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One Chicago Momma, photographing little people, home educating in the Classical Christian theory and editing images into the wee hours of the morning . . . powered by Starbucks & Dr Pepper.

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Tiaras & Tantrums focuses on family, travel, photography, education and food. I offer photography sessions product reviews, travel reviews, education reviews and anything else I feel like writing about.

{Editor’s Note: I am VERY interested in doing more travel blogging. If you are putting together a blogger group for a client – I would love to discuss details.}

If you would like more information about Tiaras & Tantrums or are looking to have your product reviewed, please contact me at tiarastantrums@gmail.com.

A Chill In The Air

tiarastantrums

As each day passes us by, it grows a bit more chilly. I'm not embracing layers and bundling up. I seem to shrink in size in the winter. With a chill in the air comes winter and I was totally unprepared last week as winter just erupted in Chicago. I had a photo shoot planned for my girls and the clothing I had selected were not for the chilly season that had appeared from nowhere.  The shoot did not go as planned, but I was able to turn some photos into something I would be pleased with.  As the days grow colder, I am going to have to grow more creative with styling and layering.

Here are my girls looking like snow princesses.

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20 Elf on the Shelf Ideas!

tiarastantrums

Have you had an Elf? Elf on the Shelf that is. If you haven’t started the Elf on the Shelf tradition with your family yet, this is the year! It is so much fun!! There is still time to get your very own Elf on the Shelf for your children! Just in time for the holiday season that is fast approaching! Although, after years of coming up with new antics, I sometimes get stumped for ideas.

Here are some of my favorites:

Making An Arrival:

Roasting Marshmallows with Friends


What is Elf on the Shelf?
The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition is a 2005 children’s picture book, written and self-published by American author Carol Aebersold and daughter Chanda Bell and illustrated by Coë Steinwart, featuring a Christmas-themed tale, written in rhyme, that explains how Santa knows who is naughty and who is nice.

In accordance with the traditional story, The Elf on the Shelf usually begins at Thanksgiving and continues until Christmas Eve when the elves return to the North Pole until the next holiday season. The Elf on the Shelf comes in a keepsake box that features a hardbound picture book and a small soft toy in form of a pixie scout elf.

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Daisy BB Guns are the Best Holiday Gifts for Boys & Girls {Giveaway}

tiarastantrums

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #ItsADaisy #CollectiveBias

I happen to think I will be considered the best mom this year at Christmas. I usually have the best Christmas present ideas and this year I will not be disappointing my children. I want my kids to have the cool Christmas presents because, as we all know, kids compare everything with their friends. I have the perfect gifts for boys and the perfect gifts for girls selected.

I grew up in rural Iowa and happen to know I had perhaps the best childhood ever. I was surrounded by farms, cows, pigs, dirt, boys, horses, dirt bikes and guns. My brothers had BB guns, my friends had BB guns and I had BB guns. We were all allowed to collect old tin cans, hub caps ans whatever we could locate and line them up along the fences and target practice on these rusty old finds. We were not allowed to shoot each other or shoot any animals and eye protection had to be worn at all times! Those were the rules and we all followed them.

Who would you gift a Daisy to this season?

Since I don't have my father around today to educate my children on gun safety, I will defer to the experts at Daisy. “Daisy educates roughly one million of America’s youth a year through their Ten Lesson Shooting Curriculum about BB gun use and safety FOUND HERE .” Daisy's educational curriculum has been around since 1948, so I absolutely trust them. I trust them even more because my father bought me a Daisy BB gun when I was old enough.

Daisy Carbine Cool Christmas Presents
Daisy Carbine Cool Christmas Presents

A Daisy BB gun is a good fit for my family because we are a perfect blend of country and city. I'm a country girl, stuck in the city and well, my husband is a city boy, who likes to think he can be a country boy. He loves to shoot the Daisy BB guns as much as the kids do, especially since he was never allowed to have one when he was a child. My son received his first Daisy BB gun when he was 10 and it is well loved now. He is ready for an upgrade just as his sister is ready for her very first Daisy BB gun.

Can you believe they have PINK Daisy BB guns?

Daisy Carbine Cool Christmas Presents

I was so excited to gift my daughter with her very first PINK Daisy BB gun. At the same time I upgraded my son and my husband will continue to shoot with the Daisy Red Ryder since it is legendary! I was able to head to my local Walmart and select a pink Daisy BB gun for my daughter, a surprise Daisy upgrade for my son, ammunition AND safety goggles.

