Y’all… Christmas is in 2 weeks. TWO WEEKS. I am failing pretty hard at the Christmas shopping thing this year. I usually get 95% of my Christmas shopping done on Black Friday, but this year I had to sit out the madness and it’s just now hitting me that I have A LOT of work to do if I want everyone to have something under the tree. This is one of those times where I am super appreciative of my Amazon Prime account. Free 2 day shipping? Yes, please! My membership has more than paid for itself already this year.
So what’s out there for awesome last minute gifts? So.Many.Things. I put together some of the items I own that I think are pretty amazing. Some are big, some are small, but they will all make perfect gifts for those on your Christmas shopping list.
First up, my Keurig. I tried living without one, I failed. I’ve even converted my boyfriend. I’m working on my coworkers now… before long, I expect to see the office coffee maker replaced.
Next up, my Shark Steam Mop. I have never liked mopping. I pretty much hate it, or at least I did before I got my steam mop. I loooove this thing! I love seeing what it picks up off the floor and I don’t feel like I’m pushing dirty water around like I do with a regular mop. It also gets up nasty, dried messes so much easier! It’s far easier on my back too!
Keeping with the cleaning theme, I am also pretty in love with my Shark Rotator Lift Away Vacuum. Yes, Shark sent me a demo model at no cost, but having used it and previously owning a Dyson, I would buy the Shark hands down. It is so much easier to navigate and it gets under things my Dyson never could. I am so glad I’m not using the Dyson any more!
Some of the guys I work with poke fun at me and all of my techie gadgets, but one that everyone is always curious about is my Logitech iPad Keyboard. I’ve had my keyboard for about a year and a half now, and it goes pretty much everywhere my iPad does. Basically, it makes my iPad like a small laptop. It’s so much better than carrying around my laptop all the time and makes it much easier to type things like blog posts
Chargers. Chargers, chargers, chargers. With all of our electronics, we have chargers everywhere. The car, the bedrooms, my office. We’ve got several different kinds scattered around, but my favorite is the Belkin 12 Watt USB Charger. It works with any USB cord. Being 12 watt rather than only 10 watt means it charges devices faster. I like that they are available in different colors too, so we can each have our own color and there’s no “she/he has my charger!”
With all the techie stuff around here, and the constant need for a charger, it shouldn’t be a surprise that I like to take some power on the go too. That’s why I own an Intocircuit External Battery. Actually, I own a few of them. They are awesome! I can get a few full iPhone charges off of one battery. If you have someone in your life who constantly has a dead phone battery, get this. Get it now.
So, those are a few ideas ranging from $20 to $200+ that will make excellent Christmas gifts for almost anyone on your list. Now, get busy with that shopping! There are about a million other awesome gifts available on Amazon, and you can get your shopping done without getting dressed. It’s a win/win!
Personally, I’d love a new car, but that might be a little out of Santa’s price range this year.
This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #PBandG #CollectiveBias
Tis the season for holiday baking! Cookies exchanges, baked gifts and office parties – my oven is going full force! I’m in Walmart at least once a week, if for no other reason than to grab a missing ingredient or two… it seems I’m always running out of something or another. I need to run out and grab some salt right now. The kids and I used the last of that last night making Salt Dough Ornaments.
Back to the holiday baking… Peanut butter and graham crackers are amazing together! Why not make them into a cookie? The two main ingredients in this recipe are Honey Maid Graham Crackers and Skippy Peanut Butter. These cookies are SO easy to make, if you have kids, you should let them help you!
PBandG Sandies - The Perfect Cookie for Holiday Baking
Using a mixer, cream the butter, sugars and ½ cup of the peanut butter together.
Add the egg, ½ cup of the graham cracker crumbs and the flour to the creamed mixture. Continue to mix until all of the ingredients are incorporated.
Make uniform balls of dough and place them on a lined baking sheet.
Bake the dough balls for 9 minutes.
Remove the cookies from the oven and use a flat surface (like the bottom of a glass) to flatten the cookies.
Allow the cookies to cool completely, then pipe the remaining peanut butter onto half of the cookies.
Place another cookie on top of each filled cookie, pressing down slightly.
Roll the edges of the sandies in the remaining graham cracker crumbs.
My kiddos were particularly engaged in the filling portion of the cookie making. Mainly, filling their mouths with peanut butter and their bellies with cookies!
We had plenty of left over graham crackers and peanut butter, so rather than buy one of those kits full of prebaked holiday house stuff, we made our own out or graham crackers and used peanut butter as our glue. Honestly, the peanut butter worked way better than any icing I’ve ever tried to use. Plus, we were able to eat our houses without worrying about how long the compnents had been sitting in a box.
It was a really simple process, as you can see below. It took us less than 15 minutes and it was a tasty process! Lots of snacking was going on, but it was snacking I could feel ok about.
