Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Checking Out the Year's Hottest Toys, Including the New VTech Smartwatch

This post was sponsored by Sverve. Although I received compensation for the review, all opinions are my own. #chosenbykids

Hi Everyone!

Recently, I took some of the kids to my local Walmart so that we could check out some of the year's hottest toys. Even when my oldest was a baby, I would take her to the store to see what held her interest, and I continued this practice with the rest of the gang. Of course, now they're all very vebal, but I still like to get an idea of what they like so that I have an idea of what we're in for. And honestly, it's always fun to be surrounded by toys!

My little guy just loves Legos, but he has always been fascinated by the newest gadgets too, and he couldn't wait to try the new VTech Smartwatch.

boy holding the vtech smartwatch

The watch comes in several colors, but since blue is his favorite color, that's the one he chose. While we were there, we spotted some other popular toys, including the new Snow Globe Elsa Doll. My little Diva thought this was super cute.

girl holding frozen snow globe elsa
Of course, we had to stop and look at all of the holiday decorations too. Can you see the little pink Christmas tree? My little Diva wants to get that for her room and decorate it with pink and black ornaments -- still not sure about that, but it would be cute!

christmas decorations at walmart

When we got home, the first thing we did was charge the battery on the watch. A USB cable is included, and all you have to do is plug it into your computer for three hours before using the watch for the first time. After that, you're good to go!

The Smartwatch comes with four educational games, and you can download more from the VTech site. Your child can also personalize the watch by choosing from over 50 unique displays for the watch's face, including both analog and digital. My son needs to work on learning to tell time, so we chose the analog option for now.

My little guy's favorite part about the watch is that it takes pictures and videos. He sees his older siblings taking pictures with their smart phones, and he feels like a big kid now! He even got one of the fur boys to pose for a picture, even if it's slightly blurry here.

boy wearing Vtech smartwatch with picture of a beagle

I like that the watch is kid proof, and unlike other electronics, I'm not worried about him breaking it!

Have you started your shopping yet? Do you think the kids on your list would like the VTech watch? I know it's still early, but planning ahead helps me stay a little bit calmer, especially when it comes to reading five Christmas lists!

Thanks so much for visiting. Have a super day!

Fall Mason Jars

Hi Friends!

I'm over at PinkWhen today, where I'm sharing an easy idea for fall decorating. You all know how much I love working with jars, right? Well, I have another craft involving mason jars, but this is slightly different from the other ones I've done. I'm already thinking ahead to sprucing up the house for Thanksgiving, so I made these Rustic Glam Mason Jar Vases.

Metallic Spray Painted Mason Jars

You can get all the deets on how to make these vases by visiting Jennifer's lovely blog. I'll be back a little later with some ideas for Christmas shopping. Yikes -- time flies, right?!

Take Care,

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Retro Re-Pin Party

Hello All!

Welcome back to the Retro Re-pin Party. It's great to have you here, and I just want to say thanks for taking the time to stop by, link up and pin some fun ideas! If this is your first time visiting the party, I'm glad that you found us, and I hope you'll have fun and return next week!

Are you all having a fun fall so far? It's still warmer than I would like around here, but we're slowly getting there. I've been seeing such great Halloween and fall ideas shared at the party, so thanks for for the inspiration! I also love the makeovers, tips and recipes too, so please keep sharing those, as well.

I'm still trying to satisfy my pumpkin cravings, and I was excited to see this No-Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake from Three Kids and a Fish. It's perfect for this warm weather, and it will probably end up on my Thanksgiving Menu!

No Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake Recipe With Fresh Pumpkin Spice Whipped Cream

So, let's get started on this week's pin party. Just remember to link up a couple of pins and not a blog post! I know I keep saying that, but it makes it easier on the hosts and the other party goers who would love to re-pin that pin for you. If you have any questions, just let me know.

                  Meet the Retro Re-Pin Hosting Team!

Kristina and Millie @ 2 Crochet Hooks: Blog/Pinterest
Dee @ Meatloaf and Melodrama: Blog/Pinterest
Stephanie @ Sustaining the Powers: Blog/Pinterest
Becka @ Probably Crafting: Blog/Pinterest
Felicia @ Nifty Thrifty Family: Blog/Pinterest
Leslie @ Crafty Side of Sarcasm: Blog/Pinterest
Julie V. @ Somebody's Dinner: Blog/Pinterest
Robin @ Redo It Yourself Inspirations: Blog/Pinterest

We would love it if you would follow us on Pinterest!

