Elf on the Shelf 2015

Merry Christmas!!!  These are the adventures of our elf, Sparkles, this Christmas, 2015.  Enjoy!

Elf 12-1-15

Day 1 – Sparkles’ arrival

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Day 2 – Sparkles made a Christmas fortune teller!

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Day 3 – Sparkles magically turned the water into marshmallows!

Note about Day 3 – Keri did not believe the magic!!!  When I pointed out what the elf was doing (you know.. using magic to turn water into marshmallows) – Keri’s response was “uhm, mom.. no.. she used toothpicks to stack up the marshmallows.”  Awesome.  REALLY!??  Can we not pretend for a moment magic is happening here?!?

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Day 4 – Sparkles asked Keri for a picture for a surprise

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Day 5 – The surprise!

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Day 6 – Homemade eggless donuts

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Day 7 – Make a Christmas tree out of scrapbooking paper

Note about Day 7 – Awesome idea.. never happened.  She never made the Christmas tree.  I asked her about it a few times, but she had no interest in making one herself.  Boooooo!

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Day 8 – Sledding time!

Day 8 Note:  This sled was a pain in the booty to make.  Seriously.  Hot glue didnt work.  Regular glue didnt work.  Ended up using glue dots – they worked… barely.  I was sooo afraid the elf was going to break!  If you make this sled – use cardstock.  We didnt have any cardstock, so used regular paper.. and that may have been why it didnt turn out well!

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Day 9 – Sparkles brought Keri slippers

Elf 12-10-15 collage

Day 10 – Sparkles changed all the labels on the bottled water to “Melted Snowman”

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Day 11 – Traveling in style.. Sparkles flew around in a hot air balloon!

Day 11 Note:  How cool is this hot air balloon?!?  LOVED doing this!  And it turned out sooooo incredibly cute!!

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Day 12 – Santa came to our Christmas party.. Sparkles made a sign for him!

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Day 13 – Sparkles with a mini Christmas tree and Santa gnome

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Day 14 – Sparkles swinging upside down from a swing

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Day 15 – Homemade snowballs.. and a snowball fight!

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Day 16 – Sparkles hanging from bows in Keri’s bathroom

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Day 17 – Sparkles bought window markers and drew on the bathroom mirror!

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Day 18 – Sparkles put googly eyes on the items in the refrigerator!

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Day 19 – Sparkles wrapped the dog up and took pictures. Awesome.

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Day 20 – Sparkles playing in the blinds

Day 20 Note:  So, this was not part of the plan.  Day 20 was suppose to be Sparkles playing Snowflake Hopscotch.  I bought a bunch of miniature snowflakes, and was setting it up on her table downstairs.  Set up the hopscotch board.. and was cutting out the numbers to place on the table and who comes to the top of the stairs?  Yep.  Keri.  She saw all the snowflakes and exactly what I was doing.  Scrapped this idea, put the snowflakes with the wrapping paper, and moved elf here to the blinds.  So.. hence why it is not creative!  And nope.. she never asked what I was doing.  Ever.  Makes me wonder why.

Elf 12-21-15 Collage

Day 21 – Sparkles playing the piano

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Day 22 – Sparkles’ Hideout

Day 22 Note:  This was neat.  I LOVED doing this.  Took me 45 minutes to build this house.  Daddy kept Keri busy and I built away!  Loved making!

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Day 23 – Sparkles hanging her clothes out.

Day 23 Note:  The original idea here was to make it appear that Sparkles was doing her laundry.  I stayed up too late, couldnt get the setup how I wanted, so just ended up with this – a clothesline of the clothes for Sparkles.  Oh-well.  Maybe next year I can do the washer / clothesline idea!

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Day 24 – Sparkles’ departing gift.. a Family Tree!

Day 24 – Goodbye Sparkles!  I found this Family Tree online, and just had to do it!!  Took a while, but it turned out soooo neat!  Love LOVE this goodbye gift for Keri!  (Especially since this is probably the last year she will believe.. if she hasn’t figured it out yet, ha!)

And that was the adventures of Sparkles for Christmas 2015!!  Hope you enjoyed it – I obviously did.

Just a note of how I put this together.  I had time in the early Fall from school to put together a few things.  I made a calendar of all the elf ideas I could find for 2015.  I wrote them all down on a calendar.  For Black Friday, part of my shopping included buying the items needed for the days.  I made several things a head of time, including the balloon, that week of Thanksgiving.  The only day that I changed was the slippers day – The elf was originally just going to hang from a stocking, but I found these slippers at Black Friday and changed that day.  All other days, I KEPT! I did not have any school at all the month of December.  And although I worked quite a bit the first 2 weeks – It was the prepping, the planning, and the calendar that made this work.  I was on my A-game with this elf this year, and so proud of everything!  And Keri loved the creativity behind the elf this year.  It was neat 🙂


Teacher Gifts – Christmas 2015

Keri is in 4th grade!  That means new teachers for the next 3 years.  Yippie!  I had the time this semester to do something special for her teachers, Mr. Pettit and Ms. Savannah.  Mr. Pettit is the lead teacher, and Ms. Savannah the assistant.  So what was I going to do?!

I’ll start with Ms. Savannah.  According to Keri, she loves to read.  So I did something sweet and simple for her – $10 Barnes & Noble gift card, book marks, Bath & Body Works lotion with a cute matching Santa hat, peppermint bath bombs, and hand sanitizer.  Cute and simple!

