Send Some Holiday Cheer This Year

Every year I search for weeks to find the perfect Christmas cards that will reflect my family’s personality. We are not a boring cookie cutter family, so I do not want to send out boring cookie cutter cards. Many of the people we send Christmas cards to we have not seen for most of the year, so I want them to feel connected to us with an awesome card.

So where am I going with this you ask? Good question 🙂 I have recently found a site and allows you to personalize your own professionally printed Christmas cards at an amazing price! I just couldn’t keep it to myself!!
I actually won a $25 gift card to use at Tiny Prints and as I browsed the site and placed my order I simply fell in love with their company. The site offers tons of card themes such
 as modern, traditional, old school and fancy. After choosing your design you can then quickly personalize your card using the easy to use software.  You can even add in your own photos, which I love for holiday cards! The entire process from start to finish was easy to navigate and the company offers friendly, professional customer service. I just couldn’t be happier.
Now, for the best part! After receiving my order and loving it so much I wrote to Tiny Prints and asked them if they would be interested in giving one of my readers the chance to try Tiny Prints out for themselves and they were more than generous! One lucky Raising Dick and Jane reader will win a $50.00 voucher code to use on the Tiny Prints website on anything they’d like!  You can sign up to win using the rafflecopter box below.
Enter to win $50.00 to use at TinyPrints.com
Giveaway ends Monday, December 3rd.
Voucher must be used by December 14th.
Winner will be notified via email

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclosure: Tiny Prints has provided me with the giveaway items in this post, as well as a $50 credit for myself. However, all thoughts and ideas of this company are my own and were not persuaded by Tiny Prints offerings.

My Birthday Suprise – A Trip to Chelsea, MI

Who am I and what am I all about?

This question may be answered better of me by my husband.  After my 30th birthday last week I have realized that he knows me. . really knows me.  And I guess after 10 years together, he should. This year for my birthday my husband took me on a weekend getaway to the Chelsea House Victorian Inn Bed and Breakfast in Chelsea, Michigan. When we arrived we enjoyed some shopping and wine drinking in the quaint little downtown shoppes and restaurants.  After dinner at the fabulous Common Grill, where we sat next to movie and television star Randolph Mantooth, we enjoyed an intimate live theatre performance at The Purple Rose Theatre.  I loved every moment of it. So is this who I really am? An art loving, theatre going, wine drinking woman? Yes, I am.  I am so proud of my husband for really thinking about who I am this birthday and for planning something that was so true to me.

I know you are all curious about the details of this awesome weekend, so here ya go! Join me on a quick tour of the sites and sounds of Chelsea, MI. . . the “New York” of Michigan.

When you pull into downtown Chelsea, don’t blink. You may miss the town.  Yes, it is small but it is packed with amazing experiences you can not get anywhere else in Michigan. The town is made up of historic homes, eccentric shops and an off Broadway theatre that practically puts you into the play (plus the Jiffy mixes plant!).

We stayed at the Chelsea House Victorian Inn, a quaint home built in the 1880’s. The home is immaculately taken care of and clean (something that as you know if super important to me). I was a bit concerned ahead of time about feeling comfortable staying in someones home. However,  the owners went out of their way to make us feel welcome. It sort of felt like we were staying with family. They even made it a point to learn our names ahead of time. You could tell that we were more than just a paying customer to the owners, we were now friends. I highly recommend staying at this beautiful home if you are ever to visit Chelsea, MI.

Before the play we made reservations at The Common Grill. Apparently this is a quite popular place to eat in this town (or it may be the only place, I didn’t really see any other restaurants) because the wait to get a seat was long. We sat at the bar waiting for our table to become available and a homeless looking man came and sat next to us. This caught our attention because everyone else was dressed nicely. We later found out that it was Randolph Mantooth , the lead actor in Superior Donuts. He was dressed for his role and grabbing a quick bite to eat before going onstage. Where else would you be able to rub elbows with actors? Our table was called and we enjoyed our meal. FYI, the bread is a-maz-ing!

Finally we entered the small, intimate Rose Theatre to see “Superior Donuts”.  The venue probably seats around 100 people, if that.  Truly, there is no bad seat in this place.  Every seat is within a frog hop of the stage. This made for a quite amazing experience. As I was drawn into the screenplay I almost forgot that I was sitting in a theatre and not sitting in the donut shop as a customer watching everything unfold.  And if that in itself isn’t cool enough, I recently found out that the theatre is owned by “Dumb and Dumber” actor Jeff Daniel!


