I guess you could say the Thanksgiving holiday was busy for us. We trekked back home to NC (11 hours each way) with both cats in tow, had Thanksgiving meals at three different houses and had a wedding. Our wedding.
We had a few reasons for not telling the world (well, Facebook) what we were planning, one of which was that we wanted a small, private ceremony for our immediate families. We knew how quickly invites could spiral out of control, and we didn’t want hurt feelings, so we kept the secret from all but those close family members invited until we said our “I do”s. We took a selfie before our minister announced us, yes – during our wedding ceremony – and then post “So, we got married today” and our selfie on Facebook.
An odd way to announce a marriage? Maybe. What can I say? Maybe we’re just trendsetters!
The following gift guide is sponsored by Savings.com and contains affiliate links. That just means that I make a small commission off items purchased through the links. It doesn’t cost you a penny more!
Today officially marks the start of the holiday shopping season, and if you’re like me, online shopping has become your go-to. This year, I joined forces with other DealPros and Savings.com to compile a 20-store holiday gift guide! Each participating DealPro handpicked our favorite gifts from our retailer (I worked with Home Depot) to give you gift options for every man, woman and hard to buy for recipient on your list.
Skip the lines and shop these 20 fantastic retailers instead! Let me know what you think of the gift guide, what you’d add and who your “hard to shop for” gift recipients are this year. Click on the image below to view the full 20-store gift guide!
I love to give gifts, but sometimes I really struggle with choosing what to give the person who has everything. Most of my girlfriends are huge fans of wine, so we often gift each other with wine or new wine glasses for special occasions. I decided to try my hand at something new… hand-painted wine glasses.
I try to make my gifts personal, something with meaning for the recipient. Hand-painting your own wine glasses will let you make something as personal as you want it for your recipient. Maybe you paint a phrase that has a meaning for you, or maybe a funny saying. Maybe they love roses, or sunflowers or bunnies? The possibilities are endless, and it’s so much easier than you think!
First things first, you need your supplies:
Step 1 – It’s super important to start with exceptionally clean glasses, so I run my glasses through a dishwasher cycle. Let your glasses dry thoroughly before you begin the painting process.
Step 2 – Layout your design, or decide to go at it free-handed. You don’t necessarily have to put your design on paper, but having a good clear idea of where you’re headed will make the process a whole lot easier.
Step 3 – Paint! Start slow and don’t be in a rush. The best thing to do is find a place where you can leave your supplies set out for a few days and do this a little at a time. It gives your paint a chance to dry between payers/coats and allows you to add depth to your painting by layering lighter colors on top of darker colors. See how I used lighter colors to highlight the sunflower petals?
Step 4 – Once completely dry – at least 24 hours after your last painting – you want to use the oven to set the paint. Place your glass(es) on a foil lined baking sheet and put them in a cold oven. Turn the oven on at 350° and let it heat for 20 minutes. Turn the oven off and leave the glass inside for another 10 minutes to cool before removing it from the oven.
Viola! Your hand-painted wine glasses are done and ready to gift!
Do you love giving and receiving handmade gifts? What’s your favorite? Has trying hand-painted wine glasses been on your crafting to-do list?
This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #WrapGiveRepeat #CollectiveBias
While I know that gifts have nothing to do with the true meaning of the holiday season, I can’t help but be excited about the prospect of shopping for my love ones, picking out the perfect gift and watching their expressions when they open the packages I have carefully wrapped to reveal the goodies hidden inside. I aim for the gifts I give to be a visually pleasing part of our holiday decor from the time I place them under the tree until we had out gifts at our gift exchange.
My grandmother taught me how to wrap gifts. I’ve practiced a lot over the years and here are a few of the things I’ve learned.
1. Choosing a sturdy wrapping paper is a must, especially if you’re wrapping odd shaped gifts. Corners are killer on thin paper. (Tip – I you are using a thinner wrapping paper, cover the corner areas with a small strip of tape. You can pick up a Scotch® Gift Wrap Tape 3 Pack Caddie or Scotch® Magic™ Tape 3 Pack Caddie near the wrapping paper at Walmart.)
2. Always use a small strip of Scotch® Gift Wrap Tape to secure your starting edge to your package, preferably on the backside of the package. This keeps the wrapping paper from slipping and makes sure you have a nice, even seam. I really love using wrapping paper that has grid lines on the back. It helps me keep everything nice and neat.
