Over The Top Mommy

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Come Whip Up Some Fun with Kidgits Club’s Super Duper Lil’ Chefs at OC Simon Malls

Check out these upcoming family friendly events, Super Duper Lil Chefs, happening at Westminster Mall, Brea Mall and The Shops at Mission Viejo . The Simon Kidgits Club is dishing up a fun culinary experience for OC families to enjoy together. Pint-sized foodies will learn about the craft of cooking, with fun and educational food-inspired activities and giveaways. Kidgits Clubs crafts and activities are open to everyone, with members receiving premiums and giveaways.
Come whip up some fun with food at the following Simon Malls locations:
Westminster Mall: Saturday, May 17 from 10 a.m. to noon in Target Court. Children can participate in cookie decorating and a teacup-balancing relay race.
Brea Mall: Saturday, May 24 from noon to 2 p.m. in Center Court. Children can make their own Sweet Treat Necklace and Pasta Art, as well as participate in Coloring Food Fun.
The Shops at Mission Viejo: Saturday, June 7 from 10 a.m. to noon on the upper level, near the Children’s Play Area. Children can participate in cookie decorating and a teacup race.

The hands-on atmosphere of Simon Kidgits Club Super Duper Lil Chefs will engage both parents and children in exploring the endless imaginative possibilities of pairing creativity with cuisine. The event menu offers a variety of food-focused festivities ranging from cooking demonstrations to craft-making with meal items. The event is free and open to the public, however Simon Kidgits Club Members will receive a free Kidgits pizza plate and pizza cutter, while supplies last!
Please bring a non-perishable food item to the Westminster Mall and The Shops at Mission Viejo locations, to donate to a local hunger relief organization.
Additionally, Simon Kidgits Club® is teaming up with Lil Chefs presenting sponsor Warner Bros. Home Entertainment for the launch of Sophia Grace & Rosie’s Royal Adventure, coming to DVD, Blu-ray™ and Digital HD Tuesday, May 20. The super-cute, talented two-some of Sophia Grace and Rosie sang and danced their way to stardom on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and now families can see the little, lovable performers in their first original live-action movie. As part of the celebration, children can participate in a Tiara decorating craft. 
“Simon Kidgits Club provides the community ongoing opportunities to enhance the shopping experience at Simon properties,” said Jayne Stilson, assistant vice president of business development for Simon Brand Ventures, the business-to-consumer division of Simon Property Group. “Lil Chefs events are designed to immerse families in discovering that enjoying food doesn’t have to be limited to meal time and make visiting the mall an even more memorable experience.” 
The Simon Kidgits Club is a fun and informative program that focuses on health, wellness, education, safety and entertainment for children ages 3 to 8. Since 2003, the Simon Kidgits Club has kept children and parents alike amused with various events and activities while providing incentives for club members, such as special offers, rewards and games. Simon Kidgits Club programs have engaged more than 1.8 million parents and kids since its inception.
For more information about the Simon Kidgits Club and Simon Kidgits Club Super Duper Lil Chefs events, visit http://www.simon.com/kidgits.

Look What’s Joining The Shops at Mission Viejo This Summer!

I love to keep in the loop about local events and happenings at my local mall, The Shops at Mission Viejo. The center has some new and excited additions coming this summer. Patsy Sanquist, the direct of marketing and business development for the center was quoted as saying, “We’re proud to continue to offer new shopping and dining experiences at The Shops at Mission Viejo. Sperry Top-Sider and Blaze Pizza will make perfect additions for the summer.” 
Sperry Top-Sider, the leading nautical performance and lifestyle footwear brand and inventor of the world’s first boat shoe, is set to open a 1,783-square-foot store on the upper level of The Shops at Mission Viejo, near Center Court and across from the Microsoft Store. An icon of American style for more than 75 years, Sperry Top-Sider offers a full range of Sperry men’s, women’s and children’s lifestyle and performance footwear, including sea-worthy sandals, comfortable dress shoes and performance boat shoes, as well as unique Sperry branded and curated apparel and accessories. Also slated to open this summer, the leading build your own artisanal pizza chain Blaze Pizza will offer signature “fast fire’d” pizzas in a blazing hot oven while guests view the creation process. Diners can also create their own pizza by choosing from more than 40 fresh-made sauces, hand-selected vegetables and a variety of artisanal meats and cheeses. In addition, the menu features signature salads, fresh lemonades, and house-made S’more Pies. For pizza fans with specific dietary needs, Blaze Pizza offers gluten-free dough and vegan cheese. Blaze Pizza is slated to open a roughly 880-square-foot space in The Shops at Mission Viejo’s food court. 
I’m so excited for both of these openings. It’s just know it’s going to be a great summer at The Shops at Mission Viejo! 
For more information, visit The Shops at Mission Viejo on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ShopsAtMissionViejo, Twitter at https://twitter.com/ShopsMV or Instagram at http://instagram.com/ShopsMV.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I was provided with information by The Shops at Mission Viejo.

