Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Tasty Tuesday: Merry Christmas, y'all!

We're taking a break from Tasty Tuesday to say:

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Great Recipe Post!

Ok, folks, here we go... the Great Recipe Post!

I've been trying to figure out a more user-friendly way to do this, & honestly, I haven't come across the perfect solution just yet. So meanwhile, here's a giant post that will hopefully work for now! :)

 No-Bake Cookies
(contributed by Kristy E.)

The Ingredients: 

  • 1 stick butter
  • 3 tbsp cocoa
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 3 cups oatmeal
  • 1 tsp vanilla flavoring

The Directions:

Boil the top four ingredients for 4 minutes. Add other ingredients one at a time, stirring constantly. You can either drop these by spoonfuls onto wax paper & let them harden, or you can grease a glass pan & pour, let harden & cut into cookies. 


Buffalo Chicken Dip
(contributed by Margaret B.)

The Ingredients:

  • 1 block of cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup wing sauce
  • 1/2 cup ranch dressing (or bleu cheese dressing)
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese (monterey jack or cheddar)

The Directions:

Mix well until blended. Add 1/2 cup shredded cheese. Bake in oven at 350 degrees for 10-25 mins. Serve with corn chips, tortillas, celery &/or carrots... or just eat it out of the bowl! :)


Bacon Tomato Cups
(contributed by Melissa C.)

The Ingredients:

  • 1 can of biscuits (make sure they are the "layered" ones, not the twisted croissant ones)
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 4-5 green onions, diced
  • 5 slices cooked bacon, chopped
  • 12 oz shredded cheese (swiss is best)
  • 3-4 tbsp mayonnaise

The Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray mini muffin or cupcake tin.

Combine tomato, onion, bacon & cheese in bowl. Add mayo until mixture is wet. Separate each layered biscuit into 3 pieces. Press each biscuit piece into a muffin/cupcake cup & fill with mixture.

Bake until biscuits are golden. 


MOPS Holiday Punch
(contributed by Meagan G.)

The Ingredients:

  • 1 can frozen grape juice
  • 1 bottle apple juice
  • 1 2-liter ginger ale

The Directions:

Mix & serve cold.


Slow Cooker Apple Cider
(contributed by Jennifer H.)

The Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 quarts apple cider
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1 1/2 tsp whole cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/4 cup orange juice concentrate

The Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker. Cover & simmer on low for 2-4 hours. Strain before serving hot. Makes approximately 8 servings.


Burrito Bites
(contributed by Jill K.)

The Ingredients:

  • 2 (8 oz) blocks cream cheese
  • 2 (4 oz) cans chopped green chilies
  • 1 package 10 flour tortillas
  • 1 packet taco seasoning

The Directions:

Mix cream cheese, chopped green chilies & taco seasoning together. Microwave tortillas for 30 seconds to make them easier to work with.

Spread mixture on tortillas. Roll tortillas & cut into bite-size pieces.

**Tip: it's sometimes easier to cut the rolls if you put them in the refrigerator to chill first


Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding
(contributed by Tiffany T.)

The Ingredients:

  • 9 regular glazed, day-old KK doughnuts
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup sugar, plus 1 tbsp
  • 1/3 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 cups whole milk

The Directions:

Grease a 2-quart baking dish. Cut doughnuts into 1/2-inch cubes & spread in dish. Whisk together remainder of ingredients & pour over doughnuts.

Let rest one hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place dish in a shallow pan & fill with water. Bake for 70-75 mins. Center should be firm.


Cream Cheese Pie
(contributed by Kristy E.)

The Ingredients:

  • 1 9-inch pie crust, baked as directed
  • 1 (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1 can sweetened, condensed milk. 

The Directions:

Beat cream cheese until softened. Add condensed milk & mix until smooth. Slowly add lemon juice to cream cheese mixture & mix well. Pour mixture into prepared pie crust & chill for at least 30 minutes.


Easy Key Lime Pie
(contributed by Heather K.)

The Ingredients:

  • 3 (14 oz) cans condensed milk
  • 3/4 cup Nellie & Joe's Famous Key West Lime Juice
  • 1 (9 oz) graham or chocolate pie crust

The Directions:

In a large mixing bowl, combine 3 cans of Eagle Brand with milk & lime juice using a whisk until well-blended. Pour mixture into crust & smooth. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, then enjoy!

**Tip: for best results, do not substitute Nellie & Joe's lime juice. This brand is sold at Bilo & Publix.
**Tip: eat as is or add chocolate, strawberry or any other topping


Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bars
(contributed by Abbey G.)

The Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1 1/2 cup chocolate chips

The Directions:

Combine ingredients & press into a 9x13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Let cool & cut into bars.


Blueberry Cream Cheese Pie
(contributed by Alisha M.)

The Ingredients for pie:

  • 1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp grated lemon rind
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp cream or milk
  • 2-3 cups ripe blueberries
  • 1 pie shell, baked (graham cracker crust is good!)

The Ingredients for blueberry glaze:

  • 3 cups blueberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch

The Directions:

Mix the cream cheese, sugar, lemon rind & juice, & cream or milk. Cream until it's whipped cream consistency. Line the pie shell with cheese mixture. Fill with fresh whole berries & cover with blueberry glaze (see instructions below).

