Visiting the Big Guy

Where we live we are very lucky because we have an active community that does a lot for children in the area.

One such place that always hosts great events is the Uniontown Public Library. Not only is it a wonderful place that offers a wide selection of books for adults and children, they also hold story times, a summer reading program and, what we experienced most recently, a special Christmas party.

This past Saturday we had a chance to attend the party for the first time and I have to say Lily had a wonderful time.

The festivities kicked off with a short play, “The Life and Time of Santa Claus” presented by Stage Right, an acting school for kids in Greensburg.

The play told the story about how Santa Claus became the person that we all know and love today.

The kids did a wonderful job and really entertained the kids.

Lily did a good job sitting with the other kids. However, she did get a little nervous and wanted to come back and sit with us.

After their performance, the cast sat on the floor and invited the kids to come up and meet them. Lily was so excited that she got to give a high-five to Mrs. Claus.

Then the kids were invited to do a holiday themed craft.

Each child received a picture of Santa’s sleigh on a snowy wonderland and they were given stickers to use to decorate the picture.

If there are stickers involved, we are there. Lily absolutely loves stickers and she really enjoyed doing the craft.

If there are stickers, we are there.

While we were completing our picture the announcement was made that Santa was there and he was ready to meet with the children.

I was really proud of Lily she did a great job meeting him and telling him what she wanted for Christmas (a Paw Patrol playset) and wasn’t really nervous. I think introducing her to a lot of characters at Disney really helped.

We enjoyed meeting Santa. We also received a candy cane and got to pick out a book. We we over the moon about both.

And the perfect ending to any event is cake.

Lily informed me that her favorite snack is cake and she loved having her piece before we headed out to do more Christmas shopping.

We can’t thank the Uniontown Public Library enough for putting on such a wonderful event. (I was also told that the Greek Catholic Union, which I have a life insurance policy through, paid for the performance from Stage Right. So thank you to them.)

Do you participate in any special holiday events in your community? Leave your comments below.


Several years in the past we have made homemade peppermint marshmallows. It has been fairly easy and they turn out really cute.

However, this year it was different.

It was cursed from the beginning and I ended up throwing away most of the marshmallows, sans a few that I saved for Lily who loved them.

But let me start from the beginning.

The recipe that I used I have used in the past and it worked really well, so I don’t blame the recipe at all. The recipe from Ashley Marie can be found  here.


You start the recipe out by basically making a simple syrup by dissolving sugar into water on the stove.

You also have to grease your pan (13 x 9) and cover it with a mixture of powdered sugar and corn starch.

While you are making the syrup you will have to “bloom” your gelatin in cold water for 10 minutes. Once the 10 minutes is reached you add it to the syrup.

This is when everything started to take a turn.

Here is my PSA: use a pot bigger than you think you will need. It will bubble over. You will have all of this syrup spilling over the edges. You will end up scraping off burnt sugar for an hour.


So once I cleaned this mess up I got a bigger pot and it seemed to work out well, but I had lost a lot of my syrup and gelatin which I think is what resulted in the marshmallows being a giant fail.

After it is done boiling for about 15 minutes you have to let it cool to a lukewarm temperature. Given I was ready for this to be done with, I maybe didn’t let it cool completely that led to my next fail of the project.

Once it cools you add it to your mixer and adds the extracts to give it flavor and you whip it up until it is really thick and white.


Once it was thick enough, I poured it into the pan and had to let it cool overnight because it wasn’t solid enough.

Next came the part where Lily could get involved. Because there was so much hot and sticky liquids and stoves involved, she really couldn’t help with anything. So, when it came time to cut the shapes out of the marshmallows, I wanted her to help.

We used small cookie cutters that I found at Target earlier this holiday season.


Lily helped by cutting out the shapes, she would hand them to me and I would dip them in powered sugar to prevent them from sticking together.

When she started cutting them, I noticed that the bottoms were still wet and not the right consistency. They were more like wet clumpy sugar. I ended up letting Lily cut some out and then threw the rest away.

To be honest they were pretty terrible. Lily loved them. I just couldn’t see having these floating in my hot chocolate so the rest ended up in the trash.

But most importantly Lily enjoyed cutting the shapes out and it gave us something to do this evening.

I will just remember to use a bigger pot and then all of this will be avoided.

Did you have any holiday fails this year? Leave a comment below.

Buying Real Furniture Was Easier

If you read my earlier blog then you know that Santa got a little lazy this year and delivered a dollhouse that needs to be assembled (meaning painted and glued together).

I thought the hardest part would be trying to put everything together. Boy, was I wrong.

Surprisingly, the most difficult part has been trying to find furniture.

Sure, there are tons of options out there. There are some dollhouse kitchens that are nicer then mine:

Kitchen available through VintageModernGrrl on
Unfortunately, for this complete kitchen it is $90. That is a little bit out of budget for this Santa.

