Recipe: Gingerbread Cookies {Dairy and Egg-free recipe included}

Nothing says Christmas like the smell {or taste} of gingerbread. One of my all time favorite things about the holidays are homemade cookies and gingerbread men are the BEST! Especially when they are homemade. 

Don't these look absolutely di-vine! 

If you happen to have egg or dairy allergies, here is the frosting I used for my little gingerbread boys and girls. It is Betty Crocker's Cookie Icing. Easy to use and perfect for the allergies in my family! 

Want to make some of these tasty treats at your house?

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
3 1/2 cups allpurpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/3 cup water

Cream butter and sugar thoroughly with electric mixer.  Beat in molasses.  Blend all dry ingredients.  Alternately add blended dry ingredients and water to the butter-sugar mixture.  Dough will become stiff, so that last dry addition may need to be blended by hand. Work dough until it is smooth in consistency. If dough sticks to your hands, lightly dust them with flour.

Roll out dough to approximately 1/4 " thickness on the back of a greased cookie sheet. Punch out gingerbread patterns. Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

For dairy-free cookies:
Substitute butter with a dairy free butter or margarine. 

For softer cookies:
Personally, I like my gingerbread cookies a little bit on the softer side. If you want yours softer, substitute 1 cup of corn starch in place of one cup of flour. Bake at the usual temperature for the usual amount of time and your cookies will come out nice and soft! 

For Gingerbread house pieces:
This recipe is also great for making gingerbread house pieces because once cut, the pieces retain their shape!  Simply use a set of house cookie cutters or fashion your own pattern pieces. Follow the baking directions from the recipe. 

Enjoy the holiday season!!! Be sure to pin this recipe to share with your friends! 

Calling all Etsy Sellers ......

Things have been pretty slow around here on the blog lately... I'm still around, just enjoying some holiday fun with my family! I am putting together some posts for this month, so I hope you keep coming back!! :)

I get questions from time to time about how to make the most of being a seller on Etsy. I am thinking of putting together a series of posts to address some of the questions I receive. So, here's what I want to know....

What questions do you have about being a seller on Etsy!?!?!
 Please comment below with your questions so that I can HELP YOU the most with this series of posts!! 

Some examples:
• How do I price my items?
• How do I list an item?
• How do I get customers to look at my items?
• How does shipping work? Where do I get supplies?

Please let me know what your questions are so I can be sure to answer them!! 


Black Friday Sale!!!

This year I am offering a fun way to shop! My ENTIRE Etsy shop will be on sale for 

Take advantage of the BEST deal (20% off) on black friday and shop from the comfort of your computer {or your smart phone .. hehe}!!! 

If you miss the sale on Friday, then catch up with 15% off on Saturday and Sunday. 

If you happen to live under a rock and didn't hear about the sale until Monday, no worries... you can still take 10% off all day on Monday! 

Just enter the coupon codes at checkout and you are set! The coupon code will deduct the given percentage from your order total (not including shipping). If you are in California you will still be charged sales tax. 

*The coupon code DOES NOT apply to custom orders. It is for current listings in the shop. 
**Coupon codes will be valid as I can set them up {I'm only human... and although you may be shopping at 2am... I may not be awake! ♥) Most likely the will take effect as late as I am up on the night before. The codes will be inactive as early as I can drag myself out of bed wake up in the morning. 
***Offer is NOT valid on prior purchases. So, please don't ask.

Just a reminder... I now accept both paypal and credit cards, so you can shop whichever way is easier for you! 

So, head on over to the shop and be sure to "favorite" ♥ all of the goodies you want! They will go fast!!! 

Happy Thanksgiving, and HAPPY SHOPPING!! 

Wacky Weather!!

It was fuh-reezing this morning (ok, at least compared to our usual So Cal weather!). I bundled up my little bundle of joy!!! 

With all the crazy weather going on lately across the globe... I would love to know what's going on in your neck of the woods! 

