Holidays

treats1pin

My daughter loves Valentine’s Day. She loves decorating a “mailbox” to collect cards from her classmates, and she loves all the candy. What can I say? She’s a kid. Plus she has a mother with a notorious sweet tooth.

This year, Walmart challenged me to share Valentine’s Day party ideas, and I decided to surprise my girls with some homemade treats. Put these three easy DIY snacks together with affordable ingredients and Valentine’s decor from Walmart, and you’ve got an instant party.

Treat 1: Chocolate-Dipped Marshmallows

treat1-4pin

Ingredients

  • Bag of strawberry marshmallows (though white would work too)
  • 4-8 oz. chocolate for melting
  • Sprinkles
  • Popsicle sticks

Directions

My daughter brought home a chocolate covered marshmallow that a friend gave her as a gift, and I wanted to try my hand at making them myself. Turns out it’s really easy.

Push a popsicle or lollipop stick through one end of each marshmallow. It doesn’t have to go all the way through, but I suggest trying to push it at least halfway so it doesn’t fall out.

treat1-2

Melt your chocolate in the microwave or a double boiler. You’ll need 4 to 8 ounces, depending on how many marshmallows you plan to make.

Dip half of each marshmallow in the melted chocolate, and let the excess chocolate drip off. Coat the chocolate with sprinkles.

treat1-3

Place the marshmallows, stick side down, in a glass or mug to let the chocolate solidify. If you want to speed up the process, you can put them in the freezer for a few minutes or the fridge for 30-60 minutes.

treat1-5

Once the chocolate has set, they’re good to go!

Treat 2: Pretzel Wands

treat2-3pin

Ingredients

  • Pretzel sticks
  • 4-8 oz. white chocolate for melting
  • Sprinkles

Directions

If you have never had chocolate-covered pretzels, you need to make these right away! The combination of sweet and salty flavors together is magical. I had these at my niece’s birthday party last year, and I’ve been wanting to make them ever since.

Melt your chocolate in the microwave or a double boiler.

Dip each pretzel stick into the melted chocolate about 1/2 to 3/4 of the length, and let the excess chocolate drip off.

treat2-2

You can then decorate the wands however you’d like. We used sprinkles, but you could use a different type of hard candy or something else entirely. Maybe you could drizzle dark chocolate in a pattern.

Anyway, once decorated, place them, chocolate side up, in a glass or mug to let the chocolate solidify. You can speed up the process by putting them in the freezer or fridge, like the marshmallows.

treat2-3

These are SO good! And your kids will have too much fun spreading Valentine’s day magic with their wands.

Treat 3: Strawberry Roses

treat3-5pin

Ingredients

  • Fresh, whole strawberries
  • Paring knife
  • Toothpicks or lollipop sticks
  • Optional: Whipped cream

Directions

After all that sugar, I wanted to give them something a bit healthier. This is the easiest of the three snacks, but the result is so pretty! I found this idea at Spend with Pennies and I had to try it!

Wash and dry your strawberries. Insert a toothpick or lollipop stick in the stem end of each strawberry.

Starting from the bottom (nearest the leaves), make small slices slightly angled towards the center of the strawberry, but be sure not to cut all the way through.

treat3-2

This will create the rose “petals”. Use the knife to bend each piece out toward you slightly, which will create a layered effect. Turn and continue making slices. You’ll probably be able to do 5 or 6 on the bottom row.

treat3-3

Move up the strawberry, continuing to cut. For each row of petals, cut between the petals you have already cut. The closer you get to the top, the thinner you’ll want to cut, so the petals will “curl”.

treat3-4

treat3-5

That’s it! Serve right away for best results :)

These treats are a great start to a Valentine’s Day party, and you can find affordable themed plates, cups and other tableware at Walmart to complete the fun.

More Valentine’s Day Party Ideas

Check out these ideas from other Walmart Moms.

