Cute Cake Ideas for Upcoming Parties

How complicated could it be to make a gorgeous-looking cake? My opinion has always been that it's pretty tough. For that reason I've always purchased cakes for my kid's birthday party. But today I spotted some cake ideas that are actually do-able for someone like me - a hot mess mom without a lot of time to bake cakes from scratch. Take a look at these cute cake hacks and tell me what you think. (I love that they basically give you shortcuts to fabulous-town!)

Check out The Mom's Cheat Sheet to Creating a Cake Masterpiece

by Bird Bird's Party at Mode

Image above left from

Christmas Cookies, Anyone?

The countdown is on. Is anyone else running behind on holiday plans?  Like me?   The decorations are up, dinner has been mapped out and most of the supplies have been purchased.    But, guess what's missing?  Dessert!   It's OK, though.   I'm so happy to have spotted some super easy cookie decoration ideas.  I think these would be PERFECT.  

If you decide to make these, let me know how they turn out!

Making Thanksgiving YOUR Way

I decided a few years ago to actually enjoy the holidays - in whatever way holds meaning for me.   That means that I will do a certain amount of running around and cooking and shopping.  But when I'm done, I'm DONE.   I want absolutely nothing to do with the soul-sucking compulsion to run non-stop.   In fact, this year I'm not even the one hosting my family's Thanksgiving meal.  How did I manage that?!    Anyway, I'll take it.   I'm sure I will more than make up for it at Christmas time.

But for those of you who are still looking for some Thanksgiving meal inspiration, check out these sassy soul food dishes from Mommy Week.    Enjoy!

Check out Everything You Need for a Soul Food Thanksgiving
by Mommy Week {Ashley} at Mode

Family Pre-Halloween DIY Preps

Is anyone else getting ready for Halloween?   We are!   Besides the fact that Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, I also enjoy the weather and creativity that inspire me this time of year.  I'm thinking of making my son's costume by hand this time around, so I was happy to see this video showing us how to make a monster costume out of a hoodie.

Looks like fun!  What do you think?  Are you getting into the Halloween spirit this year?  Tell me how!  

Keeping Your Cat Busy When You're Not Around

Many people think cats don't need much play and interaction.  Those people are WRONG.  If you're a fan of the popular Animal Planet show "My Cat From Hell", you know that lack of stimulation is behind many cases of frustration and misplaced aggression.  Once those owners start to ensure a certain amount of play for their animals, the issues usually improve.   

So, let's switch gears to talk about a furry member of our family who doesn't get mentioned as much as everyone else here on my blog.  I'm talking about our cat, Irving.  He's had a great time with us this summer.  And since he needs a lot of play and stimulation, we've tried to include him in as many activities as possible.  But with fall on the horizon, things will change.  Kids will be going back to school, and parents will be focusing more on work.   So here are some of the products we've either been using or plan to purchase to keep the kitty active when we're not around.   

Check out Toys to Keep Your Cat Busy This Fall
by EricaThompsonBriggs at Mode

What do you think?  Does your family pet have favorite toys?  

My Favorite Websites for Artsy Back-to-School Clothes for Boys

As a mom who works full-time, I have no shame whatsoever about the fact that over 75% of my family’s back to school shopping this year will be done online. I actually feel very comfortable about it. Afterall, why run around chasing the latest local sales just to find a picked-over selection when I can order from almost anywhere and get the sizes and colors I (I mean, my son) will want?

The secret to doing this successfully takes planning and organization, though. I sign up for emails from the places we like best and I keep a Gmail folder of notifications about sales. In all honesty, I’ve been doing back to school shopping throughout the summer. I know my son’s measurements so it usually works out very well. But of course I will still need to pick up more things as we close in on the start of school.

 The only issue is my son’s tastes which, like mine, run a little edgy and interesting. As a blossoming artist he loves all things graphic. Some of our favorite online shopping destinations fit him to a tee (pun intended). In addition, they won’t break the bank – especially if you’re taking advantage of coupon codes and sales. If you’ve got a kid who doesn’t mind standing out just a little these might work for you (but feel free to supplement these with mainstream staples!):

Little Boy Chic

Little Dudes Only

Crazy 8

Tea Collection


And the ever-popular Mini Boden. Sure, it’s always a mom’s favorite but it also has some interesting finds.

Also, don’t neglect to check into Threadless for graphic tees for kids. Great sales and one-of-a-kind designs.

I’m telling you, I’ve gotten nearly everything done as far as clothes shopping for now – just from honing in on what we can use from a few websites. Again, you can absolutely do this too if you so desire. Here are some tips:
1) Know your child’s measurements and sizes in different items of clothing.
2) Focus on a handful of favorite websites so you don’t get overwhelmed.
3) Keep track of when sales begin or end. Sure there’s always another sale around the corner but it’s helpful to know which ones work with your own deadlines – such as the start of school.
4) Feel free to focus mostly on the clothing your child will need at the beginning of school but remember to pick up items you’ll need later in the year, such as warm clothing, when you see great deals.

