Monday, October 31, 2011

this and that, with some winners

Let's keep this short and sweet, shall we?

a) we went to the corn maze this last weekend. Nothing like saving it for the last minute, eh? And I got to witness first hand, just how bad a lack of rain is for the crops. The corn was so sparse, that in some areas you could look through it across the whole field. Kinda takes away from the "maze" aspect.

b) I got to sleep ALL NIGHT LONG last night for literally the THIRD time in OVER A YEAR. Yes, that's right. My sweet little 14 month old Isabelle STILL does not sleep through the night. But daddy went on nighttime duty and mama blissfully slept the night away. Ohhhhhhh, the potential luxury of getting to do that allll night long. I can't even imagine.

c) So thankful to be living in the midwest right now. I've had snowy Halloweens before, and I'm glad this isn't one of them! (but it made for LOTS of candy when my brother and I went out in the storm to trick or treat!)

d) both my girls are going to be cheetahs this year. I'll share pictures after this evening.

And lastly.....

The winner of the Freschetta proud to support pink giveaway is...
Congratulations to Amanda of Simple Girl Simple Pleasures!  Amanda, I'm planning on sending you an email, if I find your mailing info, and I need your mailing info for Freschetta.

The winner of the Box Tops giveaway is....
Congratulations to Theresa Walker! Theresa, I don't have your email address, so please send me an email at megandyanray at gmail dot com.

What has been your favorite Halloween costume??!
I'm just not a costume person. I really don't have anything good to share.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Box Tops (GIVEAWAY!)

Do y'all know about box tops?
Box tops are on many of the foods and products you already buy - and when donated to your school, can raise money for education.
I remember collecting and turning in box tops years and years ago when I was a student, and for the last four years, we've been collecting and turning them in for Kaylee. Every little bit helps, and Kaylee's education is of the utmost importance to me!

Betty Crocker sent me a wonderful Box Tops For Education prize pack. My prize pack contained one box of regular brownie mix, cupcake iclips, a cupcake bag, cupcake notepads, Box Tops for Education pencils, and a neoprene lunch sack.
 It goes without saying that the brownies will be delicious, the lunch sack will be perfect for everyday use, and the iclips will be the cutest little paper clips you've ever used.
  • Now, you can find Box Tops for Education on all Betty Crocker baking mixes, including new Fun da-middles™, individual cupcakes with a fun, creamy center.
  • This back-to-school season, look for double Box Tops on specially marked packages of Betty Crocker baking mixes.

You can visit the Betty Crocker website to get great baking tips, recipe ideas, and information on other yummy products.  You can also learn more about the Box Tops for Education® program and how you can help your own local school by visiting the Box Tops website.

It's your lucky day! One reader of loving the little things will win the same prize pack I did!
To enter this giveaway, simply leave a comment on this blog post, telling me what your favorite subject was at school.

Giveaway closes Monday, October 31 at 9:00 am CST.
Winner will be selected via, announced on the blog, and notified by email on Monday, October 31. Good luck!
"Disclosure: The Betty Crocker products, information, and giveaway have been provided by Betty Crocker through MyBlogSpark."

Thursday, October 27, 2011

No chores; Yes cupcakes

I have quite a long list of things to do. Errands, chores, laundry, organizing Kaylee's class's Halloween party, the list goes on and on...

But instead, I decided to bake.


Fun, pretty, colorful tie-dyed cupcakes.
(I took my cupcakes to one of my church groups, at Eastminster)

Let's start at the beginning, shall we? 
You'll need vanilla cake batter. Whether it's from scratch or your long lost great aunt Betty Crocker, either is fine! 
I don't own a kitchen aid stand mixer. #poorpoormegan

Divide your batter into separate bowls, depending on how many colors you want to have. Add food coloring. 

And then stir, stir, stir!

Start with just a spoonful of one color in your cupcake tin.

Then add another spoonful of a different color on top. 

And continue adding additional spoonfuls of each color until you've filled the cupcake molds 2/3 full. Don't mix up the colors! You'll end up with yucky brown. And remember, only two-thirds full!

Bake as directed. (For me, I did mini-cupcakes 325 degrees for 17 minutes, and regular cupcakes 350 degrees for 20 minutes.)

And, behold the beauties that come from your oven!

They're so pretty! And I know you hate to cover up the colors, and it's tempting to serve them as is. But everybody knows that a cupcake is no good without frosting!

By the way, I used to always spread frosting with a knife, but that's SO 1990. It's all about the piping! Faster, easier, and prettier!
Just transfer your frosting to a bag (either a legit decorating bag, or a plain ole ziploc with the tip cut off) and squeeze it on. No skill needed, I promise! 

