About Ashley

Ashley is very happily married and the mother to a beautiful little girl and handsome little boy. She is the main voice behind Embracing Homemaking.

Game Day Mac n Cheese Recipe

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Tyson®. All opinions are entirely my own.

As much as I love sweet treats at tailgate parties, savory appetizers are my real jam! This delicious mac n cheese topped with Wright® Brand Bacon is an easy recipe that is sure to please.

Wright brand bacon

Ingredients:
-2 peeled shallots
-3 cloves garlic
-1 teaspoon olive oil
-4 pieces Wright bacon cooked, reserve 1 tablespoon bacon fat
-2 tablespoons flour
-4 cups heavy cream
-1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
-1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
-2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
-Salt and freshly ground black pepper
-1 pound cooked penne pasta -1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  While the oven is preheating place the shallots and garlic in a small aluminum foil pouch and drizzle with olive oil.  Allow those to roast for 20 minutes before removing and chopping.  While that is roasting, fry the bacon.  Add the reserved bacon fat with the roasted shallot and garlic over medium heat.  Whisk in the cream and thyme.  Reduce by a third.  Add the cheeses and stir until melted and delicious!  Add a pinch or two of pepper or salt if you like.  Remove from the stove and gently stir in the cooked pasta.  Place in a casserole dish.  Top mac n cheese with panko and chopped bacon.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

I personally love this recipe with the bread crumbs but my daughter isn’t so fond of them so we alternate whether we include them or not.  Either way, it’s delicious!

Best Mac and Cheese

We love Wright® Brand Bacon.  Ever since I’ve tried that brand I haven’t strayed.  It’s so convenient with it’s resealable package and not to mention it is SO good.  Seriously, you have to try it if you haven’t yet.  Right now, add it to your store list and pick up a package or two the next time you’re at Kroger.

Want some more Big Game inspiration?  Try Tyson® Any’tizers® (they’re boneless!) or Ball Park® beef hot dogs.

What savory dishes do you enjoy while tailgating?

Free $10 Olive Garden or Red Lobster Gift Card

This post contains my referral link.

Darden Gift Card

I know I don’t normally post deals of this sort but I love TopCashBack already and this deal is too good to not share.  If you haven’t signed up for TopCashBack yet now is the time to do it!  They have a great deal going on where you can buy a $10 Darden Restaurant Gift Card (think Olive Garden, Longhorn, Red Lobster, Seasons 52) and you’ll get $10 cash back added to your account!  It’s almost like it pays for itself!  Besides, with Valentine’s Day right around the corner who couldn’t use an extra $10 gift card in their wallet?  Here’s how to get in on this amazing deal.

  • Click here to get started
  • Click on the pink “Get Cashback” Button – (If you’re on mobile scroll to the bottom and click “View Desktop Site” to proceed)
  • You’ll be redirected to sign up.
  • After signing up you have to go to your email and click confirmation link.
  • **Important** Come back to this post, then click back here, and click on “Get Cashback” again. You’ll be redirected to the Darden Restaurants website through TopCashBack.
  • Add ONE $10 Darden Restaurant Gift Card to your cart. Just choose the type you prefer (e-gift card or physical card), type ‘$10’ in the amount section, and check out.
  • Pay $10 for your order.
  • Voila!  That’s it!  Within 7 days your account will be credited the $10 Cash Back!  That money will become payable within 21 days and can be added straight to your checking account, Paypal account, or you can be paid in Amazon credit.  If you choose Amazon credit you’ll receive 3% more cash back so your $10 will become a gift card for $10.30.  How cool is that?

Strawberry Lemonade Smoothie Recipe Sponsored by Wayfair

Smoothies

My kids are alike me in so many ways.  Some good and some bad but I like to focus on the good.

One thing that the three of us love are our daily smoothies.  None of us are morning people so smoothies have to be a mid-day snack instead.  My kids are always eager to try my latest concoctions, and I’m more than pleased to see my ridiculously finicky 2-year-old happily drinking a nutritious snack.  We go to eating therapy once a week and I tell ya, some days the most nutrients he gets are from those smoothies!

