Summer Blog Conferences: I’m Speaking at ALT!

Posted by Carly Morgan

 

Guess what! I’m speaking at ALT! They’re having a summer conference in Salt Lake City for the first time and the first wave of speakers was announced yesterday. My face! Totally on the list!

I’m thrilled, both to be speaking and to be attending ALT again. I love this conference and I always leave with so much energy and enthusiasm after spending a few days with all the happy bloggers. If you want to join the summer conference, you have a good shot because they’re giving away THREE free tickets! You just have to tweet between now and Friday with something that you love (or would love) about coming to ALT and use the hashtag #altsummit.

Don’t worry if you’re just starting out as a blogger or if your blog isn’t that large or if you’re still in the dreaming stages – when I attended my first ALT conference in 2010 I felt like I was way out of my league, but it ended up being a huge turning point in my life! ALT inspires!

I’m also headed to BlogHer ’14 in San Jose in July (I think…slightly on the fence so I have a ticket but no hotel room…) and hopefully I’ll be hitting up one of the Disney SMMC On the Road conferences just a few days after ALT (official invites haven’t gone out yet). I’ve also got two conferences in September – one for photographers called Click Away! and then the Food Allergy Bloggers conference in Las Vegas.

And did I mention that two of my best friends from high school and my brother are all getting married between now and October? Oh, and a little someone will be celebrating his first birthday and you know I like to make a big deal about that…

Five blog conferences and three weddings and one first birthday = what a great summer!

Our IT’S-IT Inspired Ice Cream Sandwich #ShowUsYourMess

Posted by Carly Morgan

This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group™ and Wet-Nap but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #showusyourmess  http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV

Summer! It’s not quite here but we’re in the spirit anyway. I’m going to make up for last summer’s severe lack of fun (one hundred and five days of pregnancy bed rest!) by packing in two summers worth of goodness. That means we’re going to have to get things started a little early…

One of my favorite warm weather treats is an ice cream sandwich called an IT’S-IT and I’m pretty sure they’re only available in California. I grew up on them because my mom loved them and we used to get them as a special treat before we moved here to Salt Lake City. I loved sharing this messy indulgence with my mom and even now we rarely make a trip to the coast without enjoying one or two. Or three.

The treat is basically an ice cream sandwich that features oatmeal cookies and a thin chocolate shell. You can get them in a few flavors and while I think the mint chocolate chip is the tastiest, the purest in me tends to prefer the vanilla. So good, so San Francisco, so tastes like summer at home. They do ship them out, so I was going to order a case of them last summer, but it turns out that the cost + shipping makes them a little cost prohibitive, so I came up with my own version. I think it’s pretty good and Kyle says it’s better than the original! (And, yes, this recipe was safe for our daughter and her crazy nut allergies!)

IT’S-IT Inspired Ice Cream Sandwiches

You need:
– Oatmeal cookies (see recipe below)
– Ice cream of your choice (we used nut-allergy-safe Ben and Jerry’s)
– Chocolate shell (see recipe below)
– Parchment paper
– A lot of freezer space. Seriously! Go clear a shelf.

its-it-recipe

Oatmeal Cookies
1/2 Cup (1 stick) plus 5 tablespoons butter, softened /// 3/4 Cups firmly packed brown sugar /// 1/2 Cup granulated sugar /// 2 Eggs /// 1 Teaspoon vanilla /// 1-3/4 Cups all-purpose flour /// 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda /// 1 Teaspoon ground cinnamon /// 1/2 Teaspoon salt /// 3 Cups Quaker® Oats (uncooked)

Heat oven to 350°F. Pull out your mixer and beat butter and sugars on medium speed until creamy. Add the eggs, vanilla, flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Mix well. Add oats and mix until combined. Drop dough by large rounded spoonfuls onto cookie sheets covered in parchment paper, making each drop about two tablespoons worth. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool completely.

 

Chocolate Shell
2 cups chocolate chips and 4 Tbsp. coconut oil

Microwave coconut oil on high for 30 seconds in a small bowl. Add the chocolate chips and stir. Continue microwaving and stirring in 15-second intervals until melted and smooth. Letting it sit for a second will help to melt the lumps – you don’t want to overheat it or it will get weird! Once smooth, let it cool a bit.

 

Ice cream sandwiches

To make the sandwiches, make the cookies first and cool completely. Leave the parchment paper on the cookie sheet because you’re going to need it. Pull out your choice of ice cream and microwave it a little to get it a little soft. Smooth a fat layer onto the backside of an oatmeal cookie, top with another cookie, and put the sandwiches on the parchment paper. Put the whole cookie sheet in the freezer and leave the sandwiches alone for at least 30 minutes (an hour is better) so they get nice and solid.