4th year teacher christmas gifts 2015 (1)

Now, for Mr. Pettit, I wanted to go bigger and better since he is the lead teacher in Keri’s class.  I wanted it to be creative that screams me, but I needed it to be practical for a man.  Uhm, HARD!  Sort of.  This is what I came up with:

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Isn’t it adorable?!  I mean, manly?!  What all is in here.. lets see (going top moving toward the right):

  • Handmade card containing individual ice tea lemonade packets
  • Snowman covered Tic-Tacs that I made
  • Swiss+Tech 9 in 1 tool (looked manly enough?)
  • “You can’t scare me.  I teach” notepad (hahaha, loved this one!)
  • White pens (black ink – best pens ever)
  • $10 Barnes & Noble gift card
  • Candy look alike (white with red ribbon – but really a roll of $10 quarters – FUN!)
  • Lip balm wrapped to look like candy
  • Hershey kisses in a container
  • $10 gift card to Starbucks
  • Handsantizer
  • Red pens
  • Birdie envelope opener.

That A LOT!  Most of the stocking stuffers, the containers, and the actual box and ribbon stuff I got from The Container Store (LOVE that store!).  This was a lot of fun to make, but I personalized it as much as I could.  I knew from Keri that Mr. Pettit loves Starbucks and always gets tea.  Hence 2 of the gifts included.  And he is a teacher, obviously.  All teachers need pens, paper, and chocolate, right?!  I think this is an awesome gift for him!

Teacher Treats 2015

I didn’t get to make something special for the teachers last year (2014).  I was signed up to make and bring them something, but I became overwhelmed with school and had to cancel.  I felt horrible!  I LOVE doing teacher treats, but I strive to do my best.

This year, I wanted to do a white / red theme.  I planned this out in early November when I had some down time with school. I found the recipes, printed them out, and made a list of what I needed.  There were 5 recipes total.

Sounds yummy, right?!  Except there was a problem.  Early September, I received a brochure for a Psychopharmacology continuing education class.  I jumped on this!  Learning about medications is so very important for my line of work.. especially since I will be a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner by next Christmas!  So I signed up for it without even thinking twice about the date.  Problem was.. the date was the exact same day I was suppose to bring Teacher Treats!  OOPS!

So I was at this class from 8am – 4pm. It was boring.  Prior to going, I started the cranberries and placed in the frig.  While at class, I decided last minute to change the scones to white chocolate cranberry muffins.  Texted husband to get me a couple ingredients, and I came home and starting working on things! I had my daughter finish the cranberries, and they turned out beautifully!  Keri wasn’t sure about the taste.  She said they were tart at first.. but she kept on eating them!  They were okay – tart, not as sweet as I like.

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Next, I moved on to the cookies.  They were delightful!  When I picked up Keri from school, a few teachers mentioned how yummy they were.  It was my first time making them, and sure enough, they really were delicious!

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Then I made cut up the strawberries and made the cream cheese fruit dip.  The fruit dip was very delicious!  A couple teachers asked me where I bought it at.. when I said it was homemade, they were surprised – it was that good!  Yummy!

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Now, I moved on to the mini cheesecakes.  This was a disaster.  Richard took Keri to swim class tonight, and I started on these.  First time ever making it.  And, they did not turn out.  They were a lot of work, took about an hour, and made 48 mini cheesecakes.  They looked beautiful when I put them in the oven.. came out beautiful.. and immediately sunk.  Yep.  Sunken cheesecakes.  Turns out, I over mixed the mixture.  Oops.  Too much air got into them and made them sink.  Could not serve these things!  No picture – they looked horrible.

Well, I was very discouraged by this.. and did not make the muffins either.  Just was getting late, I had been cooking all afternoon since I got home, and decided what I had was enough.  I made some little placecards (as you can see), and said that will do!  It was delightful and just as I wanted it – and plenty 🙂

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Loved doing Teacher Treats this year!

Christmas 2015 Advent

I love being creative.  This semester at school was a light one.  I finished my 100% online class within the first week of the semester (BOOM!) – And so I really only had one class to focus on.  Lots of down time in that class.  Still hard, still lots of busy work, but with only one class.. I had lots of free time compared to other semesters!  Yay for getting stuff done early!

So I knew I wanted a really creative Advent calendar.  I have done books in the past, and that was really neat.  I started to scour the Internet (Google and Pinterest) looking for ideas for the perfect Advent.  I found it.  It was a post from 2012, the Mini Tree Advent Calendar – and I fell in love with it.  I HAD to do it!  Definitely visit that blog for professional-like pictures.  Below is my interpretation of this (and less professional-like pictures.. but still pretty neat!)

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Yes!  I loved it!  I bought the boxes and little trees off Amazon.  My daughter helped me hot glue the little trees onto the boxes.  The tags I got from the blog linked above, and I simply cut those out and stuck them in the trees (didnt glue those).

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Sooo cute!  And I had to get a little red car.  I knew CVS Pharmacy had a section of red cars.  I wanted the old, classic, red car that is often seen in TV ads and such.  But, my daughter said it was ugly.  Of course she did.  So we ended up getting a Prius.  Yep.  Why?  Because I have a Volt and all about the electric cars.. so a Prius seemed fitting.  Sort of.

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You may be asking.. what did I put in the boxes?   This was the fun part.  I do not believe in a lot of candy.  Sure, some candy is fine, but even the child expecting an itty-bitty tiny piece of chocolate EVERY SINGLE DAY bothered me!  Have a treat every now and then.. not every day!  So, I went to the most wonderful candy store in San Antonio and bought some candy, and put it in individual bags.  The rest of the items were found at various places including The Container Store, World Market, Bath & Body Works,  Michaels, and Hobby Lobby.  They were randomized in the boxes.  The only one that was not randomized was the silly putty (from Toy Werks) that included 5 $2 bills in the box – This one was last for December 24th.  (Money not shown)

Advent Calendar 2015 (1)

My daughter loved doing this!  She looked forward to seeing what craft, candy, or toy she would get every morning!  It was so much fun doing this Advent calendar and I’m thankful for other sharing their wonderful ideas on Pinterest!