Strawberry Lemonade Smoothie

Smoothies are a sweet and delicious treat that’s great for kids of all ages!  Instead of ice cream or candy, smoothies are our go to treat around here.  Sometimes something more indulgent is needed like frozen yogurt with five different toppings but most days, a smoothie hits the sweet spot!  Especially when your smoothie is chock-full of strawberries and lemons!!

Strawberry lemonade is the go-to drink of summer, right?  Who says it can’t be enjoyed all year long?  Who says you can’t throw in some cashews and dates to kick the flavor and nutrition up a notch?  That’s what I do in my family’s favorite Strawberry Lemonade Recipe and I hope you’ll give it a try!

Kids Smoothie Recipe

Who needs candy when you can have smoothies?

Strawberry Lemonade Smoothie Ingredients

If you think you have to add sugar to your kid’s smoothies, you don’t.  I promise!  This strawberry lemonade smoothie is sweet, a tiny bit tart, delicious and best of all—actually good for you and your kids!

I’ll admit that while I developed this smoothie recipe with my kids in mind, it’s one of my favorites as well.  I love how refreshing it is.  It’s a nice treat to break up a hectic day.

I hope you’ll try serving up this truly yummy Strawberry Lemonade Smoothie this year for Valentine’s Day and ditching the candy.  You and your sweethearts will love it!

INGREDIENTS:
– 2-3 ice cubes
– 1/2 cup of almond milk (unsweetened but we’ve used vanilla before too)
– 1/2 Cup fresh strawberries (frozen works just as well!)
– 1 tablespoon of raw cashews
– 1 tbs of fresh lemon juice
– 1/2 tsp of grated lemon zest (packed down)
– 1 large pitted date

 

Strawberries

DIRECTIONS:
– Blend on high speed until smooth. Serve immediately.

Lemonade Smoothie

If you’re in the need for a heavy duty blender to help create yummy smoothies of your own look no further than the selection at Wayfair.  They’ve got every brand and the reviews are so helpful in finding the perfect one for you.

Home Decorating With Pantone’s Color of the Year – Greenery

It’s already 2017 (can you believe it?) and the ICYMI has recently named “Greenery” the official Color of the Year.  What do you think of the new color?  It seems to be catching on and making it’s way into beauty, fashion and into, my favorite area, home décor.

The director of the Pantone Color Institute, Leatrice Eiseman says,”The tangy yellow-green speaks to our desire to express, explore, experiment and reinvent, imparting a sense of buoyancy.”  While I think it’s a fun color worthy of playing around with it’s not something I want to deck my house out in.  I just got rid of a bathroom set and stove that had a very similar green color to them.  Actually, come to think of it, our homeschool room/office already has carpet that’s this color.  Does it still count as stylish if it’s from the 70s?  Well, anyway, I’m here to share a few ways you can add a fun pop of color with Pantone’s new greenery.  This post contains some affiliate links.

Ikea Greenery Picture1.  Olunda Picture Frame – Available at Ikea, $30

 

Greenery Notebook

2.  Notebook – Available at Amazon, $5

 

Century Green Vase

3.  Century Green Vase – Available at CB2, $40

 

Green Dutch Oven

4.  Cooks Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven – Available at Amazon, $65

 

Green Glasses

5.  Green Glass Tumblers – Available at Amazon, $33

 

Greenery Pillow

6.  Surya Cranmore Floral Throw Pillow – Available at Target, starting at $35

 

Green Chalkboard Decals

7.  Set of 2 Green Chalkboard Decals – Available at Land of Nod, $13

 

Green Ruffle Pillow

8.  Ruffle Throw Pillow – Available at Land of Nod, $8 (originally $24)

 

Birch Lane Kids Lamp

9.  Birch Lane Gourd Geous Lamp – Available at Wayfair, $67

 

Moroccan Trellis Green Rug

10.  Moroccan Trellis Rug – Available at Amazon, starting at $30

That’s all I have!  I tried to only list things I would actually enjoy owning and wouldn’t break the bank.  Several of the things I listed were even on sale.  That ruffle pillow from the Land of Nod is calling my name.  At only $7 I want to get one in every color!  So cute!

Tell me, do you embrace the new Pantone colors every year or only your favorites?

