Monday, December 17, 2012

DYI light-up Christmas tree lawn decoration

LOVE this idea and totally going to do this for next year.  Take a tomato cage and put it upside down.  Then wrap string lights starting at the top all the way to the bottom and you'll have yourself an adorable light-up Christmas tree lawn decoration.  What's even better is you can get a couple of landscaping fabric "staples" - I call them staples because they look like huge staples that you use to hold down landscaping fabric - and use those to secure the "tree" in whatever spot you'd like on your lawn.

Thanks so much to for this fantastic idea!

In Remembrance of Sandy Hook Elementary

     I don't even know where to begin, mostly because I still cannot understand why someone would shoot his way into a school and heinously murder helpless children and staff of an elementary school.  I don't think any of us will fully understand why someone would do this, and this pain that we all feel as a nation will never fully go away, it may lessen with time, but we will never forget what was done.  We will never forget the faces of the innocent children whose lives were just beginning and ended way too soon.  We will never forget the staff of the school who woke up and went to do the jobs they loved, working with children. 

     Over the past couple years, we have seen many indescribable tragedies that have shaken us, but for me personally, this one hits close to home and is the worst I've ever seen.  I have two beautiful children, aged 5 and 7, that I would give my life for, as any parent would.  And to think that someone would willingly hurt them just takes my breath away.  Where do we draw the line?  Now we can't even feel safe sending our children to school?  

     Many people say "What is this world coming to?"  One of things we need to do, as difficult as it is, is to live our lives the way we always have, and let our children have their innocence.  As parents it is our job to shield our children from these things as much as we possibly can.  Of course they will hear about it to some degree, but we cannot let our children and ourselves stop living and enjoying our time on this earth, for we don't know which day is our last.  We cannot let our freedom and faith get taken away by a monster who doesn't value life.  We have to inform our children of bad things that could and do happen in life, but we have to make sure to do it in a way that children would understand.  Gone are the days of letting our children be as carefree as we once were.  I remember as a child walking around the corner to the candy store with my friends at a very young age, just as all the other children in the neighborhood did.  There were always neighbors outside and tons of children outside playing.  And none of us worried about a thing, except for who was going to be "it" in the game of tag; or who was getting picked next on a team for kickball.  We were young and carefree and had not a care in the world.  Unfortunately times have changed and we need to give our children the knowledge of bad things to help keep them safe.

     There are others that say "How could God let this happen?"  God didn't let this happen, in my opinion the devil did, but God was right there by those little angels when they met him at the gates of heaven.  They are safe now in His hands.  Unfortunately since the start of time there has been evil, but there has also been good.  Many more children and staff could have died that day if certain staff members didn't go above and beyond to save lives.  The first responders didn't even know what they were walking into when they entered the building, but they too saved many lives just by the monster ending his own upon hearing police enter the building.  Of course that doesn't lessen the sorrow and heartache that we all feel for the people who perished on that day, but it leaves us with a little glimmer of hope that good will ALWAYS prevail over evil in some way.  

     The only thing I can say about this tragic event is that every day I look at my children and thank God that I have them.  I always did that, but now even more than ever I feel lucky to have them to hug and kiss.  Even when they are testing my patience, as children often do, I find myself lucky that I can calmly talk to them and guide them through life.  There is no greater gift than the gift of parenthood.  God bless the community residing near Sandy Hook Elementary, and God bless the friends and family of the deceased.  We will rise and prevail and be a better nation.

