Thomas The Train Birthday Party

                                                    


When I was going through my archives I noticed I did not share with you my little man's 2nd birthday party. It was one of my biggest parties I have ever hosted and it was one of the funniest. 

Since it was a little boys party I wanted to do a candy buffet table. This was my first candy table and I did not realize how much candy and sweets it would take to fill the table. Did you notice I did not mention a word about the price? A year later I am still in shock. Candy tables are expensive to do, even when you buy in bulk and especially when you have to buy all the glass containers to hold the candy. The candy buffet was a hit. Everyone loved it. But I had candy by the galore left. 

Here is a few of my favorite pictures from the candy / sweets table.  One thing I did not like was that my candy apples was not straight. But that is life. 


                                             

I have to give a shout out to one of my good friends. She made the cake and the cake looked awesome. Thank you so much Jaclyn. If you live in the Louisville area and are in need of a cake , email me and I will send you her contact information. 






On another table I had the food. When I throw a party we like to eat. I serve lunch and then cake and ice cream. I served bbq, chips, and potato salad. In each of the pans I placed the food. I loved how I made the pans look like part of the train. If you look closely you will that the train is on tracks that I made. 
           




  A train party is not complete with out diesel fuel and a water tower.

On the way out from the kitchen to our back yard I made this cute sign. I wanted it to resemble being in a train terminal and the sign saying train this way. On the other side of the door there was a sign that said train depot. I must have not got a picture of that sign, because I can not find it. 
                                                 

We even had a train that the kids played in and a railroad crossing sign.


I also placed a sign on the log cabin we have outside and placed a suitcase beside it. The kids loved it. 

                                                  

Each child got a conductor hat, red bandanna, and a wooden train whistle. Before you go out and buy train whistles, please listen to me. Wooden train whistles do not sound, unless they are the expensive ones. 

                                                   

I was thankful that the weather was not to cold. Have you been to or hosted a Thomas The Train Party?














How to Snag That Deal On Your Wish List

Do you have plans for this Thanksgiving Holiday? I use to be a die hard Black Friday Shopper. I enjoyed it. My Mom, my Sister-n-law (at that time) and I would shop the morning hours and all day on Friday. As the times moved earlier and earlier, we would start our Thanksgiving evening with the stores that was breaking the traditional Black Friday hours, by opening up on Thanksgiving evening. It seems like every year the stores are opening up earlier and earlier. I remember one of our Black Friday shopping ventures, we slept in our car for 2 hours, we were in that time frame where we had shopped every store that was on our lists, which was opened at that time and we were having to wait until more stores opened up. Most people would have went home, but not us, we had more stores to conquer. We had our shopping down to a science. We could go into a store and be out before the check out lines got long.
To really benefit from Black Friday you have to plan. It is not just one of the those days, you get up and say, I think  I want to go to such and such store. If you are anything like me you are out to find a deal. Black Friday deals are just not on Thanksgiving evening and Black Friday anymore, it starts weeks before the big day. If you are wanting to get that special gadget for the best price out there. You need to do your homework. If you do your homework and stay on top of the sales for the two weeks leading up to Black Friday, you might just get that item cheaper and you don't have to deal with the major crowds. Here is a few tips on helping you grab that deal and to help you plan your Black Friday shopping.

1) Make a list of what you want from each store. You can make this list weeks ahead of time or as soon as the Black Friday Ads appear online. I like using BlackFriday!com. I recommend this site. It has never let me down.

2) Take the lists that you created and write on top of each one what time each store opens up. This will help you on planning which store you should go to first.

3) Map out where all items are. Some stores provide maps just for Black Friday. Make sure you look at them closely. You might think you know where that item is, but they can be moved for the big shopping rush.

4) Decide on the first store you want to start at, and get in line several hours before the store opens.

5) Do not use a shopping cart. When using shopping carts you get stuck in the main aisle with everyone else. Use bags like Ikea shopping bags. You can cut through the clothing aisles and other aisles faster to get to your destination.

6) Try to have a buddy go along with you, and split up your lists. The object is to grab what is on the list and get out before you have to stand in the long check out lines. The faster you get out of the store, the faster you make it to your next store on your list.

7). Starting the week before Black Friday, begin checking the sales ads for online sales. Sometimes stores will offer their Black Friday sales starting that Sunday to order online. It can not get that more simpler to stay at home and get everything you want on your list for the same price a few days earlier.

8) Remember to have fun. Make new friends in line. If you can't find that item always remember you might be able to find it at another store or buy it online.

