Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Dollar Store Halloween Mantel

I don't know about you, but I don't really have a budget for holiday decorating. I see all of these amazing mantels on Pinterest and sigh because even if I bought the pieces on clearance after the holiday each year, it would still take me 5 or 6 years for my mantel to start to look like I wanted. I needed something fun and cute, without a huge price tag. I went to my local dollar store, and found some fantastic pieces, added a few other pieces and ended up with a mantel that I LOVE all for about $20. So here is the break down of what was from the dollar store and what wasn't. 

From the dollar store, in this case, Dollar Tree: 
  • the three small ceramic pumpkins, I made sure to buy all different ones
  • the two witches
  • the crow
  • the "Keep Calm and Scare On" Sign
  • the owl
  • the black and orange candy in the pumpkin 
  • pumpkin garland
  • spider web in the window

total: $12

Not from the dollar store
  • Candlesticks- I found the best way to make your mantel look like you spent a lot of money on it is to create lots of different heights. I had lots of little pieces that I loved from the dollar store, but not a lot of height. The candle sticks were a thrift store find, I got all three pieces for $1 and they create the dimension I was really looking for. This is also the reason I bought the Scare On sign instead of some of the other options, because it added height to the mantel. 
  • Glass Pumpkins- I bought this at my local drug store for $3. I wanted a candy jar and one that was clear was perfect for the black and orange candy. 
  • White pumpkin- This was my one craft store buy. I bought it using a coupon and paid less than $5 for it. I absolutely loved it and so I was OK with it being the one piece I splurged a little on, I would have loved a slightly larger one, but this one kept me to just about my $20 budget. 

total: $9 
For just about $21, I created a mantel that I absolutely love and will use again for sure. The pieces aren't huge, will store well (except for the candy) and during November I can ditch the Halloween specific pieces and use the pumpkins as fall decorations.

How do you decorate on a budget?
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$500 Fabulous Fall Cash Giveaway

I have gotten together with some fantastic bloggers to offer one reader a huge prize of $500! All you have to do is fill out the Rafflecopter below! 

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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

8 Creepy Reads for October

It is that time of year again. The time when my husband begs me to read Dracula with him. We read A Christmas Carol in December and Dracula in October. It is fun to read a book at the same time and talk about things we love and hated. Dracula is not nearly as creepy as I always imagined it being from the movies I have seen, but it is a fantastic thriller and a perfect October read. Here are some of my favorites to read during the spookiest of months. 

Dracula by Bram Stoker
Perhaps the original haunted thriller, Dracula is still as good today as it was when it was written in 1897. What we know of Dracula from popular culture is very different from the Dracula of Bram Stoker's masterpiece – and his Dracula is far more terrifying. The characters are brilliant and the storyline is rich and compelling. A must-read, especially for anyone into classic literature.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Like Dracula, the way we perceive Frankenstein is far different from the character in Mary Shelley's book. We usually think of Frankenstein as this brainless, lumbering idiot with bolts sticking out of his neck. Not so in the book. Dr. Frankenstein's creation is brilliant, malicious and downright scary. The book plays on human emotion and you find yourself vacillating from feeling bad for the creature and loathing his existence. This book can drag at points, but it will also leave you looking over your shoulder for a creepy creation that stalks your existence.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
Is there such thing as a horror fairytale?  We Have Always Lived in the Castle is the story of an ostracized family living in their big house in a small town, ostracized because at family dinner one night, four people didn't make it out alive. Only two sisters and a uncle remain, living secluded lives. One of the sisters is arrested but eventually acquitted of the murders, but that doesn't change the fact that the entire town thinks she did it. This story is kind of oddball, told from the perspective of the slightly unhinged younger sister. It is thought provoking and creepy, perfect for an October read.

The Burning by Jane Casey
A serial killer is on the lose. He has already beaten four women beyond recognition before lighting the bodies on fire, earning him the nickname, The Burning Man. Detective Maeve Kerrigan is on the task force that is working to bring him to justice, when a fifth body, Rebecca Haworth, is discovered. As Kerrigan digs deeper into the fifth victim's life she starts to realize that The Burning Man might not be responsible after all and a second killer is on the loose.
I wasn't sure what I was expecting in this detective but I ended up liking Maeve Kerrigan a lot more than I thought I would. She is definitely a woman in a man's world, fighting for her place on the task force by working hard.  Maeve is extremely likable as a character, and while the book moves slowly to end the conclusion, it doesn't feel slow. I love that while she is smart and focused, she doesn't seem omniscient. She is the narrator of the book as well as Louise, Rebecca's best friend, to give more perspective into Rebecca's life. A life that seems idyllic and wonderful on the outside, but under the surface is dark and desperate.