These are pictures of some of the angels that earned their wings on Friday, December 14th (pictures courtesy of various sources online):

Daniel Barden, 7

Jesse Lewis, 6

Caroline Previdi, 6
Josephine Gay, 7

Avielle Richman, 6

Ann Marie Murphy, 52
James Mattioli, 6
Ana M. Marquez-Greene, 6
Chase Kowalski, 7
Catherine Hubbard, 6
Rachel Davino, 29
Grace McDonnell, 7
Principal Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung was one of those killed at Sandy  Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut (Photo: Newtown Patch)
Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, 47

Nancy Lanza, 52
Nancy Lanza, 52

Dylan Hockley, 6 (CNN)
Dylan Hockley, 6

Victoria Soto (Photo: KCTV News)
Victoria Soto, 27
Olivia Engel (Courtesy Timothy Nosenzo/Engel Familiy)
Olivia Engel, 6
Charlotte Bacon, 6 (CNN)
Charlotte Bacon, 6
Mark Sherlach and his wife, school psychologist Mary Sherlach, pose for a photo (AP/Mark Sherlach)
Mary Sherlach, 56
This 2012 photo provided by the family shows Lauren Rousseau (AP/Rousseau Family)
Lauren Russeau, 30
Emilie Parker (Photo: Emilie Parker Fund Facebook Page)
Emilie Parker, 6
Jessica Rekos, 6 (CNN)
Jessica Rekos, 6
The names of those killed at the Sandy Hook Elementary school were released by state police on Saturday. The list includes full names of children only when parents have spoken publicly:
  • Charlotte, 6
  • Daniel, 7
  • Rachel Davino, 29
  • Olivia, 6
  • Josephine, 7
  • Ana, 6
  • Dylan, 6
  • Dawn Hocksprung, 47
  • Madeleine, 6
  • Catherine, 6
  • Chase, 7
  • Jesse, 6
  • James, 6
  • Grace, 7
  • Anne Marie Murphy, 52
  • Emilie Parker, 6
  • Jack, 6
  • Noah, 6
  • Caroline, 6
  • Jessica, 6
  • Avielle, 6
  • Lauren Russeau, 30
  • Mary Sherlach, 56
  • Victoria Soto, 27
  • Benjamin, 6
  • Allison, 6

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Wonderful DIY Advent Wreaths

picture credit:

I just had to share this wonderful idea from  After getting a request for ideas on advent wreaths, I thought this idea was easy, beautiful and different!  You simply start with a bundt pan, add some glass votives (which can be found at your local dollar store), place some candles in the votives, and surround the votives with cranberries - instant advent wreath!  And you could definitely keep this one a little traditional by using 3 purple votives and 1 pink votive.  Also what you fill it with is up to you, cranberries are cute, but think potpourri, pine cones, small ornaments, etc.  The possibilities are endless!

picture credit:

If you'd like to go with a more traditional advent wreath, you can always click this link for step by step directions on how to make your own advent wreath

Last but certainly not least, this advent wreath would be great for the children to make with you and best of all there is no worry about fire because it is made entirely out of construction paper!  Have all the members of your family trace their hands on green construction paper and cut out.  Then attach the hands to a paper plate (with the center cut out) to look like a "wreath" by gluing them all together  and layering (see above picture for reference).  Then take some purple paper to make 3 "candles" and pink paper to make 1 "candle."  Finally cut out some "flames" from orange paper and add them each week to celebrate the coming of Christmas!  

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Pumpkin Caramel Trifle

Photo & recipe courtesy of

My mouth is watering just looking at this picture!  Easy and delicious, this dessert would be great for Thanksgiving or any other time you want a delicious dessert!  Of course this dessert looks super pretty in a trifle bowl, but if you don't have one of those, you can always just use a regular bowl to layer your ingredients.  Also keep in mind that if you really want to save time you can buy a pumpkin bread already made in place of baking the bread yourself.