While we used candies we had on hand for our decorations, you can get pretty much any candy you want, plus the other ingredients necessary for either of these graham cracker and peanut butter creations at your local Walmart. Make sure to grab these coupons and save $0.50 when you buy (1) Honey Maid Grahams for your holiday baking! Also, follow Honey Maid on Instagram for some holiday fun!
*I got nada (other than the epub version of the book) to share this with you guys today. If I had thought it stunk, I wouldn’t have shared, but it didn’t stink. It was, in fact, pretty darn amazing. So, just to recap, I got a free epub version of the book and nothing else. All opinions are my own.
Just over a year ago, I reviewed a hilarious book of real life mommy meltdown stories put together by Crystal Ponti and some amazing women. It was incredibly relateable, literally laugh out loud funny and a book I just couldn’t put down once I got started. When Crystal reached out asking me to give her newest book, Clash of the Couples a read, I couldn’t say no!
If you’re married or have spent any significant amount of time in a relationship, you know just how mundane everything can become, even the things that spark the biggest arguments and blow ups. Maybe so etching crops up on the elusive date night, or maybe it’s something as silly as which way the toilet paper is put on the holder that sparks a knock down, drag out between you and that special person in your life. If you know what I’m talking about, Clash of the Couples will be right up your alley!
While arguments about the little things in life don’t always paint us in the best light, the stories in Clash of the Couples are shared in the raw, letting it all hang out, by both men and women. And they are funny! You know how some arguments are so ridiculous, but you can’t see it until the dust settles? That’s what this book is all about – and let me tell you, it is so much more fun to read stories from other people than to think about your own… Trust me!
Some of my favorite stories from the book were:
Because it’s not a Friday night date unless you stop at both Home Depot and Lowe’s on your way home
Don’t spill the beer, dear
I can’t believe you ate my sandwich
There are 45 incredibly funny stories of couples clashing in Clash of the Couples. This is the perfect book to share as a holiday gift too! It’s so relateable and really just too funny to put down! You can get your copy on Amazon (the Kindle version is only $0.99!)
This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #PepItUp #CollectiveBias
When asked to think of recipe ideas using Hormel Pepperoni, most people will jump right to something inspired by pizza. I wanted to come up with something that was different… a pepperoni recipe idea that doesn’t revolve around pizza. I love to bring unique foods to any sort of family get together, and most of ours seem to happen in the winter. When it’s cold outside, I want something warm and comforting. I think these Antipasto Poppers fit the bill.
A classic antipasto platter has meats, olives and cheeses. The crescent roll dough, yeah, that’s the warm and comforting part. Prep is super simple and you can do most of it ahead of time, if you choose. These Antipasto Poppers only take about 9 minutes in the oven, so they are great to put together right before company comes over or just after guests start arriving and are catching up with each other a bit. We tend to go months at a time without seeing each other (there’s always Facebook), so we spend a good amount of time chatting with each other about what’s been going on in our lives, etc before we ever get down to the nitty gritty of why we’re getting together in the first place!
Antipasto poppers are totally grabable, not at all messy and require no utensils (always a plus!) They are FULL of great Italian inspired flavors, without feeling like you’re eating typical Italian fare. They look a little rustic, but the appearance totally complements the flavor!
Check out the step-by-step photo slideshow below to see just how simple these Antipasto Poppers are to put together. Chop, Roll, Cut, Fill, Seal and Bake!
Chop salami, mozzarella, olives, artichoke hearts and roasted red peppers.
Combine the chopped ingredients and the Hormel Mini Pepperoni.
Roll out crescent dough and press perforated edges to seal.
Cut dough into rectangles. You should get 16 from 1 can of crescent roll dough.
Add a small amount of filling to each portion of dough.
Fold the dough over the filling and press to seal.
Bake for 9-10 minutes at 425°, or until golden brown.
Don’t these look tasty? The golden, flakey crust keeps all of the wonderful flavors trapped inside. If you’ve never experienced the difference in taste fresh mozzerella makes in a dish, I beg you to skip the shredded stuff and pick up a package of fresh mozzarella. You won’t regret it!
If you can’t find the Hormel Minis, you could easily grab regular sized Hormel Pepperoni and chop them, but I love the ease of the minis. You can grab a coupon good for $1.00 off the purchase of any (2) Hormel Pepperoni packages here.
What do you think about these totally poppable little beauties? Are these something you could serve at your next get together (or maybe even just for hanging around the house watching football!)
This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. I was buying Marie Callendar’s Pot Pies long before #CollectiveBias and its advertisers sponsored this post, and I’ll be buying them long after. They are our favorite frozen pot pie! #PotPiePlease
During the winter, it’s almost dark before I pick the kids up from after school care and it’s completely dark by the time we get home. Having one or both children fall asleep in the car isn’t an unusual phenomenon. This is how we start our evening rush. This is our life. Unfortunately, an early start in the mornings means we need an early bedtime and that only amplifies the problem. The go, go, go means multitasking is a must and sometimes that makes getting a hot meal on the table (and getting everything else done too) is near impossible.
