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SUGAR | No-Bake Easy to Make Chocolate Peanut Butter Oreo Mini Pies

Wednesday, November 27

I'm back with one more deconstructed halfway-homemade, last minute mini holiday dessert idea to help keep you out of the kitchen and mingling with your family, friends and guests.
You can whip up these impressive little bites in minutes and they are packed with flavor!
This MIGHT be my favorite deconstructed dessert idea I've shared...since it's all about my favorite flavor combination: chocolate + peanut butter. (not to mention it includes my very favorite candy bar: Snickers Peanut Butter Squared).

Chocolate + Peanut Butter Oreo Mini Pies

These are so seriously easy…you can thank me later.
Here's what you need to make them...

SUGAR | Super Easy No-Bake Salted Caramel Mini Apple Pies

Tuesday, November 26

We are days away from Thanksgiving and time is a-tickin'!
If you haven't quite figured out what you want to make for dessert yet or maybe you've been scouring Pinterest for something super simple but with some "wow" factor…stop looking. This is it.

I'm back with another "deconstructed" dessert idea that's soooo easy it just might be illegal.
Okay, I'm exaggerating but you may want to keep the easy part a secret for a few days to allow your guests to continue to rave about how awesome you are for slaving in the kitchen during the busy holidays just to make these special treats for them. (Ha!)

No-Bake Salted Caramel Mini Apple Pies

I've definitely been on a "no-bake" kick lately - looking for easy alternatives that are high on taste and low on time in the kitchen. You KNOW I love being in the kitchen and I prefer "from-scratch" any day over items that are store bought. Let's be realistic though. There are certain instances when from-scratch just isn't going to happen so instead of letting that push me to buy a box of cookies or a boring store-bought pie, I've found it equally satisfying to find ways to create things that are half-way homemade. You know what I mean…buying store-bought items and throwing them together to make them LOOK and almost TASTE homemade. It's a great way to still feed that creative urge I have for whipping up special treats (and making them look pretty). It also allows me to feel like I still had SOME sort of input on the overall taste of the dessert.  Maybe it's just a way to get rid of the guilt for not having time to do homemade? Regardless, I'm loving the turnout! (and so is my family). *wink* Here's all you need for making these darling Salted Caramel Mini Apple Pies...

SHARE | FREE Gift Tags - TomKat Studio Holiday Gift Guide

Sunday, November 24

Looking for some great holiday gift inspiration?
How about a fabulous assortment of FREE Holiday Gift Tags too?

I'm thrilled to announce The TomKat Studio has officially launched the all new 2013 Holiday Gift Guide…and here's my contribution this year:

Rustic Glam Holiday (and beyond) Gift Tags and more...

Go HERE to download one or ALL of the printable sheets
 Download the Holiday Gift Tags Multi Pack HERE

Download the Large Holiday Gift Tags 

I love so many things about this versatile, FREE, three-page downloadable collection
- Rustic meets glam vibe
- 5 different tag styles
- Space to add gold glitter to the edge of tags
- Large Gift Tags allow space to sign your name or write a personalized message/greeting.
- A spot to use my favorite decorative edge craft punch - Vintage Doily Craft Punch
- Mini banner for creatively wrapping packages or to display in your home
- Mini food tags for homemade treats you may be whipping up and gifting this holiday season
- Tags that can be created using either a 2.25" Round Craft Punch OR 2" Flourish Punch 
- Mix and match the tags however you like - using multiples on one package if you want.

I hope you love them and USE them!!
Share them with your friends too!

Now go check out all of the other fabulous FREE Holiday Gift Tags found in The TomKat Studio 2013 Holiday Gift Guide and be inspired by the wonderful gift idea suggestions for everyone on your list!! That's where I'm heading right now! *wink*

The tags were designed to have a little bit of "mint" green in them…
but they printed as more of a "winter blue". It still works though! Ha!!

INSPIRE | Operation Shower • Party. Support. Love. Campaign

Wednesday, November 20

As we are preparing for Thanksgiving next week...
I'm sure we have all taken a small moment to reflect on what we are grateful for.

Perhaps the devastating tornados that touched down in Illinois this week have caused you to pause for a minute and pull your littles close to you? Or maybe you reached out to your family and friends?

Wherever you are with regards to the approaching holiday season, "gratitude" is in the air - or at least it should be.

There's nothing that motivates me more to do good in the world than after I've taken inventory of the blessings I have in my life. A grateful heart opens my eyes to the beautiful things around me. If you haven't taken a personal inventory lately, I encourage you to do so.