The Journal of Professor Abraham Van Helsing by Allen C. Kupfer
Perhaps the most unsettling book I've ever read, this book plays itself as the real journal of Abraham Van Helsing, the famous vampire-hunter character in Bram Stoker's Dracula. While this book is fictional, you would have a hard time guessing it from the way it's written. It reads and feels like the real deal and gives glimpses into the deeper world of vampirism and its history throughout the world. This is a must-read if you want to stay up at night.

The Shining by Stephen King
Most people know this as only a movie, with a crazed Jack Nicholson staring through a door, but it was first a novel by Stephen King. I first saw the miniseries adaptation of this film when I was 12 and was fascinated/terrified by it. Last year, I had the chance to read the book when I found it at a yard sale. It's the first book by Stephen King I've read and I was impressed by his ability to craft a brilliant story that wasn't so much scary as it was unsettling. There's no big monster that jumps out; rather you see the transformation of Jack from a struggling father to a crazed madman, and it's all in his head. Plus, the fact that the setting of this book is in an isolated hotel far up in the Colorado Rockies in the winter makes it a perfect location to have you scared.

Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
 Jacob makes the journey to Cairnholm near Wales, to visit the orphanage where his grandfather grew up to discover it was bombed out during the last World War. How can that be? His grandfather received a letter from the Headmistress, just a few years ago. It is a mystery that Jacob is determined to solve. I really liked this book. It is the first book in a series, but I felt like it was fun and intriguing and I love where the story headed. This book isn't particularly scary, but the real old photographs the author used throughout the book really gave it an eerie feel. The picture on the cover is one of my favorites.

I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells 
What would you do if you thought you had the potential to be a serial killer? John Cleaver knows he has the potential to be very dangerous and so he has created a list of rules to keep himself in check, until he meets someone who is even more dangerous than him. I love this story and the cover, it is simple but very telling. 
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Monday, September 29, 2014

Chocolate Topped Cookie Dough Bites

I am a cookie dough junkie. All through my last pregnancy, the hardest thing for me to stay away from was cookie dough. I had to stop making cookies all together so I wouldn't accidentally end up with some of the dough in my mouth. Shortly after my daughter's birth we had a potluck and one of my husband's sisters brought these. I can't tell you how many times I have had them since. If only I had discovered them when I was pregnant! They are delicious, easy to make and raw egg free. 

For the Dough:  
  • 1/2 C. Softened Butter
  • 3/4 C. Brown Sugar
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla
  • 1/4 C. Peanut Butter
  • 2 C. Flour
  • 14 oz. Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 2 C. Chocolate Chips

For the Topping: 
  • 3/4 C. Peanut Butter
  • 2 C. Chocolate Chips 

Mix together the sugar and butter then add the vanilla and peanut butter. Mix well and then add the flour and condensed milk. Mix until smooth, stir in the chocolate chips. Press into a baking dish. 8X8 will get you the thickness you see here, but you can use a larger pan, they just won't be as thick.

Microwave the remaining peanut butter and chocolate chips for approximately one minute, stir until smooth, microwaving for a little while longer if necessary. Spread it over the top of the cookie dough. Refrigerate the entire dish for at least 3 hours before serving.

What is your favorite indulgence?
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Friday, September 26, 2014

Healthy Lunches: "Frozen" Lunch

What princess lunch series would be complete without a little Frozen magic? Our house is still full of Elsa and Anna from morning until night and so this snowflake Elsa themed meal fits right in. If your child is anything like mine, quesadillas are on the very short list of things she will eat, so I wanted to incorporate them into one of our fun lunches and what better way than by cutting one of the tortillas into a snowflake? 

