Monthly Archives: July 2015

How To: Bantha Milk & Cookies Bar for your Star Wars Birthday

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

For many Star Wars fans Bantha Milk will be easily recognizable.  Bantha Milk is simply, blue milk with which you enjoy a tasty assortment of cookies.  A true treat in the Star Wars Universe and one that we easily replicated for Emma Marie’s Family Birthday Party!

WHO doesn’t love a cookie bar?


I rest my case.

How To: Bantha Milk & Cookies Bar for your Star Wars Birthday

For as long as I can remember Emma Marie has wanted to follow in Big Brother’s footsteps.  So when we asked her what Birthday Theme she would like for her second birthday she quickly donned her Jedi Robe and said, “Pew-Pew-Pew!”  Of course that noise comes from a Blaster… the weapon of choice for Clone and Stormtroopers BUT we let it slip because? Childhood.  Imagination.  Everything doesn’t need to be RIGHT all the time.

When I was thinking about cookies I knew I wanted to make sure that all of the items were food-allergy friendly for Big Brother.  Raymond is allergic to gluten, eggs, peanuts, and treenuts(along with a slew of others that are not cookie related).  So Themed Marshmallows and Rice Crispy “Cookies were the way to go!


Bantha Milk & Cookies Bar

Shopping List:

1 Bag of Campfire Marshmallows

1 Box of Rice Crispy Treats

1 Bag of Candy Melts in: Pink, White, Dark Brown, Green, Blue, Red

1 Star Wars Rebels Party Favor Pack

2 Gallons of 2% Milk

8 Star Wars Rebels 16 ounce cups

8 Star Wars Rebels 9 ounce cups

10 Paper Straws

1 Box of Plastic Straws in: Blue, Green, Red, White

1 Star Wars Rebels Birthday Banner

1 Star Wars Rebels Mask Set

6 Pool Noodles: 3 blue, 3 green

1 Package of Gold Card-stock

1 Roll of Silver Duck Tape

1 Roll of Black Duck Tape

2 Black Table Cloths

1 Package of Silver Stars


Our Local Walmart- Featuring a Self-Proclaimed Future Jedi

The force is strong with this one.  As Raymond is against naps in his big-boy status we ventured out together to grab everything on our shopping list at our neighborhood Walmart.  I am beyond thankful that we were able to get all of the necessities for Emma Marie’s Second Birthday in one stop.

Three year old’s are capped at one-stop when shopping.  At least mine is.


Party Favors & Lightsabers

Everyone had the chance to pick out their very own Lightsaber(each one was different) and party favors.  The Lightsaber’s(DIY Project HERE) and Gift Bag Supplies went home with our little nieces and family members.  No lamps were harmed.  At least not at the time of this posting.  I will say that we moved the fun outside, fast.

The force is strong with this one.

As is a bunch of children with Lightsabers.


The Dark Side has Cookies.

The Dark Side has Cookies.  You didn’t know that?  Well, why else would anyone shun the way of the Light Side?  I’m glad we were able to clear that up.

The Bantha Milk & Cookies Bar was clearly separated so that each guest had to choose their fate.  Would they level with the Light Side(the RIGHT side) or would they choose the Dark Side?  I simply made a rough shape of the various characters and used the candy melts to help signify their place in the Star Wars Universe.  For a quick tutorial on how to make Themed Marshmallows you can head HERE.


The Light Side- Marshmallow Lightsabers


The Light Side Straws & Star Wars Rebel Cups


Yoda Bite Cookies


Sabine’s Crispy Mandalorian Helmets


The Dark Side Straws & Star Wars Rebels Cups


The Dark Side- Marshmallow Lightsabers


Vicious Vader’s


Trooper Rations


Asteroid Cookies


May the Force Be With You

The Bantha Milk & Cookies Bar Backdrop was made with two black table cloths.  I simply used superglue to place the silver stars, ahem, apparently white stars would’ve been more historically accurate.  I then downloaded a free version of the Jedi Font and printed out: MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU.  Cut and place with craft tape.  I don’t think I will ever have a birthday party without a backdrop again.  Made the, “OHH and AHH,” factor increase ten-fold.  The craft tape held to our painted walls 24 hours and left no sticky residue. Mom Win.

Emma Marie SQUEALED with delight when she saw the Birthday Party decorations in their full glory all set-up for her birthday.  She just kept saying, “Thank you Mom.” Over and over.  In her words this is the BEST Birthday Ever!  She yelled, “Best.Day.Ever.” as she swung her favorite lightsaber proudly over her little head.




Our little Jedi loved every second of her birthday surrounded by family.  Her favorite part aside from the deliriously unforgivable amounts of sugar ingested would definitely be when we sang, “Happy Birthday!”.

