Christmas Recipes Cover Photo

Christmas Candy Recipes

Christmas Candy Recipes

To me, Christmas Traditions are the very best part of the season. One of my favorite traditions is making candy. My family (especially on my husband’s side), has made candy for many years, and they’ve perfected their own recipes. In this post, I’m including some of the yummy recipes we make every Christmas. I hope you will enjoy them with your loved ones this year! (Want a printable version of ALL of my favorites for free? Sign up at the bottom, and they’re yours!)

Important Note: All of these recipes are dipped in either white or milk chocolate. The quality of the chocolate matters. I recommend Ghirardelli melting wafers or Plymouth Pantry Almond Bark.

Oreo Balls

These are my absolute favorite, and so easy to make!

Ingredients:

1 pkg. of Oreo cookies
1 pkg. of cream cheese
1 pkg. of Plymouth Pantry almond bark vanilla baking bar

Directions:

1. Blend Oreos in a food processor until finely crushed.

2. Mix Oreos with the pkg. of cream cheese until blended well.

3. Roll mixture into small balls and place on a baking sheet covered with wax paper. Put in the freezer until firm.

4. Melt the almond bark, dip the balls, and place them back onto the baking sheet. Return them to the freezer until firm.

5. Serve and enjoy.

Peanut Butter Bon Bons

Another delicious recipe. Who doesn’t love peanut butter and chocolate!

Ingredients:

4 teaspoons of butter or margarine
2 tablespoons of evaporated milk
½ teaspoon of vanilla extract
dash salt
2 cups sifted confectioners sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tablespoon of dark corn syrup
Almond bark (vanilla or chocolate or both)

Directions:

1. In 3 qt saucepan, over low heat, melt butter.  Stir in evaporated milk, vanilla and salt.  Mix well.  Remove from heat

2. Gradually add 1 ½ cups confectioners sugar, stirring until mixture is thick and smooth.  Add peanut butter and corn syrup.  Mix well.

3. Turn out onto board lightly sprinkled with remaining confectioner sugar.  Knead until consistency of fondant.

4. Form slightly rounded teaspoons of dough into balls.

Refrigerate until cooled. Melt chocolate and dip.

Coconut Balls

These are my husband’s favorite. You can use dark chocolate to make a homemade mounds bar. Yum!

Ingredients:

½ lb butter or margarine
15 oz Eagle Brand Milk (1 can)
8 cups of powdered sugar
14 oz flaked coconut
1 ½ teaspoons of vanilla
Almond Bark (white or chocolate)

Directions:

Mix all but the chocolate together and shape into balls or make flat by spreading the mixture onto a cookie sheet.

Refrigerate several hours or overnight.

Dip into melted chocolate.

Old Fashioned Cornflake Candy

Another family favorite!

Ingredients:

1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 heaping cup of creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
4 to 6 cups of plain cornflakes
Parchment paper

Directions:

1. Place parchment paper on a baking sheet and set aside. Combine sugar and corn syrup in a large saucepan and cook on medium high heat, stirring regularly.

2. When the mixture begins to boil, remove from heat, stir in the peanut butter and vanilla.

3. Add the cornflakes one cup at a time until the mixture thickens.

4. Quickly drop spoonfuls of the mixture onto the baking sheet to cool.

5. Let set, enjoy!

Small Batch Cookies

This is the best ever chocolate chip recipe! If a small batch is not enough for your family, you can easily make double!

Ingredients:

3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
1/4 cup of white sugar
1 cup of milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons of softened butter
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Combine butter, egg, and vanilla extract in a bowl. Beat until creamy.

3. Add the dry ingredients and stir until well mixed.

4. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes.

5. Let cool and enjoy!

There you have it! Some of my family’s favorite recipes for making candy. Don’t forget to sign up below if you want FREE access to a printable version of these recipes, plus more (including peanut butter roll, pumpkin roll, and peanut butter fudge)!

Looking for last-minute gift ideas? Check out my post: Your Christmas Shopping Guide for the Entire Family

You can also read about other unique traditions to start with your family in my post Christmas Traditions to Enjoy With Your Family

 

Beautiful girl surprising her boyfriend with a present.

Christmas Traditions to Enjoy With Your Family

Family Christmas Traditions

This Post contains Affiliate Links. If you make a purchase through one of my links, you would be helping me at no additional cost to you! 

Christmas Traditions to Enjoy With Your Family

This is such a magical time of year, especially if you have little ones. Their excitement is contagious and you can’t help but share in their joy. It is also the perfect time to plan some family fun. Our family loves to decorate the tree together, look at Christmas lights, watch Christmas movies and drink hot cocoa. If you are looking for some unique Christmas Traditions to enjoy with your family, keep reading!