Advent Calendar 2015 (8)

We will definitely be doing this next year.  I’m one box short now.. as the dog got a hold of a box, but I will probably order another batch of boxes because it is bound to happen again!  After Keri opened the box for the day, she would simply put the flag inside the box.  So at the end of December, only a few flags would be shown.  It made it so neat to look at!

Keri’s first day of 3rd grade

School is here!  I say that as a negative and positive thing.. negative in the way that we have had a wonderful summer together!  We have gone to Sea World, swimming, playdates, sleep overs, and spent lots of time together – it has been wonderful!  So, boo to school.  But, positive in the way that Keri gets to see her school friends that she hasnt seen all summer (she is very excited to see them!!), and also I get to start making Bento lunches again, YES!  This year will be different, however.  First, I now work PRN.  So, I work roughly 8 shift per month (minimum of 8, but I can work more and have worked more when needed).  This is because working full time was too difficult to do with school!  I am still in graduate school too – but no matter, I can handle my schedule a lot more easily now.. a lot less stressful compared to the beginning of this year!  Anyways, back to the bento lunches.  Keri put a few stipulations on the bento lunches.  First, she said absolutely no cookie cutters other than a cat, dog, or bird.  Awesome.  Not. But okay, I’ll respect that.. maybe.  I asked her about an Apple Lunch, she said no.. but.. it was too cute.. so.. I did it anyways.. and she was kinda sorta upset the first morning of school (oops).  I didnt mention this, btw, she is in 3rd grade – ACK!  This will be the 4th year I’ll be doing bento lunches for her 🙂  I’ll switch in between the Yubo and Planet Box, just fyi.

So, the first lunch was an apple lunch on 08/25/14.  It was a big apple sandwich with mini apple sandwiches, homemade caramel dipping sauce for her freshly cut apples (dunked in apple juice to prevent browning), apple balls (prepackaged, didnt make those), and homemade apple shaped cinnamon honey graham crackers.



Here is a picture of Keri with her Bento lunch:

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Okay.. and because I have to (cant resist), here are two pictures of Keri’s first day back to school.. Third Grade!

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And.. of course the puppy.  Oh.. the puppy.  This was a picture of Keri and Kali (puppy) before Kali got a haircut.

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Back to the Bentos!  This is Tuesday, 08/26/14’s lunch: A bird lunch!  Nothing too special here – birdy sandwiches, berry mix for the fruit, mini bird homemade graham crackers, yogurt, and circle cheese.



Next, Wednesday, 08/27/14 lunch:  Beef bites.  These were suppose to be made with pork or sausage or turkey.. I got the wrong thing.. oops.  So, I’m calling them crescent beef bites b/c I used ground beef and cream cheese.  Keri loved them!  In all fairness, there was suppose to be homemade potato chips there too.. but I forgot the potato.  Oops.  So, instead, pringles (which.. she didnt eat, I might add).  Then some crackers and cheese, and berries.



This last lunch, Thursday, 08/28/14 is my pride and joy lunch.. Homemade Spaghettios!  They are healthy, actually!  I made a big pot of them, and it was enough for today’s lunch plus 4 to freeze.. YES!  Jackpot, b/c Keri LOVED them!  I was so happy.. they have purred carrots in them.. ssssshhh – dont tell my daughter that 🙂  The spaghettios and turkey meatballs were 100% homemade.  I had to buy the noodles off Amazon, b/c I didnt know where there were any European stores near me, so probably spent too much on the noodles than necessary, but that is okay, it was worth it!  The turkey meatballs – I used the recipe linked up above, but used flax seed in replace of the egg.  They worked out beautifully!  I made mini turkey meatballs, and Keri said she loved the meatballs in particular – so yay!

turkey meatballs

homemade spaghettios

And here is her lunch that day:  Homemade spaghettios with turkey meatballs, mixed fruit, cheese pretzels and yogurt.  Huge hit!  And, I have four more in the freezer.. ready to go 🙂  Yay!



Week one.. done.  So, what you can expect this year as far as Bentos go.  Well, I’ve been “forbidden” to do cute kind of lunches.  I’ll try to squeeze some in there every now and then when I think Keri is okay with it (i.e. wont get that mad at me.. ha!) – but she loves the hot lunches.  So, I plan on making a whole bunch of new bento recipes to try out for her.  I’ve already pinned several recipes regarding soups, and different things I can freeze – make a big pot of it.. and boom, several lunches!  So, look for those.  I’m so happy she has access to use a microwave.. dont know what I’d do without it!  But, that is the first week in a wrap for Keri’s bento lunches – welcome to Third Grade Keri.. so proud of you!!

2nd Grade Bento Lunches

Oh-My!  I’m so behind!  Short pathetic back story.. then I’ll get to the good stuff!

So, bento lunches for my daughter’s second year of Montessori – 2013-2014.  A couple things changed that year.  First, I switched regularly between the plant box and the yubo lunch boxes.  I enjoyed the variety!  Second, after Christmas, Keri politely asked me to stop making her lunches so “cute” – she wanted plain / normal lunches.  Ha.  She refused to let me use any cookie cutters – so all the sandwiches are incredibly boring!  She also wanted more hot lunches rather than cold lunches.  So.. okay.  A few changes had to be made along the school year.  But, I passed my NCLEX (nursing board exam) in September, and became a psychiatric nurse in October 2013.  By law, I had to work full time for the first six months.  So, from October 2013 – April 2014, I worked full time on the weekends – man, it was hard!  I thought it was perfect at first.. I work 16 hours on Saturday (7am – 11:00pm) and do it all over again on Sunday.  Physically, I worked 32 hours, but got paid for 40 (called the Baylor shift).  It drained me!  I was completely exhausted and drained by Monday, so Monday lunches were often very boring because I hadnt been to the grocery store all weekend due to working, and I was exhausted!  And on Friday’s, Keri eats pizza – so no bento lunches on Fridays.  And, to top it off, I started graduate school in January – so from January 2014 to April 2014, I was working full time AND going to graduate school part time (2 classes) – Ouch!  Those few months in particular were the hardest, by far.  Then.. school was kinda over!

