Living Boldly

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by the J.M. Smucker company. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

There have been many instances in my life when I felt that I was doing more than stepping out of my comfort zone, I was jumping out.  Maybe not jumping with excitement but jumping nonetheless.   Standing timidly as if on the top of a wooden platform that I just climbed 30 feet to get to.  The deep water was below me.  I couldn’t climb down, I had come too far.  It wasn’t a jump in the air.  It wasn’t with a squeal of excitement I jumped.  I just kind of stepped off.  Stepped off into deep and cold water.  After a while the water became comfortable and warm.

I find myself doing that time and time again in life.  It’s as if I nonchalantly meander further than I would ever feel comfortable only to realize what I’ve done, dread it, hold my breath and conquer my fears.  The jumping off the tower was more than an illustration, it is something that really happened to me at a leadership conference (of all places!) when I was in high school.  The teens I was with (more importantly the teen boys) were too scared to do it so I said I would.  What was I thinking?!  This happened again when I went to a college I had never properly visited and didn’t know a soul there.  And again when my class chose me to speak at our graduation and I agreed (I’m not a naturally gifted speaker!).  When I went to Ireland by myself to stay for three months with a family there.  When I accepted a job at a radio station (Not a quick witted speaker, remember?).  Time and time and time again I’ve put myself out there and I can’t remember a single time regretting it.  Even owning a blog where I share of myself feels bold.  It is bold because I have thin skin and the sometimes cruel emails I receive cut deep.

Living boldly is something I want to pass on to my kids.  It’s not about never being scared but about pushing through the fear.  It’s not a boastful, “look at me” type of boldness but a silent “I can be who I am without fear” type of boldness that I wish for my children.

School Pictures 2016!

My daughter had her first day with our new homeschool community this week.  She didn’t know anyone and she wasn’t scared a bit…or maybe she was but pushed through it like her mommy.  She beamed with excitement the whole day long but I’m sure I was beaming brighter.  My little girl was being bold, so beautifully bold.

Sprinkle Cup

For her first day I made her a special breakfast complete with sprinkles.  Sprinkles on the waffles.  Sprinkles on the glass of milk.  For myself, I enjoyed Dunkin Donut’s new Dunkin’ Dark® coffee with pumpkin spice biscotti.  I thought about throwing some sprinkles on top of that lovely foam but I figured they’d sink anyway.  One of my favorite parts about mornings…okay, one of the few things I enjoy at all in the mornings is my cup of coffee.  My coffee and my family’s smiles and hugs.  That’s it.  For life’s bold moments, Dunkin’ Dark® coffee provides coffee lovers with a bold, smooth, and never bitter taste to keep us inspired (and awake!) through the day.

Dunkin’ Dark®

Dunkin’ Dark® coffee is Brewed for the Bold.  It’s for coffee lovers who aren’t afraid to take risks.  Even if you’re going to add a lot of frothed milk to it, you can still be bold.  🙂  Maybe you’re thinking about pursuing a lifelong dream or maybe you just want to mix up your morning routine with a bold cup of joe.  Give Dunkin’ Dark® a try, it’s the perfect bold blend!  You can pick it up at any grocery store or order online at  Dunkin’ Dark® comes in K-Cup® Pods (10-ct or 16-ct) and 11-oz. and 18.4-oz. packages of ground coffee.  By choosing this 30% Rainforest Alliance Certified™ coffee, you are directly supporting the Rainforest Alliance.  For more information on Dunkin’ Dark®, click here:  Dunkin’ Donuts® is proud to partner with Becky Hammon, the first female full-time assistant coach in the history of men’s professional basketball.  Check out Becky’s story and how she is bold she is!

Dunkin Donuts Dunkin Dark

The post is brought to you by Activate by Bloglovin and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.
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Savoring Mornings With Crunchy Pecan Cereal

This post is sponsored by Post but my opinions are my own.