Hopefully any of you on the East coast are hanging in there and didn't suffer too much in the wake of Sandy and the snow storm! 

Now that my boutique is over I am totally excited to get back to sharing fun tutorials again! I can't to start sewing, crafting, and getting ready for the holidays!!! 

PLUS... as soon as I can get some pictures taken I will have a TON of new items in my Etsy shop at great discount prices just in time for the holidays!!!! 

Fun Friday Link Up!!!!

Welcome to the new  Fun Friday Link Up. 

 Because this is my blog... and I can... I am sharing a couple of cute pictures of my little one wearing a couple of the headbands that I sell. 

For anyone who may be local... I am participating in a boutique at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim on November 10th from 8:00-noon. Please stop by and say hi! I would love to meet you!!!

... and if you are looking for some fun gifts to give this holiday, it's a great place to get some shopping done!!! 

Have a great weekend! 

If you have a fun recipe, craft project, etc. that you want to share, link it up!!! 
{and spread the word to your fellow bloggers to stop by and link theirs up too!}

Mingle Monday - 10.22.2012

Can you believe it!?!

Visit as many of the linked blogs that you like! 

Please keep all links family friendly!! 

Have fun!! 

Mingle Monday - 10.15.2012

Hey there! Sorry for skipping out on the hop last week... but I'm back today!! 

I am super busy trying to get ready for a boutique at the Disneyland hotel in a month! Yikes!!! If anyone is here in sunny So Cal or will be the weekend of Nov 10th, I would love to meet you at the boutique! It is sponsored by a Women's conference, but the boutique is open to everyone! There are TONS of handmade goodies there ... perfect for doing a little holiday shopping! 

PLUS, if you stop by and see me you can pick up a FREE SHIPPING coupon code for my Etsy shop! 

In the meantime, I will be working to stock my shop, get products ready for my boutique, and trying to keep up on my blog posting! So... bear with me!

•  •  •  •  •  •  •

I am starting an additional link party on Friday's for everyone to link one of their favorite posts from the week to. It will be called Friday Fun! You can link directly to any one of your personal posts. It can be crafting, sewing, cooking, decorating, just about anything goes! 

Make sure you come back Friday to link up!! 

•  •  •  •  •  •  •

Visit as many of the linked blogs that you like! 

Please keep all links family friendly!! 

Have fun!! 

Recipe: BBQ Sausage and Veggies

This was one of my favorite dinners as a kid and has become a favorite of my kids as well! It's the perfect meal after a cold and stormy day. 

This is a super easy 1 dish meal! If I plan ahead far enough in my day I try and cook this one in the crock pot ... making it even easier!!!

Here's all you need:
1 polish sausage -- I switch off between using kielbasa and smoked chicken
1 Tbsp diced red onion -- or any other onion you have on hand
any fresh or frozen veggies that you want
your favorite BBQ sauce
1/4 c. brown sugar

If you are using your crock pot, just dump everything in and let it cook all day! 

This time I used a skillet and cooked mine on the stove top. If you choose to cook yours this way too then follow these easy directions for a super delicious meal! 

1. Slice your sausage. Mine are fairly thin since I have little kids. 
Chop your veggies and dice your onion. 

2. Drop your onion and sausage in the skillet on medium heat and stir until the sausage starts to brown up a little. You don't need to add any oil or butter because the fat from the sausage is enough.

3. Once your sausage is beginning to brown add your veggies. (If you are adding frozen corn -- I suggest you wait to add it until the VERY END ... I find it gets rubbery otherwise.) Then add in your BBQ sauce. You can really put as much or as little as you like ... this one is up to personal taste really. I add a tablespoon of water to mine to thin the sauce out a little because my kids think BBQ sauce is too spicy on its own. ☺

4. Stir your BBQ sauce into your sausage and veggie mixture. Then add the brown sugar. Heat thoroughly and serve hot! 

This would be delicious with some homemade corn bread or any warm bread!! Sometimes we serve it with rice or roasted potatoes! 