Okay – there was the backstory.  So, this post is just going to show case the best bento lunches I made throughout Keri’s 2nd grade school year.  Enjoy!

This first lunch is from 09/11/13 – puppy dog lunch.  I took biscuits, cut the dough into shapes of dogs, used black beans for the eyes and nose, and inserted a hot dog as the mouth.  There are also cut out cheese bones, and homemade potato chips in here as well.  For the fruit, it is peaches and grapes.  I loved how cute this lunch was!




This next lunch is from 09/17/2013.  The sandwich may seem plain, bu I love the colors here and the little details – from the chicks, the hearts, carrot chips, and the homemade strawberry oatmeal bars.



The next three pictures are in the month of October.. Halloween!  I was pretty creative this month – I wasnt at school yet, and was able to concentrate more in cuteness.  I love a lot of Halloween ones, but these three are my favorites.

First one is on 10/01/2013 – The first Halloween lunch of the year!  (Btw – Halloween is my favorite holiday, which is why I go so all for Halloween bentos!)  This is the Frankenstein lunch.  They are actually square chicken tacos (so.. take a tortilla, put in chicken and cheese, shape it in a square and hold it with a toothpick.. and tell the child there is a tooth pick in there and not to eat the toothpick!) – love this lunch!  (The green circles are cut up cucumbers and green yogurt).



The next Halloween lunch is from 10/02/13.  This is the ghost lunch!  I have a thing for ghosts – I love them!  I actually did a few ghost lunches, but this is one of the originals, and Keri’s favorite.  It is a ghost cheese quesadilla, homemade ghost sugar / cinnamon chips with fruit salsa in the circle, ghost cheese sticks, ghost marshmallow, and ghost yogurt.  Love ghosts!



The last Halloween lunch I’ll show you was from Halloween itself, 10/31/2013.  Yippie!  Tried to make this one fun and to emulate trick or treating – the fruit is suppose to be “candy” – get it?  Loved this lunch!



Moving on.. to Christmas!  Have two bentos to show you from Christmas.. and I’ll stop there, b/c as I said, from January to April, the bentos are quite boring due to the issues listed up above (sorry!!).  This one is from 12/02/13.  Love the white and red colors!  And, I adore the mini little circle sandwich bites – I think they are so cute cut up this way.



The last lunch is from 12/09/13. This is the Christmas tree lunch.  I wanted the pirates booty to be like snow – then you got the mini Christmas tree sandwiches, and the veggie straws as grass.  Then of course the cute little fruit in red / green colors.



Check out the rest of the bento lunches on my Pinterest board:  Bento lunches for Keri

Fox Birthday

Keri is 8 years old!!  Early on, she told me she wanted a fox birthday.  Now, she will deny it to this day.. but, the theme came from the song “what does the fox say” – we loved that song!  She gets embarrassed easily by it now, but loves it when she listens to it by herself.. otherwise, she is quite adamant that she hates that song, ha!  We have had a lot of fun with that song though!!

Anyways, so I knew from about March that she wanted her 8th birthday to be a fox / nature type of birthday.  First thing I had to do was get her outfit made.  I contacted the seller that made her Christmas outfit and wanted to know if she could make the exact same outfit.. just with a fox.  She did, and it turned out to be so beautiful!  Look at how big my little girl is!

Keri 3

I took the colors from the outfit and basically did her decorations and party around her outfit.  To start, lets look at the invitations!  I found these adorable cards at Michaels and knew I had to buy them and use them!  I also used my Create A Critter cartridge from my cricut to create the fox for the invitation, and this is what I came up with:


I had a lot of really good feedback from the invitations – a lot said it was my cutest invitation yet!  I loved them, think they turned out to be so cute!

Next, I had to work on my ribbon balls – I know from experience how long these things take to make!!  I decided this year, I would have 2 big ribbon balls, and make 6 little ones for the entertainment center.  It took me about 20 minutes to make each small ribbon ball, and about 3 hours to make each big ball.  Dedicated.. but absolutely LOVE the end result!  Love my ribbon balls!

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For the entertainment center, I made 6 small ribbon balls.  Keri wanted to contribute too!  So, she drew 6 different foxes, and put them beside the ribbon ball.  Very cute!

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My banners – Of course I had to have my classic banners!  Again, using the colors from Keri’s outfit, I made the banners “fit”.  AND, I finally discovered how to stick the banners to the plastic table cloths!  Glue dots!  Why have I not used these before?!  I have tried hot glue, double sided tape, “permanent mounting squares” (they are NOT permanent and do not stick to plastic.. at all!!), regular tape, clear mounting squares, scrapbooking tape, and.. is that it?  Well, none of that works.  The banners always fall!  So this year I thought I’d try glue dots.  Man.. I was so surprised.. the banners all stuck to the table cloths.. and STAYED up!  How cool is that?!  Glue dots rock.  Just saying.

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Food – well of course I had to limit myself to the colors of my choice.. so this is always the hardest.  I needed food that Keri would eat, matched my color scheme, and half healthy.  So this is what I decided:  mini bananas, tangerines, black & green grapes, chocolate dipped marshmallows, apples with cream cheese fruit dip, chocolate graham crackers with brownie dip, oreo cookies with mint chocolate chip cookie dough dip, banana bread, apple squares, and homemade graham crackers.  For drinks, I had bottled water, orange juice, and homemade lemonade.  Nice!  Loved the display.. as always, check this out – turned out so beautiful!

