Movie Themed Gift Basket

Movie Themed Gift Basket

This Christmas was all about Pinterest for me. Since finding Christmas, not quite a year ago, I’ve been loving it. So many things to try, and Christmas is a perfect reason to try even more!
I saw this movie gift basket and I thought, “What a cute idea for someone you’re not sure what to get!” Truthfully, Pinterest took care of many difficult friends and family this year. After all, how can you not find inspiration on Pinterest??
I started out on amazon.com, ordering the big popcorn bucket and the two small popcorn buckets that were inside. Afterwards, I did some covert research to find out what kind of candy was favored by the intended recipient. Once you know what kind of candy is favored, pick up some of the $.88 boxes from Wal-Mart. Think movie theater candy if you can’t pull off the sneaky-ness. Snow-Caps, Malt Balls, Swedish Fish, etc.
The tricky part came next. Do you get a DVD for your gift basket? Do you give a Blockbuster gift card? The original pinner put RedBox codes in, so that is what I ended up going with.
You then need some tissue paper to pad the bottom a little bit, then arrange the items how you would like. I then bought some cellophane wrap to enclose the basket. I found the 35mm film laying around the house. Let’s be honest, no one but photographers or aspiring ones uses film anymore! When I asked Tony if it was ok, he proceeded to pull the film from the roll. It wasn’t even used! LOL. You see ladies and gentlemen, it pays to hang on to stuff for seemingly no reason!
I couldn’t get my bow to come out as beautiful as the original pinner’s did, but I thought it was cute for a first attempt!
This doesn’t have to be a Christmas gift either, this would be a great gift for the movie buff in your life. Something fun and different, so go crazy with it!
Original pin and idea came from http://www.the-lady-wolf.com/search/label/Christmas

Gift Some Wine This Year

This year I was excited to give a grown-up gift of wine to my dear friend Jenna and her husband. The original pin was about a gift basket for a wedding or bridal shower featuring multiple wines. The wines were for events such as a celebratory wine for a big event, a makeup wine for their first fight and so on and so forth.
Jenna and Alan have been married for 2 years and it was nowhere near their anniversary, so this idea evolved a bit as I thought about it.
I started with a beautiful basket, Longaberger of course. If you have any questions about owning your own gorgeous wine carrying basket, send me an e-mail at stephanie_desantis@live.com. Then you pick up a wine of your choice. You can go with a full-bodied red, or a nice, crisp white. I chose to go with something a for a celebration. A very nice pink, bubbly moscato. After I picked the wine, I picked my brain for a cute little poem to go along with it. If you are unable to come up with a poem you like on your own, google wine poems. You will have to filter through a little, but there are some really nice ones.
I made up my own little poem

Something big,
Or something small,
You don’t need a reason,
So celebrate it all!

I decorated the tag with cute little Christmas stickers, but for some reason, my photo won’t upload today. I will try again later on this week.
Dress the wine up a little with tissue paper, maybe some ribbon to tie your poem to the basket and you have a lovely Christmas gift! It’s a great gift for anyone who enjoys wine, so how can you go wrong??
I adapted this idea from a pin that linked here: http://designingdawn.com/twin-tuesday-wedding-gifts/

Man Bouquet

Man Bouquet

This is a really simple and yet brilliant idea. I’m amazed with all my Pinterest-ing lately that this idea never occurred to me! Originally this was going to be a Christmas gift for my husband, but one thing, and then another, lead to this becoming his birthday gift. Don’t worry, there wasn’t much of a delay, his birthday is January 2nd!
It was a little interesting though, as we ended up going on a last minute trip during my vacation from work. Being in North Carolina for a week made putting this together a little challenging! I’ve been picking up pieces here and there for a few weeks, so I had a bunch of stuff stashed in the closet. I just made sure to bring my bag with me!
You start with whatever “vase” you chose for your bouquet. I decided to go with a beer mug, only a few dollars at Wal-Mart, but I’ve seen these on other sites with actual flower pots as a vase. You then need some wooden skewers, think shish-ka-bob sticks, which you can get for around a dollar at Wal-Mart as well. The last general items you need for this project are a Styrofoam base, something the size of your vase to stick your skewers in, and tissue paper to disguise the Styrofoam.
After you have these basics, you just need to think about the person you are giving the gift to. For my amazing husband I started with some Duck Dynasty Duct Tape. He’s not a Duck Dynasty fan, but it’s camouflaged and has quirky phrases on it. I also found an awesome green Army man bottle opener on Amazon.com. Tony had been eyeing this enormous BIC lighter at Wal-Mart so I grabbed one of them. He also enjoys RedBull and vodka so I took the idea from the original pinner for the mini-bottles.
Sad news that I discovered upon shopping for the booze, mini-bottles are not available for sale as individuals, you have to buy a pack of them. I know it will still be drunk from the mini-bottles, but this eliminated the variety I wanted to include.
Once you have all of your pieces, great fillers, as recommended by the original pinner, include items such as cigars, jerky and scratch-offs (I used some scratch-offs), you begin the assembly process. Wrap the Styrofoam in tissue paper, place it down in your “vase” and fluff up some around the edges. You tape your pieces to the skewer sticks and then arrange them in your “vase”. Keep heavier items such as booze or Duct Tape close to the bottom and lighter items like scratch-offs and cigars can fill out the top. The can of RedBull was too much to tape, so that item ended up resting in the beer mug.
Tony was so intrigued with what I was working on for him. When he finally got his gift, he just lit up like a little kid. He was impressed with the sheer size of the mug and we decided that it would probably hold two full beets! The little goodies inside were fun too.
Just remember guys and girls, it’s not always how much you spend on the men in your lives, it’s the thought you put into them. They want to know they are on your mind too!
Original pin and idea came from http://connoisseurofcreativity.blogspot.ca/2012/08/man-bouquet-2.html

