Making a Big Change

Happy belated new year!

It's been a little quiet over here lately. Partly it was due to the Christmas holidays and partly because I've been sick. I'm still trying to get over this cold.

I'm not sure if you know, but I run/write three different blogs. Whew! I've been juggling three websites since last March 2011. I never truly felt like any the blogs got the attention they truly deserved. For my sanity and the quality and frequency of my posts, I'm making a big change.

I'm merging Cup of Creativi-Tea into my main blog, I'm Not the Nanny. I'm not shutting down this site. You're welcome to come back to it whenever you want, but in the near future, I'm moving the content over to I'm Not the Nanny.

From now I'm posting my food and crafts posts over at I'm Not the Nanny. I hope you'll come visit over there and subscribe to its RSS feed so you don't miss anything. Like the Vietnamese cook-a-long I'm doing for 2013.

You're welcome to join me.

Leftover Turkey=Yummy Enchiladas

Happy Christmas Eve! If you're making turkey for your Christmas dinner, you have to make some turkey enchiladas with the leftovers. I don't make them very often, but enchiladas are one of my husband's favorite food. I made these a few days after Thanksgiving. By this time the kids were already tired of leftover turkey, so I needed to change things up a bit.

The last time I made enchiladas was in college (for my husband), so I scoured the internet for recipes. I had all the ingredients for enchiladas except for one thing: enchilada sauce. A pretty pivotal ingredient, don't you think. Fear not, improvising is one of my favorite activities in the kitchen.

I grabbed a jar of Rose Romano's Italian Red Bell Peppers Marinara Sauce and winged it. Using Jane Maynard's recipe for red enchilada sauce, I made my very first from scratch enchilada sauce in less than 15 minutes. It was good. Really good.

Now that I know how easy it is to make enchilada sauce (especially when you have jar of really good marinara sauce in the pantry), I'm going to make it from scratch from now on.

What's your favorite dish using turkey leftovers?

I received Rose Romano's marinara sauce to review. All opinions are my own. 

All You Need for BabbaBox is Imagination

My kids love receiving mail. Recently, we had a chance to try out BabbaBox, a new monthly subscription service that provides wide range of crafts and activities for children ages 3-6. Each month's box is based on a theme. The one we received was about sun, moon, and stars. The box contains a mix of crafts and activities plus a book and a digital component.

I let the kids help me unbox it (though I opened it beforehand just to see what was inside). Included were two craft projects: a paper mache moon nightlight and a constellation frame using sunprint paper. Each project was packaged separately and included everything we needed to create it. The kids absolutely loved the book Twinkle: Star of the Week. That was the first thing we did.

Also in the box was a gift for parents (a star wine bottle topper), travel binoculars so kids can create a moon cycle chart, coupons for other services and instructions to download the digital component. In this case it was an app: Twinkle by Kimboomu. The app is only for iOS products: iPhone or iPad. I'm not sure if there will be Android apps in future boxes. I loved everything in the box, but I felt like the app was an afterthought. The kids did not like the app at all. Not even Jaxson, who is in its suggested age range.

Jaxson and I decided to tackle the constellation project first. I've never used sunprint paper, but BabbaBox's illustrated instructions were easy to understand and follow. What kid doesn't like stickers? It's been a bit gloomy around here so luckily we substituted a bright light for the sun. This was a great project for my three year old because he didn't have to wait long for results. Little kids love instant gratification!

Jessica Kim, Founder and CEO of Babbabox

Overall, I really like BabbaBox. I like that it's not just craft projects but involves a book and digital content as well. BabbaBox is well rounded. Plus it's a women-owned company. That's Jessica Kim, the founder and CEO.

Here's more info about BabbaBox:

BabbaBox is a theme-based box delivered to your door that allows you to enjoy a little convenience and inspiration! As any parent can attest, the most important thing you can give to your child is quality time. BabbaBox makes this possible by helping you to save time, money, & mindspace.

Just think! Fantastic monthly activities with ALL the materials for kids ages 3-6. Included in the box are 3 projects + 1 bestselling book + digital download + parent surprise gift!

The best part? Babbabox makes a GREAT unique gift during the holiday season.

Act now! Get 50% off your first month when you sign up for a monthly membership using the code, SWAY100. Offer expires December 31, 2012.

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of BabbaBox. The opinions and text are all mine.

Photo Diary: Carnival Breeze Cruise Food

I'm writing this from the fabulous Carnival Cruise Breeze ship. Let me tell you, the food on a cruise ship is amazing! So get ready to drool as I show you what I've eaten so far.

