Saturday, December 31, 2011

Features!


Here are a few of my favorite and most viewed links from last week's link party!


The Real Reason for My Season - touching story about her miracle baby...hit close to home for me...definitely get those tissues out :)


Pecan Pralines - oh these look delish

Chipotle Style Rice - I love their rice so I definitely need to give this recipe a try!!

Cranberry Banana Smoothie - I have extra cranberries I put in my freezer, what a yummy sounding use for them!

kids-fabric-tee-pee-tutorial
Kids Tee-Pee Tent - oh my gosh my daughter would love this!!  

Thanks so much for linking up!

Remember you can still link up at this week's LINK PARTY here!

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Friday, December 30, 2011

Simply Link {Party}





Wow!  I have had such a fun time this week spending it with my family, I honestly can not believe it is Friday again!

I know you are all busy spending time with your friends and family as well, so I appreciate you stopping by and taking the time to link up today!

No rules (except please keep it appropriate :) just have fun linking and visiting other links today!


Happy New Year!



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Thursday, December 29, 2011

PJ Pants




If you follow me on Facebook, you might have noticed that over the few days before Christmas, I was majorly stressing about sewing pj pants for my kiddos.

See.  Here's my story...

I don't sew.

I mean, my mom techincally taught me how to sew, I promise she tried!  But I just never really enjoyed it enough to get compitent at it.

However, once about every two years I get this itch to sew.  It is this crazy desire to sew something fabulous and it usually ends in frustration, tears and a lot of wasted fabric.

I actually did make and complete a baby blanket for my daughter in 2005.

But after the "halloween costume" tradgedy of 2007, I gave my husband specific instructions to stop me if I ever decided to take on a project like this again!

And then there is the baby quilt from 2009 that still isn't finished (or even started).  Sad, I know.

So I am not sure what overtook me this year and made me decide that I wanted to sew my children pj pants this Christmas.

I planned ahead, bought fabric in early November.  And then I procrastinated...and procrastinated...and procrastinated a little bit more.  And then it was two days before Christmas.

Friday of last week, I decided I needed to attempt them that night, or else I would completely fail due to lack of trying.  So I decided to start them with the knowledge that I could still run to Target on Saturday to buy pj's if it didn't work out so well.

On the wings of some of my fabulous FB followers who cheered me on, I attempted to follow the very poorly written instructions that came with the pattern I bought, and two hours later...holy cow I had a completed pair of pj pants!!!!!!!

It was a Christmas miracle.


I sucessfully sewed two pairs of pj bottoms for my children this year.  I even ironed down the seams (my mom would be so proud of me!).  And the best new!?

Is that they actually FIT my children!!!  Hurray!

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Say Anything - a fun family game!




One of my family traditions growing up was to get a new family game at Christmas-time!  It was fun to be able to take the extra time we had to spend together as a family to play a new game.  That is a tradition I have tried to keep going in my family.

Although, I will admit I have had a LOT of failures when it comes to choosing the game.  Oh man.  Seriously, I have picked some bad games.  It was getting so bad that I had pretty much decided not to do it this year.

Thankfully, I had the amazing opportunity to review a family game that was fun and it had us all laughing: Say Anything Family Edition by North Star Games.


Say Anything Family Edition is a really fun family game that actually involves everyone in your family as equal players, regardless of age.  And, during the game, you can learn a thing or two about how your family members actually think. :)

Each person takes a turn being the judge.  When you are the judge, you pick and ask the question (from a deck of cards) and then decide which player comes up with the best answer.  Before you reveal your answer, the other players "bet" on which answer you will pick.  It becomes quite fun and funny!

Check out this video if you want to know more about how to play Say Anything.  

Some of our favorite questions were things like "What's the most annoying TV commercial?"  "What two ingredients would make the worst candy bar ever?"  and "What's the best thing about being a man?"

Being married to me....obviously.

Yeah....my husband was the judge when he asked that question.  And my dear sweet husband of course chose my answer that round!  He is a good man :)

So as you can see, you can play this game any way you want!  You can come up with the craziest answer to get a laugh or try to appease the judge so that your answer will most likely be picked.  And we really had some funny answers when playing this game!


