Another Blog With Substance Award

I've been nominated again for a Blog With Substance Award (go me!!!) and this time it's courtesy of Transformed, big up thanks! I'm always honored when readers think of my crazy as inspirational and spend lots of hours here. That's exactly how I feel about mine!

The fine print....
1. Thank the blogger who awarded it to you.
2. Sum up your blogging philosophy, motivation, and experience using five (5) words.
3. Pass it on to 10 other blogs which you feel have real substance.

So #1, check.
#2 - OK, that was 9.
#3 - I chose these sites because whenever I have a party mental block and need fabulous inspiration, or just need somewhere to waste lots of time, they are the best places to be. So in no particular order, well, I guess alphabetical...

We Go Wednesday - Hopscotch Kids

Hopscotch KidsI'm working on a GNO spa night and while perusing for fun party ideas, I came across a very yummy site at Hopscotch Kids. Phoenix mommy Ginny Cardenas was tired of the amount of toxins in cosmetics marketed to children, so she made it her mission to create the safest, most playful cosmetic line for kids on the market! Don'tcha love mommy power? Now if we could just send her to the Middle East and fix all that...sorry I digress.

Their WaterColors nail polish is water-based and there is none of the smelly junk that's in solvent-based polish, AKA regular nail polish. How cool is that? Wouldn't a mani-pedi party for you and your favorite girl(s) be a perfect way to spend a lazy afternoon? Sigh, I wish I have girls to paint toes with...sorry I digress.

With fun color names like Miss Mary Mack, Heads Up, Seven Up and Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater, I want to paint my toesies with them!

They retail around around Phoenix, of course, but you can find them at a few other spots around the US.

Tuesday Tip - 10 Tips To Planning A Unique Baby Shower!

By the time you read this, my sister-in-law is either in labor or has had her first baby, so to say I have baby on the brain is an understatement. I thought what better way to commemorate than to share my time-proven tips and techniques for the awesomest shower evah!
1. Pick a unique theme
Pastels and storks are so not cool. Impress her with a unique theme that is sure to make her the talk of the baby shower circuit. Is the MTB ready to pop? How about a popcorn themed shower? What about an around-the-clock baby shower? Is she 'Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend?' A Tiffany themed shower would be right up her alley. Tiny Prints has an amazing array of invites to choose from to match any theme!

2. Ask The MTB What She Would Like (corollary to 1.) I would suggest taking a list of your unique themes and have her go through her likes and perhaps combine ideas to make the perfect shower theme she can't wait to see done.

Pregnant women are moody creatures and may take it personal if they aren't included, even though you don't want to lift a finger. Plus, since this is about her, you may want her to have some input.

3. A Nontraditional Shower is A-OK (corollary to 2.) Be hip, be cool. Throw baby shower caution to the wind. Invite dads to the shower, but make sure it's co-ed friendly, no man wants to hear exactly how long and painful your labor was. Gift goodies for the MTB, and have a sprinkle for a second or third time mom.

4. It Doesn't Have To Be At Someone's House
I know, you all want to spend hours ohhing and ahhing over the tiny little socks and monkey bibs. Some MTBs don't want the hassle of their house full of women ohhing and ahhing over the tiny little socks and monkey bibs. Shelling out money for a restaurant or club (which may be free for members) means you won’t have to get bogged down with details like what to serve or clean-up. Plus, it will keep you on track, you obviously can't stay all day.

5. Use Multitasking Decor Baby showers are a perfect way to find creative uses for items the MTB can later use in her nursery. Using clothing as party decor is a perfect way to display cute outfits and show off some creativity. Check out Project Nursery's hot lantern and clothing combo strung above the party table and the pacifiers that double as napkin rings. 6. Keep Your Guests Entertained/Make Them Work! I'm a big fan of crafts; keeps guests busy and they make their own party reminders. Even better, they can make even more goodies for the MTB.

I never get tired of the idea of having guests decorate onesies. But along with the usual fabric paint why not set up fabric scraps, fusible webbing, and stencils for making appliqued onesies like these from Kojo Design. Do it yourself for double duty decor items a la Cookie Mondays' country themed shower. You can purchase them colored or dye them yourself.