Disney’s Frozen

Disney's Frozen

Wow, so it’s almost been three weeks since I’ve seen this movie, but I am still loving on the music, plot-line and characters from it, so what to do, what to do, oh yeah, blog about it! The movie is still in theatres so I feel this blog could still be helpful to some people. Even once it’s on DVD, this may give people a heads up about the movie.
I want to start by saying how amazing the movie was! The previews showed that it was going to be another cute Disney movie about siblings, an adventure and magic. There will be spoilers in this blog, because to tell you about the best part of the plot, I will have to tell how it ends. It’s just so great, I can’t keep it to myself!
I’ve been told by my husband, family and friends that I am too easy when it comes to movies, but Frozen hit me out of left field with how deep some of the story lines went. Let’s be honest, the first several Disney princesses were kind of wimpy! Snow White, accomplished nothing, ran away from her problems and had to be saved by a prince. Cinderella just went along with the status quo, not expecting better, until fate intervened. Sleeping Beauty, well her name kind of says it all, slept through her story and needed a prince to save her.
I was happy all around when Disney princesses got bolder and braver. Ariel wanted something different, so she defied her father to go after her heart’s desire. Esmerelda had a fiery spirit and defied all authority to do what was right. Jasmine ran away from home because she didn’t like the status quo anymore! I could go on and on about the evolution of the Disney female characters, but why don’t I tell you why Frozen has the best ones?
We start with Elsa and Anna, two sisters from the kingdom of Arendelle. They are best friends in the beginning, both enjoying Elsa’s power to create snow and ice. An accident leads to Anna getting hurt and her memories of Elsa’s powers are taken from her during the healing.
The girls grow up, not playing together anymore, because of their parents decision to keep them apart to keep Anna safe. The parents still clearly love both of their girls, but I can’t help but think that hiding Elsa’s powers from everyone and keeping them apart wasn’t the best choice.
When the girls are left on their own, Elsa is eventually crowned as the new queen. Anna, who is so desperately lonely falls for the first guy who gives her attention. This is pretty common in Disney movies, and you start by thinking, oh how sweet and typical!
Elsa’s power is shown to everyone during an altercation between the sisters and Elsa is so worried about what will happen that she runs away. This is the scene of my favorite song in the movie, and possibly one of my favorite Disney songs ever!

Let it go is all about letting go of the past so you can embrace things you didn’t think you could have. Just a really powerful song!
Anna decides to go after her sister to bring her home. She leaves her new fiancé in charge of Arendelle while she is away. She eventually meets Kristoff and his reindeer Sven and they help her combat the elements to find Elsa. Did I mention that Elsa created an unending winter as she ran away?
Once the sisters are reunited, Anna wants her sister to come back home, finally realizing why they were kept apart, but now she thinks they can be friends. Elsa is so worried about hurting her sister again, which of course makes her powers unstable and she hurts her even worse than when they were children.
Kristoff rushes her back home to her fiancé after their troll friends tell them only true love can stop her heart from freezing. After all, in Disney movies, true love breaks all the spells! The biggest shock in my life, came when her fiancé turned out to be a complete tool who was using her for her kingdom. He left her for dead, planning to have Elsa killed for her crimes against her sister, leaving him free to rule the kingdom! I was shocked that Disney had a plot line this serious!
Anna, still worried about her sister, manages to fight off the freezing heart long enough to try and save her sister. Elsa is destroyed, thinking she killed her sister, but when the evil fiancé tries to kill her, Anna uses the last moments of her life to save her sister. Of course, what is this? An act of true love!
Disney has finally made an entire movie about strong female characters! There is a love story, both fake and real, but they take the back seat in this movie compared to the relationship between these sisters. It shows young girls that true love doesn’t solve all problems, love is important, but please don’t wait for your ‘prince’ to come along!
There are characters that I didn’t delve into, really just wanted to touch on the highlights of the movie. We have Olaf the Snowman, the Rock Trolls. It’s just all good. The music is amazing! I downloaded the soundtrack when we got home from the movie. Chiara, my three year old, has fallen as in love with the music as I did! We sing these songs constantly! This movie can’t come out on Blu-Ray soon enough to suit me!