I also loved how easy the game was to learn how to play!  There are simple to understand and quick to read instructions and it only took us a couple minutes before we were off and playing the game with ease!  Love that!

And, most importantly, it passed the test in my house as a good, fun game that we will definitely play again!

Say Anything Family Edition is recommended for ages 8+ and 3-6 players.  However, if you are looking for more of a party game, Say Anything also comes in a party version!  And I will have the opportunity to tell you a bit more about this edition after the New Year!  (Hurray!)

So if you are looking for a fun family game to play with the family or with a few close friends during this holiday time (or anytime throughout the year) check out Say Anything Family Edition!

You can find this game at Target, Toys-R-Us, Barnes and Noble and other retailers.  To find a retailer close to you go here.

If you live in Indiana, you can also find both versions of Say Anything at Saltire Games, The Game Preserve, and Earth  Explorer Toys (only the family edition).

I am so happy that to have found a fun game that everyone can enjoy!!

I was not compensated for this review, however I was sent Say Anything Family Edition game for purposes of this review.  All opinions expressed are 100% mine.  You can find out more about Say Anything Family Edition and Say Anything here, follow North Star Games on FB or follow them on Twitter @NorthStarGames.  


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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Big A** Book of Crafts 2 GIVEAWAY - closed


*This giveaway is now closed*

Mark Montano has done it again!  The host of TLC's While You Were Out has created another great craft book and I love how unique and fab his ideas are!  



Mark has so many fabulous ideas in his latest craft book and I especially love how he uses common items to create fabulous works of art!

Here is one of my favorite examples from his book:


Can you believe this beautiful chandelier is made using paperclips!?  Amazing!

I have thoroughly enjoyed looking through his book and am totally inspired by some fabulous and exciting ideas that he has come up with!

The good news is that Mark Montano has offered to give a copy of his latest book, Big A** Book of Crafts 2 to one of my lucky readers!!  Isn't that so exciting!


Here's how to enter to win:

Leave one comment for each of the below entry methods that you complete

Mandatory entry
    • Follow me (via GFC (see sidebar)) and leave one comment telling me that you follow and that you are hoping to win this awesome craft book.  That's it; easy peasy.


    Additional entries
      • Follow Simply Designing on Facebook and leave me one comment here saying that you do.
      • Follow Mark Montano on Facebook and leave me one comment here saying that you do (feel free to let him know that you're hoping to win his book on Simply Designing).
      • Follow Mark Montano on Twitter and leave me one comment here saying that you do. 
      • Facebook, Blog or Tweet about this giveaway and leave me one comment here telling me that you spread the word!

      You can enter a total of up to 5 times, that means you will leave up to 5 comments on this blog post!  (Remember to leave a separate comment for each entry method completed.)  Five easy and fabulous ways to win!  

      The giveaway will end January 3rd at midnight EST.  I will announce the winner on January 4th so be sure to stop by and see if you've won!  The winner will have 3 days to contact me to claim their prize.

      GOOD LUCK!

      The fine print:  
      Leave 1 comment per entry method competed for a total of up to 5 entries = 5 comments.  
      Must complete the mandatory entry first.  
      Winner will be chosen using random.org.  No purchase necessary. 
      Must be a US Resident with a US mailing address to win.  
      Must be 18 years old or older to win.  

      Thank you Mark Montano for making this giveaway possible!



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      Monday, December 26, 2011

      Baby Onesie Using Iron-On Vinyl


      I made a couple of super cute onesies using Iron-On Vinyl from Expressions Vinyl!



       


      To here to see the entire how-to post on the Expressions Vinyl blog.
      The motorcycle image I downloaded from the Silhouette online shop, however I created the bauble necklace design myself.  And I am sharing it HERE for FREE.  (I have uploaded this file via google docs.  You will need to click on the link above and you should be brought to a google document window.  Select "file" and then "download" to be able to access the files :)


      This file is for personal use only, not for commercial use or monetary gain, unless prior written permission has been granted.  And please do not share the file, however, feel free to tell others that they can download it from my blog!  By downloading the file, you agree to these terms.  


      Thanks and enjoy.


      I participate in the link parties found here.