7. Plan A Fun and Light Menu
Appetizers and desserts are not only light fare but budget-friendly too. Your theme will shape your menu, for example, the Ready To Pop is all about popcorn, but there are so many generic themed treats that work for any shower. Check out these cute pacifer cookies or try your hand at these macaron pops that resemble baby rattles. Beau-coup's cookies are fun to serve or would make great favors.

8. Fabulous Shower Games Need Not Involve Candy Bars And Ribbon Yes, we all know every pregnant woman just LOVES people overestimating just how huge she is. And I just can't wait to to play 'guess the chocolate candy in the diaper' game AGAIN. Ugh. You are better than that. Play Who's Who? Ask each guest to bring a photography of herself as an infant. String the pictures along a wall on, what else, a clothesline. Number the clothespins and have guests write down guesses.

Make the thank-you-note process easier on the guest of honor. I've done this at all the baby showers I've hosted. I gift a set of thank-you cards, and at the beginning of the shower (a great activity waiting for everyone to arrive), guests fill out the cards' envelopes with their addresses.

9. Get Help! Does Grandma want to help and makes a mean pie? Let her! Are you co-hosting? Let you cohorts help! Have teenagers looking for a free meal in exchange for manual labor? Perfect! Party planning and execution is a grueling task (I would win medals if it was in the Olympics) and as they say 'many hands make light work'!

10. Relax! I know it's hard, you are the hostess after all, just show responsibility and consideration to everyone. The MTB may have suddenly decided her two cents needed to be ten dollars, her mother is working your last nerve, and 3 friends showed up with no RSVP.

Just take a deep breath and relax...and swear you'll never do this again!

I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Tiny Prints blogging program, making me eligible to get a Tiny Prints gift code worth $50, plus 25 FREE Tiny Prints greeting cards—a total gift value of $149.75! For more information on how you can participate, click here!

Tuesday Tip - World Habitat Day 2010

The United Nations has designated the first Monday in October as annual World Habitat Day.

On Oct. 4, 2010, in recognition of World Habitat Day, Habitat for Humanity will raise awareness of the need for improved shelter and highlight Habitat’s priorities: the worldwide connection between human health and housing, and, in the United States, neighborhood revitalization. These themes echo the United Nations’ chosen theme for 2010 for events in the host city of Shanghai, China and the rest of the world: “Better City, Better Life.”

Every week, more than a million people are born in, or move to, cities in the developing world. As a result, the urban population of developing countries will double from 2 billion to 4 billion in the next 30 years.

By the year 2030, an additional 3 billion people, about 40 percent of the world’s population, will need access to housing. This translates into a demand for 96,150 new affordable units every day and 4,000 every hour.

The week of October 4–9, Habitat for Humanity organizations around the world, in partnership with others, plan World Habitat Day events focused on education, advocacy and fundraising.
This year, the focus issues for these efforts are health and housing internationally and neighborhood revitalization in the United States.

The 27th Carter Work Project will spearhead World Habitat Day events in six U.S. cities Oct. 3–8. Volunteers will join in building and rehabilitating houses with Habitat homeowner families, former President Carter and Mrs. Carter and other celebrities.

This year, the Carter Work Project will be held in Washington, D.C.; Baltimore and Annapolis, Maryland; Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota; and Birmingham, Alabama.

There are so many ways you can take part; contact a Habitat affliate near you, there are over 1500 affliates in the U.S. alone, find a local event in your area, or if you are less inclinded to manual labor, they will gladly take your donation.

Fun Treats On A Stick

I didn't even realize until I was thinking of using the title, 'Grillcake Skewers, Caramel Apples & Spooky Treat Kabobs' that everything was on a stick. Hence the new title.

Today is another sweet post, so you may want to close your eyes, or risk 5 lbs. being added on!

So this weekend saw me in a sweet treat mood...not only was I working on my weekly treats for my friend's bookstore, I decided to take a stab at some few treat ideas for the Halloween season. But before I dive in, I wanted to share my entry into the fab Pizzazzerie's Cupcake Skewer Contest....a twist on my grillcakes!

grillcake skewersSadly, I didn't win...I know, right? I though for sure the paper straws and the flags that say 'Well Done, Rare, Hickory' etc. would have been over the top and make me a shoo-in. That's OK, I had so much fun putting it together and my kids thoroughly enjoyed eating my creations!I've never made caramel apples before. I have a fear of things that require a candy thermometer. Luckily, melting some caramels and a little water at 50% power requires neither specialized equipment nor major phobias.