  • Crisco® Original No-Stick Cooking Spray
  • 1 (14 oz.) package Pillsbury® Pumpkin Quick Bread & Muffin Mix
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons Crisco® Pure Vegetable Oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 cups milk
  • 2 (3.4 oz.) packages instant cheesecake pudding and pie filling
  • 1 (8 oz.) container frozen extra creamy whipped topping, thawed
  • 1/2 cup Smucker's® Caramel Flavored Topping
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 6 tablespoons chopped pecans

Preparation Directions

  • HEAT oven to 375°F. Coat 13x9-inch baking pan with no-stick spray.
  • PREPARE quick bread mix according to package directions using water, oil and egg. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely.
  • CUT quick bread into 1-inch cubes. Whisk milk and pudding mix in medium bowl for 2 minutes. Stir caramel topping with cinnamon in small bowl.
  • LAYER 1/3 of cubes in a 2 1/2-quart trifle dish or large glass serving bowl. Top with 1/3 of pudding, 1 cup whipped topping, 2 tablespoons caramel topping and 2 tablespoons pecans. Repeat twice to make 3 layers.
  • SPREAD remaining whipped topping over top. Drizzle remaining caramel topping over top of trifle and sprinkle with pecans. Chill 30 minutes before serving.

Nutritional Information Per Serving

Serving Size (1/12 of recipe), Calories 380 (Calories from Fat 120), Total Fat 13g (Saturated Fat 6g, Trans Fat 0g), Cholesterol 20mg, Sodium 500mg, Total Carbohydrate 60g (Dietary Fiber 2g, Sugars 44g), Protein 5g; Percent Daily Value*: Vitamin A 2%, Vitamin C 2%, Calcium 10%, Iron 6%.
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

Monday, November 19, 2012

GREAT Holidays deals through EBATES.COM

Never heard of EBATES.COM?  Wow, then you are seriously missing out.  When you shop through EBATES, you get a % back on every purchase you make.  They will send you a check in the mail just for shopping through their website.  It's completely FREE, no annual fees or anything like that.  You create an account and then when you are going to shop online, make sure you go to EBATES.COM first, then choose the store you want to shop at, and viola!  That's it, you are on your way to making $$$ for shopping!  How great is that?!?!

Click the link below to get started!  Happy Shopping!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Handy Turkey Project

This is by far one of my favorite, inexpensive Thanksgiving crafts, and the best thing about it is that you can make a bunch to hand out to your closest loved ones.  I know the grandparents will both be getting one of these, and I cannot wait to hear the oohs and ahhs!

Plus, it will be so nice to look back on how little your children's hands were and to see how they've grown, and if you're like me, a few tears may be shed as well!  LOL

Below is the saying I used to start my project.  
I simply chose a font that I liked, and printed it in the 
center of a plain white piece of computer paper.  

Then I took brown craft paint, and painted my children's palms and thumbs (one hand at a time of course) and then had them push their hands on either side of the saying.

The next step was to have each child pick out some feathers they wanted to use for their turkey (the feathers can be purchased at your local craft store, or you could always make feathers out of construction paper.  Another cute idea would be to paint each finger a different color, and when your children press their hands down, the fingers will look like the feathers).

Then glue on the feathers and let them dry overnight or at least for a couple of hours (I just used Elmer's glue, but you could use a glue gun to help move the process along a bit faster).  After the feathers are secured and the glue is dry, have your children help glue on a googly eye, and draw turkey legs, a turkey beak and the waddle (that little red thingy that hangs from the turkey's neck).  

Once these steps are completed, tape or paste your finished project 
to a nice autumn colored paper of your choosing.  

In a couple of simple steps, you have a wonderful keepsake to decorate your home year after year!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Fun FREE Thanksgiving printables for your children

Since the hurricane, my children have been out of school, so they are definitely starting to get a little antsy (to say the least lol).  Today I decided to keep them busy doing some crafts and learning printouts, instead of letting them watch tv all day.

One of my favorite websites to go to for children's printables and crafts is DTLK.  They have tons  that you can do with your children to keep them busy and learn a little something too!

Below is just an example of some of the FREE printables they have - they have all different skill levels depending on what age your children are.

Crossword Puzzles:


Word Searches:


Very soon I'll be posting a great craft idea to get your children ready for Thanksgiving - the Handy Turkey!!  Stay tuned for my next post!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Toys R Us HUGE Game Sale - consider donating a game to Hurricane Sandy victims

The holidays are right around the corner, so why not get a head start on your holiday shopping?  This week through 11/10, Toys R Us is having a HUGE game sale.  These games make great gifts!  