Superior Donuts Trailer courtesy of YouTube

I must say that this little gem of a town is worth the trip.  While enjoying breakfast at the Chelsea House, another guest who had met and spoken with Randolph after the play said this: ” I asked him (Randolph Mantooth) why after all of his fame in acting he would choose to work in Chelsea, MI and he replied. . This place is like making it in New York, only better”.

Thank you hubby for the amazing time. I will never forget it!

Happy Travels!
<3 Dick and Jane

 
I was in no way compensated for my review. This post is entirely based on my experiences.

PB Chocolate Crack Dip – “This stuff is crack!”

First of all, Happy Thanksgiving!!! Hopefully you are all spending the day with family and getting ready to enjoy your feast as we are. I do not yet get to host a Thanksgiving dinner at our house, instead we join our families at our parents houses today. Yes, we attend TWO Thanksgiving dinners in one day.  Talk about being overly stuffed! So in preparation we are skipping lunch so our tummies are empty going into the marathon. 🙂
Since it is a lot of work to prepare a feast to feed an army, I think that it is important to bring a dish to pass at each dinner to help provide food for everyone. As usually I asked my husband what he wanted and without hesitation (and without much surprise) he said “Oooo.. . make crack dip”.  Now, this dip does not actually contain any crack, we just call it crack dip because after you take one bite you become addicted and cannot leave it alone. Your body just screams for more!
I make my dip with peanut butter and chocolate because I love the combination, but if you have peanut allergies in your household you can easily omit the peanut butter and substitute in chocolate chips or any candies you like.
The dip is a great pre-feast snack or dessert and can be served with graham crackers, teddy grahams or apple slices (for a little healthier version). 

Ingredients:

1 Box of Cream Cheese
1 Cup Powdered Sugar
3 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
1/2 Bag Chocolate Chips
3/4 Cup Peanut Butter

Topping: 1/2 bag Chocolate Chips

Directions:

Mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl, setting aside 1/2 bag of chocolate chips for a topping.  Use a hand blender and beat until well mixed.

Lay out wax paper and spoon mixture into the center.  Fold the sides up to create a ball. Place the mixture ball into the freezer for 2 hours.

Remove the ball from the freezer and roll the ball in the remaining chocolate chips to cover the outside.  Re wrap the ball into the wax paper and put it back into the freezer until serve time.
Serve with your preferred dipper and enjoy!

That’s it! Its super easy and tastes amazing.  But be prepared to break your diet, because you cannot eat just one bite.
Happy Thanksgiving! <3 Dick and Jane

Worlds BEST Crockpot Potato Soup

I love baked potato soup. It is one of my favorite soups but I am very picky on how it needs to taste.  I used to make a potato soup with frozen potatoes that was really quick and easy, however. . I would much rather cook with natural ingredients from scratch when I can. Anything I can do to cut out preservatives, hormones and GMO’s in my kids diets I am all for. Besides, this soup recipe takes only a few minutes to prep and then the slow cooker takes it from there.  I used all organic ingredients from Door to Door Organics for my soup, I highly recommend them for great tasting natural products.

Ingredients:

6 russet potatoes
3 cans of chicken stock
1 medium sweet onion
1 bulb garlic (4-5 cloves)
1/3 brick cream cheese
applewood smoked bacon
green onions
sharp cheddar cheese
croutons

Directions:

Begin by washing your potatoes, but do not peel them. Chop the potatoes up into small cubes, with skin still on.  Chop the onion into small cubes as well.

Add the chopped potatoes, onions, garlic and chicken broth to your slow cooker. Cook on high for 6 hours or on low for 10 hours.

During the last hour of cooking, add your cream cheese to the mixture and lightly mix and cream with a potato masher. (You can also use an immersion blender or remove half of the soup and mix it in a stand up mixer). Remember to only cream half of the soup, otherwise you will end up with mashed potatoes.

Add your bacon to the oven and cook at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.  Allow bacon to cool and crumble.

Serve soup topped with bacon, cheese, green onion and croutons.

yields 6-8 servings

Enjoy! <3 Dick and Jane

How to Rock a Twitter Party

So, you’ve been invited to join in a twitter party. . now what? Learning to use twitter can be quite confusing.  I understand, I am still new to the platform and still learning myself. However since I could not find any information on what was going on,  I jumped in head first and taught myself the know how. Hopefully I can shed some light on the subject for you and help you feel ready to join in the fun as well.

First, you will need to sign up for a twitter account. You can find the sign up page here. Once you are a member you can begin to join in twitter parties. What is a twitter party you ask? A twitter party is a group of people who all log into twitter at the same time and tweet with a common hashtag to form a conversation.  Most times a twitter party will take place with a company being a sponsor and free items will be given away to the participants.

