Panda Bear Cracker

 a panda bear made from round crackers, cream cheese an olives

here's version 2.0....

Easy Fall Leaf Garland - Kids Can Help!

This paper leaf garland (or is it bunting? I cant't decide)  is super easy to make and you will only need a few inexpensive items to complete this simple project.

You'll need:
  • 1 (or more) package of paper leaf doilies from the dollar store (dollar tree to be exact)
  • 1 spool fall colored thin ribbon (mine is the 'spool o' ribbon' brand from Michael's)
  • Scissors and tape, as needed.
  • Total cost of project = $2
Thread a length of ribbon through the doily holes, spacing them evenly apart. You may want to stick a small piece of tape at the back of the doily to hold the ribbon in place. it's up to you. Hang the garland in your favorite spot.

**This is the perfect early learning activity for preschoolers, as threading helps build fine motor skills.
**Our local Dollar Tree had several different colors and shapes of leaves. The possibilities are endless!

Muffin Tin Monday: Creative Food Ideas For Toddlers, Preschoolers and Beyond

It's Monday! And time for the weekly blog link up called Muffin Tin Monday. I get asked all the time "Why a Muffin Tin?" The first thing that comes to mind for me is "Why not?" But for those of you that are wondering, Here are some quick benefits to serving MTM's:
  • breaks up the normal lunch time routine
  • great for picky toddlers and preschoolers
  • muffin cups provide smaller kid-sized portions
  • a way to introduce new foods in smaller sizes and in an interesting way
  • a way for me to express culinary creativity
There is research out there that supports the idea that kids who eat foods labeled/adorned with popular characters is more likely to be purchased and consumed....So why not serve healthy food in an interesting way to combat this pervasive advertising? Would love to discuss this more....anyone?

This week for Muffin Tin Monday there is NO THEME.

Here's what we did. After I snapped a photo, I realized how brown and orange the meal was! Another reason I love MTM. Snapping a photo helps remind me of the foods my kids are getting. Need more greens this week.

sort of a decontructed Lunchable: tangerines, cheese cut into a spider and butterfly, crackers, baby carrots, salami and ranch dip

Now it's your turn. Add your link by clicking the blue "Add your link" button. New to MTM? Be sure to check out the Muffin Tin Monday FAQ page for ideas and how to get started. You don't need to have a blog to participate and you don't need to stick to the themes-they are merely a guidline.

No Need For The Sunday Paper

The weekly link fest that is sure to offset all the trauma drama you read about in the Sunday paper.

How something: Love these hand painted little girls personalized door hangers. One side is awake and one side is asleep. So sweet!

Bento And Company: their Bento Colors Bento Boxes are so sleek and colorful. Not ideal for kids, but I think they are perfect for adults. Their Kokeshi Bento boxes are adorable and perfect for kids of all ages.

Someday Crafts: love this Beautiful Laundry Room round up at Someday Crafts. Inspiring, charming, and if I had a laundry room like that I would love to do laundry...okay maybe not, but it would make it a little more bearable.

My Blonde Ambitions: This Crepe Paper Halloween Wreath is spectacular[ image credit above]. She was inspired by Country living mag's version, but I just love what she did! (found via Tatertots and Jello)

Parents: iPhone app for toddlers and preschoolers.....if you have an iPhone and little ones, this is the perfect educational play app for young minds.

**If you have a link you'd like to be featured on NNFSP, email me at vistamommy(at)yahoo(dot)com

Proverbs 19:11

Good sense makes one slow to anger, 
and it is his glory to overlook an offense.

Little Cakes and Big Friendships in San Diego

 I invited my my "in real life" and blog friend Stephanie of A Pocket Full Of Buttons to visit one of my new favorite local places in North San Diego: Little Cakes Cupcake Kitchen in Vista.

It's not often that I get to spend a morning chatting with a friend and even more rare is the chance to spend it with this particular friend sharing in such a delightful space: a cupcake shop! I am breaking my own blog rules here by sharing a local spot with some of my national and international readers. But I hope you enjoy. I hope it inspires you to connect with friend over such a delicious experience and if you live in the San Diego area, I hope you stop in at Little Cakes. You won't be disappointed.

