Tuesday Tip - Every 100 Followers Giveaway To Bake It Pretty & Fill-A-Friend

I've been hiding.

Between my mom being here for 2 weeks for the holidays, and then the rest of the fam showing up, being a tour guide all over the Seattle area, cooking, cleaning, taking down fall stuff and putting up Christmas stuff, I've been busy.

My bad. So I'm going to make it up to you. We aren't quite to 400 GFC followers, but I love giving you all stuff, especially for the holidays so we won't tell.

You know I love Bake It Pretty. Who else gives you goodies wrapped in brown paper and a sticker? Plus, they have grey paper straws which I haven't seen anywhere else yet. This was my recent purchase, including mini loaf pans and the mustache mold pops I've been coveting for awhile.
I sure wished I lived in Asheville, NC because they have a shiny new store front there. Holy smokes, I digress.

Anyways, what does this have to do with you? They want you to get your own box of pretty by graciously sharing a $10 credit towards anything in their store. I know you have lots of holiday baking on the horizon! And do you know what else you need? A new Fill-A-Friend for under the Christmas tree...Fill A Friend GiveawayThat's right, they are giving one of my readers their choice of Christmas friends; reindeer, polar bear or snowman and your choice of a Santa, Mrs. Claus or Elf outfit!

Alrighty then, to get your hands on this fab packagae, after all, this IS a followers' giveaway, first and foremost, you must be one...through GFC, email, Twitter, or Facebook. And I'll be let me know in your comment which one you are, then.....

Mandatory Entry
- Leave ONE comment when you...
Visit the Bake It Pretty shop , and let us know what you would spend your winnings on
Visit Fill-A-Friend's Christmas page and tell us which Christmas friend and outfit you would like to win!

Additional Entries
2. Are you one of my Tweeps? Tweet about this giveaway including @NotJustAMommy and @BakeItPretty and @FillAFriend and a link to this post and leave the Twitter link in a comment (can be done once a day).

3. Are you one of my Facebook stalkers? Post about this giveaway with a tag and leave the link in a comment. (hint, hint, since you 'like' me, if you put an @ in the status bar and start typing Not Just A Mommy, you can then tag me.)

Giveaway ends next Tuesday, December 7, 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


I'm having issues with the plug-in Intense Debate for my previous comment entries, rest assured, I see them even if you don't!

Tuesday Tip - Holiday Etiquette With Etiquette Amy

My go-to etiquette gal, Amy E. Stevens from Etiquette Southwest Missouri is back, helping us navigate some sticky wickets that may come our way this holiday season, starting with Thanksgiving on Thursday. I asked her a few questions that have been thrown my way and perhaps they can help you navigate through the various social minefields that the holidays always seem to bring.
The holidays are upon us, which means it's time for all types of holiday gatherings, including family get-togethers which means the inevitable. Uncle Bob comments about your dramatic weight gain/loss, Grandma Yetta wants to know if you've found a man yet. Any tips for getting around the busybody relative and still being gracious?

AS - When it comes to relatives, it’s inevitable that there will be at least one intrusive busybody in the crowd. Come prepared! You know the issues that bother you and, most likely, even who will bring them up. So have a humorous, brief, topic-ending answer and get-away strategy ready.

For example, Uncle Bob makes a comment about your weight, tell him all discussion of weight is banished for the holidays. Grandma Yetta wants to know if you’ve FINALLY found a man? Tell her she’ll be the first to know. THEN excuse yourself from the conversation with your pre-planned getaway strategy, “Excuse me, I’m going to go grab eggnog … or play with my nieces … or help mom set the table.” Hopefully, they will get the message by your quick departure! (It would also be appropriate to be a bit bolder and say, “Oh Grandma, you always ask me the same question.”) Photo

The ubiquitous office party is always a cringer. What are your top 3 suggestions to surviving and having a job on Monday morning?

