This post may contain affiliate links. When you click on a link, you are supporting DIY Party Mom, my family, and our blog fun. Thank you for your love and support!

Weight Loss 2014

Weight Loss 2014

Happy (almost) New Year.  I'm sure many of you are looking ahead to the new year and planning your goals and hopes for 2014.  For me, this is the year that I'm going to find more joy in the every day.  I'm going to finally push myself into making the changes that I need to become the person that I want to be at the end of the year.

I already told you of my goal to learn something new each month this year.  I plan to take several online classes from Craftsy to help me with that.

I also want to be happier everyday.  Since I suffer from depression, my doctor tells me that I need to get more sunshine and exercise every day.  This has made me decide to finally lose those 50 pounds that I've been hanging on to since Drama Queen was born.  (Yes, that was 18 years ago and I'm still working to lose the weight.)

But this is the year, and I'm hoping that my friends here will keep me accountable to this goal so I won't toss it out the window in a month or two.  Since I know you aren't interested in my daily fight, I thought I would take the 5th Tuesday to share my updates with you.  Since this only happens 4 times a year, I won't stress you with constant updates.  But I will have to keep them so that will inspire me to keep going each day.

Start Weight: 174
End Goal:      125

Here goes nothing friends!  Are you working on losing weight this year?  How are you planning to win and stay on task?

5 Bloggers to Follow for a Great Blog This Year

5 Bloggers to follow for a GREAT blog this year! Get great tips, tricks, and ideas to make your blog amazing.

I've been blogging "seriously" for almost three years now.  Alot has changed in how I do things around here in that time, and I'm still trying to find my way around "the block".  Lately, I've been focusing on trying to improve the little things to help make my blog posts easier to read, easier to navigate, and easier to enjoy.

While doing that, I've done a lot of blog surfing.  I've found some great bloggers who are willing to share there success tips with us "little guys".  As you make your new year's resolutions for your blog this year, consider these ten bloggers to follow for a great blog this year.

Moms Make Money Blog for great Blog Tips
1. Moms Make Money
Deby grew her blog from brand new to an amazing following and income source in a very short amount of time.  She shares all her ups and downs, as well as her tips, income sources, and blog success.

Momcomm for Great Blog Tips
In Melissa's blog, "you will find is real, can-do advice geared to both the blogger just starting out and the blogger who’s been around a while. Despite the name, this blog is for ANY lady who wants to improve her blog, one stellar step at a time."

Anyonita Nibbles Blogging Crash Course Blog Tips
Anyonita usually blogs about great tasting food, but every Thursday she has a great series to help you with your blog.  She has some great basic tutorials as well as posts that will help spruce up your blog and income if you've been blogging for a while.

The Blog Maven for Great blog tips

4. The Blog Maven
I found Jeni by accident one day when I was searching up how to expand my email list.  Her site if full of great tips to help your blog to grow.  I've found that some of her advice goes against a lot of other sites I've read, especially her idea to get rid of your social media buttons, but for what it's worth, I think she has a point and some great tips.  A lot of her advice leans towards those with a wordpress site, but there is still alot to learn for us blog spot holdouts.

Spice Up Your Blog for Great tips and tricks to improve your blog
Paul started writing his blog as a hobby and quickly found others who wanted to hear more about his expertise.  So he has grown his blog and shared alot of tutorials, tips, and blog designs.

I hope you'll check out these bloggers if you're looking to "up your game" in 2014.  I've found some invaluable resources and some great ideas.

What about you?  Do you have a favorite place to go to for blog help?

Check out more of our Blogging Tips.

2013 New Years Bingo Game Free Printable

A fun, free Bingo game printable for you to play at your New Years eve party.  Remember the highs and lows of 2013 while you ring in the new year.

2013 New Years Bingo Game Free Printable by Kims Kandy Kreations. Remember the highs & Lows of 2013 with a fun bingo game for your New Years party

It's become a tradition for us to play bingo on new years eve.  It's a fun way to look back at the events of 2014 that were both good and bad and remember.  It sparks a lot of conversations and gives us hope that 2014 will be a better year.

2013 Free Bingo Game Printable

So for the third year in a row, here is Kims Kandy Kreations' New Years bingo printable game.  It contains 10 printable sheets with 2 cards on each sheet for you to play with.  That's a total off 20 different game cards for your New Years party.

2013 New Years Eve bingo game free printable

It also has 50 different events from 2013 on five printable sheets. It has events such as the Boston Marathon Bombings, China landing on the moon, Prince George's birth, Nelson Mandella's death, and more.