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For that backdrop – I used a sheet from Big Lots – they have a lot of really cheap sheets.  Well, when I say cheap… oh yes, I mean cheap.  Cheap in price.. and quality.  Despite hanging the sheet, I could still see the mini blinds clearly in pictures I took!!  So, I had to hang up two sheets – a thick white sheet.. with the cheaply made gray sheet on top.  It did the job for the backdrop!

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Next, on to the cupcakes and cake!  Keri wanted a chocolate cake and vanilla cupcakes, so that is exactly what I did!  Both are eggless recipes so she can have them, and I think they turned out very cute!  I used the fox from the create a critter cartridge, and made “grass” for the cupcakes.  Simple, but pretty.  For the cake, I took the design of the fox on her outfit, and made that fox.  I asked Keri what color she wanted her cake to be – she said green.. I think it turned out beautiful!  It is covered with marshmallow fondant, green as she asked.  The little flowers – Keri helped me make these!!  We stayed up pretty late one night making these little flowers.  She played with fondant while I did the cutting (well, she actually did half of the flowers, I just rolled the fondant for her) – and she helped me “glue” all the centers onto the flowers – great teamwork – and they turned out so pretty!  The only thing I had to fix was the legs on the fox.  I made the mistake of not using pure gumpaste with the legs – I used a mixture of fondant and gumpaste, so as soon as I removed the paper towel from under the legs.. they broke, ACK!  I freaked out!!  So, I had to get out the gum paste again and make them again!  Here’s pictures of the fox, cake, and cupcakes:

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And here is the table and how I decorated it for the party:

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The mantel – I was decorating this while the house keepers were here.. and had issues with the flowers.  I wanted real flowers, but the real daisies I bought wouldnt fit in the long skinny vases!  So, we went to buy these flowers, and I think they looked really nice with Keri’s pictures there!  Loved how it turned out.

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Party favors!  Oh my… I went slightly overboard.  Okay, here was my honest, original plan.  Seriously.  I had no clue what to do for party favors.  A week before her party.. I still had nothing for her party favors!  Then I realized that Keri wanted a fox / nature party (duh), and what is more nature than bird seed feeders?!  I had all the ingredients, so one night, I made 20 bird seed feeders out of my leaf cookie cutter.  They turned out really cute!  (I know I have a picture.. somewhere.. but cant find it – if I do find it, I’ll update this post to show you what they look like!)

Next, I found these milk cartons at Michaels that I really, really, wanted to work with – Had to have them!  So, I bought them and all the little accessories (tag, twine), and went for it.  I wanted to fill these up with whoppers.  So, this was suppose to be it.. bird seed feeders, and a milk carton of whoppers.  How did that turn out?  Well… I went to Michaels (I go there a lot around her birthday!), and bought some burlap bags for the bird seed feeders.  I also searched everywhere (party city, target, costco) looking for a huge carton of whoppers.  No luck.. so, I bought a huge bag of M&Ms at Party City instead.  Got home with my burlap bags.. and guess what?  The bird seed feeders dont fit.  Nope.  And the M&M bag.. yeah.. it would have taken like 6 of those bags to fill up those milk cartons, and I thought that was way to expensive.. and a ridiculous amount of money.  So, instead of returning the small burlap bags and M&Ms.. I just decided to fill those up with the M&Ms!  It worked!  And, they look cute.

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I went to Michaels (again), and bought bigger burlap bags for the bird seed feeders.  They were a little too big.. but, that was all I could find!  Again, cute!

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Then, we went to HEB, and I saw boxes of whoppers that were buy 2, get one free.  We got six boxes (they are like movie size boxes – the big ones.. so, not cartons, but still a decent size).  I made six of them work.. and filled up 18 milk cartons about 3/4th full with whoppers.  Now, let me tell you something.. these milk cartons ended up being a pain in the royal behind!!!!  They are so incredibly cute, but are ridiculous to close.  The “sticky” tape on there.. does not hold, at all.  I “closed” all of them one night, and in the morning, all 18 of them were open again.  So.. I got out my hot glue gun, and closed them again.  Well, the hot glue gun stuck to the “sticky” side.. and peeled right off.. and didnt stick.. so an hour later.. all were open again.  Ugh.  I finally had to basically gorge the thing with hot glue to get them all to stay closed, was such a pain!!  But still.. cute.

party favors (5)

But wait.. what about the bird houses?  Impulse buy.  I went back to Michaels to buy the large burlap baggies.. and saw the bird houses there for $1 each.  I had bird seed feeders.. I needed bird houses!  Totally an impulse buy.. bought them, what was another $18?!

party favors (5)

Here is the final table.. incredibly cute!

party favors (1)

Next, the signs.  Of course I have to have signs.  I used my cricut and created the fox to make the signs.  The outdoor sign was my favorite though – turned out so pretty.  Just as I love glue dots, I also love spray glue!  Spray glue is how I glued the paper on the poster board.. and on the cardstock – it is easy to work with, and quick to apply.  It takes a while to dry, but I just let them dry overnight and they were done.


signs (3)

signs (5)

signs (2)

signs (1)

signs (4)

The last picture I’ll leave you with is my beautiful little girl holding her cake in front of the dessert table – she was so pretty, and I love this picture!  Happy 8th Birthday Keri!!

Keri (11)

Valentine’s Day 2014

I wasn’t quite sure what to do for Valentine’s Day this year – I was running a little bit behind, and only had a couple weeks to think of something.  Keri was really into the loom bands, and came up with the idea to make bracelets for her friends.. I loved the idea!  I found the valentine’s day card on Pinterest, and went with it – we made 21 bracelets in one week!  We had to order the red and pink bands from eBay b/c at the time, I couldnt find them anywhere locally.  (They are everywhere now.. just have no know where to look!).  We tagged team doing them, I put the bands on, and she did the actual making of the bracelet.  They turned out so cute!