AS - 1. Don’t drink yourself into a dancing-on-the-table scenario. These are still coworkers and bosses, so limit yourself to a couple drinks to avoid hearing the stories of your escapades for the rest of the year!

2. Avoid shop-talk. Nothing kills a party like discussing the quarterly report. If you know you tend to fall back to work topics, come up with some conversation starters ahead of time.

3. Don’t dress for a night club. While a party is an opportunity to break out of business casual, you shouldn’t wear an outfit that will shatter your reputation.

Bonus tip: This is a great opportunity to network! Don’t forget to take a moment to talk to the leadership of your organization – this is a time when they’re more approachable.

What are your thoughts on 'boss gifts'?

AS - When it comes to bosses, it’s always safe to just give a holiday card. You can never go wrong with a card! However, if you do want to give your boss a gift, keep it inexpensive (under $20 is best). Also, don’t make the gift overly personal and definitely don’t buy a gag gift. If you’re new to the office, ask some coworkers if gifts are given – each office has their own holiday culture! Photo

Do I have to invite someone to my holiday party because I was invited to theirs? We aren't really good friends, but we run in the same social circles and they will eventually find out.

AS - Unless there is a really good reason NOT to invite a person to your party, if they invited you to their party, it would be best to reciprocate with an invitation to yours. News travels fast within a social circle and by inviting your acquaintance you prevent hurt feelings.

If you do have a solid reason to withhold an invite (perhaps they’re several years younger than your crowd or they flirt with your spouse), then don’t invite that person but don’t make it a big deal about your reason with other friends. It will be discussed but it’s not your responsibility to give an explanation for who is and isn’t invited. Photo

Many people are hosting holiday open-houses, and the biggest concern is always when you don't have guests contribute, but your neighbor shows up anyways with her famous Lime-Jello And Marshmellow Surprise. Do you have to set it out?

AS - Unfortunately, if someone brings a perishable food item, the easiest thing to do would be to serve the dish. Otherwise, you will have to explain to them where it is which can be awkward and embarrassing for them.

However, if you’re hosting a sit-down dinner and can’t stand to serve someone’s Jell-O Surprise alongside your carefully planned meal, you can very politely say, “I’ve already planned out and prepared all of tonight’s meal but I know my family is going to love your Jell-O Surprise tomorrow.” The moral of the story is that, as a guest, you should not bring a dish unless you’ve coordinated with the hostess beforehand! photo

And on that note, if guests do bring you consumables like wine or dessert are you supposed to set it out?

AS - No, you absolutely do not have to set it out – especially if you’ve already purchased wine that coordinates with your dinner and have prepared a dessert. photo

If you are attending a gift exchange should you bring a hostess gift in addition to the gift exchange gift?

AS - I think it’s still a wonderful idea to bring a hostess gift to any party, even if there is a gift exchange. The hostess gift is your way of thanking the hostess for the time and work that goes into the planning and preparation of the event. Photo

Is it necessary to write thank you cards to guests who attended a holiday party or just send to those who brought you a gift (hostess gift, etc.)?

AS - No, you do not need to write thank you notes to your guests for attending your party. In fact, they should write you a thank you note for hosting the party. Also, if you have thanked the guest in person for their host/hostess gift then there isn’t a need for an additional thank you card. The gift is their way of thanking you so you don’t need to essentially say, “thank you for your thank you.” However, if you feel the gift was expensive or particularly thoughtful, (even though it may not be necessary) it’s never WRONG to write a thank you note.

Wise beyond her years, you can visit Amy's blog, Etiquette From The Trenches for more etiquette tips and strategies from her life and experiences!

CSN Review Product Coming Soon!

As you all know, CSN and I go way back, they have over 200 stores and sell everything from bar tables and stools to appliances. And guess what? They even have holiday decor, from Christmas trees to dinnerware and everything in between!

I've hosted several giveaways and just recently won a $100 gift certificate as part of my prize package from Bird Crafts, and it's perfect because I just can't seem to have enough platters.

