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Super Valentine Cookies

By Tammy of Musing of a Working Mom 

Over the summer, we visited my sister-in-law in Chicago, and downstairs from her apartment was a comic book store. Somehow, we never made it down there during business hours. We walked by it before it opened or after it closed, and every time, Pumpkin (my 5-year-old) would stand and stare in the window and ask why we couldn’t go in.

She has taken quite an interest in comic books and superheroes in general, and Superman specifically, all on her own. (She gets upset when the boys at school tell her she has to be Wonder Woman or Bat Girl when they play superheroes because she wants to be Superman.) 

Given her interest, and considering we’ve been to a few superhero events lately, I thought it would be fun for us to make Superhero Valentine cookies for her and Peanut to share with their friends in our neighborhood. We selected Superman and Batman cookie cutters, and got to work.

Typically when the girls decorate cookies, I make a spreadable frosting and they add sprinkles. When we did this over Christmas, Peanut dipped her fingers in the sprinkles, then in her mouth, then back in the sprinkles. She was a mess, and her germs were all over everything. I wasn’t terribly concerned about this considering the cookies were just for the four of us and Santa, but for gifting cookies, I decided to rein this in and use royal icing for the girls to color with food-safe markers.

 

I am by no means a royal icing master – I’m not sure I have the patience for it. But I did give it a shot, piping the outlines of the shapes on the cookies, and flooding the center with thinner icing. Pumpkin did a great job taking her toothpick to carefully guide the flood icing to the edges.

We let the icing set overnight, and then the girls decorated them a variety of ways with their food-safe markers. Once dry, we packaged the cookies in Superman and Batman snack bags, and my little caped crusaders delivered them throughout the neighborhood!

Getting Organized...Working Mom Style

By Tammy of Musing of a Working Mom 

One of my goals in the new year is to get more organized, and one of the ways I’m doing that is to have all the supplies I need at work, well, at work.

I’m not talking about paper clips and notepads, but more of the personal items I need during the day that I may or may not have. 

There once was a time when I carried everything with me in my purse. After having kids, I switched to a clutch for the basics – keys, wallet, phone, lip balm – which I can throw into my laptop bag or the diaper bag, depending on where I am.

This method leaves me without a lot of things that I need from time to time, so I stocked up on some essentials to keep in my desk drawer so I don’t have to go from cubicle to cubicle to hunt down a hair tie or hand lotion or safety pin.

 

Small Travel Bag (teeth!)

  • Toothpaste
  • Tooth brush
  • Dental floss

Medium Travel Bag (beauty!)

  • Brush
  • Comb
  • Bobby pins
  • Hair ties
  • Tweezers
  • Scissors
  • Nail file
  • Nail clippers

Large Travel Bag (everything else!)

  • Deodorant
  • Unscented hand lotion
  • Lip balm
  • Lint roller
  • Adhesive bandages
  • Sewing kit
  • Safety pins
  • Pain reliever
  • Lactaid (you never know when there might be an ice cream emergency)

Small Snack Bag

I used this bag for feminine supplies for discretion.

I tried to be strategic about what items I would need together so I could grab them and take them to the restroom or wherever I need them. I occasionally go from the office to an evening event, so keeping the items in travel bags makes it easy for me to freshen up at work, or take them with me. I recently went straight from the office to a photo shoot, so I grabbed the bags I needed and brought them back to the office the next morning.

I think the one thing I’m missing is a compact mirror. What else would you add?

 

Greener Giftwrap Ideas

By Tammy of Momma Tammy

I love wrapping gifts, and I swoon over wrapping paper – in fact, I have rolls of it in my hall closet. But, the practical and environmentally conscious side of me knows that it can be pretty wasteful, too. So, I try to reduce that waste when I can.

Here are some alternatives to traditional wrapping paper.

Reusable Giftwrap

I tend to be a hoarder when it comes to gift bags and tissue paper. I use them over and over again, as long as they still look nice. (And even when the tissue paper starts to wear down, I use it as filler for mailing packages.)

In Japan, they use what is called furoshiki, a wrapping cloth that can be used over and over again as giftwrap. In addition to a using a furoshiki cloth, you can incorporate a part of a gift into the wrap. Options include scarves, sheets, blankets, dish towels or splat mats. Reusable snack bags can also be used for small items, like stocking stuffers.

Upcycled Giftwrap 

There are so many things you can use to make giftwrap after they’ve served their original purpose! A few ideas include sewing patterns, construction plans, kids’ artwork, paper grocery bags, newspapers and newspaper end rolls (these are one of my favorites – and the girls’, too! – because they are blank and can be customized with drawings, stamps, or other embellishments).

Tags and Bows 

Years ago, I ran across this tutorial to make a bow out of a magazine page, and I still make them! They are super easy and allows for reuse of the magazine pages before they get tossed into recycling.

For tags, every year after Christmas, I go through the cards we’ve received and use some of them to create gift tags. (See that and more ideas for reusing past Christmas cards here.)

Finding unique ways to wrap gifts is not only better for the environment, they can be better for your wallet, too! And a bonus is that you get one-of-a-kind giftwrap out of it, too!