gallamore west

Monday, October 20, 2014

Halloween Snacks: 2 Ingredient Orange Fanta Cake & Mummy Water Bottles

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SpookySnacks #CollectiveBias

I love everything about Halloween, especially all of the fun things that I get to do with our boys.  They are totally into Halloween too... I'm sure our neighbors could tell that since they decorated our front yard while it was still September!  One of my very favorite things about Halloween is coming up with fun Halloween Snacks.  This weekend we played Halloween Bingo, watched a Halloween movie, and enjoyed some fun Halloween Snacks made with Fanta and Dasani.

While shopping for Halloween things at Walmart to BOO our neighbors last week {so fun!} I decided to get into Halloween at home too, so I picked up a 2-liter bottle of Orange Fanta {a very rare treat here!} and 12 oz Dasani water bottles. 

Have you ever made a soda cake?  It's so easy and fun because you only need two ingredients- a cake mix, and a cup and a half of any flavor soda.  No eggs, no oil... just mix together the cake mix and the cup and a half of soda, then pour into your greased pan and bake like normal.  Our cake tasted like an Orange Creamsicle with the combination of vanilla from the cake and orange from the Fanta. 

After you bake the cake, let it cool completely then slice into 1-inch cubes.  I did 3 layers of cake alternated with 3 layers of freshly whipped cream, ending with the whipped cream on top.  I just printed out a little Jack O'Lantern face and taped it to the outside of the trifle bowl to make it into an instant Jack O' Lantern that our little guys loved!

The cake is a little crumblier than making it the regular way, but still amazingly delicious.  It worked out perfectly to cut it up and layer it in a trifle bowl.

After layering cake with whipped cream for a total of six layers {3 layers of cake alternated with 3 layers of whipped cream} I covered the top with sprinkles.  

While I waited for the cake to cool, I made some cute little mummies out of our Dasani water bottles.  To make these I bought the least expensive off-white fabric I could find from my Walmart {I LOVE that my Walmart has fabric!} and some goggly eyes.  

I just tore strips of the fabric and used a little hot glue to attach it as I wrapped it around in haphazard patterns.

They came out so cute!  The smaller water bottles are perfect for little hands, and would also be the perfect size to slip into a Trick Or Treat bag for some hydration while out Trick Or Treating.  I don't know about you, but we get pretty serious with our Trick Or Treating... our boys like to go until their feet are hurting and they can't walk another step!

So easy and so fun!

Our little guys loved them so much that this one crawled up while I was taking pictures and started sipping away.  What a great way to get your kids to drink their water, right?

Hope you're having fun gearing up for Halloween at your house too!  If you want to learn more about Fanta and Dasani, visit them online:

Fanta on Facebook/Twitter
Dasani on Facebook/Twitter

And for a special in-store Demo with Fanta, along with Wheat Thins and Oreos, check out this link to see if your local Walmart is on the list!  In-store demos are coming up October 24th- October 26th.

Happy Halloween!! xoxo 

Chicken Tortilla Soup: Blog Hop with 50 Different Easy Dinner Recipe!

Need some easy dinner ideas?  You've come to the right place today, because I've partnered with about 50 amazing bloggers to bring you some easy, delicious dinner ideas! Check out the bottom of this post for links to all of the recipes.

You guys, it's soup season and I'm SO excited!  I have absolutely fallen in love with making big pots of soup for dinner lately.  Chicken Tortilla Soup is probably my very favorite soup of all, so I love when that's what I get to make for dinner.  

But we all know that weeknights can get crazy between homework, sports, and just life in general so I love that my Chicken Tortilla Soup is easy and comes together in about 20 minutes!

Here's all you need:

2-3 cups cooked shredded chicken 
1 cup corn (I use Trader Joe's Frozen Fire Roasted corn)
1 can black beans, drained
1 small can diced green chilies
1 box of chicken broth
1 can of diced tomatoes
6-8 cups water
1 tablespoon cumin, more or less to taste
1 teaspoon black pepper, more or less to taste
1 teaspoon paprika, more or less to taste
Dash of cayenne pepper, more or less to taste
Salt- I use a just a dash because we eat low sodium here

To Garnish: Shredded cheese, diced avocados, jalapeƱos, and tortilla chips

To make this recipe super easy, I usually cook a whole chicken in the crockpot one night and save the leftover chicken.  So this soup is always made the night after "crockpot chicken" night :)  You could use Rotisserie chicken too.  