3. Nice, tight folds on the end will keep you gift wrapping job neat. Don’t skimp on the Scotch® Gift Wrap Tape. You only need small pieces, and you can generally hide them under the folds. Try to keep in mind where the front of your gift is, and fold so that you are folding the last flap toward the back of the package.
4. Gift wrapping isn’t complete without some embellishments. Add ribbon, string or a bow to your gift for extra color and dimension. Scotch® Gift Wrap Tape is the perfect way to adhere bows, ribbons and gift tags.
5. Speaking of gift tags, don’t skimp on those! One thing that people always notice are your gift tags. Of course, they have to! That’s the only way to see who a gift is to and from.
You can always buy gift tags, but we really like making our own. We’ve made a variety of tags over the years. This year, I’ve designed some printable tags that can be customized with To/From names and as well as blank templates that allow you to design your own! All of the files you need for the options I describe below can be downloaded here.
Wrap.Give.Repeat for a great holiday season! There is no better time to stock up on all of your gift wrapping needs than right now. Visit your local Walmart for an amazing selection of all of the gift wrap essentials. Find everything you need from start to finish, including a full selection of Scotch® Brand products.
Scotch® Brand is working with Fisher House, a charity that provides a network of comfort homes where military and veterans’ families can stay at no cost while a loved one is receiving treatment, and is donating $200,000 to the cause this holiday season. By shopping Scotch® Brand products, you’re helping support the mission to aid military and veterans’ families. Bonus, you can save by shopping early with 50% Bonus Rollback at Walmart.
Do you have a special wrapping technique or pattern you follow year to year? We’d love to hear about it. Share here in the comments or on our Facebook page.
This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #YourSeasonIsServed #CollectiveBias
I am all about quick and easy, especially when the holidays roll around. My to-do list is a mile long, generally getting longer by the minute, so I am always looking for short cuts. I consolidate my shopping trips, buy some items pre-made and use mixes as recipe starters. All of this saves me time and money, yet still allows me to make fantastic meals, snacks and desserts to impress family and friends.
I had the most amazing chocolate mousse at our company picnic this summer. It was flavorful, creamy and had an amazing texture. After getting the recipe from my co-worker, I realized it was also far more time consuming than I had any interest in pursuing. With the holidays right around the corner, I decided to try my hand at a less labor intensive version of chocolate mousse.
Chocolate mousse is much lighter and fluffier than chocolate pudding. It’s all of the air in the whipped egg whites that make it so puffy and delicious. Rather than melting and flavoring chocolate from scratch, I decided to take a product I love, Swiss Miss Milk Chocolate Hot Cocoa Mix, and use it as a base for my mousse. Mousse is really a simple recipe. Along with your chocolate base, all you need it egg whites, cream and a little sugar. Since I’m always using short cuts, I skipped the cream and used Reddi-wip® instead. After all, Reddi-wip® is made from real cream.
The most complicated part of this whole recipe is whipping the egg whites, but if you follow these simple rules, you won’t disappoint yourself.
Use a glass or metal bowl. No plastic.
Make sure your bowl is super clean and free of oil (including residue from your fingers).
Make sure not to get any yolk in your egg whites. Separate each egg into a small bowl, then transfer the separated white into your large bowl. Doing this will keep you from messing up several egg whites when you accidentally bust a yolk.
Don’t add the sugar to your egg whites until they are already forming peaks.
Your chocolate base (details in the recipe below) gets folded into your egg whites while it is still hot, essentially “cooking” the whites, making them completely safe to eat.
This recipe is so simple! It will definitely be the easiest mousse you will ever make. I can’t wait for you to try it. What are some of your favorite holiday dessert shortcuts? Share them with us here in the comments or on Facebook.
Find Marie Callender’s Dessert Pies, Swiss Miss and Reddi-wip® products in a Kroger or Kroger banner store near you. Kroger banners include Dillons, King Soopers, Frys, Fred Meyer, Ralphs, Food 4 Less, QFC, Smiths, and Harris Teeter. Find a store near you. Receive a FREE Reddi-wip® (6.5 oz) when you buy one Marie Callender’s Fruit or Cream Pie (11/16-11/24).*
*Discount automatically applied at register with qualifying purchase. Must use shopper card with purchase. Participating locations only. Offer expires 11/24/16. See store for additional details. Limit 1 per transaction.
