Willamette Valley Wonder Woman

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

5 Fun Holiday Card Photo Ideas

This post is sponsored by Global Influence. #HolidayCardPhotos

So.... I know Halloween is still two days away, but I can't help but start thinking about holiday cards already! I am one of those kind of people who look forward to giving - and collecting - cards from everyone I know, and then I display them proudly until New Year's Day.

We tend to switch up our cards every year - honestly depending on the time we have and budget for the year. Some years we have purchased pretty cards from the store, other years we've had family portrait photos created, and I've also just made photo cards with prior images for the kids or our family... whatever I decide to do, I always make sure to just send them! I think it's so important to send them and remind everyone that you've thought of them this holiday season. 

I'm not sure what we are going to be doing for sure this year, but I'm thinking about having our photos taken professionally since it's been ehem, a few years since we've had it done! (Exhibit A. down below!)


If getting photos professionally done this year doesn't fit into your budget though, here are a few ideas fun ideas you can do for your holiday cards that has worked in the past for me!

1. Find a travel photo. - One year our family spent Thanksgiving weekend on the beach, and I decided to keep it real and use a photo that someone took of us on one of our adventures (here we are all, not posed, but keeping it real on top of the Astoria Column). It was us - living our lives, and sharing a moment with our friends. 


2. Take a Picture of your Christmas tree. - Or whatever holiday decoration you're most proud of. The idea behind photo cards is to spread love and cheer, right? Why not let family and friends get a peek inside of your home.

3. Make Your Favorite Photos Black and White. - I took three of my favorite poses from the kids, and then made them all black and white before creating our holiday card. It gave the card a sense of unison even though the pictures were taken at different times. 


4. Take a Photo of Your Kid's Holiday Artwork. - This idea is great if your kids are in elementary school still and come home with fun holiday crafts/pictures they've created (remember all of those fun construction paper crafts!?) Take a picture of your favorite and incorporate it into a holiday card. The grandparents will love it. :)

5.Christmas cookies! - Start baking them early - and take a pretty picture of your hard work displayed! Bonus: Send cookies along with your card, then your friends and family can look at your card throughout the season and reminisce about how delicious those treats were.

Whatever you decide, I think it's important to have your cards be uniquely yours. Have fun with them! It's the holidays. ;)

So my question to all of my local friends - do you know any great photographers in the McMinnville/Sherwood/Tigard/Salem areas? I'd love some suggestions!



~Melissa
This post was inspired by Paper Culture who offer modern Christmas Cards and Holiday Cards.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Halloween Snacks Idea + A Chocolate Orange Cake Recipe!

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SpookySnacks #CollectiveBias
Halloween Snack Ideas / Spider Snacks / Oreo Bats / #SpookySnacks #shop #cbias

Hey everyone! Yesterday I had the luxury of staying home all day (with the exception of taking kids back and forth to school) and so I got a little creative and made a few Halloween Snacks. I seriously can’t believe it’s only a couple days away!

I started off making some after-school appetizers for the kids – some spooky spider Wheat Thins snacks and they were a big hit! They’re super easy to make, all you need is 3 ingredients:

Halloween Snack Ideas / Spider Snacks / Oreo Bats / #SpookySnacks #shop #cbias

Spider Appetizers 

What you need:

Wheat thins – any flavor you’d like
Black Olives
Spreadable cheese

Directions:
  1. Spread cheese on desired amount of crackers. If you feel like playing trick or treat a bit you can use a few of the Spicy Buffalo and mix them in with the original flavors
  2. Slice olives in half lengthwise (one olive = one spider) Place one half of the olive on the cracker and then slice the other half lengthwise into strips, and then cut the strips in half. These will make the spider legs. I ended up only putting 6 legs on my spiders because I think it fits better on the Wheat Thin, but you could put 8 on there if you want to.

Voila! Easy spider snacks for Halloween.

Halloween Snack Ideas / Spider Snacks / Oreo Bats / #SpookySnacks #shop #cbias
Halloween Snack Ideas / Spider Snacks / Oreo Bats / #SpookySnacks #shop #cbias
Halloween Snack Ideas / Spider Snacks / Oreo Bats / #SpookySnacks #shop #cbias
Halloween Snack Ideas / Spider Snacks / Oreo Bats / #SpookySnacks #shop #cbias
Halloween Snack Ideas / Spider Snacks / Oreo Bats / #SpookySnacks #shop #cbias

And if you're pressed for time you can add edible eyes to almost anything to spook it up! I also made a simple kid-friendly snack platter with Wheat Thins, spreadable cheese, smoked sausage, and sliced apples.

Halloween Snack Ideas / Spider Snacks / Oreo Bats / #SpookySnacks #shop #cbias
Halloween Snack Ideas / Spider Snacks / Oreo Bats / #SpookySnacks #shop #cbias

 Next up I made a homemade cake…do you know how long it’s been since I made one from scratch?? It seems like I only take the time to do it when there’s a holiday, and then the cake is gone in like a day! I made a chocolate cake with orange frosting and decorated it with a chocolate “Boo” sign and Oreo bats. The recipe is one that I modified slightly from one of my cook books (Chocolate Birthday Cake; Celebrate by Sheila Lukins) only because I didn't have the exact ingredients – and it still turns out amazing!