In the meantime, make the chocolate shell and let it cool (don’t worry – it won’t harden while it’s sitting out). Once the sandwiches are nice and frozen, pull them out and use a pastry brush to cover them with with the chocolate shell. You want to get them as covered as possible, so don’t forget to lift them up and cover the bottom cookie. Put the sandwiches back on the parchment paper and stick them back in the freezer for a half hour. After that, they should be ready to eat! (Note, if the shell has dripped a little bit, use a knife to trim away the excess. Don’t worry about holes – it happens!)

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One of the best things about IT’S-ITs is that it is impossible to eat them without making a huge mess. When I was very little, eating such a messy food with my mom was inherently funny. We’d start out trying to contain the mess, but by the end there would be chocolate and ice cream everywhere and it would be hilarious (even more so with the sugar rush I always had). It’s so much fun to share that same experience with my kid.

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Luckily, we had a Wet-Nap canister on hand. Wet-Nap wipes are great because they smell good, don’t irritate Eva’s sensitive skin, and they take care of huge messes. So much easier than hauling her off to the bathroom to hose her down or rubbing her raw with a wet washcloth!

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Right now Wet-Nap is running a contest called the Most Original Mess Contest. The idea is that you upload a photo of your messy kid and then people vote on the kids and if you win you get $1,000 gift card and a year’s supply of Wet-Nap products. You can also get a coupon on their website that’s good for fifty-five cents off any Wet-Nap product while supplies last. We got ours at Wal-Mart where they always have low prices on these so it’s great to get a deal on top of that.

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Thank you to Wet-Nap and Pollinate Media for giving me the opportunity to share this favorite (messy) recipe with you guys!

Make Your Own Disney Party Photo Booth

Posted by Carly Morgan

disney-photobooth

One of the activities we had at our combo #DisneySide/Eva’s 3rd Birthday party last weekend was a Disney photo booth. It was easy to set up and the photos ended up being both a lot of fun AND a nice keepsake for people to leave the party with.

To set it up, I bought some decorations at the party store. A shimmery gold fringe table garland turned into a photo background when I cut it to fit the width of a door frame and then layered it. I used one $8 package and you could actually sort of see through the background when you were really looking at it, so you might want to double up if you do this at home. Since it looked great in the photos, I wasn’t worried about it. I also purchased some hanging fan decorations in two sizes and taped them to the fringe background so they became a hidden Mickey.

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I thought about doing paper props for our photo booth, since I’ve seen a bunch of cute ones on Etsy, but we have such a huge Disney ear hat collection I decided to just put those out in a canvas bucket with a few extra props. I think most people just grabbed the ones on the top since the same ears were used a lot and we had some (like our Mickey top hat groom ears) that didn’t get used, so if we had more space I’d probably spread everything out on a table next time.

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I took the photos with my cell phone and my big camera and then cropped them to square size on the computer. Don’t worry about trying to crop it with your camera since it will make you crazy, but be sure that your subjects are squished together in front of the backdrop so you can crop the photos easily when you’re done.

To get the photo booth look, I added a vintage filter to the photos and then popped them into a 3 x 4 template I had set up in Photoshop. I was able to print the photos out on the spot by sending them wirelessly to my new HP Envy 5530 (easiest printer to use ever!) so my guests could take their favorites home with them. Eva has been particularly thrilled…I don’t think she’s ever done a “real” photo booth before so the experience was all new to her.

Disney photo strips

Any ideas on other Disney props people can use? Backgrounds?

Disclaimer: I was selected to host a Disney Side at Home party and given party supplies from Disney Parks and Mom Select. I received my HP Envy 5530 printer for free as part of a blogger promotion through HP. The ideas and opinions above are my own.

See more from our #DisneySide @ Home Celebration here. 

The Messiest Oatmeal Ice Cream Sandwiches Ever

Posted by Carly

One of my favorite warm weather treats is an ice cream sandwich called an IT’S-IT and I’m pretty sure they’re only available in California. I grew up on them because my mom loved them and we used to get them as a special treat before we moved here to Salt Lake City. I loved sharing this messy indulgence with my mom and even now we rarely make a trip to the coast without enjoying one or two. Or three.

The treat is basically an ice cream sandwich that features oatmeal cookies and a thin chocolate shell. You can get them in a few flavors and while I think the mint chocolate chip is the tastiest, the purest in me tends to prefer the vanilla. So good, so San Francisco, so tastes like summer at home. They do ship them out, so I was going to order a case of them last summer, but it turns out that the cost + shipping makes them a little cost prohibitive, so I came up with my own version. I think it’s pretty good and Kyle says it’s better than the original! (And, yes, this recipe was safe for our daughter and her crazy nut allergies!)