Hope you have a Blessed Thanksgiving and a Merry Christmas. Good Luck on your adventures on Black Friday shopping. I will be thinking of you while I am enjoying my family all warm and cozy.





Review of the Embassy Suites in Secaucus, NJ


                                     

At the end of our summer vacation we got to take an unexpected family trip to New York City, all thanks to my daughter's dance team who won the opportunity to dance at the World Dance Championships in Secaucus, NJ. Looking over places for our team to stay at, I tried to think which hotel will be better for our group. Some of us was thinking of driving and while some of us was going to fly. We had to think of the day our team competed, what time we would have to be there, and how the commute was going to be to get there. Another thing that topped the list per the dancers, the hotel had to have a swimming pool. The Dance Competition recommended several hotels around the Meadowlands Convention Center. Not every hotel that was recommend had swimming pools. As a team we chose to stay at the Embassy Suites, which is located right beside the convention center. They had a free morning breakfast with made to order omelettes. Our dancers would say the best thing about the hotel would be the swimming pool. The area around the convention center was very nice. Across the street was a Cheese Burger in Paradise, Red Lobster, Starbucks, Chiptole and more. The only downside was the time it took to get into NYC. You could have a long commute or a short commute pending on the time you decide to head in or head out of the city.
The Embassy offered different types of rooms. My family stayed in a 2 bed, 1 bedroom suite with a conference table in the living room. Having a conference table on one side of the living area was kinda weird but it worked out. The table made a great place for my little ones to eat and play on. We also placed items we did not want laying on the floor on the table. The suite was very spacious. It came with small dorm size refrigerator and a small kitchen sink. Which came in very handy when I had to wash out sippy cups that had milk in them.
                   

In our room we got lucky to get a new sofa, others in our group had very lumpy, broken in sofas. We did have a single seater seat that was broke down and lumpy. But we were rarely in our room and we rarely sat on the sofa and the one seater. From what I understand the hotel was in the process of changing out the sofas. Besides that, the beds slept very well, we had plenty of pillows and there was no noise to keep us up.
Checking in was very slow. I did not have any problems. But there was many people who's reservations were so messed up. There was a family within our group that had to argue for the days they reserved to stay in their room to different people behind the desk. Because they were given the run around. Even when they had they confirmation emails and everything. They thought they were going to have to leave a day early because the front desk could not get with it and accommodate their guests. One thing that bothered me at check in was that I requested to have a city view, when doing early check in. I even mentioned it to desk clerk when we arrived. My husband and I laughed at our view because it was a view of the parking garage and big fans. I guess they decided not to honor any requests. Why need a view, we were never in our room.
Overall the hotel for my family was great. We loved the breakfast, swimming pool, and the location.
The room size was awesome for it to be so close to the city. I really thought it would be much smaller. When we needed a recommendation for a taxi service or for a great place to order pizza the workers were so nice and was quick to help out.
I would differently stay here again, lumpy chair and all. But I would recommend anyone traveling to have a printed out confirmation email of your itinerary. Just in case there is a problem at check in.
Have you ever stayed at this hotel before? If so what was your thoughts about it? Or have you stayed at any of the surrounding hotels in this area? I would love to hear from you.


Curious how we traveled to and around NYC. Check out Traveling with a toddler to the city post



Please note that I was not compensated in any form for this review. All views are of my own opinion.



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Traveling with a toddler to the city


                                                   

The Nifty Thirty Family went to New York City. I would love to say it was my first visit there but it was mine and my husbands second visit. This trip was different from our first visit to the Big Apple, because we brought our children with us. My daughter won the opportunity to dance in the World Dance Championship that was held at the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus, New Jersey. Talk about exciting. This trip was filled with lots of firsts for my little ones and for my husband and I. My husband and I was nervous about taking our two year old on this trip. I was nervous on how we were going to get around the city with a little one and how he was going to act where we went.  My husband was worried about the plane ride. He was prepared to pass out ear plugs to everyone around us on the plane. But we were going to the World Dance Competition in NJ and we were going into New York City, our daughter might not get this opportunity ever again so I said if little man acts up so be it, it is what it is, he was part of our family and we were not leaving him behind with family members. Where we go, he goes.

One of my biggest goals on this trip was to pack very light. I was not wanting to check any luggage. I was able to pack for four people for four days into two carry ons and three backpacks. Pull ups were also included in those bags and my daughters dance costume, make up and jazz shoes were also included. I laid out everyones clothing that they were going to wear each day, included socks, and underwear. I placed each outfit in a pile. The pants on the bottom, underwear, socks in the middle and then the shirt all flat. Once that days outfit was ready to be packed, I rolled the pile up very tight and placed the roll in the suitcase. Traveling with only two carry ons does not leave room for that many souvenirs to be brought back, but it is so worth it. We had plenty of space and I packed extra clothing for all of us. The only article I did not roll up was my daughters competition dress. I placed that on the very top.