Daisy Carbine Cool Christmas Presents
Daisy Carbine Cool Christmas Presents

I was very pleased with my choices for my children as the Daisy BB guns I selected have low-powered mechanisms, low-speed modes and low capacity. The low mechanism means your child will be able to hit a target, but the BB does not have enough power to bounce back (or up or over) and hit something (or someone) else. The mode is low speed and not a high powered shooting BB gun. The low capacity means these Daisy BB guns will only hold a small number of BBs in their barrels. In my opinion, the Daisy rifles are the best air rifles for kids. The combination of all these factors makes it tops in overall safety.

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Daisy_Carbine_Cool_Christams_Presents (10 of 1).jpg

The Daisy BB fun is perfect for my daughter to learn the ins and outs of shooting and it is well suited for her age. This is the best BB gun to teach her proper gun handling procedures and marksmanship. She did awesome too! On her third try, she hit the bulls-eye!

Daisy_Carbine_Cool_Christams_Presents (8 of 1).jpg
Daisy_Carbine_Cool_Christams_Presents (13 of 1).jpg
Daisy_Carbine_Cool_Christams_Presents (14 of 1).jpg

We've been having loads of fun plinking away in our back yard, practicing target-shooting and having hours of shooting fun!

Right now, you could head to your local Walmart and pick up a pink Daisy BB gun for or purchase the awesome legendary Daisy as these are the most awesome gifts for boys and gifts for girls. You too, could then be the cool mom who has the best Christmas present ideas!

Daisy Carbine Cool Christmas Presents
Daisy Carbine Cool Christmas Presents
Daisy Carbine Cool Christmas Presents
Daisy Carbine Cool Christmas Presents

Since this is the best gifts for boys AND the best gifts for girls, I imagine you would love to have one to give to your kids, right? I'm giving away a gift card to purchase a Daisy BB Gun of your own at Walmart! You can purchase your very own Daisy BB gun, BBs, and safety glasses. But after the holidays, as the gift card will not arrive until then.

Be sure to stay in touch with Daisy on twitter and facebook during the holidays!

Mandatory Entry: Sign up for Tiaras & Tantrums via subscription and confirm your subscription! Leave a comment below to tell that you have done so and the RSS feed does not count.

Blog RSS

Extra entries:
1. Follow me on twitter www.twitter.com/tiarastantrums

2. Follow Daisy on twitter. https://twitter.com/DaisyOutdoor

3. Leave me a comment below letting me know What is your Daisy BB Gun story?.
4. Share this contest/game on your Facebook page using the button on the bottom of the post, the #ItsADaisy hashtag and share that link in your entry comment here.

5. "Like" the Daisy Facebook Page. Leave me a separate comment telling me you have done so. If you already like me, just leave a separate comment .
6. Retweet this info (you can use the tweet button at the bottom of the post), use this hashtag: #ItsADaisy and leave me a comment with a link to your retweet.
7. Retweet daily and leave a comment daily, with the link, that you have done this.
8. Extra entry for leaving a comment on a non-giveaway post – you must leave a comment here as well to tell me that you have done so to get the entry.
9. Follow me on BlogLovin' and leave me a comment to tell me that you have done so.
10. “Like” my Facebook page here, leave me a separate comment telling me you have done so. If you already like me, just leave a separate comment.
11. Follow me on Instagram and leave a separate comment.
12. Follow me on Pinterest and leave a separate comment.
13. Follow me on Google Plus! And leave a separate comment.

14. BONUS ENTRY: after you have completed all the other entries: Who would you gift a Daisy to this season? Let me know in the comments below.

You must leave a separate comment in the comments field for each entry that you make to be entered! If you are already completed these tasks to enter, just leave a separate comment reminding me of that! Contest ends midnight, December 6, 2014. Prizes must be claimed within 48 hours. USA ONLY.

Every entry requires a separate comment!

How to Make a Red Dot Sight{Scope} for your BB gun

How to Make a Red Dot Sight{Scope} for your BB gun

If you are looking an easy transition for your young child to learn how to shoot accurately on their new Daisy Carbine, I would suggest creating a simple laser Red Dot Sight{Scope} for your child's BB gun. Simply purchase a small Laser LED Keychain Light, gather some legos (which everyone has hanging about the house anyway) and tape. Create a ledge out of the legos for the laser keychain to be nestled on. Tape the laser keychain on the lego stand and then tape the lego stand directly onto the scope area of the Daisy BB gun. Tape the laser button down and this will greatly aide your child while they are learning to aim their new Daisy carbine.