Cupcake offerings today included: Bostom Cream, Pina Colada, Pancakes and Bacon, Vanilla, Triple Choclate Dark 

Pancakes and Bacon....oh my tasted amazing. the perfect mid morning treat and exactly like pancakes and bacon

Steph's sweet daughter enjoying the triple chocolate

Boston cream...have to say this was divine. I mean, cream filled cupcake...hello! I'm in love!

M and I sharing a moment. I'm showing her the awesomeness that is Disney princesses on YouTube mobile.

The triple chocolate dark and the Boston cream....both had a layer of chocolate ganache that a die for.

Stephanie posted more about our day on her blog A Pocket Full Of Buttons, I hope you check it out. All of the photos in this post are hers, used with permission. Please don't steal them. I would be very sad.

Muffin Tin Meal

It doesn't have to be a Monday to enjoy a Muffin Tin Meal. Here's what the kids had today for afternoon snack.

what's in that snack? sliced cucumbers, tangerine pieces, mozzarella slices, crackers, honeydew melon, cantaloupe melon
It's amazing how little cups can transform a meal from ugh to edible for a child.

Nintendo DSi Giveaway Winner


Comment #4 

That's you, Lisa, (varunner) 

Thank you to everyone who entered. Reading all of your comments, I really wish I could have given away one to everyone that commented.

Muffin Tin Monday - Theme: Shapes

Welcome! If ever there was a favorite theme for Muffin Tin Monday, this would be it. 


Even more so than the Alphabet theme, my kids love their food cut into shapes. Circles, squares, stars, hearts....whatever the shape-they squee w/ delight. This week was no exception. I used a 6 cup muffin tin this time and the kids enjoyed this as an afternoon snack. It would have also worked as a muffin tin lunch for one child.

Honeydew Melon Spheres, Baby Carrot Circles, Mini Cream Cheese Circle Sandwiches, Cucumber Stars, Hexagon Wheat Crackers, Sharp Cheddar Squares, Itty Bitty Mozzarella Cheese Stars
I am working on updating the MTM FAQ page...I will be adding a "how to get started" section, etc. but I want to clarify that it in't necessary to get a bunch of food cutters, shaped muffin tins, and uber-colorful paper liners to participate in Muffin Tin Monday.

You only need two items: A muffin tin (or baking cups, etc) and food to put in it. If you want to get more creative, that's up to you. It's never required. I don't want anyone to feel pressured. Ever. This community has become so important to me and each one of you is a valued member. We are here to inspire each other, to connect while providing food for the kids (and sometimes ourselves) in an "out of the box" way.

So, now, did you make a Muffin Tin Meal this week? Won't you share it with us? Click the blue "add your link" button and add the URL to your blog post there. Don't have a blog? That's okay, you can upload a photo via facebook, flickr or other photo sharing website and link it up here. We'd love to see it!

No Need For The Sunday Paper

Another week, another link fest for my readers! Happy clicking...

The Adventures Of Bear: Simple activity for infants, exploring cause and effect. (baby + ball + empty tissue box = fun!). I love this idea and found it through The Activity Mom (another blog o' awesomeness)

No Time For Flashcards: love this easy to make magnetic weather chart for kids. After gathering only a few items, you will be on your way to inspiring your little one to discover "what's the weather?" <--my favorite weather song for kids.

Make Mine Lime: love, love, love these DIY fall paper pumpkins. I made something similar a few years ago around Christmas for photo ornaments. But these are darling. I think her color choice and arrangement is just so charming.

Free Clip Art: I also stumbled upon this amazing index of free educational clipart. Holy smokes! You can get lost browsing through all those pages, so this is one to bookmark and come back to when you need it. Perfect for the crafter, educator, or person who just loves clip art.

[image credit: Micky ]


Scripture For Sunday
Psalm 25:4-6

 Show me your ways, O Lord,
teach me your paths;
guide me in your truth and teach me,

for you are God my Savior, 
and my hope is in you all day long.
Remember, O Lord, your great mercy and love,
for they are from of old.