To make blueberry glaze, mash berries with sugar & let stand for 30 mins. Mix with cornstarch & cook over medium heat until thick & clear. Let cool & pour over pie. Refrigerate.


Apple Dumplings
(contributed by Kelly A.)

The Ingredients:

  • 2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled & cored
  • 2 (10 oz) can refrigerated crescent roll dough
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 (12 oz) can or bottle of Mountain Dew

The Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 baking dish.

Cut each apple into 8 wedges & set aside Separate the crescent roll dough into triangles. Roll each apple wedge in dough starting at the smallest end. Pinch to seal & place in baking dish.

Melt butter in a small saucepan & stir in the sugar & cinnamon. Pour over the apple dumplings. Pour Mountain Dew over the dumplings.

Bake for 35-45 mins, or until golden brown.  


Sausage Balls
(contributed by Kristi B.)

The Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. pork sausage
  • 2 1/2 cups Bisquick
  • 2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese

The Directions:

Work ingredients together well until they form a large ball. Pinch off small bits & roll into small balls. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 mins, until golden brown. Makes approximately 100 sausage balls.


Pumpkin Crisp
(contributed by Jeanie H.)

The Ingredients:

  • 15 oz can pumpkin
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 package butter yellow cake mix
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • whipped cream

The Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine pumpkin, evaporated milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon & nutmeg. Pour into 9x13 baking dish. Sprinkle cake mix over pumpkin mixture in an even layer.

Arrange pecans on cake mix. Pour butter evenly over pecans, moistening all the cake mix.

Bake for 70-80 mins, or until golden brown. Allow to cool & top with whipped cream. Serve warm. Makes 9-10 servings.


Hot Corn Dip
(contributed by Ansley H.)

The Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3 1/2 cups corn kernels (from 4 ears of fresh white or yellow corn)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup finely chopped yellow onions
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red bell peppers
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions (green & white parts)
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded & minced
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 to 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 4 oz monterey jack or cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 4 oz sharp cheddar, shredded
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne

The Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt 1 tbsp of butter in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add corn, salt & pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the kernels turn deep golden brown, about 5 mins. Transfer to a bowl.

Melt remaining tbsp of butter in the skillet. Add yellow onions & bell peppers & cook, stirring often, until the onions are wilted, about 2 mins. Add green onions, jalapeno & garlic & cook, stirring, for 2 mins or until vegetables are softened. Transfer to bowl with the corn.

Add mayonnaise, 1/2 of the monterey jack, 1/2 of the cheddar & cayenne & mix well. Pour into 8-inch square baking dish & sprinkle remaining cheese on top.

Bake until bubbly & golden brown, about 10-12 mins. Serve hot with tortilla chips.


Buckeye (Peanut Butter) Balls
(contributed by Pamela S.)

The Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1 lb. confectioners sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 1/4 cups shredded sweetened coconut
  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 8 oz semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/3 bar of paraffin wax (Gulf wax) or 1 1/2 tbsp Crisco shortening, butter or vegetable oil

The Directions:

Melt butter in large bowl. Stir in peanut butter, sugar & vanilla. Put pecans & shredded coconut in food processor to chop finely, about 30 seconds. Crush graham crackers in plastic bag. Add graham cracker crumbs, pecans & coconut mixture in bowl with butter & combine well.

Shape into balls using a tablespoon. Place a toothpick in each ball & refrigerate at least 1 hour to harden.

Melt 8 oz semisweet chocolate chips & 1/3 bar of paraffin wax (or Crisco, butter or oil) in double boiler over low heat. Dip each ball in chocolate & place on wax or parchment paper until cool. Remove toothpicks. Place cooled balls between wax or parchment paper in plastic container to store. 

**This recipe is from the kitchen of Pamela's grandmother, Barbara


Buckeye (Peanut Butter) Balls
(contributed by Tara T.)

The Ingredients:

  • 4 oz butter, melted
  • 4 cups confectioners sugar
  • 18 oz crunchy peanut butter
  • 3 cups rice krispies
  • chocolate for melting & dipping

The Directions:

Mix butter, sugar, peanut butter & rice krispies. Shape into balls. Melt chocolate for dipping. Dip peanut butter balls in chocolate. Refrigerate to allow chocolate to set. Enjoy!


Jalapeno Poppers
(contributed by Sarah R.)

The Ingredients:

  • 1 can of crescent roll dough
  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 2 fresh jalapenos
  • 3-5 strips of bacon

The Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice open jalapenos & clean out seeds, then chop. Cook bacon until it's crispy, then break into small pieces.

Roll out crescent dough & cut each roll in half (this makes bite-size poppers. If you want big poppers, don't cut the rolls in half). Each piece of dough should be vaguely triangle-shaped.

Place a dollop of cream cheese (approximately a smallish tbsp) in the center of each piece of dough. Press 1 or more pieces of jalapeno into the cream cheese, depending on how hot you want your poppers to be. Then place 1-2 small pieces of bacon on top of the jalapeno.

Fold the three corners of your dough up & pinch the top & sides together to prevent your cream cheese from leaking out.

Bake 10-15 mins or until golden brown. 


Peppermint Fudge
(contributed by Christina A.)