MMMM..... delicious!!!

Counting the days ...

This little guy is counting the days until Halloween! 

His costume has been hanging in his closet for weeks now and today I let him try it on so I could see if the pants needed to be shortened at all. 

He is so ready for Halloween!! 

Anyone ready for Halloween yet? Have you put up your decorations? Bought your candy?

I'm Book Smart!

Who says books are just for reading!? We think not! 

I'm dumber than a razor scooter!

This morning my cute little one woke up at 5am. Not bad since she fell asleep around 8pm last night. I decided that because I was up early that I would make my daughter's lunch, pack the diaper bag, and wake the kids up early so we could scooter/walk to school! They jumped moseyed out of bed after waking them up a couple of times... 

.. we got all ready to go and started our walk. Now, any of you moms of little ones out there know this is no easy task! We've tried it several times and this is the first time we've actually gotten all ready with time to walk to school. 

Thinking ahead, I decided to load up my little one in her car seat and put her in the front of our double stroller. The older kids insisted on scootering. GREAT! More exercise for us all!! Woohoo! 

We made it about 4 houses down the street when my almost 4 year old decided he didn't want to scooter any more. 
"Okay, do you just want to walk?" 
"No, I don't want to walk either."
"Ummm.... do you want to ride in the stroller?"
"YA! I want to ride in the basket."

On I trudged with two kids in the double stroller, and one on her scooter... what a champion! She scooted all the way to school -- probably 3/4 of a mile. 

{you can see the top of my little guys helmet in the backseat of the stroller!}

I loaded my little guys Radio Flyer scooter on the top of the stroller. No biggie. I can do this, two kids a scooter and my diaper bag. I'm feeling those calories burn! 

We get to school, take my daughter's helmet off and I attempt to fold up her scooter so I can slip it in the basket of the stroller. 

Ummm.... hello!?! You are supposed to fold. I know you fold. I've seen you fold. My husband has folded you before! 

Apparently I'm dumber than a razor scooter! 

I never could get that sucker scooter to fold up. So, I walked the 3/4 of a mile home pushing what I swear must be close to 70 lbs. (30+ lb. son, 12lb. baby, carrier, two scooters, and the diaper bag). 

By the time I got home (ya, it's all uphill the way home too... did I mention that!?!? Okay, not uphill but it inclines... I promise!) my legs felt like jello. Now, if I can do this every day I am sure to lose this baby weight!! 

Mingle Monday - 10.1.2012

 Feel free to visit as many blogs on the hop as you want, and make sure to tell them you are stopping by from Mingle Monday.

 Please ONLY LINK UP FAMILY FRIENDLY BLOGS! No one really likes to read any of that other stuff... right!?! HAVE FUN!!!

Best Banana Bread Ever - Dairy and Egg Free Option

We buy bananas every week, sometimes twice a week. At times I think my kids are part monkey... they can go through a bunch of bananas in a matter of days! BUT, there are some weeks where the bananas hardly get touched. Then they get those brown spots on them and by the time my kids want them they refuse to eat them because they are "yucky!" 

That's where this little recipe comes in handy. Seriously... the best banana bread recipe I have tried.... and it's totally easy! It uses all of those pantry staples that you have laying around! Some grocery stores even sell their extra ripe bananas in bags so you don't have to wait for yours to get ripe.  

My son helped to make a batch of these this morning and between the two of us we ate 6 ....SIX muffins on our own! It made for a fantastic brunch! Then we packaged the rest of them up in a ziploc bag to save for breakfast tomorrow ... and to share with the rest of the family ... I guess... 

Is your mouth watering yet!?!? 

Here is the original recipe {that I used for a long time} -- followed by the egg and dairy free recipe that I now use. Yes, you read that right... an EGG AND DAIRY FREE banana bread recipe that is super delicious!!! 

