Friday, November 30, 2012

Easy Chocolate Fudge Peppermint Rudolph Cookies!

These chocolate fudge cookies were SO easy to make.  With a hint of peppermint and a whole lot of cuteness, they were a hit in our home last night! 


The best part for me was that they took just seconds to mix up, 10 minutes to bake, and I decorated them with what I had on hand in the cupboard.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Ingredients:
1 box Betty Crocker Triple Chocolate Fudge Cake Mix
1 large egg
3/4 cup oil

-White Chocolate Peppermint M&Ms 
{I bought mine at Target.  They are ridiculously good!}
-Anything to make a little dot for the eyes.  I used little black Halloween sprinkles.  You could also melt a few chocolate chips and dot a little bit on with a toothpick.
- I used crunchy chow mein noodles for the antlers, but if I had pretzel sticks on hand I might have used those instead.

Directions:
Mix dry cake mix with egg & oil.  Roll into 1 inch balls & bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.  After baking, add on the candies and immediately poke the chow mein noodles in for the antlers.  Add the little dot for the eyes.  Watch your kiddos get super excited eating them!

Hope you have a great 1st weekend of December!  



Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Rustic Snow Day Porch

Does it snow where you live?  
If so, I'm sending our boys to come visit you!

We live in San Diego, so while we have dreams of a White Christmas, the reality is that it was a clear and sunny day with a temperature of 85 degrees outside while I was setting up our Snow Day Winter Porch!  


Our boys LOVE the snow though, so I set up a pretend winter "Snow Day" scene, all inspired by this vintage Flexible Flyer sled that my Grandma had stored in the basement here {Dear Grandma, do you read my blog?  If so, I promise that the boys aren't touching it and I'm taking really good care of it!} 


Who doesn't love a piping hot mug of hot chocolate after a day of sledding or ice skating?


I made that "Keep Calm and Drink Hot Chocolate" Printable myself.  I've had those cute snowmen for years {from Target after Christmas clearance} along with everything else on the table, except for that cute red mug.  I got that last week with a Starbucks gift card in it as a thank you for being Soccer Team Mom.  I thought it looked perfect here on the porch... pretty soon I'm going to fill it with hot chocolate on a cold morning and enjoy it right there on the porch :)

Do you remember those big burlap Halloween pillows that I was SO excited about because they were huge and awesome, and only $4.99 each at Ross?  Well, they are now super awesome because all I did is flip them over and made them into Christmas pillows by making and painting a freezer stencil {using my Silhouette} on the backside!  If you've never made a freezer stencil, click here for step by step instructions.  I LOVE freezer stenciling!


And the red & white baker's twine on the ice skates on this pillow is one of my favorite little details on our "Snow Day" porch...


You all know how much I LOVE burlap wreaths, right?  I fell in love with this white burlap recently and knew I wanted a white burlap wreath on our door this winter.  I added on some pine cone decorations and ribbon that I already had on hand, and painted a few details and added baker's twine on this formerly all white sled ornament.  


I've had this cute snowman stake decoration for so many years I can't remember where I got it {although considering my shopping habits, it's pretty safe to say that he probably came from after Christmas shopping at Target!} and he fit in perfectly with our Rustic Snow Day Porch. 


I tied it all together with a really rustic {hand-cut, no-sew} burlap banner with red & white baker's twine and mini clothespins.  I made freezer stencils to spell out "Snow Day" and hot glued on a cute teeny tiny red mitten on each end.


So while some of you scrape the snow off of your car's windshield and curse the snow as you drive through it this winter, just remember that some of us trapped under sunny skies and 80 degree weather would gladly trade places with you in your Winter Wonderland... well, maybe for a day or two! :)  



Monday, November 26, 2012

Harry Potter Birthday Party!

Our oldest son turned EIGHT last week!  He has a new found love for all things Harry Potter, so we celebrated Hogwarts style!  


 He didn't have a birthday party last year {an unheard of thing around here} because he was having his tonsils out 2 days later and we couldn't risk him getting sick for surgery day.  So this year, he was double excited to have a very small group of friends from school, along with his brothers to celebrate with him.

 {Luke really was awake & having fun... bummed I didn't notice his closed eyes until too late!}

I made the invitations using scrapbook paper and a free downloadable font {Harry P from dafont.com}.  I inked the edges of the paper to make them look old, and I printed "Owl Post Delivery to... " on the envelopes. 

Sorry, the picture is only a glimpse of the invite that I posted on Instagram.  I have a lot more sneak peeks pictures that I posted there {#samsharrypotterparty}

Guests were greeted by this black burlap wreath {repurposed from here} with a Platform 9 3/4 sign on it.  I got this sign and a couple others from Dirt and Sunshine, an adorable blog that had tons of great ideas and free printables for a Harry Potter party.