So let’s talk about where I plan to do the other 25% of our back-to-school clothing shopping. This is where I will hit the stores and (ugh) malls for things that my little one will need to try on such as shoes. I’m a stickler about shoes that fit well. Some of my favorite brands for my kid’s feet are Merrell, Skechers, Teva, and similar makers. These fit his artistic style and last for a long time. If anyone has any ideas about how to make this even easier please let me know in comments below!

See some of our favorite from around the web below.

<blockquote id="mode-widget" lang="en"><p>Check out <a href="">Shop Edgy Back-to-School Clothes for Boys from Your Laptop</a></p><p> by <a href="">EricaThompsonBriggs</a> at <a href="">Mode</a></p></blockquote><script type="text/javascript" language="JavaScript" src=";colid=6571683:Collection:9741598;authorid=6571683:Yuser:2827144;userid=6571683:Yuser:2827144;es=2;"></script>

Pie, Oh My!

I love to bake and my family loves pies. It's a match made in culinary heaven. The thing about us is that we don't just eat pie in the cooler months. We love it year 'round. But we can be picky about the kinds of pies we eat and we definitely have our favorites. -The ones that really hit the spot, in our opinions, are the southern-inspired pies full of down-home goodness.

So in celebration of Pi Day on March 14 I would like to introduce you to my Down Home Dirty Dozen - the 12 pies that I will be trying out in the next year, courtesy of my new board on Many of the pies included are inspired by my childhood in the deep South and by modern interpretations of old favorites. Take a look and let me know what you think! The delicious post is sponsored by Foodie, but as always all opinions are strictly my own.

What We Did This Summer - In Pictures

This Summer I took a break. Not just from blogging but from just about everything except "the basics". I decided a while back I didn't want my 6-year-old to only know me as a blur - going from point A to point B as fast as I can so that I can get a head start on getting to C. I've lived so much of my life that way and I've paid my dues. So I made sure that, as much as possible, we managed to spend some quality time as a family unit this summer. We didn't roam far, but we did roam. It was NOT easy. But it was so worth it.

The Zoo

The Mall

July 4th

Summer Camp

The Baseball Game

The Dentist

The Bike Shop (Proteus Bicycles in MD)

The Park

The Park II

Rita's Italian Ice. We're regulars.

Irving - Did I neglect to mention our new family memeber?

We had a GREAT time.

Giving Back By Inspiring Others To Be Themselves

On this site we talk about all kinds of inspiration. But today I want to discuss being inspired to give back in your own way. Michelle Obama may not ever know who I am or what I do, but she has inspired me to do what I do in my own way. As the First Lady of the United States of America, Mrs. Obama does many things differently from the First Ladies before her. She chooses her own causes. Her push for healthier eating and physical fitness has inspired people around the country to make changes in their lives. She has her own style of dressing and expressing herself, and both are extremely effective. She doesn't hide the fact that he is intelligent and powerful in her own right, despite the fact that there are some people who don't believe she fits the mold of previous First Ladies. But, I find her inspiring for exactly this reason. Being different, has made her even more important to people around the globe. Because of Michelle Obama I'm inspired to give back, even though not everyone will "get" what I'm giving. What's more, sometimes we give different things on different days. On some days I can blog about deep issues, but on other days I'm posting an outfit picture taken in the bathroom. That's just how it is.

We have all been given chances - whether large or small - join a team, contribute to a project, or create something new - and I think it's important to look at those things for what they are: opportunities to express ourselves in our unique ways. If you are in the midst of doing great things, I believe you are doing what you are doing right now because you are who you are. That's because I believe the same is true for me. I could have done it another way, but then what would be the point of that? What am I really contributing if I'm doing something in exactly the same way it has always been done. I'm not here to be a copy of other people, and neither are you. To me, it's more proof that it's OK that no one before you has ever done it the way you have. And it's thrilling to blaze your own trail. As long as you're getting it done, then do YOU.

This is what I tell the young people I mentor in my field. Whether we are working on writing or networking or some other learned skill, I try to first teach them master the rules. But I also teach them to go above and beyond, which requires being inspired and being willing to think outside of the box. So it's never my aim to tear them, down but show them how to use their unique attributes, energy and personalities to achieve their goals. This is the way that I give back and thanks to the First Lady's shining example, I will continue doing it my way.

Because a great mentor can make all the difference, Coca-Cola has teamed up with Magic Johnson, Common and Debra Lee of BET Networks to give four young people the apprenticeship experience of a lifetime. Visit to nominate an aspiring youth and help pay it forward to the next generation. You'll also be automatically entered for a chance to win $5,000 for each nomination you make (up to five nominations per person).

 pay it forward

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Coca-Cola via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are all mine and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Coca-Cola.

Happy New Year!

May this year bring you a world full of wonder! Best wishes to our faithful readers. Big changes are on the way in the new year. More about that in the next post.
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