What to do before the party starts:
In order to follow along with a twitter party you will need to be following the hosts.  The hosts will be names ahead of time. To follow their tweets simply click “follow” on their twitter handle pages. You should also RSVP for the party on the party page (this is normally also listed in the invite). RSVP’s are commonly collected using a linky or comment form. Simply add your twitter handle (mine is @raisingdickjane) into the form and you have completed your RSVP!

Attending the party:
Each party will have a specific start and end time. Parties normally last for 1 hour. You will need to be present for the entire hour if you want to qualify for a prize, so plan your time accordingly. While these parties can take a lot of time out of your schedule, the probability that you will win a prize is great. Most parties give away 20 or more prizes within their scheduled hour and have around 100 guests. I usually walk away with a prize about 50% of the time.

As the party progresses you will see tweets from the hosts regarding the product and questions for the participants to answer. It may look something like this:

Q1: What is your favorite color?

You should hit the “reply” button under the question and respond in the following format.

@partyhost  A1: Blue  #party hashtag

Answering in the above format will allow your response to be seen by the host and increase your chances of winning a prize. The most important thing when joining a party is to be active. Respond honestly and quickly to the questions. Speak your mind, and be yourself.  Oh, and the most important thing is to have fun!
Wait a minute! How do I follow along with the twitter party?
When I first started I just used my “home” page to watch for new party tweets from the host. Every time the hosts post a new tweet it will pop up on this page. This is why it is very important to be following the hosts directly.  As I became more comfortable I started using sites such as tweetgridTweetgrid allows you to see every tweet that is coming in with the same hashtag from all of the guests and the hosts. This can move fast and be a bit overwhelming until you are used to it. So start out slow.
How do I know if I won a prize?
If you win the host will call out your handle (remember. . @raisingdickjane?) and either give you a link to click on to enter your shipping information or will ask that you DM them after the party with your info.  If you are asked to DM them, this means Direct Message.  There is a small envelope on your main page, click on it and you can send messages to anyone you follow.

Ok, I want to join a party. How do find a party to attend?
The more people you follow on twitter, the more you will find out what is going on.  Fellow twitter fans will posts announcements when a party is coming up. These tweets will show up in your twitter feed. However to get you started, here is a list of upcoming parties that I will be attending from my favorite host Resourceful Mommy. You can also follow me on twitter and I will be sure to let you know when a party is coming up!

If you have any questions, please feel to ask.  I will make sure to respond to all comments.
I hope to see you at the next party!

Rock On
<3 Dick and Jane

Picture Perfect Artwork #TBCcrafters

I am so proud. Both Dick and Jane are very artistic; just like their momma. However the daily art projects can leave me with a full fridge door and a messy looking kitchen.  So I got a little creative to try and bring harmony to my kitchen once again while still displaying their artwork proudly.


As many of my readers know, I love to garage sale , thrift store, garbage shop.  I love taking something that was destined to be thrown out and turning it into a new prized possession.  One of my favorite items to pick up while browsing thrift stores, etc is frames! I love old wooden frames, especially the ones with a lot of texture or design. It doesn’t matter if they are missing their backs or glass, I still pick them up. There is so much you can do with them!
So when I wanted to find a way to display my kids artwork in the kitchen I turned to my salvage frame pile and pulled out a few of my favorites. First, I cleaned them up with a light sanding. This helps to remove some of the old paint so the new paint will stick better.
Once the frame is lightly sanded, take a damp cloth and gently wipe off any dust from the frame. After it is dry, spray paint the frame with your favorite color(s). Always remember to paint the back first so the front doesn’t smudge or stick to your table when you flip it to paint the other side. Its better if the back is messed up a bit rather than the display side.




After my frame was completely dry I can choose to either lightly sand again to create a distressed look (as I did on the teal frame) or leave it saturated with paint (like the orange frame). Finally flip the frame to work on the back side and using hot glue permanently adhere round heavy duty magnets all the way around the frame.
Now, I can pick my kids favorite artwork to showcase and let it shine! The frame will stick magnetically to the fridge.  
tip: before putting the magnets away test your frame out on the fridge. if your frame is too heavy you may need to add more magnets to keep it from sliding down the fridge.

Magnets should ALWAYS be kept out of the reach of Children! They are dangerous and harmful if swallowed!

<3 Dick and Jane
Do you have a Thrilling Thursday craft to add? Add a link to your blog post in the linky below after you’ve left a comment on this post and add this button to your blog post!”


Oven Baked Chocolate Donuts – YUM!