And I put together this little display using my Interchangeable Chevron sign with a print from Harris Design Studio on Etsy.  The birdhouse is mine that I use in my Craft Corner, and the boys painted the owl to look like Harry Potter's owl, Hedwig.  The glasses were part of Sam's Harry Potter Halloween costume.



When everyone arrived, they each put on the Sorting Hat {my witch hat from Halloween} and were sorted into their assigned Hogwarts house.  Then they each colored a banner for their house.


Then we had a Feast in the Great Hall with flying keys hanging above the table...

We changed our "Command Central" that was in The Great Hall to look like Hogwart's by covering the boys' chore charts with black card stock paper and colored Hogwart's house emblems.  Our boys vinyl names were covered with the names of Harry and his two best friends, and we hung ties for the houses from our backpack hooks {one more house emblem not pictured here}.


And quotes from Dumbledore covered up this beachy quote decoration I made a couple of years ago from an old fence post...


We decided to come up with creative names for the food we served rather than serving food from the book.  The Hufflepuff Cream Puffs were a big hit! 

 

Also on the menu was:

Potter's Pizza
Slytherin Salad
Ravenclaw Raspberries
Gryfinndor Grapes
Draco's Doritos
Butter Beer
Elixir of Life {water bottles}

After the feast we went outside for a Quidditch Match.  I loved how our Quidditch set-up turned out, especially considering that it was made with hula hoops we already had and PVC pipes from a soccer banner.  The whole thing only cost me $3.50- the cost of a can of gold spray paint on sale.  Jake's soccer season ended last Saturday- I took apart his banner that same day to spray paint the PVC pipes for Sam's party on Sunday... how's that for re-purposing?!  The Quidditch set-up also made a great place for taking really silly pictures.


And what's Quidditch without a golden snitch?  We had a few to choose from, made from ping pong balls & a styrofoam ball, all which got a coat of gold spray paint and some paper wings.


Then the kids came back inside to decorate their own Hedwig the owl.  I originally planned on having the kids make these cute owls that I saw on Not Just a Mommy, but we ended up with Plan B because I didn't save enough time to prep all of the felt.  Also, Plan 2 was a lot less expensive {I returned $25 worth of styrofoam balls from Plan A to Michael's the other day... Seriously, why are styrofoam balls THAT expensive?!} 


 And for the cake, I made Sam's favorite- yellow cake with homemade vanilla butter cream.  But I wracked my brain trying to think of something fun and different to decorate the cake with.  Finally, the night before the party I ran across this picture of Ron and Harry getting to Year 2 at Hogwart's in the Weasley's flying car.  So, I bought an angel food loaf cake and cut it to look like a car, with Fudge Stripe cookies cut in half with the chocolate side face out for the wheels.  It was super silly, and Sam loved his funny cake!


Sam loved all of the presents he got, including this one that was wrapped to match the Harry Potter theme.  I love it when I find another Mom who does stuff like me! :)

 
At the end of the party, everyone got to stop at Honeyduke's Sweet Shoppe!


And they filled it up with all kinds of fun candy and sweets: 

Chocolate Frogs
Magic Wands
Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans
Edible Sorting Hats
Dumbledore's Lemon Candies
Magic Wands
Cockroach Clusters
Sour Slugs
Golden Snitch Gumballs
and Fizzing Whizzbees 

They also took home a "broomstick" bag filled with Honeyduke's Treat Mix {Chex cereal, marshmallows, bite-size pretzels, and candy corn}.  The printable and idea is from this party featured on Hostess with the Mostess.


 It was such a fun day for our sweet Sam.  He is a precious 8 year old boy.  He is sweet and kind-hearted, sensitive, loving, and I've always said since he was tiny that he has an old soul.  He is one of those kids that prefers to have a hand full of genuine, true friends over a bunch of fake friends.  He is the best biggest brother that his three younger brothers could ever have.  His best friend in the whole world is his brother, Jake.  


They share a room and every day at school they give each other big hugs goodbye in the morning, and every afternoon, they run up to each other SO excited and hugging after school.  And anytime they happen to see each other while at school, I hear all about it right after school.  Sam loves Science, Art, Magic, Reading, and making movies.  Currently he loves to make his own versions of Harry Potter movies, of course.  He also loves his new skateboard that he got for his birthday {padded up from head to toe, of course!}  No matter how old he gets, he will always be my precious little Sam Ry!  

 Happy 8th Birthday Sam!


Thank you so much for taking the time to visit Gallamore West.  
I'm so happy that you are here. 

I'm sharing Sam's party at some of my favorite party places! xoxo

Monday, November 12, 2012

November Insta-Update!

 Are you on Instagram yet?  I LOVE it!  