If you spend $35 or more on Hasbro games, you will also walk away with a $10 Toys R Us gift card, or spend $50 or more on Hasbro games and get a $15 Toys R Us gift card!  You simply can't beat this deal!

Or better yet, why not consider donating a couple of games to the children who were affected by Hurricane Sandy - many of these children lost everything, and I am sure a game would brighten their spirits.  I live in Toms River, one of the areas that was severely affected - many of my friends lost their homes and are basically left with the clothes on their back.  If you are interested in donating games, whether or not you live in the area, please contact me and I would be happy to help point you in the right direction.  

Thank you for your anticipated generosity!

Special thanks to Hip2Save for this great deal!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Jersey Shore Wildtree fundraiser - please consider making a purchase to help a great cause!

The beautiful place that I call home was absolutely devastated by Hurricane Sandy, and I want to help out in any way I can.  I was so blessed and fortunate that my home didn't suffer any severe damage, and also that my family members are all safe.  Others weren't so lucky.

In light of the recent events at the Jersey Shore, I want to do whatever I can to help out the community where I live. Proceeds from this sale will go directly to the Red Cross to help with efforts to get people's lives back to normal at the Jersey Shore. You can do some of your holiday shopping while helping out a great cause! Orders will be shipped out directly to your homes when the party closes on 11/24 (orders take approx. 7 – 10 business days to arrive at your home). Shipping is $6.95 per order.  I will also be posting wonderful holiday deals that will be available to you for this special event. 

Wildtree products are made with the finest natural ingredients available. Instead of “good for you” foods with all the flavor of sawdust, Wildtree products are taste-tested winners.  Food should be natural, nutritious, delicious, and easy to prepare - all at the same time. Wildtree products enable you to create spectacular, great tasting dishes with just three or four ingredients.

Thank you in advance for your generosity and 
caring in this difficult time for so many.

The link to place an order is:

If you cannot make a purchase but would still like to help out, please go the Red Cross link below:

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Great Halloween Crafts for Kids

Gather your little goblins and get ready for Halloween with some great crafts you can make together.  All of the crafts shown are easy to do and won't break the bank.

Graveyard Lollipops - courtesy of Country Living

To make these clever covers for candy suckers, download the tombstone image and follow the steps below: 

Step 1: For each lollipop, print and cut out two tombstones, then glue them, faceup, to a sheet of black construction paper with a glue stick. When dry, cut around each tombstone, leaving a black construction-paper border, as shown. 

Step 2: Turn one tombstone facedown and glide the glue stick along its outer edges at the top and sides only. Place the other tombstone on top of it, faceup. Press the edges together to create one cover. Let dry. 

Step 3: Use a fine-tipped black Sharpie to spell out "RIP" — or a guest's name — on one side.

Step 4: Repeat directions above to create additional lollipop covers. Insert candy. Place floral foam in a bowl and stand lollipops in the foam. Then fill the bowl with crushed Oreos to serve as the dirt in your graveyard.

Milk Jug Ghost Halloween Decoration

Spirit Jugs - courtesy of Family Fun

Step 1: Draw ghost eyes and mouth on the jugs (leave the caps on while you do this so the jugs don't bend.

Step 2: Mom or Dad - use a craft knife to cut out a half dollar size hole in the back of each jug. 

Step 3: Arrange the ghosts near each other and string the lights between them, stuffing some lights into each jug.

This is a great way to teach your children about recycling, while making a pretty cool Halloween decoration at the same time.

Flowerpot Pumpkin Halloween Decoration

Flowerpot Pumpkins - courtesy of Family Fun

These are great - pumpkins made out of terra cotta pots!  These pumpkins won't get eaten by a squirrel or rot away!

Step 1: For each one, paint your terra cotta pot with heavy-duty orange paint (use weatherproof paint if planning on using outside).  Cut eyes, nose and toothy grin out of yellow craft paper.  Brush modge-podge on the surface of where you'd like to place the features and press them onto the pot.