Yeah, some of you will be saying in your snootiest voice, 'making the caramel yourself is so much tastier and better than buying it.' Ha, I say! You need said thermometer and what do you think I had kids for? They were unwrapping fools, and it doesn't take that long. Now if I were making a hundred apples, that would be a different story. I'm going to pass on a few nuggets of wisdom for all you out there wanting to take the plunge.

1. Don't make the caramel yourself. There are soooooooooo many different recipes and stuff that you will lose interest. Some have corn syrup, heavy cream, different types of sugar, vanilla, etc. etc. If you are a kick-ass baker/candy-maker, then by all means, go for it! Don't let them lie to you that it's easy. Hence the candy thermometer. If you screw it up, the batch is wasted. See what I mean?

2. If you are using store-bought (versus ones you picked yourself or from a farmer's market) apples, they have a layer of wax added that keeps them all shiny. Dip them first in boiling water for about 10 seconds, then wipe the wax off the apple. Trust me, I do great research before undertaking any project and the caramel will just slide off waxed apples.

3. Use chilled apples. It will make them set faster once you dip them in the caramel. Once again, everyone says use warm apples. No, cold is better.

4. Let the caramel drip off, scrap the bottoms and cool for a few seconds before adding topping. Can you tell which of my apples were cool and which ones weren't? (Hint, they are the ones sitting in a pool of caramel.)

5. If the apples aren't going to be eaten soon and it's humid/warm, you should keep them refrigerated, the caramel will become soft and slide off, even on dewaxed apples.

I can't wait to experiment with chocolate drizzle, cookie crumbles, etc. I'm feeling that I may use even smaller apples for our Halloween party, they were quite fun to make!

And speaking of Halloween, I'm already experimenting with treat ideas for school. Since all treats must be store-bought, I'm thinking about throwing my hat into the candy-kabob ring. Winco Foods has an awesome bulk food section, and I definately scored on appropriate gummy items...fangs, brains, pumpkins, worms of course, and sharks. Yeah, I know, sharks?I use a metal skewer to make a hole to make my wooden skewer go in easier.spooky candy kabobsAnd then you just start putting your treats on! A pretzel rod treat bag, baker's twine and a fun tag from Eighteen25 and we're set! Now, I would just have to make 50 of them for both classes, so I may reconsider.spooky candy kabobs2

Drink Of The Week - Spooky Rum Cooler

spooky rum coolerI fell off the Halloween posting wagon for a bit, after all I'm in the middle of designing two parties, PTSA stuff, appointments, basically life. I promise I will try to be better, I hate to break my promises.

I hope this creepy cocktail from the latest Everyday Food makes it all better! Serves 1

1 ounce light rum
1 ounce dark rum
1/4 cup 100% pomegranate juice
3 tablespoons simple syrup
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
lime wedge
garnish: black sanding sugar, licorice spider (directions follow)

1. Spread the sanding sugar on a saucer. Rub the lime wedge around the edge of a glass and rim in the sanding sugar.

2. Add ice to the glass, then fill a cocktail shaker with more ice.

3. Add the lime juice, the light rum, simple syrup and pomegranate juice. Shake for 30 seconds and strain into the glass, leaving space at the top.

4. Gently pour in the dark rum so it floats on top. Garnish with the licorice spider tied to a stirrer.

And how clever is this spider?licorice spider

Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation

Continuing in our series for National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, today's feature is Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation - "Fighting Childhood Cancer One Cup At A Time".

Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF) emerged when cancer patient Alexandra “Alex” Scott started her lemonade stand to give the money to doctors to allow them to "help other kids, like they helped me." Her first lemonade stand raised an amazing $2,000 for "her hospital."

News spread of the remarkable sick child dedicated to helping other sick children. People from all over the world, moved by her story, held their own lemonade stands and donated the proceeds to Alex and her cause.

In August of 2004, Alex passed away at the age of 8, knowing that, with the help of others, she had raised over $1 million to help find a cure for the disease that took her life.