The holidays really ARE magical.
They are intended to be filled with feelings of gratitude and giving so if you aren't quite at that point yet, (even after having taken a personal inventory of all the good in your life), I've got something to help you get there.

Operation Shower is a non-profit organization that hosts beautiful baby showers for military families as a way to honor and lift them through the stress that comes from separation through deployment.

I was honored to have participated in one of these baby showers and I can tell you it's a magical experience to be part of. It's a room filled with 40+ expectant mothers who have been alone through much of their pregnancies and may even be facing the birthing and delivery process without their husbands. The amazing and courageous expectant moms are showered with beautiful gifts to celebrate the arrival of their new little ones. It's say the least.

Right now, Operation Shower is hosting an online fundraising campaign to reach more families in 2014.... “Operation: Party. Support. Love.” 

I can't think of a better way to show my gratitude for those who give so much...and in some cases who have given everything, for the freedom we enjoy as a nation. Honoring the strong women these men-in-uniform love and leave behind to defend our country is a privilege.

If you feel moved to help, here's how:

1. Go to the "Operation: Party. Support. Love" page and donate. Any little bit helps!!
2. Encourage your friends, family and co-workers to do the same.
3. Help spread the word through social media and use the hashtag #partysupportlove
4. Check out the Operation Shower Facebook Fan Page to see more photos of the intimate moments captured as these moms-to-be are sprinkled with love.

I hope you are inspired to help.

I'll leave you with some of the photos of the decorations and dessert table at the "Celebration FORE Baby" golf themed Operation Shower I was honored to participate in...

Now go….do something good today! *wink*

I'm grateful to have been able to work on this post.
I needed a gentle reminder as to what the holidays are all about.

PARTY PEEK | Ella's Rainbow Unicorn Party- the Cake

Tuesday, November 19

Cake and Photo Credit: Sherri at The Pastry Studio

I shared this sneak peek of Ella's birthday cake on Instagram and Facebook yesterday.
I'm working on finishing up the photos and will be posting the rest of the details from Ella's Rainbow Unicorn Party soon!

As much as I love taking my own photos it's busy holiday times like these I'd love to hand off this responsibility to someone else and just wait for the finished photos to be emailed to me! Ha!!

SUGAR | Deconstructed Mini No-Bake Pumpkin Cheescakes :: TomKat Studio

Monday, November 18

Join me over on The TomKat Studio today for the whole scoop on these "Deconstructed" Mini No-Bake Pumpkin Cheesecakes. They are SO easy you won't believe it! Perfect for a quick, festive dessert this holiday season!

I'll be posting a couple of other "deconstructed" dessert ideas next week, so stay tuned!

Still cleaning up from Ella's 5th Birthday party this weekend!
It was a lot of fun and I can't wait to share the details.
In the meantime, I've been posting a lot of sneak peeks on Instagram - follow me there!

STYLING | Thanksgiving Place Setting Ideas

Monday, November 11

I'm in LOVE with the Shimmer Autumn Blend Sixlets from SweetWorks.
The mix of colors is gorgeous including a really pretty gold and I wanted to share a couple of ideas for using them to create some really simple and pretty place settings for your Thanksgiving table.

If you are looking for a simple way to jazz up any holiday table or place setting - these Shimmer Sixlets are such an easy way to add a splash of color. I love that they can double as favors too - like the "corn-on-the-cob" I created in the last photo. So cute and so easy!

And by the's not just the Autumn Blend Sixlets I'm crazy over!
I've got a pretty supply of colors I'll be using for Ella's birthday party this weekend too! (along with a few other SweetWorks Shimmer candy products).

Keep up with me on Instagram this week - I will be posting one photo a day of behind the scenes fun party details! *wink*

I'd like to keep things SUPER REAL today by sending a shout out to all of the Veteran's out there who have sacrificed so much on our behalf. I appreciate the sacrifice their families have made as well. I'm so grateful for my freedom - without it, this blog and so many other rights and privileges I take for granted wouldn't even exist. #thinkaboutit

LIFE | Happy Birthday, Birthday Dessert and Surprises

Tuesday, November 5

Before you go jumping to conclusions...this is NOT a Banana Split.
In fact...this dessert is completely sugar-free. I couldn't believe it either!!

I celebrated my birthday this weekend and when Clara mentioned wanting to come up with a creative birthday dessert for me that didn't have any sugar in it...I reminded her that watermelons weren't in season so she couldn't do the Fresh Fruit Cake I normally create for Ema's birthday.

