Homemade S'more Ice Cream Pops

It's been a few months since summer and I usually get a hankering for a taste of the good life just about now. Probably because I'm cold. So very cold. In a perfect world, I'd have s'mores every single day of the week. Seriously, just type S'mores recipes into my search bar. I think they outnumber just about every recipe hands down by like a million. So my math sucks, but these homemade s'more pops don't. Why not give them a try!

S'more pops homemade with ice cream and without the campfire


Harry Potter Chocolate Pretzel Rod Wands

There is nothing I love more than watching my children devour a good book. I love to read and have done my best to foster a love of reading in my children. It helps when there are books like Harry Potter that kids just gravitate towards. There is something magical about those books that have drawn my kids in and created a desire to devour page after page. It's no wonder they have spanned the gap between generations. These chocolate wands are the perfect treat for any Harry Potter fan. They would make a great distraction during a long holiday break, for a book club treat or for an upcoming Harry Potter birthday party snack. They are fun to make and fun to eat and everyone will love them!

harry potter birthday party ideas

10 Items to Stock Up on at After Christmas Sales

I love a good sale. After holiday sales are sometimes my most favorite sales all year long. I can get a head start on saving for the coming year. I honestly think that by shopping sales AFTER Christmas, it usually prepares me better for the next Christmas season. It makes my to-do list a little shorter and I save some money doing it too. I usually stock up the day after a holiday {and in the weeks after as the markdowns keep coming!} and wanted to make sure you didn't miss out on a few of my favorite things that I stock up on. Here's a list of the 10 items that you should stock up on at those after Christmas sales.

christmas shopping sales

Spiked Peppermint White Christmas Holiday Drink

The holidays are here which means there are no shortages of reasons to get together with friends and family. When you plan your next holiday gathering why not create a delicious signature drink? It's such a fun way to make your evening festive and fun without overwhelming your guests {and you!} with too many drink options. This spiked white Christmas peppermint hoiday drink is the perfect signature cocktail for your upcoming holiday party.

adult drink with holiday garnish including crushed peppermint and a toasted marshmallow


Homemade White Hot Chocolate Recipe

I'm like a child when it comes to hot chocolate. I love it rich and creamy and with copious amounts of whipped cream on top. Several years ago I was introduced to sipping chocolate and my mind was blown because for some reason, up until that point in my life I only knew hot chocolate to be Swiss Miss. I had no idea what creamy delicious hot chocolate was when you made it with a packet and some hot water. I started experimenting and trying out new variations of hot chocolate and I found this delicious homemade white hot chocolate recipe I think you will love. It's the perfect creamy addition to your holiday season.

white hot cocoa with peppermint on top


Last-Minute Movie Night Gift Idea with Free Printable Gift Tag

There is nothing like the last minute especially when it comes to holiday gifts. This is a quick one to put together and it won't cost you a lot of money. These last-minute movie night gifts can be put together quickly and are the perfect gift for a crowd. You can also just gift one, but I'm thinking neighbor gifts, teacher gifts, and a quick gift for those unexpected people on your list. I've got the free printable for you and easy instructions so you can make your own. No one will know you waited until the last minute. Promise!

movie night gift idea

DIY Metallic Mirrored End Table

I've been slowly putting together my teen daughters room. She loves metallics and silver and all things glam. I've shared several DIY projects from the room from the wallpaper to the tufted headboard to the painted bench at the end of her bed, but now I'm going to show you the metallic mirrored inlay end table I just made this week. She's been loving all of the mirrored dressers and tables we see but they are a little out of the budget. I finally found a solution and managed to make a similar mirrored table for a fraction of the price {under $20 to be exact!}.  It was an easy DIY project that I completed in a day and you can too! Come check out how I did it!

silver and glam metallic room makeover with mirrored end table DIY

homeright paint sprayer project and modern masters pewter paint


Rudolph Repair Kit Printable with Free Printable Bag Topper

There is nothing more fun than the magic of Christmas. Kids love to use their imaginations and they love the traditions that the holiday brings. I know when my kids were younger, I was always looking for easy holiday gifts to give to their friends or to stuff in stockings, and these Rudolph repair kits are the perfect thing for this time of year. You can easily create enough for a whole classroom celebration, for a simple and fun craft for a group or make a few just for fun. They are easy and everyone is sure to love them!