It's time to party!
*By linking up, you're giving permission to use your photos with a link back to you for features and promotional purposes.*

Monday, October 20, 2014

DIY Wood Box Centerpiece

Hi There!

You all probably know by now how much I love rustic decor, right? Well for a while now, I've been crushing on those wooden planter boxes that many people use as centerpieces. We have a long dining room table, so I thought that a long, narrow box would look perfect on top of it. I had a vase filled with some faux flowers, and to even it out, I had chunky candles on chunky candlesticks on either side of the vase. The problem with this arrangement was that the kids dropped the candles a few times when they were setting the table, and the chunky candles were looking pretty funky. And, if a few of us sat down for a quick lunch without removing the vase,  all we could see were the flowers.

So, I told Hubby what I had in mind, and he used some leftover wood to make a planter box, and then I distressed it and turned it into this DIY wood box centerpiece.

distressed wood box centerpiece with hydrangeas and pine cones

The two end pieces are approximately 7 inches long, and the sides are about 2 feet long. The box itself is about 6 inches tall. To make the box, Hubby glued the side pieces together, and then he glued the bottom piece to the sides.

glue boards together and nail to make wood centerpiece

The glue helped hold the wood together so that we could nail the boards in place. I was going to do this part, but Hubby beat me to it. He probably figured out that it would get done faster if he completed the project since we had a busy weekend, but at any rate, it did get done! See how nice and new the wood looks? Of course, it didn't stay this new for long.

diy wood planter box

I mixed various shades of grey, brown and black paint together, watered the concoction down and painted the entire box with the faux stain. The result was a greyish-brown color that makes the wood look aged -- exactly the look I was going for.

faux aged wood box with nails

I filled the planter box with a mix of faux hydrangeas, white pumpkins and pine cones, and the centerpiece was complete. The stores are already marking down fall merchandise, so I got a great deal on the flowers!

DIY aged wood planter box with faux hydrangeas, pine cones and white pumpkins

And, here it is on the dining room table. The lighting is always poor in this room, but you can get an idea of how it looks on the table. No more tall centerpiece to get in the way -- yay!

distressed wood box with fall flowers, pinecones and white pumpkins

I'm thinking that a red one might be nice for Christmas, and a chippy white box might be perfect for spring. What do you think?

rustic wood centerpiece with hydrangeas, pine cones and white pumpkin

Thanks a bunch for stopping by. Have a great day!

Pumpkin Fettuccine Contributor Post

Hi Everyone!

I'm so excited to be over at The Taylor House today, where I'm sharing an easy recipe for homemade pumpkin fettuccine Alfredo. That's right -- no jars today, folks! My family absolutely loved it, so I hope you'll pop on over to Chrissy's blog and see how easy it is to make your own sauce. I also have a rustic fall centerpiece to show you, and I'll be back with that in a little bit!

Take Care!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Snickerdoodle Sunday

Hi Friends!

It's time again for another Snickerdoodle Sunday. Can you believe there are only two weeks left until Halloween? Fall is just flying by, and it's just beginning to cool off here. Before you know it, we'll be getting ready for Christmas -- yikes! I'm not at all ready for that, and I want to enjoy this lovely season first. So, I chose some great DIY fall decorating ideas for this week's features. And, let me tell you that I had an awful time picking out favorites! 

I really want to do a post dedicated to features, and hopefully, I'll get a chance. In the meantime, let me show you some cute projects. 

You all know that I'm a sucker for wood projects, and this DIY Harvest Moon from Live Randomly Simple is just so sweet!

DIY Harvest Moon Decor

And, this cute Cardboard Pumpkin Centerpiece from Purple Hues and Me is easy to make, and she gives an awesome tutorial.

Finally, I just loved these pretty Glittered Fall Leaves by Typically Simple. These would enhance any home!
Glittered Fall Leaves DIY

Thanks for sharing your awesome projects at Snickerdoodle! Don't forget to check out the other hosts' blogs --  you may have been featured!