Is it just me or does it seem like every day there is a new food being recalled? Many of which my family used.  This morning I awoke to hear that Nesquick powder is being recalled for Salmonella contamination, and just a few weeks ago it was peanut butter and uncrustables sandwiches.  Is anything safe to eat? How can you trust that what you are giving your kids is safe?  

For the last few months I have been challenging myself to go back to the pioneer way of cooking; something which I think has been lost but is making a come back with my generation. I want to know what is in my food, and I want to be able to pronounce it! I’m talking flour, sugar, water, salt, milk, eggs. And why shouldn’t I make my own food? It really is just as easy as pouring the pre-measured ingredients from a box. When you think about it. . it seems a bit silly to spend so much money just to have someone else measure and package the ingredients for you.
During my quest to be a pioneer cookin’ mama, I found a recipe for oven baked chocolate donuts. They are completely made from scratch and oven baked instead of fried (so they are better for you in terms of donuts).  Best of all, the recipe is super easy and tastes better than the fried, store bought version and is ready to devour in only about 15-20 minutes!
So if you too are looking to go back to the pioneer way of cooking food then you will want to bookmark this recipe because in my family its a really special treat.  Plus, it is so simple to swap out ingredients and customize it to the way you like. Instead of chocolate you could easily use cinnamon, pumpkin spice or fruits.

Oven Baked Double Chocolate Donuts
adapted from my friend at Shugary Sweets

Donut Ingredients:

  • 2 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp milk
  • 2 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp butter, melted
  •  
    Frosting Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp heavy cream
  • 1 Tbsp milk
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp corn syrup
  • 1 oz bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 oz semi sweet chocolate morsels
  • 1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • Directions:
    1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees
    2. In a large bowl mix together your dry ingredients (flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt). 
    3. In a separate bowl whisk together your wet ingredients (milk, eggs, vanilla, butter).
    4. Once both bowls are mixed, combine your wet ingredients into your dry ingredients and stir.
    5. Continue to stir until your batter is well combined, your batter will be thick.
    6. Spray donut pan with cooking spray.
    7. Fill each hole 3/4 of the way full.
    8. Bake 10 minutes then allow to cool.
    9. While your donuts are cooling, mix together your frosting wet ingredients in a small saucepan over medium low heat (milk, butter, vanilla, corn syrup).
    10. When the butter is completely melted turn the heat to low and add your chocolate.
    11. Stir until chocolate is melted and remove from heat completely.
    12. Stir in your powdered sugar until combined.
    13. Dip your donuts into the frosting and add sprinkles (optional).

    That’s it! They are yummy slightly warm right away (if your like me and you cant wait) or the next morning for breakfast.  If you have any amazing pioneer cooking recipes we’d love to hear them and you might just be featured on our blog! Send them to me at raisingdickandjane@yahoo.com.
    Enjoy! <3 Dick and Jane

    Thursday Craft – DIY Holiday Table Runner #TBCcrafters


    This week I have been busy creating table runners for a local craft show that I take part in each year.  I have been working on a new runner to showcase which is made with reversible sides and a hand painted snowflake on the ends. It turned out so pretty that I decided to share how to make this runner with all of you. Hopefully you will enjoy its beauty in your home during the holiday season as we have in ours.


    To make this craft I used the following items

    Martha Stewart Stencil Brush Set 3/Pkg- Plaid Crafts
    Martha Stewart 32250 Cut Your Own Adhesive Stencil Paper
    Martha Stewart 32226 Transfer Paper (optional)
    Martha Stewart 32014 2-Ounce Acrylic Satin Paint, Pool
    Martha Stewart 32185 2-Ounce Acrylic Glitter Paint, Sugar Cube
    Martha Stewart Crafts Knife
    2 yards Premier Prints unprinted birch fabric
    2 yards ZigZag Girly Blue/Twill fabric
    With the above items I was able to make three identical runners if I cut the materials properly. 