classroom christmas craft

Easy 4 Ingredient Microwave Chocolate Fudge

I don't think that it really feels like Christmas until I've eaten my first piece of fudge. I don't do a lot of holiday baking, but the baking I do is fairly simple. Every year I try to find an easy holiday fudge recipe that's microwaveable {because who has time for a double boiler!}, and some years I win and other times I lose, but I think I finally found the recipe for the perfect holiday fudge and I'm sharing it with you. This easy four-ingredient microwave chocolate fudge is sure to become a family favorite.

holiday and Christmas baking

holiday and Christmas baking recipes


How to Simplify the Holidays

Now that I'm 40, I'm happy to pull out the old "with age, comes wisdom card." I've been around the block a few times and I'm learning a thing or two about the things that are really important. I think some of that knowledge has come with time and some of it has come with experience, either way, there is one word that I'm embracing as I age and it's the word simplify. This time of year we can get overwhelmed with our schedules and our long list of to-do's, but it's so important to simplify as much as we can so that we can have more joy and less stress this time of year. I'm sharing 5 tips on how you can simplify the holidays. 

lands end flannel and simple christmas tree


DIY Faux Hand-Lettered Holiday Scroll Wall Hanging

I know this isn't a new confession if you are a long-time blog reader, but Christmas music is not my favorite. There are few songs that make the short list of allowable holiday songs, but O Holy Night is one of them. Every year it seems a different line of that song sticks out to me as one to focus on and this year, the line "and the soul felt its worth" is that line I can't shake. What a powerful line! So much so, that I wanted to hang it in my home somewhere. I was shopping at a holiday market and saw some beautiful kraft paper scrolls and knew that I could replicate it quite easily for a fraction of the price using a line that was meaningful to me. So with packaging paper from the dollar store and a few supplies I had on hand, I made a DIY hand-lettered sign minus the hand lettering. 

As much as I try, I can't seem to make my writing produce the beautiful script, and I revisited a chalkboard hack I shared with you years ago to create this faux hand-lettered scroll wall hanging. See how I created this large holiday wall hanging for around $1!

kraft paper scroll Christmas craft
Christmas dollar store craft

Homemade Peppermint Patties

There are a few smells that truly spark the holiday spirit. Is it even Christmas if you don't smell that cinnamon spice on pine cones while walking into the grocery store or the local craft store?  Peppermint is the other solid holiday smell that gets me every single time. These homemade peppermint patties will surely become one of your holiday favorites. Make them for your upcoming cookie exchange or for your next holiday gathering. 

holiday cookie exchange recipe


DIY Flocked Christmas Tree Using Supplies from the Dollar Store

Being from the midwest I am a fan of a white Christmas. It doesn't happen often around here, but I love it when it does. Couple that with childhood memories of a sweet flocked Christmas tree that was deemed "the kid tree" and I decided to try my hand at flocking my own tree this year. I walked into the local Dollar Tree {you all know how much I love that store!} and picked up all the supplies I needed for under $5. I think the end result is pretty spectacular! Keep reading to get the full tutorial on how to flock an artificial Christmas tree using supplies from the dollar store.

side by side of a flocked christmas tree

shaving cream mixture flocking a christmas tree

Don't miss my whole series on What Not to Buy at the Dollar Store


Easy DIY Christmas Tree Basket Stand

Growing up my uncle had a Christmas tree farm. One of my favorite childhood memories was going up to the farm to pick out two live Christmas trees every year. While my parents were setting up the trees in their various locations around the house, the kids had an artificial flocked Christmas tree we used to set up in the hallway upstairs. We would surround it with our stuffed animals and it was something we could easily decorate on our own, unlike the 12-foot-tall trees we got for the other parts of the house. I loved that we had a tree that was all our own. 