Simply go to our store and download the game.  You will need to download and unzip the file to be able to print it out.  The directions on how to save and unzip a file for printing are here.

If you want more free printables and stay up to date on all our blog posts, Subscribe to our newsletter. What are you doing for New Years this year?

Take an Online Class in 2014

There's something about starting a new year.  It's full of hope and happy expectations for a better coming year.  There's the hope of making it happier, more productive, and richer (both monetarily and momentarily) than last year.  There's the hope of finally realizing dreams.  There's the hope of learning new things.

I've decided instead of having all my usual BIG goals for the year, I'm going to try and have a few goals each month.  I want to try and learn one new thing each month in 2014.  I hope this will help me to focus on "me" a little this year.  It will help me to grow as a person, as a mom, as a blogger, and as a homemaker.

Craftsy I was pretty happy to have discovered Craftsy to help me to complete this goal. Craftsy is a community that offers a huge selection of online crafting classes from some of the best instructors from around the world.  You can watch your class from anywhere, at anytime, with any Internet connected device.  How awesome is that?

There are so many things I'd like to learn this year.

I have always wanted to learn to quilt.  This Scrap Quilting Class looks perfect.

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Butter cream frosting.  How fun would it be to get to play in it for a class?  Then you'd have to practice with it.  The "trials" of learning new skills.  (Happy sigh.)

I really could improve my photography skills and could use this Family Photography Class to do that.  When I take a picture, I can see it in my head as I'd like, but it never really turns out looking like that.  I definitely need to learn the ins and outs of my camera and how to make the most of it this year.

I have a fetish for bags.  They are my weakness and I must own a ton of them.  How much easier on the pocket book would it be for me if I could make my own?  This Bag Making Basics class would work, plus its FREE.  Can't beat that for a great way to try one of Craftsy's classes and learn something new this year.

There are so many great classes that I should be able to meet my goal of learning something new each and every month this coming year.  Then, no matter what else happens, I'll have made myself a little better in 2014.

What about you?  Do you have any goals this year?  Are you planning to learn a new skill or hobby?

Merry Christmas!

I hope that your Christmas has been wonderful so far.  I am home enjoying the day with my family and remembering the joys of this season.  We were fortunate to be able to have many wonderful Christmas experiences this year as we focused more on giving the kids memories as opposed to gifts.  One of the amazing things we were able to do was to go see "The Forgotten Carols."

The Forgotten Carols is the story of Christ's birth as told through the carols of the supporting cast of the nativity.  We hear the carols of the Three Kings, of Joseph, and of the Innkeeper who didn't let Mary and Joseph stay.

It was a beautiful experience to hear the music and the story.  It reminds me that Christmas isn't just a time of year but we need to "Let Him In" all year long.  I hope that your Christmas is merry and bright and the spirit of the season touches your heart now and always.

Christmas Plate Cookie Gifts

DIY Christmas Plate Cookie Gifts. A fun family tradition taken to the next level with DIY Christmas Plates

We spent the weekend baking, baking, and more baking.  It's a good thing that I really enjoy baking treats because wow! that takes a lot of work.  But it was fun to spend the time with the kids talking, laughing, dancing, singing, and playing in the kitchen.  Another fun memory for the kids and a success towards my "give more memories" Christmas campaign.

Making a family memory with DIY Christmas Plates for neighbor gifts
Remember last year when I told you we were going to make Christmas plates our new holiday tradition? We decided to make our Christmas plates as gifts this year instead of just placing our annual Christmas treats on disposable plates.  It was another fun way to spend the afternoon while we were waiting for the pumpkin bread to cook and the fudge to set.

Bake at 350 Christmas Plate DIY
We made these with Sharpie markers and dollar store plates like we did the Halloween Spider Plates, Thanksgiving plates, and my Denver Bronco plates.  Can you tell I really enjoy the creativity and uniqueness of this idea?  Plus, I love that we are giving our friends a fun plate that they can give away next year or keep as a family "heirloom."

Have you ever made Sharpie plates? Would you rather have one or a disposable plate?

Dark Chocolate Mint Hot Chocolate Gingerbread Man Neighbor Gift

Make some dark chocolate mint hot chocolate gingerbread men for your neighbors this Christmas.  Only takes 2 ingredients and a fun, free bag printable for a sweet mug of hot chocolate.

Dark Chocolate Mint Hot Chocolate Gingerbread Man Neighbor Gift.  Uses only 2 ingredients and a free bag topper printable to make an easy and yummy gift.