Simple decorating ideas from Renee at Cutie Booty Cakes

Gorgeous Valentine’s Day tablescape from Liz at Hoosier Homemade

Affordable decorating tips from Linsey at Lille Punkin

Tissue paper pom tutorial from Tara at Unsophisticook

Making the most of your party on a budget, from Heather at The Domestic Diva

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

Even though I tell myself every year that I’ll go all out decorating the house for every holiday, the only one that I consistently follow through on is Christmas. Every year, we choose a non-traditional color palette. In other words, you won’t find any red, gold and green at the Petersen house. Of course, that generally presents a challenge: We can find ornaments for the tree in a variety of colors, but it can be a challenge to find anything else.

Case in point: Our colors this year are turquoise, purple and gold.

tablesettings1

Exactly.

So when Walmart asked me to create a fabulous holiday table setting with items from their stores, I knew I’d have to get creative. Much of the Christmas-themed tableware is of the traditional variety. Instead, I focused on putting together a look based on our colors, with a little sparkle.

tablesettings2

I knew I’d start with our fabulous Better Homes and Gardens square white tableware and build from there. I headed to Walmart and grabbed a table runner in a muted blue, some amazing gold placemats for just under $2 apiece, sparkly turquoise floral stems, and a few fat quarters of fabric at just $1 apiece in turquoise and purple to use as cloth napkins.

The rest of the magic was just in putting it all together.

tablesettings3

The runner worked great on top of our existing turquoise tablecloth, and I put together a quick centerpiece with an old vase and some leftover Christmas decor.

tablesettings4

tablesettings5

The plates looked amazing stacked on top of the placemats, with a pop of color in the center from the fat quarter napkins. I just improvised on the folding to create the look of a pocket. The sparkly stems went in sturdy shot glasses to dress up each setting.

tablesettings6

The overall look feels well thought out, but it’s simple enough to be done between naps, work and errands during this busy time of year. And I’m pleased because I managed to pull together a table in a color palette that I’d be unlikely to ever find in Christmas tableware.

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

Now that I have kids, I really get into Halloween every year. That usually manifests itself as homemade costumes for them, like this year’s DIY Doc McStuffins for baby Juliza. But I understand that many people don’t have either the time or the inclination to make an elaborate costume at home. Or — if you’re like I was a few years ago — you wait until the last minute to pick up a costume and all the best ones are gone. Or, if you have a baby or toddler, they may just revolt against a costume altogether. In any case, Walmart and I have an idea for you: Pick up an inexpensive Halloween makeup kit and go to town on your baby’s face.

I started off with a pretty cool idea: I wanted to make Juliza a cheetah, inspired by a gorgeous Facebook friend who posted her awesome Halloween makeup last week.

babycheetahfacepaint-main-pin

A lion may have been a little easier, but I knew the spots would be fun and cute. The problem? Toddlers gonna toddler. Which means that getting her not only to sit still, but actually let me make up her face, were going to be challenging. The good thing is that the makeup kit comes with “crayons”, which make drawing shapes infinitely easier than it would’ve been with traditional makeup and brushes. So my solution? I let Juliza draw on my face while I drew on hers. I’ll reveal her masterpiece later.

Baby Cheetah DIY Facepainting

Anyway, all you need is some makeup, and ears, if you’d like to add them.

babycheetahfacepaint1

Beyond that, the process is relatively simple:

Step 1.

babycheetahfacepaint2

Color the bottom third of baby’s nose black.

Step 2.

babycheetahfacepaint3

Fill in the area between baby’s nose and mouth with white makeup. Then draw a black line down the middle from the bottom of the nose to the middle of the upper lip. Add a black line extending from either side of the mouth. You can also try to add “winged” eyeliner, but Juliza wasn’t really having it when I tried to draw so close to her eyes, so I gave up on that.

Step 3.

babycheetahfacepaint4

Draw your spots. These really don’t have to fit any particular pattern, and the shapes don’t even have to be round. Just draw random spots, some round, some oval, some in organic shapes, from the right side of the forehead down onto the cheek and come back around to baby’s mouth. Add more spots on the left cheek, and the forehead, if you’d like. I preferred the look of more spots on one side. Fill in any noticeable gaps with more spots, if necessary.