How to Make a Red Dot Sight{Scope} for your BB gun
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Fall Families with Netflix #StreamTeam

tiarastantrums

I have been at a near running pace since school began back in August. We have been going no-stop for the past few months and I am so looking forward to the holidays in a couple of weeks.

My children and I love this month because we travel back to my home state and visit with my extended family. It is a most joyous week. During the holiday week, we all gather together and eat and laugh and remember and look at photos and watch movies together. Basically all our hearts are filled up with love and fun. 

During this holiday week, my children have the time to spend with many generations of my family. My aunts and cousins are their cousins all come together and we get to explore everyone difference and similarities. My aunts love to introduce my children some of their favorites, which I have been familiar with for a long time. In the same respect, my children get to introduce some of their favorites to their great-aunts and their little cousins. 

There are so many titles available on Netflix this month for the entire family to enjoy. I know my girls have regularly enjoying Tod and Copper in the The Fox and the Hound 2 and I know they will want my aunts to enjoy this great classic with them.

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My kids are huge lovers of animals, all kinds and shapes. My aunt is also a huge animal lover and her farm has all sorts roaming about. The girls are going to introduce her to Martin and Chris from Wild Kratts and I know their little cousin is going to love them too!

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Everyone will be fostering their friendships with the all-new Netflix original, "VeggieTales in the House," which starts streaming Nov. 26. We can't wait to see the new adventures Bob the Tomato, Larry the Cucumber, and all the other veggie friends have as they explore new areas of their wondrous house.

 

These days it is really difficult to keep our family together as we are all so spread out in the nation. When we are together, I was to keep the entire family engaged--together. I am always eager to spend quality time with my kids because we are so busy outside of the home and our family time together is getting very precious to me. Netflix is the perfect melding of the generations of my family!

What are your favorite movies to watch with your entire family during this holiday season?

Disclosure: This post is part of my involvement as a Netflix #StreamTeam Member. All opinions are my own. #NetflixKids

 

 

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Estate Planning Basics - Planning for the Unexpected

tiarastantrums

You have been planning for months for the arrival of your new baby.  You have assembled furniture, painted rooms, and made sure you did not forget anything for the newest member of your family.  You have planned for everything, or have you?  

estateplanningpic.jpg

A recent study found that 50% of Americans with children do not have a will. For new parents, planning for the unexpected is always the last thing on their mind, but dealing with the difficult situations head on is often what parenthood is all about. In particular, a will goes beyond just designating who will inherit your assets, it can also designate who will be the guardian of your child should something happen to both parents.

An estate plan is for everyone not just for the retired, and not just for “the wealthy.” Unfortunately, we cannot predict how long we will live, and illness and accidents happen to people of all ages.  In addition, good estate planning often means more to families with modest assets, because they cannot afford to lose anything.

Estate planning does not have to be expensive. If you don’t think you can afford a complex estate plan now, start with what you can afford. For a young family or single adult, that may mean a will, term life insurance, and powers of attorney for your assets and health care decisions. Then, let your planning develop and expand as your needs change and your financial situation improves. Don’t try to do this yourself to save money. An experienced attorney will be able to provide critical guidance and peace of mind that your documents are prepared properly.

What is an estate plan?

It is the making of a plan in advance and naming whom you want to receive what you own after you pass.  However, good estate planning is much more and should include:

  • A guardian and an inheritance manager for minor children.

  • Instructions for passing your values (religion, education, hard work, etc.) in addition to your valuables.

  • Instructions for your care if you become disabled before you die.

  • Provide for family members with special needs without disrupting government benefits.

  • Provide for loved ones who might be irresponsible with money or who may need future protection from creditors or divorce.

  • Include life insurance to provide for your family at your death, disability income insurance to replace your income if you cannot work due to illness or injury, and long-term care insurance to help pay for your care in case of an extended illness or injury.

  • Provide for the transfer of your business at your retirement, disability, or death.

  • Minimize taxes, court costs, and unnecessary legal fees.

  • Be an ongoing process, not a one-time event. Your plan should be reviewed and updated as your family and financial situations (and laws) change over your lifetime.

What is a will?