Being a parent may feel like a thankless job at times.  But their are moments so pure in childhood.

I will never forget the look in her eyes.


Do you remember your best birthday ever?  What made is so special?


Tell me about it below! Would love to hear from you!


Additional Star Wars Party Planning:

DIY Star Wars Lightsaber Post

Disneyland with Food Allergies

First Posted On- Arizona Food Allergy Alliance: HERE.

Our mission as parents of a food allergy child is making sure he is in the safest and healthiest environment possible.

Our son is deathly allergic to Gluten, Arrowroot, Peanuts, and Tree-nuts. He immediately throws up upon ingesting eggs, apples, and beef. Other allergies that cause digestive distress include: shellfish and pork.


Disneyland with Food Allergies

Our time at Disneyland has proven to be one of the safest we’ve ever encountered. I count myself lucky that we are able to give him that experience as a child and that he can just truly be. Be a kid. See the magic that the world possesses. I can count the restaurants on ONE finger that we can go to in our city. And I know many of my fellow food-allergy parents know which one I am talking about- two thumbs up that they are now GMO free! At Disneyland there were multiple options for us to eat at as a family and until you live with food allergies you just don’t know how special that really is.


ADR (Advance Dinner Reservation) – cuts wait times down to 5 minutes(or no wait-can I get a high-five?) instead of the typical 40-50 minutes and get in to the Disneyland Park BEFORE it actually opens for the public. Rockstar Status. Can also get Character Meets done as well. We ate at the Plaza Inn(in Disneyland) and were able to take pictures with characters who came around to our individual tables. We ALWAYS bring a ton of dry cereal, baby food pouches, camelback water bottles(easy to refill), and rice-krispy treats. For dinner our MUST for every visit is Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue. Delicious, finger-licking good time. Drinks flowing(hello Diet Coke) in large mason jars, a live band(great for kids to watch), and all you can eat BBQ, corn, beans, and cornbread. Plus being tucked away from the crowds of the parades(during dinner time) is most pleasant-surrounded by cool pine trees.


Plus- if you have food allergies and you book two weeks in advance they are more than willing to accommodate you and will work to make sure your meals are safe and MAGICAL. They will order food YOU CAN EAT and ensure that your time is both safe and enjoyable.

Each time we have had the Head Chef of both restaurants come out and welcome us, letting us know that they are making our meal. Not having to worry about life-threatening food allergies? Now THAT is another reason that Disneyland is the Happiest Place on Earth.

You can also ask many of the fast service food stops if they are allergy-friendly. We always stop and watch the Star Wars Jedi Training and last year they did not have any safe options for us to grab(which is why I always bring more than enough food with us) BUT this year they had their own menu options for food allergies and the Head Chef cooked my son his food.

Or – save time and money and bring your own food. You can eat snacks while waiting to board rides; just be ready to store those snacks. See Fanny Pack.


Road Map to Rides – Check height restrictions, make a list of which rides are a must. We bring wipes to quickly wipe down each the surface area-so simple I can do it in my sleep. My husband made a spreadsheet. Don’t forget about Baby Swap(Rider Exchange)! Hello secret path through Indiana Jones! Know which ones are Fast Pass and USE THEM. A lot of the kids rides have a large line and no fast pass… know which ones are height and AGE friendly for your family before waiting. Little known secret for tiny tots? The ride hidden behind the Splash Mountain Exit NEVER has a wait and is baby and toddler friendly. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. LOVED being able to ride that a couple times with two EXTREMELY happy little ones.



I’ve worn one in each adult trip I’ve taken. At first I’ve had a few snickers and a couple call outs BUT when they are asked to store their backpack in lockers after they’ve waited an eternity to get on a ride? Payback? Knowledge is power. You can ride EVERY SINGLE RIDE at Disneyland while wearing a fanny pack. The same sadly can not be said for the much cooler looking cousin, the back pack.

Snacks, Epi-Pens(crucial for us), Cell Phone, Keys, Tickets. BOOM. Always with you. Please remember to bring a ziplock bag to store your cell phone in and Epi-Pens(in the fanny pack) because you can AND WILL get wet on Pirates of the Caribbean, Splash Mountain(does that really need to be written?) and by a wayward toddler trying to “help” you with your water. Inevitable.

Babywearing & Strollers

Last year I forgot my precious LILLEbaby in the car(and it is a TREK to go back to the car) and goodness my back paid the price. Babywear for the WIN!

Strollers are necessary for babies or toddlers. Our baby and two year old took multiple naps throughout the day on our first trip to Disneyland. Plus we just “parked” our stroller outside each ride with about fifty of it’s stroller friends and never had a problem.