The Ingredients:

  • 24 oz (about 4 cups) white chocolate chips
  • 1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups peppermint candies, coarsely crushed

The Directions:

Line an 8-inch square pan with parchment or wax paper, letting the paper hang over the sides.

In a medium bowl, stir together white chocolate chips, condensed milk & salt. Melt mixture according to white chocolate package instructions. Once chocolate is melted, stir in vanilla extract & 1 cup of crushed peppermints.

Pour fudge into prepared pan & use a spatula to spread it evenly. Sprinkle the remaining crushed peppermints on top. Chill in refrigerator until it's firm & set, about 2 hours. Use overhanging flaps of paper to lift the fudge from the pan, then cut it into 1-inch squares.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

getting crafty: glitter ornaments

At our meeting last week, we made glittery ornaments... perfect for the Christmas season!

Here's the tutorial if you'd like to make these little lovelies at home:

What you need:

  • Clear glass ornaments
  • Glitter (extra-fine is recommended)
  • Floor cleaner such as Mop-N-Glow or Favor
  • Stickers, vinyl cut-outs, paint pens or Sharpies for decorating (optional)
  • Ribbon for hanging (optional)


  1. Remove cap from ornament and pour a small amount of floor cleaner inside... a tablespoon or two should do it. You may need a funnel for this step, or you can just wing it.
  2. Swish the cleaner around until the inside of the ornament is completely coated. Then pour the excess cleaner out. (Try to avoid bubbles if possible.)
  3. Pour your glitter into the ornament & shake it all around until the entire inside is coated in sparkly beauty. Just put a bunch of glitter, cover the opening with your finger & shake... you can always add more glitter if needed. Then dump your excess glitter back into the glitter container, taking care to swivel the ornament around so that you get all the extra glitter out... you don't want a layer of glitter sitting in the bottom of the ornament while it's hanging on the tree.
  4. Replace the ornament cap & decorate as desired, or not at all. If you'd like, you can tie a ribbon around the ornament cap &/or loop it through the wire to hang your glitter ornament. Enjoy!

One of our MOPS mamas has already made a few of these at home... she used a square ornament instead the classic round & I love it! Thanks for sharing, Jeanie!

December meeting recap!

Well, a week later, I guess I'll actually get the meeting recap written! Whew, the holidays are cuh-razy!

So last Thursday, Dec 13th, was our December meeting... aka Recipe Swap & Spa Day! So, so fun!

First of all, let's talk about the food. YUM. We had an amazing spread & it was all delicious (& I know this because I may have sampled everything :)  I'll be posting all the recipes soon... stay tuned!

And the craft was super-cute, as always... Abbey had everything we needed to make personalized glittery ornaments for the Christmas season. The tutorial will be posted in the next few days...

For our Spa Day, we had four stations:
  1. Paraffin hand-waxing -- a great thing for scratchy, dry winter hands!
  2. Foot soak -- ahhhh, who doesn't love to soak their toes every once in a while?
  3. Mary Kay -- a huge thanks to Elizabeth, one of our MOPS moms & a Mary Kay consultant!
  4. Hair stylists -- three stylists, Rachel, Danae & Ashley, were kind enough to donate their time to MOPS to make us mamas look fabulous! Be sure to pay these ladies a visit the next time you need to be spruced up... check our facebook page for their contact information.
A few of the MOPS mamas get a trim from our wonderful stylists!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tasty Tuesday: peppermint obsession, anyone?

Here's a compilation of all things peppermint for this Tasty Tuesday!

First up, the old faithful peppermint bark. So. stinkin'. good. And easy too... 

The Ingredients:

  • 1 package (12 oz) of white chocolate chips
  • 24 peppermint candies
  • 1 tsp peppermint extract or a few drops of peppermint oil (optional)

The Directions:

Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. 

Unwrap candies & put them in a ziplock bag. Wrap in a towel & smash repeatedly until candies are crushed (this is a great way to relieve holiday stress, by the way :). Or you can put them in a food processor, but that's not as much fun.

Microwave white chocolate chips for 45 seconds. Stir. Continue microwaving & stirring at 15-second intervals until completely melted & smooth.

Pour the crushed candies into a strainer while holding it over the melted chocolate. Shake the stainer until you've sifted out the larger pieces. Put the larger peppermint pieces aside. Add a few drops of peppermint extract or oil if desired. Stir chocolate. 

Spread chocolate into baking pan. Sprinkle with reserved larger candy pieces & press lightly. Let it stand for about 1 hour or until firm. Break into pieces. Store in airtight container at room temperature.


And while you're making peppermint bark, you could just go ahead & do a batch of peppermint popcorn...

The Ingredients:

  • Same as above (white chocolate chips & peppermint candies)
  • 1 tsp peppermint extract or a few drops of peppermint oil
  • 2 bags of microwave popcorn, popped

The Directions:

Follow the instructions for peppermint bark above to melt chocolate & stir in crushed peppermint. Add oil or extract. Pour chocolate/peppermint over popcorn & stir until well-coated. Spread on wax paper until hardened.


Or you might want to give these peppermint sugar cookie bars a try... 

The Ingredients for the cookies:

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup crushed or chopped after-dinner butter mints

The Ingredients for the frosting:

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
pinch of salt
4 cups powdered sugar
2 to 4 tbsp milk
Red food coloring, if desired
1/2 cup crushed peppermints or candy canes

The Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a large 11x17 pan. Line with parchment paper & grease paper as well. Set aside

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt & baking soda. 