20 Craft Supplies Every Kid Should Have

Kid Craft Supplies

I believe that everyone approaches crafting time differently. Some may anticipate it and bend over backwards to carve out that time.  Some enjoy crafting spontaneously.  Sometimes like just needs to take a break while you fire up your hot glue gun and go to town.  No matter which category you fit into I bet you feel like crafting is a relaxing affair.  A place where you can sit and let your creativity overflow and you don’t have to think about the worries of life.  I love crafting and enjoyed it since I was a kid.  Now that I have children I want to pass along my love for creating something from little pieces of nothing.  Making something beautiful out of otherwise trash-worthy items thrills my heart.

I know not all mamas feel the joy of crafting that I do but still want to create the bonding moment that is crafting with kids.  To help you out I want to give you a list of my go-to craft supplies.  Sure, you can feel free to add in a cleaned out milk jug lid or a left over twist tie.  Add what you want to the list but to get your creative juices flowing I’m going to share my basic bare bones list.  (Trust me, you don’t want me to lay out all that I have because it’s a lot.  We craft several times a week and would do several crafts a day if the decision was left up to my kids.)  This post contains my affiliate links.

1.  Crayons:  Crayola, crayola, crayola!  I’ve used others and I always come back to Crayola.  Call me a crayon snob if you want! 🙂  I usually stock up on the 24 and 36 packs during the back-to-school season and keep them out of reach of the kiddos until the current box is in nubs.  We’ll then take those numbs and toss them in a bin until we have enough to melt down and make our own crayon molds (they make great birthday party favors!).  I’ve been eyeing this 152 Crayola color set from Amazon and I’ll probably be investing in it soon.  So many colors!!

2.  Glue & Glue Sticks: Glue sticks are great for most things but liquid glue is a must in some situations so it’s a good idea to have both on hand.  This Crayola Washable School Glue is my favorite for little kids because it has a precise applicator and it’s slow flow.  No more gluey messes!  Elmer’s Purple Glue Sticks are my favorite because they’re colored and you can see where the glue is…okay, who am I kidding?  I just love them because they’re purple!  Glue Dots would be great with older kids but I haven’t shown them to my children yet because I’m afraid they would enjoy putting ALL the dots EVERYWHERE! 🙂

3.  Paper:  Construction Paper & Cardstock.  Paper is the foundation of most crafts so stock up on these babies.  I love cardstock because it is thick (which means less messes and it’s easier for little hands to cut) and holds up well to all sorts of paint.  I’m not picky on cardstock brands but I just try to get a heavy weight.  Construction paper seems to be the same colors no matter the brand, with one little exception.  Melissa & Doug’s construction paper has slightly lovelier colors.  I’m still waiting for the day when a company makes really pretty colored construction paper but I’m afraid my kids will be grown by the time that happens.  Hey, maybe I can be the crafting grandma!

4.  Child Scissors:   These Melissa & Doug scissors are great for early beginners and then any child scissors will do.  If your child is left handed do them a favor by getting them a pair of left handed kid scissors for them.  It didn’t dawn on me to do this till I happened to see some in the back-to-school isle one day and the light bulb went off.  My daughter cuts almost as good as I do now!

5.  Washable Paint:  Crayola’s Washable Paint paint is the perfect paint for nearly every project.  It’s thick so it won’t get all over everything (with adult supervision of course).  At our house we also love the Crayola Neon Paint Set and hope to try the Crayola Glitter Paint Set soon!  I don’t mess with the fancy paint cups or pallets, I just get a paper plate and put a glob of each color on it.  No clean up required!

6. Paintbrishes:  Sure, there are a 101 ways that you can paint without a paintbrush but brushes are generally neater and therefore my go-to.  The Crayola Assortment Paintbrush Set is my favorite and we’ve tried quite a few.  The brushes hold up very well and the quality is so nice that I’ve even used them for a few of my adult painting projects.

7.  Watercolors:  Watercolors are great when the kids get a little older but can be frustrating for very young children.  I started with a cheap watercolor set from Target’s dollar section and as my daughter’s skills improved we graduated her to the Alex Toys Watercolor Set.  The colors in here are absolutely stunning!