I've another opportunity to work with them on a product review and of course I will share with you what it all is, here's a hint...a moment on the lips, forever on the hips!

Drink Of The Week - SKYY Citrus Winter Warmer/Rustic Apple Tarts Infused with SKYY Infusions Ginger

I've two more absolutely amazing recipes from SKYY vodka, one you drink and one you eat, yum-o! I thought they would be perfect for Thanksgiving, and perhaps can help you through the pain of family gatherings? I'm kidding, we LOVE our families! Both recipes courtesy of SKYY.

SKYY Citrus Winter Warmer - serves 1
1.5 oz SKYY Infusions citrus
0.5 oz agave nectar
4 oz hot water
3 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 pat unsalted butter (just under a tablespoon)
garnish: grated nutmeg

1. Combine all ingredients into a large mug, topping the liquid with hot water last.

2. Stir, grate nutmeg over top and let steep for a couple minutes before serving.

Rustic Apple Tarts Infused with SKYY Infusions Ginger - serves 4
1 tbsp SKYY Infusions Ginger
1/3 cup and 0.5 tablespoon Sugar
1/2 cup apple cider or apple juice
1 tbsp. cider vinegar
1 lb. small gala apples (about 4; left unpeeled)
1 frozen puff pastry sheet (from a 17 1/4-oz package), thawed
3 tbsp. unsalted butter

1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Cook 1/3 cup sugar in a dry, 10-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, undisturbed, until it begins to melt. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally with a fork, until sugar is melted into a pale golden caramel.

2. Tilt skillet and carefully pour in cider and vinegar (caramel will harden and steam vigorously). Simmer over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until caramel is dissolved.

3. While syrup simmers, cut apples into 1/8-inch-thick slices. Add apple slices to hot syrup in skillet, gently tossing to coat. Remove from heat and let stand, stirring occasionally, until apples are wilted by syrup, 5 to 10 minutes.

4. While apples stand, roll out puff pastry sheet into a 12-inch square on a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin. Cut into quarters, forming 4 (6-inch) squares and brush off excess flour from both sides.

5. Transfer squares to a large, shallow baking pan, overlapping if necessary (squares will fit without touching after edges are folded in later). Drain apples in a sieve set over a bowl (save the syrup), then place apple slices decoratively on each square, leaving a 3/4-inch border all around.

6. Fold border over apples along edges, pinching edges together as necessary, then dot tops of apples with a total of 1 tablespoon butter and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 tablespoon sugar.

7. Bake tarts until apples are tender, pastry is puffed, and edges and undersides are golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes.

8. While tarts bake, boil reserved syrup in skillet with SKYY Infusions Ginger and remaining 2 tablespoons butter until thickened and reduced to about 1/3 cup. Brush or drizzle hot syrup over tarts. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Fiesta Friday - Chic Click Carnival

Once again, I've forgotten to post the winner of The Celebration Shoppe giveaway for all to see...

Comment #2 - Staci @ lizard n ladybug - "I'm a fan of The Celebration Shoppe on FB"

She's already been contacted and accepted her prize! Thanks y'all for playing along and keep an eye more, more giveaways are coming soon!

Today I am participating in the Chick Click Carnival. The purpose of Chick Click Carnival is to meet other bloggers and some great shops! See the widget here or in my column? Click through and meet new friends!

For those of you here from CCC, welcome to Not Just A Mommy! Why this title? Because I have party planning on the brain and although I have a 6 and 9 year old, and seem to be constantly driving them to soccer, basketball, playdates and all up in school committees and activities, I'm not just a mommy. I love to blog about all things entertaining, crafts, a little bit of ranting and raving on random stuff.

Check out my sidebar, it's full of other amazing party and crafting places that I like to stalk, a few shindigs that I've thrown, a craft or two and other crazy randomness.I'm also supposed to link up my favorite many....but I'll have to go with my recent post on the crepe paper flower decor I just made that will be part of my Thanksgiving spread!