I was also looking to try and do a mid century modern style because I thought it would look cute with the house that I was building, and frankly I am obsessed with that style right now.

I found a cute company called Smaland and they make a special dollhouse, that is designed like a mid centuary modern house, but you can also buy the furnature that will work in a lot of different houses.

Once again their stuff is a little on the pricey side for a dollhouse for a three year old, but I did end up getting this really cute living room set.

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Photo courtesy of
Since it was on sale I was able to buy it for around $20 which was a pretty good deal.

I spent I can’t tell you how many hours trying to find more stuff like this and I couldn’t find it.

The hardest to find was the kitchen.

Luckily my mom, who is a super Internet sleuth, found a really cute kitchen, in the proper size on from Melissa and Doug.

Photo courtesy of
It is really cute and has an old school look to it. The green will look great with my honey colored wallpaper.

Walmart also had it on sale for $19.94 and I qualified for free shipping because I ended up spending more than $50 when I also purchase the furniture for the bedroom and bathroom.


While the bedroom and bathroom aren’t necessarily the style I was looking for, I think with a little modernizing it will work. 

All in all it has been a success. They are going to arrive at the house Friday so they will be here in time for Christmas. 

Did you have any hard to find or hard to decide on items this holiday season? Leave your comments below. 

Christmas Traditions: Baking Cookies

One of my favorite things to do with Lily, any time of the year, is baking cookies.

It becomes more special when it is Christmas time.

One thing I have learned about baking with toddlers, and now a preschooler, is to try and not set your expectations too high and to save yourself as much aggravation as possible.

I know in our house we will not be making Martha Stewart sugar cookies, or any recipe that involves a bunch of ingredients or steps.

So enter my life and time saver:


My mom saw this rolled out, sugar cookie dough at Walmart and got it for us to try and I will say that I was pleasantly surprised with it.

When you open up the bag you have two sheets that are floured so that it doesn’t stick to your countertop when you use it.


Lily had so much fun using the cookie cutters to cut out the cookies. I would place them so we could get the most cookies out of the sheet and then she would press down and cut out the cookie.

You could take the extra dough that you get from in between the cutters, roll it out and make more cookies. (I couldn’t find my rolling pin so I threw the scraps away.)

We were able to make 14 cookies using this method.


After the cookies were done I asked Lily what color cookies did she want, she said green and I made the easiest icing ever.

The icing was made out of 1 cup of powdered sugar and about 8 tsp of milk. (The recipe said 4 tsp of milk but I had to add more.) I added about five drops of green food coloring and whisked it together with a fork.

I poured the icing into a shallow bowl and dipped the front of the cookies in the icing and let it drip off before they were put on a cooling rack for the icing to harden.


The cookies turned out really great. I heard that there is also sheets of gingerbread just like these sugar cookies and I am anxious to give them a try.

But the biggest test is from our little Cookie Monster.


She gave them two thumbs up.

Do you have any special cookies that you like to bake during the holidays? Leave your comments below.


Santa Got a Little Lazy

Since we have started discussing the future of building our house, Lily has been saying that she doesn’t want to move out of our little house. I get this. I hate change more than anything.

So, we thought that it would be a good idea for her to ask Santa for a dollhouse that would look like ours. This way she can take her little home with her.

Santa heard the request and delivered a kit to our house and basically said that we have to put it all together because the elves have a lot on their plate this year.

The kit that arrived was this one: the Greenleaf 8012


We received the kit via Elf mail this week and I wasn’t sure what to expect. What arrived was a little bit of a surprise. It was a completely flat box. I knew I would have to build a lot of it, but I didn’t know I would have to glue on each individual shingle.

When I opened the box and looked at the instructions, which dated back to the early 90s, they had mentioned that you need to put a sort of primer first and then paint the house.

I hate to say this, but ain’t nobody got time for that. I am just going to put the paint on and hope for the best.

The second roadblock is that I wasn’t sure what type of paint to use. There are so many different types! Some people suggest using actual house paint that you can pick up from hardware stores and others say a good acrylic paint that you can find at craft stores works as well.

Since our house is a light yellowish color with white trim, I think that I am going to go with the acrylic paint.

A lot of people swear by a brand called Folkart. I saw some at Michael’s that didn’t seem too expensive.

Another aspect that I didn’t think about was electricity. I saw a bunch of houses on YouTube with lights and it really made a difference so I think I am going to add them through a kit that is available at Hobby Lobby.

My plan is to update the blog through my process. You will also want to look at the Facebook page to see live video updates and additional photos of our holiday festivitites.

Are you planning any DIY projects for your family this year? Leave your comments below.


Tot Five: Movies for After You Gobble

Picture this: Thanksgiving dinner has ended, the kitchen is full of dirty dishes and you need to get them cleaned up and in the dishwasher so you can finally relax.

In the other room, your children are at that point where they are sleepy from the turkey, but also wound up because of the holiday.