I can't seem to shake the feeling that it isn't Christmas if I don't have more than one tree decorating the house. I picked up a small artificial tree this past summer at a garage sale for $2 and I decided that it was the perfect tree to work some magic on. I loved the idea of our old flocked Christmas tree, so I did a little DIY flocking. {more on that tomorrow! You aren't going to want to miss that tutorial.} All of the supplies were from the dollar store and it was so fun and easy.

artificial Christmas tree in a basket

Another recent trend that I'm loving is using baskets as a base. I saw a few Christmas tree collars lining the shelves at the store, but I was pretty sure that I could DIY a basket for a similar look. And I did. I just love how it turned out. Read along for the full tutorial on how to create your own Christmas tree stand basket.


Cookies and Cream Smoothie Recipe

Our blender gets used at least a few times a day. What can I say, we all love smoothies of every kind? Coffee smoothies, fruit smoothies and of course, dessert smoothies like this cookies and cream smoothie. What's not to love with this creamy and delicious smoothie topped with whipped cream, chocolate drizzle and of course crushed Oreo cookies? It's going to be your new family favorite too! Check out the recipe and make it today!

freakshake oreo cookie smoothie recipe


6 Essential Black Friday Shopping Tips

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Flipp for IZEA Worldwide. All opinions are 100% mine.

Black Friday shopping has evolved and changed in the past few decades since I've been taking part. Store hours are creeping backward and instead of a one-day event, it's more of a weeklong anticipation with previews and special prices and sales leading up to the main event. We still get a paper delivered and I used to love the Thanksgiving delivery because I'd sit on the floor in front of the fire and spread all the circular ads out in front of me. I'd thumb through each ad circling the items that caught my eye and then I'd develop a plan of action. I've found an easier way to do it and I love it just as much! We live in a world where there is an app for that. Isn't it a great time to be alive? I'm going to share my 6 essential Black Friday shopping tips and how you can streamline the process to find the best deals and make the most of your limited time.

sitting in a Target shopping cart doing holiday shopping


How to Raise a Confident Daughter

5 Foolproof Ways to Raise a Confident Daughter

It wasn’t all that long ago when my little girl bounded confidently out of her room dressed in ladybug rain boots, a shirt covered in stars that announced something like, “Be Unique!”, and mismatched socks, and declared herself ready for school. Sometimes I really miss those days.

Now, the much more common scenario is my teen frantically declaring that she has “nothing to wear!” despite the huge piles of clothes that liter her floor.  And that’s only the beginning.

Research shows that during the tween years, a girl’s self-esteem drops significantly. The pressure to look a certain way, act a certain way, and perform to a certain level can be overwhelming and even detrimental to our girls. In the early years, she doesn’t know anything about those pressures. But much too soon the weight piled on top of her to meet and exceed the world’s expectations can be crushing.

How can we as parents combat this problem of low self-esteem? What can we do to instill confidence in our once innocent and carefree daughters?

mother and teen daughter


DIY Rosemary Place-card Wreath

I don't host Thanksgiving. We normally have around 50 of us around a table, so decorating and doing fancy little touches like these DIY rosemary place card wreaths, just isn't possible, but that doesn't mean it's not any less fun to play around with them this time of year and put together some fun tablescapes. But maybe you do. And maybe you are looking for a fun way to add a little festive touch to your holiday table. These DIY rosemary wreaths would be perfect for Thanksgiving or Christmas. They will last up to 4 or 5 days so you can make them ahead of time for your next holiday party. I've got the full tutorial. It's easy!
rosemary holiday wreath

40 Things I am Loving in My 40's

I turned 40 in September and I was more than ready for it. I think having a kid in college ages you. I think I'm really going to love this decade though. I've been thinking about all the things I'm loving right now and thought I'd put them together in a post because being 40 kind of allows you to decide what you love and it gives you the permission to leave behind the stuff you don't. That said, here are 40 things that I'm loving right now. I put a LOT of effort into this post, so I'd love it if you checked it out because coming up with 40 awesome things is a lot! I even leave you with a little challenge at the end if you care to accept it! 