The last few weeks have been very busy around our house.  School pictures, my daughter sang in a 9/11 tribute performance for local servicemen, a new cycle of Kids4Truth is starting, my daughter has had two trips to the doctor’s office for what looks like chicken pox or poison ivy (but the doctors don’t know what it is), my internet has been spotty, and we’ve started trying to take my youngest to the potty.  Wait, that wasn’t the last few weeks, that was last week alone!  Needless to say, things have been a little crazy here.  When things get crazy I do my best to simplify life.

I’ve been taking time to intentionally talk and connect with my family.  My husband took my daughter out to the mall (he bought her the cutest little purse at Gymboree), out for ice cream, and then bowling.  Impromptu daddy/daughter date after a doctor visit.  This gave me a lot of time to connect with my son who I found out is quite chatty when his older sister isn’t around.  I love one on one time with my kids.

Post Great Grains

I’ve also tried to simplify meals and snacks.  Nothing fancy will be served until things calm down a bit.  Frozen pizzas are okay every now and then, right?  I think so.  I’ve also tried to pack in protein in every meal.  For breakfast we’ve recently been enjoying Great Grains® cereal.  Have you tried it before?  There are four varieties to choose from but so far I’ve only tried the Crunchy Pecans.  It was delicious!  A little sweet but not too sweet.  I love pecans and this is the first time that I’ve seen them in a cereal.  Each box of Great Grains has 5-7 grams of fiber per serving.  I love cereal for breakfast and I never get tired of it!  Sure, I’ll make fancier breakfasts sometimes but it never feels like I’m being shortchanged when I just pour of bowl of cereal to simplify life a little.

Great Grains

The other delicious Great Grains varieties are Cranberry Almond Crunch, Banana Nut Crunch, and Raisins, Dates, & Pecans.

Great Grains Crunchy Pecan

To save on cereal to feed your family (whether during a busy or slow season of life) go here to grab a coupon.  Save $.75 on 1 box.

What do you do to try and slow down when life starts going a speed you’re not comfortable with?  How do you calmly put on the brakes without throwing everyone in your family for a loop?

Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Muffins

This post contains affiliate links.

Cinnamon Sugar Muffins

Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Muffins

Muffins are delicious and I seriously consider them one of my favorite breakfast options. From time to time, I find myself making them for dessert and grabbing one or two as a snack. These cinnamon sugar pumpkin muffins are my favorite muffins, and that comes from a gal that has made a ton of different muffins over the years.

Cinnamon Pumpkin Muffin

This is one of those incredibly good and mouthwatering recipes. It’s also really easy to make and it’s perfect for this season! I like to make them with store bought pumpkin puree but I once made them with pumpkin puree made from scratch and the result was just as good!

What I love the most about this recipe is how incredibly easy it is to whip up. There aren’t a lot of complicated steps or difficult ingredients. Just the tried and true ones you probably already have in your pantry.

The only thing that’s a bit out of the ordinary is the oat flour but you can make it yourself grinding oats in your food processor until fine. It takes around 40 seconds top and it makes the Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Muffins even more filling which makes them an incredibly good option for breakfast.

And then there’s the topping. Oh my, the topping that coats the muffins tastes delicious. It’s sweet, it’s a bit crunchy, and it’s a total crowd pleaser. I just mix some milk, powdered sugar, and a pinch of vanilla extract and then is just a matter of filling a piping bag and decorating.

I sometimes skip the topping to keep the muffins healthier or if I’m a real hurry because they are delicious by themselves, but the topping really makes this a total crowd favorite recipe.  It’s one of those recipes that people ask me for after they try them.



  • – 1 ½ Cup all-purpose flour
  • – ½ Cup oatmeal flour
  • – 1 Cup pumpkin puree
  • – 1 Cup milk
  • – ½ Cup butter
  • – ½ Cup sugar
  • – 1 Egg
  • – 2 Tsps vanilla extract
  • – 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • – 1 Tsp baking powder



  • – Preheat oven to 375°F.
  • – In a bowl, mix the mashed pumpkin with the sugar, milk, vanilla, butter, egg, and ground cinnamon.
  • – Add the all-purpose flour, oatmeal flour, and baking powder into the bowl. Stir repeatedly until the batter has no lumps left.
  • – Set a cupcake tray with paper cupcake liners and fill them.
  • – Bake for 20 minutes or until done.
  • – For the glaze, mix milk, sugar, and vanilla extract until getting a thick mixture.
  • – Remove the tray from the oven and let them cool down.
  • – Drizzle the muffins with the glaze.
  • – Serve and enjoy.

Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Muffins

Spiced Roasted Figs With Hazelnuts and Vanilla Ice Cream

This post brought to you by Breyers. The content and opinions expressed below are that of Embracing Homemaking.

Spiced Roasted Figs with HazelnutsBreyers is celebrating its 150th birthday and to celebrate they have enlisted the help of celebrity chef Curtis Stone and his beautiful wife, Lindsay Price Stone, to create delicious recipes featuring Breyers Natural Vanilla.  They’ve created 12 recipes, each one is inspired by a different month of the year.  This way families can celebrate birthdays, back-to-school days, and other special occasions with Breyers all year long.  Even if there isn’t a holiday that month, this gives us all a good excuse to create our own special occasion! Breyers Natural Vanilla Is it any surprise that Breyers Natural Vanilla is America’s No. 1 vanilla ice cream?  I think not!  It’s anything but boring vanilla.  Breyers is now sourcing their milk and cream from cows not treated with artificial growth hormones* and all Breyers vanilla is real and from sustainably farmed, Rainforest Alliance Certified™ vanilla beans.  It’s the little things like this that make a big difference in what I serve my family.  I only want to give them things that I feel good about.  That’s a great start to any great ice cream dessert! Fig Ice Cream My family and I tried the recipe for August, the Spice Roasted Figs with Hazelnuts and Vanilla Ice Cream recipe and it was delicious!  I’ve embarrassed to say that I’ve never had figs before but they were delicious.  We celebrated the beginning of school with this delicious treat!  The figs were delicious and not too overly sweet and paired perfectly with the nuts and the vanilla ice cream.  My while family loved it even my daughter! Serves: 4 / Prep Time: 10 minutes / Cook Time: 4 minutes Make-Ahead: Figs are best served warm with ice cream. Ingredients:

  • –  2 tbs. sugar
  • –  1/2 tsp. each ground cinnamon, ground ginger
  • –  1/8 tsp. ground cloves
  • –  8 ripe figs, halved lengthwise
  • –  1 1/3 cups Breyers® Natural Vanilla Ice Cream
  • –  1/4 cup blanched hazelnuts, toasted, coarsely chopped


  1. Position broiler rack 6 inches from heat source and preheat broiler. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. In a small bowl, mix sugar and spices. One at a time, dip figs, cut side down, in sugar mixture to coat. Then coat figs a second time with sugar mixture and arrange cut side up on baking sheet. Broil figs, watching closely, for about 4 minutes, or until sugar melts and begins to caramelize and figs soften slightly and begin to ooze their juice.
  3. Divide figs among 4 bowls. Spoon 1/3 cup of Breyers® Natural Vanilla Ice Cream into each bowl and sprinkle with hazelnuts.

Spiced Roasted Figs with Ice Cream *Suppliers of other ingredients such as cookies, candies & sauces may not be able to make this pledge.  The FDA states that no significant difference has been shown between dairy derived from rBST-treated and non-rBST treated cows.

For even more delicious ice cream inspiration follow Breyers on: FacebookPinterest, & Twitter.

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#CRAVEFREELY with Balance Bar

This is a sponsored post for Balance and the Mom It Forward Blogger Network.

With school starting back almost everyone is adjusting their schedules.  Their lives.  What will soon be their new normal.  We’re adding homeschool to our lives this year along with piano lessons for my daughter and a homeschool community meet up once a week.  Plus, we’re almost finished remodeling our kitchen.  I can’t wait till I can say that it’s finished!  Life has been a whirlwind lately.  We have something to do nearly everyday and it’s a constant struggle to balance everything.  To balance priorities, balance housework verses fun, and balance take out to home cooked meals.  Okay, the home cooked meals to take out has been terribly off balance lately but I’m hopeful that with our new shiny kitchen sink installed that we can help fix that.  In the mean time, one indulgent treat has helped me keep my protein up without overdoing when I get snacky.