One of my favorite peeps of the week is A*muse, creators of a unique line of rubber stamps, paper products and embellishments for creating handmade cards, scrapbook pages and more! And um, local to Seattle which I didn't know, and must make my way hence! Why you ask? Because you can attend a stamping class where you can make one of these...or make and take one of these...Maybe they have a class near you?

Tuesday Tip/Tutorial (On A Thursday) - Crepe Paper Flower Toppers & tablevogue Review

Crepe Paper Flower Toppers
I've been MIA, gearing up for Thanksgiving and have some fun projects I've been working on. One of them will be toppers for centerpieces, but I haven't figured out how yet. Maybe a few of them running down my table; they also look so pretty against a wall, could you see them as a backdrop for party tables? I think they are going to be the new pom-pom.

I found the flower's tutorial at House Of Smith's; she made these amazing hanging flower balls and I knew I had to try my hand at it. They surely were a pain to figure out, just like she said, but I got the hang of it.

All you need for this project are 3" styrofoam disks, I found mine as a 4-pack Dollar Tree in the craft aisle and your color choice of paper streamers. You can pick some up there too, but for the colors I wanted I had to go to Party City, but since they are .79 a pack, this project will cost me a whopping $1.79! Oh, and a hot glue gun.

I apologize again for the blurry pictures, it was late and I was tired of switching back and forth between the settings.

1. First, cover the edge of the styrofoam by gluing on a strip of streamer paper,

Crepe Paper Flower Toppers 2
and wrap and glue around edge and one side. The uncovered side will be the bottom of the stand.
Crepe Paper Flower Toppers 3
2. Then, I just followed the tutorial, rolling the 24" strip of streamer...
Crepe Paper Flower Toppers 4
...and glued it to the top.
3. Then repeat until the top is covered in flowers. By starting with a flower in the middle, it takes 7 flowers for the topper.
Crepe Paper Flower Toppers 5
I made another one in maroon paper...After I stopped cursing at trying to figure out the folds, I'm hooked. You could use any size of styrofoam disk, a large one would make an fab centerpiece on a round table. On that note, you could make them with any shape of flat styrofoam, how cool would a long rectangle be? Alright, go forth and make your own!

And speaking of tables, Virginia Bell from tablevogue contacted me to see if I were interested in reviewing one of their products and I said, hell yeah! I knew about them from their fabulous feature over at the Hostess Blog and BH&G featured them as well. I've been meaning to blog about them, but my folder gets so full and I fall behind!
tablevogue Thanksgiving table What is tablevogue? It's a slipcover for your table! The tailored seams allow it to fit snugly, so no more drifting tablecloth, or hanging weights off the edges. No more kids dragging it down on their sides. They come in 3 sizes, to fit standard 6- and 8-foot tables and 34-inch card tables. That's right. Card tables.

I was sent the card table size, I'm having my first ever full-on kid's table for Thanksgiving and since there will only be 3 kids, it's perfect. Since I couldn't wait until next week, I decided to do a mock-up table to share now, because no joke, I love it! So you know I will try to break it out any chance I get. I seriously need to get my hands on a 6-footer.

I think my favorite part has to be the fact that it can be washed and won't shrink. Even more awesome, I didn't have to iron it. It came a little wrinkly out of the package, so I threw it into the wash, then dryer and all the wrinkles are gone. Just so you know, I hate ironing. It irritates me. Anyways, hang on, there are lots of great DIY ideas if you need some more inspiration.
tablevogue Thanksgiving table 2
The lovely Carli from DimplePrints had a crazy Thanksgiving collectionfull of so much stuff! I used some of these goodies for my printables.DimplePrints Thanksgiving table
Kids' Thanksgiving table I loved the hay bale cookie stand from Amy Atlas' Thanksgiving spread, so it was my inspiration for the centerpiece.
yarn apple and pumpkinI love my yarn pumpkins and apples, I've blogged about them before; it's a fun project from Make And Takes that is perfect to keeping little fingers busy.

harvest candy favor boxLovin' the corn husk favor box? It's a great freebie from Paper, Plate, and Plane, my latest blog crush. She has lots of great projects, so definitely go take a gander.
turkey paper cupJust a few snips of cardstock can turn any cup into a gobbler!