Our Bunny Photo Experience

When I see the Easter Bunny makes his debut each year at the mall, it truly makes me happy because it signifies that spring has sprung and we’re well on our way to summer, which is my most favorite time of year! Our yearly tradition is to visit the bunny at The Shops at Mission Viejo, a Simon Mall, which is very close to our home. 

Their Bunny Photo Experience is run by Noerr Programs and is decorated so beautifully. I must admit that the fact that their Easter Bunny is a very friendly and welcoming one, unlike some other mechanical bunnies we’ve encountered in past years, brings me relief because there’s nothing worse than a scary bunny that sends your kid running for the hills!

Every year, Emily gets excited to go shopping to for a new spring dress for her bunny pics. It’s very important to her that she coordinate with his setup. 

Perfectly coordinated with the bunny’s setting, she’s ready to go pay him a visit….camera bag and all!

This year the Bunny Photo Experience is offering something new….RESERVATIONS! Yes, you read that correctly! I was ecstatic when I walked up to see the sign!

It basically means that I could check in with my phone, go online and choose a preferred time, and then we could spend some time shopping instead of standing in a long line. What an amazing offering! When it was our turn, or appointment, to visit the bunny and take photos, we simply entered in the return line and we were next. 

Even though I was skeptical about this new system when I first saw the sign,  I found this process to run smoothly. I am excited for Santa photos next year because they’ll also be offering the same reservation program! This is going to be a game changer for so many, especially families with small children who have a difficult time waiting an hour to see Santa or the Easter Bunny!
The bunny greeted Emily with a hug, a few high fives, and even did a little bit of a dance with her, before he sat down for photos. I think this type of interaction helps alleviate any hesitation a child may have about taking pictures with the bunny. I loved the bunny’s costume and the background that they had and I especially LOVED the way Emi’s pictures turned out, don’t you? 

Having these keepsake photos to look back at year after year is something that’s important to me, as a mother. I know Emily will appreciate having them to show her own children, one day too.
Noerr Programs offers a variety of affordable packages which are priced to fit a family’s budget. We purchased keychains in addition to our package, which were an inexpensive add-on. 
With the purchase of a photo package, they’ll also allow you to snap a picture with your own camera, so we took the opportunity to go where most have never gone before….we took a selfie with the bunny! I’m pretty sure Emi thinks I’m nuts for making her do this!

I guess we can cross THIS off our Bucket List!

They also send you home with a link for online sharing of your pictures, which makes it easier to share with friends and family on Facebook and Twitter. They also send you home with some coupons for Gymboree and Crazy 8

We LOVE these 2 stores AND The Shops at Mission Viejo has them BOTH!
Gymboree is the sponsor this year 
for the Bunny Photo Experience.

If you haven’t made your way over to a Simon Mall to visit their Bunny Photo Experience, then hop on over before Easter! For a list of Simon Malls click here.

Peppermint S’mores

One of my favorite parts about the holiday season is the variety of peppermint treats you can find in the stores. I seriously love anything peppermint! I think I have a peppermint obsession, actually! The other day, I came across these yummy Ghirardelli Chocolate Peppermint Bark Squares at Target.

I immediately felt the necessity to toss a few bags into my cart, mostly because they’re a limited edition item and I know if I don’t stock up now, they’ll be gone when I go back. My daughter came up with a brilliant idea. She said, “Mommy, why don’t we make peppermint s’mores?” We love s’mores around our house. I think she just likes being my official taste-tester/model!

I love that these squares are the perfect shape for s’mores too. 