Like most people, women especially, I go through snacking phases.  Binges maybe.  Instead of stuffing myself with greasy chips or chewing celery till my jaw hurts I usually go for the sugary treats.  Ice cream, donuts, cookies, sigh.  It’s not good.  Without overloading my body in a deluge of sugar I can partake in a chocolatey, protein filled snack.

That snack?

Balance Bars

Balance bars!  They are a nutritional snack bar that is a great balance of yumminess and energizing ingredients.  They’re perfect to help me feel full without feeling guilty.  I don’t have to be afraid to indulge with around 190 calories, 5-7 grams of protein, and 5-6 grams of fiber.  Balance has four delicious new flavors including Chocolate Peppermint Patty, Dark Chocolate Pecan Turtle, Dulce De Leche & Caramel, and my favorite Chocolate Caramel Peanut Nougat.  Balance just released this new colorful packaging that features the original flavors in full-size bars and new flavors in two mini bars.  Balance bars allow me to snack smarter…in a balanced way if you will.

Balance Energy Bars

GIVEAWAY!!  Enter to WIN a Balance Bar Prize Pack!

Update: Congratulations, Patti!!

Prize: 1 6-pack box of Balance in Chocolate Caramel Peanut Nougat, Chocolate Peppermint Patty, Dark Chocolate Turtle or Dulce De Leche & Caramel varieties. We cannot guarantee flavor preference. {ARV: $7.74} This giveaway closes at midnight on Saturday, August 27th.

Enter via the Rafflecopter below.

For more information on Balance Bar products, visit or pick them up at CVS, Amazon and select Walmart stores nationwide.   Follow Balance Bar on these social media to keep up with their latest products!




Sandwich Sushi for Kids

This post and giveaway were made possible by iConnect and Buddig. I was compensated for my participation in this campaign, but all opinions are 100% mine.

Buddig Giveaway

Over the summer I’ve tried a lot of creative lunches for my kids and I’ve shared a few of them with you already here and here.  Today’s idea incorporates one of my kid’s favorite food items…the tortilla.  I love tortilla as much as the next person but my kids have a unhealthy fascination with this bread product.  They would eat it as a snack all day long if I let them.  Just this morning I caught my daughter sneaking a tortilla from the fridge this morning to eat with her breakfast. (Who does that? lol)

Not only does this lunch include their favorite things tortilla, Buddig Premium Deli meat, blueberries, Craisins, and peanuts but it’s also fabulous because the kids can make their own lunch themselves!  My kids still need a little supervision, especially with the cutting part, but it’s exciting to watch them make their own creations.  I’ve watched this time and time again, when my daughter helps prepare a meal she seems to takes ownership of it and will eat it better than if I prepared it myself.

This creation is a smiley face.  The sandwich sushi rolls are the eyes and nose.  The blueberries and Craisins make up the smile.  The peanuts make the hair.
Sandwich Sushi

Check out our amateur stop action how to video:

A video posted by Ashley (@embracingbeauty) on

Totally doable and fun, right?  Spinach leaves or lettuce could easily be added as ears.  Ranch dressing could be earrings.  The sky is the limit!

Summer of Smiles:

Buddig not only makes great tasting and affordable lunch meat but they’re offering a fun contest this summer.  The summer of smiles! 🙂  There are so many reasons this time of year that make us smile – warm weather, sunny days, picnic lunches, family vacations & more.  Consumers are asked to post a picture of their family enjoying summer and flashing their biggest smiles on Facebook using the #BuddigSmiles.

Every week from June 16 – August 18 Buddig will randomly select 12 entries to receive a $25 American Express gift card – that’s 108 total winners and a whole lot of smiles! 🙂

Root Beer Float Day!

Today, August 6th, is National Root Beer Float Day!  It’s the perfect excuse to enjoy a delicious, creamy, and freshing float.  Just grab some ice cream and a soda like A&W Root Beer and add to a glass.  Compensation was provided by Dr Pepper/Snapple via MomTrends. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions of Dr Pepper/Snapple or Momtrends.