8.  Liquid Watercolors: Liquid watercolors are also AMAZING!  Every adult and kid who likes to play with paint should own this set of Sax liquid watercolors.  The colors are bold and beautiful.  You can dilute them with water if you want and they are washable!  These pipettes help in transferring the paint to a pallet or a small glass cup (as we use) and these watercolor pens are incredible!!  I’ve bought a set for my kids and a set for myself.  They make hand lettering with the watercolors very fun.  I’m not very good yet but I love to practice.  You can fill the pen with the liquid watercolor, leave empty to work with liquid watercolors, or fill with water to use with the dry pods of watercolor.  I just have to mention that this is my favorite book for using liquid watercolors with when I want to save the picture.  The paper is thick and nice and perfect for adult use…and sometimes I let the kiddos use it too.

9. Oil Pastels:  I’m still a tad bitter that no one told me about these until I was an adult!  These are the things creative girls should know about.  These were what I always wished crayons were!  Lovely, thick, mixable colors!  Seriously, these are beautiful!  It’s probably no surprise to you that Crayola Pastels are my favorite.  The Amazon reviews say that they are just as good as the fancy pants artist’s pastels so I’ll take their word for it and stick with these inexpensive gems!

10. Craft Sticks:  These craft sticks, aka popsicle sticks, come in a variety of sizes and are great for letting the kids use their imaginations.  They could transform them into anything! While they do come in a lot of colors and sizes we mainly stick with the regular sized craft sticks and the jumbo craft sticks.

11. Pom Poms:  These are so much fun to hold, build, and craft with.  I’ve even used them as a sensory/fine motor skills game with my little one as he put them in an empty coffee creamer container….over and over and over again.  You can pick these up almost anywhere but this set on Amazon has some truly lovely colors in it and a variety of sizes in one package.  This is one of those craft items that you’ll want to use the liquid glue with.

12. Clothespins & Doll Pins: Doll pins are absolutely perfect for making little people!  When buying clothespins look for ones that are specifically for crafts or double check that they’re smooth and not rough.  Some I’ve bought could have easily given someone a splinter if they weren’t careful and children aren’t careful.

13.  Pipe cleaners:  Pipe cleaners are fun to hold and bend even if that’s all you do.  Plus, you can make our super cool borax snowflakes with them!  Jumbo pipe cleaners are also fun in our house although I don’t think we’ve ever actually made a craft with them. 🙂  They are very fun to play with though!

14.  Googly Eyes:  Googly eyes make me feel like a kid again!  I love these things!!!  They come in all sorts of colors and sizes too.  Just be careful with these around little ones or stick with the jumbo googly eyes till they’re older.

15. Craft Foam:  The sheets are thick, durable, and comes in a lot of fun colors!  We save our left over craft foam pieces in a zip lock baggie to keep the waste and mess down. Foam stickers are also a great addition to your craft supply, especially if you don’t like the hassle of cutting little foam pieces out.

16. Contact Paper:  To be honest, I’m just now finding myself in love with this sticky substance called contact paper.  It makes tremendous sun catchers and fun sticky collages with magazine clippings (all pink things, random letters writing the child’s name, etc.).

17. Washi Tape:  It’s the easiest way to decorate, well, anything and it’s completely mess free.  The glitter washi tape is my favorite!

18. Pony Beads:  Pony beads are fun to glue onto a project but our favorite use of them is to make all sorts of bracelets and necklaces.  They have primary colored beads, neon colored beads, transparent beads, glitter beads, glow in the dark beads, and even beads that change color in the sun!

19.  Letter Beads:  Letter beads are also great for jewelry, not to mention practice with letters and spelling too!  They come in black and white beads and also colored letter beads.

20. Gems & Pearls:  I am a girlie girl and am raising a girlie girl.  We love the gems and the pearls that have flat backs and can be glued on anything.