On top of our carry ons and backpacks we toted my sons car seat along with us for the plane ride and we brought his umbrella stroller. Be mindful of the type of stroller you bring. Think about the type of transportation you will be using during your trip. Gate checking a stroller comes in handy. This way once off the plane you place your little one in the stroller. The stroller is ready for your use as soon as you walk off the plane and you can wheel your little one all the way to the plane. You will make it to your destination faster than letting them walk. Just make sure you get the tags to gate check your stroller at the counter at the gate.  


I searched and searched on ways to keep kids hush hush on a plane. I even checked out You Tube videos on how to install a car seat in a airplane and how to tote a car seat in the airport. Car seats are not required on planes, but they come in so handy. Our son felt secure and was able to see out the planes windows. In my backpack I carried my children's favorite snacks, plus ring pops and some milk for little man. One thing that made me nervous about flying with a little one, I had read how it was hard to bring on milk through security. I had no problem taking two bottles of milk through security. I packed two of those little milk bottles you get from happy meals. I did not open them until they were needed, and I placed them in one quart size bag. Before traveling check the TSA's website, because the rules could change at any time.


                                                                   

When we arrived in the Newark airport we had no clue what type of transportation we were going to use to get to our hotel. I thought about having a driver wait on us, but I hesitated on it because I did not know how it worked with a driver waiting on us and if our plane was late and all that. I was thankful I had this hesitation because our plane was delayed over an hour due heavy rains. So when we arrived instead of heading for the cab line we used Uber for the very first time. I was amazed at how quick the Uber drives were at the gate door. During our stay we used Uber, Lyft, and regular taxis. I really liked Uber and Lyft because I could find drivers that had car seats. Don't think every time you want a Uber, Lyft, or Taxi that you are going to get blessed with a car seat. There were several times I had to use the regular seatbelt in the car for my child. (I did not like that). Drivers with car seats charge an extra fee to use their car seat. If your child gets car sick or has a diaper explosion you will be liable to for the clean up charges. I learned this the hard way when my little man became car sick and vomited all over the Uber drivers car and brand new car seat. Not every drivers car has a brand new car seat either. I have read where some car seats are dirty and filthy. We never had that problem.

During our trip I did not have the nerve to try the subway or ride the bus with my little ones. It was just easier for my family to ride with Uber, Lyft, or take a Taxi service. I never had any fear about transportation. We realized as soon as our first flight was wheels up, that we were worried about nothing. My little ones did great. The two year old actually did better than my eight year old. Have you had any adventures with little ones and traveling? I would love to hear about it.

Stay tuned for more about our trip to the Big Apple.

Check out my review on where we stayed at during our trip. It is a good hotel to think about when traveling with a family and on a budget. Click here.




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Edible Flower Arrangement

                                    

I was really excited to give my Mom her Mother's Day gift this year. I had no clue what to get her this year, until I was wondering around Hobby Lobby thinking of what I could get her. I knew exactly what I was going to get her when I saw that rustic planter. I could have just gave her the planter or filled the planter with real flowers, instead I wanted to do something different. I wanted the wow effect. For the past few years we have had a Mother's Day Fish Fry at my parents house. My brother fry's the fish and I decorate for the party. I knew I needed to bring a dessert so I combined the gift and the cupcakes to make one awesome gift. 

To make this edible flower arrangement, you will need a 
flower pot
styrofoam craft ball
cupcakes - icing, icing tip, icing bag, cupcake batter, cupcake liners
toothpicks 
tissue paper
hot glue

To get started, bake your cupcakes and let them cool. While the cupcakes are cooling, glue the styrofoam ball to the planter. Once the cupcakes are cool, you can place the cupcakes on the ball. You will push a toothpick from the top of the cupcake into the ball. You might need to use more than one toothpick. Once you get all of the cupcakes in place. Fill in the gaps with tissue paper. I did not use any glue for the tissue paper. I just wedged it in between the cupcakes. I did use some toothpicks to hold up the tissue paper around the bottom. I iced the cupcakes with a star tip after they were on the styrofoam ball. 
                                                

The cupcakes need to go on the styrofoam ball without icing. Don't make the same mistake like I did and try to do it with icing on before. I had to scrap off the icing and start all over again. 