Here is a close up of the valentine:



Now, I wanted to personalize the valentiens to make it extra special, so on the back this is what we did:


All of Keri’s friends loved them!  And best of all, they were not candied valentines!  They were a practical valentine, hand made, and such a wonderful personalized touch for Keri to give to her friends.

But now.. the valentine day box!  Again, short on time, and we made this the day before her valentine day party with her playgroup friends.  So, I used last year’s idea, spray painted a box pink, cut a slit, and had Keri decorate it with stickers.  This is how it turned out:




Pretty cute!  This was a cold valentines day party!!  Keri was dressed in long sleeves, but of course she was playing on the playground so was fine.. but the moms were freezing!!  Nevertheless, she had a great time and received lots of valentines:



But that wasnt all!  The next day was actually Valentine’s Day.  Of course I had something special for Keri.  Please excuse the pictures, for some reason they turned out blurry.. not sure why!  But, she received a teddy bear to decorate, valentines day stickers, chocolates, valentine date notebook, heart pillow, flowers, candied necklaces, and valentine’s day pajamas.  She enjoyed her gifts!



And that was it!  It was a wonderful valentines day – and lots of fun making these valentines!



Elf on the Shelf 2013

She’s back!  Yep, Sparkles returned and we had so much fun with her this year!  I work now on weekends, so even my husband was involved with the elf!  Here are the adventures of Sparkles for 2013.  And, great news.. I have a picture of every day this year!  Yippie!

Day 1:  Sparkles Arrival.  Today Sparkles arrived.  I wrote a nice little arrival note (okay, I took a picture of the elf.. but not this note.. sorry!) – but again, the note is basically saying Sparkles is here to have fun with Keri, report back to Santa about when a good time for him to visit would be, what kind of lights we have on the house for the sleigh team to find us, what the weather conditions are like here, etc.  I do not do the whole “elf shows up and reports back to Santa if you have been good / bad” or using the elf has a weapon towards getting good behavior.  Dont do that in this house!  Elf is purely for fun here.. and we sure did have FUN!

Day 1 - elf arrival

Day 2:  Sparkles decided to get the Christmas bows, hang them on the cabinets in the kitchen.. and hang upside down from them!

Day 2 - Hanging Bows

Day 3:  And.. begins the weirdness.  Yes, I am weird; therefore, Sparkles is weird.  Ha!  This is one happy elf.. putting post it notes all over Keri’s door!  NOTE:  If you try this one.. you will need tape!!  We did this shortly after Keri went to bed, and about 1/3rd of the post it notes already fell off – Had to tape up several before I went to bed.  The stickiness is not enough to last the whole night.. much less a couple hours!  So, use tape to put them on the door.  And before you ask, yes, my very observant daughter notices there was tape on some.. and not others.  Awesome.  SO… double sided tape, use a long piece and loop it around on the back.. whatever you gotta do!

Day 3 - Happy Elf

Day 4:  Keri lost a tooth!!  This was an impromptu elf improvise because of that.  I made the little tooth box for her a long time ago, before she started to lose any teeth.  The box makes it a lot easier to find the teeth at night!  She also gets two $1 coins for each tooth.  So, Sparkles decided that she was going to help out the tooth fairy and cut out a bunch of teeth and put in the box to get more money.  Didnt work.  Nice try Sparkles!  (Whatcha think of the note the Tooth Fairy left under Keri’s pillow?  Loved it!!)

Day 4 - Elf meets tooth fairy

Day 5:  Sparkles hanging from Keri’s slinky from the top floor.. Just hanging around!

Day 5 - Elf hanging from slinky

Day 6:  Keri wrote a note asking Sparkles for eggless donuts from the North Pole again.  So, someone woke up at 5:00am to make eggless donuts for Keri.  (HINT:  It wasnt the elf!).  Even made a tiny donut just for Sparkles.. isnt it cute?!  They werent bad donuts – they were made from the refrigerator biscuits.. just fried, and chocolate frosting.  They would have been better to eat immediately after making – but about 2.5 hours elapsed before we had them.  She still loved them though.. thought they were the best thing ever – but, she doesnt know any better since every single donut place here has eggs in it!

Day 6 - North Pole eggless donuts

Day 7:  The Cats Will Not Eat Me.  Oh yes, we brought the cats into the elf shenanigans.  You have probably seen the notes by now.. Yep, I used notes this year to communicate with Keri!  Well, this day the elf came was a very very bad mistake.. You see, Keri had a beautiful picture of Santa, her elf, etc. on the chalk board.  But, it was so early in December.. I didnt think she made it for Santa!  I thought she was drawing, so didnt think twice about erasing it.  So.. I erased it.  When Keri woke up and saw this, she broke out into tears!  She was very angry and sad at Sparkles for erasing her drawing.  Oops.  I felt so bad!!!  I tried to make light of the situation with the cats will not eat her thing.. kinda helped, but note to all parents out there.. if your child draws a picture on the chalk board.. do not erase it!

Day 7 - The cats will not eat me

Day 8:  So this note has a lengthy P.S. about being sorry about erasing her picture.  Anyways – so Sparkles decided that she wanted to take all the candy canes to feed to the reindeer at the North Pole!  Guess she didnt get out in time!

Day 8 - Elf taking candy canes

Day 9:  Sparkles returns back from the North Pole.. with all the candy canes, plus more, stating that Santa sent her back refusing to give the candy canes to the reindeer b/c they make them hyper.  Ha!

Day 9 - elf returns candy canes

Day 10:  Sparkles wraps up the TV!  It was all great and awesome.. until after she went to bed when I had an hour to waste until I could take it down and move Sparkles around!!