And don't worry, even if you feel like you covered up all the pretty colors, they'll be back on display after just one bite! 

What do YOU usually do when you're procrastinating from doing the things that need done??

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Yep, she's all mine

Sometimes, there's no doubt that my kiddo came from me.

 We're in Italy (at EPCOT, for the food and wine festival) 
eating Ravioli Di Formaggio All’Emiliana 
(Baked Cheese Ravioli with Creamy Beef Bolognese Sauce, Parmesan, and Mozzarella)
I just love Isabelle's wide open mouth! 

She knows the good stuff when she sees it, and there's no keeping it from her!

(For those of you in the Wichita area, these truffles were made by Worthwhile Moments Sweet Shoppe, and yes, they are delicious. Isabelle wouldn't steer you wrong!  Angie makes all kinds of yummy treats, from cookies to cupcakes and truffles. Check her out!)

Linking up to What I Ate Wednesday with Jennifer at Peas and Crayons. Go join in the fun!

And speaking of food, I'm still giving away pizza. Go enter if you haven't yet!

Are your kiddos just like you?? Or do you sometimes wonder if your genetics really match up??

Monday, October 24, 2011

Proud to Support Pink (Freschetta GIVEAWAY!)

I realize that October is almost over, but it's never too late to raise awareness. As many of you probably already know, October is National Breast Cancer awareness month.
As part of the Freschetta Fresh Connection team, I'm happy to let you know that Freschetta is doing their part to support research for breast cancer with the Freschetta Proud to Support Pink Program. With each purchase of specially marked packages of Freschetta pizzas, you will be helping them reach their goal of a $50,000 donation to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.
Freschetta's website also has a place for people to share their breast cancer journey, or that of a friend or loved one. The stories will be displayed on and Freschetta's facebook page.

Freschetta provided me with a Proud to Support Pink kit, which included a coupon to try any Freschetta pizza for free, and two pairs of Freschetta Proud to Support Pink earphone - one for me, and one for a friend or family member. The earphones are super cute and come in a nice little carrying case.

Personally, I've never been a fan of frozen pizza. I NEVER had it as a child, and the few times I've popped one in the oven for a quick fix for my family, I've been pretty disappointed. However, I recently tried Freschetta's Simply Inspired  pizzas, and ohhhhh goodness, are they good! I really love the Classic Bruschetta, and my hubby is a big fan of the Harvest Supreme.
If you too, like me, assume that most frozen pizza is pretty yucky, you've really got to try the Simply Inspired. I think you'll be a big fan too!

Because Freschetta wants to include everyone in their Proud to Support Pink Program, one lucky reader of loving the little things will win a Proud to Support Pink kit, just like I received. Again, the kit includes a coupon for a free pizza and two pairs of earphones.

To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment on this post, telling me your favorite pizza toppings.
I love LOTS of cheese, pepperoni, and mushrooms. Yum!

Giveaway closes Friday, October 28 at 9:00 pm CST.
Winner will be selected via, announced on the blog, and notified by email on Monday, October 31. Good luck!

In the interest of full disclosure, I was provided with the previously mentioned products from Freschetta for being a part of their Freschetta Fresh Connection Team.. I received no compensation for my review, and my thoughts are entirely my own. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Cookies

mmm, pumpkin. Pumpkin baked goods are one of my most favorite things. Pumpkin muffins, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin loaves, pumpkin rolls...I like them all. Pumpkin treats are definitely one of the best things about autumn.

With that said, allow me to share with you the easiest pumpkin recipe ever. The easiest cookie you'll ever make. And these are totally adaptable too, so feel free to customize them to your preferences. 

Here's what I used:
One box of cake mix, and one can of pumpkin.
Stir the cake mix and the pumpkin together to form a dough.
Spray the cookie sheet with nonstick spray, and drop big spoonfuls (think about the size of a golf ball) of dough onto the cookie sheet. The dough will be thick and sticky and you'll want to try and spread it out a bit. While baking, the cookies won't spread or flatten at all, so however the dough looks before you bake, your cookies will look when it is done. You're not going to end up with round, picture perfect cookies.
As you can see, I made some of my cookies plain, and with half of the dough, I stirred in chocolate chips. Feel free to use semi-sweet, milk chocolate, white chocolate chips, or even nuts.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15-17 minutes.

While your cookies are baking, survey the mess your little helper has made in the kitchen.

Allow the cookies to cool on the cookie sheet. The cookies are soft and cakey, so I wouldn't recommend cooling them on a rack.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Keeping up with the Joneses

...or the Rays, that it :)

I'm already Facebook friends with a few of you that I keep in contact with, but for those of you that I'm not, you can keep up with our every move on vacation by friending me on Facebook.