25 Nights of Christmas Stories

This was my children’s favorite tradition last year. Beginning December 1st,  they unwrapped one Christmas themed book each night for us to read as a bed time story. The kids thought it was great because they got to open a gift each night. I thought it was great because it built up my children’s book library and was a wonderful, fairly inexpensive way to spend quality time as a family. If this is something you would like to do with your family, it’s not too late to get started! You can plan on reading a book every night for 5, 7, 10, 15, or any other number of nights you choose! And if you need to purchase some books, here are some GREAT affordable options from eBay:

15 Children’s CHRISTMAS Holiday WINTER Early Reader Book Lot Level 1 2 3 ($24.99)

Lot of 12 Merry Christmas children’s Books Winter Snow Santa Claus child kids (16.99)

15 Children Winter Christmas Picture Books Lot Teacher Read Snowman Sled Early (15.29)

The last book for Christmas Day was personalized for each of my kids. This is an absolutely wonderful gift that your child can treasure forever. Here are some different options if you would like to order a book for your child:

Goodnight Little Me Personalized Storybook

The Little Boy Who Lost His Name: Personalized children’s book 

The Little Girl Who Lost Her Name: Personalized Children’s Book

My Very Own Trucks Personalized Book: I See Me! Book

My Very Own Fairy Tale Personalized Book: I See Me! Book

Personalized Story Picture Book for Children – A Unique Story Based on the Letters of a Child’s Name

Christmas Journal

A new tradition I am starting this year is keeping a Christmas journal. I purchased Christmas Memories: A Keepsake Book from the Heart of the Home by Susan Branch to help keep track of our 2017 Christmas. There are places for photographs of your family, decorations, your children’s picture with Santa, friends, and more! You can write about your family traditions, your favorite Christmas, your letters to Santa, Christmas dinner, and much more! The best part is that you can keep track of the next four years all in this journal for $10.98! I look forward to looking back and treasuring the memories written in this journal.

Donating Toys

If your children are like mine, they have SO many toys. And when new toys are received, the ones they already own seem to go unnoticed. That’s why I think it is a great idea to start the tradition of purging toys BEFORE Christmas. Have your children go through their toys and choose the ones they would like to get rid of and find a place to donate them. To get the full experience, take your kids with you when you give them away. I also like to have my children pick out toys to purchase for programs such as Operation Christmas Child, Toys for Tots, or other nonprofit organizations. It’s important that they understand that not all children are as blessed as they are and it is our Christian duty to give to those less fortunate. I hope to teach them to look to the needs of others and not just their own wants.

Candy Making

My husband and I started the tradition of making candy as gifts when we first were married. His family makes Christmas candy every year, and we adopted the tradition to share with others! We spend the day making yummy treats, put them in nice decorative tins, and give to our friends, co-workers, bosses, and other loved ones. Some of our recipes include Oreo balls, peanut butter balls, Ritz cracker sandwiches, coconut balls, and more! I will share some of our yummy recipes in a later post :).

The Christmas Eve Box

A Christmas Eve box is another fun tradition for your family. I love this Personalized Christmas Eve Box from eBay that you can fill with your child’s favorite things for an evening of Christmas Eve fun. You can include a new set of new pajamas, a Christmas book, Christmas movie, hot chocolate, popcorn, and more! Looking for an already done for you Christmas Eve box? Here is a great option from Amazon:

 Waiting for Santa Christmas Eve Gift Set: Pajamas, DVD Movie & Family Fun

Holiday Traditions

What Christmas Traditions do you celebrate with your family? I would love to hear about them! Still searching for affordable and unique Christmas gifts? Be sure to check out my gift guide for the entire family here. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas season with your family. Spend time making memories you will treasure forever.

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Your Christmas Shopping Guide for the Entire Family

gift ideas for the entire family

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of my links, you would be helping me at no additional cost to you!

Your Christmas Shopping Guide for the Entire Family

For me, this really is the most wonderful time of the year. I love getting together with my family, sharing a delicious meal and creating wonderful memories. I also enjoy decorating, baking, watching Christmas movies, and even shopping! If you are in need of unique and affordable gift ideas for your loved ones, then look no further! I have put together your Christmas Shopping Guide for the entire family! Check out my list and click on the title of each picture to go straight to item on Amazon. Happy Shopping!

Cool Gadgets for Him

 

                       

Elecstars Touch Bedside Lamp                  Amazon Echo Dot                             

                              

Minipresso GR                                      Roku Streaming Stick  

                                                                 

APIE Portable Wireless                                Leatherman Super Tool
Outdoor Bluetooth Speaker                      300 Multitool 

                    

SoundBot                                           Bluetooth Wireless Headphones

 

Beauty and Bliss for Her

 

                                                                                       

Essential Oil Diffuser                                       Premium Bath & Body 
Bracelet                                                                    Gift Basket                                                                     

                                             

Betsey Johnson                                                         Self Help for 
Handbag                                                                       Rediscovering Yourself 

                                                           

Instant Pot                                                     Jenia Tree of Life Bracelet   

                      

Large Vintage  Journal                           The Happy Planner

 

For Baby

 

                                                  

Baby Gift Set                                                 VTech Activity Cube

                

 Nuby Bath Toys                                 VTech Turn and Learn  Driver

 

                                                  