Fall Decorating Ideas

It's getting close to Halloween. And the decorations, displays, and oodles of candy are coming out of the woodwork at every store it seems. My appreciation for Halloween is of a much more understated nature. I appreciate simple Halloween decorating ideas instead of the "more is more" approach.

A few years back I remembered gathering at a friend's house for a mom's night out. It was one of the most beautifully decorated houses for fall I have ever seen. Her signature was candy corn.

That's right candy corn.

She filled vases, jars, and candle holders of all shapes and sizes with the sweet treat and had them grouped together. It was understated, simple and sweet.

You can get that look and do it inexpensively. I purchased all of the items for a DIY candy corn inspired candle holder at the local dollar store.

You'll need:

  • 2 candle holders of various sizes. (Votive or tea light sized plus one more larger size candle holder.)
  • 1-2 bags of candy corn
  • Tea light

How to assemble:

Place the tea light inside the the votive holder and place that inside the larger candle holder.

Pour candy corn in between the two candle holders, thus surrounding the votive. Fill to the top. Be careful not to get any candy corn pieces in the smaller votive holder.

It should look like this...

Light and enjoy during the day or at night.

Hints, Tips, and Tricks:

  • the heat generated by the votive will melt the candy over time. be prepared that the candy will stick to the jar or vase.
  • keep away from small and smallish children
  • never, ever place the tea light directly on or inside the candy without the votive. This could start a fire.

*A special thank you to Amber for her idea and inspiration.

What simple fall decorating ideas to you have?

Where Can I find Wilton Products?

Welcome to the last installment of Wilton Wednesdays.

For a little over a month I have been sharing each week, tips, ideas, and product highlights on everything Wilton. As a brand, I know that I can trust their products to be high quality, creative design and at a price I can afford. (Especially with a 40% off coupon from retailers like Joann's Michaels, Hobby Lobby, etc.).

But many of you have come to me or asked your fellow Muffin Tin Meal community members "Where can I find Wilton products?"or "Where can I find those shaped 6 cup silicone muffin pans?" I asked a few of you this past week to share with me some of the places that they know of and can find and purchase Wilton's products. I put together a Whrrl story/slide show of our finds. Check it out!

More check-ins at Michaels Arts
Powered by Whrrl

Here's also a little bit of what Sarah had to say about their Cookie Cutters:

"I love the Wilton Alphabet and Cookie Cutters! My mind goes crazy thinking of all the different things I could do with them...cutting sandwiches, play doh, cookies or just looking at them and putting them in order or for number/letter recognition! I plan on using them for Muffin Tin Meals for our preschool letter of the week curriculum too. What a great way to kill two birds with one stone! With over 50 pieces, the possibilities are endless as far as making works, names or adding. I believe they were $8.99  so with a 40% off coupon, they come out to a little over $5. They're very affordable and would make a great addition to your MTM stash or homeschool tools."

A very special thank you to Alexa at Mind Games , Thayer at Life's Like This  Staci @ Lizard and Ladybug, Christy of One Little Word She Knew and Sarah of Ordinary Life, Extraordinary Bliss for their contributions They went to such stores as AC Moore, Mejier, and Hobby Lobby. I went to Michaels.

And the winner of the giveaway of the Wilton MTM inspired prize pack is...

Comment #85

I used to generate this number. I have a photo of the drawing, my camera was just being wonky on upload).

By my findings that's SHAY S. Woo-hoo!

Nintendo DSi At GameStop - Giveaway!

I told you the giveaway was coming and that it would be awesome! I am excited to be able to offer you the chance to 

win a Nintendo DSi!!! 
If your kids are school aged, then you probably have already heard of the DSi, have one, or your kids are asking for one. If not, check it out. I hear it works great for the older preschool set. The fine folks at GameStop are providing me with a Nintendo DSi to keep and one to give away. Did I mention they are throwing in 2 games with it?!