Step 4.

babycheetahfacepaint5

By this time, Juliza was getting more than a little impatient with me, as evidenced by the look on her face, so thankfully, there wasn’t much left to do. Put small rings of yellow in the middle of each spot, just to give them a little dimension. Then add a couple of black spots on top of the white makeup above baby’s mouth.

That’s it!

I also picked up a fox costume set that included some cute ears because there were no cheetah ears and these were the next best thing. I loved them, and I may just add some black spots on the ears and headband with a fabric marker.

babycheetahfacepaint-main

In case you’re worried about cleanup, this makeup is super easy to remove with soap and water, or if you have a fussy baby and need to do it in a hurry, with baby wipes. The only caveat to this easy removal is that baby can rub it off pretty easily too. This is why you see smudged spots on Juliza’s cheek in the last few photos. She kept rubbing her face as I tickled her cheeks with my drawings, so she rubbed a bit of it off.

babycheetahfacepaint6

babycheetahfacepaint7

Still, the final look was super cute! So cute that I may replicate it on myself when we go trick-or-treating this weekend.

And finally, the photo I’ve been avoiding. Remember how I said I let Juliza draw on my face so she’d let me draw on hers. Well, this is the result:

babycheetahfacepaint8

I drew the stuff on my forehead to show her what to do, but the rest is all her. Yay.

Not.

More DIY Halloween Ideas

If you loved this and you’re looking for more homemade Halloween goodness, check out my creations from Halloweens past:

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

Easter is just around the corner, and my daughter always looks forward to it. Not because of Easter egg hunts or the Easter Bunny — but because she gets to dress up in a fancy new outfit. She loves the frills and colors and overall girly-ness of Easter fashion. When Walmart challenged me to share an Easter project this year, I thought I’d make an Easter dress for her favorite My Life As 18″ doll so they can both dress up together.

Tutorial: DIY Easter Dress for an 18″ Doll

DIYDollEasterDress1-pin

You’ll Need:

Fold your fat quarter in half lengthwise. Walmart has a ton of inexpensive fat quarters in their fabric section in a ton of colors and patterns. Use this pattern to cut two the front and back of the dress along the fold.

DIYDollEasterDress3

Unfold the fabric and lay the pieces right sides facing. Pin along the left and right edges. Sew together, then press the seams open.

DIYDollEasterDress4

You may be tempted to skip the iron on this project, but trust me — at this size and scale, pressing seams and hems before you sew will save you from pulling your hair out trying to hold pieces together with just pins.

Use the pattern to cut two small strips of fabric for the arm holes.

DIYDollEasterDress5

Fold and press each strip in half lengthwise. Unfold it, then fold both sides 1/4 of the way to the center so they meet in the middle. Finally, fold them in half again and press.

DIYDollEasterDress6

These narrow tubes of fabric will cover the raw edges of the arm holes. Slide the raw edges between the layers of folded fabric and pin.

DIYDollEasterDress7

Sew along the arm hole fabric being sure to overlap and sew every layer. Cut off any excess left at the ends.

DIYDollEasterDress8

Now for the top of the dress. Fold the top edges down 1/4″ and press. Fold again 1/2″, press and pin. Sew hem. It’s important to leave a 1/2″ seam allowance here, because this hem will create the “pocket” for your ribbon straps.

DIYDollEasterDress9

At the bottom of the dress, fold 1/4″ hem and press. Fold again 1/2″, press, pin and sew.

DIYDollEasterDress10

That’s it! The sewing is complete.

The final steps involve threading your straps. Cut two 14″ strips of narrow grosgrain ribbon. The type of ribbon is important so it won’t fray.

DIYDollEasterDress11

Use a safety pin to thread each piece of ribbon through each hem pocket at the top of the dress, and gather the fabric along the ribbon.

DIYDollEasterDress12

It may resemble a boring sack on the table, but it is indeed a dress.

Simply slip the dress over your doll’s head and tie the loose ends of the ribbon at the shoulders. Then cut one last 18″ piece of ribbon to tie around her waist as a belt.

DIYDollEasterDress13

How cute is she?!