That’s all that I can think of at the moment.  You’ll notice glitter (as much as I love it, it’s not for your average crafter.  You have to loooove it to make it enjoyable!) and markers didn’t make my list.  I like clean crafting. 🙂

Craft Storage

To keep my craft supplies organized and my sanity intact I use Creative Options’ Medium Rack System.  They sent me a sample a few months back and it has revolutionized my craft chaos.  I’ve even bought an extra one (or two lol).  You can check them out for yourself on CreativeOptionsCraft.com or buy them on Amazon or Hobby Lobby.  They hold everything in neat little compartments and you can pull out separate sections to bring to the craft table for easy working.

If you’re unfamiliar with kid’s crafting I do hope you’ll give it a try.  It can be a lot of fun!

Live With Less Challenge 2017!

I can do it!

It’s time for our first declutter challenge of 2017 and it’s going to be a good one.  It’s also the time when I have to stretch myself and push myself out of my comfort zone.  You see, as a blogger it’s easy for me to share recipes (such as my favorite egg nog milkshake recipe), or kid’s crafts (such as these really cool borax snowflakes), or a list of my favorite kid’s toys (coming soon!), but admitting (to THOUSANDS of people!!) that I have a problem is hard.  A BIG problem really.  I have a problem with stuff.  I love stuff.  Shiny stuff, new stuff, stuff that promises in a million ways to make me happy.  Ooh, the bondage of stuff.  Although this is a problem that hundreds of thousands of people face it’s still difficult to admit.  I want to keep purging and purging until we’re living pretty minimal….and I’m a long way from that goal so we’ll press on.

Challenge Overview:  This challenge, or game if you like to think of it that way, will last for the full month of January and one participant will walk away with $100 cash!!  Each day you’ll be given an item(s) to get rid of or something to do.  If you don’t have one of those things to get rid of simply choose another item.  This detailed list is just to get your mind stirring and help jump start your purging.

Challenge Prize: In case you skipped the overview above, the prize is $100 cash to the challenge winner!!

Challenge Rules:  We’re all winners by getting rid of our unwanted belongings but I’ll randomly choose a winner from those who reach the end of the challenge and follow the rules.

How to enter:

  • – Each day take a photo of your discarded items.
  • – Create an album in our Live With Less Facebook group and every day add your photos to it.  If you need help with this ask on the Facebook wall and someone will help you.  If you try and can’t succeed with an album you can always make a post on the main wall and each day comment as a reply with the next day’s photo.  (If you have a picture or two that you’d rather keep private but keep going in the challenge you may email them to me at MrsAshleyWalkup@gmail.com with the subject Live With Less.)
  • – Make sure you number each photo with the day’s # on it so that I can easily check when the month is over.
  • *ADDED TWIST* This game is much more fun with friends so please invite your friends to the group to join the challenge.  If the winner has added a person to the group they’ll get an extra $50.
  • *SECOND ADDED TWIST* The person who invites the most people who complete the challenge will get $50!  For example if Mary invites 10 and only 2 finish she won’t win the money if the 3 people Sarah invited completed the challenge.  Does that make sense?

Q&A:

  • – If you skip a day are you disqualified? No, but you may only skip two days at a time.  Three consecutive skips will disqualify you from winning but you’re welcome to continue playing.  Even though you skip a day or two you still have to go back and make up the days you missed.
  • – When will this challenge start, I just heard about it?  The last day to join will be January 7th when you need to have all your days 1-7 posted…or technically 1-5 since you’re allowed to be two days behind at any point.
  • – If I share pictures of my junk in the Live With Less Facebook group will all of my friends see it?  No, not unless they are in the group.  It’s a closed group.
  • – Will you be sharing the items you’re getting rid of?  Yes!  I’ll be posting in our Live With Less Facebook group daily.  Forgive the bad quality pics, this is going to be a quick thing every day.
  • – What if more than one person makes it to the 31st?  This will be wonderful and I will choose a winner at random.
  • – What if no one makes it to the 31st?  Then I’m keeping the money for myself and buy something pretty for myself….and then get rid of something to make room for it. 😉

READ READ READ:

Since I’ve posted about living with less a few years ago I’ve received numerous emails telling me what a horrible person I am for throwing away so much.  If they only knew the internal struggle I have about letting go of a bent paper clip!  Please know that I’m not advocating throwing away everything, do try and recycle, gift, and donate all that you can before trashing things.