It's super easy to use and fun to add text/filters/patterns, etc.  Plus, one of my favorite things about Instagram is that even though it's now the most used form of social media out there,  it still feels small and it's a great way to connect with some of your most favorite influencers in the blogging world.  I have literally squealed out loud a number of times when some of my favorite bloggers have started to follow me.  I love, love the interactions that happen on Instagram AND now it's super easy to follow friends on Instagram because they just introduced web profiles.  Here's mine... I'd love to have you follow along!  


And because it's been a fun, busy couple of weeks around there, here's a little "Insta-Update" of what's been going on at Gallamore West {all pics were taken on my iphone, many of them with filters added on Instagram}.

November blew in like a bunch of wild turkeys!

I past 1,000 likes on my Facebook page last week!!  I was on Facebook when I hit the lucky number and was so excited that I took this screen shot.  Thank you, thank you to those of you who follow along with Gallamore West on Facebook!  If you're not yet, I'd love to have you there :)


We went ALL out here for our Election Night Dinner!  I'll have a separate post about that soon... the boys voted on dinner choices and I pulled out some of our patriotic decorations.  Patriotic Printables from Piggy Bank Parties tied it all together.   Here's the post from our original Election Night Dinner 4 years ago.  I shared it a bunch of times on Facebook and various link parties around blog land, so it was SO fun to see some of you have your own Election Night Dinner this year!  I especially loved seeing some of you sweet friends share your pictures with me that night.  It's such a fun thing to do with our kids!


As quickly as Luke's Clifford Party ended, it became time to start prepping for Sam's Harry Potter themed party!  He's invited a few friends from school to celebrate with him.  I've been sharing a few sneak peak pictures on Instagram {#samsharrypotterparty #harrypotter #hogwartsexpress}.  We're getting so excited around here for party day! 


One of the main activities for Sam's Harry Potter Party is a Quidditch Match!  Those hula hoops are now spray painted gold.  And the brooms are from our Burlap & Broomsticks Halloween porch.

My parents live way out of the city limits and have a lot of land.  And lately they've been turning their place into a little farm.  We went out there last weekend to check out their newest addition, Willy.

      
 "Go! Go!" was Luke's favorite thing to say that day.

 The boys love going out to visit Nani & Papa's Ranch, now Farm.  It's always a fun day full of fun memories and lots and lots of DIRT :)

 Ahhh, he was my baby yesterday and now Sam's almost eight!  I love what a sweet, caring boy he is.  He is the best biggest brother ever. 


And Jake cracks us up all day long.  He LOVES to run around and pick up the chickens.  The best part of the day was when he gently placed a chicken in its little bed/egg laying spot and said, "Okay little chicken, you lay an egg now."  I love his funny personality, and it seems that all the little girls in Kindergarten do too... back off, cuties.  Come back in about 15 years, okay? :)


I think I've lost count of how many batches of my favorite Pumpkin Cream Cheese muffins I've made so far this Fall!  We are so grateful to live in a neighborhood where we feel safe and loved, so this past week I packaged up muffins to deliver to some of our sweet neighbors.


This sweet boy turned 2 all of two weeks ago and wow, he's changed so much since then!  It was like he was storing up some "big boy" stuff and now it's all coming out.  He's definitely not advanced with his language skills, but he is trying so many new words and talking all of the time now.  A lot of it is in his own "Luke Language" still, but he's progressing a lot all of a sudden.  And he was SO proud of himself for getting his own food and water, including the paper plate and cup, AND climbed up on the stool for the 1st time the other day. 

          
 But just a little while later on that same day, he showed me that he is still quite a little guy... so sweet.

And not to leave out a little update on our sweet little babes, Bryce is constantly surrounded by love.  And toys... lots and lots of toys in his crib courtesy of his brother, Luke.  The two of them are officially sharing a room now every night.  I can't believe we have two boys in diapers, and both in cribs!  They're definitely our two most close in age, and it's a lot of work, but they are great little sleepers... hallelujah! :)

 
So, there's a quick little update on what we've been up to so far in November.  There are so many fun things going on here, and hopefully for you too.  I'm pretty sure I'll be up to my eyeballs in Harry Potter prep this week, so I'll try to pop back in here, but I'll be on Instagram posting sneaks peeks so come follow along there.  And leave me a comment so I can follow you back.  Hope you have a great week! xoxo


Friday, November 2, 2012

Luke's Clifford 2nd Birthday Party!

Happy Birthday Luke!

