Story Time…For Mommy: Sally Mackenzie

One of my great loves in life has always been reading. I read just about everything from reality to fantasy to sci-fi to non-fiction to short stories to young adult literature. Of course, since I became a Mommy, reading time just for me has become a bit scarce. So, when I do steal some time to read just for fun, I usually go to staples that I know I’ll enjoy. One of these guilty pleasures happens to be regency romance.

Yes, I know, it’s a bit cliche. But, honestly, the genre is just fun and they are great escapist stress relievers for busy parents. You always know what you’re going to get—a strong, fiery heroine, a handsome, irreverent hero, a cast of amusing side characters, just enough plot to keep things moving, and always a happy ending! They generally take little time to read, and while you most likely won’t come away significantly enlightened about the world, you will at least have that warm, fuzzy feeling that always accompanies a fun, romantic read.

One of my favorite romance authors is Sally MacKenzie of the “Naked Nobility” series. These seven books and two short stories are some of the most amusing regency romance I’ve read. They combine all the usual aspects of the genre, while adding a wicked sense of humor, a fairly free sense of artistic license, and characters that are irresistible.

Starting with The Naked Duke, MacKenzie works her way through the British aristocracy pairing up wayward lords and ladies across London and the greater English countryside. Each book stands on it’s own, but characters from previous books show up throughout the series, giving readers a fun glimpse into the continued stories of their favorites. While MacKenzie claims that her latest installment, The Naked King, closes out the series, I sincerely hope that she will find a way to continue it. Either way, I look forward to her future works. If you’ve never tried the genre before, the Naked series is a great place to start.

Here’s a complete list of the series in the correct order:

  • The Naked Duke
  • The Naked Baron
  • The Naked Laird: a short story featured in Lords of Desire
  • The Naked Marquis
  • The Naked Earl
  • The Naked Viscount
  • The Naked Gentleman
  • The Naked Prince: a short story featured in An Invitation to Sin
  • The Naked King

Crafty Parent Craft Kits #Review – Keeping Kids Creative Giveaway Hop

On September 17th, the Keeping Kids Creative Giveaway Hop will go live in which nearly 100 bloggers will offer amazingly fun giveaways focused on fostering creativity in kids. I’ll be offering one winner two great prizes, one of which will be a starter craft kit from Crafty Parent!

Crafty Parent offers a monthly subscription service in which you receive a month’s worth of crafts delivered to your doorstep for endless variety and fun with your little crafter. Each kit includes 4 crafts, 4 recipes, and 4 activities for weeks of entertainment! These kits are a great value and we really enjoyed testing out the Starter Kit during the month of August.

Donovan had lots of fun completing the crafts in the box. First, he used the fabric markers to color his Crafty Parent apron so that his clothes wouldn’t get messy when we did the other crafts. Then, we worked on creating his idea box. The box is for holding little slips of paper with various ideas for crafts and activities on them. Then, when the child is bored, you can have him select piece of paper to jumpstart his imagination. Using tissue paper and Elmer’s glue mixed with water, Donovan decorated his idea box blue and red. He loved it because he got to paint the box with the glue (painting is his favorite thing ever!) and he got stick the tissue paper to it, which he found fascinating.

Image result for Parent Craft
He also had loads of fun painting the shapes to use with the felt board craft. The board is for sticking the shapes on using velcro to make pictures and practice the names of shapes and colors as well as experiment with how the shapes fit together to make new shapes. As you can see, he was very excited and told his Aunt (who did this craft with him) all about the colors he used and the shapes he was painting.

And these three activities only scratch the surface of what is in the Starter Kit. We also made a personalized chalk board, experimented with fun food ideas, and more. I’ve seen various incarnations of these monthly craft kits across the Internet, but honestly Crafty Parent is an amazing value compared to many of the other kits. The kits include quality supplies for the crafts, great ideas for both fun and learning crafts, nutritious recipes, and other activities. And, I loved that the crafts weren’t just throw away type things. Each craft activity resulted in a finished product that was useful and lasting. We now have an idea box, a felt board for working with shapes and colors, a fun chalk board that is great for drawing on the go, and, of course, his apron that he decorated himself. I definitely recommend Crafty Parent if you’ve been thinking about subscribing to one of these services!