I'll probably change out some items for the real table next week, but of course I will share it in all it's glory!
Tidy Mom I'm Lovin It Fridays

Tuesday Tip/Tutorial - Holiday Decor All Season Long

Looking for a few ideas that will carry through the New Year's? Here's a few great tutorials that are fun to make and easy on the wallet.
Do you have 500 yd rolls of curling ribbon? Of course you do, they are cheap at party supply stores; get you a spool or two and make these curling ribbon coasters from Chica and Jo.

How amazing are these 'string spheres' (or as I call them, yarn balls) from Joyful Weddings? They went old school, winding string around a balloon, covering it with fabric stiffener, letting it dry and then popping the balloon. You can make them in any color you like!

This tissue paper wreath from Elizabeth Anne Designs may be a little time consuming but totally worth it, especially if you add little crystals of bling.

Mmm...hmmm....I'm in love with this rock candy chandelier from Once Wed that only costs about $10 to make.

A bowl full of paper globes by Shim + Sons is a great decor element; they are easy to make. I've made them as ornaments by replacing the brad with ribbon.

Apartment Therapy has ornaments hanging from it, but you can easily swap them out for hanging votives, lights, etc. as the New Year approaches.

And I just had to share this vanilla pumpkin cupcake recipe from Tidy Mom because I made it today and it was da bomb! I had to make made a smorgasboard frosting of lemon, chocolate and buttercream, which was all I had and it was finger lickin' good.

And speaking of holiday tips, if you are going to have a house full of guests and you are looking for great decor pieces like bar tables and stools or extra dining room chairs, CSN stores have you covered! And with many items having free shipping you can save a little chaching while you are at it!

KC Soaps N More

I saw this over at Simply Creative Insanity and it was just too sweet not to share! Check out these amazing creations from Etsy shop KC Soaps N More....
Absolutely yummy, and so realistic I think I just put on a pound!

Has someone you know been naughty?
Yes, cicadas.

And don't you love the packaging? Pretty tags, baker's twine and cello packaging that you know your recepient will drool over! Go check her out for lots of great holiday and favor gift ideas.

Drink Of The Week - Musselman's Hot Mulled Cider Review

Today I'm sharing a very special D.O.W., a review of Musselman's hot mulled cider. I received a gallon of Musselman's Fresh Pressed Cider and the recipe that I served at a recent dinner party.

Adding it to my crockpot along with the rest of the ingredients...

3 cinnamon sticks
1 tbsp whole cloves
1 tsp whole allspice
cheesecloth* (if you don't have cheesecloth on hand, use a tea ball or a coffee filter)

FYI - I bet you didn't know that in the Hispanic section of most grocery stores they sell spices WAY cheaper than the ones in the baking aisle. For example, a jar of whole cloves was nearly $5 while the bag (way more than I needed) I purchased was .84 at Wal-Mart. I know, right?

1. Since I didn't have any cheesecloth, I used a coffee filter to wrap the whole cloves and whole allspice in and tied closed with baker's twine.
2. I had my crockpot on high until it started to boil, then lower the setting to simmer, stirring occasionally.
3. If you leave the pot uncovered, you and your family can enjoy the warm, delicious aroma.

4. Since we had the kids present, we couldn't do this, but you can add a splash of rum or brandy when serving to make a festive adult beverage.
Overall, we really liked it! I didn't know my crockpot had a 'lava' setting because it took a long time for everyone's servings to cool to really enjoy it! We gave it two thumbs up!

Check out their other great recipes and stay tuned, I'll be sharing a few more with you.

Disclaimer - I was provided the Musselman's samples with no compensation, real or implied, and purchased all needed supplies with my own funds.
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