This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #DelightfulMoments #CollectiveBias
My family only really gets together for two big holidays per year, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Those are the two days that we can get everyone in the same place, spend hours catching up on everyone’s lives, and enjoy some great food. There is always great food. No matter how many of the delicious mains and sides we enjoy, we always save room for coffee and dessert. We love sharing coffee and dessert while listening to stories about what everyone is doing in life, what each has planned in the coming year, and inevitably there stories told of days gone by. Those are my favorite!
My family and I, we all love our coffee, so it’s no surprise that coffee would be a big part of our holiday gatherings too. For most of us, it’s a part of our everyday routine. I get up, head to my office, usually track down my coffee cup from the day before and head straight to the kitchen for a hot cup of coffee flavored with International Delight® Coffee Creamer. Now that International Delight® Peppermint Mocha Coffee Creamer is back on the shelves for the holiday season, almost everyday is a peppermint kind of day! Some days are an International Delight® Salted Caramel Mocha Coffee Creamer kind of day.
What would the holidays be without a delicious chunk of fudge? Creamy, gooey, delicious fudge is always a hit! My Dark Chocolate Peppermint Fudge recipe uses International Delight® Peppermint Mocha Coffee Creamer in place of other liquids, lending both a great flavor and a unique texture. It also helps keep your ingredient list short and makes this fudge recipe a money saver too! My co-workers don’t know it yet, but they can expect to see this fudge in a break room in a few weeks. I can’t wait to share it with them. They are all coffee drinkers, like me, and I know they will enjoy this Dark Chocolate Peppermint Fudge with a warm cup of coffee as much as I do.
Fudge doesn’t have to be scary. You don’t need special equipment or tools, just a small sauce pan, a glass bowl and a dish (for forming your fudge). You can nest a glass bowl over a small sauce pan filled with a little water to mimic a double boiler. This keeps you from burning your chocolate. It’s as simple as melting three in, stirring in a fourth, pouring and sprinkling. You can totally do that, right?
The hardest part of the whole process is not sampling from the bowl as you’re melting the chocolate. Don’t worry though! After you dump that delicious chocolate mixture into your pan for forming, there will surely be a little clinging to the edges. The cook gets to lick the bowl, right? That’s the way it works in my family. Give this super simple fudge recipe a try and let me know what you think.
You can find International Delight® Coffee Creamers in a variety of flavors, including Peppermint Mocha and Salted Caramel Mocha at your local Walmart. Most stores have a large bin display of creamers, but if you can’t find that, you can always find them in the refrigerator case.
Check out other great holiday recipes like mine by clicking here. And, watch the video below for a great Pumpkin Pie Spice Frappe Recipe!
Who will you share your International Delight® with this Holiday season?
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American Girl Doll Giveaway – Lea Clark 2016 Girl of the Year
Terms & Conditions
This American Girl Doll Giveaway is open to US Residents 18 years of age or older. Giveaways ends December 11th at 11:59 PM ET. Winner will be chosen by random drawing. Winner will have 48 hours to reply via email to accept the prize or another winner will be chosen. All entries will be validated. Sponsors reserve the right to invalidate any entry at their discretion. Entering will add your email to our mailing lists. We NEVER share our contacts.
This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with American Girl, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube or Pinterest.
“Like many of you, I stayed up far to late Tuesday night / Wednesday morning, watching the election results roll in. I’m still suffering from an election hangover. My emotions were all over the place, and any time emotions run high, exhaustion surely follows. If you had asked me Tuesday morning who I thought would win, I would’ve said “Clinton”. By 10 pm, I wasn’t so sure. At midnight, things were looking really dicey. 2 am rolled around and I gave up. Off to bed I went, knowing that the likelihood of a Clinton presidency was slim.
Wednesday morning, I woke up knowing there were going to be a lot of unhappy people. I don’t normally hit up Facebook until later in the day, but the morning after election day required a break in routine. I opened the app on my phone and I was immediately assaulted with a slew of spewing hatred. Hatred from the people who just spent the last 6 months saying they couldn’t vote for a man who said such terrible things about people. Is aw friends calling friends racist, bigots, homophobes, uneducated, redneck and a whole list of other hateful words. FRIENDS calling FRIENDS these things. I saw friends posting blanket “If you voted for Trump, unfriend me now” statements. It was ridiculous.