VTech Lil’ Critters                              Fisher-Price Rock-a-Stack/                                   
Moosical Beads                                   Baby’s First Blocks Bundle                     

 

               

VTech Magic Star                                  Fisher-Price Kick and Play                      
 Learning table                                        Piano Gym

 

 Top Picks for Girls

 

                                                     

Barbie Fashionistas                                    Barbie Club Chelsea
Ultimate Closet                                            Playhouse Set

 

                       

Melissa & Doug                                     Barbie Glam Getaway
Mine to Love Doll                                 House 

 

                                                
Melissa and Doug Doll                       Build and Imagine:
Accessories                                              Malia’s House 

 

         

Pretend Makeup                                 Lego Disney Elsa’s  
Signature Set                                         Frozen Ice Palace

 

Top Picks for Boys

 

                                                     

Engineering Bricks
Construction Kit                                     Tool Toy Set   

          

Superhero Dress Up Set                       Paw Patrol Sea Patroller

 

                                                    

VTech Go!Go! Smart
Wheels Playset                                       Train Set and Table 

         

Lego Classic Medium                     Boley Dinosaur Toys
Creative Brick Box

Educational Toys

 

                                                    

Leapfrog Scribble and Write      Interactive Talking Map

 

                 

VTech Kidizoom Smartwatch            LeapFrog Learning System

 

                                             

Leap Frog Level 1                                  VTech Touch and Learn
Activity Bundle                                       Activty Desk Deluxe 

           

VTech Touch and Learn                        VTech Touch and Learn
Preschool Bundle (2-4)                       Preschool Bundle (3-5)

 

For Your Little Creatives

 

                                     

Crayola Inspiration
Art Case                                                      My Awesome Book

                     

Deluxe Art Master  Kids Desk          Stencils and Drawing Art Set

 

Ideas for Teenage Girls

 

                                                       

Bath Bomb Gift Set                               Make Up Brush Set

             

SHANY Makeup Kit                      Wake Up Light Alarm Clock

 

                                                                                          

Divinity Boutique                           Body Image Workbook 

                       

Express Yourself                            Motivational Bracelets 
Journal

 

Ideas for Teenage Boys

 

                                                                                       

Spikeball 3 Ball Game Set                   Making Decisions 

                             

Guy’s Guide                                        VR Headset 

 

                                                  

Holy Stone U818A Drone                 XIBERIA Gaming Headset           

                 

Double Camping Hammock               Lightning Reaction Game

 

There you have it! My complete gift guide for the entire family. I hope these ideas will make your shopping a little easier this year. And I would love for you to share this post with others who might find it helpful. Thank you!

 

holiday shopping guide

 

Finding FabYOUlous 7.jpg

Finding Fab-YOU-lous: A Self Help MUST Read to Have Your Best Year Yet!

Finding Fab-YOU-lous: A Self Help MUST Read to Have Your Best Year Yet!

Do you have big dreams for your life, but seem overwhelmed with how to achieve them? Have you lost your focus or your passion for living life to its fullest potential? Are you ready to rediscover your purpose and the FabYOUlousness that makes you, you? If so, reading Finding FabYOUlous: A Self-Help with Sass Guide to Finding, Celebrating, and Capitalizing on the FabYOUlousness That Makes You, You by Melissa Venable would be the perfect way to start 2018 (Christmas gift, anyone?).  It is filled with lots of great advice  on setting meaningful intentions and powerful goals!

Rediscover Who You Are

The first part of the book will help you answer the following questions: Who are you? Where are you going? What is your why? What needs to go and what needs to grow? In each chapter, you will find practical advice for rediscovering who you are. Need to find your purpose and get clear on your goals? Create a vision board. Need to stay on course? Create your values compass and strap on those hiking boots (self-discipline). Self-discipline will help you move forward when you don’t feel like it, help you eliminate distractions, and stay focused on where you want to go.

I think we can be our own best sources of inspiration. You are FabYOUlous! You have done some pretty incredible things in your life and you have overcome so much to get where you are right now. Sure-you may have a ways to go when it comes to reaching your big goals but you’ve also come a long way. Keep track of your successes on a “Ta-Da! list” and celebrate them. When things start to get hard and you begin to wonder if you’ll ever meet your goals, pull out your Ta-Da list and be reminded of just how amazing you are and how far you’ve already come. 

What is Your Why?

Once you have a better grasp on who you are and where you want to go, you must get clear on why these goals are important to you.

When you are crystal clear on exactly why your dreams and desires are so important to you, you will be exponentially more compelled to do what it takes to make them happen. You won’t let any obstacle, difficulty or challenge stand in your way. You won’t stop pushing until your FabYOUlous life vision is no longer just a vision but is instead, a wonderful reality that you are living out on a daily basis. Knowing your why will keep you from settling for anything less than what you know that you desire and deserve. 

What Needs to Go and What Needs to Grow?

What things in your life are keeping you from achieving your goals? Your thoughts, actions, and reactions all play a vital role in either moving you forward, or keeping you stuck where you are. If you want to see positive change, you must think positively, and your actions will follow.

