How to be the perfect guest this holiday season!




It’s December, and yall know what that means…

INVITATIONS TO #ALLTHETHINGS!

Now, I’m a girl who LOVES a reason to get together. But I’m the first to admit I’m lacking in the etiquette part of things! And I look to the Real Housewives to see what a lady is “supposed to do” when it comes to being a good guest. Kidding! But seriously, those betches NEVER show up empty-handed. And I think I finally have a grasp on what to bring to which occasion and am here to help spread the good news!

And to make this extra challenging, err I mean fun, I’m taking alcohol out of the running. I wrote about the why HERE, and think we could all use a little less booze, and a little more of ANYTHING ELSE AT THIS POINT. πŸ™‚

Without further ado, here are some ideas!

If you’ve been invited to a party, and have been asked to bring something to eat, I recently saw this video on Facebook and knew I HAD to make it. And oh holy night is it sooooooooo yummy! Click on the video link below:

Here were my changes: I used brie because it’s my fave! And instead of cranberry sauce, I used raspberry jam. Not because I don’t like cranberry sauce (I love it), but because I completely forgot it at the store, and had the jam in my fridge anyways πŸ™‚ Oh, and I didn’t include the bacon to make it doable for any vegetarian/kosher friends at the party! I also used some of the extra puff pastry and cut out a star to place on top of the cheese.

And it’s usually super annoying when people change a recipe (I realize this), but in this case, I loved the look/idea more than anything, and think substituting what flavors you like best, is completely fine! My finished product looks more like a wreath than a snowflake, but both are holiday appropriate so it’s all good in the ‘hood!

I also found this cute, plastic plate at the grocery store, which is perfect for shared food at a party because it’s meant to be left behind…

If you are invited to a holiday party at someone’s house, definitely don’t show up empty handed! They may have asked for you to bring something specific, and if so, bring that! But if you have free reign, I think a food item is always nice like fresh baked desserts from SugarBomb Sweets,Β or a pie from Slice Pie Company. If you’re looking for something not edible, a candle of the neighborhood they live in from Ella B candles, an ornament for their tree of something sentimental between the two of yall, a cutting board in the shape of the state they’re from/call home, or a hand cut map from Studio KMO etc. are all awesome gifts!

If you’re on a tight budget, then make something homemade/semi-homemade like the candles I suggested in this post (just alter the colors for these specific holidays) or tryΒ this Goldfish mix…the presentation is super cute, and that’s half the battle! You could also include the recipe…if they love it, they’ll make it again and again and think of you often!

Β 

If you’re staying at someone’s house for multiple days, then my FAVORITE thing to gift the host is a house cleaning for after we’re long gone! Rest assured your host has gone to great lengths to have you stay there, and even though I’m sure they’re delighted to have you, the house is often in need of some attention afterwords. Your host has cleaned beforehand, washed linens, stocked the fridge and pantry, and much more. You’ve used every utility in the house, from the water to the electricity to the wifi, and maybe even the car and gas!

I think it’s an awesome idea to touch base with a local cleaning company and arrange for a cleaning to take place, or give a gift certificate for the cleaning company. If your host already has a regular company he or she uses, pay for their next cleaning. Yes, it may be a little pricey, but they’ll never forget the kindness of the gesture. If you’re looking for a company in Charlotte, check out Sweepin Beauty!

My last suggestion is to let everyone know they’re a guest, even if they only get as far as your front porch πŸ™‚ Saw this floating around Facebook yesterday, and love the idea so so so much! Did you know that there will be hundreds of MILLIONS of packages delivered in the next few weeks?! Treat the drivers, deliverers, postal workers, and more well during this season of MUCH longer hours! Look at this cute bin of goodies Lisa Gwin put on her porch:

She is speaking my love language…and by love language, I mean “Little Debbie.” πŸ™‚

If you’d like to watch my segment on Charlotte Today, here ya go:

Do you have any go-to gifts when it comes to giving during the holiday season?! Share them with me in the comments and maybe people will get some extra ideas!




We wish you a “Merry Fishmas!”




You will want to make this mix every year!

Do you have a food that instantly reminds you of someone in your family? My Oma makes these seasoned oyster crackers that remind me of the holidays the second I pop them in my mouth. And I thought that they’d make a great gift idea for the upcoming holidays. ‘Tis the season for parties, get-togethers, teachers’ gifts, neighborhood pot-lucks, and so much more. I never want to show up empty-handed, and who doesn’t love a yummy snack?!
But I wanted to switch it up a bit, so I’m making the seasoned crackers using Goldfish instead!Β And because Goldfish taste amazing, come in super fun colors, and are always baked with real cheese, I can feel good about giving this gift to people I love and adore!
So without further ado, here’s the recipe for my version of Oma’s Fishmas Crackers (I did alter them slightly)!
Heat oven to 225
Put 15oz (half of the BIG container) of Goldfish into a big bowl
Melt 2T of butter (salted or unsalted) and pour over Goldfish
Add 1/2 packet of powdered ranch, 1tsp Italian seasoning, and 2T parmesan cheese to the crackers and mix well
Pour seasoned Goldfish onto a pan and bake at 225 for 15 minutes. Let cool completely and put into your favorite dish, gift tin, cellophane bag, etc.!
Here’s how I displayed mine for the perfect hostess gift! The multi-colored mix makes me think of Christmas lights…and actually it’s pretty neat how the Goldfish get their colors! Hint: it’s not food dye. Seriously, click here to see how they make the green color…I’ll wait!