We just decided to microwave our marshmallows. I’d prefer to roast them on the stove because I actually like the little burnt parts, but Emi likes hers to be perfect and when you pop them in the microwave, they are perfect to stick inside of the s’more!

Seriously though…how yummy does THIS look? 

Did I mention that Emi finds it necessary to stick a mustache on absolutely everything?
Yep, even on the s’mores! (these mustaches are by Wilton and we got them at Michael’s.)

She also likes to use my old stand-by line…”I need to taste it and make sure it’s not poisonous!” 
I fall for it every time! 
I wonder if Santa would prefer we leave out s’mores for him rather than cookies this year?


DIY Family Thanksgiving Shirts Using the “Little Turkey” Collection

Can I just share with everyone HOW excited I am about the shirts I just finished making using the “Little Turkey” collection by Lauren McKinsey? I often have personalized shirts made at a local shop, but they’re never less than $20 and that can add up quickly if you’re making something for your whole family. I recently saw a DIY for a turkey shirt over on Lauren’s blog and thought I’d try it myself! Since Emily requested we all wear pajamas on Thanksgiving Day this year, I thought some matching family shirts would look really cute with our pj pants!
Here’s what you’ll need to make these shirts:
*tshirts that are all cotton and no stretch (you don’t need to prewash them)
*the turkey clipart image from The Little Turkey collection by Lauren McKinsey
*a pack of Avery Light Fabric Transfers paper, size 8 1/2 X 11 (It’s product 8938)
*scissors
*an iron
*a pillowcase
The first thing we did was to go and pick out our t-shirts at the store. After that, we went to Staples and bought some Avery Light Fabric Transfers. (They also sell separate ones for dark fabrics.) When we got home, I went online to avery.com/print, where you can actually find the templates that work for this product. Not only are there tutorials and tons of different areas to go for help on the site, but the templates practically walk you through the process. For our shirts, I chose a circular text for the top and then regular text for underneath the turkey. I also chose the “Ashley Crawford” font, but there are many to choose from. After doing all of the text parts, it was time to insert the turkey image into the template.  I had the collection already saved on my computer, so in the template when I clicked on “images”, I then clicked on “from my computer” where I found the turkey clip art to insert into this template. After I was content with my image, I saved it onto my computer, as well as in my avery.com account. (You can register an account at that point.) The instructions recommended printing out a test copy on regular paper first. This is a good idea because then you can see if it’s the right size for the shirt you’re putting it on. If I were to make these shirts again, I think I would’ve made the image and text a little bit bigger. After printing out your test page, you’re ready to print on the fabric transfer paper. The one I purchased was recommended for Ink Jet printers. Next, you need to trim around them pretty closely. Then the directions tell you to take all of the water out of your iron (it says NO steam) and then to locate a surface you can iron on.  The directions say that you SHOULDN’T iron on an ironing board, glass, granite, concrete or heat sensitive surfaces. I just chose to iron mine on the kitchen table. First, you have to iron the shirts, themselves, and then you have to iron a pillowcase, which you’ll be using underneath the shirts when you iron on the images. After setting the fabric transfer FACE DOWN where you want it on your shirt, you start to iron back and forth over it, applying firm downward body pressure. There are specific amounts of time recommended on the directions, depending on how big of an image you’re using. After ironing, you remove your garment from the heating area and let it cool down for about 2 minutes. Finally, you begin to peel the paper backing from the transfer to reveal your fabulous, new holiday shirt! (see directions for washing guidelines)

This was the color Emily chose. Here, I’m peeling back the paper. So cute! 
I definitely feel like the image pops more on a white shirt! I love both options though.

I am just amazed at how easy it was to do! I feel like I want to transform everything now with these fabric transfer papers! To check out the entire “Little Turkey” collection, click here!

Happy Thanksgiving! 

 

“Classy Thanksgiving” Collection and Free Printables by Lauren McKinsey

I am getting so excited for Thanksgiving! I love looking for new recipes to try each year, especially the dessert ones. I also love decorating and adding adorable little accents to our set up. I like Lauren’s printables because they’re so easy to print out on card stock, cut and use. I’m loving the colors & design of this collection. It’s called the “Classy Thanksgiving” collection. Since November is still the “acceptable season” to eat candy corn (one of my favs), I’m using these “so thankful for youmini hanging gift tags to whip up little favors for our guests this year. All I did was put some candy into a dessert cup that I got from Target, wrap it in a cellophane bag and tie it up with this natural-colored string and then I put one of these tags on.