Easy DIY Velvet Acorn for your Fall or Thanksgiving Tablescape

A few weeks ago when my husband and I took a quick trip through NYC, one of the must see's on our list was to stroll through Central Park. While we were exploring...ok fine, while I was waiting for my husband in the bathroom, I found a whole pile of acorn tops. I started picking them up and putting them into my purse. I'm not much of a souvenir person. Sure, I like collecting things from where I've been, but I don't want to just collect things for the sake of collecting them. It was then that I realized that I could make a pretty cool souvenir with the acorn tops.  I could display them in the fall and they would remind me of our trip to NYC. You don't have to travel to Central Park to make these DIY velvet acorns, but you will probably need to take a stroll to your local park or in your backyard to get started.


5 Tricks to Decorating on a Budget

I do not claim to be an interior decorator. Heck, I could probably use someone to help me, but I do know how to stick to a budget and replicate high-end looks at a fraction of the price. I have decades of budget decorating under my belt and want to share my secrets so you can decorate on a budget too! Here are 5 of my best tricks for decorating on a budget. 

mango wood and metal coffee table

5 Tips to Make the Most of a Quick Trip to NYC

I was recently invited to a conference called Social Media on the Sand at Beaches Resort in the Turks and Caicos Islands {more on that later}. Getting to the Caribbean isn't the easiest thing to do from the west coast, so my first thought was, let's look into flying into New York for a few days before heading to the conference. If I do say so myself, it was a genius idea. 

Not only did it break up the long, multi-leg flight, but it also allowed us a quick visit to New York City and an opportunity to quickly get onto the east coast time zone we'd be in for the next week. The last time I was in NYC was a quick stop in after a visit to New Jersey to visit my grandmother. It was 1984 and there was a complete restoration project of the Statue of Liberty happening. My most vivid memory isn't of the visit to the city, it was of being marched from room to room in my small town Indiana elementary school with polaroid pictures of the lady liberty in hand sharing my visit with every single classroom after that Christmas break trip. People in Indiana in the 80's did not get out much apparently.

With about 36 hours and six zillion recommendations from friends and family and of course the interwebs, we checked off many of the to-dos on our NYC bucket list. I've got 5 tips so you can make the most of a quick trip to New York City.

foggy new york city from top of the empire state building

Beaches Resort: More Than Just a Vacation

It started with a backpack.

In 2014 I visited my World Vision sponsored child in Uganda. Moses was 9 so I packed a backpack full of school supplies and of course, a soccer ball. We started sponsoring Moses when he was a toddler. We don't speak the same language {though he's learning English in school}, but we communicate through drawings. Every letter we've received from Moses has some beautiful hand-drawn picture on it and I reciprocate with some stick figure of my own on my letters. 

It's our thing. 

world vision sponsored child in Uganda, Africa

School supplies can be hard to come by. 

In rural places like the town Moses lives in Uganda, it's nearly impossible. Many school kids I met were using brown paper bags folded together to create a rough notebook of sorts that they would use the whole school year. 

I've since traveled with backpacks filled with school supplies and special items in my luggage to Zambia, Bangladesh and now the Turks and Caicos Islands. I've started looking at it as a gift of gratitude to the countries that are hosting me. I learn something every time I step foot on foreign soil, it's the least I can do to give back. It's why I was so excited to see that the Sandals Foundation was taking part in Pack for a Purpose when I went to visit Beaches Resort for the conference Social Media on the Sand.

Sandals foundation packing for a purpose

Packing a backpack full of supplies in my suitcase wasn't the only way Beaches Resorts was giving back to the community. When you travel to Beaches all-inclusive resort, it's more than just a vacation, it's an opportunity to engage and empower the community you are visiting.

How to Keep Travel Sports Siblings Entertained

As a travel sports parent, you already know how much your young athlete loves their sport, or else you probably wouldn’t spend the crazy amount of time and money it requires. Chances are that you love the sport, as well, or at least the bonds you have made with other travel families.

There is one group of people that may or may not be as thrilled about the whole travel sports thing - the siblings. Brothers and sisters are usually just along for the ride. Often, they make friends with the other siblings and keep each other occupied during long travel weekends and practices. But, what do you do when there are no other kids their age or when the whole group of siblings is bored?