    The method I used:
    • Begin by folding your fabric with the selvage edge together. Cut about 1″ off and discard the selvage edges.
    • Measure 18″ width and make another cut. You want your fabric to be 18″ wide by 72″ long. You should be able to yield 3 fabric strips.
    • Repeat the first two steps with the second fabric pattern.
    • Choose one strip from each fabric pattern, place them with the right sides together.
    • Sew a 1/2″ seam all the way around the fabric, leaving one short end un-sewn so you can turn the runner the right side out.
    • Turn the fabric right side out and iron both sides to press your seams.
    • Fold the open ends inward to create a seam and iron to hold.
    • Sew another 1/2″ seam all the way around the runner on the right sides.
    Painting my Runner
    • Begin by making your stencil.  I made a snowflake but you can do any pattern you choose.
    • Print the pattern of your choice on regular printer paper (I found my design by using a search engine for “snowflake stencil printable”)
    • You can either use the transfer paper and transfer the image to your stencil paper to cut out or simply place the paper on top of the stencil paper and trace the image with your craft knife.
    • Once your stencil is cut, place it on your runner where you choose.
    • Using your stencil brushes, tap the paint straight down over your stencil making sure all of the open spaces are painted.
    • Follow your main paint with the glitter paint in the same manner.
    • Repeat to the other end of the runner. The stencil can be used many times.
    • Carefully remove the stencil and allow to dry.
    That’s it! Now you can showcase your work on your table for your holiday feast and everyday up until then. If for some reason you don’t want to make this beautiful runner yourself you can always hop on over to our store and just buy one.  🙂
    Happy Crafting! <3 Dick and Jane
    Do you have a Thrilling Thursday craft to add? Add a link to your blog post in the linky below after you’ve left a comment on this post and add this button to your blog post!”

    Meijer Mounted Photo Frames + Coupon

    Wow, I take ALOT of photos. I only say this because I was just denied the new i-phone update on my device because of “lack of available space”.  I then realized that I took over 500 photos on my phone in just one year! With little ones it just so convenient to grab my phone and snap a pick every time they do something cute. However, the problem is that they tend to stay on my phone. . and what happens if I somehow lose all these precious memories? I needed to find a way to print out the photos that I love so I will always have them, but wanted to do something a little different than standard photo prints that will most likely just get put into my drawer. 

    I decided to try out the mounted photos available from the 1 hour photo service at Meijer.  I chose one of my favorite photos to try the service out, Jane’s preschool graduation photo. It turned out super cute! Best of all, I don’t have to buy a frame.  I just brought it home and placed it in the perfect spot for showcasing. 

    The photos are mounted on durable, foam core mounting boards so they’re ready to hang or display on a table. You can even chose from 5×7, 8×10 and 11×14, all printed on site in only 1 hour! If you don’t have your photos available on a hard drive, you can also access them from your facebook page or download them from your phone at the easy to use kiosk right in the store.
    It turned out so well that I am already planning some Christmas presents 🙂 So if your my family and your reading this, pretend you didn’t.
    Best of all, Meijer so graciously gave Raising Dick and Jane readers access to a 25% coupon to try the service out for themselves.  Mounted photo pricing starts at only $8.96.

    Click here to claim your savings.

    Happy Memory Making! <3 Dick and Jane

    I am a proud member of BzzAgent, a site that allows you to try and discuss new products. While I was provided with a free 5×7 mounted photo to try, all of the opinions in this post are my own and were not persuaded by Meijer.

    Craft It Thursday – DIY Spice Rack #TBCcrafters

    If your cupboards are anything like mine, then they are less than desirable when trying to find spices when you need them to cook.  I usually end up opening the cupboards over my head to grab a spice only to have everything else fall out on my head and into my meals.  Well, I’ve had enough! I decided to make a fun and functional spice rack that will fill the wall space behind my stove; which is also lacking in design. 

    This fun DIY craft came in at under $15.00 to complete!

    Here are the supplies I used:

    Cookie Sheet(I purchased mine at Walmart for only $0.95!)
    Spray Paint
    Favor Tin Kit 25/Pkg-Silver( Or glass baby food jars)
    ProMAG Flexible Heavy Duty Magnets 19mm Round
    Hot Glue Gun with Glue Sticks
    OOK 50652 Small Sawtooth Hangers with Nails Tidy Tins, 25 sets


    My method used:

    • I started by spray painting my cookie sheet. This took a few days to dry and re-coat, so plan ahead.  After my cookie sheet was painted, the rest was simple and took only minutes to complete!

    • I glued one magnet to the back of each tin or jar. They stick magnetically to the cookie sheet.  I chose to do straight lines across, but you could also make a design like a heart, circle or square.

    • Now in order to hang this rack on my walls I needed to add a saw tooth hook to the back of the cookie sheet.  I just glued it on.

    • I decided to leave the tops of my spice containers clear so I could enjoy the colors of the spices inside.  The Wilton favor tins come with printable labels and a free template to create your own labels.

    • I added my spices and enjoyed! I think this little DIY projects adds a lot of color and “spice” to my kitchen.  
    Happy Crafting!  <3 Dick and Jane
    Do you have a Thrilling Thursday craft to add? Add a link to your blog post in the linky below after you’ve left a comment on this post and add this button to your blog post!”