting a shot of David getting his certificate & gift card, but he did get Katie clapping! ; ) Luckily, the company photographer took pics, hopefully we'll get copies!

Before we left, we went downstairs to the Children's Christmas party his office was hosting right after the reception.  David got his face painted, made spin art, a pinecone Christmas tree, decorated cookies, got a doggie shaped balloon from a clown, plus they each got a fantastic goody bag that had lots of Christmas silly bandz, which both kids (yes, the 16 year old AND the seven year old!) LOVE!!

Decorating sugar cookies - yummmmmmm!
Katie's yummo cookie!

David's face painting - run gingerbread man, run!


It was a great day.  I was very proud that both kids participated, that both kids used their creativity to create their drawings, and that Katie won! This was her first time entering, and David's second time.   I have to tell you, both kids can't wait to enter again next Fall!!


My kiddos - they are my life, and my heart!! (this is last year's Christmas picture - I'd better get busy on this year's!!)
And Randy & I are so very blessed to have these two sweet, talented, loving & amazing kids.
Thankful, thankful, thankful.  Thanks for letting me brag on them!!

Happy Monday!!



Linking up with this fun blog hop today - welcome new GFC readers!! I always follow back so leave me a comment so I can stop by & follow you too!

Here's another great Monday blog hop to check out! : )


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Holiday Party Recipes

The first two are from my favorite Georgia girl, Paula Deen & her boys, Jamie & Bobby.
Pecan-Crusted Cranberry Cheese Balls

8 oz shredded cheddar cheese
3 Tbsp softened cream cheese
3 Tbsp dried sweetened cranberries
2/3 c finely chopped pecans

Mix together cheeses and cranberries in a bowl.  Form into small, bite-size balls, then roll in the pecans.  You'll have to press gently to get the pecans to stick into the balls.  Refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to use.  Let them come to room temperature before serving.  Stick a cocktail toothpick into each, you can serve with crackers, fruit, and nuts on a platter - yum!

Turtles

1 lb caramel candies
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
8 oz salted pecans
12 oz bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips

Grease 2 cookie sheets.  In a double boiler, or microwave, melt caramels and butter stirring frequently until smooth.
On the cookie sheets, arrange 36 groups of 3 or 4 pecans, about 2 inches apart.  Spoon a tsp or so of caramel over the nuts, cool for 15 minutes. 
In double boiler or in the microwave, on low power, melt the chocolate chips, stir until smooth.  Spoon chocolate by tsp over each caramel turtle; spread with a butter knife.  Let candies set at room temp, or you can place in the fridge to set more quickly.  
(You can also use salted cashews or other favorite nuts in place of the pecans)

Holiday Punch
The night before, make ice cubes with an additional bottle of the sparkling grape juice, keep in freezer until serving time

(start this about 2 1/2 hours before serving so it has time to chill)
3 c cold water
3/4 c sugar
1 bottle sparkling grape juice (I like white, but you can use red, as well)
1 cup orange juice
1/2 c lemon juice
3 16 oz chilled bottles 7-up
5 cinnamon sticks

In a saucepan, combine the water, sugar and cinnamon sticks to make a cinnamon simple syrup.  Heat to boiling over medium heat, stir as needed.  Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.  Remove & discard cinnamon sticks, cover and refrigerate for 2 hours. 

In a large punch bowl, combine the cinnamon syrup, the juices and sodas.  Add the sparkling juice ice cubes from the night before, and garnish with citrus slices, fresh mint leaves, or more cinnamon sticks.  Beautiful and delicious!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Chocolate Studded Pumpkin Bars

So yesterday while checking out at Publix, the girl at the register and I were talking about recipes/cooking & coupons.  She saw that I was stocking up on Nestle Toll House chips, (BOGO, with coupons - I got 8 bags!!)  She told me her favorite recipe with pumpkin & chocolate.  D & I headed to Kroger for part two of my shopping, and I grabbed the cake mix I'd need for it there.    Today it's so cold outside,  I thought this would make a great dessert for after supper tonight!