Declutter

The List:

Day 1- 1 Sentimental thing
Day 2- 2 Red things
Day 3- 3 Unwanted gifts
Day 4- 4 Magazines/catalogs
Day 5- Old coupons
Day 6- Things you can give to someone
Day 7- Glass items (old mugs, dishes with chips, unloved vases, etc)
Day 8- Stationary items (broken pens, extra anything you won’t use)
Day 9- Unfinished project pieces (finish the project this week or consider throwing it out)
Day 10- Old cotton (old t-shirts, cleaning rags, socks, anything cotton you no longer have a use for)
Day 11- Christmas cards
Day 12- Disposable plates, cups, or cutlery (use them up!)
Day 13- 13 items of clothes or shoes (a pair of shoes counts as 1)
Day 14- Duplicates (anything you have two of that you don’t need, two bottles of red nail polish, tweezers, nail clippers, hammers, etc.)
Day 15- Unused old bottles (any empty jars or bottles that you don’t have a use for)
Day 16- Tech (Movies, CDs, video games, random telephone cords, cords you don’t know what they go to but have had 5+ years, etc.)
Day 17- Let go of 1 thing & write a letter/email to someone you’ve lost touch with (no need to provide a picture of the correspondence)
Day 18- Out grown/unloved items (nearly full old perfume bottles, toys, jewelry, etc.)
Day 19- Use something you’ve been saving (decorative soap, fancy dishes for a special occasion, a bottle of sparkling apple cider, whatever you may have that you’re waiting to use “some day” Let today be that day!)
Day 20- 5 Things you can fit in your hand
Day 21- Organize an area that you dread to organize and toss items as you go (before and after pictures are always fun but the items you’re letting go of is okay too if you forget to snap a before pic)
Day 22- Write a list of 22 things that you’re thankful for that money can’t buy
Day 23- Let go of 2 things and make a recipe from an unused cook book (if you can’t bring yourself to do it, let go of the cookbook too)
Day 24- Mend, fix, or glue 3 broken items or toss them (maybe you don’t keep broken things but we always have a few broken things at our house)
Day 25- 5 things from 5 different rooms
Day 26- Move/toss/do 6 things that make you feel guilty (maybe it’s a book that sits on your nightstand and has been laying there unread for months making you feel guilty when you look at it, maybe it’s the dirty windows that irritate you, etc.)
Day 27- Do something you’ve been procrastinating (returning unloved purchases and going through old moving boxes are at the top of my list)
Day 28- Take your donations to a charity 🙂
Day 29- Repurpose/display a sentimental item you’ve decided to keep
Day 30- Find a “home” for lost items that are around your house….as many as you have time for
Day 31- Let go of 12 pieces of paper

If you have any questions or if I missed something please let me know.

Who’s ready to play?  I hope you’ll join me!

Oh, I almost forgot to say something – Happy New Year!!!

Here are two other helpful posts you may like:

200+ Things to Throw Away Now

– How to Get Your Spouse to Declutter Without Nagging

Tyson Chicken Caprese Bites

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Tyson Foods, Inc. The opinions and text are all mine.

Whether you’re three or thirty or have thirteen grandkids, chances are you probably enjoy a basket of delicious, chicken tenders. Maybe you call them chicken strips, or chicken bites, or chicken fingers?

Chicken Caprese Appetizer

No matter which moniker you choose, this amazing chicken caprese is going to be your family’s new favorite recipe. The base of this appetizer is Tyson ® Grilled & Ready ® Chicken Breast Strips. This recipe is so incredibly good that we never have leftovers, and honestly, my family could eat these appetizers for their meal sometime. It would make a nice lunch sometime all on it’s own!
Chicken Caprese

This recipe is so easy that my daughter can help with every step of it! We start by microwaving precooked Tyson ® Grilled & Ready Chicken Breast Strips. While that’s heating up, slice the tomatoes into 1/4 inch thick slices and do the same to the mozzarella. Find your balsamic vinegar and cut a few basil leaves into strips. Once your chicken is ready cut it into bite size pieces and cut the tomato and mozzarella so it fits on top nicely. Add as many strips of basil as you choose. Give a light drizzle of balsamic vinegar and stick a toothpick in it. We decorated our toothpicks with curling ribbon for two reasons. Number one, because the fancy toothpicks were sold out. Number two, my daughter will find any excuse for a craft. Using scotch tape and scissors are two of her favorite things. They do look quite decorative though, don’t they?