                                                 

Here was my finished product sitting on the dessert table at our family get together. I had to tell everyone that they could eat the cupcakes and that they were not real flowers. 

                                               


Everyone especially my Mom loved the edible flower arrangement. The only problem I had was transport. I was unable to cover it up for the car ride. Have you ever made one? What did you get your Mother for Mother's Day?


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Quaker Breakfast Flats



Quaker Breakfast Flats are a great go to for the busy mom. I am always rushing in the morning to get two kiddos dropped off at their locations and getting myself to work on time. There is just no time for me to eat at home. Thats why I really like the Quaker Breakfast Flats because I can eat breakfast on the go. I can eat them driving down the road and even at my desk.  I was fortunate to get to try the Cranberry Almond Bars. They were really good. The bars had crunchy almonds and whole grain oats in them. I am a picky eater and they tasted great to me. I was shocked that the breakfast flats kept me full until lunch time, I was afraid I would need to grab an unhealthy snack when I got to work the first day I tried them, because I did not want to be hungry before lunch. But to my surprise I was not hungry. I totally recommend this product to anyone who is on the run or is looking for good tasting snack.

The Quaker Breakfast Flats deserves.... 💛💛💛💛out of 5.

Thank you Influester for letting me test this product for free. This was a test product but all reviews and thoughts were of my own.


#QuakerFlats #GotItFree @Influenster @Quaker

Birthday Slumber Party

                                          


At what age did your daughter want to have a Sleep Over Birthday Party? My daughter wanted to have her first sleepover party for her 8th birthday. Being the Mom I am, I said yes. I don't know what I was thinking, when I said yes. I agreed to inviting 15 girls thinking only half will show and that will make for a wonderful party. First mistake I made was thinking half will only show. When planning a slumber party never think that. Parents are like "YES DATE NIGHT FOR US". I had 9 girls show up for a wonderful fantastic sleepover. It was a good number. My daughter was blessed to have wonderful friends, and for most of the girls it was their first slumber party at a friends house. I was proud everything went so smooth.
To keep things going smoothly I created a schedule. The girls really liked this, and they made sure we stayed to the schedule. The time kinda got off but the order of events stayed the same. This really kept the girls moving and active. After the event, I had parents telling me how their child came home talking about how they liked the schedule. It is a must for any sleepover.

You can not host a slumber party without placing some rules in place first. I made sure I read off the rules when everyone got there. They all respected the rules. If you have older girls you might want to place a rule, No Cell Phones. The girls I had over were under 10 years of age, and some did bring devices that required internet access. I made sure I told the parents and kids that my internet password was not being gave out, all cell phones and iPads will not be in use. I told each and everyone that if they needed to place a call they were more than welcome to use my cellphone. All the children was fine with this. 

                          

I just love the birthday table I set up for my daughter. Since it was a sleepover I made the background to look like we were looking out a window at the stars. I served the perfect meal, pizza and breadsticks. The girls loved it. We also had chips, cake, cookies, and popcorn for later that night.

When I saw this sign I just had to buy it. I thought it was fitting for a birthday party. My daughter loves birds so I surprised her with a bird. 

I have to give thanks to one of my good friends. Check out her Facebook page. Getting into the Cake Business. If you are in the Louisville area, she does great cakes. 



Just another embellishment to the table


These jar glasses were a big hit with the girls. 


Then in the corner of my kitchen I had a banner that said Sweet Dreams. 

When you have a slumber party you have to serve breakfast in the morning. I serverd muffins, cinnamon rolls, Lucky Charm cereal, bagels, Krispy Cream Donuts, Pop Tarts, and I just placed out the left over sugar cookies. When my daughter blew out the candles on her cake, I only cut the bottom portion of the cake. If you remember from previous pictures, it was a 2 tier cake. The bottom portion fed the girls and we had left overs. I saved the top part for her actual birthday which was the morning everyone woke up. However I saved that top part of the cake for just family, for our birthday celebration that night. We did have my daughter blow a candle out, that was placed on a donut.  While the girls sang yet again the Happy Birthday Song. The girls loved it.

Out with the schedule and in with the Rise and Shine sign.


I also changed out the Sweet Dreams sign to a Good Morning sign. 
I loved hosting the slumber party for my precious little angel. But when the last child left and I had this secret feeling of, YES I survived and thank goodness everyone was gone. The slumber party not only wore me out for the rest of the weekend, my daughter was feeling the effects also. Have you been brave enough to host a big slumber party? If so I would love to hear anout it. If you would like for your party to be featured just send me a message and we can discuss it. 



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