Chocolate Studded Pumpkin Bars

1 box Spice Cake
1 small can pumpkin (puree, not pie filling)
1 12 oz bag chocolate chips

Empty cake mix into mixing bowl, and mix with the pumpkin.  (DO NOT follow the instructions on the box!! Only add the pumpkin!)  It will be thick.  Add in about 3/4 of the chocolate chips, mix well.  Pour into a greased 9x13 baking dish.  Bake at 350 about 30-35 minutes.  I poured the rest of the chips on top when I took the bars out of the oven, then put them back in for about 2 minutes.  Then I spread the warm chips into a big chocolate puddle on top!!

Your house will smell so amazing when these bars are baking, and they are delicious!!



Thursday, December 2, 2010

How to make Easy BBQ Chicken Pizza

This is one of my favorite stockpile dinners! As an avid couponer/stockpiler, I have quite a good "store" to shop in right here at home.  I still spend about $100 a week, stockpiling the items we use often, but it's getting to the point where I don't have to go every single week to the store!  I plan our meals around what is in the freezer, pantry, or stockpile, or if we need to shop, I base it on what is on sale & I have coupons for!

My family loves this BBQ Chicken Pizza.  I always have pizza dough or biscuit dough on hand, as well as BBQ sauce, chicken, and cheese!  I love to stock up on Perdue's chicken shortcuts, or Tyson chicken chunks.  You'll always find them in my freezer! And when Kroger has their large bags of cheese (4 cups) on sale for $2.99, I stock up - these freeze well too!  So after a very long day of shopping, taking Katie to/from work, and other running around, this meal took less than 30 minutes to get on the plates - that's a great meal plan to me!!

BBQ Chicken Pizza

1 tube of pizza crust dough, or 1 large tube of Grands biscuit dough
1 pkg chicken strips, chunks, cubes or 1 large chicken breast, cooked & cubed
1/2 - 3/4 c your favorite BBQ sauce
1  - 1 1/2c cheese - I use a mix of pizza/mozzarella/cheddar
McCormick's Grill Mates Maple Smokehouse seasoning
We don't use veggies on this, but you could add thin slices of red onion for flavor.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. On well greased pizza pan, pat out the dough.  In a bowl, add the chicken and about 1/2 of the sauce, toss well.  Spoon the other sauce on the dough in a thin layer, spread to edges of crust.  Spread coated chicken on top of sauce, then sprinkle with cheese.  Give it a couple shakes of the McCormick's seasoning on top.  Cook about 15 - 18 minutes, til brown on top.  Serve with a green salad & a side of fruit, we like pears or oranges with this!!


This picture doesn't do it justice! The sauce gets dark and the chicken is peeking through the cheese - it is DELICIOUS!!  If you try it, let me know what you think of it! : )








~ Aimee

Are you a SurveySavvy member?

I just took another survey from SurveySavvy, and thought some of y'all might like this too - they pay various amounts for different surveys, but  the ones I get are usually worth $3 each.  And today I got an opportunity to join a panel for a national company reviewing & discussing products ~ fingers crossed that I got in!! : )

Anyhoo - if you are looking for a reliable, trustworthy company to pay you for taking easy surveys, check out SurveySavvy.  This link includes my referral id, I'm not sure what the incentive is for me, I'm thinking I get "commission" from any surveys my referrals take as well.  Easy way to make some extra $$!

I've got a couple great recipes to post tomorrow, so check back soon!!

~ Aimee

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Free tix for military at Sea World!

I'm busy scoping out places to visit while we are in Orlando in December, and I stumbled across this deal for military members & their dependents.  It's fantastic that Sea World is honoring our troops & their families  this way! Please feel free to share with family & friends who are in the armed forces.

Get FREE admission for one day at Sea World and other Anheauser-Busch owned parks by presenting a Department of Defense ID card at the park. To get your FREE tickets, click the link for the Heroes Salute, complete the easy online application and show your ID at the gate.  Or register at the park's Guest Relations window when you arrive.  Either way - enjoy a FREE day at Sea World with your family!  Offer expires 12/31/10.

Swagbucks Code alert!!

Do you use swagbucks for searching online? I do - and every month I earn at least $10 in Amazon gift cards for free! I also use their toolbar which randomly generates codes worth swagbucks - and if you have the toolbar, you will want to check your inbox for a 7 point code!  (It expires at 7 pm PST, so hurry!) If you don't use them, give it a try - this time next year you will be able to use your free amazon (or starbucks, itunes, and many other choices) cards or prizes for Christmas!  Click the link to get started!

~ Aimee


**Disclosure: If you click the link above and join, it will be through a referral link to my account, and I will receive swagbucks***

Tired of turkey yet?