Sake infused beetroot carpaccio with blue cheese and greens

Alligator Fritters with spicy salsa and homemade potato chips

Lobster tail with shrimp

Chocolate melting cake with vanilla ice cream

Brany infused cherries jubilee with vanilla ice cream
 Carnival Cruise is hosting our family on the cruise. All opinions and gorging on delicious food is all my own.

Hack-y Holidays! A Make-It-Yourself #STEMchat December 6: Join Me!

Are you making gifts or thinking about creative gifts this holiday season?

My friend Kim Moldofsky of The Maker Mom (and other fabulous blogs) hosts a monthly Twitter chat about STEM: science, technology, engineering, and math. This month's chat also includes Arts. Don't let "Arts" scare you. Everyone has a bit of creativity in them. I love making and receiving handmade gifts. What I love more are gifts that inspire creativity.

Thanks to this month's sponsor, littleBits, we'll be talking about #MakeTheHoliday- sharing tips and ideas for homemade gifts and gifts that keep on giving. Join in on Twitter on this Thursday, December 6 at 9 PM Eastern, 8 Central, 7 Mountain and 6 Pacific using the hashtags #STEMchat and #MakeTheHoliday.

Check out the panelists for our chat:

Kathy Cerceri @KathyCeceri is the brains behind Crafts for Learning and is co-creator of the GeekMom blog and book, author of "Robotics" and other activity books for kids,'s Guide to Homeschooling, and mom to two sons, 17 and 20.

Lisa Nelsen-Woods @condoblues When her technical writer, instructional designer, and DIYer powers combine she builds computers, fixes what's broken, and teaches you how you can do it too on her blog Condo Blues.

Thien-Kim Lam (That's me!) @ThienKim is a former costume designer who now channels her creative energy by upcycling clothes, sketching, and crafting with her kids. Check out her tutorials and general crafty goodness at My Cup of Creativi-Tea and her parenting adventures at I'm Not the Nanny.

littleBits, invented by a woman, are (cute!) little electronic modules for prototyping and play. The bits snap together with magnets, so you can't mess up with them. These colorful bits take crafting projects to a new level allowing people with little or no electronics knowledge to add lights, sensors or other bells and whistles to their projects. Ayah Bdeir set out to put the tools of engineers into the hands of artists and she's succeeding. Seriously cool stuff, people.

littleBits is hosting a creative holiday challenge. It's kind of like Design Squad for adults- dream up a creative project incorporating littleBits, sketch it out and submit the sketch to win. How easy is that?
Want to see how easy it is to use littleBits? They sent me their Holiday Kit, a seven bit kit designed to light up your life, to test out. It's so easy, my 3 year old can do it. While my 7 year old daughter made the paper propeller to attach to the motor, my little guy is assembling the pieces in the background. Sorry the video is so dark, my kids wanted to turn off the lights so they could see the LED light piece in action.

As a panelist, I received a littleBits Holiday Kit to try out before the chat.

Starbucks Perfect Pairings & Christmas Tree Decorating

Ten years ago as newlyweds, my husband and I decided to start a new Christmas tradition. Every year, we would buy a ornament for each person in the family. I know many families have a similar tradition, but my parents didn't make a big deal about decorating for Christmas. I wanted to make Christmas special for us by creating our own traditions.

The kids have been hounding me waiting for two weeks to put up our Christmas tree. Finally over the weekend, we unboxed our brand new pre-lit tree. My husband and Sophia were very serious as they put it together. He was adamant about reading the instructions first. Just one of these annoying things I love about him.

After all that hard work assembling the three pieces of the tree, it was time for a snack break. In fact, the kids practically jumped for joy when I told them they could finally eat the Artisan Fresh cinnamon rolls. I even warmed them up in the oven. Plus, for the first time ever, we picked up some Starbucks ground coffee to brew at home. I'm a huge fan of Starbucks but have never bought their ground coffee. It's silly, isn't it?

We do a lot of our grocery shopping at Sam's Club (budget friendly, yay!) so I was not surprised to find a great deal on Starbucks Limited Edition Holiday Blend. At Sam's Club, the 28oz bag was $16.98 while a 16oz bag on the Starbucks website is $14.98. I was pretty surprised. We also picked up a the tray of Artisan Fresh cinnamon rolls to go with the coffee.