Her legacy lives on in her foundation and there are several ways to continue her fight. There are lots of fundraising opportunities from individuals to schools and businesses. You can do a search by zip code and find a Lemonade Stand in your area, or attend one of their amazing events like The Lemon Ball and The Lemon Run.

I Have A Cricut Imagine!

OK, so today is pure glee. Nothing for you all, just me.

My mother is not very 'hip' to my craziness...she lives in Houston, so doesn't get to see the extent of it, just the pictures, the aftermath, etc.

She said she was sending a box. Cool. She sends me stuff all the time.

So when a hugungous box was waiting for me after Kung Fu yesterday with the words 'ProvoCraft Cricut Imagine', my breathing stopped.

Wait, it was addressed to me, and I've entered a thousand giveaways for the Silhouette, so maybe this was a consolation prize? Wait, I didn't give out my address, how would they find me? Wait. Did my mom send me this? I didn't even know she knew what a Cricut was...

My shiny new Cricut Imagine

And the bigger joke, I've never heard of this, it like JUST came out! My obsession was with the Silhouette because everyone is having giveaways for one. I can stop begging now. Plus, I just zoomed past all my crafty friends, because I have zero crafting systems, I was still diecutting at the craft store. I know, right?

Alright, I'm done now. OK, one more squeak. Thanks Mommy!

Tuesday Tip - Fill-A-Friend Giveaway!

****************THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED!!!!*******************
Remember this awesome chihuahua party from Adriana, featuring friends from Fill-A-Friend? How could you forget it?Well, the amazing Tammy from Fill-A-Friend wants to share a little fuzzy Halloween love with my readers and we are having a wonderful giveaway, your choice of friend and a Halloween costume!

They have a fun array of critters, they have bears of course, but you could go with a zebra, a bunny, a unicorn, etc.

And check out their too-cute Halloween costume choices! Maybe a classic like the witch or skeleton......cheerleader......or Spiderbear! And if you want to do a military friend, they have uniforms too!
And if you need a fabulous activity for your upcoming Halloween party, nothing beats making a special friend. Tammy is offering free shipping on Halloween party packages, just let her know you are a Not Just A Mommy! reader.

Alright, on to the details and 7 chances to win!

1. Visit the Fill-A-Friend site and tell us which friend and which Halloween outfit you would get if you win!

2. Tell us your favorite outfit, footwear and/or accessory.

3. 'Like' Fill-A-Friend on Facebook and leave a comment that you did.

4. Sign up for their email updates, and leave a comment that you did.

5. Follow Fill-A-Friend on Twitter and tweet #Win a furry friend & Halloween outfit from @FillAFriend at @NotJustAMommy ends 9/28 This can be done once a day, just leave a comment each time.

6. Blog/Facebook about this giveaway linking to this post and leave the link in your comment.

7. See my button in the left column? Pick it up, put it on your blog and let me know where it's at.

Giveaway ends next Tuesday, September 28, at 11:59 p.m. PT. Winner will be chosen by, and contacted by email. Winner will have 24 hours to respond otherwise an alternate will be chosen.

Pottery Barn Halloween 2010

Oh Pottery Barn, how I love thee? Let me count the ways...

Cupcakes for a Cause

Continuing on in our series for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, this coming Monday begins Cupcakes for a Cause Week September 20-26, 2010. CancerCare launched Cupcakes For A Cause in 2004 as a fundraiser by enlisting a small group of bakeries in NYC to sell specially decorated cupcakes to raise funds.

Since then, Cupcakes for a Cause has grown into an annual national fundraiser for the CancerCare for Kids program where businesses and people across the country bake, sell, and enjoy cupcakes to raise funds for this vital program, which provides free support services to children affected by cancer and their families.

Want to help? Of course you do, sweets and a good cause in one? Host your own bake sale or purchase your own goodies at a participating bakery, send an e-cupcake or purchase a direct donation.

Fiesta Friday - The Snack That Smiles Back! Goldfish!

"Here's our jingle for Goldfish
Those baked and not fried Goldfish
The wholesome snack that smiles back until you bite their heads off
Did you know they're made with real cheese
Even though they look like fishies
The snack that smiles back, Goldfish!"