Our thoughts and actions (or lack thereof) will either propel us closer to our FabYOUlous life destination and expand our experience of FabYOUlousness or, they will cause our experience to contract and shrink, moving us further away from our desired result. We must grasp the fact that our every choice, thought, word, behavior and action carries weight and has a direct impact upon the level of FabYOUlousness that we experience in our lives at any given moment.  

Taking Care of You

The next part of the book discusses the importance of taking care of yourself: mind, body, and spirit. Spend time doing the things you love. Find YOUR place: somewhere you can go to escape the stresses of the day and unwind. Bask in the beauty surrounding you. Ditch the drama. Practice self-care. Eat healthy, get enough water and sleep. Exercise. There are chapters discussing each of these, as well as other ways to care for ourselves. Being centered, healthy, and happy plays an important role in achieving our goals and living a FabYOUlous life.

Connecting With Others

Another important piece to living a FabYOUlous life is cultivating deep, meaningful relationships with our spouses, family, and friends. We do this through the words we speak and our actions, as well as creating our own set of standards. Spend quality time together, learn the things that are important in their worlds, have fun together. Our connections with others bring such a richness to our lives that nothing else can replicate.

Keep Moving Forward

The final chapters are quick, powerful punches of motivation and inspiration for moving toward your FabYOUlous desired destination. These chapters are so good I decided to list them all:

  • Prepare Mentally
  • Use Your Past to Fuel Your Future
  • 15 Questions to Help You Find Your Purpose
  • You Get the Life You Choose Not the Life You Want
  • Get Out of a Rut and Into a Groove
  • Gain Some Perspective
  • Get Off the Hamster Wheel
  • Cultivating Courage Even When You Think You Can’t
  • Turn Your Joker into an Ace/Make the Most of the Hand You’re Dealt
  • The Powerful of Purposeful Play

If you are ready to find your Fab-YOU-lous, you can pre-order your copy here.  The book will officially launch on November 30th. Every reader will be given access to an exclusive website where you will find additional resources to use with your book. Let’s make 2018 the best year yet!

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30 Ways You Can Show Gratitude Every Day

Gratitude

30 Ways You Can Show Gratitude Every Day

In last week’s post The Benefits of Showing More Gratitude, I discussed why we should be living a life full of gratitude and how it impacts our outlook on life and our health. Practicing gratitude regularly is the key to appreciating what you’ve been given and what you’ve accomplished, while looking ahead to your goals for the future. This week, I’m going to share 30 ways you can show gratitude every day. As you continue reading, I encourage you to write down the ideas that speak to you. Then incorporate them into your day and watch how showing more gratitude can change your life for the better.

30 Ways to Show Gratitude

Begin With These

Write It Down

Number one on my list is to regularly write down the things you are grateful for. If we will take a few moments to write down the positive things from our day, we will go to bed focused on the good in our lives instead of the negative. If you are having a particularly bad day, I suggest going back and revisiting what you’ve written down from other moments to remind yourself that not all days are like this. It can help boost your mood. Use these questions to get you started:

  1. Who are you thankful for and why?
  2. What accomplishments are you most proud of?
  3. What special talents and skills do you possess?
  4. What are your most prized possessions?
  5. What are 3 things from today you are grateful for?

Be sure to join my 7 Days of Gratitude Challenge at the bottom of this post for more thought-provoking prompts!

Practice Self-Love and Self-Care

As moms, we tend to feel guilty when we take some time for ourselves. But why? Part of being more grateful is cherishing our unique gifts, abilities, and who we are as a person. And that means taking good care of what we’ve been given: our mind, body, and spirit. Life is much more enjoyable when we take the time to do the things we love and follow our passions. When we have more joy, we can to pass it on to those we love.

Here are a few ideas for practicing self-care:

  1. Read an inspiring book
  2. Take a walk
  3. Get a massage
  4. Go out with your friends
  5. Take a hot bath
  6. Practice Yoga
  7. Listen to your favorite music
  8. Take a nap
  9. Bake your favorite dessert
  10. Treat yourself to something you’ve been wanting

Turn Your Focus Outward

Express Gratitude to Others

After you’ve learned to have a more grateful attitude towards yourself, you can turn your focus to others. Think about the people in your life: your family, friends, spouse, co-workers, boss, and so on.  What have they done for you? How do they impact your life in a positive way? Once you’ve answered these questions, I challenge you to share your thoughts with them. There is no better way to show gratitude than to uplift and encourage others, especially those we love.