      Saturday, December 24, 2011

      Pomegranate White Chocolate Chip Cookies


      *Enter to win a babycakes Cupcake Maker here* 


      Link up at my link party here!

      When I saw a recipe for Pomegranate White Chocolate Chip Cookies I knew I HAD to make them!!

      I love pomegranates!  But besides putting them in a yummy salad, or eating the arils straight up, I had no idea what to ever do with them!!  Until I saw these and knew I had to make them!


      They are so darn yummy!  The sweet white chocolate is a perfect contrast pomegranate arils flavor!  Yum oh yum oh yum!

      But poms can be a bit intimidating!  Getting seeds out of pomegranates can be difficult and messy.  (The juice from poms will stain so be careful when dealing with pomegranates.)

      Until I learned this tip.  Now I am not afraid of pomegranates at all since I found this simple, no mess way to get the arils out!

      Pomegranate Tip:

      • To easily get the arils (seeds) out, you will cut your pom in half across the equator and then place half of pom in a large bowl filled with water.
      • With the pom underwater, gently break the pom half into smaller pieces and carefully, using your thumb, encourage the pom seeds off of the pom.  They should come off fairly easily and with NO MESS!  Amazing huh??

      Pomegranate White Chocolate Chip Cookies

      Ingredients:
      • 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
      • 1/2 cup brown sugar
      • 1/2 cup white sugar
      • 1 egg
      • 1 tsp vanilla extract
      • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
      • 1/2 tsp baking powder
      • 1/2 tsp baking soda
      • 1/4 tsp salt
      • 1 cup oats (old fashioned are best but I only had quick oats and they still worked well)
      • 1 cup white chocolate chips or chunks
      • 1 cup pomegranate arils (seeds)
      Directions: 

      1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
      2. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper
      3. Cream butter and both sugars together until smooth in a large stand mixer
      4. Add eggs and vanilla, mix 
      5. In a separate bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
      6. Slowly add flour  mixture to the wet mixture
      7. Mix until just incorporated
      8. Stir in oats and white chocolate chips
      9. Make dough balls (I used a cookie scoop but if you don't have one, make balls from about 1 Tbs of dough each)
      10. Carefully tuck about 6-8 pomegranate arils into the cookie dough ball
      11. Bake for 9-11 minutes just until cookie edges are golden brown
      12. Remove from oven and let cook 2-5 minutes on the cookie sheet
      13. Transfer to wire rack to finish cooling
      Enjoy!


       



      Happy Baking!


      (original recipe found here)

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      Friday, December 23, 2011

      Simply Link {Party}




      Thanks for stopping by for this week's edition of my Simply Link {Party}!  

      The giveaway for the babycakes Cupcake Maker is still going on!  Be sure to go here and enter to win!

      Are you ready for Christmas?  I mostly am.

      Except that I have barely started wrapping anything.  And, as I already admitted on facebook, I have not even started the pj pants I planned to make for my kids.  And sadly, I just learned that making them with a glue gun is not a viable option (thanks for ruining my hopes and dreams Kim :D haha!

      So while I get to work wrapping (further prolonging making pj pants) you can have fun linking!!

      Please link up your latest creations.  You can link up pretty much anything as long as you "created" it (Food, craft, home decor item, a beautiful garden, a photograph, etc.  I am really flexible!)  Please keep it family friendly.  Please no links to shops or giveaways.  I reserve the right to delete any links that aren't appropriate.  By linking up you are giving me permission to feature or show off your project (I will link back to you of course.)

      Also, I would love it if you linked back to my site and mentioned on your blog, facebook or twitter about my link party!  Help me spread the word please!

      And please visit 2-3 other links and leave them a nice, meaningful comment!  Please oh please!?  Thanks!

      Happy Holidays!

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      Thursday, December 22, 2011

      Hot Cocoa Spoons



      *Enter to win a babycakes Cupcake Maker here*


      I love hot cocoa!

      But what makes hot cocoa better?  Hot Cocoa Spoons!

      They are so simple to make, but they are really fun and yummy.  I've made these before, but when I saw this post here, I became re-inspired to make my hot cocoa spoons extra festive (could I really resist making a snowman on mine like Marie made!?  It was too cute!)


       


      There really aren't very many  instructions to make these.  Take a disposable spoon, dip in melted chocolate and decorate as desired!