If so, I've got a yummy sandwich idea!

Turkey Salad Pita Pocket

1 halved whole wheat pita
1/2 cup cubed turkey mixed with 1 tsp mayonnaise (partial to Duke's here!), a squirt of dijon or honey mustard, a dash of dried tarragon,  1/4 c halved grapes, 1/4 c celery (if you like it - I don't so it doesn't go in mine!!) and a tsp or 2 of sliced or slivered almonds.  Mix well, season with salt & pepper if desired, then fill pita with salad mixture.  YUMMY and a change from Turkey day leftovers!!

Hope you are having a great day.  It's cool, rainy, foggy & grey here in metro Atlanta.  We have the strangest weather here.  Yesterday the high was 43.  Today it will be close to 70. And we are under a tornado watch!  Can't put the summer clothes up yet!!  What is it like where you are?

~ Aim

Monday, November 29, 2010

Sweet Deal on Inspirational Books

http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/ ~ Save 15% and get free shipping when you use promo code 15ANDFREESHIP at checkout.  Devotionals, fiction, non-fiction, bible studies and more - huge selection to choose from!

Check out the cute winter wear at Bebe Bella Designs:  Children - Adult sizes Hats, mittens & scarves....so cute! Code: winter66 
Offers Expires: TONIGHT! 

More cyber deals & a tip...

A few more deals....

Minted.com is offering 25% off personalized stationary today only - they have every style you can imagine! Would be a great deal for your thank you note stationary! ; ) Use code GIFTS25 at checkout.

Crane.com is offering FREE shipping with your order of $50 or more.  Check out the invitations, holiday cards and more!

Another tip - put something in your cart on one of the sites you are interested in, and then save to your account and leave it there.   Most companies will send you a reminder email that you have something in your cart and many will include an incentive (coupon, free shipping, etc) to entice you to complete the order!! Vistaprint does this, so does shutterfly - I am sure others do too!

~ Aimee

Cyber Monday!

Let the Cyber Monday shopping begin!! But before you do, here are two tips...

Always google for coupon codes!! Some sites let you use more than one code - for example, you can use a code for free shipping, and a code for 15% off.  Retailmenot.com & couponcabin.com are two great sites for finding coupon codes, as well!

Another tip - look at the url of the site as you are entering your payment info.  It should have https:// at the beginning - the s at the end means it is a secure site!!

Now for a couple of deals....
One of my favorite sites, Artscow, has a great deal for Cyber Monday.  Enter code 25OFFALL to get 25% of everything, plus free shipping! They have personalized items you design with your favorite pictures, such as note pads, purses, jewelry and much more!

Vitacost has $10 off your $100 order.  We order vitamins for the kids here, as well as some for ourselves. (Hero Nutritionals for kids, Alive! for us) I also like their supplements, teas & other items.  Enter code EMTEN$ at checkout for the $10 off! **Update  - just got an email from them that they have FREE standard shipping on all orders, today only!!**

What deals have you found today? Happy Shopping!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Craft room redo, part 1

This year has truly been hectic & full of a million things going on- soccer, making soaps & other products for the stores I've sold my things at, PTA,driving Katie to from work, picking her up late from clubs after school, plus all the other daily things a mom does.  So crafting has been at the very bottom of my list of things to do. 

My craft room is a bedroom on the main floor of the house.  I used to have a BIG room downstairs - it's about 2/3 the length of our house so it was huge! I had tables, a computer armoire, shelves, filing cabinets, a sewing nook, a seven foot tall cabinet for supplies; a whole lot of space to put everything.  But when the princess turned 15, she started begging to move her room to that one.  I agreed, and we switched everything out.  Now my new craft room is half the size of the old, so things have been stacked everywhere.  Sometimes I'd bring things out of the room to work on in the kitchen, or in the family room.  And then I'd ask one of my sweet kiddos to please take it to the craft room.  We keep the door closed, since it's not used often, and I don't venture in there unless I'm taking something in or out!   The kids got good at this - they  would open the door, toss whatever they had in there and throw it on a table.