What do you do to buy yourself some time to get the kitchen cleaned up?

You pop in a new family friendly flick to keep the Mousekatot’s at bay.

1. “The Wonderful World of Disney: Magical Holiday Celebration”

This special, hosted by the sibling duo of Derek and Julianne Hough will lead the two-hour special starting at 8 p.m. on ABC Thanksgiving night.

What makes this great is first of all it is Disney, pretty much a promotional video for how beautiful their parks are, and second of all it is already on TV which will make it easy to just turn the channel when the time arrives.

2. “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving”


This is one of my all time favorites and a must watch every year. (I think Snoopy has the right idea for the Thanksgiving dinner.)

The only downside, beside Peppermint Patty inviting her annoying self to Charlie Brown’s house for Thanksgiving, is that it is less than a half hour long. It won’t buy you too much time to do a massive cleanup.

3. “Garfield’s Thanksgiving”


If you pair this film with the aforementioned Charlie Brown movie you can have almost an hour to clean the kitchen.

It is a little harder to find, I think we have our copy because we bought a boxed set of all the Garfield holiday movies, but it is really worth it.

Jon’s Grandma, who comes in to save the day and Thanksgiving dinner is an absolute hoot, and the meaning behind the film is full of heart.

4. “The Nightmare Before Christmas”


I have always considered this a Thanksgiving movie because it is right between Halloween and Christmas, which are the two holiday prominently featured in the film.

This stop animated classic film from Tim Burton can be a little spooky for little ones so you will want to make sure it is suitable for your Mousekatots.

The message of being true to yourself and using your strengths in life is one that is really important.

5. “White Christmas”


Technically this is a Christmas movie, but it is a nice way to usher in the holiday season.

Even though “White Christmas” came out over 50 years ago, it is still a classic that is full of humor and heart and is just beautiful and elegant.

You might get some eye rolls from your Mousekateens, but just give it time and they will be glued to the television.

What films are part of your family’s holiday traditions to kick off the Christmas season? Leave your comments below.


Black Friday Battle Plan: Disney Store

After the turkey is all finished and the last bite of stuffing has been stuffed, people all over the United States will head to bed with visions of bargain deals dancing in their heads.

Before the sun is even up, people will be piling into cars and heading for the malls and big box stores to get their best deals on gifts for loved ones.

One of the biggest categories of gifts that people like to score are toys. (The cost can really add up when you go to purchase toys.)

Just like all other businesses, the Disney Store is going to have its fair share of deals.

Since we are Mousekatots and are pretty obsessed with Disney, I thought I would share some of the deals you want to snag this Black Friday at the Disney Store or

The first deal that Disney is offering is 60 percent off when you take an extra 20 percent off your purchase. You need to use the code THANKS.

If your Mousekatot is a fan of “Finding Dory,” who isn’t, then there are few deals you might want to snag.


While you might regret this purchase in the future, this Deluxe Singing Elsa Doll stands at 16″ and sings, you guessed it, “Let It Go” while her dress, hands and ice swirls light up in cool blue. Elsa retails for $49.95 but is on sale for $29.95.



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Photo courtesy of

In our house small, plastic figures are a big hit. We love to play with them on their own or use blocks to build them houses, castles, garages and anything else we can think of. This Disney Princess Mega Figure Play Set, originally $49.95 now $39.95, might not seem like that big of a savings, but it is a really nice set with a variety of figures.


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Every year we all exchange ornaments with each other. This Black Friday, the Disney Store, is having a sale on a lot, if not all, Sketchbook Ornaments. Some of the characters featured include Ariel, Peter Pan, Stitch, Doc McStuffins and more. My favorite one would be Princess Elena of Avalor. Regularly $16.95 they will be on sale for $10.


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Photo courtesy of

Once again “Frozen” has made my list. Bath time is another time that is a hit at our house. This is why I really like this Frozen Bath Toy Set. While these toys are made primarily for use in a bath, they can also be played elsewhere and are great for the littlest of ones who want to put everything in their mouth. Bonus: they can be cleaned easily. Double bonus: Marshmallow is included in the set. Regularly $16.95 for $10.


Photo courtesy of

Die-cast cars can really be pricey. Not only are they toys, but they can also be collectables that can be passed down from generation to generation. On Black Friday the Disney Store will offer a 15 die-cast, car set in the Piston Cup Die Cast Deluxe Gift Set. Originally $99.95 on sale for $79.95. This does have a hefty price tag, but considering what is included it might be worth it for your little “Cars” fan.


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Photo courtesy of the Disney Store

While you are doing shopping for everyone else, you might want to treat yourself to something special. The Haunted Mansion Nylon Crossbody Bag by Dooney &Bourke. Usually $188 it is down to $80.24. This is 57 percent off. This is a good deal.


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Photo courtesy of

These are only a few of the deals that the Disney Store will have on Black Friday. What is your favorite deal? Leave your comments below.