Add all ingredients, except the garnishes, into a large stock pot.  Stir occasionally on low heat for about 20 minutes so it gently simmers and the flavors blend together well.  Garnish with shredded cheese, avocados, jalapeƱos and tortilla chips (we just crush them a little over our bowls).  

This soup is so delicious, easy, and perfect for busy weeknights!  Every time we have it, my husband and I are brought back to our honeymoon in Puerto Vallarta where we had the best Chicken Tortilla Soup ever.  This recipe is my recreation of that recipe, and it's always a hit here. 

What's your favorite easy Weeknight Dinner?  

This is a blog hop, so be sure to check out some other amazing easy Weeknight Dinners from some of my favorite blogger friends! xoxo 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Halloween Crafting with Starburst and Skittles

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.  #sweetsandtreats #collectivebias

I love everything about Halloween, and my sweet tooth definitely loves the candy part.  This year I've been loving incorporating some of my family's favorite candies, Starburst and Skittles, into our decorations. 

We have always done our porch decorations very cutesy, but this year our older boys decided to step it up with a more grown up theme so we bought a life-size skeleton and switched to a mostly all black and white color scheme.  But we still have a couple of little guys here too so I decided to add in some color with some of our family's favorite sweets, Starburst and Skittles. 

I bought a Skittles & Starburst 30 pack from Sam's Club.  With 30 individual packages of candy for under $15, it was a huge amount of crafting candy {plus plenty extra too!}

Sam's Club has an AMAZING selection of candy, and on a side note, it also has SO many awesome toys for Christmas right now.  If my boys weren't with me, I could've knocked out most of our Christmas shopping in a single trip! 

First I made this colorful "Starburst" decoration.  I call it a Starburst because it reminds me of a star, but it's actually made with Sour Skittles.

I love it because it looks pretty impressive, but in reality it was super easy to make.I used a piece of round, flat floral foam along with some black & white paper straws and a piece of green card stock paper (all of these items can be found at your local craft store).  I simply traced the floral foam onto the green paper, then cut out the paper.

The paper was a tiny bit smaller than the floral foam, but I didn't worry much about that because I knew when I finished that area would be mostly covered.

Then I cut the paper straws in half and just pushed each of them into the side of the floral foam, leaving about an inch in between each straw.  I then glued on Sour Skittles onto the green paper and added a little "No Tricks, All Treats" sign that I made on my computer.  The spider was a porch decoration that I added on top of the part where the paper didn't quite cover the floral foam. 

Next I filled some cute glass jars with a variety of Starburst and Skittles from the box I bought at Sam's Club- tropical Starburst, Origingal Starburst, Original Skittles, Sour Skittles, Dark Side Skittles... it's a great variety box.

Then I thought that our Mr. Skeleton could use a little bling, so I made him a Candy Necklace using Starburst, clear plastic wrap and twine.  

It was my first time ever making one of these Candy Necklaces, but it was super easy and took just a couple of minutes.I just laid out a piece of plastic wrap {about 12 x 12 inches} on the table, laid out Starburst candies about an inch and a half apart, then carefully rolled up the plastic wrap.  

Once it was wrapped, I tied on a piece of twine between each Starburst.

And because the box of Starburst and Skittles was so packed full of candy, and also because we live on a tiny little road where we get only a handful of Trick or Treaters, I put a little twine & label on the extra candies to hand out. Yes, we are one of those houses... we give out full-size candies here!

So come on over to Gallamore West... 
we're a NO TRICKS, ALL TREATS house.  

Happy Halloween! xoxo

Peanut Butter Pumpkin Brownies

I've teamed up with a group of 75 bloggers to share tons of Fall Harvest Ideas with you! From crafts, to recipes, to home decor and more...we have you covered for Fall inspiration! 

75 Fall Harvest Ideas

I love all things pumpkin, but if there's one thing missing from Fall dessert tables, it's chocolate.  So I came up with these quick, easy, and adorable brownies with a Peanut Butter Pumpkin on top.  Is that confusing?  There's actually no pumpkin in these- just chocolate, peanut butter, and a little drizzling on white chocolate.  

