Have an Easy Popcorn Family Night

My family loves popcorn (I don't really, but the rest do). So, we have lots of popcorn fun. During the summer, we do brown paper bag popcorn and put powdered sugar and sprinkles for a nice afternoon snack outside. I love that I can control how much of everything is in it!

Doing these brown paper bags made me think of another idea. Have a family movie night and set up a popcorn bar for some added fun. Even if you are watching your butter, fat, sugar, or salt, you can still enjoy popcorn with the rest of the family. If you mention popcorn to my kids, they get excited (they were even given huge popcorn tins from a family friend for Christmas).


Making brown paper bag popcorn is so easy that it is ridiculous. It is actually pretty healthy too (just watch what you use for toppings). 

  1. Put 1/4 cup popcorn kernels in a lunch size brown paper bag. 
  2. Fold the top of the bag down a couple of times. Make sure it is secure
  3. Microwave until there are 3 seconds between pops- it usually takes us 2.5 minutes. 
  4. Carefully Remove and enjoy!
You will probably want to split this up into multiple bags for everyone to enjoy their own way. For us, this makes plenty for both kids and some left over. you could also use cups, cones, treat bags, and popcorn boxes to serve this in. If you can find the large ones, ice cream cones would also make great containers.



There are so many things you can use as toppings- you probably have many sitting around the house. 

sprinkles
salt/ pepper
chili powder
cajun seasoning
parmesan
shredded cheese
cinnamon
powdered sugar
nuts
chocolate chips
m&m s
crushed cookies
crushed peppers
hot sauce
chocolate syrup
caramel
coconut
crushed peppermint
fruit
gummy bears
jellybeans
cereal
peanut butter chips
olives
dried fruit

basically- think of things on frozen yogurt bars and even on salad bars!
Seriously, the possibilities are endless!

Just set all the toppings out on the table, give everyone some popcorn, and go to town.


Doing a popcorn night is perfect for a family movie night, camping, fireworks, and even hanging out by the fire pit. There are many other times that this would make a great addition. I actually did one for the kids "dem bones" Halloween party last year. Some other ideas are:

1. Sleepover

2. Any Birthday party

3. Retirement Party

4. Wedding

5. Scout meetings

6. Sports team get-togethers (you could even do a simple form of this when it is your turn as team mom for snacks). 

7. Church fellowship meetings

8. Holiday Parties

9. Any kind of gathering that you want to provide food or snacks at on a limited budget. 

10. For Easter and other holidays, you could do this and ask people to bring appetizers instead of having a big meal. 

I hope I have inspired you to have some popcorn fun. We love our popcorn fun!






Book Review: Paisley Rabbit and the Treehouse Contest

Disclaimer: I received a book to review. All opinions are my own. 

Can a lone girl rabbit with the odds stacked against her surprise Jimmy and the other animals to win the big treehouse construction contest? When the school year starts out, Jimmy Squirrel, whose dad owns the biggest construction company in the city, challenges a close group of friends to a treehouse contest. To everyone's surprise, Paisley Rabbit, who has never touched a hammer or a nail and has no one to help her, joins the contest as a long shot to win. But as things heat up, Paisley shows she has some tricks up her sleeve. A delightful tale of defying the odds and believing in yourself that, alongside playful illustrations, kids will want to read over and over.

I was sent this book to review. I was pretty excited to read it with my children because it has been compared to the Tortoise and the Hare, which is one of my favorite classics. I didn't realize that this would be even better!

There are no words for the beauty on the pages of this book. Steve Richardson could not have chosen a better illustrator than Chris Dunn. This amazing artist captures the whimsy, nature, and wonder in a way no other could.



These photos do not do justice to what is in the book!

My little Snapper loves to just look at the pages.

Not only is the art in this book absolutely gorgeous, but the story itself is one to treasure. Little Paisley seems to be the underdog, but takes on an amazing challenge. She keeps her treehouse plan a secret until the last minute. Can she wow everyone. I cannot give this away because it is too wonderful of a story. The details and finishing of her plan is something to make her friends, family, and town proud of her. She even remembers to send thank-you notes to everyone!



How to Create an Amazing Brand On a Micro Budget


You’ve heard about it, read articles on it, and may have even done some of your own research on the subject. Building your brand is essential to the success of any new business venture, but it isn’t an easy task. This is especially true for those on a limited budget.

Several entrepreneurs find themselves turning to loans as time constraints tighten, having to use their profits to pay the amount and interest back. Instead of falling into this trap, the successful business person looks at what can help them build an effective brand without crossing over their monetary threshold.


Impossible? Not at all. Follow this guide and you’ll be well on your way to an established business with a steady customer base in no time.