While the kids chowed down on the cinnamon rolls and their hot chocolate, I poured myself a cup of the holiday blend. The fresh, hot coffee smelled heavenly and reminded me of walking into a Starbucks. I know that sounds silly, but buying coffee at a Starbucks cafe has been more of a treat these days. For the tasting, I took a sip the black coffee. The holiday blend is bold and dark with a hint of cinnamon spiciness at the end. The spice was a pleasant surprise. When I took a bite of the cinnamon roll and drank the coffee, the cinnamon spice was more pronounced in the holiday blend. I absolutely loved it and it definitely is a #DeliciousPairing.

The cinnamon rolls were a huge hit as well. They were the perfect amount of yeast dough and cinnamon filling. Sophia gave the cinnamon rolls two hands up, which is even better than two thumbs up. My husband laughed at me because I couldn't stop raving about how much I liked the coffee. I was surprised by how much I liked it. Once I finished the taste test, I added sweetener and milk, then topped my coffee with whipped cream. Yay for decadence on a budget. It's like having a Starbucks cafe in my home.

Once our bellies were full, the kids made a mad dash towards the ornaments. In case you wondered, the bottom front of the tree may be a little ornament heavy because that's as far as Jaxson got. They were moving so fast, most of my photos of them were a huge blur.

As we pulled out each ornament, we took a little stroll down memory lane. We haven't picked up ornaments for 2012 yet, but here's a salt dough ornament I made last year. I made one for each member of the family. Isn't she cute?

Here's the little guy we purchased for Jaxson's first Christmas. There's lots more but I won't torture you with the stories.

This was the first year that we incorporated coffee and baked goods into our tree trimming tradition. It was fun to take a snack break during our decorating. Having the cinnamon rolls and coffee just added to our evening. I also have a feeling that we'll go through our 28oz bag of Starbucks Limited Edition Holiday Blend pretty quickly.

Do you include coffee in your holiday traditions?

I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™. All opinions and coffee addiction are my own. #CBias #SocialFabric

Easy Peasy Pumpkin Pie with Salted Caramel Whipped Cream

You know what makes a pumpkin pie good? Whipped cream. You know what makes it even better?

Salted caramel whipped cream. (Read to end for the recipe.)

Just saying those words out loud makes my taste buds dance! To make fancy whipped cream, all you need is some Torani Salted Caramel syrup. You can use whatever flavor you want. Torani has syrups in every flavor you can imagine.

It's easy to pick up a can of that whipped topping at the store, but nothing beats making your on whipped cream. All you need is some heavy cream, a whisk, a chilled bowl, and some muscle power. Or you can use an electric mixer with the whisk attachment. I put my kids to work, but all they really wanted to do was lick the bowl. So I pulled out my stick blender and its whisk attachment.

I love fancy coffees from my coffee shops, but those are more of a splurge. I have found a super easy, budget friendly way to make my own fancy coffee at home. There was leftover whipped cream after we ate our pumpkin pie so I didn't want to wasted it. I put some generous dollops of the salted caramel whipped cream on my mocha flavored coffee. 

I can't believe how a little whipped cream made my coffee immensely better. I felt a little decadent to tell you the truth. At least my wallet was happy. I kinda want to whip up another batch just for coffee!

If you want to make your own fancy (but easy) whipped cream, you can save 10% at with code SHESPEAKS. The code is good until 11/30/12, so hop to it! If you miss out on the code, you can enter the Torani Holiday Cheers Contest and win Mr. Coffee prizes and Torani Syrups.

I received two bottles of Torani Syrups to sample and review. All opinions and coffee obsession are mine.

Easy Pumpkin Pie with Salted Caramel Whipped Cream
Makes one pie, 6-8 servings, depending how big you slice it

Pumpkin Pie 

1 can or 15 oz of solid pack pumpkin
1 cup of heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup of granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp of ground ginger
1/8 tsp of ground nutmeg
2 large eggs
1 frozen deep dish pie crust

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Mix together all ingredients (except crust). Place crust on a baking sheet. Pour filling into the crust. Bake until the filling is set, but still a bit jiggly, about an hour. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Refrigerate overnight or for at least 6 hours. Serve with salted caramel whipped cream (recipe below).

Salted Caramel Whipped Cream

1 cup of heavy whipping cream, chilled
1 oz of Torani Salted Caramel Syrup (about a shot glass)

Place both ingredients in a chilled bowl. Whisk until soft peaks form, about 3-5 minutes if whipping by hand. It will be faster if you use a mixer or electric whisk. Serve immediately. Also tasty on coffee, hot cider, or hot chocolate.
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