With an electric mixer, cream butter & sugar until light & fluffy (about 3 minutes). Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add in vanilla. Add in flour mixture, mixing until just combined. Stir in butter mints.

Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake until light golden brown & a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (about 20-25 minutes). Transfer to wire rack to cool completely. 

While cookie is cooling, make frosting. With an electric mixer, beat butter until fluffy (about 3 minutes). Add peppermint extract & salt. Add powdered sugar, a little at a time, beating until well-combined. Add milk a tablespoon at a time until frosting is smooth & fluffy. Add a few drops of food coloring if desired. 

Spread frosting over cooled cookie & sprinkle with crushed peppermints. Cut into bars (makes 32 bars).

(Click here for source). 


And finally, we have peppermint eggnog... 

The Ingredients:

  • eggnog
  • peppermint candies, finely crushed
  • peppermint sticks
  • peppermint extract or oil

The Directions:

Wet the edge of your mug & dip in crushed peppermints. Pour eggnog & add a few drops of extract or oil (remember that oil is MUCH stronger tasting than extract). Sprinkle peppermint on top & add a peppermint stick.  

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

getting crafty: clothespin wreath card holder

This past Monday was our Moms Night Out for December... our first official Craft Night! We had craft kits available, & several ladies chose to make a super-cute clothespin wreath card holder.

If you couldn't make it to Craft Night & would like to make a clothespin wreath at home, here's the tutorial:

What you need:

  • wire clothes hanger
  • 36 wooden clothespins
  • 72 pony beads
  • duct tape
  • glue gun
  • 4 feet of ribbon


  1. Cut the hook off your hanger, discard & bend hanger into a circle.
  2. Thread a clothespin onto the hanger (put the wire through the spring coil of the pin) & then add two pony beads.
  3. Continue threading materials onto the hanger in this repeating order: clothespin, two beads, clothespin, two beads until you have them all on the wire. If you come across an "ugly" clothespin, just flip it over so the pretty side is facing the front of the wreath.
  4. Put a bead on each side of your first & last clothespins, so you have a bead nearest the opening of the wire circle on both ends of your wreath.
  5. Overlap the loose ends of the wire & secure with duct tape. You can hot glue or twist the wires to "close" your wreath as well. You only want about a 1.5 inch gap between your beads after the wreath is enclosed, so you may need to trim off a bit of the wire depending on your hanger length. 
  6. Use one foot of ribbon to form a loop from which to hang your wreath. Use the glue gun to attach the ribbon loop to your wreath, using the ribbon to cover the duct tape.
  7. Tie a bow with the remaining 3 feet of ribbon & use the glue gun to attach the bow to the base of your ribbon loop.
  8. Add all your Christmas cards & enjoy!
There's all sorts of variations for this wreath... here are a few ideas if you want to jazz yours up a bit:

You can paint your clothespins:

Or use mod-podge or glue or double-sided tape to add colorful scrapbook paper  &/or glitter to your clothespins:

Or scratch the Christmas card holder idea entirely & make a wreath just because they look snazzy. Valentine's Day, Easter, 4th of July... the clothespin wreath possibilities are endless!

(from left to right: source, source, source)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tasty Tuesday: Surprise Treats

What's better than biting into a brownie or cupcake? Biting into a brownie or cupcake & there being a tasty surprise inside! :)

Here are two recipes for surprise treats that the kiddos (& adults) will love!

This first recipe is for Surprise Brownie Bites with Caramel Cream Cheese Icing. Yes, that's brownie, caramel, cream cheese & candy all in one delicious bite... you're welcome.

On the left is Rolo; on the right is Ferrero Rocher

The Ingredients:

  • brownie mix, with eggs, oil & water needed to prepare
  • 4 tbsp butter, softened at room temperature
  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp caramel sauce (store-bought, or boil a small can of condensed milk for 10 mins, stirring constantly until it turns to caramel)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 24 candies of your choice... pictured above are Rolo (on the left) & Ferrero Rocher (on the right)

The Directions:

Unwrap all candies & put them in the fridge. Preheat oven & prepare brownie mix as directed on box. Grease  24-cup mini muffin tin. Fill each cup 3/4 full with batter. Bake according to directions.

When brownies are done, remove them from oven. Immediately press a candy into each warm brownie. Wait a few minutes for brownies to cool slightly, then remove from pan to allow brownies to cool completely on wire rack. 

To make icing, mix cream cheese & butter until smooth. Stir in caramel. Add powdered sugar gradually  & whip until creamy.

Once brownies are completely cool, put a small dollop of the leftover caramel on each brownie bite (this is optional... it just adds a little more gooey goodness). Using a plastic bag & piping tip, pipe the icing onto each brownie bite. Refrigerate for a while until icing is set before serving.


Or check out this recipe shared by Emily... she makes these Chocolate Surprise Cupcakes for her family every year during the Christmas season!

The Ingredients (for the batter):

  • 2 sticks butter
  • 4 oz semi-sweet chocolate
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

The Ingredients (for the filling):

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • dash of salt
  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

The Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Fill cupcake tin with liners.