DIYDollEasterDress14

If you can sew straight stitches, you can make this dress. It really is a simple sewing project, and if your daughter is anything like mine, she’ll appreciate being able to dress up her favorite doll for Easter.

Want to make a simple dress for your daughter? Here’s a similar DIY Easter dress I made for my daughter a few years back. The best part? It’s reversible!

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

One of the things my husband and I are trying to get better at doing is exposing our girls to other cultures and their traditions, because we want them to appreciate that customs and traditions are what make people special and amazing. When Walmart challenged me to share a Chinese New Year story, I thought this would be a great time to introduce my daughters to this tradition in an interactive way.

sheepheadband1pin

Each Chinese New Year is represented by an animal or animals. 2015 is represented by the sheep or goat. In celebration of that, we made a simple, DIY sheep headband with a couple of simple materials you can find at Walmart.

sheepheadband2

You’ll Need:

This is a pretty easy project to complete, but the result is super, super cute. Start by cutting a loose oval shape from white felt. It doesn’t have to be a perfect shape. I’d say mine was about 5 inches wide, but you can make yours smaller if you want the ears to end up closer together in the end.

sheepheadband3

Glue cotton balls to the felt to cover the whole shape, packing the cotton close together. You’ll want to overlap a bit around the edges so that the felt is invisible from the top.

sheepheadband4

Next, you’ll want to glue the cotton-covered felt to the center of the headband. The headband has a curved shape, so even if you put the cotton balls close to each other, you may still end up with a few gaps:

sheepheadband5

Just add a little hot glue in the gaps and add a smallish piece of cotton to fill the spaces.

The ears are up next. Lay a piece of white felt on top of a piece of pink/purple felt and fold it in half. You should have a total of four layers. Cut out an “ear” shape through all the layers at once. I think of it as a teardrop shape with a flat bottom.

Trim a little bit from around the edges of the pink/purple shapes, since they’ll act as the “inside” of the ears. Glue a purple shape to the center of each white shape so that there’s white trim showing around all the edges.

sheepheadband6

Finally, you’ll need to glue the ears to the headband on either side of the cotton-covered felt. Glue the ear to the middle of the headband via a narrow strip of glue. Then glue two pieces of cotton in front of the ears, and two pieces behind. This will let the ears stand up straight.

sheepheadband7

Tada! You’re done!

sheepheadband8

Because my first piece of felt was so wide, the ears wound up being set pretty wide apart. If you want your closer together, start with a smaller piece of felt. My little sheep wasn’t complaining, though. She was too busy being cute!

sheepheadband9

I’m really tempted to make the rest of this costume, just because. How cute would that be?

So what about you? How do you celebrate the Chinese New Year?

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

footprintcards1

These days, baby Juliza is very lovey dovey. She loves to randomly walk up to my hubby and I and hug our legs, or bellies, or necks, or whatever is in reach at the moment. She loves giving kisses too, though we have to work on her technique. So when Walmart challenged me to share a Valentine’s Day craft project, she was my inspiration.

If you have a baby at home, this is a great interactive project that will also deliver a great keepsake for family members and friends, and you can get everything you need at Walmart for about the cost of a few pre-made cards.

DIY Baby Footprint Valentine’s Day Cards

footprintcards2

You’ll Need:

I spend a surprising amount of time playing with Juliza’s feet. Maybe because she likes to put them in my face while nursing, or maybe because I’m a mom who’s just obsessed with her baby’s feet. Either way, when I was considering what Valentine’s craft I could do this year, I kept thinking that putting her feet together would look like a heart. And so, this idea was born.

The execution of this card is really simple. I started by creating a basic template for the front of the card, cheesy phrase and all:

footprintcards3

Click here to download the PDF template

I used Avery half-fold greeting cards because they’re already perforated and fold easily, but you really could just use card stock to print the template. Fold the card in half, and you’re ready for the next step.