These cute brownies with peanut butter pumpkins are really easy to make.  Here's all you need:
A box of your favorite brownie mix {I always use Trader Joe's or Ghirardelli's}
Reese's Peanut Butter Pumpkins {I found them at Target}
White melting chocolate {I used Wiltons, from Michaels} 

Grease unlined cupcake tin with non-stick spray.  Make brownie mix according to package instructions.  While brownies are baking, clear a space in your refrigerator for your wire rack.  After baking, remove brownies from cupcake tin and cool on a wire rack with paper towels under the wire rack.  Once almost completely cooled, drizzle white chocolate in stripes back and forth across the pumpkins.  The paper towels you put under your wire rack will catch your white chocolate drizzles and help with quick clean-up.  While the white chocolate is still wet, place a Reese's Peanut Butter Pumpkin in the middle of each brownie.  Quickly transfer your wire rack with your brownies into your refrigerator because the pumpkins may start melting.  Allow the brownies to finish cooling in the refrigerator, but don't forget them there or they will dry out.  Remove after no more than 30 minutes.

It's nice to have a cute little helper for this step!  And yes, these brownie treats really are easy enough for a 2 year old to help with.  He placed the pumpkins for me. 

Bake up these little cuties and enjoy a rare Chocolate Peanut Butter treat at your fall parties! 

Check the gallery below and visit some of my blogging friends to see their awesome ideas!!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

No Batteries Required: Target has the Best Toys!

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #TargetToys #CollectiveBias

Sometimes I struggle with the amount of electronics that are flooding into our lives.  And by "our" lives, I really mean my kids lives.  I know that they're growing up in a different generation than I did and that all of the electronics are part of their lives and that they need to know how to use them, but I still want to preserve and treasure the magic of kids using their own imagination.  I still want them to use toys that don't require batteries.  And that is why I LOVE shopping at Target for the best toys for our kids.   

Our boys love to build and create with Legos.  The in-store selection of Legos at Target is amazing, with Legos on multiple aisles in the toy department.  There are Lego Juniors, Lego Creators, Lego City, Lego Princesses, Lego Star Wars... the selection is awesome. 

But just in case you don't find what you're looking for in-store, you can visit Target's Toy Emporium {online only} for a fantastic selection of even more Legos and other Create and Build toys that allow kids to use their imagination.  No batteries required!  

Remember Lincoln Logs?  I love that my boys play with some of the same toys that I did growing up. This is just one of many create and build toy options in Target's Toy Emporium {online only}.

Recently I loaded up the car and surprised the boys with a trip to Target for new Legos.  The boys were SO excited, and so was I because Target is my favorite store.  We snapped this quick selfie in the driveway before leaving home.  

With four boys ranging in ages from 2 1/2 to almost 10, it's sometimes hard to find toys that they all like.  So far, there is one toy that they all agree on and all play well with together for hours without fighting {sometimes, when the stars align just right you know} and that toy is Legos.  With one quick trip to Target, we came home with everyone's favorite thanks to the wide selection of Legos.

The littlest guy can't build his own Legos yet, but his big brothers have no problem assembling them for him.  Our almost 4 year old loves the Lego Jr. sets because they give him the opportunity to be successful in building his own Legos.  And our older two boys blow my mind with how well they put together Legos.

And all of this without a screen, without a TV, without batteries... and with serious concentration :)

and with plenty of imagination, hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills development, and cooperation skills when they are working together.

To say that we're fans of creating and building with Legos in this house is quite the understatement these days!  Although when it comes to organization, I do admit that was a struggle here until I came up with this simple, inexpensive, and effective solution: Plastic storage containers and chalkboard labels.

There's not much worse than stepping on a Lego while barefoot, right?  After experiencing that a few times in addition to nagging the boys to pick up their Legos ALL.THE.TIME. we came up with a simple solution.  I buy storage containers with drawers like this, and every time the boys get a new Lego set, the extra pieces, the instructions, and even the box {flattened} go in a drawer.  I label the outside of the drawer on a chalkboard label, so that in case we ever decide to use these containers for something else, I can just erase and re-use.  Also, I like the look of chalkboard labels so it's a stylish organization method too. 

 In this age of digital everything, it is nice to see kids use their imagination thanks to a great selection of toys at Target that don't require batteries. 

 Want to check out more great toys from Target? Visit the Pinterest board here:


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