She said she had something different in mind...and I was definitely intrigued.
Nothing could prepare me for what her and Ema created on Sunday.

This birthday dessert is made of nothing but fruit. 
The "faux scoops of ice cream" are really peeled apples, cored, cut in half, and meticulously covered with homemade sugar-free whipped cream. (the girls even took the precaution of sprinkling the apples with lime juice - we were out of lemon - to prevent the apples from browning)! 

The apple ice cream scoops are sitting on top of a banana cut in 1/2, surrounded by fresh fruit, drizzled with a raspberry puree and sprinkled with crushed nuts. I even LOVE that the girls got out my piping tips to squirt on the decorative whipped cream to put the candles in. The details blew me away!!

I'm all about presentation and I'd say they hit a home run with this one!
I love that they used one of my favorite Gail Pittman serving dishes that I've had forever!! I right? 
I'm sooo impressed (and proud) of their efforts. I LOVED it!!

Now...before I was presented with this amazing dessert on Sunday, my birthday weekend began with a last minute dinner with J on Friday night...a surprise spa day on Saturday...a birthday breakfast J and Ella made for me on Sunday morning, a birthday dinner I didn't have to cook and then this fabulous birthday dessert on Sunday evening with my family!
It was a weekend filled with family and beautiful weather and I really couldn't have asked for more.

Feeling so grateful...I've been inspired to get you involved in my birthday celebration...
by doing something special for YOU!

As an ambassador for Compendium Inc. I was sent a copy of one of their beautiful, new, inspirational books...

Fight On...

"Just because your miracle doesn't look like the miracle you were expecting,
that doesn't mean it isn't the one you've been waiting for."

"You were made for something special. Be Patient. The world is rearranging itself."

"At every moment, the world is whispering opportunities. Listen closely."

As with all Compendium books...this new "Fight On" book is empowering!! The motivational quotes that fill the pages have a way of making you stop and listen. There are some quotes that jump off of the page at me...and others that draw me in closer. I'm in love. And more importantly...I'm inspired. I love that! I want YOU to be inspired too!!

I actually have 3 copies of this book.
I'm wrapping up one of the copies to send to my aunt - an incredibly strong woman who's been faced with a handful of intense back-to-back trials over the past 4 months.

The other copy I'm considering keeping for myself, although I have two other people in my life I feel could use this book.

And then I've got one other copy I'd like to send to one of YOU!!
In addition to the book...I'll be including a set of these adorable Pop-Open Window Cards too!
They remind me of the little pop-open lunch notes I used to pack in my girls' lunches...
but these are an "adult" version.

30 little cards in each box...
each box with a different focus/theme...
each card with a different message...
and each box...a little treasure box filled with gold nuggets of inspiration!
I think the pretty packaging and cute design make it a fun, quick way to be inspired.
On top of that...these make such a sweet, simple gift!!

I actually gave Clara the "Be Happy" box and Ema the "Dream" box.
The morning after I gave Clara her box she was heading out the door to school and mentioned to me she'd opened her very first card that morning and it was exactly the inspiration she needed for the day! LOVE hearing that!!

So anyway...back to my gift to YOU!!
It's easy to enter to win. Just use the Rafflecopter app below!!

I'll pick a winner on Saturday, November 9th.
That's it!!

I hope you'll check out all of the amazing products on the Live Inspired website!
They have so many beautiful gifts for every person in your life - including CHILDREN!!
I love that I can't keep up with the new things they are always adding to their site and there's nothing I don't love.

You can check out the Live Inspired Blog too for more inspiration.
Or just go straight to the Live Inspired Website!

As a long-time lover of Compendium Inc. products...I continually feel blessed and grateful to be a Live Inspired Ambassador and it's with sincere thanks and appreciation to the Live Inspired team for making these giveaways possible...and for constantly reminding me to live inspired! *wink*

Remember the Family Reunion I went to over the Summer?
My aunt and uncle from Boone, North Carolina are the ones who hosted it.
The same aunt I mentioned I'll be sending the book to.
She's had an incredibly challenging time over the last 4 months...and so has my uncle.
My uncle ended up having emergency back surgery right after the reunion and she's been helping him recover from that.
Soon after, she lost her very best friend.
She then had to put two of her beloved dogs down unexpectedly.
And then...just a few weeks uncle had a stroke.
My heart aches for her...for them. This book will be a simple way to reach out and do "something" even though we are miles apart!! (Love you Joyce and Michael)!!
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