I generally avoid discussing politics in any manner on social media, but I felt inclined to share something. I posted this to the MMM Facebook Page:
“So much judgement this morning.
We, especially women, live under a cloud of judgement for the decisions we make as parents everyday. We try our best to make decisions based on our beliefs of what is best for our families and our circumstances.
I believe what happened last night with the election was no different.
It is my opinion, and the opinion of many Americans, that neither of our candidates were a good choice. I choose to believe that most people, just like me, had to make a very tough decision yesterday, a decision that was based on what they believe to be best for their families.
Please take a minute to think about that before you start posting Facebook statuses calling each other out, asking people to unfriend you or otherwise passing an immense amount of judgement.
Believe it or not, you’re just spreading the hate you say you were fighting against and putting yourselves on the front lines of what will divide our country even more than it already is.”
About 10 years ago, a woman I’ve grown to admire very much introduced me to the concept of “The Coffee Table” test. The Coffee Table Test is basically this:
Before you post something online, stop and ask yourself, would I sit down with you – a coffee table between us – and say this to your face? In the vast majority of cases, the answer is no. America needs the coffee table test.
Having a difference of opinion isn’t a reason to end a friendship. Having a difference of opinion is an opportunity, a chance to have meaningful conversation and the chance to learn something new or possibly even see an issue in a new light.
Everyone who voted for Trump isn’t a uneducated, homophobic, racist, woman hater who wants to see our country go to war.
Everyone who voted for Clinton isn’t a man-hating, baby-killing, gun control nut-job.
But one thing they all are? People. Real life humans who deserve just as much respect as you do. So, before you spew hate from either side of the fence, imagine yourself sitting across the coffee table.
This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are my own. #ToPetsWithLove #CollectiveBias
If you follow me on Instagram, you already know how much my cats are a part of my life. They are the last to tell me goodbye on my way out the door and the first to greet me when I come home. They know when I’m feeling down, the provide constant entertainment and they are teaching me new things everyday.
Reese (adopted from the Michigan Humane Society in June) and Evie (adopted from the Michigan Humane Society in September) make my furry little world complete. Since being adopted, their lives have changed dramatically. They are living the lifestyle of pampered pets and loving it! I’m always picking up treats or toys for them when I’m out shopping at Kroger (they have a huge pet selection). Buying them quality food and treats is important to me because I know what I feed them can affect their health.
Sometimes I get crafty make things for them too! They both enjoy laying on crocheted blankets by the fireplace, rolling around with catnip balls and “fishing” with t-shirt yarn and stuffed mice. Today, I’m going to show you how to make a scratch pad for your pampered pets. The awesome part is that if you are a crafter, you probably have everything you need already.
So, let’s make a hanging scratch pad for our kitties. To start, you only need a few supplies: scrap wood, paint, paint brush, hot glue gun/glue sticks, scissors and jute. Pallet scraps are excellent for this project. You don’t need a very specific size, just make sure it’s wide enough and long enough to allow your kitties ample scratching space. Do be sure to clean up any very rough edges. I had some thinner strips of scrap, so I tacked three together to make a single piece about 6 inches wide. Teal is our accent color in the family room, so teal it is! Raw wood tends to really soak up paint, so don’t be shy.
I only painted a single coat. I like the way it turned out. You can continue adding coats until you’re happy with the finish. That old saying about curiosity holds true with both Reese and Evie, so I gave them a much needed distraction.. Fancy Feast Purely wet cat food. These guys LOVE it. It has real chicken, beef and seafood and no fillers or by-products. There are seriously whole shrimp in there. I was a little jealous.
You can see above that I got really good coverage with just one coat of paint. You want to make sure that your piece is completely dry before moving forward. If it’s not, you’ll end up with paint all over your fingers (any your work surface). Foam brushes work great for this, and they are super inexpensive, so no worries about just tossing it when you’ve finished painting.
Once your painted wood scrap is dry, grab your jute and cut a piece long enough to create your hanger. You want the piece of jute to be long enough to reach from the middle (right edge) of the wood scrap, over the knob you intend to hang your scratch pad off of, and back to the middle (left side) of the wood. Glue the jute ends to the left and right sides, midway down your wood piece as shown below.