Don’t panic! Just plan! You know it’s going to happen, so just be ready. Here are some ideas to keep your travel sports siblings happy.

girls soccer team sitting on a bench


Instant Pot Beef and Bean Chili made with Dry Beans

One of my all-time favorite comfort foods is chili. I love all kinds of soup, but chili in particular because you can load it up with all kinds of great stuff and try so many different variations of it. One of my favorites is adding spaghetti to it. I think they call that Cincinnati chili. Chili is also a great dish to take to a tailgate or a potluck. Since this beef and bean chili can be made in the Instant Pot, it makes it easy to make in a hurry {with dry beans even!} and take with you on the go.

chili with jalapenos and chips

comfort foods


Clean Your Gas Range and Oven Without Chemicals

I don't know of many people that decide to just clean their oven on a regular basis. Heck, to be honest, I haven't cleaned mine since we moved in 8 years ago. I actually bought a huge bottle of this toxic oven cleaner, sprayed it inside and let it sit overnight before I could get in there to do any cleaning. {to be honest, the oven cleaner is better suited as a furniture stripper!} That's probably why I haven't cleaned the range since then. No one has time for a multiple day cleaning project. No one.

But alas, I was pulling my Costco sized lasagna out of the oven and that thing went rogue on me and I spilled the whole thing all over the oven door and inside the racks. I wasn't done cooking the lasagna yet so that stuff got baked on. Awesome. Nothing like a huge spill to encourage you to clean your oven, so the next day I went to work. To be honest, I wasn't sure I could clean my gas range with just steam but dang it if I wasn't impressed. Not a single chemical was used and in under an hour, top to bottom, every nook and cranny was clean. Don't take my word on it, come find out how you can clean your gas range and oven without any chemicals.

steam cleaning kitchen appliances

Life in the Slums of Bangladesh

In February, I had the opportunity to travel with World Vision to the slums of Dhaka and the rural community of Mymensingh. My heart has always been broken for Africa and the people of that continent, and like a mother expecting her second child, I almost wondered how I'd have room to love people from another country just as much as I loved those I met in Uganda and Zambia. Last week I was able to share with a group of passionate volunteers about the work that World Vision is doing in Bangladesh. I have posted a little about that trip, but I wanted to share with you about what was on my heart that day that I shared. Like all stories, it's a woven tapestry of threads that are interconnected but it ends with the same common theme. 

Bangladesh tapestry

If you were to ask me about my trip to Bangladesh, this is what I would share.

cracks in dock


Easy Meal Planning While at the Grocery Store!

Thanks to Foster Farms for sponsoring this post.

Do you ever get in a meal planning rut? I do. I start making the same 3-4 things every single week. Probably because it's easy to just do what I know, but we all get bored with it. It just never occurs to me to break away from the same old same old until I start wandering the aisles of the grocery store. Then at that point, I am overwhelmed with options! There are so many recipes on-line that if I were to stop in my tracks in the middle of the grocery store, I would be scrolling for hours. Heck, I might as well hunker down and move in. I just don't have time for that. Friends, I found a new solution. I literally just tried it in the grocery store aisles this afternoon and then came home and made a delicious new dinner everyone loved. We got out of our rut and you can too! Here's how:

foster farms chicken stir fry recipe


Mermaid Clam Cookies for a Mermaid Birthday Party

I've been at this blogging thing for a really long time. So long, that sometimes even I forget about projects that I've done! About six years ago, I helped with the decorations for my niece's 5th birthday party. It was quite the event! I expected no less though since my sister-in-law is a corporate event planner. She knows how to throw a party! 

blue and white under the sea cake

I spent so much time that summer looking for every decor item I could find that would fit the mermaid theme. It's been years and I still see things that would have made a great addition to that party. In fact these mermaid clam cookies are one of them. I think my niece was ahead of her time because now mermaid parties are hitting their peak. So, since it's been awhile I thought I'd share some of the details from the mermaid party I helped with and share these adorable mermaid clam sugar cookies in case you have a mermaid lover that's getting ready to celebrate!

clam with a pearl edible cookies


Clean Your Fridge Fast!