With homework, baths and dinner to knock out, the term “evening rush” is quite literal. I look for help where I can get it. Sometimes that in the form of the older one helping the younger one with homework or having one of the kids walk the dog and the other take out the trash. I also want to be able to give my kids something warm and wholesome for dinner as much as I can, but I can’t stand over the stove for 45 minutes most nights either.
We love pot pies! Marie Callender’s new family size pot pie is perfect for a hot, wholesome weeknight meal. It goes from the freezer to the oven in a flash, and I can let it go while I help one with homework and shoo the other into the shower. The delicious gravy mixed with vegetables and all white chicken is warm and comforting, while the golden flaky crust tastes just like homemade, even though we picked it up in the freezer aisle at Walmart.
Fighting the kids over eating dinner? Fighting over homework? On pot pie nights, I know I’m not going to have an issue getting them to the table or getting a warm, wholesome meal in their stomachs and the homework fight – well, if someone has a solution for that, I’m all ears! Being able to grab one package from the freezer and make a meal we all want to devour? That’s pretty priceless.
This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. Thanks to #CollectiveBias and Extra Gum for helping me do something special for someone special in my life. Give Extra, Get Extra. #ExtraGumMoments
There are a lot of special people in my life – people who put themselves last and always worry about how their actions impact those around them. They make sacrifices for the sake of others, often at their own expense, and they know that it’s the little things that make a huge impact. Saying “thank you” for those little things can go along way toward letting those people know how much you appreciate them, but I am a firm believer in the statement “actions speak louder than words”, so I think it’s time for a little action. It time to give a little something extra.
My sister goes above and beyond when it comes to giving. She gives to her kids, her husband, her church, her job and anyone else that needs her. She’s been particularly giving with me since my separation, and in more than just the physical sense. She’s been there to listen to me, to bounce thoughts and ideas off of and to tell me when I’m being just plain dumb. She also let’s me commandeer her washer and dryer when I forget to reload the card for the laundry center, she keeps my dog when I go out of town, and she even welcomes my boyfriend into her house for Thanksgiving.
She doesn’t judge me – even if she doesn’t agree with me – and sometimes that the best thing you can give someone… compassion and understanding without judgement. And, she did my Black Friday shopping for me, since I had to work. I think that alone deserves a huge “thank you!”
While we always do gifts for Christmas, and her birthday just passed, I wanted to do something special, so I put together a little gift basket just for her… K-Cups, a coffee mug, a magazine and a few packs of Extra Gum (kids are always stealing our gum!)
Do you have someone in your life who goes above and beyond for you? Maybe it’s someone you don’t even know (your mail carrier, fireman, police officer, etc.) Have you considered giving them an extra special gift basket “just because”? Remember, unprompted actions speak louder than words.
Today’s post is sponsored by Acorn Influence and it’s advertiser, SC Johnson. That just means that I get a little something for writing a unique article that readers can enjoy and that SC Johnson can stand behind. If you’re living in an apartment or missing an old home, I hope you find it useful. #SmellsClean
Making an apartment feel like home can be hard enough, but going through your first holiday season in the land of beige walls can be a little… drab. Almost 2 months ago, I wrote a post on how to make your apartment feel more like home. All of the tips in that post are quite relevant for the holiday season as well. Here are a few tips geared specifically toward the holidays and ways to make your apartment feel like home for the holidays.
1) Go big, but not too big. Just because you live in an apartment does not mean you can’t have a traditional Christmas tree… and it doesn’t have to be one of those table top versions either. Think about your space, what furniture you can relocate or how you can move things around to find the perfect spot for your tree. Do some measuring and pay attention to the details! When you shop for an artificial tree, most if not all of them will tell you the diameter of the tree on the box. This is important! Know how much of your floor space you can afford to consume, then choose carefully. I saw quite a few full height trees that were only 3 ft in diameter. Also, know your ceiling height. Some apartments will let you get away with a 7.5 ft tree, while others will not. You don’t want you angel or star crammed up into the ceiling.
2) Be thrifty, but not cheap. You don’t have to spend a ton on decorations if you know where to shop. Stay away from the big home stores and stick to places like Walmart or Target for the bulk of your decor. You can pick up a special piece or two from places like Pier One or Lowes, but you do not want the bulk of your decoration shopping to happen there. You’ll rack up a huge bill in no time and you won’t have near as much to show for it. Watch for coupons and specials too. I scored my tree at Walmart with a 30% discount. Look for pieces that are inexpensive, but not cheap looking. If you buy cheap looking pieces, your overall decor will look cheap.