Remember above, when I said you’ll need a “willing” baby? *By “willing”, I mean a baby you can strap into a high chair or other contraption so they won’t get paint all over the floor. Or one who’s too little to get around on her own.

footprintcards4

So, I strapped JuJu into her high chair and proceeded to paint the bottom of her feet.

footprintcards5

I considered dipping her feet in paint, but I thought that would be drippy and messy and…just no. Painting with a brush is a lot less messy and lets you make sure you cover the entire bottom of baby’s foot. Just be sure to use craft paint, because it will wash right off with soap and water.

Once the bottom of the foot is covered, simply press baby’s foot on the paper under the phrase on the front of the card.

footprintcards6

You’ll need to hold baby’s foot slightly diagonal. The toes on the left foot will point a bit to the left, and the toes on the right foot will point a bit to the right. The idea is that the heels will meet to create the bottom of the heart.

footprintcards7

Be sure to put slight pressure on the entire foot, from heel to toes, so you get a good footprint. There will be blank spots, especially if your baby still likes to curl her toes like mine does, but the imperfect nature of this is what makes it so…well…perfect.

footprintcards8-pin

Really, this took 15 minutes, including cleanup, but it is such an awesome keepsake that I don’t know if we’ll be able to part with it to give it to anyone. Maybe we’ll give it to the hubby so I can still admire it from time to time. Or I can just keep playing with Juliza’s feet until she’s old enough to stop me :)

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

ootd-newyear1

ootd-newyear2

I’m Wearing: Walmart statement earrings | Faded Glory plaid shirt | Eloquii satin midi skirt | Nine West Authority heels | Apt. 9 satchel purse (aff)

Most years, I spend New Year’s Eve in my pajamas, snuggling with my hubby and kids so we can watch the ball drop in Times Square and toast with some sparkling apple cider. Still, what would I wear if I were to get all dressed up for a fancy party? Well, a New Year’s Eve outfit requires a little sparkle, and I don’t own any sequins. The quickest way to take an outfit from casual to party-ready is with some great statement jewelry. So when Walmart challenged me to share a New Year’s Eve story, I knew I wanted to pick up a couple of their great, affordable statement pieces.

ootd-newyear3

Toward the end of this year, I’ve been obsessed with two things: Plaid shirts and midi skirts. I grabbed this Faded Glory top, thinking I could pair it with my new satin midi skirt, and when I found these earrings, I knew I had an outfit! I like to think of the whole look as “Fancy Lumberjack.”

ootd-newyear4

The earrings are the perfect complement to the two pieces, and the best part? They were only $5! Seriously? How many gorgeous pair of earrings could I get at just $5 a pop? And there were so many awesome options to choose from.

walmart-jewelry1

And as if the $5 earrings aren’t enough, this bevy of statement necklaces?

walmart-jewelry2

Just $10 apiece! I wore one last week. With another plaid shirt. Don’t judge me.

ootd-rackroom7

Also, I will be going back for this minty fresh beauty and the knit kimono to match.

walmart-jewelry3

Anyway, back to my New Year’s outfit. The plaid top could definitely skew casual depending on the pairing, but the satin and rhinestones really elevate it to something fit for a celebration.

ootd-newyear5

ootd-newyear6

And celebrate we will. Baby Juliza came into our lives this year and she’ll be one in a little more than a week. We have a roof over our heads and food to eat, and we’re healthy. We moved to a new city and Ja’Naya has adapted and thrived at her new school. I’m blessed to make a living doing what I love, whether it’s style blogging or graphic design. I ended the year with a lucky streak that saw me win no fewer than six giveaways that allowed my kids a great Christmas. There’s just so much to be grateful for about 2014, so I’ll ring in 2015 in style, in hopes that it will be even better.

ootd-newyear7

ootd-newyear8

Here’s wishing you and yours a blessed and Happy New Year!