Thankful

Thankful

This photo was taken last Christmas Eve, but it’s one of my favorite family photos. It felt like we were the only ones in the world that day. All the snow was fresh and clean, the air was chilly, but not too cold to be out and everyone was in a happy mood. I was able to use one of the posts to set up the camera with the timer, so yeah me!
When you work retail, it’s so easy to let the consumerism that takes over the holidays ruin it for you. It seems like every year, they start playing the music a little sooner, the Black Friday sales start a little earlier and it becomes more and more about, buy, buy, buy. If there is one thing I hope to teach my kids, it’s that the holidays are about family.
Don’t get me wrong, my kids get some fun things from Christmas! After all, they have grandparents! LOL. They get so excited about their new toys, like all kids do, but they are so excited when we are spending time with each other, and actually focused on each other.
I do try not to judge how other people raise their kids, and when I can’t help it, I vent to Tony in the privacy of our home, but so many people are worried about showing their kids how much they love them with things, or society is teaching our kids that they HAVE to have this or that to be cool. I’m so afraid that my kids will ever develop that attitude.
Thankfully, Tony and I both come from families with similar feelings toward the concept of family. You spend time together, you do things together, you experience things together. Even the day in the photo, it was chilly and obviously there was snow, but we had so much fun walking around, watching the ducks and playing on the frigid playground equipment. I think part of the reason I’m such a photo nut is because they capture memories. Once a moment has passed, it’s gone, except for the memory. I hope one day the kids will look back on these photos of their childhood and remember that we spent time together as a family. They may not have had the most stylish clothes or the newest game system, but they will always know how much we love them.
I am just so thankful all the time, but especially around the holidays, for my family, the one Tony and I have together and the ones we came from that allowed us to forge such a strong one of our own. Our friends who help enrich the lives of our children and us by sharing these experiences with us. Take some time this holiday season to step away from the commercialism and appreciate what you already have. Enjoy the moments before they pass you by. Snap mental pictures, or real ones, to savor the memories long after the day has passed.
I hope everyone has a happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy the food and companionship and if you must shop during the insanity, or work as I do, please be safe, but don’t forget the real reason of Thanksgiving. It’s not the sales, it’s a time to slow down and appreciate what you already have.

First Day of School

First Day of School

More and more kids are going back to school as we get closer to September. So often with Pinterest, I find amazing things after an event has passed. For instance, if I was to get married now, instead of 7 years ago, my wedding would’ve been a whole different party. It was beautiful, but Pinterest is such a great way to expand your own ideas by seeing other people’s ideas.
Arthur has been in preschool since he was three so he could have his speech therapy. I have always taken a picture on the first day of school, mainly because I’m a picture freak, but also for posterity. This idea from Pinterest has stuck with me since I saw it and knew I had to do this!
The picture in the frame was the first day of his last year of preschool and, as always, he looked so very handsome! I printed the picture off myself the night before school and used a frame that normally holds one of his baby pictures. The baby picture went right back into the frame, this was a just a quick borrowing!
I put him in the same location in our house, no special background, just found it amusing to have the same items in the background. I also found it amusing to have him wear his Hard Rock Café fedora again this year. I told Tony I am probably going to pick up some ‘backup’ hats while they still carry them and we can continue this theme up through high school!
He’s such a sport about having his picture taken, and he doesn’t ham it up the way Chiara is prone to do.
Don’t worry too much if it’s not the EXACT first day of school, in my mind, just put them in their ‘first day’ outfit and no one but you will know!
Happy picture taking!
Original pin goes back to http://www.thesuburbanmom.com/2012/08/13/10-first-day-of-school-picture-ideas-printables/

CrockPot Zuppa Toscana

CrockPot Zuppa Toscana

This recipe excited me because I’m learning to love my crockpot. My mom gave us one of her crockpots around the time we got married and Tony and I went the first 5 years without using it once. Yikes!
Tony started making chili in it and then here recently, I decided that this would be good for starting dinner early, then digging in at dinner time.
I have another Zuppa recipe from Pinterest that was amazing. This recipe is very similar, actually identical, except for the red pepper flakes, which I will add next time!
You start by browning 1lb of Italian Sausage, I usually go for mild or medium, so it gives it a little kick. Take
2 large russet baking potatoes, I used regular potatoes and it worked just fine, sliced in half, and then in 1/4 inch slices. 1 large onion , chopped, recipe says you can add 1/4 cup of bacon bits, but I did not because Olive Garden has no bacon in their soup. Mince up 2 garlic cloves and throw everything you’ve got so far into your crockpot with 16oz of chicken broth and 1qt of water. Directions on the pin said 3-4 hours on high, but I was going to be at work all day, so I did low heat for 7-8 hours and it worked like a charm.
Once you have cooked yours for whichever time frame you go with, you turn your crockpot off and add in 2 cups of coarsely chopped kale. Put the lid back on and let it sit for about 5 minutes. Kale is great because it doesn’t turn into a soggy mess with the heat! After the five minutes have passed, stir in 1 cup of heavy whipping cream and serve. Next time I make this, I will be adding in red pepper flakes with the kale. I’ll start with 1tsp and go from there. The original recipe was good, but I felt it needed the kick.
Original pin can be found at http://getcrocked.com/2011/10/23/crock-pot-zuppa-toscana-copycat/
Also check out my previous Zuppa pin at https://superstevied.wordpress.com/2013/04/11/zuppa-toscana/