To prepare batter, melt together butter, chocolate & vanilla. Beat eggs & sugar together until combined. Beat flour into egg mixture. Fold in chocolate mixture. Spoon into cupcake tins until approximately 3/4 full.

To prepare filling, combine cream cheese, sugar, egg & salt. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop a rounded teaspoonful into cupcake batter.

Bake at 350 for 30 mins. 

Makes 20-22 cupcakes. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

random acts of kindness

It's so easy to get swept up in the frenzied joy & wonder of Christmas... the shopping, the tree, the lights, the gifts, the parties, the baking, the music. What's not to love?!?

Maggie & Sadie are amazed...

But it can be difficult sometimes to help our young children understand... especially preschool-age... what Christmas really means. With all the hustle & bustle, it's easy to see how it could be confusing for littles... that it's actually NOT all about getting presents or Santa. That Christmas is actually about celebrating the birth of Jesus & understanding what Jesus means to us on a daily basis.

This Christmas, what if we decided to share the light of Christmas here in Anderson, SC? It could be amazing. It really could. Not only for our individual children, but on a much larger scale.

So do something random & nice. And talk to your kids about why it's fun....
  • Take a festive holiday treat to your pediatrician's office for the staff
  • Tape a dollar with a note saying  "Merry Christmas" to a vending machine
  • Pay for the car behind you at Starbucks.... maybe they'll do the same & keep the kindness going!
  • Take cookies & thank you notes to our local fire department & police departments

Or you can participate in this wonderful (& well-organized) idea from Courtney at Lil Light O' Mine. She calls it:

And she's provided tons of Light 'Em Up ideas & freebies... a list of 100 random acts of kindness, a planning sheet to help you implement, & even printable gift tags telling someone how much your family appreciates them...

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Tasty Tuesday: Slow Cooker Creamy Mac & Cheese

With all the holiday bustle, sometimes it's nice to just get back to a basic comfort food... & it's even nicer if it can be thrown in a slow cooker & forgotten about until dinner time. This recipe for creamy macaroni & cheese is one of our family's favorites!

The Ingredients:

  • 2 cups (8 oz) elbow macaroni, uncooked
  • 4 tbsp butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 can cheddar cheese condensed soup
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

The Directions:

Boil macaroni until tender. Drain. In medium saucepan, mix butter & cheese. Stir until cheese melts. 

In slow cooker, combine cheese mixture, eggs, sour cream, soup, salt, milk, mustard & pepper. Stir well. Add drained macaroni & stir again. 

Turn slow cooker on "low" setting & cook for 3 hours, stirring occasionally.

Monday, December 3, 2012

y'all come to Craft Night!

Do you have a project that you just can't seem to get done?

Christmas cards to address? 

A cute craft that you pinned on Pinterest, but probably won't actually do? 

Or are you creatively challenged?... you WANT to be crafty, but you're just not sure where to start?

You should come to Craft Night next Monday, Dec 10th! It will definitely be worth finding a babysitter or getting the husband to keep the kiddos...  it's a dedicated time to knock out one of those projects or make something fun & visit with other moms while you're doing it! 

Next Monday, you can bring your own craft or project that you want to work on. Or if you want to try something new, you can purchase one of our kits. And what are these kits, you ask? Abbey, Crafter Extraordinaire has lined up some ridiculously cute options for us.

**If you want a kit, please let us know... we'll reserve one for you! 

kit #1: clothespin wreath

This is a perfect addition to your holiday decor as Christmas cards start arriving... just clip your cards to display all season! This little kit will have all the supplies to make this clothespin wreath!
(kit price: $3)

kit #2: bird nest necklace

The super-popular bird nest necklace is making a reappearance... we made these during one of our meetings & I've gotten so many compliments! Would be perfect for a gift or keeping for yourself...
(kit price: $2)

kit #3: homemade hot cocoa gift set

Who doesn't love a warm cup of hot cocoa? This kit will have everything you need to put together a pretty little cocoa gift set similar to the ones pictured here.
(kit price: $2)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

a few Christmas ideas...

We've been battling the plague at my house, but (hopefully) seem to be on the downside... & yesterday I finally got my Christmas decorations out of the attic! So to help us all get in the spirit, here are a few cute ideas that I wanted to share. I hope you find something you like!

Click here for a tutorial for a felt Christmas tree for the kiddos! You can make a big one & tack it to the wall (or use Command strips, if you don't want holes in the walls) or make a small one for a table-top activity. Just head to Hobby Lobby & buy felt, pull out your scissors & a hot glue gun & get crafty!

Here's the wall version:

or the smaller, table-top version:

Christmas, more than maybe any other holiday, has its own wonderful smells... try a Christmas Simmer Pot to keep your house smelling festive! Throw in a few oranges &/or lemons, cranberries, cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, bay leaves, & cloves... basically anything that smells good & simmer it on low to give your house a wonderful smell of the season. You can refrigerate & reuse several times.

And here's one of my favorite ideas... Do your kids like "The Polar Express"? Rose is still too young this year, but I know a few people with older kiddos who are doing this completely free & super-fun activity. Create your own Minivan Express as a surprise for your kids one night! Click here for a complete description & printable tickets... and if you decide to do your own Minivan (or Acura or Explorer) Express, please tell us how it went!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tasty Tuesday: Grandma's Gingersnaps

Yummmm, there's just something festive & cozy about gingersnaps... & Abbey says that they'll make your house smell wonderful! Thanks for sharing, Abbey :)

This recipe makes about 3 dozen of these delicious little cookies.

The Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup margarine
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 white sugar for decoration

The Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

In a medium bowl, cream together margarine & 1 cup white sugar until smooth. Beat in egg & molasses until well-blended. 

Combine flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda & salt. Stir into molasses mixture to form a dough.

Roll dough into 1-inch balls & roll the balls in the remaining white sugar. Place cookies 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheet.

Bake for 8-10 mins. Allow cookies to cool for at least 5 mins before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.

(Click here for original source)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tasty Tuesday: The Thanksgiving Leftovers Collection

Just a few yummy ideas of what to do with all those Turkey Day leftovers!

Do you have leftover cranberry sauce? Try these Cranberry Sauce Muffins with Cranberry Butter:

The Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup leftover cranberry sauce
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk (or egg nog)
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 stick butter, softened

The Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray muffin pan with cooking spray or line with paper liners. In a small bowl, whisk together cranberry sauce, nutmeg & lemon juice. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon & salt. In a small bowl, whisk together egg, milk or egg nog, melted butter & vanilla extract. Add egg mixture to flour mixture & mix until just moist.

Fill muffin cups with half of the batter. Spoon 2 tsp cranberry sauce onto the center of each cup of batter. Top with remaining batter. Bake for 15-20 mins or until top springs back when touched lightly.

To make cranberry butter, combine softened butter with a dollop of cranberry sauce in a food processor. Add more cranberry sauce until it's as cranberry-y as you want. Transfer to small bowl & serve with warm muffins. 

(Click here for source.)


After your turkey has been picked clean, don't throw away what's left... make this Turkey Soup instead!

The first step to this soup is making turkey stock, which you can start right after Thanksgiving dinner.

To make Turkey Stock:

  • What's left of your Thanksgiving turkey (bones, skin, drippings, giblets except liver, everything)
  • 1 yellow onion, quartered
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • Handful of fresh chopped parsley
  • Sprinkle of thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Celery tops (the leafy parts)
  • A few peppercorns
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Remove all useable turkey meat for sandwiches, to add to the soup later, or make turkey pot pie (recipe below).

Break up the turkey bones a bit so the turkey carcass isn't quite so bulky. Put the entire turkey carcass into a large stock pot & cover with cold water by an inch. Add yellow onion, carrots, parsley, thyme, bay leaf, celery tops & peppercorns.

Bring to a boil & immediately reduce heat to bring the stock to barely a simmer or just below a simmer. Skim off any foamy nastiness that floats to the top.

Add salt & pepper.

Cook for at least 4 hours, uncovered. Occasionally skim foam off top of stock. You can also put the stock in the oven at 180-200 degrees to maintain a constant, even heat.

Strain stock to remove veggies, bones, skin & any other undesirables.

To make Turkey Soup:

  • Turkey stock (recipe above)
  • Carrots, onions & celery, chopped... add these in equal parts (ie. 1 of each, 2 of each, etc)
  • A few sprigs of fresh chopped parsley
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Seasoning as desired (suggestions include poultry seasoning, sage, thyme, marjoram, crumbled bouillon cube)
  • Starch, such as egg noodles, rice or even leftover mashed potatoes. If you decide to use potatoes, they should already be cooked.
  • Turkey meat (the good stuff that you picked off before making the stock), shredded
  • Optional: tomatoes (fresh or stewed), tabasco sauce, fresh spinach, leftover green beans, shredded cabbage
With stock still barely simmering, add carrots, onions, celery, parsley, garlic & seasonings. If desired, also add cabbage &/or green beans.

Cook at just below a simmer until vegetables are softened. Add starch & shredded turkey meat. Add tomatoes &/or spinach if desired. Add salt & pepper to taste. Add a shot of tabasco sauce if desired.


Use up some of your leftover turkey, veggies & cranberries in this Turkey Pot Pie:

The Ingredients:

  • 2 cans condensed cheddar cheese soup (cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup will work too)
  • 2 cans cream of celery soup
  • leftover turkey meat, cubed
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 2 cups cooked squash, diced (or leftover squash casserole)
  • 2 cups cranberry sauce
  • other cooked veggies if desired (ex. green beans, peas, corn, carrots)
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 canned biscuits or croissants

The Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large saucepan, heat the soups. Stir in turkey, onion, squash, cranberry sauce, other veggies if desired, salt & pepper. Bring mixture to a boil. 

Pour mixture into oven-safe dish & top with canned dough. Press crust firmly around the edges of the pan. 

Bake until crust is golden brown (about 5 mins).

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Reminder: the LOT Project tomorrow!

Just wanted to remind everyone that tomorrow is our monthly MOPS On the Town... this month, we're going to be visiting the LOT Project from 10:30 to 11am. If you didn't rsvp to the evite, come anyway! And don't forget to bring new or old winter accessories (such as scarves, hats, gloves, etc).  Click here for directions.

I honestly didn't know that much about the LOT Project until recently... & wow. It's an amazing initiative & I'm so glad our MOPS group is helping!