      I used sprinkles, mini chocolate chips, coconut, mini M&M's and crushed candy cane.  For the snowman I used 3 mini marshmallows, 2 mini chocolate chips, 2 pieces of coconut for the scarf and 1 peanut butter chip for the hat.  But get as creative as you want!

      These are also really fun for the kids to make!!

      I think these might be my neighbor gifts next year... :)

      So simple to make but really fun to use and if you tie it up with a few packets of hot cocoa, it makes a great neighbor/friend/teacher etc gift!


      Happy Holidays!

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      Christmas Kid Craft: M&M Bottle


      *Enter to win a babycakes Cupcake Maker here*





      I always love re-purposing...so if you like to drink soda out of a glass bottle, you can wash them out and save them.  Let your kids fill with candy and add a new label if you want.  These would be cute neighbor gifts or a great gift for your kids to hand out to their friends.

      (my inspiration came from here)

      Happy Holidays!

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      Christmas Kid Craft: Funny Mugs



      *Enter to win a babycakes Cupcake Maker here*


      Today is just a lot of fun since it's all about kid Christmas gift crafts!

      Next up is a good gift for an older child or even a tween.  Possibly a good-humored teen too.  Or.  Your husband, office mate or older brother who always used to pick on you.  Just sayin'

      All you need is a mug.  Any plain, simple or gaudy and loud holiday mug will do.  Your pick really.  Feel free to add some hot cocoa packets inside and put it in a pretty bag if you like.

      And then watch them drink their hot cocoa...


      I don't know why...it just makes me smile!

        


      The possibilities are endless really.  Just grab your mug some paint and let your imagination (or your kids imagination) run wild!


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      Christmas Kid Craft: Candy Cane Playdough



      *Enter to win a babycakes Cupcake Maker here*


      I love crafts that keep on giving!  Making playdough is definitely a gift that keeps on giving!  Not only is it fun to make, but your kids will also have fun playing with this!


      This also make s great gift for your kids to make and give to their friends!





      Candy Cane Playdough:


      Ingredients:

      • 5 cups water
      • 5 cups flour
      • 2 1/2 cups salt
      • 3 Tablespoons cream of tartar
      • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
      • 1 tsp peppermint extract or essential oil (optional)
      • Food coloring (optional)
      • Glitter (optional) 

      Directions:
      • Mix water, salt, cream of tartar, extract, food coloring and glitter in a pan on low heat over the stove. 
      • Stir frequently. 
      • Add oil. 
      • Add flour. 
      • Cook on low-medium heat until playdough sticks together and pulls away from pan. 
      • Place on wax paper or foil on the counter.
      • Let it cool for a little bit and then knead.

      We keep our playdough in a freezer bag. This recipe makes a lot and it lasts forever!



      I made one batch of reddish pink and one batch of white.


      Divide each batch into equal portions (I made 12).




      Roll into long ropes and twist one white and one red rope together.


      Please in a canning jar or a ziploc bag!






      (idea inspired by this and this)

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      Christmas Kid Crafts: Cone Christmas Trees


      *Enter to win a babycakes Cupcake Maker here*


      Throughout the day today I am going to be showing you several different Christmas Kid Craft ideas!

      First up, Cone Christmas Trees!

      The best part, these are edible :)  So let your kids enjoy making these and then let them eat them!



      You will need:
      • Sugar cone
      • Green icing
      • M&M's or other candy to decorate

      How To:

      Turn the ice cream cone upside down and cover with green icing.  Let your kids decorate with candy!

      Happy Holidays!

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      Wednesday, December 21, 2011

      Brownie Peppermint Cookies


      *Enter to win a babycakes Cupcake Maker here*

      Earlier today I showed you how to make Brownie Peppermint Whoopie Pies.  They are really yummy!

      But if you're not a "whoopie pie" kind-a gal, or if you want to make your batch of cookies go farther, you can always make them into cookies instead of whoopie pies.


      You can find the recipe for there here.


      These are still just as good as my Brownie Peppermint Whoopie Pies.

      Happy Baking!