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

I wish I could say my Christmas shopping was complete, but alas, it is not. I still have a few people to shop for, and I still have to get a few more items for our stockings. If you’ve procrastinated this year, like me, not to worry. You can still shop your conscience. Just head to your nearest Whole Foods Market and pick up a gift that will woo the recipient and make you feel great about wooing the Earth. Even if you did buy it just days before Christmas.

wholefoods-lastminutegifts1

So what kind of great green gifts can you really get at Whole Foods? Well, whether you’re shopping for a fashionista, a beauty maven, your husband or the kids, there’s something for everyone. Here are some of my favorites:

Threads 4 Thought Fleece Leggings, $30

wholefoods-lastminutegifts2

I love Threads 4 Thought because they’re committed to using sustainable materials like organic cotton and recycled polyester, the latter of which turns plastic bottles that otherwise would’ve gone into the waste stream into fashion. Cute fashion, at that. These fleece leggings are the perfect complement to a winter outfit and a great way to make all those summer dresses work during the colder months. Also, Threads 4 Thought gives portion of their proceeds to the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

Yellow 108 Infinity Scarf, $24.00

wholefoods-lastminutegifts3

I have one niece who is a scarf fanatic, and I know she’d love these. Yellow 108 is a Los Angeles-based company that makes sustainable accessories and hats made of salvaged materials from eco textile factories. These infinity scarves are made of 100% salvaged cotton, and the nature of the materials means that every run is “limited edition”.

Chavez for Charity Bracelets, $11.99

wholefoods-lastminutegifts4

What girl (or boy) wouldn’t love some gorgeous, stackable bracelets on Christmas morning? Plus, in this case, for each green bracelet purchased, Chavez for Charity will donate 25% of the profits to the Whole Plant Foundation, whose mission is to alleviate poverty through microlending programs in communities throughout the world. And you can only get them at Whole Foods Market this holiday season.

Pacifica Wanderlust Trio Roll-On Perfume Set, $18.99

wholefoods-lastminutegifts5

Though I always give cologne as a gift, I’ve never been a big perfume person myself, in part because it’s too hard to tell what’s in them these days. Well, these perfume roll-ons from Pacifica would be right up my alley. They’re 100% vegan and free of phthalates, nitro-musks and benzene, made with natural grain alcohol and essential oils. The scents included in the set: Indian Coconut Nectar, Tuscan Blood Orange and Island Vanilla. Don’t they sound amazing?

Mineral Fusion Sheer Moisture Lip Tints, $19.99

wholefoods-lastminutegifts6

I may not be into perfume very much, but one thing I have been loving of late is lipstick. This three-pack contains Mineral Fusion’s most popular lip tint crayons, and you can only get them at Whole Foods. The colors included are Flicker (sheer berry), Smolder (bright cherry red) and Glisten (nude caramel shimmer). And unlike your favorite matte lipstick, these tints will hydrate your lips with cocoa butter and botanical oils, and they even taste sweet because of their natural vanilla-mint fragrance.

Every Man Jack Body Kit Sandalwood Pail, $17.99

wholefoods-lastminutegifts7

Let me just say, my husband LOVES Every Man Jack. The fragrances are musky and manly, and they last all day. This all-in-one grooming kit comes with a hydrating body wash, aluminum-free deodorant, soothing face lotion and bonus SPF lip balm in a refreshing Sandalwood fragrance. Neatly packed in a unique, reusable pail, the items in this set use naturally derived ingredients from coconut, jojoba oil and aloe to soothe, hydrate and protect skin. No parabens, no phthalates, no dyes, no sodium lauryl sulfate, and never tested on animals. All products meet Whole Foods Market’s strict Premium Body Care™ standards.

PBS KIDS x Whole Foods Market Produce Pick Up Shape Sorter, $22.99

wholefoods-lastminutegifts8

PBS KIDS and Whole Foods Market have joined forces on a line of eco-friendly toys this year. Whole Foods Market will donate a portion of their proceeds to support the Whole Kids Foundation, and 100% of PBS proceeds will support its mission of educating all children. The Produce Pick-Up Shape Sorter is a great toy for kids who are learning their shapes and colors. It’s made with FSC-certified pinewood, printed with vegetable inks and packaged in recycled materials, plus it comes with 13 pieces, including a detachable crate to store the produce pieces. Made for kids ages 3 and up.

What about you? Are you still shopping for a few gifts? Do you consider buying green when you’re in a hurry?

Disclosure: I was provided with compensation for my time and effort in creating this post. As usual, all opinions are my own and completely authentic.