Usually I'm not all that active on Facebook, but I always make it a point to 'check in' and update my location while on vacation. At Disney world, most of the major rides are listed as a choice when you check in, so it's fun to keep that updated.

Anyway, we're having a lot of fun, but we're not getting any rest and relaxation. I hope y'all have a fabulous week ahead of you!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Disney Photo Pass

In honor of our trip to Disney World, I wanted to share one of the really fun things you can do at Disney. All over any of the four the parks, you'll find cast-members that are ready and waiting to capture all your Disney memories for you. That is, you'll find employees with cameras who will take pictures of you and your family near all the major landmarks.

Disney calls this service 'Disney Photo Pass' and it's actually pretty cool. After your first photo is taken, the photographer will give you a Photo Pass card (think credit/gift card card) which has the web address and an ID number on it. For the rest of your trip at Disney, you can hand photographers your photo pass, and they'll add any subsequent photos to it.

You don't always end up with amazing photos, but it is a great service for getting photos of your whole family, instead of leaving someone out to be taking the pictures. Also, all the photos are posted into your own private photo pass account online, and you don't have to worry about visiting the photo kiosk to see your photos before leaving the park.

As you can probably guess, purchasing your Photo Pass photos from Disney is exxxxxxxpensive. You do get 20 some days to view them online, and you can send the link and your log-in info to anyone you want, so if you just want to share the photos, you can do that for free.

However, when you're having the cast member take your pics, you can also hand over your camera, and they'll take pictures for you with your camera. Free! And yours to keep!

But now the best part! You can ask the cast member to do "magic" photos. The cast member may pose you a little oddly, and you may wonder what is going on, but when you see your photos, you'll understand.

Basically, the Disney people work a little photoshop-like magic, that I'm sure anyone with some photoshop knowledge could do, but it's still such a fun little surprise. The photographers know what their little add-ins look like, and will pose you appropriately so that it looks as natural as possible.

Anyway, you can bet we'll be making the most of the Photo Pass opportunities while we're there!

(Want more Disney posts? here's a post about the basics and thoughts on packing. I still need to keep those Disney posts coming!)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Playing the "if" game

I'm such a copier. And thief.

But incredibly honest. (so that makes it okay, right?)

I saw this on a few other blogs and decided I'd reuse it on mine. Feel free to steal from me too. It's just a fun little fill in the blanks post.

If I could have any job in the world...I would get paid to rate and review hotels and resorts. For reals, how awesome would that be?! I LOVE traveling and would love to stay at super ritzy places, but they are out of this stay at home mama's budget.  
If I had a day to myself...I'd probably get bored. Sure, I get impatient with my kiddos and idealize that some "me" time would be pretty amazing, but truth be told, I like my days with them. Kids aside, though, I'd go shopping and I'd take my sweet time!
If I could get married all over again...I'd be a lot more insistent about premarital counseling. I truly believe it's a necessity, but I didn't push for it hard enough.
If I could live anywhere in the US...Texas or Colorado, for sure! Actually, my best friend said she'd be happy in Colorado too, so I think I'd arrange for us both to live there :) 
If my girl would have been boy they would have been named... probably something biblical. But I can't tell you! you're a potential name stealer!
If I could have any talent in the world....I would be so much more domestic. More inclined to do chores. More organized. More crafty. A better chef. Able to sew and fix things. Oh that more than one talent??

If I could go back to school and get a different would be something business related. I occasionally fantasize about having a very "Hollywood style" corporate job. Think, totally stylish, professional business suit, busy yet fulfilling work days, fancy lunches....ya know, totally unrealistic!

If I were to get pregnant again...I can't really answer that. Originally, yes, I wanted more babies. Right now, with circumstances being what they are, a baby definitely isn't what my marriage needs. With God's grace, though, I certainly hope another one or two is in my future. Babies have a very special place in my heart. 
If money was no house, support more worthwhile charities, and lots of vacations. 
If I could meet one celebrity, it would be....I don't really care. I'm totally not a celebrity-crazed person. However, Francis Chan is coming to speak in Wichita, and I REALLY REALLY REALLY want to go! 
If I could shop at only one store the rest of my life...Target, for sure. I just got three super cute sweater - cardigan-y things that are perfect for fall! (and Kaylee got a new blu-ray, Isabelle some adorable christmas jammies, and lots of toys and toothbrushes for the operation christmas child children we sponsor)
If we were to get another pet it would more pets! I'm not an animal person. 
If I could go on a trip right now...Colorado! The mountains. I can't get enough!
If I had to choose between a house cleaner and a personal chef...HOUSE CLEANER. I can throw some dinner together, no problemo. But cleaning? UGH. 
If I had the option of plastic surgery...ehh. I'm scared of needles....much less a GIANT SCALPEL coming at me. I think I'll pass!