Caprese Appetizers

This is a great appetizer to whip up in under ten minutes. It’s so easy you can even have the kids help…or do it themselves if they’re old enough! When your New Years party guests arrive they’ll be blown away by your fancy and tasty appetizer. Tyson® Grilled & Ready Chicken Breast Strips really make this appetizer a real treat. Tyson® has taken the hard work out of making delicious and flavorful chicken and all we have to do it heat it up. It really doesn’t get any simpler than that…and I need simple. This stage of life demands it. If you give this appetizer a try I’d love to hear what you think of it!

Eating Chicken

Old Fashioned Chocolate Donuts

 

Chocolate Donuts

These old fashioned chocolate donuts are incredibly delicious and super filled with the chocolate flavors we all know and love.  This post contains affiliate links.
Friends, I found the recipe that I want to make for the rest of my life. Like seriously there’s nothing better than these old fashioned chocolate donuts! And it’s not because I made them and I’m incredibly proud of them, which I am because excuse me homemade donuts made from scratch in my own kitchen, if that’s not impressive then I don’t know what it is. But it’s because the fact that they are so good they taste even better tan the store-bought ones.

Yes, these ones taste way better than the doughnuts you could purchase at an upscale coffee shop and way better than the ones they sell at farmers markets. If homemade donuts that taste better than anything doesn’t convince you to make them then I seriously don’t know what can.

The other great thing is that this recipe is also incredibly easy to make. You don’t need a ton of things or crazy skills to be able to whip them up in your kitchen, which in my opinion, is the best thing ever. Because you know what’s super annoying? Finding a recipe that everyone claims is the best thing ever and realizing you need to be a pro at cooking to be able to actually make it.

But back to these old fashioned chocolate cake donuts. They are moist without being too wet, they are soft without being mushy, and they take so little time to make them that it still amazes me.

My only advice is to make a batch big enough so everyone can have seconds, because while they are super filling, they are so delicious that everyone is going to reach for seconds.

Chocolate Donut Recipe
Ingredients: 

– 3 cups all purposed flour

– ⅔ Cup cocoa powder

– 2 Tsp baking powder

– Dash ground nutmeg

– 1 Tsp salt

– 1 Cup buttermilk

– ½ Cup chocolate milk

– 2 Eggs

– ½ Cup butter

– 1 Tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

– Preheat the oven to 350F.

– In a bowl mix the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg.

– In another bowl combine the buttermilk, chocolate milk, eggs, butter, and vanilla.

– Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients.

– Stir well until the batter thickens.

– Pour the batter into a greased donut pan.

– Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until well done.

– When time is up, remove the pan from the oven.

– Let to cool and gently remove the donuts from the pan using a rubber spatula.

Serve and enjoy!

Chocolate Donut Recipe

5 Sanity Saving Tips for Holiday Travel

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July 2. That was the date when it had seemed like a great idea to travel home to spend the kids Christmas Break with your family. Amidst pictures in your head of jammie wearing cousins snuggling on your mom’s couch on Christmas morning you bought the plane tickets.

Now, 2 days before you travel, you’re watching your two little angels bicker over which movie to watch and you’re panicking. School has only been out for 3 days and you’re already feeling your patience thin.

What if there are weather delays? That happens right? Not just in the movies. What if they fight and spill their juice on the person next to them? What if your 6 year old takes your 4 year olds doll away and she starts crying and everyone on the plane gives you the long suffering totally annoyed stare? What if your baby has a potty accident?…maybe the tickets are refundable…

Or, you could do a little pre-planning and have an amazing and stress free trip. Now that would totally rock! And then you could go ahead and buy those matching cousin jammies for Christmas Eve.

5 Easy Tips for Holiday Travel with Kids

1. The Go Bag
Put together a bag for each child that has new toys/books that they’ve never seen before. If they love coloring buy them a new book with a new set of crayons. The dollar store and the Target $1.00 bins are great places to source these items from.  Amazon is great too when you don’t want to run out and run another errand before your trip!  Mini Play-Doh cartons, individual lego kits, new books, all fairly inexpensive, but totally worth the peace and serenity each will earn.