{Shown in all of these pictures -- yep ... this is the dairy and egg free recipe!}

Original Recipe:
1 c. granulated sugar
2 Tbs buttern - room temperature
1 egg - beaten
2 ripe medium bananas - mashed 
{really, you can add more than this too, sometimes I use 3-4 small bananas}
2 Tbs sour cream {or milk with a couple drops of lemon juice in it}
2 c. white AP flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp of salt

Egg and Dairy Free Recipe:
1 c. granulated sugar
2 Tbs dairy-free butter/margarine {I use Fleischmann's Unsalted} - room temperature
1 {egg} using egg replacer -- check your package for what to mix to make 1 egg
2 ripe medium bananas - mashed
2 Tbs of either Toffutti Sour Cream {I hardly ever have this on hand, but it's great when I do!} or rice milk -- or other dairy free milk -- with a couple drops of lemon juice
2 c. white AP flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt {I add an extra pinch since I am using unsalted margarine}

For convenience.... I use my Kitchen-Aid mixer to combine all ingredients. Cream sugar and butter together. Add egg, bananas, and sour cream; mix well. Sift flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder together in a separate bowl. Slowly add to banana mixture. Pour into a greased {or sprayed with non-stick spray} loaf pan or into cupcake liners.

Loaf Pan: bake at 375ºF for about 50 minutes. 
24 Muffins: bake at 350ºF for about 30 minutes. 

For both, check to see that they are baked all the way through by gently inserted a clean toothpick in to the middle. If it comes out clean it's done! 

Don't throw out those extra ripe bananas anymore.... just make some yummy banana bread. Oh, and trust me, once you try this easy recipe, you will never bake boxed mix banana bread again... ever!!


Mingle Monday - 9.24.2012

It's that time again! I hope everyone had a great week! We took the kids to the beach yesterday and I came home fried! BUT, I learned a trick about getting sand off.... rub baby powder on the sandy area (usually your feet) and the sand comes right off! AMAZING!!

Thanks to anyone who continues to come back week after week, and a big WELCOME to any new hoppers!! 

 Feel free to visit as many blogs on the hop as you want, and make sure to tell them you are stopping by from Mingle Monday.

 Please ONLY LINK UP FAMILY FRIENDLY BLOGS! No one really likes to read any of that other stuff... right!?! HAVE FUN!!!

My How Time Flies...

Seriously. Can you believe it's been two months already?!? Where has the time gone!? 

Just two months ago I was holding this precious little baby in my arms for the first time. 

Now she seems so grown up already! She smiles all the time. I LOVE waking up to a smiling face every morning! 

Not just that... but she is in fact... the BEST baby in the world! She takes two really good naps everyday. Then sleeps for upwards of 9 hours each night. Really, at two months... could I ask for anything more!?! 

Her big brother is just in love with her! He's going to be a great helper, a wonderful playmate, and the perfect protector for his little sister! 

Mingle Monday - 9.17.2012

Thanks to anyone who continues to come back week after week, and a big WELCOME to any new hoppers!!

Feel free to visit as many blogs on the hop as you want, and make sure to tell them you are stopping by from Mingle Monday -- so they don't think you are a weirdo blog stalker (haha!)

Please ONLY LINK UP FAMILY FRIENDLY BLOGS! No one really likes to read any of that other stuff... right!?! 


5 Tips for BUYING on Etsy

Etsy has become a worldwide phenomenon and a great place to buy one-of-a-kind hand made crafts as well as unique antiques. BUT, how do you make the most of your buying experience?! 

I've been both an Etsy seller and an Etsy buyer for a couple of years now. It took me a little bit of trial and error to learn the ins and outs of how to make the most of Etsy, and today I'm sharing my 5 tips for BUYING on Etsy. Hopefully it will be of some help to any of you who may be afraid to try Etsy, or who want to, but don't know where to start. 

