Surprise Backyard Spruce-up with Kmart

I want to tell you about one of my best friends, Edna, really quick. She is an absolute riot. I never laugh as hard as I do when we are together. She is also a great listener and I always know I can tell her anything and she won't judge. Edna is also in the middle of planning her first daughter's wedding and it is in just a little over a month. In fact the bridal shower posts I have done are for her daughter. I have been watching Edna stress out about not only getting everything done but how is it all going to get paid for. Not to mention the emotional roller coaster of having her daughter getting married. When I was presented with the opportunity to surprise one of my friends with a mini backyard spruce-up. I absolutely knew I had to surprise Edna.

The other fun thing about Edna is that she is really excitable. For example, I sent her a text message to break the news to her and look at this photo her sister in law sent me. She was making quite a scene in the store. That is not for comedic effect either, that is just Edna.

Newspaper themed Bridal Shower

Yesterday I showed you the Baguette dip cups that I made for a fun bridal shower. Well as I promised, I am going to show you some details from the rest of the shower. I love going to themed and well put together events, especially when I don't have to do the work myself. ;)

The theme was newspaper/journalism. The groom-to-be is getting a degree in journalism and works at a local tv station. The bride-to-be is gorgeous and quite the fashionista. I loved how the theme fit their personalities so well.

Right when you walked in there was a big board filled out like a newspaper. The front table had a place to address envelopes for thank you cards, note cards for marriage advice, and a jar of Hugs and kisses. Once of the games was to guess how many candies were in the jar.

There were lots of pictures of the happy couple of course. Here was the basket for the marriage advice. There were prizes for the bride's favorite pieces of advice.


I LOVE this frame. I also love a good pun. There were some gorgeous pairs of shoes around too.

Look at the beautiful punches. I would love some punch servers like that. The hostess has a beautiful home and she knows how to throw an amazing party.

Here was the food table:

The bride's Aunt made some beautiful chocolate covered strawberries and pretzels. There were some cake pops in the bride's colors but I missed getting a picture of those.

Incorporating the newspaper is such a cute idea and so economical too. I hope you got some party inspiration for your next big shindig.



Ashley

Baguette Dip Cups

This last Saturday I had the opportunity to attend a bridal shower for my good friend's daughter. I love an excuse to make up some party food so I asked if I could help out and bring something. It was decided that veggies were in order, so I brought veggies in baguette cups.


They look pretty and I love how your food is in an edible container. They were a huge hit at the party. Everyone was raving over them. I originally saw the idea on Martha Stewart's website. However she was a little sparse on details so I just had to look at the picture and go for it.

I thought I would write up a quick how-to for you so you can make them too.

Baguette Cups

Ingredients: 
10 oz Baguettes - I had regular and sesame.
Dips of your choice - I went with all store bought this time
Assorted Veggies slices thin - I used Carrots, Peas, and Red Peppers

Directions:
  1. Slice the end off the baguette and eat or discard. Slice the baguette so that one side has a slight angle. I was able to get 14 slices out of each 10 oz baguette. 
  2. Gently smoosh down the bread on the end with the incline. This gives you some extra room for dip and vegetables.
  3. Add some dip and press in 4-6 pieces of veggies depending on the size of the baguette and how thinly you sliced your veggies.
Here are a few tips I figured out while I was experimenting with these.
1. These need to be assembled right before serving. If the dip sits in the cups for a long time it starts to look, well old. The hummus especially was starting to look dried out or something after 2 hours.
2. You can prep the veggies and bread the day before. I cut all the baguettes and kept them in air tight bags overnight. The crust was a little less "crusty," but the shower was at 10am and I didn't have time to do everything in the morning.
3. The ranch and carrots was the most popular combination. I personally loved the red pepper and hummus.

The whole shower had a really cute theme, you can see all about it here: http://www.cuteasafox.com/2012/06/newspaper-themed-bridal-shower.html



Ashley

Grab Summer fun and win!

Happy Monday! Yesterday I showed you the fun summer party my family had for Father's Day. We had so much fun together. Today I am going to showing how you can get in on the summer fun and win one year's supply of Tombstone Pizza. Wahoo!