If I could only engage in one would be reading! I love love love a good book. If you need one, I'd recommend these two for sure!

If I were at Starbucks right now, you'd hear me order...a venti vanilla latte with one pump pumpkin spice. 24 ounces of pure deliciousness!

If I had you over for dinner, I'd make...these amazing bacon cheddar popovers. And maybe even some unbelievably delicious pecan pie muffins. You'll leave full, fat, and happy :)

What is your favorite question to ask to spark conversation??

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Baby Shower Bouquet

So, I'm totally not a crafty person. I'm not creative, I'm not artistic, I'm not good at drawing or sewing or knitting or any of those things.

Occasionally, I wish I was, but in reality, I know that it would take up a lot of my time, be another thing to spend money on, and would add to the clutter in my house.

Therefore, I'm am mostly at peace with my lack of craftyness.

Last week, though, my mom asked me for some ideas for a baby shower gift. So I googled around for some ideas, and found a cute one that involved rolling up onesies and receiving blankets, putting them in a bakery box, and calling them "cupcakes."

Somehow, in a moment of never before seen crafty brilliance, I got the idea to transform those "cupcakes" into "flowers" and make a baby shower bouquet.

I rolled up the diapers, diaper cake style, to go in the basket to be the base for my flowers. All the material things - the onesies, bibs, washcloths, and receiving blankets were rolled up into a flower with one of the baby utensils rolled halfway inside to be the "stem." I used cupcake liners and coffee filters around the rolled up flowers to add to the flower look.

Then I arranged my "flowers" in the basket. And then....

Obviously it was nothing spectacular, but I do think pictures don't do it justice and it turned out much cuter in person.

If nothing else, it was cute enough that my 8 year old wanted to keep it for herself, even after I informed her that it was just baby stuff and diapers. She still wanted it.

What was the best baby shower gift you received OR what is the best baby shower gift you have given??

Monday, October 10, 2011

Life goes on

My blog has been terribly neglected for months.

I think it's because I'm very much a creature of habit.

When I'm posting on my blog regularly, it comes naturally. I enjoy the writing and make time for it. It's expected. It gets done.

But once I miss a few days, it's easy to skip the next few days. Days become weeks, weeks become months, and next thing ya know, I've only managed to write a 15 meager posts in the last three months. (such as this, this, or this one.)

Contrary to how it may appear, I don't like neglecting my blog. I haven't lost interest, but it hasn't been a priority lately. And truly, I don't think it should ever be a priority, as it's just a little hobby of mine. But if I can make time for unnecessary things like Facebook, Pinterest, and massive amounts of blog reading, certainly I can make time for my own blog.

Sometimes I continue to be surprised at how time consuming blogging is. The typing part is quick. Sometimes the revisions take awhile, making sure that what I want to convey is actually apparent in my writing. Uploading photos to the computer, editing the photos, and then uploading them into a blog post take awhile too. It helps if I'm remembering to take pictures in the first place. Unfortunately, I'm really bad about remembering to have my camera with me, and my phone takes terrible quality photos that make me cringe. And I feel like a post without photos is just no fun at all.

With that said, let's share some photos, shall we?

My sweet little Isabelle, at 13 months, is thisclose to walking. She can cruise around all over the place holding on to something, be it the edge of the couch, the edge of the table, or her little playskool walk 'n ride toy. In fact, she's even taken just a few teeny steps completely on her own, but she's definitely still a crawler right now.
Kaylee is getting to the age where she doesn't want to stop and pose for pictures for me. She's definitely to the age where she can give me exasperated looks when she's not interested in the pictures I'm trying to take. We went to Kansas City a few weeks ago, and at the zoo, Kaylee wanted a picture with her current favorite animal, the red panda.

Also in Kansas City, Isabelle found this awesome hat at the Gap. No, we didn't buy it, but it made for a funny photo. (The tramp you see clutched in Isabelle's hand (Tramp, as in, Lady and the Tramp) was with our family for a short 5 hours. He got lost somewhere in KC, but we're hoping someone found him and gave him a good home.)

Now was a very inopportune time to come back, and make it sound like I'm going to rededicate myself to blog and post much more regularly. We leave this week to go to Florida! We're a bunch of Disney addicts, what can I say? Anyway, vacation or not, I'm really going to try to be a better, more consistent blogger. After all, I know you've missed me! :)

Did you know today is Colombus day? If you could set sail for anywhere today, where would you go? 

I'd love to visit Australia. I'd split my time between Sydney, doing all the city things like shopping, eating, and touristy things, and the outback, doing all the outdoorsy, hiking stuff. You wanna come along?!


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