Chocolate Cake

What you need:

3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 cup unsalted butter – room temperature
2 ¼ cups dark brown sugar
3 large eggs
2 ¼ cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup almond milk
1 cup of boiling water
1 teaspoon vanilla 


  1.  Melt the chocolate over a double broiler and set aside.  In a large bowl cream the butter and brown sugar using a mixer. Add the eggs one at a time, and then slowly mix in the melted chocolate.
  2. In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  3. Begin pouring flour mixture into the chocolate mixture, and then alternate with almond milk until everything is mixed well. Mix well, and then add boiling water and vanilla slowly until mixed completely.
  4. Pour batter into greased and floured cake pans, and then bake at 375 degrees for 45-50 minutes. 

Halloween Snack Ideas / Spider Snacks / Oreo Bats / #SpookySnacks #shop #cbias
Halloween Snack Ideas / Spider Snacks / Oreo Bats / #SpookySnacks #shop #cbias

Orange Frosting

6 cups of powdered sugar
1/3   cup of milk
2 teaspoons of orange baking emulsion
½ cup of softened butter
  1. Mix butter and powdered sugar together, then slowly add milk and flavoring until combined.

Halloween Snack Ideas / Spider Snacks / Oreo Bats / #SpookySnacks #shop #cbias

Oreo Bats

6 oz. dark chocolate
Black sprinkles
Candy eyes
Oreos – use the Halloween orange ones to make them extra festive!

  1. Melt the chocolate over a double broiler and then pour into a disposable pastry bag. Pipe bat-shaped wings onto parchment paper and then cover with black sprinkles. Set aside until dry.
  2. Carefully insert a wing into each side of the Oreos. Using frosting, attach eyes to the Oreos.

You can also pipe letters out to later add to the cake. 

Halloween Snack Ideas / Spider Snacks / Oreo Bats / #SpookySnacks #shop #cbias
Halloween Snack Ideas / Spider Snacks / Oreo Bats / #SpookySnacks #shop #cbias
Halloween Snack Ideas / Spider Snacks / Oreo Bats / #SpookySnacks #shop #cbiasHalloween Snack Ideas / Spider Snacks / Oreo Bats / #SpookySnacks #shop #cbias
Halloween Snack Ideas / Spider Snacks / Oreo Bats / #SpookySnacks #shop #cbias

After the cake is baked and cooled, cover in orange frosting and then set inside the refrigerator to let the frosting set.  Before serving attach the bats on with a little frosting, and carefully press letters into the cake.

Whew! And there you have it! My version of a Chocolate Orange Bat Cake! The Oreo bats are of course just as fun to eat on their own too.  You can find all of the supplies, including the Halloween Oreos at Walmart in the snack aisle!

Halloween Snack Ideas / Spider Snacks / Oreo Bats / #SpookySnacks #shop #cbias
Halloween Snack Ideas / Spider Snacks / Oreo Bats / #SpookySnacks #shop #cbias

What Halloween #SpookySnacks are you making this year?

~Melissa

Halloween Snack Ideas / Spider Snacks / Oreo Bats / #SpookySnacks #shop #cbias

Monday, October 27, 2014

Disney on Ice

Full Disclosure: I received complimentary tickets to see #DisneyonIce - no other compensation was given. All opinions are my own. 

Warning: there is a lot of pictures in this post, but if you know me, that's not too unusual, right? :) Sunday we attended the last Disney on Ice show here in Portland. It was there "Celebrations" show and the kids and we all thoroughly enjoyed the show. There were SO many different characters - you never knew who was going to appear next! 

The show took you through various celebrations that we all love, beginning with birthdays. 


Afterwards Mickey transformed the performance into the classic Fantasia, where brooms came out and did a fun choreographed dance, complete with glowing brooms that came down from the roof of the stage. 


The next celebration that was highlighted was Halloween. A prop was brought out and Jack from the Nightmare Before Christmas came out and gigantic spider webs dropped down - my kids gasped in awe. Multiple villains took center stage during the performance, including Jafar, Captain Hook, Cruella de Vil and even Maleficent herself.


Valentine's Day and love took over after, Minnie Mouse had The Fairy Godmother help her find her prince charming, and many of everyone's favorite princesses had solo skating performances with their princes, and showed the audience just how well they could ice skate as they twirled and carried them in the air. 


 After each solo performance Mickey came out dressed in his finest and long flowing streams of royal material dropped out of the air and flowed as everyone skated together. The end of the performance finished with The Fair Godmother Bippity-Boppity-Boo-ing the audience with a sparkling firework. 


After an intermission the show returned with Summer and vacations, and skits were performed with a luau - with Lilo and Stitch, a Brazilian celebration, some Louisiana fun with Tiana, and a pretty dance Chinese dance with Mulan. During the Luau a ring of fire lit on the ice and my kids couldn't believe their eyes.


The final stop for the Disney on Ice Celebrations was every one's favorite holiday - Christmas!  Mickey, Minnie, Daisy, Donald, Pluto, and Santa Goofy were all surprised with a visit from all of the favorite characters from Toy Story!

All of the characters came out to skate to a final song and fireworks lit - and many happy kids (and adults) had smiles plastered on their faces. 


If you've never been to a Disney on Ice show, I would highly recommend it! It was a first for my family and we will definitely be back the next performance that comes to town!

~Melissa