2. Healthy Snacks
Traveling can be exhausting for everyone, the kiddo’s are no exception. Eating in the airport and on the go is not only expensive, but the unhealthy options will sap energy quickly. We’ve all seen the after math of a sugar crash, and it’s not a pretty sight. Have some non-sugary snacks available to help them keep their energy up throughout the day. The day before, buy some fruit and nuts if they are not allergic. Individual packs of mandarin oranges and peaches are great choices. (These count in the individual allowances for liquid carry-on’s if flying.) Favorite granola bars or a bag of granola is also easy carry.

3. Separate Seats
If you have button tiny button pushers, why not give them a little space? If possible, choose seats across the aisle, have one parent sit with each child. You’re close enough to be able to share resources and chat, but everyone gets a little personal space as well. If you’re a single parent traveling with 2 or more, take the middle seat and alternate the window turns on different flight segments.

4. Check in Early
Online check-in opens for most airlines 24 hours early. The earlier you check in the less likely you are to get “bumped” in the case of an oversold flight. Less time stranded in an airport unwillingly is a win win. It also ensures you have the greatest amount of time to verify your seat assignments and contact customer service as needed if you need to ask to be reasigned. Verify that you are all assigned together, then re-verify within 2 hours of your flight.

Remember, while you are purchasing a flight, the airline is not required to accommodate you seated together. Most will make every effort to do so, but don’t hesitate to ask if needed. Sometimes planes are swapped out for a new plane with a different seating configuration. The automated system might not have seated you together and a live agent can adjust those assignments.

5. Choose Flight Times Wisely
That 6 am flight seems like a great idea when you’re thinking of having the afternoon at your destination. However, when you take into account how early you really are going to have to get up to get ready and get to the airport, allowing sufficient time for longer security lines, is it really worth it? Why not treat the travel as an adventure. Allow extra time in between flights if you have a layover for a relaxed lunch. Explore the airports, most have kid play areas and art on display. Everyone will arrive a few hours later, but relaxed and in a better mood.

These are just a few suggestions to help you plan a great traveling experience with your family. What has worked for you in the past with your kids?

Tis’ The Season to Travel Jolly

This post is sponsored by Patterson Chrysler Dodge.  If you’re in the market for a new car visit PattersonChryslerDodge.com

Kid in the snow

The perfect Christmas scene begins with the scent of hot coffee brewing in the kitchen, lights twinkling brightly around a tree filled with bright baubles, the kids squealing in excitement as they unwrap their gifts, and most importantly, the whole family gathered around to share in the fun. This is the love, kindness, and magic we all hope to have during the season, but traveling to get there, isn’t always a warm and joyful experience. Here are some travel tips for the kids:

-Seasonal Snacks– Tis’ the season to indulge in delicious and festive holiday treats, right? Packing the kids adorable little snacks for the trip will make it fun and memorable while keeping stomachs full. Cookie cut sandwiches into a Christmas tree shape, have some “cold” hot chocolate by adding mini marshmallows to a jug of chocolate milk, put red and green M&M’s into the snack mix, the ideas are endless.

-Surprise Sacks-Pack a few brown paper lunch sacks with small stocking stuffers. On each bag write a certain time, for example the half way mark, once that time is reached allow the kids to open the sacks for a surprise. This will also allow you to get little items then can play with in the car or on a plane.  I completely recommend these Dover Little Sticker Books for less than $2 each,  Melissa & Doug Water Wow book, a rubik’s cube, and a fidget widget.

-Christmas Concert– Remember when we were young and would sing in the car? That never gets old, turn up your favorite holiday CD and belt out the songs as a family. Instruments are optional! (As you’ve heard me mention numerous times, Justin Roberts is THE go-to music for families! Trust me, you’ll love him!)

A sprinkle of creativity, a dash of joy, and a spoonful of love will guarantee a collection of new Christmas memories with your traveling family. Each of these tips is also a chance to teach about how priceless the time spent together truly is.