1. Use the search box. Especially if you are looking for something specific. It is easy to get lost when you search only using the category listings on the left hand side of your screen. It is, of course, a great way to find items if you aren't quite sure what you want. 
 When you click on the "jewelry" category and you will see page after page of not only jewelry, but jewelry supplies, crafts with jewels on them, and lots of other things that you may not really be interested in. 

If you already know what you are looking for, find the search box at the top of your screen and type in the item you want. 

Before pressing "Enter" on your keyboard,you will notice that Etsy already gives you several options. For example: I typed in the words "turqouise ring" and a pop up menu showed under the search box for options to search for these words. You can either press "Enter" to search for your original item, or use your mouse to  click on one of their suggestions.

This is the easiest way to find EXACTLY what you are looking for without having to sort through several pages of miscellaneous items first. 

2. Check out the feedback. Once you have found a product that you are interested in, be sure to check out the feedback for that shop. Here's what you look for. It doesn't matter how many sales the store has had as long as their feedback is great. 

There are new shops that will sometimes have grand opening deals. Since they are new they probably won't have very much -- if any -- feedback. There are other shops that have been around a while and have only received so-so feedback. The amount of time a shop has been open doesn't always dictate how good their product is. To view the feedback that customers have left for that shop, click on the word "feedback" and it will open a window similar to this one:

Here you can view what customers have written regarding the products they have purchased. This is a BIG help in deciding if this is the shop for you! 

3. Look for coupon codes. You can do this several different ways. The first is by looking and the shops information/announcement. It can be found just under their header. 

When you click on the gray box it will open a larger box containing all of the shops written information/announcement.

A lot of shops will offer coupon codes but ONLY put them in their information/announcement (instead of in each listing). They aren't always well advertised, but I make it a point when I am shopping on Etsy to check out the shops announcements before purchasing. 

The second way would be to simple google "{the shop name} coupon code". A lot of shops will run giveaways and promotional codes on blogs. By searching for them you might just find one that isn't advertised on their shop announcement. 

Third, and lastly, you can always email the shop owner and ask if they are running any coupon codes, or special deals on any of their items. One of my favorite suppliers offers a 20% discount on orders over a certain quantity. BUT, in order to take advantage of the deal, you have to contact them first. 

4. Do some searching. Once you have found the item you are looking for, search around on Etsy for other shops selling the exact same thing. This is particularly helpful if you are looking for supplies rather than hand made products -- though it is great for handmade products as well. From your search results page, you can sort your results by: Most Recent, Relevancy (default), Highest Price, or Lowest Price. 

On the left hand side of your screen you can also refine your search result by category: All items (default), Handmade, Vintage, or Supplies.

Sometimes it pays to checkout a couple of shops offering the same item. You can compare prices, look for coupon codes, and see what the shipping costs are to find the best deal!

5. Checking Out. Once you have decided on your item(s) and the shop you are purchasing from, add that item to your cart then click on the cart icon at the top right of your screen to purchase. From here you can choose your method of payment. Some shops will only offer PayPal. Others will give you an option of PayPal or Credit Card. 

If you have found a coupon code, click on the words "Apply shop coupon code" and a box will open for you to enter in the code you have found. Be sure to enter it exactly as it was written. 

Some items (especially custom jewelry, paper goods, or anything that can be customized) will require information from you at checkout. This can be related using the "Notes" box. Here you can write a message to the shop owner to include such information as the size of the item you want, the color, or your wording. If you are like me, sometimes I write a thank you note to suppliers I regularly purchase from.

Once you have filled in your method of payment, and any coupon codes or notes that you need, simply click on the green checkout button and follow the prompts.

To keep track of what purchases of yours have shipped, find the "Your Account" words on the top right of your screen and scroll over it. Then click on "purchases". It will show you a list of all of your purchases -- starting with the most recent -- and they will be marked as shipped once the shop owner ships them. You may also receive an email and/or a message through Etsy letting you know once your order has been shipped.