3) Colors are awesome, embrace them! Your holiday decor does not have to match your furniture and everything else, but your decor should all match each other. Coordinate! Pick a few colors that go together and keep your decor in those families. I chose red and green. This is actually the first time I’ve used the traditional holiday colors for my decor! Sprinkle those colors around your space to pull it all together.
4) Sugar, spice and everything that smells nice… The sense of smell is a crazy thing. There are very few moments in life that we can’t relate a particular scent to. For me, the holidays are all about cinnamon and pine. I can’t constantly bake (that is certainly good news for my hips) and a real tree isn’t practical for me, so I take advantage of great products out there from various companies (you can find tons of holiday scents in the air care section at your favorite store) to make my home smell like the holidays.
We’ve got our tree up, poinsettias out (artificial – the real ones are dangerous to pets!), wreath ready for the front door and my apartment smells of cinnamon and pine. It feels like home for the holidays to me! What defines the feeling of the holidays for you? How do you make your space feel “holiday ready”?
A co-worker and I were having a conversation about our plans for the holiday today at lunch and I was surprised to hear that his family hasn’t made any firm plans for their thanksgiving meal. My OCD family and I have a pretty firm routine going. Our menu rarely varies by more than a dish or two and we all know which dishes are mandatory, which are optional and who’s responsible for getting them on the table.
We’re a complicated family. We require both turkey and ham at Thanksgiving. The ham is just a plain, spiral sliced ham and the turkey (breasts) are cooked in my slow cooker with butter and wine. Yes, I make wine gravy too. It’s pretty amazing.
Turkey can’t be without stuffing, or in our case, dressing (that’s what Southern people call it when it’s made in a pan rather than in the bird.) We have a traditional sage cornbread dressing that my sister makes from scratch. It’s delicious on its own, but hit it with a little of the wine gravy and yum!
Our required sides are broccoli casserole, homemade macaroni & cheese, deviled eggs, and cranberry sauce. Given the time and able bodies, we usually end up with my potato salad, sweet potato casserole and some green beans too. We all show up with random munchies to stave off hunger while we get everything ready for lunch. My favorites are crackers with dips and these amazing spiced pecans.
No holiday is complete without my apple pie. The pie has caused such a problem that I have to bake multiple pies so that everyone can not only eat some at lunch, but also take some home for later!
All of this, in addition to making me crazy hungry, has made me wonder what you all have for Thanksgiving at your house? Are you a two-meat family too, or just the traditional turkey? Maybe you do something different all together. If you have some unique sides or desserts to share, share the recipes!
This post is sponsored by Netflix. As a member of the Netflix #StreamTeam, I receive complimentary Netflix streaming. We were Netflix customers for years before becoming members of the #StreamTeam. All opinions are mine and mine alone.
Call me crazy, but we’ve had a long standing tradition that Christmas doesn’t start until after Thanksgiving. Well, Thanksgiving is almost here and we’re gearing up to start the holiday season in our traditional manner… hot chocolate and Christmas movies!
We’ve never been able to have a real tree (too many allergies), so the annual dragging out of the artificial tree is a Black Friday must. Some time in the early afternoon, I’ll drag out the tree, do the initial “fluffing” and leave it to “relax”. We munch on Thanksgiving leftovers, I made homemade hot chocolate and we watch a movie before the kids go to bed. They never want to stop after just one, but there are weeks before Christmas and many, many movies to watch!
Since Netflix lets us stream to 4 devices at once, I can let the kids settle down to watch their favorite movies independently and avoid the “we watched what she/he wanted last time!”battle – and it’s almost always a battle. Both kids can snuggle up with their Kindles and watch a movie in the evening while I cook or just for a little down time before bed.
I like that they can watch their kiddo Christmas movies and I can enjoy more grown up movies, like Christmas with the Kranks and Scrooged. They are still a little young for The Nightmare Before Christmas, well at least the boy is, and it’s one of my favorites (though I’m not sure if it’s technically more of a Christmas movie or Halloween movie.)
What traditions do your family use to kick off the holiday season?
I have always been a fan of sangria. Well, at least since I turned 21 and discovered the amazing joy of wine. I’ve had some pretty delicious sangria through the years, and have even made my own (and I think it’s pretty delicious too.) While sangria recipes typically float around more in the Spring and early Summer, most people don’t know that National Sangria Day is actually in December! If you’re limiting your sangria consumption to a few months of the year, you’re selling yourself short!
Some sangria recipes are quite simple, some are rather eclectic and others are down right complex. One thing you can be sure of is that no two sangria recipes are the same. Check out some of these recipes, including a few specially spiced and dressed up just for the holidays.
Look at all of those crazy delicious sangria recipes! I am looking forward to trying a few of these (I mean, I can’t have them all, right?) by the fire this winter and the others will be waiting for me come Spring! How do you take your sangria? Are you a fan of red, white or both?