You can rent strollers but it is far easier for us to bring our own with allergies AND save some money while we are at it.

This past year we only used our stroller to get to the park and to get across large distances. But our soon to be two and three year old went all day without napping in the stroller so we parked it at the Haunted Mansion for 8+ hours. My little girl DID sleep in the LILLEbaby for two hours and we rode the train around the park and watched my husband and three year old go on a couple of rides.


Free Souvenirs – Get the Buttons – First Disney Trip, Birthday, Honorary Citizen of Disneyland, Family Reunion, Happy Anniversary, Just Engaged, Just Graduated, Just Married….there are even more from City Hall and any of the shops on Main Street. Ask a cashier.

Also get a Jungle Safari Map – just ask one of the tour guides. Speaking of Jungle Cruise. It is the FIRST ride we go on. Everyone in the park makes a BEELINE for Indiana Jones and we just grab our fast pass for Indiana(or rider swap-MUCH faster) and then get onto a boat for a hilarious ride around. Every single trip at Jungle Safari brings different jokes. Last year while holding the baby on my lap I forgot about a certain part that JUMPS out at you and nearly lost my marbles. Lucky that Emma Marie thought it was hilarious. Message me if that information is need to know.


Call Disney – Extremely friendly, knowledgeable staff and will answer any question! (714)781-4636.

Do you have any Disneyland Tips for our fellow food-allergy parents?

Please comment below and SHARE!


More Disneyland Information:

A Day at Disneyland: Tips & Tricks

Disneyland Trip: Toddler & Preschooler FAVORITES


Holly Marie is a mom to a toddler and preschooler, former teacher and high school coach. She shares the best parenting advice she can find. She continues to work hard at keeping a happy, healthy home. Come join the adventure in parenthood!

Let me know if you have any questions-

Feel free to send an email to Holly Marie-

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Better-For-You Summer Treats


Better-For-You Summer Treats

All of your favorite ice cream flavors are now available as TCBY frozen yogurt in the freezer aisle of your grocery store. Each carton has 7 probiotic cultures with 3-4 grams of protein.  TCBY packaged treats have helped us indulge with half the fat of ice cream.

The Flavors

Mint Chocolate Chip– A cool, arctic wind meets a hailstorm of dark chocolate chips. This is the refreshing result of their union.

Classic Vanilla Bean– 1 00% vanilla. 0% boring. Sweet, creamy and dotted with crushed vanilla beans, this classic is simply perfect.

Double Chocolate Chunk– Decadent pieces of solid chocolate wrapped in—you guessed it– velvety chocolate. Because the only thing better than chocolate is more of it!

Extreme Cookies ‘n Cream– Extra creamy vanilla. Cream-filled chocolate cookie chunks. Major deliciousness in every bite. Might as well grab an extra spoon!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough– B ite size pieces of your favorite dough surrounded by creamy vanilla yogurt. Feel free to lick the spoon!

Chocolate Moose Tracks– The search is over! Enjoy the bounty of our rich and famous chocolate frozen yogurt covered with peanut butter cups and Famous Moose Tracks.®

Sea Salt Caramel Swirl– A hint of sea salt, waves of rich caramel, and oceans of flavor. Jump in!

English Toffee Crunch– The perfect blend of creamy and crunchy, with ribbons of chocolate covered butterscotch candy decadence. No accent required.

My husband and I picked the flavor that was calling our names.  I decided to indulge with Sea Salt Caramel Swirl– deliciously decadent.  My husband picked Double Chocolate Chunk and we may or may need to pick up another…

I love that I can satisfy my sweet tooth without the feeling of regret.  Seriously, after finally getting back in shape I don’t want to derail with too much of a good thing.  Thankfully I can have a couple scoops of this and not feel an ounce of guilt.



My favorite way to relax is propping myself up in a chair outside with a bowl of decadence, as I watch my two favorite munchkins run their last bits of energy off at night.  I can not believe that this was Raymond’s first day of preschool.  He LOVED school this week and I just can’t help but thinking that, “He survived.”  A food-allergy parent’s mantra. 

I am so happy that we get to share this fabulous Better-For-You Summer Treat and include a fabulous coupon so you can run out and grab a couple to try yourself! And that’s not all scroll down to find a GIVEAWAY for three months of deliciousness.


Readers in Denver, Phoenix, and Houston head to the Get The Scoop Tour for $1 off coupons so you can swap out your ice cream for TCBY frozen yogurt, too!



Enter to win THREE FREE  MONTHS of TCBY!

How to Enter:  Rafflecopter
a Rafflecopter giveaway

What TCBY flavors are you most excited to try?