So here are a few things I've learned & thought I'd share:

What does The LOT Project stand for?  
"The Least Of These Project"

How does the LOT Project help our community?
They have several main focuses: 

  1. HOPE, which stands for "Helping Other People Eat" -- people line up for a hot meal & the opportunity to fill a bag with clothing from the free thrift store
  2. Donation Center -- every Monday evening, volunteers organize donated clothing, toys, school supplies & other items for the free thrift store
  3. AHOP, which stands for "Anderson House of Prayer" -- a 24-hour worship center that's open to everyone
  4. The Block Party at D. B. Walker Park -- a day-long event that provides free food, entertainment & helps build the community. Since its inception, the Block Party has served over 2000 meals with the help of 300+ volunteers. 
Why should you go tomorrow at 10:30am? 
Because it's a wonderful opportunity to teach your kids about giving & service to others here in Anderson.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tasty Tuesday: Pumpkin Deliciousness

Here's a pumpkin roll recipe from my grandmother... she fixes several & freezes them. SO good with coffee!

The Ingredients for roll:

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • powdered sugar (to keep cake from sticking & to dust on top)

The Ingredients for cream cheese filling:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 8-oz package cream cheese, softened
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

The Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, mix eggs, sugar, pumpkin & lemon juice.  In a separate bowl, mix flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger & nutmeg.

Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture & stir until well-blended.

Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray (the size of baking sheet can vary, but my grandma uses one that is 10.5" by 15"). Pour the batter onto baking sheet & spread evenly.

Bake 12-15 mins until toothpick comes out clean. Meanwhile, sprinkle a clean kitchen towel liberally with powdered sugar.

After cake is baked, flip it onto the kitchen towel. Starting at one end, roll the towel & cake up into a roll & let it cool for 30-40 mins.

To make the filling, mix the cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter & vanilla extract & blend well.

After the cake has cooled, unroll it & spread the filling evenly. Roll back up (without the towel). Wrap in plastic wrap & chill for at least an hour to allow filling to firm up.

Dust roll with powdered sugar before serving.


And do you need a hot drink to go along with your pumpkin roll? Try this Thanksgiving-y recipe shared by Margaret! It's like hot chocolate, but with pumpkin. And without chocolate. Which makes it "pumpkin NOT chocolate." 

The Ingredients:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin puree
  • 2 tsp sugar/splenda or 5 drops liquid stevia or 1-2 tsp honey
  • dash of cinnamon
  • dash of grated nutmeg
  • dash of ginger
  • splash of vanilla 

The Directions:

Place all ingredients in a small saucepan on the stove. Whisk together over medium heat until blended & steaming. 

Use an immersion blender* to blend until smooth & creamy.  

*If you're like me, you don't have an immersion blender. If you don't, just stir, stir, stir until it's as smooth & creamy as possible. :)

(Click here for original source)

Monday, November 12, 2012

getting crafty: pumpkin sugar scrub

Our craft at the November meeting was simple & perfect for these weeks leading up to Thanksgiving... a pumpkin sugar scrub! You can use this yourself as a body or hand exfoliating scrub, or give it as a super-cute hostess or teacher gift during the upcoming holidays.

Here's the instructions if you'd like to make this pumpkin sugar scrub at home:

What you need:

  • a small jar... the ones we used at our meeting came from Ikea, but you can also find them at Target or Walmart
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 tsp pumpkin spice (or more if you like a stronger smell... you can buy this spice or make your own by mixing cinnamon, nutmeg & ground cloves)
  • 3 (scant) tbsp vegetable oil
  • a label (click here to download the labels that we used) & raffia or ribbon if desired


Combine the brown sugar, white sugar, pumpkin spice. Mix well. Add oil. Mix well. Put into jar. Add label. And you're done!

**Tip from Abbey, our master crafter: be sure the dry ingredients are well-mixed & free of lumps BEFORE adding your oil. 

**The lady who designed the downloadable labels for the jars also has tons of other free printables... check it out here! Thanks for sharing, Abbey! 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

jar full of gratitude

I'm always keeping my eye out for thoughtful ways to celebrate the season... & it's even better if it's cute & FREE! Just wanted to share this printable that Paper Coterie just published. Making a jar full of gratitude sounds like a great way to help our kids talk about Thanksgiving during the next couple of weeks.

Click here for the free printable.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

November meeting recap!

Our November meeting was yesterday... so glad to see all you ladies!  Our topic was "Time Management & Scheduling." I don't know about y'all, but this is something I struggle with constantly!

We were lucky enough to have Teisha Shelby-Houston speak at our meeting. Teisha is a well-known speaker, author & radio talk show host & has been a guest on Oprah (which I personally think is kind of awesome :) ).  In a very funny & dynamic way, she shared some fabulous tips on time management & how to be our best selves as women.