How to Show Gratitude Towards Others
  1. Give Your Time – Show others you care by actively listening to what they have to say and spend quality time with them by doing something together that they love, with no distractions.
  2. Show Appreciation – Give specific examples of the things they’ve done or said that you are grateful for.
  3. Be Thoughtful of Others – Be mindful of how your decisions affect others. Consider their feelings before you speak or take action.
  4. Extend Grace – We are not always going to agree with the behaviors of others. They will make bad choices and wrong decisions from time to time. It is important extend grace, when possible, because we all make mistakes.
  5. Show Affection – Affection is an important part of relationships, especially with our little ones. Holding and hugging them helps them feel safe and secure in our love for them. Regular affection also keeps us connected with our spouse.
  6. Celebrate Achievements – Offer sincere congratulations to those who have achieved something, even if you are not the winner. Give specific praise to your children and loved ones for their accomplishments to boost their confidence and self-esteem.
  7. Give Small, Thoughtful Gifts – Find a small gift your loved one would like? Give it to them to show you are thinking about them.
  8. Write a Note – A hand written note expressing gratitude to someone can be a very thoughtful gesture. It shows that you care and appreciate them.
  9. Support Others – Help those in need by giving your time and resources. Be someone they can rely on for support during difficult situations.
  10. Random Acts of Kindness – Go out of your way to do something nice for a complete stranger, such as paying for their meal or coffee.
  11. Tip Well for Good Service – When someone gives you good service, be sure to tip them well to show them how much they are appreciated.
  12. Donate to a Charity – Give to those in need by supporting local charities in your community.
  13. Smile – Something as simple as a smile will instantly make you feel better, as well as those around you.
  14. Say Thank You – Saying thank you shows appreciation to those who’ve done something for you, big or small.
  15. Visit With the Sick and Elderly  – Spend some time visiting those who may not have anyone else in their life. You could really brighten someone’s day.

What are your favorite ways to practice gratitude? I’d love to hear about them in the comments! Have you joined my 7 Days of Gratitude Challenge yet? If not, you can join below! It starts November 14th.

FREE 7 Days of Gratitude Email Challenge

The Benefits of Showing More Gratitude

The Benefits of Showing More Gratitude

It is the time of year when most people begin to reflect and turn their focus to the blessings in their lives. Showing more gratitude can have a positive impact when expressed not just now, but in every day and every circumstance. A note from Harvard Medical School states “Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships”. Are you ready to let the benefits of showing more gratitude make a lasting impact? Then keep reading!

 What are the Benefits of Showing More Gratitude?

Living a life full of gratitude changes our perspective and creates a more positive outlook. When you have a more positive outlook, your happiness increases. And with increased happiness, comes multiple benefits. These include improved sleep quality, overall health, self-esteem, resilience, and empathy.

Better Sleep Quality

All too often, my mind is cluttered with the things that didn’t get done that day, or worries and concerns I have as I prepare for sleep. If I continue to allow my mind to think on negative things, then sleep becomes elusive. I have found that if I do a brain dump by writing these things down before bed time, my mind is clearer and I fall asleep easier. If I take it a step further by writing down what I am grateful for from that day, my whole mindset changes, and I go to bed thinking about the good things in my life. Good thoughts lead to good sleep.

Improved Overall Health

There have been numerous studies that focus on how our mindset affects our health. This research shows that those who are more grateful tend to have less aches and pains, and are more likely to care for themselves with regular medical check ups. These studies also show that when people regularly take the time to write down the things they are most grateful for, it acts as a buffer against negative thoughts and emotions. The mind is a powerful tool. If we are intentionally focusing on good things, our bodies will follow with increased energy and an improvement in our overall health.

Increased Empathy and Self Esteem

When we allow negativity to rule our lives, we stay focused on our own problems and circumstances, leaving little room to see the needs of others. When we choose to be grateful instead, we can look outward and better empathize with those around us, extending help when needed. And when we concentrate on meeting the needs and encouraging others, our self-esteem will increase. Not only will you feel better about yourself, but you will also be spreading joy and gratitude to the hearts of those you help.

Increased Resilience

Unfortunately, we will all have to deal with tough circumstances from time to time. It is how we react to these situations that make all the difference. People that tend to be more grateful are able to withstand difficulties and recover quickly.  Whereas those that have a more negative mindset may remain stuck in their problems far longer than necessary. When you feel stuck, you are unable to move forward with your life.

Things to Remember

Showing More Gratitude is a Choice

Your actions and reactions all come down to the choices you make. Will you choose to extend grace and love to others? Will you choose to be more mindful of those in need, and give your time and resources? Will you choose to react with patience and understanding? Will you choose to see the good in every situation? Will you choose to be grateful for your relationships and what you already have? Gratitude is a choice.

Showing More Gratitude Takes Practice

If we want gratitude to be our first response to life’s circumstances and to others, it’s going to take practice. We must remember that change is a process. Start making small changes every day, and eventually those changes will reflect in our thoughts, actions, and reactions. We won’t always get it right, but we can learn from our mistakes, extend grace and forgiveness to ourselves, and move forward knowing we can get it right next time.

Showing More Gratitude is an Attitude

If we want to practice more gratitude, there must be a change in our attitude. Negative thoughts and emotions can quickly overwhelm us. This negativity will then flow out through our reactions in anger, harsh words, or cause us to completely shut down and distance ourselves from those we love. We must capture the negative thoughts immediately, and work to replace them with a more positive outlook. I know when bad things happen, it can be impossible to change how we feel. But it is possible to change how we choose to react.