A will is the legal instrument that permits a person, to make decisions on how his estate will be managed and distributed after his or her passing. A will serves a variety of important purposes. It enables a person to select his heirs rather than allowing state laws to choose the heirs. A will allows a person to decide which individual could best serve as the executor of his estate, distributing the property fairly to the beneficiaries while protecting their interests. Finally, and most importantly, a will safeguards a person's right to select an individual to serve as guardian to raise his or her young children in the event of his or her death.

What is a Power of Attorney?

A Power of Attorney ("POA") is written document that allows you (the principal) to appoint another person to act as an agent on your behalf, thus allowing the agent to perform certain acts or functions on your behalf. The POA generally terminates when you terminate the POA, when you die, or when you become incompetent.

A special type of Power of Attorney that is used frequently is the "durable" power of attorney. A durable POA differs from a traditional POA in that it continues the agency relationship beyond your incapacity. The two types of durable POA are immediate and "springing." The immediate takes effect as soon as the durable POA is executed. The "springing" POA does not take effect until a specific event occurs, such as the disability of the principal. Most often, durable powers of attorney are created to deal with decisions involving either property management or health care.  Durable powers of attorney can easily and inexpensively handle your affairs after you become incapacitated.

No one likes to think about their own morality, but you do not want the state to determine what happens to your loved ones and your assets.  Knowing you have a properly prepared plan will give you and your family the peace of mind you need.

Are you ready to create a custom, simple, estate plan to make sure your children are taken care of if you aren't there? John Wang's goal is to provide parents excellent planning at a great price. remember, what your nearest and dearest want most from you now is your love. That is the most precious gift you can give. Whether you are making an estate plan for the first time or revising your existing estate planning documents, John Wang will help you get started. Simply use PROMO CODE: EASY and receive 10% discount off his services.

John C. Wang

John C. Wang is a founding partner of Salas Wang LLC who concentrates his practice in Estate Planning and Immigration Law. Whether you are married or single, just starting out or looking back on a life well-lived, John can help you create an estate plan that will help achieve your goals for your loved ones today.

John holds a J.D. from DePaul University College of Law where he was the International Law Society Vice President and a member of the Intellectual Property Law Society, Student Advocate Program, and the Asian Pacific American Law School Association.  John also holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois.

Disclosure Policy: This post was sponsored by Salas Wang LLC. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.

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The Perfect Autumn Canapé Platter

tiarastantrums

Chicago may be freezing with the 40 degree  weather right now, but November signals the beginning of the holiday season! At least for me it does! November is the season of family and entertaining! My refrigerator is stuffed full with the essential ingredients for a perfect autumn canapé platter. I am fully prepared for any and all drop in visitors and turn no man away. In my home, every visitor will get to snack on a most delicious canapé platter!

Perfect Autumn Canapé Platter

Just grab the largest wood cutting board you have. I have had this cutting board since we got married and I have no idea where I got it, but I love it! Begin placing your cheeses and fruits haphazardly around the board.

Perfect Autumn Canapé Platter

You have to stick with cheeses that everyone will eat and enjoy. I try to keep a variety on hand that is pleasing to all our friends and family. Remember if you introduce good cheese to your kids, they will grow up appreciating the delicious soft, blue and aged.

Perfect Autumn Canapé Platter

Simply fill in the gaps with what you have in your fridge. Olives, artichokes, hearts of palm, figs, grapes. Any and all meats and salamis and nuts. If you run out of room, just grab some small bowls and start filling them up. Your crowd will be pleased!

Perfect Autumn Canapé Platter

Serve with your homemade crackers or pair with some wonderful crackers you may have in the pantry.

Perfect Autumn Canapé Platter
Perfect Autumn Canapé Platter
Perfect Autumn Canapé Platter
Perfect Autumn Canapé Platter
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Autumn School Snack with Pepperidge Farm

tiarastantrums

Now that autumn is in full swing, don't let the days fly by, remember to relish all that November has to offer.  Make sure you fully enjoy each day's crisp autumn air and gorgeous falling leaves. Though Black Friday shopping won't be until the end of the month, I can't wait to show you a perfect platter to prepare for all your family, friends and guests whilst in preparation for Thanksgiving! Coming tomorrow.