I hope this helps any of you who may have hesitated to purchase from Etsy. I love all of the fun things you can find and the great prices!!! Happy shopping!!! 

Be sure to pin this if you have found it helpful!!

Minky Blanket Giveaway Winner ...

Thanks to everyone who celebrated along with me and entered to win a minky blanket!! 

I used to choose a winner and the lucky winner was #7. 

"Sally SkulletteAug 31, 2012 10:58:00 AM
I'm a fan on Facebook and have been for awhile ;)"

Sally, you have 48 hours (starting now) to respond to me so that you can claim your blanket. If I don't hear from you a new winner will be chosen! 

Mingle Monday - 9.10.2012

Welcome to

Have you had a chance to enter the minky blanket giveaway yet!?! TODAY (Sunday) is the LAST DAY TO ENTER!! The winner will be announced tomorrow (Monday). 

Also, if you haven't visited my shop lately, you should! My coupon codes will expire on Friday!! Use NEWBABY for FREE domestic shipping OR you would rather take a discount on your purchase use code NEWBABY2 for 15% off your entire order!! 

I just started selling some yards of fabric, so if you are looking for a great deal... be sure to check it out. Right now I have the following colors of Riley Blake's Medium Chevron in stock.

Thanks to anyone who continues to come back week after week, and a big WELCOME to any new hoppers!!

Feel free to visit as many blogs on the hop as you want, and make sure to tell them you are stopping by from Mingle Monday -- so they don't think you are a weirdo blog stalker (haha!)

Please ONLY LINK UP FAMILY FRIENDLY BLOGS! No one really likes to read any of that other stuff... right!?! 


Tutorial: How to Sew a French Seam

Ever wanted to sew a project where the back seam might be seen!?! You could use your serger to create decorative stitching along the seam, or you could try and use a fancy stitch on your sewing machine to do it. 

BUT, it is so much easier to create a French seam instead. Especially when you are sewing a straight seam. 

A french seam hides the raw edge of your fabric in a seam so that you see a finished edge on both sides of your fabric. 

Pin your fabric WRONG SIDES TOGETHER!! I know you are used to sewing with right sides together, but this time, DON'T! 

Sew a straight stitch along where you have pinned leaving about a 1/4" seam allowance. Be sure to back stitch at the beginning and end of your seam. 

When you are done, the front of your fabric will look like this. You will be able to see your seam and your fabric will look like it has a mohawk.

The back will look like a regular seam would look on the finished side.

Turn your fabric so that the right sides (the mohawk) is on top. Fold one of the fabrics back so that right sides are now touching and that mohawk is sandwiched between right sides of your fabric. Iron it in place along the seam. 

If you are more comfortable pinning your fabric then go ahead and pin along the fold. I don't always pin (as anyone who regularly reads my posts knows). This time you are going to use a 1/2" seam allowance. This assures that your unfinished seam edges are sewn into a "pocket" so that they aren't visible from the outside. Be sure to back stitch at both ends of your seam. 

Once you finish sewing your "pocket" for the unfinished edges the front of your fabric will look like this. Looks familiar, right!? Kinda like a regular seam!? 

BUT, the back looks like this. You can see the seam 1/2" from the fold.

Next, iron the "pocket down on one side of your fabric. I chose to fold it down over the fabric that would be on the bottom of my project so that the "pocket" is pointing down. 

Now on the right side of the fabric sew a top stitch to hold your pocket in place. For the particular project I was working on, I opted to have this top stitch be 1/8" from my finished seam. You can make this top stitch as far from the seam as you like BUT make sure that it isn't any farther away from your seam than the edge of your "pocket". 

Here is how your finished French seam will look. Be sure to iron your finished seam to set your stitches.

Here is a view of the front and back of the seam. 

Now, go much on a baguette, cook up some french toast, bake some french fries, put on your barrette,  and sew some French seams!!