Teisha Shelby-Houston speaks to a roomful of MOPS

Just a few notes from Teisha's talk:

  • Give yourself permission to rest. So often, we feel guilty about resting... we're lying on the couch with the baby, watching the toddler play & listening to our older child read their school assignment, & yet we still feel guilty for not getting up & DOING something. Teisha urges us to give ourselves permission to rest, because only when we're well-rested can we meet our full potential as moms, partners & women.
  • Put healthy food in your body. Instead of focusing on a diet or weight loss, focus on eating foods that give you energy. Go for vegetables, fruits & drinking water, while cutting back on the processed foods, snacks & soda.... your energy will increase dramatically & make you feel much less run down. 
  • Declutter a little every day. Having to search & search for everything is not only exhausting, but it wears down our self-esteem. Having an organized, clutter-free home helps makes our brains feel a little less "cluttered"!
  • Teach the kids to help. It's easy to get into the habit of cleaning up after the kids when they're little... but as they get older, it's actually to their disadvantage if we do everything for them. Promote independence & responsibility in your kids by giving them age-appropriate tasks & holding them accountable. 
  • Understand your husband. As the roles of women have changed throughout the decades, men have had to adjust accordingly. Make an effort to understand where your husband is coming from. Have patience & take the time to see things from his perspective rather then immediately becoming annoyed or frustrated.
  • Reframe your thinking. As moms, it's sometimes easy to get into a rut & feel trapped by your family's constant need for attention. Stay calm & reframe your thinking... you are a rock star! Your children are your adoring fans, tracking your every movement. You are the center of their universe, at least for now... so revel in your rock star status!

"Remember, ladies, we are absolutely
awesome just the way we are."
-- Teisha Shelby-Houston

Recommended Reading:

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Tasty Tuesday: Election Day!!

We're interrupting our regularly scheduled Tasty Tuesday to say Happy Election Day, ladies! Vote, vote, VOTE!! No, seriously. Go vote.

Today is a great day to teach our littles about what it means to vote, why voting is important & what it means to be an American. Here are a few cute little ideas that will make it fun for the kiddos (& their mama)! :)

Make a "Future Voter" button for them to wear when they accompany you to the voting booth:

For the older kids, make a ballot box out of a shoe box & let them vote on family activities/issues today... this is a fun way to help them understand how Election Day works:

And if you wanna get really ambitious & happen to have a big box on hand, make them their own kid-size voting booth:

Make patriotic cupcakes... it's a great (& tasty) way for the whole family to celebrate Election Day!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Thanksgiving cuteness!

Halloween's behind us & now it's all about Thanksgiving! I personally love everything about Thanksgiving -- the decorations, the menu, the family, the colors.... yep, everything. :)

Here are a few cute Thanksgiving ideas for you & your littles to celebrate Turkey Day...

How about this entire collection of lovelies? It's a banner, 2 invitation options, a menu, gift tags, place cards, & even a 5x7 "happy thanksgiving" framable print! Regular price is $12.50, but if you use the coupon code "givethanks", you can get the collection for FREE!! I was so flippin' excited when I found this little freebie... I've already ordered mine :)

Or are you just feeling a banner without all the other stuff? Take a look at this lovely free download.... would be perfect on a mantel, across a doorway, or anywhere really...

How about leaving some sweet notes for your kids or husband letting them know that you're thankful for them? Click here for these super-cute free printables:

I always print out a few coloring pages for the kiddos for Thanksgiving Day to give them a quiet activity option. This one is color-by-number, which is also a great way to reinforce number recognition:

And it's not Thanksgiving without at least one handprint turkey!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Tasty Tuesday: Spooky Witch Fingers

Welcome to Tasty Tuesday, Halloween edition! These fun, creepy, little cookies submitted by Alisha are a perfect treat for your Halloweenies!

The Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar for cookies that aren't as sweet. (For sweeter cookies, add additional 1/2 cup of powdered sugar & 5 tbsp of white granulated sugar)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 2/3 all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder 
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup whole almonds
  • 1 (.75 oz) tube red decorating gel
  • green food coloring (optional)
  • chocolate chips (optional)

The Directions:

Combine the butter, sugar, egg, almond extract & vanilla extract in a mixing bowl. Beat with electric mixer. While continually beating, gradually add flour, baking powder & salt. If desired, add green food coloring to make creepy green witch's fingers.

Refrigerate dough for 20-30 mins.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease baking sheets.

Remove dough from fridge in small amounts. Scoop 1 heaping tsp at a time onto a piece of waxed paper. Either use the waxed paper or your hands to roll the dough into a thin finger-shaped cookie. Be sure not to make the "finger" too fat, because it will double in size when it's baked.

Ok, this is where you can get creative...

Press one almond into one end of the finger to look like a long fingernail. Squeeze cookie near the tip & near the center to look like knuckles. Use a sharp knife to make shallow cuts in the knuckles to make them look wrinkly. If desired, hollow out or indent the "base" of the finger slightly. You can also add a chocolate chip to look like a wart.

Once you get your fingers all decked out, arrange them on the baking sheets. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 mins.

 Remove the almond from the end of each cookie & squeeze a small amount of red decorating gel into the cavity. Replace the almond to make the gel squish out around the tip of the cookie. You can also add some red gel into the indented base of the finger.

(Click here for source)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A visit to Hardy Berry Farm!

This morning was our October MOTT at Hardy Berry Farm... so fun! I really enjoyed visiting with moms I already know & meeting a few new ones.

The jump pillow was a favorite!

And we took a hayride down through the woods to visit the pumpkin patch:

Love this picture of all the littles learning about pumpkins! :)

Then we visited the animals...

And I'll leave you with a pic of two of the little Martin minions... look at those angelic little faces! :)