Gratitude is my theme for the next few weeks. You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for more thoughts and inspirational quotes about gratitude. You can also follow me on Pinterest for ways to express gratitude.

Stay tuned for next week’s post: 30 Ways to Show Gratitude Every Day

If you are ready to focus on showing more gratitude, not just for the Holiday Season but in every day, be sure to sign up for my FREE email challenge: 7 Days of Gratitude. Each day will include questions to answer and actionable steps to take that will start the process of lasting change in your attitude, perspective, and life. Bonus: A free printable workbook! The challenge will begin November 14th, so be sure to sign up below. Hope to see you there!

 

healthy snacks facebook cover photo

Healthy Snacks Your Kids Will Love

Healthy Snacks Your Kids Will Love

It can be such a struggle to get my kids to try new foods. They want to eat the same things over and over. Luckily, they like to eat lots of fruit and some veggies, so I can’t complain too much. But I do strive to widen their palate while they are young, because I was such a picky eater growing up. Now I like many different foods and wish to expose my kids to a healthy variety and hope they like some of them. My children tend to eat small portions throughout the day, so I’m constantly searching for new recipes. If you are also in need of some new ideas, I’ve included 8 healthy snacks your kids will love in this post.

Click on the pictures for the original posts and recipes…

Oatmeal Energy Bites

Oatmeal energy bites are a tasty, filling bite of goodness your children will love. Mix 1 cup rolled oats, 1/2 cup almond or peanut butter, 1/2 cup chocolate chips, 1/3 cup honey, and 1/4 cup ground flax-seed together in a bowl. Roll into balls and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. You can store them in a Ziploc bag for 3 or 4 days, but I doubt they will last that long. You can also substitute other ingredients your kids enjoy, such as fruit, nuts, or other small candies.

Banana Oat Greek Yogurt Muffins

I have made these muffins a few times now, and they are delicious! Simply add 1 cup plain Greek yogurt, 2 medium ripe bananas, 2 large eggs, 2 cups of oats, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, and 1/2 tsp of baking soda to a blender. Blend on high until smooth, then fold in 1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips (regular is fine too). Pour the batter into a muffin pan and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, or until the tops are set. This recipe would also make a delicious bread. I put my muffins in a zip lock back and they stayed good for a week.

Chocolate Zucchini Banana Bread

I LOVE this zucchini bread! I will warn you though, it is very rich and chocolatey. You might consider leaving out some of the cocoa powder or chocolate chips if you don’t want it to be too rich. Another suggestion I have is to puree the zucchini. It smooths out the texture so your kids won’t even know there are healthy vegetables in there! Check out the full recipe on the image above.

Healthy Apple Donuts

Who doesn’t love a snack with a healthy balance of fruit and candy! Theses healthy apple donuts allow your kids to use their imagination when creating their own snack. Use peanut butter, almond butter, Nutella, melted chocolate or white chocolate, with sprinkles or chocolate chips, the list goes on.

Frozen Yogurt Covered Blueberries

These frozen yogurt covered blueberries are a real treat, and super easy to make. Just simply cover the blueberries with your child’s favorite flavor of yogurt and freeze. Store them in individual baggies and you’ve got a healthy ready to go snack when you need it. Click on the picture above to find other unique snack ideas.

Apple Turtle Snack

We all know that our children are more likely to eat something if it’s visually appealing. These sea turtle snacks are so cute, and your kids will think they are so fun! The post above has other appealing snacks with fruit, including a sheep, octopus, and an owl. Check it out!

Honey Lime Rainbow Fruit Salad

Fruit salad is a versatile snack that allows you to add your child’s favorite fruits, and maybe sneak in something new for them to try. You can also use up the fruit that is in your fridge so that it is not wasted. Use the recipe above or create your own. I tend to leave out the honey and lime and just mix the fruit together. I also like to serve this with cinnamon sugar pita chips.

Nutella and Banana Sushi

Another easy snack idea is the Nutella and banana sushi. Just spread Nutella on a tortilla, add your banana, and roll up. You can cut it into easy to grab slices for a yummy treat on the go.  Another option would be to use peanut butter, honey, and chocolate chips with the banana. Other ideas in the link above include Frozen Fruit Yogurt Bark, Back Yard Bug Snacks, and Dolphin Banana and Fruit Cups.

I hope this post provided some new and unique snack options for you to try with your children. Looking for more ideas? Be sure to follow my Healthy Snack Ideas Pinterest Board. And I would love to hear about your kids’ favorite snacks in the comments!

 

Sad young woman sitting alone while it's raining

How to Cope When Anxiety Threatens to Overwhelm You

How to Cope When Anxiety Threatens to Overwhelm You

Anxiety is a silent, invisible condition that often shows little outward symptoms. You may appear fine to others while on the inside, you are struggling to keep it all together. Because it is so hard to explain to those who’ve never experienced it, people are quick to blame your symptoms on something else, instead of acknowledging that anxiety is a real, life altering ailment.