Next, grab the end of your jute spool and glue it down about an inch or so from the bottom on the backside of your wood piece. That space you leave at the bottom makes the finished product look a little more decorative. Now, using generous amounts of glue, simply add glue and wrap. Repeat this process one row at a time until you’re about 4 inches or so from the top of the wood piece. As you are wrapping over the area where your hanger attaches, be sure to keep that string positioned evenly. When you reach the end of your wrapping area, use the loose end to tie around the hanger string on the back. This just adds a little extra strength to the finish.
The only thing left to do is clean up any random strings of hot glue and hang your new cat scratch pad for your kitties. I lined a few pieces of Friskies Party Mix along the top row of jute to encourage exploration, and it certainly did! Both of my girls love the crunchy and delicious treats, and their interest is always peaked by the variety of flavors and accompanying scents.
Spread the holiday love to your furry friends with the help of Purina! Now through the end of November, take advantage of great savings on your favorite Purina pet products available at Kroger with this Coupons.com link, while supplies last.
You will find a world of options for your pets while doing your regular shopping at Kroger. No time is busier than the holidays, and who has time for running from specialty store to specialty store? Kroger has an extensive pet aisle, complete with everything you need to care for and treat your pets. Selecting quality products, like Fancy Feast Purely and Friskies Party Mix from Purina, really shows how much you love your pets. And like all pet owners know, you get that love back three-fold.
For more inspiration on how to show your pets the love they deserve, visit the Purina Social Hub.
**Not to be taken as professional veterinary advice. Please consult your veterinarian for recommendations and practices appropriate for your pet.**
Learn how to cook, try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, BE FEARLESS and above all, have fun! ~ Julia Child
I remember hours of my childhood spent watching cooking shows like The Frugal Gourmet (Jeff Smith), Justin Wilson and others on PBS, but I remember being completely in awe of Julia Child. There was something about her voice, the way she moved through the kitchen and her clear love of food that made me want to be like her.
In one of her recipes, Julia touts:
“You can always judge the quality of a cook or a restaurant by roast chicken. While it does not require years of training to produce a juicy, brown, buttery, crisp-skinned, heavenly bird, it does entail such a greed for perfection that one is under compulsion to hover over the bird, listen to it, above all see that it is continually basted, and that it is done just to the proper turn.”
This is so true! Giving the bird your full attention will make the difference in a deliciously crispy, beautiful bird and one that is overcooked and over crisp.
Aside from the bird, mushrooms are the heart of this recipe. The original called for a mixture of dried and fresh mushrooms, but as I’ve said in the past, I’m big on adjusting your recipe based on what you have available to you. Dried mushrooms aren’t readily available to me, and while I could have spent the time to find them at another store father across town, why bother when I can simply adjust?
1/4 cup chopped Herbs (a mixture of Parsley, Sage and Chives)
1 Chicken (5-6 lbs)
Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees.
Rough chop your mushrooms into 1/4 - 1/2 inch pieces. Heat the oil and butter in a pan, add the mushrooms and saute until the mushrooms have released their juices. In a bowl, mix the sauteed mushrooms, salt, pepper, garlic and herbs together and set it aside to cool.
While your stuffing cools, sit your chicken on it's bottom with the neck end up, and use your fingers to gently separate the skin from the breast and thighs of the chicken. You want to be careful not to tear the skin, as it is what holds the stuffing in place.
Once the stuffing is cool enough to handle, gentle spoon the stuffing into the space between the skin and breasts, using your hands to work the stuff down into the thigh areas and continue stuffing until you have a nice even layer also covering the breast area.
At this point, you can truss or not truss your chicken. You can find instructions for trussing a chicken here. While trussing certainly isn't mandatory, it does help hold your stuffing in place and keep everything nice and presentable.
Your chicken goes into a roasting pan, breast side up, and in the center of the oven for approximately 20 minutes per pound. You will want to listen to your chicken. About 30 minutes in, you'll start to hear some sizzling. That means it's time to pull out the bird and give it a good baste. You'll continue to baste approximately every 30 minutes through the cooking process. A meat thermometer is the best way to know your bird is done. An internal temperature of 165 is considered safe for poultry, but I tend to go to about 170.
When your bird comes out, let it rest for a minute before removing it from the pan. The drippings from the pan make an excellent gravy, though the bird is so moist and delicious that you certainly don't need it!
It was delicious too. I’m pretty sure roasted chickens will be on our menu more often from this point out. I’m already plotting what else I can stuff between my chickens and their skin. The flavors, the skin, it’s all just perfect!
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