Step 2: To further weatherproof your creation, apply a final coat of modge-podge to the entire surface of the pot.  Finally, insert a short, fat stick into the hole for a stem.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Book photo holder - GREAT idea!

Next time you have a great hardcover book that you are done reading, why not use it for something crafty?  If you simply fold each page in half, it basically becomes a photo holder (see picture above), that you can put photos in - you can make one for vacations you've gone on, or a baby one with your children's baby pictures.  The possibilities are endless.  And of course if you wanted to add a little more flair, you could cover the book with some decorative paper before you add the pictures!  
A special thanks to my wonderful cousin April for this crafty and thrifty idea! 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Michael's Craft Store offers FREE Halloween printables

Check out these great Halloween Printables that Michael's offers.  There are printables for banners, candy wrappers, cellophane bag toppers, cupcake toppers, cupcake wrappers, and place cards.  You can printout everything you need for a Spooktacular Party!!!  They will even let you know what materials you need for each printable to make your Halloween party super special.  

Here is the link to get you started:

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Funtown Fear in Seaside

Well just when you thought it was time for the fun to end at Seaside's boardwalk, think again!  Funtown Pier has temporarily turned into "Funtown Fear."  
There will be hayrides, pumpkin painting, and many of their rides will also be open.

Head over to the website for more information or to purchase tickets:

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Lowe's Build & Grow - FREE fun!

Don't forget that every other Saturday Lowe's offers FREE make it and take it clinics for children (recommended age 5 and up).  Your child(ren) will build a wooden project and get a free apron, goggles, patch and more!

Saturday, October 13th they can make a ghoul bus!
Saturday, October 27 they can make a creeper keeper!

Head over here to register for either of these great FREE events!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Simple Easy Fixes for Everyday Problem

You've got to check out the below video for quick and easy solutions to everyday problems!
Special thanks to my cousin Alex for sharing this with me!

FREE Carvel Ice Cream - Today Only!!! 9/20

Customer Appreciation Day

Wow - who doesn't love FREE ice cream?  Well head over to your local Carvel Ice Cream shop for this great deal!!!
Today only, Carvel is offering up FREE Classic Carvel soft serve ice cream cone dipped in a variety of flavors, including cotton candy, peanut butter and cake mix!  YUM!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

What the heck is quinoa? Here's a recipe to start you out!

Photo credit quinoa caprese salad.
To get this recipe, check out this great blog.

What's all the fuss about quinoa?  Below is some more information about this high-protein, gluten-free super food.  It's a great substitute for pasta and rice, and it is extremely versatile.

What is quinoa?
While quinoa is usually considered to be a while grain, it is actually a seed, but can be prepared like whole grains such as rice or barely. Quinoa is a wonderful whole grain for three reasons: First, it takes less time to cook than other whole grains – just 10 to 15 minutes. Second, quinoa tastes great on its own, unlike other grains such as millet or teff.  Add a bit of olive oil, sea salt and lemon juice and - yum! Finally, of all the whole grains, quinoa has the highest protein content, so it's perfect for vegetarians and vegans. Quinoa provides all 9 essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. Quinoa is a gluten-free and cholesterol-free whole grain, is Kosher for Passover, and is almost always organic.
Culinary ethnologists will be interested to know that quinoa was a staple food for thousands of years in the Andes region of South America as one of just a few crops the ancient Incas cultivated at such high altitude.

Cooking quinoa: 
Prepare quinoa as you would prepare rice. Cover it with water or vegetable broth and boil, then reduce flame to low and cook until soft, about 15 minutes. Or, place 1 part quinoa to 2 parts water in your rice cooker.  Make sure to cook your quinoa on LOW - very important!!!  If you let it simmer on a hotter flame, the water will absorb too quickly and the quinoa will turn out hard.
Nutritional content of quinoa: 
According to CalorieCount, 1/3 cup of cooked quinoa has 160 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, 3 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein.