Keep it Simple

Your message should be straightforward and reliable. While you may be tempted to create something fancy for its aesthetic appeal, don’t. The most effective messages on the market are short, sweet and simple. (Think Nike or Apple)

Excess clutter causes your brand to fall into obscurity. While it might seem clever, potential customers are only going see fluff. They don’t want to guess what you offer, they want to know off the bat. Consider the one thing you want the public to know about your company, then make it your brand.

The Right Ideology

What will your business do? Does it solve a problem, add value to someone’s life, or simply make a customer feel good about themselves? Placing these elements into your message relays who you are to your website and social media viewers. Combining them all into one statement can be challenging, but crucial to your success.

It might help to think about what your business is not, making a list of things you can’t stand about your competitor’s products or services. What makes your business different? How do you achieve that difference?

Designers

This is an area that’s hard to skimp on, as price often equates to quality. However, you can save a pretty penny by avoiding agencies and opting for a freelancer instead. Sites like Upwork and Reddit feature thousands of individuals who market their artwork to individuals just like you, all without the overhead you’d normally pay to an agency.

Your Brand in Their Hands

Having your brand on something tangible is a simple, inexpensive, and slick marketing tactic that can quickly build a cult following. Sites like The Tee Hive offer full customization on a variety of products from hoodies to koozies, so don’t feel like a t-shirt is your only option. Keep things cheaper by avoiding lots of colors, and keeping your business’ design small yet legible.

Free Advertising

When sticking with a budget, you’ll need all the free exposure you can get. Thankfully, social media has made it easier than ever for startups to gain a little free marketing in the form of reviews. While people are more likely to rave about excellent service, they’ll also tell their friends about the exceptional products they’ve purchased from a new site.



Using the internet, you can easily host a free giveaway with a site like RaffleCopter. This boosts your brand recognition by placing products in your customer's hands just by having them share your site across multiple platforms. The offer of something free also creates a warm familiarity with your brand.


Ashley Lipman

Ashley is a super-connector with Outreachmama who helps businesses find their audience online through outreach, partnerships, and networking. She frequently writes about the latest advancements in digital marketing, but she also focuses on latest beauty trends and beauty insider tips.

My 2018 Planner

In years past, I have had a very involved planner. I've spent several hours each Sunday perfecting my weeks' schedule and to-dos. I have finally figured out something very important. That does not work with 2 children, homeschooling, running a business, helping with the family business, and working from home. I have to be more flexible and I have to stop scheduling myself into a frenzy. I have finally figured out how to do that and still have a pretty planner! This year, all I am scheduling is appointments and due dates. The rest goes as a "to do," except for my blog posts, but I'm not stressing about those either!

Without further ado, here is my 2018 planner!


This is just part of my previous frenzy... see all that chaos? I love love love the happy planner, but had to step down to force myself to chill a bit!


I'm still using my gorgeous Happy Planner Deluxe Cover in gold though (remember, I dream in gold- I have to have it around me). Do you see my Caffeine Queen cup there? That was my Christmas gift from my brother and sister-in-law. She picked it out and she knows me so well!


I love this inside cover. It's some of my favorite things. My MIL gave me the cauldron sticker forever ago, My owl bookmark reminds me that I'm teaching little minds, my magnifier because I'm getting old. I've had that sign language card for 20 years. Of course, I have a family photo, a lucky penny, flower from my kids, and a Dove chocolate piece of wisdom. That "Don't Let Anyone Dull Your Sparkle" paper is my work. Plus, I love those Lipton tea bag tags- "Specially blended for Sunday Afternoons" and "Specially blended for porch swings." I love opening my planner to find my favorite things!


I cut this folder down from a full size one. It holds lists, paperwork, flyers, and mail I have to keep up with. We can at least make the boring pretty! 


These two pages hold my world!


This is my brain. I'm using the "Dad Pad," from Denise Albright Studios. It is exactly what I needed to keep my week straight without scheduling myself into stress! I just clipped it over my stickies and Harley Quinn stickers. On the opposite page are some Happy Planner pockets with daily/ weekly to-do lists- I simply use a dry erase or wet erase marker to check off.


On the left is a yearly calendar so I can quickly find dates and see if they will work. On the right side, I inserted a dry erase pocket that holds my blog post checklist. I can quickly find it and make sure I do everything I'm supposed to do. I put gold washi tape on the edge, so I can quickly turn to it.


My color coded very busy monthly calendar. This only has appointments and strict deadlines.


This mini legal pad holds is home for my running to do list. That awesome pen is a bright pink felt tip marker and a glue stick on the other side (Smash Stick). The pink pocket holds my paranormal paperwork. I can easily get to it when I need it, but it is out of the way when I do not. I can also take it out and put it in my investigation pack if I need to. Pretty Handy!