I am going to get very personal here. Many people do not know that I have dealt with anxiety since the birth of my children. I have kept it very private. I have episodes where it is difficult to breathe, and a weight settles on my chest. I struggle with being in social situations, and would rather hide from the world if I could. Some days are worse than others. It is physically and emotionally draining. Medication has helped quite a bit, but I still have days when I feel the effects of anxiety.

Anxiety is not something you can just will out of your life. Believe me, I’ve tried. It comes and goes as it pleases and you have no control over when it decides to show up. If you are experiencing anxiety, I urge you to discuss it with your doctor. There are many medications that can help you control those anxious feelings. Unfortunately, there will still be days that you struggle. I would like to share with you how to cope when anxiety threatens to overwhelm you. I have found these techniques helpful on those hard days, and I hope you do too.

Find Support

When dealing with anxiety, it is easy to stay closed off and keep how you are feeling inside. I’ve tried that, and it will only get worse if you don’t discuss your emotion state with someone. Find someone you can be open and honest with.  Ask them to be your support; to talk with you regularly, pray with you and for you. Talking it through and knowing you’ve got someone in your corner encouraging you can be helpful.

Deep Breathing

When those anxious thoughts become overwhelming, stop what you are doing, find a quiet place, close your eyes and breathe deeply. Taking just a couple of minutes to do this exercise can help calm you, and if needed, do this several times a day. I use my Fitbit to take relaxing breaths, and I find it very helpful, especially on days that are more stressful. If you don’t have a Fitbit, set a timer for 2 minutes, find a comfortable place to sit and just breathe.

Find Calming Activities

I love music, so it’s a natural outlet for dealing with anxiety. YouTube has music especially designed for anxiety relief that I use often. I’ve also created a playlist of my favorite worship songs that calm me. Coloring in the adult coloring books, writing, taking a walk, and reading a good book are other relaxing activities that I enjoy. Doing things that you love can help ease those exhausting anxious feelings.

Write Out Your Feelings

Keeping my thoughts written down in a journal has been very helpful in dealing with anxiety. I can freely express how I’m feeling, and getting those thoughts out is therapeutic for me. I also like to write down what I’m thankful for, to help me realign my perspective on the positive things in my life. I recently came across the idea of keeping track of my moods in a bullet journal. You label each day of the month with how you are feeling that day: happy, angry, sad, tired, worried/anxious. This is a great way to determine how many days you are feeling anxious, and you may discover some triggers that you can try to avoid.

Rely On God

Lastly, and most importantly, I’ve learned to let go of the things I cannot control, and put them in God’s hands. I do not have all the answers, but I know the One who does. When I’m feeling anxious, I pray, and I read my Bible. I find those scriptures that encourage me, and I repeat them over and over until I get the peace and the answers I need. Here are a couple of my favorites:

Psalm 91:1(AMPC)  – He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain fixed under the shadow of the Almighty (whose power no foe can withstand)

Philippians 4:6-8 (AMPC) – Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God. And God’s peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them].

For more inspiring scriptures, you can subscribe to my blog and check out my free resource: Encouraging Scriptures for Every Day Life. 

If you are dealing with anxiety, you are NOT alone. Please feel free to connect with me below, by email, or on social media. We are in this together!

And if you have any other tips to help those of us dealing with this condition, please share them in the comments!

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Quick, Easy, and Budget Friendly Meals Your Entire Family Will Love

Quick, Healthy, and Budget Friendly Meals Your Entire Family Will Love

If you are like me, you are constantly searching for new recipes that both your children and your spouse will love, but won’t break the bank. And the easier the better, right? Pinterest has TONS of recipes you can search through to find meals your whole family will enjoy, and I’ve put some of our favorites in this post. Read on for 5 quick, healthy, and budget friendly meals your family will love!

Baked Ravioli

My kids LOVE ravioli, and with just three ingredients, this recipe will be a cinch to make on a busy weeknight. All you need is one 26 oz jar of marinara sauce (we like Bertolli ), one 25 oz bag of frozen ravioli, 2 cups of mozzarella, and a sprinkle of parmesan. Make two layers of the sauce, ravioli, and mozzarella, and sprinkle the parmesan on top. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes covered, and 15 minutes more uncovered. Let it cool for 10 minutes before serving.

You can find the full, original recipe from Tasty Kitchen here.

Slow Cooker Baked Spaghetti

This recipe from The Magical Slow Cooker is a twist on classic spaghetti with the added cheesy goodness of ricotta and cream cheese. The best part, it’s made in the crock pot! To make, season 1.5 lbs of meat with onion, garlic, oregano, dried basil, and salt, then brown. Add the meat and two 24 oz jars of marinara sauce to your crock pot (again, I like to use Bertolli) and cook on low for six hours. Cook your noodles according to the package and add to the meat sauce. Mix 4 oz of cream cheese and 1 cup of ricotta, spread on top and cover with 2 cups of mozzarella. Cook for 20 more minutes, then enjoy!

Tip: my family does not like the texture of onion and garlic clove, so I substitute onion and garlic powder, which still gives it a great taste.