IT’S-IT Inspired Ice Cream Sandwiches

You need:
– Oatmeal cookies (see recipe below)
– Ice cream of your choice (we used nut-allergy-safe Ben and Jerry’s)
– Chocolate shell (see recipe below)
– Parchment paper
– A lot of freezer space. Seriously! Go clear a shelf.

its-it-recipe

Oatmeal Cookies
1/2 Cup (1 stick) plus 5 tablespoons butter, softened /// 3/4 Cups firmly packed brown sugar /// 1/2 Cup granulated sugar /// 2 Eggs /// 1 Teaspoon vanilla /// 1-3/4 Cups all-purpose flour /// 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda /// 1 Teaspoon ground cinnamon /// 1/2 Teaspoon salt /// 3 Cups Quaker® Oats (uncooked)

Heat oven to 350°F. Pull out your mixer and beat butter and sugars on medium speed until creamy. Add the eggs, vanilla, flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Mix well. Add oats and mix until combined. Drop dough by large rounded spoonfuls onto cookie sheets covered in parchment paper, making each drop about two tablespoons worth. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool completely.

 

Chocolate Shell
2 cups chocolate chips and 4 Tbsp. coconut oil

Microwave coconut oil on high for 30 seconds in a small bowl. Add the chocolate chips and stir. Continue microwaving and stirring in 15-second intervals until melted and smooth. Letting it sit for a second will help to melt the lumps – you don’t want to overheat it or it will get weird! Once smooth, let it cool a bit.

 

Ice cream sandwiches

To make the sandwiches, make the cookies first and cool completely. Leave the parchment paper on the cookie sheet because you’re going to need it. Pull out your choice of ice cream and microwave it a little to get it a little soft. Smooth a fat layer onto the backside of an oatmeal cookie, top with another cookie, and put the sandwiches on the parchment paper. Put the whole cookie sheet in the freezer and leave the sandwiches alone for at least 30 minutes (an hour is better) so they get nice and solid.

In the meantime, make the chocolate shell and let it cool (don’t worry – it won’t harden while it’s sitting out). Once the sandwiches are nice and frozen, pull them out and use a pastry brush to cover them with with the chocolate shell. You want to get them as covered as possible, so don’t forget to lift them up and cover the bottom cookie. Put the sandwiches back on the parchment paper and stick them back in the freezer for a half hour. After that, they should be ready to eat! (Note, if the shell has dripped a little bit, use a knife to trim away the excess. Don’t worry about holes – it happens!)

IMG_6878

One of the best things about IT’S-ITs is that it is impossible to eat them without making a huge mess. When I was very little, eating such a messy food with my mom was inherently funny. We’d start out trying to contain the mess, but by the end there would be chocolate and ice cream everywhere and it would be hilarious (even more so with the sugar rush I always had). It’s so much fun to share that same experience with my kid.

IMG_6923 IMG_6937 IMG_6943

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If I Won a Billion Dollars (A Post About Seizing the Day)

Posted by Carly Morgan

Kyle and I had a funny conversation a couple of weeks ago. It was late and we were chatting about nothing while we were cleaning up the kitchen and Kyle asked me what I would do if we won a billion dollars. I gave the usual answer about how I’d start a charity and travel around the world and I’d pay off everyone’s debts, etc., but then Kyle said, “But what would you do? Like what would you do everyday?”

I thought about it for a minute and said that I’d probably do the same things I do now: write, play with the kids, take care of the house, cook. I like doing all of those things enough that I wouldn’t give them up, even if we could afford to not work and have nannies. It was nice, actually, to realize that I didn’t want to totally escape my everyday.

Still, this was turning out to be a pretty boring conversation, so I thought harder and then said, “I’d probably learn to watercolor.” Kyle laughed since this was such a non-thrilling answer, but the truth is that I’ve wanted to watercolor forever. I did a lot of sketching when I was in school and took a couple of classes in oil painting, but watercolor always seemed really difficult and fancy. We moved on to Kyle’s dreams (opening up community art centers and building a puppet workshop) but I did quietly plan out the watercolor supplies I would buy if we won a billion dollars.

Fast forward a week to shopping at Target for Easter supplies. I was in the office section looking for Sharpies when I saw this beautiful watercolor paint set for $10. I looked at the price and laughed, realizing how ridiculous it was to wait until we were rich to spring for a ten dollar paint set. So, I bought it and that’s what the Easter Bunny brought me this year.

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When I “opened” it on Easter, I immediately felt a little guilty. It was so silly and so ridiculous and I so don’t have time for things like that right now. I came down hard on myself for not adding this little bit of money to our house fund. I even looked for the receipt to return it, but it was long gone so I put the paints on my desk and told myself I’d let Eva play with it.

Fast forward to this morning. I was moving things around when I saw the paints again. Suddenly, it was completely ridiculous that I don’t know how to watercolor. How hard could it be, really? I started to think the usual negative things (I don’t know what I’m doing. I’ll mess the paints up. I don’t have time for this.) and then I was like, “Shut up, self, and paint something!

I put a movie in for the kids (bad parent!), shut the laptop (bad blogger!), and painted a picture of my son. The whole thing took less than an hour. Now I can say that I watercolor. And I didn’t even have to wait for a billion dollars.

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What would you do FOR YOU if you won a billion dollars?

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