I hope you got some organization ideas for your planner and I would love to see yours. Have you posted it anywhere? Drop the link in the comments and I'll take a look!

10 Valentine's Day Ideas For Your Homeschool

Disclaimer: As an Oriental Trading Brand Ambassador, I receive products to complete projects. All opinions are my own.

I've noticed that more than other holidays, Valentine's Day and St. Patty's day tend to be celebrated by classrooms alone. It isn't always easy to think of ideas to make our homeschool children feel like they are not missing out on what classroom children get to participate. I do as much as I can to make sure my children do not miss out. This year, we are even going to have a field day playdate, but that is another post.

Here goes- 10 ideas to celebrate Valentine's Day with your homeschooled children:



1. Exchange Valentine's Day Cards: This is something we do every year- without fail. Each kid gets to pick out their own cards, sign them, and address them. We give them to family, friends, and community workers.

2. What is the symbol of  Valentine's Day? The heart- so why not do some science lessons and learn about the heart. Make it more fun and add in some pretend play with a vest and stethoscope and let your kids listen to each other's hearts, pets hearts, and adult's hearts- how are they the same and different?

3. Science Experiments To Love: There are so many ways to work holidays into school lessons. Since my kids love the microscopes we have around, I like finding new things for them to "discover." Use those microscopes to look at flower petals, candy, and even the fur on a teddy bear. (The Learning Resources Primary Science Viewscope makes a wonderful microscope to explore with)

4. Surprise the kids with an activity bag on the Friday before Valentine's day- might be a great end of school day surprise. Use a treat bag, and put an activity book, mini crayons/ colored pencils/ markers, and a cup to color. It will keep them busy over the weekend.

5. These owl treat bags, or something similar, make wonderful Valentine's "mailboxes." You could even let them make their own with stickers and brown paper bags. Set them somewhere in the common area and have family members put Valentine's in them. That morning, let them read them and see how important they are to everyone around them.

6. I love surprising the kids with little gifts leading up to a holiday and that morning. Melissa & Doug Water Wow books (Bible Stories), Western Gun Playsets, and pretty plush sleep masks make great surprises (Oriental Trading has an amazing selection of gifts, candy, and cards!)

7. Using Sketch A Doodles, leave messages for your kids each day. I color coded the kids' (don't I always?) and leave them in different places for the kids to find. You could also put them in the school area, on their door, or on the fridge. Anywhere you put them, kids love getting special notes.

8. For younger kids, a sensory bin filled with Valentine's themed items will be a fun treat. Most of these you can find around the house and fill the bin with rice!

9. Start a new tradition- make Valentine's day a craft day! There are so many adorable crafts that you can do - even from items you have around the house. Be sure to stock up on paper bags, glue, twist ties, chenille stems, foam stickers, pompoms, and glitter!



10. Remember to say I love you- that's the easy one!!!

TEA-riffic #Giveaway for National Hot Tea Month

In honor of the 3rd annual National Hot Tea Month, the Tea Council of the USA is launching their 2nd photo sweepstakes.

The Tea Council of the USA encourages tea-lovers across the nation to take this opportuniTEA to share the unique ways they like to enjoy their cuppa. Whether you prefer tea steeped in tradition, brewed to perfection or with the spice just right, the Tea Council wants you to express your #IndividualiTEA through the second annual photo sharing sweepstakes. Entering is easy as 1-2-tea! Share your photo or video on Twitter using the hashtag #IndividualiTEA and tag @TeaCouncil for a chance to win $500 and a year's supply of tea.

Visit the Tea Council of the USA or follow @TeaCouncil on Twitter to learn more about the many unique characteristics of tea.

IndividualiTEA Photo Sharing Sweepstakes Details

Entering is easy! Simply:
  • Share a photo, video or explanation of the unique ways, times, and places you like to cook with or sip your favorite tea (it can be as unique as you'd like!) on http://bit.ly/individualiTEA and on Twitter with the hashtag #IndividualiTEA and tag @TeaCouncil. Y
  • You'll be prompted to finalize your entry for a chance to win at http://bit.ly/individualiTEA 
  • The sweepstakes runs through January 31, 2018. A copy of the official rules can be found here. Enter as many times as you'd like and don't forget to tag and tell your friends! We're excited to hear your tea stories!

Win a gift basket from the Tea Council of USA


The Tea Council of the USA wants to send you a gift basket to enjoy during these crazy cold months. It is filled with tea goodness, accessories, and treats! To enter, comment below and tell me how you like to enjoy hot tea.

A winner will be chosen January 31, 2018. Good luck!