Now that we’ve tried two my husband has his eye on Chocolate Moose Tracks while I like to stick to a flavor that I KNOW is amazing.  Flavor shy.


Snow at the Phoenix Zoo

Twice a year the Phoenix Zoo brings snow and creates a winter wonderland of fun for kids of ALL ages.  For the past three years we have attended the New Year’s Bash and Blizzard in July.  Beyond thankful that my two little desert-raised kids can revel in some snow action.




Smashing Snow Balls

Emma Marie definitely liked stomping through the snow this time.  She was unsure of all the other kids wailing snowballs at first, but quickly got in on the action.  If you attend the event please note you will get wet… it is snow… and snow is meant to be made into snowballs.



What do you mean, “FREEZE?!?”.  Both kids were not keen on the idea of stopping to get their picture taken when there was so much fun to be had.  Really, who am I to judge?  I threw snowballs with the best of them-which should be said-gently, underhand at my kids bellies.  They squealed with joy.

Plus when Raymond who just needed to wear his Ninja Turtle Sweatshirt- because obviously Ninjas play better in the snow– was getting a little hot under the collar a little bit of snow down the back made for a nice high-pitched scream.

Winning at this Mom thing I tell you. (I kid, I kid.)


The first few minutes looked like this.  She did not like all of the commotion.  But those boots?  I asked her if she wanted to wear them in the snow at the zoo the night before and with the biggest teenager attitude she said, “Yes, mom.  MY boots at the zoo.”  Like, duh.  So much attitude.  Such a tiny person.


We made THREE icemen this time.  At just 7:30AM most of the snow was quickly icing over into globs but ignorance is bliss my friends.  They proudly made their “snowmen” and relished in the fact that they looked just like Olaf.  Next time I am bringing carrots, black rocks, and some sticks.  Note to self.


Snowball Fight

I love how much they love playing together.  This really is a fun(challenging) age.  Two active snowball slingers soaked me in mud soaked iceballs.  Thankfully I knew it was coming.  Some parents were not prepared.  This is NOT the day to wear your favorite outfit. I’d rather be soaked, than sit on the sidelines of my kid’s childhood.

So muddy mayhem it was.


The Fire Department Truck was a hit with Raymond and they even gave the elephants baths with their fire hose!  The elephant LOVED the extra pressure under the hot desert sun! Plus lots of the animals had extra Blizzard in July treats thanks to the Phoenix Zoo Staff.


At just 9AM and two hours of snow play in, we stopped to go grab some ice water.

summer-blizzard-at-the-phoenix-zooAfter two cups of ice eaten, each.  We headed off to go through the snake tunnels before heading home.  The snow melts fast in the Valley of the Sun so make sure you are there RIGHT when it opens.

Check out last New Year’s Snow Day and last summer’s Blizzard in July.


Do your kids love playing in the snow?  


I can’t wait to take them tubing when they get a bit older in the mountains!


First Day of Preschool Letter

How can it be?  How can the boy that made me a mother be in school?  Time is not a mother’s friend.  Time goes by too fast.  As I sit here before your first day at school I am a mix of emotions, but mostly I want you to know just how proud we are of the young gentleman you’ve become.

Dear Raymond,

You are a bundle of excitement that can not be contained today.  You keep asking when we are leaving for school and are most notably thrilled to play with your friends.  I am awash with emotions.  I am beyond thrilled that you will be in a safe environment with children your own age, learning and playing.  Socialization is incredibly important.  You long to be independent and we hope that you thrive in this new school.

I am hoping with all hope that the steps we’ve taken to keep you safe will endure.  That peanut butter hands do not find you.  That you will not be jammed in the leg by a life-saving medicine by your teacher. A teacher who is doing everything in her power to keep you safe.  I know that without a doubt.  I am hoping if that happens that one or two Epi-Pens are enough. It has to be.

I am hoping that the classroom parents are understanding and not hurtful.  How in the world is a cupcake worth more than a child’s life?  As a former teacher I KNOW how important being in school is, truly.  I am just hoping that we’ve made the right decision for you.  That we do not look back on this day in tears.


You are a bright young man.  You care about other’s feelings and make sure that they are tended to.  You do not understand hate.  It is incomprehensible to you that other’s can have such biting anger.  May that ignorance to the harsh world endure a bit longer.  May you always question the cruelty of others.

You love singing and dancing.  You are going to relish the time to get up and get your boogie on.  May you always dance with your heart wide open.




You are going to LOVE school.  You already love school.  Back to School Night was a hit in your eyes and you keep talking about your teachers and what you are going to do.  I can’t wait to hear about what you learned today, about your friends, and about the fun.  Life should be a little bit more fun.

Love Always,


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