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Bringing treats for school holiday gathering and parent/teacher conferences will be a breeze this with Pepperidge Farm sweet cookies. These are convenient snacks for busy moms like myself. Pepperidge Farm Milano Pumpkin Spice cookies  are sweet cookies and ready to serve. Pepperidge Farm Cookies make it easy to say hello to teachers or parent committees. Wrap of a few of your seasonal favorites – no baking required –  in colorful cellophane bags that match your school’s colors for an instant spin on the classic cookie basket. I LOVE this idea! You could also use the most delicious Dessert Shop Pumpkin Cheesecake cookies for a holiday class treat!

What are your favorite Pepperidge Farm snacks to bring to school?

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Lemon Pepper Puff Pasty Crackers

tiarastantrums

Holiday! Celebrate! This time of year is all about gather family and friends together! Celebrating, breaking bread, laughing,  joy, remembering, roaring fires, enjoying family and feasting. I love to prepare food during the holidays. My two refrigerators are stuffed full of food during these holidays.

I love to make my own crackers. It is so simple and I can create whatever flavor combination I want. I start with Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry and add any herb combination you can like such as black pepper and fennel seeds or rosemary and salt. I happen to be partial to anything with a lemon flavor, as does my family, so I used lemon Pepper, Real Sea Salt and a touch of Garlic Powder.

Get as creative as you wish and serve it with the most delicious canapé platter.

Preheat your oven to 400° . Thaw your puff pastry and unfold. Spray your baking sheet with  non-stick  spray or cover with parchment paper. Cut the puff pastry into ½ inch strips or larger or smaller . . . there is no correct size, please yourself.  Sprinkle the strips with the herbs you have selected.  Bake for approximately 10 minutes or until the pastry begins to brown. Remove and let cool.

Serve with your delicious canapé platter!

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Sharing the Table with Family and Barilla

tiarastantrums

During the Family Forward conference a couple of months ago, my family and I enjoyed a family session with Barilla Pasta. I especially enjoyed the session with Barilla because they were exploring the different ways families can make meal time more meaningful.

Share the Table with Barilla Pasta

Barilla Pasta introduced a concept that is not foreign on me of sharing the table.  All the families prepared a meal together for lunch that afternoon. My girls loved it because I don't normally let them help me at home . . . eh, control freak who loathes messes . . . I'm working on this one! We all worked step by step to create a delicious, healthy lunch with Barilla pasta. 

The speaker presented the Family Forward families with a number of different strategies for making mealtime more family oriented. I was so happy to realize that I have this nailed pretty perfectly!  I have three very busy schedules with my children and some days we are not all home for dinner, and that is okay. I don't feel guilty because my children are sitting down to a home cooked meal most other evenings.  The speaker did offer some solutions for those busy evenings though. They can be found at the Share The Table website.

One busy evening was Halloween. But, I wanted my children to have a home-cooked, delicious meal to come home to after a cold night of banging on doors and running up and down sidewalks. It is cold in Chicago! In fact, it was freezing on Halloween night! But I have invited the grandparents over as they love to see the kids in their costumes every year. My son had just broken his arm, so he decided to not trick-or-treat this year. That left, grandma and my son to make a family dinner for us all.

We all sat down together, enjoying the meal and the time and the conversation with our family. These are our treasured moments this past Halloween.

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November, Already?

tiarastantrums

I can't believe I am going to say this, but  . . . how is it November already? I think I have been doing this for the past couple of months. I seriously, need to get my act together. I have way too much going on. My husband told me I was barely keeping it together, which in my opinion couldn't be farther from the truth. But, I do have a lot on my plate. Who knew that having three kids would keep me so busy. I have no clue how parents with more children stay afloat. They must have help in some areas. I think  that is the issue here  . . . I have no family living remotely close to us to even think of assistance with anything. I have a husband who works an obscene amount and when he is home, he is 'not available'. I am a sole parent in this house and I have told him on several occasions that that has to stop. I keep thinking next month will get better, but then the next month sneaks up on me and my days are still full up. I am completely exhausted all the time, which I think is a good thing. I have to say that I think I am better at "stuff" when i am busier. Things tend to not get done when I am bored or have too much time on my hands. I still am able to cook almost every day, the house is clean (amazingly!!) and the laundry is always done. I must be doing something right!

Here is a bit of a soothing image from my recent vacation . . . on which I totally relaxed! I totally did nothing . . . no cooking . . . no cleaning . . . although I did do a couple of loads of laundry {I don't think that can be helped when you have three children} . . . I ate three meals a day . . . does anyone else forget to eat most days?? I do this almost daily!  . . . but I still didn't sleep much . . . need to work on that one . . . have a great weekend!

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