I've got a few chores I despise. Cleaning my fridge is probably at the top of that list. I think besides our washing machine, our fridge is the hardest working appliance at our house. Unlike the washing machine though, the fridge is something every family member uses pretty frequently {I need to work on the kids and the laundry situation!}, so it takes a beating. 
I think the reason I don't clean our refrigerator very often is because it just takes so long. Or so I thought! I had 15 minutes one day and my HomeRight SteamMachine plugged in and ready, so I thought I'd tackle the fridge to see how clean I really could get it in just a few minutes. It was kind of shocking! The SteamMachine did the hard work and I came behind to wipe up the messes. I'm pretty sure I won't be waiting as long between cleanings anymore because now I know how I can clean my fridge fast. Come see 6 tips on how you can clean your fridge fast!

Mummy Rice Krispies Treats

It's a little known fact that Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. There is something about the fun childlike decorations and treats with googles eyes that get me. Plus, what's not to love about going door to door and people handing you out FREE candy?! I think you will love this Halloween twist on the old rice krispy treat favorite. Why not whip up some mummy rice krispy treats for an after school snack this afternoon? I bet your kids will love them. 

Halloween class party

halloween class party recipes food


Easy Halloween Microwave Candy Corn Taffy Recipe

One of those random childhood memories I have is of pulling taffy in the basement kitchen of our church. I have no idea how old I was, but I know I was under 10. It was such a fun thing to do because, well, candy. What kid doesn't love candy! 

fall candy recipe

Halloween is one of those special times when candy is in over abundance, but why not share some time with your kids and teach them how to make their own candy. This easy microwave candy corn taffy is the perfect recipe to get started with. It's a fun seasonal fall flavor everyone {not just the kids!} will love!

easy taffy recipe


5 Reasons Why Online Shopping is Better

This post was brought to you by Fred Meyer Direct. All opinions are 100% my own. I wouldn't tell you about something I didn't love. Promise.

I like shopping. I really do, but sometimes it's a major time suck. And as a working mom with three kids, time isn't something I have a lot of to spare. It's one of the reasons why I love online shopping. In the past decade online shopping has changed the way we buy things and I actually prefer to purchase items online rather than to go into a store. I've got 5 reasons why online shopping is better. I'd love to know if they are the same reasons you love it too!


Goodwill Upcycles Lives: Taking Another Chance on the Thrift Store

Several years ago, I wrote a post titled "Is Goodwill too Expensive?" I got a lot of response from it on my blog and I was just reminded of it when I saw a sponsored Facebook post this past weekend. The sponsored post that was intended to get people to shop at their local Goodwill had people sharing some of their own thoughts {as one does on the internet}. It saw a handful of comments, some of which expressed the same sentiments I've thought. Things like "you get the stuff for free, why are you marking it up so much?" and "your merchandise is too expensive" and "I can get brand new stuff at my local Walmart or Target in the clearance section!" 

After the blog post that I wrote about Goodwill being too expensive, I pretty much stopped shopping at the regular Goodwill store altogether. {Side note: I did continue shopping at my local Goodwill Outlet because I do love a good treasure hunt and their pay by the pound prices were far more affordable I thought}. I was recently invited to an upcycle event with my local Goodwill and it was like this event was created just for me because I do love a good upcycle. That day, I learned that Goodwill upcycles more than just donated items.
Goodwill thrift store
I'm a firm believer in second chances, not only for donated items, but for people and places too. And after my recent visit, I'm ready to take another chance on Goodwill and here's why.
education programs at goodwill

Polish and Preserve Your Decorative Pumpkins

I call it a healthy sign of adulthood when you have a favorite designer brand of pumpkin. My teenagers would call it "basic". We don't agree on a lot of things. I'm lucky enough to live close to a local farm that sells some amazing decorative pumpkins at a great price. Over the years I've learned a trick or two on how to polish and preserve them so I can get the most out of my pumpkins for the whole season. And by whole season, I mean from September until late November. I love how I'm able to take the muted colors of the various gourds and make them shine all season long. And now I'm sharing my secrets on how to polish and preserve your decorative pumpkins all season long.

blue, white and cinderella pumpkins

teal or blue pumpkins

Powered by Blogger.