Day 10 - wrapping the tv

Day 11:  Okay, this one.. I have no idea what is going on here.  I was bored, didnt know what to do with the elf – so.. just set up a bunch of shoes and put Sparkles in the front.  What she is doing with the shoes.. I have no idea!  Being weird!

Day 11 - doing something with shoes

Day 12:  Sparkles raided Keri’s socks and hung them on the counter.  What, what?!  Weird little elf.

Day 12 - got bored hung socks

Day 13:  Sparkles had a rough day.  She fed the cats catnip.. and they chased her all night long due to being hyper.  Oops.  The note also mentions how awesome Keri was for helping to clean her room.. made it easier to put the socks away!

Day 13 - Sleepy Elf

Day 14:  We had a Christmas Party this day, so I needed Sparkles to be out of the way and hidden.  The only way I knew how to do this was to have Sparkles in daddy’s office!  The elf decided that she would have fun in daddy’s office making copies of herself and hanging them on the wall!  Silly elf!

Day 14 - elf making copies

Day 15:  So this one had a note that accompanied it.  In case you cant read it.. Santa came to that Christmas Party yesterday!  So, Sparkles is explaining how hard it was to keep it a secret that Santa was coming, that she was proud of Keri for sitting on Santa’s lap (Keri first cried when Santa came over!!).  She also told Santa that Sparkles is weird and crazy.  So, Sparkles is defending herself saying she is not weird.. the cats are weird.. she is not.  Love this little elf!!

Day 15 - elf in lemonade dispenser

Day 16:  We had a problem with sharpened pencils.  Seriously.  We had soooo many pencils in this house.. and not a single one was sharpened!  So, I bought a brand new pencil sharpener, and Sparkles (i.e. me) decided to sharpen every single pencil in the house for Keri.  Problem Solved.  Except for Sparkle’s little toe.. dont poke yourself with a sharp pencil, that hurts!

Day 16 - Sharpening Pencils

Day 17:  Photo shoot with bunny!!  Bunny is Keri’s stuffed animal she has had since she was about 13 months old.  She has loved this little bunny and she sleeps with it every single night.  Well, Sparkles decided to do a little photo shoot using my photo back drop of bunny!  You can see my awesome photo back drop.. sort of.  The photo back drop was there to take pictures when Santa was here a few days ago.  And yeah, the camera actually had pictures of bunny on it when we reviewed it!  Sparkles is a good photographer!

Day 17 - Bunny photo shoot

Day 18:  Seriously, what does the fox say?!??  I love this song.  I can’t get enough of this song!  When I found out there was a book coming out of this song, I knew I had to get it!  I had this planned out in a month in advance.. just waited for that book to come.  Also bought a little stuffed animal fox, of course.  Although, to set the record straight, I disagree with the elf’s lesson.  The fox really does say “ring a ding ding” – why else would there be a song AND a book about it if the fox didnt!?

Day 18 - what does the fox say

Day 19:  Do you know how hard it is to make paper airplanes?  No?  I gave up.  Yep.  I cant make them.. at all!!  I watch a YouTube video.. made one.. and immediately forgot how I made it, and gave up.  Here comes husband.. he made all the rest of the paper air planes – I wanted them all different!

Day 19 - airplane circle

Day 20:  I knew they had an elf coloring book.. and I wanted it!!  So, I used this opportunity to say “good job” to Keri for reading her book, and to get her this coloring book.  She has done quite a few activities / coloring pages in it – so yay!  (Even after Christmas, she still continues to color in it.

Day 20 - Elf coloring book

Day 21:  Talk with Furby.  Furby is annoying.  Seriously.  (And, to top it off, she requested (and got) a Furby Boom for Christmas.. b/c this Furby – the older version – was “lonely”.  Awesome.)  So of course the elf was trying to decipher what Furby was saying.. I dont think the conversation went anywhere.   All this Furby says is “blah blah blah!”

Day 21 - elf talking to furby

Day 22:  This one my husband did b/c I was at work.  At least it is a picture.. but not the best picture (sorry!) – so let me describe what is going on.  In my daughter’s art room, we have a huge bulletin board that she can pin all her artwork to.  (You can see that in the background here).  I copied 8 selfie pictures of the elf and told him to hang them on the bulletin board and have the elf look at them.  You can see one in the picture.. I promise there are 8 of them hanging!

Day 22 - elf admiring self

Day 23:  Husband did this one again.  Needed an easy one since I was going to be at work – so he set up Sparkles fishing with the fairies.

Day 23 - elf fishing with fairies

Day 24:  Sparkles said good bye!  Except, it wasnt the good bye that we had planned.  Keri caught the flu!  On the 23rd, we went to go see the nutcracker, and between intermission and the time we came home, she spiked a fever.  I knew it was the flu b/c two other kids from her class had confirmed cases of the flu just a few days prior.  So, she went to bed on the 23rd with a fever and feeling horrible.  Sparkles left her a goodie bag on her last day there and a nice little good bye letter.  Keri took it much better this year compared to last year.. no tears!  But, I think it may have been b/c on Christmas Eve when she woke up and saw this, she was still running the fever and felt horrible all day!  Nevertheless, we will miss you Sparkles – Thanks for the awesome and amazing times!

Day 24 - Elf says goodbye

As always.. I shall leave this post with a couple pictures of my beautiful little girl and her elf.  She loved the adventures of Sparkles – and I loved every moment of planning to improvising to last minute changes with this elf.  We love you Sparkles!

photo 3Keri with her eggless donuts.  Mmmmm!

photo 2

Keri coloring a page for Sparkles – Loved this moment!  She sat and spoke with Sparkles for quite some time and colored a bunch of pages for her!

photo 1

I wanted a picture of Keri with her beautiful Christmas outfit and Sparkles.. this was all she gave me, ha!