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      Fox 59 News Segment - Holiday Gift Guide for Crafty/Creative People


      *Enter to win a babycakes Cupcake Maker here*


      Come and check out my latest Fox59 segment here!  I get to show off some of this year's favorite crafty/creative products that would make fabulous gifts!

      Fox59 Simply Designing Gifts for Creative People Segment

      Go here to view the segment or copy and paste this link:   http://www.fox59.com/videogallery/66893145/News/Gifts-for-crafty,-creative-friends


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      Fox 59 News Segment - DIY Gifts that Kids can Make and Give

      *Enter to win a babycakes Cupcake Maker here*

      I had a busy day yesterday doing two segments at Indiana's local Fox affiliate, Fox59!  Everyone at Fox is so nice and it is so much fun getting to go there!

      And I got so many sweet comments from people who saw me...THANK YOU so much!

      Fox59 Simply Designing Gifts Kids Can Make Christmas

      If you don't live in Indiana bust still want to take a peek at my segments, go here to see my latest segment about DIY Gifts that Kids can Make and Give or copy and paste this link: http://www.fox59.com/videogallery/66892913/Shopping/Gifts-children-can-make-for-friends  

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      Brownie Peppermint Whoopie Pies





      I found a delicious brownie cookie recipe the other day and I knew I had to try it!  But then I remembered that I had seen a peppermint icing recipe and decided that I needed to combine the two!


      These turned out really yummy and very festive.  Perfect to deliver to neighbors, take to that last minute cookie exchange or bring to the last day of work at the office before your holiday break!  Here's the how-to:



      Brownie Peppermint Whoopie Pies

      Brownie Cookie Ingredients:
      • 1 (18.3 oz) pkg brownie mix
      • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
      • 1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
      • 1/4 tsp salt
      • 2 large eggs
      • 2 Tbsp milk
      • 1/2 cup butter, melted
      • 1 tsp vanilla extract
      • 3/4 tsp peppermint extract
      • approx 1/2 cup crushed peppermint candy canes

      Peppermint Icing Ingredients:
      • 1/2 cup butter, softened
      • 3 cups powdered sugar
      • 1/4 cup whipping cream
      • 1 Tbs vanilla extract
      • 1/8 tsp peppermint extract
      • 2 tsp crushed and sifted candy cane
      • 1 Tbs + water
      • Pinch of salt

      Directions:
      • Prepare and bake the cookies:
        • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
        • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together brownie mix, flour, brown sugar and salt.  
        • Add eggs and milk and stir.  
        • Add melted butter, vanilla and peppermint extract, stir until well blended.  
        • Drop dough onto a greased cookie sheet or use parchment paper.  
        • Bake for 9-11 minutes.  
        • Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
        • While cookies are cooling, make the icing recipe.
      • Prepare icing:
        • Beat butter and powdered sugar with an electric mixer for about 2 minutes
        • Add vanilla, water whipping cream, and salt.  
        • Whip on high until fluffy, approximately 4-5 minutes.
        • Continue to add water, one tsp at a time until icing consistency is perfect.
      • When cookies are completely cool, ice the bottom of one cookie with a generous amount of icing. 
      • Place another cookie on top of the icing, forming a cookie sandwich
      • Roll edges of icing in crushed candy cane



      Happy Baking!

      (this recipe was inspired by here and somewhere else that I can no longer find :(

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      Tuesday, December 20, 2011

      babycakes Cupcake Maker GIVEAWAY!!! - closed


      This giveaway is now closed.  Thanks to all who entered to win!

      Today on Indy's Fox 59 Morning Show I get the pleasure of doing 2 segments!!  I will post them on my blog as soon as I can.

      One of my segments will be about DIY Gifts that kids can make and the second will be spotlighting some of my favorite creative gift ideas of 2011.  Oh yes, I get to go on tv to talk about some of my favorite products!!  You can see what I will be showing off on tv here.

      In conjunction with my tv Holiday Gift Guide segment, Select Brands has so generously offered to GIVEAWAY their babycakes Cupcake Maker and their fabulous Cupcake Recipe Book!


      Their cupcake maker is amazing!  Not only does it make perfectly formed, delicious cupcakes, but you can also make quiches, scones, biscuits and pies in this amazing appliance!  I seriously can not express in words how amazing this machine is!  (you can read more about how much I love babycakes Cupcake Maker here)

      All babycakes products are sturdy and built well.  There is very little clean up and the results are flawless every time!