Nintendo DSi at GameStop for $149.99

But GameStop isn't "stopping" there (<---see what I did right there?). They are dropping the price to $149.99! If you are thinking about getting one for Christmas presents for yourself your kids, then this is the perfect opportunity to that. 

Purchasing technology items these days can be costly. Especially when gaming has only gotten more expensive. That's the great thing about GameStop, they offer new and previously owned games and gaming consoles. And did you know that Nintendo offers a variety of educational games for the handheld DS series? Technology and education pack a powerful punch.

Twitter #GNO Party Wed Sept 15th
Have kids who are gamers? Concerned about gaming and kids in general?  If you want to join in on the conversation online and connect with other moms about kids, gaming, and how it can promote skills, values, and family togetherness? Then, join me with Mom It Forward at the #gno Twitter party this WEDNESDAY, September 15 from 9-11 p.m. ET (8 CT, 7 MT, 6 PT).


  • 1 (one) winner will be chosen, at random, to win a Nintendo DSi and 2 (two) games (valued at $210) on or around Tuesday Sept 21st, 2010 at 8am
  • Leave me a comment and tell me why you want to win. You MUST provide me with a valid way to contact you, preferably email or blog.
  • That's it! Simple Dimple.

And if that isn't enough...check out TodaysMama and enter to win DSi's for the entire family. You heard me right! That's 5 DSi's and 10 games.

Disclosure: I am being provided with a Nintendo DSi and 2 games in return for sharing this post with you and joining in on the twitter #gno party. My opinions are my own.

Muffin Tin Monday - Theme: Movies

Welcome to MTM, that's Muffin Tin Monday, the weekly blog link up that celebrates creative toddler, preschooler, and kid food served in a muffin tin. Some call is muffin tin lunch, muffin tin meal, or for short: MTM. Whatever you call it, this here fine blog is the official home. Every week there is a theme, but you don't have to participate in the themes if you don't want to. We're cool like that.

This week's Muffin Tin Monday Theme is 
and as I am writing this, The Muffin Tin Boy is sick for the 5th day. So, that means I will be including our themed tin a little later this week. I just couldn't make it happen this week. :( So today I will be sharing with you a muffin tin meal I made last year.

Here's the original post: Muffin Tin Meal Cars

What did you make for Muffin Tin Monday? Would love for you to share it! Be sure to click on the blue "add your link" button. For more info, visit the Muffin Tin Monday FAQ page

***Stay close this week as I have a super-awesome-most-amazing GIVEAWAY I will be posting later today or tomorrow-ish. 
***And if you haven't entered my Wilton Giveaway for some MTM goodies - do so now, entry closes Wednesday morning! 

No Need For The Sunday Paper

This week's lovely links:

Craftzine: love this post on tin can organizers. Also on my official to-do list are these clever[image credit above] mini-chalkboards-turned-birthday-party-favor 

Frugal Law Student: Did you love the Pottery Barn Halloween Countdown Calender out a few years ago? FLS made a fabulous DIY version. If I had more time this season on my hands, I might make one. It looks so festive!

Tipjunkie also shares a round up of DIY halloween count down calenders

...But if your like me, you probably won't be counting down to Halloween at all and if you do, you'll be using a free printable like this one from Family Fun

Dollar Store Crafts: I am officially addicted to Dollar Store Crafts Youtube Channel. I've watched every single video and I am chomping at the bit for more. And if you've never been to, you are missing out, my friends.


Scripture For Sunday
Proverbs 28:13

 He who conceals his sins does not prosper, 
       but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.

Halloween Baking Cups At The Dollar Store: A Friday Find

I found these Halloween themed paper cupcake liners and picks at our local dollar store (The Dollar Tree more specifically) .This is one Halloween item I can be glad is out already. :) They'd be perfect for Muffin Tin Meals or baking up some spooky fun! If you are thinking about getting them, I would go as soon as possible, because my experience with seasonal items is that they go fast!

And don't forget to enter my Wilton Giveaway that ends Wednesday!

Wilton Wednesdays: A Giveaway!