<Have one more picture of Keri and Sparkles.. on another camera not downloaded yet.  Will get that on here soon!>


Mmmmm.. FUDGE!  I had a Christmas party for a few friends of mine with a special guest (SANTA!) coming, and I wanted to do something special for them.  Normally, cupcakes are my specialty, but I just wanted to do something different.  So, I made 12 different kinds of fudge.  Yep, you heard that right.. 12.  (12 days of Christmas.. 12 types of fudge.. get it?  No?  They were all delicious!)

1.  Chocolate Fudge – This is my fool proof chocolate fudge recipe that I use every single year from Eagle Brand.  It is the best chocolate fudge, hands down!  I make it with Hershey chocolate chips, and it is so delicious!

fudge - chocolate

2.  Cookie Dough Fudge – This recipe took me a while to find.  I wanted to find an eggless cookie dough fudge recipe that my daughter could have.  Was so happy to find this one!  It tasted like cookie dough too.  It was a little difficult to make, but Keri liked it!

fudge - cookie dough

3.  Peanut Butter Fudge – This fudge was my favorite out of all 12.. it was so delicious!!  Initially, I wanted to make White Chocolate Reeses Fudge, but I searched everywhere and couldnt find any white chocolate peanut butter cups!  So.. searched for a new recipe, found this one, and so glad I did.  Only change I made was using Reeses peanut butter instead of Jif.  This was seriously some of the best fudge I’ve ever had – Try this recipe!

fudge - peanut butter

4.  Strawberry Fudge – This is an extremely simply recipe!  It was good, but it was very frosting-y.  Yes, I know that strawberry frosting is the main ingredient in this fudge.. obviously.. but still, it was a little over the top to me – I still ate it, dont get me wrong, I love the taste of frosting, but it wasnt really fudge fudge.. it just tasted like hardened strawberry frosting!

fudge - strawberry

5.  Butterscotch Fudge – If you like butterscotch.. you will really like this fudge!  This fudge is rich – it has a very rich butterscotch flavor to it.  It was a little overpowering for me, but good nevertheless.

fudge - butterscotch

6.  Chocolate Mint Fudge – This fudge was a huge hit.  I changed it slightly.. didnt do 3 layers (b/c this fudge is a lot of work to actually make), only did two layers.  I did the bottom layer of chocolate, the top layer of mint.  It was very good!

fudge - chocolate mint

7.  Cookies And Cream Fudge – My daughter loved this fudge!  It was her favorite.  And, it really did taste like cookies and cream!

fudge - cookies and cream

8.  Egg Nog Fudge – We really like egg nog in this house!  Well, we dont drink it all the time, but on Christmas and special occasions.  Lets just say I really like egg nog on occasion – non-alcoholic though!  So, I really wanted to make egg nog fudge.  The recipe just intrigued me.  This fudge is rich.  You can definitely taste the egg nog in this fudge!  My husband, who is also an egg nog fan, didnt really care for this fudge – he said there was something “off” with it.  Yeah, I can see what he means.  You are use to drinking egg nog.. not eating it.  Still pretty good fudge though, if you like egg nog!

fudge - eggnog

9.  Vanilla Bean Fudge – This was another fudge that was good.. but just a little “off” tasting wise.  It wasnt that huge of a hit with my guests either – they all liked it.. but I think with the huge variety of fudge, it just wasnt one they were navigating towards!

fudge - vanilla bean

10.  Chocolate Salted Caramel Fudge – My husband really enjoyed this one.  Me?  I thought it was just okay.  It was very easy to make – one of the easiest out of the 12, but I think of caramel of having that gooey texture – this is fudge, obviously.  So, just didnt set well with me!

fudge - caramel

11.  Buttercream Fudge – This fudge is delicious!  I have made it for a few years now, and love it.  It uses frosting as well, but it is very, very good!  The only thing I do differently is use vanilla instead of the butter extract.  Very good fudge!

fudge - buttercream

12.  Peppermint Fudge – Mmmm!  Peppermint!  Loved this fudge – it was very delicious!  Just note that this fudge will only keep for a day or so until the peppermints start to “melt”.  Very delicious fudge!!

fudge - peppermint

Now – I had 12 different kinds of fudge.  I had to organize them in some way!  But.. how?  Well, I tried very, very hard to have a variety of fudge that my daughter could sample.  There were only 3 out of the 12 that she could not have:  peanut butter, eggnog and vanilla bean.  So, I put all three of these on the same plate – also notice how the cards also have a little green brad instead of red.  Keri was told that these three she could not have – but the ones with the red brad, she could have.

fudge - spread 1

Spread 2 consists of peppermint, cookies and cream and salted caramel.  As mentioned, the cookies and cream fudge was a hit with the kids!

fudge - spread 2

Spread 3 was the basics – this was honestly my favorite fudge (in addition to the peanut butter!!).  Had to combine the best fudge all on one plate!!  Below is Chocolate, Strawberry and Buttercream fudge.

fudge - spread 3

Spread 4, the last spread consists of cookie dough, chocolate mint and butterscotch fudge.

fudge - spread 4

Notice the little cards that I made for each fudge?  Thought they were cute too 🙂  Love doing this sort of stuff!  You can compare all my pictures to the pictures of the actual recipes all in one spot on my Pinterest Board:  Fudge.  Probably wont make any fudge until next Christmas.. so, until then, enjoy all the delicious recipes wrapped up in one post!

Since this party was all about a Christmas Party.. and Santa.. I think it is appropriate to include a picture of my beautiful little girl with Santa himself!  And yeah.. she eventually came around after seeing all her friends and talked with Santa for a bit 🙂  Was able to get some amazing pictures of Keri and Santa together!