      I also LOVE "175 best babycakes cupcake maker recipes" cookbook!  I had no idea you could make scones and pies and quiches in babycakes Cupcake Machine until I looked in this recipe book!  Every recipe that I have made from it turns out wonderfully!  I love this cookbook!

      I am so excited to be able to GIVEAWAY a Select Brands babycakes prize pack today!  The prize pack will include:

      • (1) babycakes Cupcake Maker
      • (1) 175 best babycakes Cupcake Maker Recipe book


      Here's how to enter to win:

      Leave one comment for each of the below entry methods that you complete


      Mandatory entry
        • Follow me (via GFC (see sidebar)) and leave one comment telling me that you follow and what you would make first if you won this Cupcake Maker.  That's it; easy peasy.


        Additional entries
          • Follow Simply Designing on Facebook and leave me one comment here saying that you do.
          • Follow Simply Designing on Twitter and leave me one comment here saying that you do.  
          • Follow Select Brands on Facebook and leave me one comment here saying that you do (tell them I sent you and that you want to win if you like!)
          • Follow Select Brands on Twitter and leave me one comment here saying that you do. 
          • Facebook, Blog or Tweet about this giveaway and leave me one comment here telling me that you spread the word!

          You can enter a total of up to 6 times, that means you will leave up to 6 comments on this blog post!  (Remember to leave a separate comment for each entry method completed.)  Six easy and fabulous ways to win!  

          The giveaway will end December 30th at midnight EST.  I will announce the winner on December 31st so be sure to stop by and see if you've won!  The winner will have 3 days to contact me to claim their prize.

          GOOD LUCK!

          The fine print:  
          Leave 1 comment per entry method competed for a total of up to 6 entries = 6 comments.  
          Must complete the mandatory entry first.  
          Winner will be chosen using random.org.  No purchase necessary. 
          Must be a US Resident with a US mailing address to win.  
          Must be 18 years old or older to win.  



          Thank you Select Brands for making this giveaway possible!


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          Monday, December 19, 2011

          Holiday Gift Guide {for the creative people in your life}


          I've compiled my list of "must-have" gifts for this year's holiday season: 2011.

          If you don't own these, run out and buy them now.

          Or...forward this post to your husband/mother/aunt/grandma/sister/brother/friend or anyone else who might be looking for inspiration this year for gift giving ideas!

          Or, if you know someone who is creative/crafty, I hope you'll find a few inspirational gift ideas.


          babycakes products

          I love ALL babycakes products!  Can you really go wrong with a Cupcake Maker, a Cake Pop Maker, a Donut Maker, a Pie Pop Maker or a Whoopie Pie Maker?  They also have a Pie Maker and will be coming out with a cute waffle maker soon!  I also love their cupcake recipe book, it has a lot of great ways to use your cupcake maker in there!

          I use these products all the time and think everyone who likes to bakes needs at least one (or 6) of babycakes' appliances!

           
              



          The Big A** Book of Crafts 2


          Mark Montano has done it again!  The host of TLC's While You Were Out has created another great craft book; I love how unique and fab his ideas are!  This is definitely a fun gift idea for those crafty people!



          Kupcake Konz pans

          I love cupcakes, I love ice cream cones...you put them together and you get yummy goodness!  Kupcake Konz pans make creating cupcake cones simple and mess-free!  These are a must-have on my list!



          Silhouette Cameo

          Oh how I love my Silhouette!  It is by far the best at-home vinyl cutting machine available!  But not only does it cut vinyl you can also paper and scrapbook paper.  You can make cards, tags, bags, boxes, shirts and home decor with this beauty!  And this year, Silhouette has retired their SD line and unveiled the most amazing Silhouette ever: the Cameo!  It cuts images 12" wide and up to 10' long!!  One of the best things about the Silhouette is that you can create, design and upload your own images to cut.  It also has a print and cut feature and you can use any true type fonts that are already on your computer!  No need to purchase expensive cartridges.  I could go on and on about my Silhouette Cameo...but instead why don't you go and check it out here.



          Happy Holidays!

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