Root Beer Float

When I was a kid I can remember my parent’s loving root beer floats.  I tried it a few times but I was never really a fan.  Don’t get me wrong, I liked pop (as we called it) and ice cream but mixing the two together just seemed to do an injustice to both ingredients.  My husband loves root beer floats and it’s what he gets every time we go out to get ice cream.  I always thought he was crazy until he convinced me to try his earlier this summer.  I was surprised how much I really liked it.  I guess my tastes have changed over the years as I’ve grown up.  Now I can’t get enough.

Ice Cream Float

I’ll be honest, I’ve been on a BIG float kick this summer.  I go through phases of my late night snacking and this summer it has been float after float.  IBC floats, A&W floats, Dr Pepper floats and even Orange Crush floats!  I’m enjoy a float right now as I’m typing this and I’m sad to say that I just scraped the last of the vanilla ice cream from the carton.  Unless I run to the store tomorrow I might be trying a rocky road root beer float.  Who knows though, maybe that will be delicious?  Did you know that Dr Pepper, IBC, A&W, Crush, and Stewarts are all under the Dr Pepper Snapple Group?  I had no idea!  Now every time I go down the drink I’ll I see the Dr Pepper Snapple Group brand everywhere.  Who knew my favorite drinks were all from the same brand?  I didn’t realize I was so brand loyal!  The Dr Pepper Snapple Group brand has a variety of regular, reduced, and zero calorie options.  Plus, they have caffeinated and non-caffeinated drinks too.  They truly have a drink for everyone!

IBC Root Beer Float

If you like floats, what’s your favorite flavor of float?  Find more delicious flavors to choose from at


Strawberries and Cream Oatmeal

Strawberries and Cream Oatmeal

I have a thing for breakfasts, especially ones that are nutritious, delicious, fairly easy, and quick to cook. Lately, we’ve been on an oatmeal kick around here, so I’ve been experimenting a bit with recipes and flavor combinations, my favorite one so far? Strawberries and Cream Oatmeal.

What I love most about this recipe is that is packed with the most delicious things on the planet I mean, strawberries and cream are one of those things that are even better when together (like peanut butter and jelly). Add a sprinkle of brown sugar and a bit of vanilla and you just got a powerful flavor mix that will kick start your day with a bang.

And can we please just talk about how the oats help to bring all the ingredients together and keep them pretty much rocking? I know that a lot of people find oats pretty bland and boring, but when you have a breakfast that’s so jam packed with flavor the soft oats keep the Strawberries and Cream Oatmeal balanced and not overpowering (which is probably the last thing you want in your morning).

Strawberries and Cream Oatmeal Recipe

My secret is cooking them until they are thick and creamy and then layering it with a healthy number of strawberries, the more berries the better. While you can use fresh strawberries, and that’s actually the method that I use most of the times, you can also give them a twist by roasting them in your oven for 10 minutes (the time it takes you to cook the oatmeal) not only the berry flavor gets accentuated a lot, but they also get extra sweet and soft, almost like a preserve. Roasting them is also great if you are using frozen berries that are lacking a bit of flavor and freshness.

Strawberry Oatmeal Recipe

To roast them I just layer them in a baking pan, drizzle them with a couple of drops of lemon juice and put them in the oven at 350 degrees, and that’s it. Super easy and super delicious.

  • Ingredients
    –  1 Cup oats
    –  1 ½ Cup milk
    –  1 Cup strawberries, roasted
    –  2 Tbsp brown sugar or honey
    –  2 Tsp vanilla
  • Directions
    –  Mix in a saucepan the oats and milk, turn the heat on to medium-high and stir.
    –  Add the vanilla and sugar, stir until the sugar dissolve and the mixture looks creamy, it will take over 15 minutes.
    –  Remove from heat, when cool serve in bowls.
    –  Top with strawberry and enjoy!

Strawberry Oatmeal

Creative Summer Lunches for Kids

This post and giveaway were made possible by iConnect and Buddig. I was compensated for my participation in this campaign, but all opinions are 100% mine.