To celebrate the fun and help you celebrate summer, we are throwing a Pinterest Party! Come join in, Pin and Repin and you could win a year's supply of Tombstone Pizza!

Here are the details:
Join the #GrabSummerFun Pinterest Party from June 15, 2012 - July 2, 2012. We are giving away a year's worth of Tombstone Pizza!
Party Rules
  1. Sign into your Pinterest account or if you do not have a Pinterest account, visit Pinterest.com to request an invitation to register for a free account. There may be a waiting period in between when you request membership and when you are issued an invitation.
  2. Create a #GrabSummerFun board on your Pinterest page. The title of your board must contain #GrabSummerFun.
  3. “Pin” five (5) summer fun and party ideas (Party Decor, 4th of July Fun and Treats, Summer Fun, etc.) on the #GrabSummerFun Pinterest Board, and tag each “pin” with hashtag “#GrabSummerFun” in the description.
  4. Grab one image from our #GrabSummerFun Pinterest Board of Tombstone Pizza or Drumstick Ice Cream and Pin it to yours with the hashtag.
  5. Come back and submit your name, email address and your #GrabSummerFun Pinterest Board link to bit.ly/grabsummerfunp (the linky on the party host's RSVP post).
Need some great ideas to get started?  Check out our #GrabSummerFun Pinterest board for some awesome photos and fun!

I already have my #GrabSummerFun board going right here: http://pinterest.com/cuteasafox/grabsummerfun/. Come on over for a visit and start getting inspired.

I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and Nestle #CBias #SocialFabric


Ashley

Father's Day Dinner #GrabSummerFun

Happy Father's Day! I hope everyone is having a wonderful day! Summer time is full of really great reasons to get together as a family. I thought it would be really fun to put together a family dinner for Fathers Day to honor my husband and my Dad. I feel so blessed to have such wonderful men in my life.
We were having this get together at my Mom's house, so I wanted to keep it simple in terms of food prep. Tombstone Pizza and Nestle Drumsticks to the rescue.
I went on a shopping trip to Walmart to get everything I needed for our party. First up was the pizza, I picked up some Garlic Bread Pizza and some Double Top pizza. The Double Top has 2x the toppings. Yum!

Angry Birds Bird House (Leap Frog Summer Camp)

 
Thank you to LeapFrog for sponsoring my post about Leapfrog Summer Camp. To sign up for LeapFrog Summer Camp, please click here. #CleverLFCamp #spon 

Well here we are at the end of week of Leap Frog Summer camp. Are you and your kids participating? So far my kids have really loved the activities. It has been so great to have some go-to activities for when the kids are getting bored, restless, and starting to pick at each other. Unfortunately they are seeming to pick at each other quite frequently. I finally get why Moms are so excited for school to start up in the fall.

Week 1 was called 'Out and About' and there were activities focusing on your neighborhood, the country, and even the whole world. There was a neighborhood passport where you can document the different places you visit like the park, movie theater, stores, and the bank. My youngest doesn't really write yet, so she drew pictures of the different places we went.


Father's Day Tie Appetizers

Father's Day is coming up so soon! I'm going to be having a little get together with the family and I wanted to come up with some delicious appetizers to serve.


They were fun and relatively easy to put together. Once I had everything prepped, it went very quickly. This would fun to have your kids help out with.

Go see Ice Age Continental Drift for free!

At the end of last week I told you all about the June Dairy Movies promotion at Safeway and its affiliates. Here's a quick recap: if you spend $40 on participating dairy case products from May 30-June 30, a voucher for 2 tickets to Ice Age Continental Drift will print out of the catalina coupon machine. You can use the tickets to go and see any movie, but you can bet that once my kids saw the picture for Ice Age on the voucher, there was no other choice! We will be going to see it when it opens on July 13, 2012.

Hopefully you have been purchasing your dairy from Safeway so you can participate in this awesome deal. I bought my $40 in one shopping trip, but you don't have to. Your Safeway club card will track your dairy spending and issue your voucher whenever you reach the $40. You can even get multiple vouchers! It works every time you spend $40 on participating items in the month of June.Here's a little reminder of all the great stuff I bought.