Below is a great recipe that includes quinoa (special thanks to for this great recipes):
Quinoa with pesto 
Quinoa pesto with spinach
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 cups water or vegetable broth
  • large handful fresh spinach
  • 1/4 cup prepared vegetarian pesto
  • 1/2 tsp fresh lemon or lime juice
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 tbsp fresh grated Parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast (optional)
Simmer quinoa in vegetable broth or water, covered, for 10-12 minutes, until quinoa is almost cooked.  Fold in fresh spinach and heat for 3-4 more minutes, until spinach has wilted and quinoa is cooked through.  Remove from heat. Stir in pesto, drizzle with lime juice and season well with salt and pepper to taste. Sea salt or kosher salt is always best!  Garnish with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, or stir in a bit of nutritional yeast for extra flavor (and a B12 boost for vegans!).

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Never Forget September 11th

It is on this day that I remember every year that my problems are not as bad as I think they are.  People lost so many loved ones that day - mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers.  And unfortunately there are people who are still suffering today with diseases and illnesses due to the conditions at Ground Zero and the  willingness to drop everything and help out with the rescue and recovery efforts in NYC.  

I will never forget it started out as a beautiful day with clear skies, listening to Howard Stern on my way to work in Weehawken, NJ, when he interrupted his own show to say that a plane had hit the World Trade Center.  Then seeing the smoke rise as I got there and witnessing the 2nd plane hit is an image that I can never erase from my mind.  The panic and fear that set into my heart and the yearning to just get home and see my family.  It was a scene out of a movie, people along the river just stopping and staring, me one of them - and then the horror of actually watching the towers collapse....that was such an unspeakable act of terrorism and one that changed our world forever.  I am so grateful for men and women who choose to defend our country and freedom and risk their lives to make sure we uphold our beliefs as a country.  GOD BLESS AMERICA LAND THAT I LOVE!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Wildberry Spinach Orzo Salad

This delicious pasta salad is made with orzo pasta, feta cheese, chopped fresh spinach, craisins and Wildtree's Wildberry Dressing and Wildtree's Zesty Lemon Grapeseed oil.  Not only is it super easy to make and super yummy, it is all natural and good for you too! 

Wildtree's Wildberry Dressing is a seasonal item and will only be available until the end of the year so stock up while you can! 

Grapeseed oil's health benefits are amazing and actually surpass the benefits of Olive Oil!  

Food Network Chef Robert Irvine even thinks that Grapeseed Oil is the best one to use - check out the video clip below from 1:40 min. into the clip to hear about the benefits of Grapeseed Oil and how is even better for you than olive oil!

Wildtree sells a TON of different flavored Grapeseed Oils, as well as natural Grapeseed Oil which has no flavor, but all the great benefits!

To order or for more info., please visit my website:

Monstrous Munchies Snack Cup

Monstrous Munchies Snack Cup

Turn a simple snack cup into a fun-loving Frankenstein's monster with a bit of green paint, self-adhesive vinyl, and two peanut butter cups. 

To make, remove the yellow lid (but not the silver liner) from a snack cup (we used Nabisco Go-Paks). Paint the snack cup with two coats of green acrylic paint, letting the paint dry between coats. 
Cut a 10-1/2x1-1/4-inch strip of black self-adhesive vinyl to make the monster's hair, cutting it into points along the bottom edge. 
Remove the backing from the black vinyl and attach the hair around the top of the cup. 
Punch two 5/8-inch-diameter circles from black and two 1-inch-diameter circles from white self-adhesive vinyl to make the eyes; set aside. 
Cut 1/16-inch wide strips from black vinyl for the mouth. 
Remove the backing from the circles and mouth strips; adhere them to the painted cup. 
Use adhesive dots to attach a peanut butter cup to each side of the snack cup as neck bolts. 

How cute this would be for a classroom goodie or Halloween party favor- and these are usually priced at about 99 cents each.

Thanks so much to Better Homes & Gardens for this wonderful idea!