Our sweet Luke turned 2 this past Sunday.  Luke holds such a special place in my heart that I can't even put it into words {although I did attempt to put it into words awhile back... you can read more about it here}. Some days I can't believe he's already two years old, and at other times I can't believe he's only two because he is such a huge part of our family that it seems like he's been here forever.  That, and he runs me ragged most days so I'm really just so exhausted I can't keep track of time anymore ;)



Luke doesn't watch much TV because 1) I don't like my kids watching TV much, and 2) he doesn't sit still for longer than 2.5 seconds tops.  But when he does watch a little TV, he loves Clifford.  So we celebrated with a very small family dinner party with a non-commercial Clifford birthday party with a little bit of Chevron thrown in for fun {because what 2 year old doesn't like a little Chevron, right?!}

{Thank you to Jen @ Twiddler House for sharing this with me... so funny!}
 
So, wanting to incorporate a little bit of Clifford into the party, I designed this simple invitation using a free chevron pattern from Sprik Space and I found an image of Clifford online.

{jealous of my awesome editing skills there? picmonkey has been freaking out on me for days, so that was my feeble attempt to blur out our address and stuff} 
 
The only other Clifford items were these- a little stuffed Clifford that Luke LOVES and carries around and talks to it ALL the time

and this Clifford's Birthday Party book.  I love incorporating a book into our boy's birthday parties, like at Jake's Dinosaur Party.  The stuffed animal and book were both purchased on Amazon.


I stayed up late one night painting this little birthday shirt for Luke using freezer paper stencils cut on my Silhouette and a $4 long sleeved red t-shirt from Target.

{#latenightcrafting on instagram seems to have a lot of my pics... bad habit, these late nights!}

I bought this hutch from a man who buys and fixes up old/vintage/used furniture a few months back.  It's part of my {yet to be blogged about} updated Craft Corner and I love it!  It's perfect for displaying my favorite cake plates every day, and on special occasions like this, it's the perfect place to create a fun little party display.


For his cake, I used a Betty Crocker French Vanilla cake mix, but I added an extra egg, milk instead of water, and a cup of sour cream to give it a more rich, homemade taste.  And I frosted it with a homemade batch of Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Frosting.  I know that chocolate foodies {or are they called chocolate-oodies?} turn up their noses at Hershey's chocolate, but I think Hershey's cocoa powder
is perfect for making fabulous, rich chocolate frosting. 

   
The little bones sprinkles on the cake were from the     Halloween section at Michael's, but I thought they were a  cute little touch for a Clifford party.


 
I bought a roll of red/white chevron packing tape because it was so cute that I couldn't pass it up, but didn't really have a use in mind for it.  I ended up using it on the water bottles.  I just took off the labels and wrapped a bit of red & white Chevron packing tape around them- super cute and so easy!

 
 Honestly, I don't even really like Coke, but these were too cute to pass up.  I tied some twine that held a cute stripey straw with each of them. The twine & straws were both from The TomKat Studio.

{instagram pic from when I was prepping... ignore the Halloween table runner}

Then I put the Coke bottles in this cute little red suitcase with blue stitching.  I LOVE these little cuties that were originally used for this Red Vintage Scooter Birthday Party {suitcases purchased from Amazon}.   

And then I took this really blurry picture... whoops.


We love our little Luke so much!  He is sweet and funny, and he surprises us with new little words, phrases and songs often these days.  He loves his family so, so much.  He loves cuddling with his baby brother, and when his big brothers let him in on their big boy fun, he is so thrilled and happy to play with them.  He loves to eat almost anything.  He loves to fill his own cups of water and drink out of big boy cups.  He still loves his pacifier, although not for much longer ;)  He loves animals, especially dogs {all dogs are Char-Char, from our dog Charley who we call Char-Char}, cows {moo-moos} and ducks {quack-quacks}.  He loves playing outside, and luckily for me, he loves to sleep.  He is a great napper and an even better all night sleeper... 
yay, Luke!

My favorite moment recently was when we were walking into Target {no surprise there, right?} and he pointed to the big Target sign out front and said, "A... E..." as he pointed to the letters.  My least favorite moment recently- it's a tie between him missing the step between our sidewalk and our driveway, and his poor cute little nose and forehead slid across the cement {as seen in the pictures here} and when he sang the theme song to Sponge Bob, complete with the little flute playing on his nose part at the end {no really, I don't let them watch too much TV!}

 
I loved his little Clifford party because LUKE loved it.  It wasn't big, fancy, or overwhelming for him.  He got to run around and play in the dirt, and play with his favorite people in the world- his family.  I didn't take a ton of pictures and the ones I did take were taken in our house that doesn't have great lighting, so I used a flash in them.  But then I got to put my camera down and enjoy the time with Luke and our other kids, and that was what was really important after all.  


Thanks for visiting Gallamore West and seeing Luke's Clifford Birthday Party pictures!  It's a busy few weeks around here as we prep for out of town company, the ending of Jake's soccer season and soccer party, and Sam's 8th Birthday Party too. Hope you're having a fun Fall too! xoxo

I'm linking up here.

 


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