 Well, about 2 weeks ago, I went in there and I was shocked at how cluttered it had gotten since summer.  Seems the princess had started throwing her dirty clothes in there?!?!?, and little man would go into the bins with school supplies to get markers or paper, & he'd move things around, drop things in the wrong place - and I was guilty too! I'd buy something, come home & literally toss it on one of the 3 tables in there, or sew something really quickly and leave the scraps on the table - it was out of control BADLY!   And did I mention that I just bought a ton of Creative Memories scrapbook supplies from a garage sale and they were added to the mix?! And most of my soap supplies were just thrown in there from the kitchen when I was getting ready for our Halloween get-together.  It was the worst room in my house, and kind of resembled a crafty hoarder's house, but luckily, condensed to only a room. Oh no.  Time to get BUSY!!

Do you want to see how awful this room with the closed door was? (so embarrassing!)
I tried to keep some things organized - a box for cards/gifts
a bag for extra soap, a box of soap supplies, stack for CM stuff
 the bookshelf area - ugh - magazines,albums, binders, oh my!


This is my supply shelf, but it's gotten covered in soap making supplies, ribbons, fabric, just a mish mash of stuff.  It's awful!
the corner area - the white crates are for my soap supplies.  The drawers are for my herbs/botanicals.  Looks like some things have gotten mixed up - there is calendula in the soap crate, and soap petal bags in the herb cart! And to top it off, somehow a drawer has gone missing! lol

 One of the 3 tables.  OH. MY. GOODNESS!!!  (Hey, there's my fall wreath I never hung up! lol)
and the table's twin sitting beside it....again - how did things get so bad!!??  CD's, scrapbooking stuff, bath products, office supplies... all thrown here by either my kids, or me. BAD.

empty wall between closet & bedroom door

SO.... on to the project I found & tackled.  Country Living (from several years back) had a great picture of a closet made into a craft nook.  The inside of the door had pegboard for all the things you would need for crafting.  I LOVED IT!  And how awesome to have things hidden away neatly!
The only problem - we got home with our piece of 2x4 pegboard, and the set of pegs, and it was too wide for that closet door, and with the doorknob, the pegboard would have needed to be cut in two pieces.  So, we improvised, turned the pegboard sideways, and hung it on the wall.  If I was really crafty, I'd have framed it out - but that goes beyond my talents. 

All my templates, scissors, tape, patterns, adhesives, and more are up there! And I have one more trick up my sleeve for this that I will show in the next post! (DH showed me how to use his drill & I made some accessories for this but they are still drying after a couple coats of paint! pics to come) 
 I love having everything so organized and easily accessible!


 Bookshelf - I have all my pages, page protectors & empty albums together, plus I tried to organize the magazines a little better too.



 
This table still needs work - but SO MUCH BETTER than it was, right?! The other table now sits underneath the pegboard and it is empty!!


My supply shelf after - All my hairbow making stuff is in two baskets.  Still messy, but together! The green basket has Fall decor, the red has Spring decor.  The bottom shelf is all fabric.  It's messy, but again, it's together!
 

The corner area after - my soap & candle making supplies are in the crates.  I still have a box & bag of soap supplies to move over there, but this is a start! And yes, the drawer is still MIA for my herb/botanical cart.  But it's so much better than it was, y'all!

So stay tuned, this week I am going to finish this room.  I still have one huge problem area in there - the sewing table.  It's our former kitchen table, and it is stacked high with fabric, projects, supplies and more.  Once it's all done, I'll share pics of the whole room, finally finished & organized.
  I want to get back to my scrapbooking because my friend Renea & I are going to a weekend scrap retreat early in 2011, and I need to get caught up before then!!  I also have some sewing projects to work on, and it will be such a relief to have my craft room set up again, and usable!! I'm lucky to have a whole room to use for this, so I need to get it organized and get crafting!!
I'm so proud of how much I've gotten done in the hours I've worked on it this week.   I know a lot of people probably have this pegboard stuff in their craft rooms, but I had honestly never thought of it until I saw the magazine feature.  It works so well for all those crafty things we pick up everywhere! : )
Thanks for letting me go on and on - I'm so happy to have started tackling this room!!

PS ~ please don't hate on me too much for sharing those awful pics!! I know it was a disaster in there, but I am thrilled with the progress!  This will keep me from ever letting it get that bad again, too - don't want to have to fess up to letting it get like this again! ; )

PPS ~ What is the messiest or most cluttered room in your house? I know none can probably compare to this one, but I'm curious!! Share your mess with me!

Y'all have a fabulous week!

~ Aimee