Ok, I know I'm supposed to be working on Halloween stuff, but this was too cute to pass up! I recently discovered Chickabug, a fabulous home to some of cutest party printables you have ever seen! So while wandering around, I came across her goldfish party package, and the wheels started turning. We have always loved the Pepperidge Farm Goldfish, they are quite possibly the world's best snack for toddlers. Well, that and Cheerios. But that will be a post for another day!

We love them even more now since they come in so many fun combos; currently in our cupboard, S'mores Adventures (chocolate and honey grahams and marshmallows) and Mix-Up Adventures (Parmesan & Xplosive Pizza). This toddler staple is a perfect theme for the younger set, and makes a very cool baby shower theme! With a fun color combo of orange and blue, you can't go wrong, so here's a little inspiration to set the mood...
goldfish party collageLovin' this outdoor fishbowl from Katherine Marie Photography; adorable koi cupcakes from What's New, Cupcake?; koi lanterns from Sav On Crafts; Tiny Prints invite; who can forget Hostess Blog's party table? Women's Day fishbowl cake; Party Accessories used real fishbowls for snacks; Birthday In A Box's cute straws make perfect favors.

I've Been Featured At Paper & Cake!

So, it's been a hard week. I've been having 'small fish, big pond' party planner feelings and issues, the usual pity party that pops up every now and again. It's sad really, I have so much party stuff on the horizon with the holiday season approaching and still have enough brain energy to waste on that stuff.

It passed, and really got left in the dust when I woke up today and did a quick blogroll scroll through before getting the kids off for school, and saw one of my favorite places to be, Paper & Cake! We used their fab printables at our Back To School Bash. Boo-yah! In your face, haters, I'm way cooler than you give me credit for!

BTW I really was jumping for joy! When it's chilly and rains in Seattle, it rains! You can't be outside, which means you are inside. Which means you are inside with the kids. And it was chilly and rained alot this summer.

We Go Wednesday - Bundles Of Cookies

I know you've been waiting....and the winner of our Party Box Design contest....comment #11 Dixon Family - I 'like' PBD on Facebook

Congratulations! The winner has already been contacted and has 24 hours to respond, otherwise an alternate will be chosen.

For the next few W.O.W. we are going to tweak it a bit since Halloween is coming up and there is just so many fun ideas I want to share. I'll be showcasing great places for you to visit, both virtual and reality!

Here's a wonderful Tweep I recently discovered, Bundles Of Cookies, and I'll let her pictures do the talking...mmm...pretty cookies...

If you can dream it, I'm sure they will do everything in their power to make it! Take a gander around their site, they've made just about anything into a cookie.

Want to have the fun as a party activity? Order one of their decorating kits that comes with everything you need, cookies, frosting, bags, even a decorating "steps to take" quick start guide. Need to keep up with their yummy fabulousness? Follow them on Facebook and/or Twitter!

Tuesday Tip/Tutorial - Cupcake Carrier/Sandwich Board Makeover

I'm squeaking because of my fabulous find from Bed Bath & Beyond, it's a Progressive Collapsible Cupcake and Cake Carrier! I've been coveting Martha's version, but this one is perfect for those tricked out cupcakes that are too tall for standard carriers, plus it collapses down together for easier storage! My other one, which I hated, finally snapped and broke at the handles and had no finger holes to get the cupcakes out. This one is hard-core and I can't wait to load it up!

Speaking of tricking things out, check out my latest project, turning this nasty, wooden sandwich board for the PTSA....into this, a fabulous chalkboard sandwich board.It's my first foray into chalkboard paint, and I'm hooked!

Weapons of choice
chalkboard paint (I used Valspar from Lowe's)
white latex paint
sticky back foamie letters
inexpensive brushes & blue painter's tape
1. First I sanded down the board to smooth the surface. Unfortunately it was made from old boards so it has staples, knots, etc. But that's cool, gives it character!

2. Then a few coats of white paint around the edges, no need for perfection, this will be taped over later.
3. I taped off the edges with the painter's tape and started painting away with the chalkboard paint. It took 3 coats; from what I understand, Valspar is on the lower end of the chalkboard paint spectrum so I did 3 just to be on the safe side.
4. All done with the paint portion of the evening!
5. I added the letters, then primed the chalkboard by rubbing it with a piece of chalk and wiping it off.It will make it's debut tonight at our monthly meeting! I can't wait to figure out my next project will be...
The Girl Creative Party Bloggiveaways
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