This weekend is the final HO RAH before Christmas.  It's time for the last minute gift buying, Christmas card send off, and holiday cooking.  We are hoping to finish off our baking to give out our Christmas treat plates for our closest friends.  This year we are planning to give out mini loaves of Pumpkin Bread, Watermelon Hard candy Christmas treats, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies, Cookie Dough Truffles, and our newest addition is these Dark Chocolate Mint Hot Chocolate Gingerbread Men.

They are so cute and make for some yummy hot chocolate!  I love the mint flavor spicing up the deep richness of the dark chocolate while sitting beside my fireplace enjoying the Christmas tree lights.  It allows me to stop and enjoy the season in the midst of all the hustle and bustle.

Dark Chocolate Mint Hot Chocolate Recipe

They are pretty simple to make too.

Start with some Dark Chocolate Candy Mint Melts and a 14 ounce can of Sweetened Condensed Milk.  Heat the condensed milk in a sauce pan over medium heat until it starts to boil.  Stir continuously so that it won't burn.  Once the milk starts boiling, remove from stove top and pour over the dark chocolate mint wafers in a glass bowl.  Stir the condensed milk and mint wafers until the chocolate is melted and smooth.

Gingerbread Man Silicone Mold with Dark Chocolate Mint Hot Chocolate

Pour chocolate mixture into a Gingerbread Boy Silicone Mold.  Place in freezer for 20 minutes to set up.

Hot chocolate Gingerbread Men Neighbor Gift

Carefully pop gingerbread men out of the mold by pushing on the back.  The men will not be hard, so you can bend them back into shape if needed.

Gingerbread Man with candy buttons for your hot chocolate

If desired, use M&M minis or other candies to add buttons and decorations to each Gingerbread man.

When you are ready to enjoy your hot chocolate, heat up some water or milk.  Add the gingerbread men to the cocoa and let them melt.  Stir well.  I like the taste of 2 of the hot chocolate gingerbread men in my hot milk, but it's up to you on the taste.

Free Gingerbread Hot Chocolate Bag Topper Printable

If you want to make a few of these for neighbor or friend gifts, I've created a bag topper poem and printable to fit on a 3x4 inch bag so you can give them away.  The poem reads:

Add a little heated milk
And a gingerbread man or two,
Then relax and enjoy the season
And know I'm thinking of you.
Merry Christmas!

Gingerbread Man Poem Bag Topper Printable by Kims Kandy Kreations

You can right click on the picture to save to your computer.  Then go to your computers picture program to print out onto card stock for a quick and easy gift.

If you like this printable and want more, Subscribe to our email newsletter now to keep up to date on all the freebies and ideas we love to share!

Become #Carton Smart with Pumpkin Cupcakes and Cream Cheese Frosting

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Carton Smart for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.
Pacific Foods Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe
The holidays are upon us and that means lots of baking and gift giving.  But have you ever noticed how crazy some of the packaging can be with those gifts?  I mean come on, why do they have to make it so difficult to get into those toys with all the clam shells, the twisties that you can never seem to untwist, and the boxes inside of boxes inside of boxes?

And what about all the baking?  With one good baking day, my trash can can get as full as it does with all the gift wrap the day after Christmas.  It's crazy.  The last time I made my pumpkin bread, I had cans of pumpkin, bags of sugar, and containers of spices overflowing in the trash can.

 photo d1d52bb8-c150-4f19-9a7c-b8c9ab3c8df3_zpsac6b75dd.jpg
But what if we could find a way to do just one little thing each day to help with that craziness?  It probably won't make a huge difference in your trash can, but if we all Become Carton Smart with Tetra Pak cartons and Pacific Foods each day, think of the difference it would make collectively.  Especially if it wasn't a hard decision, but actually made things better and easier for you now AND in the long run.

 photo 1898ca76-3272-4baf-a8df-07abf60e15e3_zps1bf425e9.jpg
Tetra Pak cartons are made of 70% paper from selectively harvested, regrown trees. They use 1/3 less packaging compared to cans and are recyclable, so they result in 60% less landfill waste than those same cans.  They are great for the environment, but they help you in your kitchen too!  The cartons are space saving and easy to store.  You can open and close them with complete ease, so they won't go to waste hiding in the back of your refrigerator or pantry.  Plus, the unique packaging actually preserves the flavor and nutrients without all the preservatives.  Can't beat that can you?