I also love that each of her collections has drink wraps to coordinate. I love having an area on my counter full of water bottles that are festive. It just brightens up the drink station! I actually print these out on regular paper (not card stock), then just cut apart and tape onto the bottles after removing the original labels. My party guests always know they can count on “fancy water” at my get togethers!

Seriously, how cute are these? 
This year I’m going to ask each guest to fill out one of these cards and then hang them all up with clothespins for all to see. Of course Emi wanted to make the example for me. She LOVES helping me with things like this!
I love this kid! 
Well, those are just a couple of my decorating ideas this year but I’ll be posting more soon because I’m also using her “Little Turkey“Thanksgiving collection for our kids table! Click here to get your free printable from each of these collections!
I just KNOW these Lauren McKinsey printables from both of her latest collections are going to really “cute up” my house and my Thanksgiving this year!

The Switch Witch

In our home, we are HUGE fans of The Switch Witch! In case you were wondering who she is, she’s a friend of The Tooth Fairy, The Easter Bunny & Santa Claus! The Switch Witch is an easy way to lure the candy away from your kids without them being upset about it. (and yes I know that I’m a parent and I could also just monitor the candy intake or just say “no”) 
Basically, the story goes like this:
“If you’d like to set aside a few pieces of your favorite candy in a hidden place and place the rest out with a note for The Switch Witch, she’ll visit our house when you’re sleeping, take the candy, and leave you a surprise in exchange.” 
This must be done within the week following Halloween, before she goes away for the year. The Switch Witch doesn’t HAVE TO leave a giant surprise, it’s just whatever your preference is. 
I think Emi lucked out this year.
 

Sometimes Instagram is MORE Than Just Pictures

I love Instagram. I love posting pics, I love interacting with others, and I love seeing the variety of pictures that people share. I love seeing pictures of families and fitness and crafts people have made and DISNEY and recipes….etc. Every once in a great while there are pictures that you scroll by and then scroll back to….sometimes several times. You don’t necessarily know the person but then suddenly you almost feel like you want to know them or at least more about them. Today I felt that way about a picture I came across. I have been following this adorable young girl (I’m guessing she’s in her 20s) for just a short while. She is in the fight of her life because she’s battling breast cancer! I don’t know her real name, I don’t know where she lives, I post supportive comments, but the fact that she’s on Instagram, not only sharing pictures of everything she’s going through, but also her thoughts about the cancer is both brave and extremely enlightening for the rest of the world to see! Today I started crying though when I read what she posted with her picture. It was a letter, actually it seemed more like a total PLEA to her cancer. I cried when I read it and then I commented something on her picture and then I read it again.

Here’s the picture she posted: 
Here’s what she wrote: 
“What’s on my mind this morning: my eyelashes. Cancer you’ve taken my hair, my boobs, my periods, you can take my eyebrows, my toenails, whatever, just please don’t take my eyelashes. Pretty please. I’ll buy you some ice cream or a cold pop. But ain’t nobody got time for that, leave the eyelashes. Thank you! Sincerely yours: The girl who’s going to kick your ass!”

I’ve been thinking about it all day. I feel like I want to know her name. I feel like I want to know her. I know I can’t help her much, but even if I can just encourage her and pray for her, I know it’s something. Some people think it’s silly to exert any of your energy on complete strangers. I don’t. Some people don’t quite get the power of social media and how it connects strangers sometimes. I’m guessing that the positive support she gets from her Instagram followers actually helps her get through some tough times, like her rounds of chemo.

Luckily, I am a great investigator and I was able to find her and ask for her permission to share. If you’d like to follow this sweet, adorable chick too, just go and look up @screamqueen13 on Instagram!

Where to start?

I keep trying to come up with some clever way to start my blog, something extraordinary for my first  post as “The over-the-top Mommy” but I haven’t been able to!  So…I guess I’ll just start with this pic! I am ALL ABOUT the photo booth…and for just $1 at Slater’s 50/50, you can take a sheet of 6 different poses! Yes please! 🙂 So fun!