You will need: 
  • two tortillas
  • cheese, I wanted to use white cheese to complete the look, but I knew my daughter wouldn't eat it. 
  • spinach or lettuce
  • slice cheese
  • tomatoes, carrots or other salad veggies your kids will eat
  • bananas 
  • blueberry Greek yogurt 
  • small snowflake candies (optional) 

To cut your top tortilla into a snowflake, fold it in half again and again, until you have a triangle like below. Then use a pair of scissors to cut out fun shapes. Make sure you leave space between your shape cut outs or your snowflake will end up just being a mess. Use it for the top of your quesadilla. 
Using a small snowflake cookie cutter, cut small cheese snowflakes to be used on your salad. You can make a "salad" with pretty much any veggies your child will eat. Sometimes my salads are just tomatoes, carrots and cheese. Fill one cup with blueberry Greek yogurt and the other with fruit to dip in the yogurt. Fruit is always 10 times more likely to get eaten in my house if there is yogurt to dip it in. 

Now this lunch isn't as healthy as most of the lunches I share because I did add a few little snowflake candies to the yogurt. Every now and then I love to throw a little treat into her lunch box. We try to keep it to once or twice a week and unexpected, so it is just that, a treat, not something sugary she expects with every meal. 

How do you get your kids to eat their lunch? 

Remember to head over to Intermountain Healthcare's LiVe Well Facebook page to enter to win your own Lunch Blox between now and the end of September. Check back tomorrow for another healthy princess lunch!
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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Turkey Taco Soup

I was introduced to this recipe from a freezer meal group I was apart of. We loved it, it is pretty healthy if you don't top it with sour cream and it is delicious. It gets serious bonus points for freezing really well to help out on days when you just don't have a ton of extra time to cook.

You will need:

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 28oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 15.5oz can red kidney beans
  • 1 16oz can black beans
  • 1 15oz can pinto beans
  • 1 15oz can whole kernel corn
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 1 1oz packet of ranch dressing seasoning
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Soup toppings, sour cream, cheese, green onions, 
Brown the turkey with the onion. I like to use as little onion as possible, but if you really love onion you might want to add a bit more. Combine your tomatoes, water and beans, along with all of their liquids into a large pot. Make sure not to drain any of the beans or the tomatoes. Drain the corn and add to your pot of soup. Stir in your seasonings and bring to a boil. When your soup boils, turn the heat down and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Serve with sour cream, shredded cheese and green onions. 

Looking for some more amazing recipes to make this fall? Look no further, below are 10 fantastic recipes from some great bloggers to get you all ready for cool weather. 


Family Night at Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey

I was given tickets to Ringling Brothers in exchange for this post. All opinions are my own. 
 Last night I took my girls to the Circus, my two daughters and my youngest sister. Before we entered the circus, it had been a rough day. My 5-year-old experienced mean kids at school for the first time and my heart was breaking for her, it was amazing to watch it all melt away as entered the circus. I seriously spent so little time watching the circus and so much time watching the girls. My 11-year-old sister had never been to a circus before and in one of my Instagram photos from last night, you can see her mouth completely open in amazement.
 My absolute favorite part of the Ringling Bros and Barnum &Bailey Circus are the acrobats. They do things I could never do, let alone have the guts to do.
 This year, my favorite part was trumped by the motorcycles. I wish I had gotten a great pictures of the amazing motorcyclist in their huge sphere, it was pretty incredible.

 My daughter's favorite part was the fire acrobats. Combine the amazing of acrobats with the danger of fire. It is a crazy and thrilling thing to watch.
By the end of the circus, my daughter had totally forgotten she had called the day one of the worst of her life, they were calling the night the best night ever, so I am going to call that a win. 

You can still get tickets to the following shows in Salt Lake City at the Energy Solution Arena: 
  • Thursday, Sept. 25                           7:00 PM
  • Friday, Sept. 26                                 3:00 PM & 7:00 PM
  • Saturday, Sept. 27                           11:00 AM, 3:00 PM & 7:00 PM
  • Sunday, Sept. 28                              1:30 PM & 5:30 PM
TICKETS: Ticket prices range from $20, $25, $40-$50 (VIP), $50-60 (Premium VIP Floor) and $90-$100 (Ringmaster Zone). 

Didn't go on opening night but want a discount? Buy your tickets online and use the code MOM at checkout. You can use the code on the following shows. 
  • Friday 3 PM and 7 PM, 
  • Saturday 11 AM 
  • Sunday 5:30PM
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