You'll have to watch to find out what's included, how to enter, and when it ends.

Bonus entries for for any comments that can tell me how many times I say "super cute".

Muffin Tin Monday - No Theme Today!

It's time for Muffin Tin Monday, the weekly blog link up where we get to share a Muffin Tin Meal made for the kids over the last week. What's a Muffin Tin Meal? It's just that a meal, snack, lunch or dessert served in a muffin tin. We've expanded the serving containers to include silicone muffin pans,  and paper cupcake liners. It's a little less artistic than a bento box meal, but still just as fun. I hope you will join in on the fun!

There is no theme this week!

Aren't these "silly feet" silicone cupcake molds fun? They just make me want to giggle with their cuteness.  They're made by Wilton. I've been featuring quite a number of their products over the past few weeks, thanks to a wonderful package they sent me.

It has been so fun to get to share with you how we use Wilton's products to celebrate not only the important days, but also those everyday moments that make lifetime memories. Did you know Wilton uses only food grade silicone in all of their silicone molds, cups, and pans. I was pleasantly surprised at how sturdy the "silly feet" are. They are perfect for not only cupcake and muffin tin meals, but a variety of treats and goodies. even features ideas for these on their website. So be sure to check that out.

Want to join in on the Muffin Tin Monday fun?

Here's how: Make a "Muffin Tin Meal" (see above), snap a photo and blog about it or up load it to a photo sharing website and link your blog post or photo URL by clicking on the blue "add your link" button and following a few simple steps.

No Need For The Sunday Paper

[image credit: let's explore]

Welcome! This week's links are wonderful. I hope you enjoy!

Just A Girl: I love this homework box. Clean. Simple. And inspiring.

Rockislander on Flickr: Love this flickr photo round up of preschool fine motor activities. Found via tumblr, special thanks to teachpreschool, eca-prek, and totschool on tumblr for reblogging it so i could find it.

House of Baby Pirahna: threading cupcake liners. Oh my goodness, so fun...and pretty. They would make great party decorations.

Let's Explore: I love Amy's website. Her ideas never cease to inspire me. Recently, her kids created a simple painted abstract art canvas that would be great as a gift for grandparent's day, perfect for hanging up in the house and a great way to teach your kids about abstract art.


Isaiah 40: 28-29

     Do you not know?
       Have you not heard?
       The LORD is the everlasting God,
       the Creator of the ends of the earth.
       He will not grow tired or weary,
       and his understanding no one can fathom.

    He gives strength to the weary
       and increases the power of the weak.

Easy Paper Bag Album

Paper bag albums are just about the easiest kid friendly craft out there. Construction is super simple. 
Here's the short version: Stack 3 or more paper lunch bags together, fold over to create a "book" and staple the side to create a "binding".

You can even create a color-themed paper bag album to help your toddler or preschooler learn their colors. Use stamps, stickers, paint, and even handprints to decorate each page with a color of the rainbow. 

If you plan to use paint, be sure to decorate you album before you construct it.

After the paint has completely dried you can assemble your album. Now your child has a personalized way to learn the ROYGBIV (or something like it ;) ) scale. 

** I tried to make the entire album with handprints in one sitting, but they would have none of it! At least I heard a very sweet "no , thank you" and I got one of each of kidlets hand print in one book.

After we made the book together, we had fun with all the paint and sponge stamps!

What about you, have you ever made a paper bag album?

Wilton Wednesdays: After School Snack Idea

In today's Wilton Wednesday, I talk about afternoon (or after school) snacks and Wilton's new line of adorable paper muffin cups. Plus, you'll get to see me pause at the beginning to make sure the video was recording. Apparently I won't be getting rid of my vlogging newbie status off this week.

So fun!

For more Wilton products, be sure to visit

I love to use paper muffin cups for snacks and muffin tin meals. What do you use them for? What about crafts, or even their original purpose: muffins and cupcakes? Have a post share? Leave a comment!

Disclosure: Wilton provided me with the muffin liners in this post and video to share with you dear readers. My opinions are my own and are objective.