And Now, It's Time for the Party!
Meet Your Uber Fabulous Party Hosts!

Kristina & Millie @ 2CrochetHooks, Dee @ Meatloaf and Melodrama,
snickerdoodle hostessesFelicia @ Nifty Thrifty Family, Sarah @ Sadie Seasongoods

We Have a few very simple rules for the party!

**We know you're all busy, but please try to visit, comment or pin on a few of the blogs that are sharing here today. This is also a wonderful way to get people to visit you and meet other bloggers.**
  •  Please follow your hostesses in some way- 2 Crochet HooksNifty Thrifty FamilyMeatloaf and Melodrama, and Sadie Seasongoods
  • Link to your post and not to your blog home page
  • Family friendly posts only– old or new
  • Please, no more than 3 links to your blog
  • No links directly to your shops or websites selling things/services please! Reviews w/affiliate links are ok!
  • Yes, you can link giveaways & link parties
Adding your link to this blog hop gives the hostesses permission to share your posts and pictures via social media and as features on Snickerdoodle Sunday. All features will be pinned to our Pinterest boards and will be linked back to the original source.

By participating in this link party, you will be sent a weekly reminder e-mail when the link party goes live. Your e-mail will not to added to any other lists or used in any other way.


    Friday, October 17, 2014

    Southwestern Lasagna

    Hi Friends!

    I've got another dinner idea for you today. Yep, this makes two food posts in a row, but it's cool and rainy here today, and I'm in the mood for some serious comfort food! When you live in the desert, cool weather is always cause for celebration, especially after a long, hot summer. Southwestern lasagna is super easy to prepare, and my family absolutely loves it. You can even prepare all of it or part of it ahead of time and heat it up when it's time for dinner. Plus, it works well for leftovers!

    layered casserole with tortillas meat black beans and corn on a dish with sour cream

    I've made this dish with chicken and beef, and we like it both ways. It's really like making easy enchiladas, only you don't have to roll the tortillas up. For one large pan of Southwestern Lasagna, you'll need:

    • 2 pounds of ground beef
    • 1 onion, chopped
    • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
    • 1 small can of black beans, rinsed and drained
    • 2 cups of canned or frozen corn ( if using frozen, cook first)
    • 2 bell peppers, chopped ( I used one red and one yellow)
    • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
    • 2 teaspoons of chili powder
    • Salt and pepper, to taste
    • 2 to 3 cups of shredded Mexican-style cheese blend
    • 6 large flour tortillas
    • 1 large can of enchilada sauce

    Brown ground beef in a large skillet, and drain excess fat.
    Add onions, garlic, peppers and spices, and cook until slightly soft. You may want to add a little bit of water if the mixture seems too dry.
    Add corn and beans, and simmer until everything is warm and fully cooked.

    cook ground beef corn black beans and peppers in a skillet

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    Grease the bottom of a 13X9 pan with a little bit of olive oil, and then add some of the enchilada sauce to the bottom.
    Tear or cut 2 tortillas so that they cover the bottom and sides of the pan. 
    Add some of the meat mixture, and add some enchilada sauce on top. 
    Layer some cheese over the meat.
    Start the second layer with more tortillas, and repeat process.

    I had two layers of meat and three layers of tortillas. Cover the top layer of tortillas with as much enchilada sauce as you want and then a final layer of cheese. Bake for about 30 minutes or until bubbly and the cheese is completely melted. The sauce will be absorbed as the dish cooks. And for a bit of extra crunch, I added some crushed nacho chips to the top layer, right before the dish was ready. Then, I added a little bit more cheese -- can't have too much cheese in comfort food!

    southwestern lasagna topped with cheese and enchilada sauce in casserole dish

    Of course, you can add as much cheese as you want, but this is just a guide. If you don't like spicy food, you can always leave out the jalapenos. I like to serve this dish with some shredded lettuce on the side and top it off with sour cream, diced tomatoes and extra jalapenos. Enjoy!

    layerd tortilla casserole with meat beans cheese and corn on a dish

    Thanks so much for visiting! If you try this Southwestern lasagna, I sure hope you like it. And, if you have a similar recipe, let me know -- I'd love to try yours! Have a great day!
    Sharing At:
    Whimsy Wednesday