Buy It: You can subscribe to the Crafty Parent monthly subscription service for $29.99 per month plus shipping by visiting their website here: Order Now.

Win It: Come back on September 17th for your chance to win a Crafty Parent Starter Kit along with the Faber-Castell Finger Painting Kit in the Keeping Kids Creative Giveaway Hop.

*I received the above item for review. No monetary compensation was received. All opinions are my own.

Holiday Footprint Crafts — Homemade Shirts

Each holiday, I try to do fun, themed crafts with Donovan, and now Avery, too. For Christmas this year, we did footprint crafts to make shirts, like the hand and footprint turkey shirt we made last year for Thanksgiving. For Avery, we made Penguins, and for Donovan, we made snowmen. I think the shirts came out really cute! I intend to continue this tradition for the foreseeable future and to save all the shirts. Eventually, when we’ve made enough of them, I’ll turn them all into a cute quilt that will show their hands and feet as they grow.

If you’d like to make footprint shirts, or even just a footprint craft on paper, with your little one this holiday season, here’s how:

footprint craftSupplies:

  • Fabric paint (can be purchased at Michael’s or other craft stores)
  • A blank shirt (choose a color that contrasts well with your design)
  • Paintbrushes (I got an inexpensive package with 20 different shapes and sizes of brush at Michael’s. Different sizes make decorating and writing on your shirt easier)
  • Cardboard or Paper Grocery Bags
  • Tape

Steps
1) Cut out a piece of cardboard or paper grocery bag large enough to cover the area of the shirt on which you will paint. Place the carboard or paper inside the shirt so the paint won’t seap through and make the shirt stick together. Then, fold the sleeves and any extra fabric back and tape it down on the back of the shirt so it won’t get in the way while you’re painting.

2)Paint your child’s foot using a brush. I don’t recommend dipping your child’s foot in the paint for this. It tends to be too gloopy and messy and can get paint splotches on the shirt that you won’t be able to get off. Just paint their foot with a light coat of paint and carefully apply it to the shirt where you want their footprint to go. Then, fill in their footprint using a brush and more paint until it is as dark as you desire.

3)Decorate the footprint with whatever pattern you want. We did penguins and snowmen. You could also do a Christmas tree, Mistletoes, or any number of other ideas.

4)Let dry overnight, after which the shirt can be laundered as usual.

Pumpkin Pop Tarts – A Fun, Easy Holiday Breakfast!

Have I mentioned that I love Pinterest? Well, I do because it brings me ideas like this one: Pumpkin Pop Tarts! Which is really just an excuse to eat something that tastes an awful lot like pumpkin pie but is way easier and faster to make for breakfast! Actually, I thought these were better than pumpkin pie. The filling was sweet with that cinnamon spice but didn’t have the denser texture of pumpkin pie. And the crust with the glaze on it was just yummy! We made them for breakfast on Thanksgiving. They were delicious and the perfect start to our holiday. But, I’m sure we will be making them again in the future. They’d be great for any holiday or even just a fun Saturday morning breakfast with your family.

Pumpkin Pop Tarts
Ingredients
1 cup Pumpkin Puree
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or you could do 1/4 tsp nutmeg & 1/4 tsp cinnamon if you don’t have pumpkin pie spice) or more/less to taste
1 box refrigerated pie crust such as Pillsbury

For Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsp milk
1/2 tsp vanilla

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin puree, sugar, egg, and pumpkin pie spice. Set aside.

Pumpkin Pop Tarts

Unroll your refrigerated pie crust and cut out your pop tart shapes. We used heart shaped cookie cutters for this because that’s what we had on hand, but pumpkins would be really cute, too. Or you can just use a knife to cut out rectangles to look like traditional pop tarts. Spoon a small amount of the filling into the center of each shape. Place another cutout of crust on top and use a fork to seal the edges of the pop tart together. Make two small cuts in the top crust of each tart to vent. Place the pop tarts on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for approximately 10 minutes or until top crust is lightly browned and filling is bubbly.

pop tarts

While the pop tarts are baking, mix together powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Add more milk if necessary to achieve desired consistency. Once finished baking, brush or drizzle glaze over warm pop tarts. Best served warm.

pop tarts