Today I am going to show you how easy it is to claim your movie tickets.
Step 1: Go to http://activaterewards.com/JuneDairyMovies and choose the Safeway affiliate you shop at.

Danze Faucet Review and Giveaway

Recently I had the opportunity to review a Danze faucet. The only faucets I have had experience with are the standard builder faucets.  I was in heaven getting to pick out a beautiful faucet. I was really surprised at how just the faucet can change the look of your bathroom. I picked out the Parma faucet in brushed Nickel.
It just makes me smile. It is so unique and I have never seen another faucet like it. I love that is came in brushed Nickel or Chrome. I love the look of brushed metals but if you were just replacing a faucet, you could go with Chrome and it would still match your tub or other fixtures. At about the same time I was choosing my faucet, my sister let me know that they were planning to redo one of their bathrooms. I decided to be a nice sister and let her install the faucet at her house. Don't worry, I plan to make frequent trips to visit it. :)

Here was the faucet before. It was nothing terrible, but not too special either.

Skillet Lasagna - #JuneDairyMovies

June is Dairy month and Safeway is celebrating big time! From May 30-June 30, 2012, spend $40 on participating dairy products at Safeway or its affiliates and you will receive two movie vouchers.
Today I am going to share the recipe for this yummy skillet lasagna I made using three different items from the June Dairy month promotion.


First, I want to tell you a little more about how the promotion works.  It is really easy to do. Safeway will track your progress on your Safeway Club Card, so you can spend the $40 across multiple shopping trips. Your current spending tally will show up on the bottom of your receipt. You can also take advantage of the offer multiple times. You get two movie vouchers each time you hit the $40 mark on participating dairy products. For more information about the promotion you can visit June Dairy Movies.

On my shopping trip at Safeway, there were tons of helpful signs that explained all the details. PLUS, each participating item has a shelf tag that clearly shows that it is participating in the promotion. Here is all the dairy section goodness I found while I was shopping at Safeway.

What good is buying $40 worth of dairy, if I don't how you a yummy recipe to use it in? Today I am showing you how to make skillet lasagna. My family really loves lasagna, and this skillet version is perfect for a busy weeknight dinner. It is also nice in the summer, because you don't have to turn on the oven and heat the whole house up!

Skillet Lasagna

 Ingredients:
  • 1 box bow tie (farfalle) pasta
  • 1 lb bulk sausage
  • 1 medium onion or 1 tsp minced onion
  • 2 - 16 oz cans tomato sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 15 ounce Ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese



Directions:
  1. Start a pot of water to boil so you can cook the pasta. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box. TIP: Add a little bit of olive oil to the water and your pasta will never boil ever! 
  2. While the pasta is cooking, brown the sausage and onion in a 12" skillet. Drain any fat when the sausage is browned
  3. Add the two cans of tomato sauce, and the Italian seasoning to the skillet with the sausage. Heat this mixture on low until the pasta is done cooking.
  4. Drain pasta and add to the sausage and sauce mixture.
  5. Gently stir in the Ricotta cheese until everything is well combined. 
  6. Sprinkle the mozzarella and parmesan cheese over the top of the skillet. Cover and heat on low until the cheese is melted.
  7. Serve and enjoy!

This meal would go great with some of the Pillsbury bread sticks too. This recipe is really easy to customize to your own tastes. You can use low fat ground beef, low fat ricotta and mozzarella cheese to make it a little more diet friendly. 

Next week I will be back with some more information on how you can redeem your movie voucher and go see some movies for free! In the meantime, you can find some more recipes on the EasyHomeMeals.com website or Facebook page.

I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and Safeway #CBias #SocialFabric. Any opinions expressed are my own. Any content is produced by me.




Ashley

New Quaker Soft Baked Bars

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Quaker Oats for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

If you are new around here, you might not know this,  but I am currently on a mission to eat healthier and to treat my body better all the way around. I jumped at the chance to try out the new Quaker Soft Baked Bar. Each bar has 5g of fiber, 6g of protein, they are an excellent source of 5 B vitamins, and they only have 140 calories. That fiber and protein is really going to help fill you up and keep you full longer. I really do love eating wholesome food.