Be #CartonSmart with Pumpkin Cupcakes this holiday
Be #cartonsmart this holiday by  Following #CartonSmart on Pinterest and Tweeting @CartonSmartTweet @CartonSmartFollow #CartonSmart on Pinterest,  Then come see how the extra wonderful flavor helps to make your food taste even better.  You can try one of these delicious Pumpkin Cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and Become Carton Smart today.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Cupcake Ingredients
In a large bowl, add
15 ounces of Pacific Food Pumpkin Puree
4 Eggs
1 cup Oil
2 cups Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla

Mix well.

Recipe for Pumpkin Cupcakes
In a separate bowl, mix
2 cups Flour
1 teaspoon Salt
2 teaspoons Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
2 teaspoons Baking Soda.

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe
Mix wet and dry ingredients.

Fill a standard Cupcake/Muffin Pan about 2/3 of the way full.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes.

For the Frosting, you'll need
4 ounces Cream Cheese
1/2 stick of Butter
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
2 cups Powdered Sugar

Mix well.
Now frost your cupcakes and try not to eat the whole batch!

Tetra Pak Cartons from Pacific Foods in Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
See don't they taste amazing?  And knowing you are making one smart decision by eating these cupcakes with Pacific Food Pumpkin Puree and Tetra Pak cartons makes them taste even better!  From yummy, smart recipes that use ingredients in cartons or "smart" entertaining tips that produce great tasting food with little waste, how can you be #CartonSmart this holiday season?  
 photo 795e421d-1ec8-414e-b1b8-dde8f5f23ded_zps62983f0a.jpg
 photo 62adf36b-e1dc-4d93-98c1-aa80d97a468d_zps600d562e.jpg
Visit Sponsor's Site

It's A Hard Candy Christmas Candy Treats DIY

DIY to make your own Hard Candy Christmas Candy Treats.  A great addition to your Christmas candy tradition.
Hard Candy Christmas Candy Treats DIY.  Both easy and yummy for a sweet Christmas tradition!
Some of my fondest memories of holidays are the smells and sweets that came from my childhood kitchen. My mom started making candies not long after I was born to help raise money to build a new chapel for our church.  For the next twenty years of my life, she continued to make suckers to raise money, to support our family, and finally to start her own candy store.  I think these little sweets were the start of a lifetime of candy for my family.

Yet, I admit, until now, I've never tried making hard candy treats on my own.  My own kids had no idea what I was even attempting and I felt so sad that something that had been a staple of my life, was so foreign to them.  But after trying them, we all decided they were definitely a wonderful addition to our Christmas candy treat plates for all our friends, neighbors, and family.

Hard Candy Christmas Candy Sucker Ingredients
To make these treats you need:

2 cups Sugar
3/4 cup Water
2/3 cup Corn Syrup
1 teaspoon Candy Flavoring
food coloring

You will also need Hard Candy Sucker Mold, a Candy Thermometer, Lollipop Sucker Sticks(depending upon your candy mold), and Pam or other cooking spray.

Hard Candy Christmas Sucker Molds
Start by spraying your candy mold cavities with your cooking spray and placing your sucker sticks in the cavities.  Once you start working with the candy, you will need to move fast, so having this all done ahead of time will definitely save your candy.

Using Jello Jiggler Molds as Hard Candy Sucker Molds
If you want to get creative, you can use other types of molds too.  I used a Christmas Holiday Jolly Jigglers Jell-O Jiggler Mold and only filled the cavities a little full.  I also used a silicone mold of hearts and that worked great too.  Just be sure your mold is good for high temperatures.  You don't want to use a chocolate mold or something that will melt when you pour the candy into it.

How to make Hard Candy Suckers
Mix the sugar, water, and corn syrup in a sauce pan.  Heat on high heat until boiling.

Make your own candy suckers
Let the sugar mixture boil until your candy treats reach "Hard Crack Stage" which is 310 degrees.  While boiling, be sure your candy thermometer doesn't touch the bottom of your sauce pan or it'll mess up your readings.

How to Make Hard Candy Suckers
Once your hard candy reaches 310 degrees, remove it from the heat and add your flavoring and your color.  The amount of color will depend upon how rich of a color you want for your candy treats.

Hard Candy Christmas Candy Sucker Treats
Work quickly so your candy treats don't harden in the pan and pour the candy into the sucker molds.

Santa Hard Sucker Treat
Let the hard candy set up for a half hour or so.  When set, remove from the molds and enjoy your hard candy Christmas candy treats and a new tradition.

Christmas Hard Candy Treats DIY