I love summer and the fun we’ve been having outdoors.  I feel like we don’t stop sometimes and when we do it’s usually only to eat before we get going again.  Having less time to slow down and prepare meals has meant a lot of sandwiches for our family.  With sandwiches usually come chips and I just don’t like that being a regular meal in our house.  Sandwiches are great, don’t get me wrong but I want to include more veggies and fruit into our diets.

To break up the routine I’ve started planning our meals the day before hand and letting our lunch times be a little bit like a play time.  Yes, I’ve been letting our kids play with their food.  My son with his sensory issues can use the exposure and my daughter is having fun stretching her imagination creating scenes with the food we have on hand.  Sometimes we’ll throw in the random chip or small cookie but most of their meals consist of fruits, veggies, nuts, cheese, and lunch meat.  We’re having fun together and I feel that my daughter is eating more wholesome foods than she was before.

Fun Food Umbrella Lunch

Check out this fun creation!

It’s made of apples, grapes, strawberries, blueberries, bananas, mandarin oranges, craisins, string cheese, peanuts, and Buddig Premium Deli beef.  My daughter ate it all and loved it.

We don’t always get so fancy but even if they’re not Pinterest worthy creations they’re still delicious!  If you want ideas for creative lunch ideas for kids check out my Fun Foods for Kids board on Pinterest.

Buddig Giveaway

Summer of Smiles:

Buddig not only makes great tasting and affordable lunch meat but they’re offering a fun contest this summer.  The summer of smiles! 🙂  There are so many reasons this time of year that make us smile – warm weather, sunny days, picnic lunches, family vacations & more.  Consumers are asked to post a picture of their family enjoying summer and flashing their biggest smiles on Facebook using the #BuddigSmiles.

Every week from June 16 – August 18 Buddig will randomly select 12 entries to receive a $25 American Express gift card – that’s 108 total winners and a whole lot of smiles! 🙂

S’mores Ice Cream

This post contains affiliate links.
Smores Ice Cream

S’mores Ice Cream

Summer is in full swing, and I’m craving all the summery treats, s’mores and ice creams are all I can think of so I went into full cooking mode and made one of the most delicious ice creams ever s’more ice cream!

If this is the first time you are making ice cream from scratch, fear not. It’s really easy, and it’s one of those things that seems more complicated than it actually is. You just need to keep a couple of things in mind:

1. Use chilled ingredients: This is one of the most important things, start with cold ingredients and then mix them together. If the ingredients are cold, the freezing part goes so much faster.
2. Pick your method: You can use an ice cream maker (this is our ice cream maker and we LOVE it!  It’s so much quieter and nicer than the vintage ice cream maker I grew up with) or use a manual method.  All the options work great, and while the ice cream textures vary a little from one to the other, they are all delicious.

Homemade Smores Ice Cream Recipe

And that’s pretty much all the technical things that you need to know to make S’mores Ice Cream at home. Pretty easy right?

While you can make your base a chocolate one I decided to keep things on the vanilla side. I added marshmallow creme and graham crackers, and the result is pretty amazing. I usually don’t like adding chocolate chunks to my ice cream because they end up too hard when frozen, so I left the ice cream like this and then added a swirl of Nutella before serving.

The S’mores ice cream is incredibly creamy and refreshing, and it’s a perfect icy treat for the hot summer afternoons, and since it’s so easy to make is a great recipe to make with the help of little ones.

Homemade Ice Cream


  • – 2 cups heavy cream
    – 1 cup half and half
    – ¾ cup of sugar
    – 1 tsp vanilla
    – 7 oz. marshmallow crème
    – 2 Hershey’s chocolate bars, chopped
    – 4 graham crackers, chopped
  • – a swirl of Nutella (optional)

Possible Ingredients for Ice Cream Machine:


  • – In a bowl mix the heavy cream, half and half, sugar and vanilla extract. At the end of mixing carefully spoon in marshmallow crème and mix until combined.
  • – Pour ice cream mix into ice cream maker and mix it according to instructions.
  • – In the last few minutes mix in the Hershey’s bars and graham crackers.
  • – Enjoy!!

S'mores Ice Cream Recipe

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S'mores Ice Cream Cone