My first taste was the Cinnamon Pecan Bread. Pecans are my absolute most favorite nut. Now the package says you can eat them as is, or heat them up. I really have to insist that you heat them up.  It was divine. You can see and taste the nuts and they had just the perfect amount of cinnamon. The next day I tried another one straight out of the package and it was very tasty, but nothing compares to having it slightly warmed in the microwave. Delicious!

QSBB Yum Image high res.jpg

My normal morning routine is to get the kids ready to go and I usually grab breakfast on the way out the door. These Quaker Soft Baked Bars are perfect for a breakfast snack. I felt satisfied and stayed that way.

In the perfect world I would have secreted them away to my stash so I wouldn't have to share. They are really that enjoyable. However, I'm a good wife and mother so I decided I would share and let my family try them out. My son tried out the Banama Nut Bread and he loved it. He said he would definitely eat it again. High praise from a six year old! My husband tried both and thought they were both good. His favorite though was the Cinnamon Pecan Bread. He really loves his cinnamon. I love that you can actually see the nuts on the bar. They aren't tiny little ground to bits pieces, they are real nuts.

So the final verdict is this: The Quaker Soft Baked Bars are delicious and I loved both varities. I loved having one for breakfast. I am also considering stashing one in my purse for when we go to the movies. Being on a "diet" is pretty brutal when the theater is full of buttery popcorn and candy treats. These would make the perfect snack.

Visit Sponsor's Site

Biscoff Spread S'mores

I mentioned yesterday that we loved the S'mores so much on our staycation that we kept it up at home. Many years ago I bought a little Hibachi online just for the purpose of making indoor s'mores at home. Here is a link to a hibachi that is almost identical to mine: Hibachi.  This was before they sold s'more maker kits and all that good stuff.
S'mores are delicious in their own right, but I just couldn't help playing around a little. Have you tried Biscoff Spread before? It is a delicious peanut butter like spread. It's made from Biscoff cookies and 100% nut free. That's important for us because my daughter is allergic to all nuts.
Will you look at the gooey, melty, deliciousness? They were so good!


Supplies: 
  • Tabletop Hibachi
  • Sterno fuel gel
  • Biscoff Spread - available at Fresh and Easy
  • Graham Crackers
  • Marshmallows
  • Chocolate
  • Skewers
Directions:


  1. Start by adding your Sterno gel to the hibachi and light it up. We decided it was better to use less to begin with and just add some more if we needed. Our flame ended up going the perfect amount of time. 
  2. Prep your graham crackers by applying Biscoff spread to your graham crackers. If you want it a little less melty and gooey, you could try only putting Biscoff on one side of the cracker.
  3. Toast your marshmallow according to your preference. 
  4. Assemble your S'more and enjoy!

My family has had so much fun with making s'mores. The kids ask pretty much every night if we are going to burn marshmallows. That's what my four year old called it, and it has just stuck. I am really happy that we are able to remember and relive parts of our staycation whenever we want to.




Ashley

Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Staycation

Recently my family had the opportunity to plan a Staycation at the Point Hilton Squaw Peak. For those of you not familiar with the term staycation, it's when you plan a vacation in your own town. You get a mini vacation but it is much more economical than leaving town. Here in Arizona, summer is the off-season for tourism, and so all nice hotels and resorts have awesome rates. I have never been to a resort before and I as a little anxious that us 'regular folk' might not fit in at a fancy resort. I was so wrong! All of the staff was so welcoming and friendly. There were a lot of families with small children like mine and us 'regular folk' were in the majority at the pool.
 
Speaking of the pool, I should really say pools! The Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak pretty much has it's own water park called the River Ranch. There are multiple pools, a water slide, lazy river, waterfall, a hot tub, and that's just inside the River Ranch. There are other pools on the property including a deeper pool for lap swimming in the fitness center. Here is my family enjoying the waterfall.