Slow Cooker Chicken Teriyaki Bowls

Six Sisters’ Stuff has a delicious chicken teriyaki recipe that can be made in the crock pot, because easy! You mix 1 cup chicken broth, 1/2 cup teriyaki sauce, 1/3 cup brown sugar, and 3 teaspoons minced garlic (or garlic powder) and pour over your 4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breast. Cook on low for six hours. Fix your 2 cups of rice according to package (we like jasmine rice), and steam 2 cups of carrots and 2 cups of broccoli. Serve the chicken and vegetables over the rice.

Easy Oven Baked Chicken Parmesan

For this easy recipe, you will need 4 chicken breasts, 1 egg, 1/4 cup of milk, 1 cup of Italian bread crumbs, 1 24 oz jar of marinara sauce, and 1 cup of mozzarella. Combine the milk and egg, dip the chicken in the egg mixture, then the bread crumbs, and place in a 13 x 9 dish. Bake uncovered at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, add the marinara and mozzarella, then back an additional 10 minutes. Serve with your favorite pasta or side dishes. You can view the original post and recipe from Easy Recipe Depot here.

Easy Hamburger Soup

Hamburger Soup is an easy, versatile recipe that can be reheated for several days, or even frozen for a later meal. When I make hamburger soup, I use 2 lbs of ground beef or beef stew meat, 46 oz tomato juice with 1 cup water, and our favorite veggies: corn, peas, green beans, carrots, and potatoes. I also like to add barley to make it more hearty. And you will need to season with salt and pepper to taste. You can change it up by adding your family’s favorite ingredients. You can find Spend with Pennies recipe here.

If you are looking for more ideas, check out my Quick, Easy, and Budget Friendly Meals Pinterest Board here. And if you subscribe to my blog, you can check out my Meal Plan/Shopping List/Daily Schedule for free!

I would love for you to share your go to easy meals below! Hope to hear from you!

Happy family (mother with small children) walking in golden maple autumn park

Fun Family Fall Festivities

Fun Family Fall Festivities

I love this time of year. The beautiful fall colors, cooler temperatures, and lots of fun family fall festivities! Just this past weekend, my family and I attended an event at a local dairy farm with train rides, slides, face painting, balloon animals, and a petting zoo. You could also visit the pumpkin patch and pick out your own pumpkin. We had a blast! There are so many fun things to do this time of year, and the best part is, most are inexpensive or free! Some popular ideas include visiting a pumpkin patch or farm, painting and carving pumpkins, as well as going through a corn maze. Here are a few more unique ideas for you and your family to enjoy.

Have a Nature Scavenger Hunt

My family and I enjoy going for walks during the fall season. It’s so colorful and a lot cooler than summer days. A fun activity to try on your walk is a nature scavenger hunt. Look for certain items on the trail. These could include: different types of leaves, something fuzzy, something smooth, something round, a beautiful rock, something you think is a treasure, and so on. If you would like a free printable version of a scavenger hunt, check out this post by The Taylor House.

Make a Pumpkin Craft

One of my children’s favorite activities is to create things, and what better way to celebrate fall than with a DIY pumpkin craft! Kids Activity Blog has an awesome list of easy pumpkin activities you can choose from, including themed sensory bins, edible pumpkin pie play dough, painted pumpkin rocks, paper plate pumpkins, and much more! For more fall craft ideas, check out Easy Fall Kids Crafts That Anyone Can Make by Happiness is Homemade.

Go Apple Picking/Make a Pie

My daughter loves helping me in the kitchen, especially when we are making dessert. Going apple picking and using them to make a pie is a great opportunity to teach our children about where our food comes from. They will learn that people work hard to provide the food we eat, and it may instill a greater appreciation for our farmers and food industry in the process. And bonus, a yummy treat for the family to enjoy!

Go Star-Gazing

The clear fall sky is the perfect time to go star gazing. One of my fondest memories is of star gazing with my husband and his family. We took air mattresses and blankets out in their yard to watch a meteor shower. It was such a magical, serene experience. One I will remember forever. I hope to make these types of memories with my children. It can be as simple as spreading a blanket in your yard, having hot chocolate, and pointing out the different discoveries you make in the night sky. I hope to do this with my kids this year.

Plan a Costume Dinner

With Halloween just around the corner, it is a great time to incorporate fun Halloween activities, such as a costume dinner. Everyone can choose a costume to wear at dinner time. How fun! Chirping Moms have a free Halloween Bucket List with other great ideas like decorating a haunted gingerbread house and taking an evening walk with flashlights to look at Halloween decorations. Check out their entire list for more unique activities.

Check Your Community Calendar

Our local park district, rec center, and libraries all offer Fun Family Fall Festivities, including nature walks, movie nights, themed story times, nature series, seed collection and more! Find out what’s happening in your community this fall season and have your family choose something fun to do together.

For even more Fun Family Fall Festivities, check out my Pinterest board Fun Family Activities. And please share your family’s favorites in the comments!