My Oma also painted that tiny nativity scene next to the carton!

I love these cartons I found!

I couldn’t find the exact milk cartons I used, so I linked take-out containers I found which would work perfectly as well! I wrapped some Christmas ribbon around the side, and hung a tag that said “Merry Fishmas!”
But I also thought of another way to use these goldfish! Find the clear plastic round ornaments (I’ll link them below), and fill them halfway with the Goldfish. Using puff paint, markers, or even stickers, decorate the outside of the ornament to look like the ocean! It’s a fun craft project to do while the kids are home on Christmas break and you need to fill the time with projects they’ll enjoy (and can eat)! An activity that doubles as a snack=win in my book! For other awesome ideas, Goldfish has a Pinterest page, so check it out πŸ™‚

Try to find the fully clear ornaments to look like a fishbowl!

Have a very merry fishmas from my school (get it? a fish family is called a school πŸ™‚ ) to yours!
Β 




No more “mommy juice” or “wine o’clock,” I beg you.





I know. I know. You think it’s cute, right?!! Hell, I even said it once or twice to my minis when they were younger. “This is mommy’s juice girls! You can’t have any of this! Let’s find your sippy cups of milk, okay?!” And I’d go back to clinking glasses (or solo cups because we fancy ;)) of wine with my girlfriends, have a giggle, and take big sips.

And this song and dance was happening with just about any and all of my friend groups, the people I follow on social media, the chatter I overhear at ‘ladies night out’ dinners, and on every tv show with a mom on it, etc. The narrative barely ever changes and it goes something like this:

‘being a mom is hard work so i drink wine to ____________________ (fill in the blank)’

Here are some of the options…

  • Reward myself
  • Numb the hard
  • Forget the mess (literal and figurative)
  • Want to feel good
  • Celebrate bedtime
  • Escape
  • Be more sexual
  • Insert your own answer

But here’s the part where I was a bit of the odd mom out though. I hate red wine, and only like one type of white, so if anything but pinot grigio was offered, I typically didn’t partake. I also tend to only drink socially…out to dinner with friends, a party, charity function, sporting event, concert, etc. Joshua and I aren’t the types of people who come home after a long day and drink a beer, or pour ourselves a cocktail. We don’t have wine with dinner…hell, I barely cook anything nice enough to consider pairing it with a wine option anyways!

So for 2017, I decided to not drink (I’ll get more to that part towards the end), and I’ve noticed more than ever before (probably BECAUSE of my not drinking) is how much women talk/post about how much they drink. Somewhere along the line, it became “normal” for women (specifically moms) to talk about how much wine they were guzzling every night…like it was their badge of honor for making it through the day? But guess who else noticed?!

EVERY FREAKING COMPANY IN THE WORLD

And guess what those companies are doing? Laughing all the way to the bank on the backs of what many women are now dealing with…addiction. We have become the PUNCHLINE to the jokes, ladies. You’ve seen the shirts, “I drink coffee til it’s acceptable to drink wine.” Maybe at one point it was funny? But many aren’t laughing anymore. They realize they can’t function without it. They’re waking up with the shakes. They’re wondering when they can start drinking again…when is wine o’clock? Can it start sooner because I invited a friend for a play date? “It’s 5 o’clock somewhere,” #amirightladies?! {internally rolling my eyes}

When Amazon decided to start their one hour delivery service, what did they broadcast right away? What was their marketing campaign? “YOU CAN GET WINE ON YOUR DOORSTEP IN AS LITTLE AS ONE HOUR LADIES!!!!” Seriously, google “amazon one hour” and the top two out of three things that pop up are “alcohol delivery” and “delivery wine.” Yall shared the heck out of that with everyone in your feeds, and drove up that SEO. Putty in their hands.

But THIS. This is the straw that broke the camel’s back for me. When I realized that companies were no longer going after womens’ apparel/home goods/decor for their “funny” wine saying, but after our kids’ too…

What in the ACTUAL EFF is going on here?! I’m gonna need someone to explain to me why this is at all cute? And I’m NOT talking about the leg warmers (which we can agree are on point, obvi).

Then there’s this one that my friend Shauna sent me…

“I just love when my mommy dresses me in a onesie that calls me wino AND a snob,” says no baby ever.

And let’s not forget about this one, shall we…?!

Oh yay! You even get get a discount code “HAPPY10″…ironic wording, but who doesn’t love a onesie that says ‘moms are only fun when they’re drunk’…can i get an amen?!

YALL. We have reached a point where companies are putting alcohol on BABY CLOTHING, and people are lapping it up! Would you put cigarettes on a onesie? Then why are we letting THIS happen? And notice they’re targeting our baby girls primarily with this clothing. Women control most of the buying power?!!! Full stop ladies. Full mother effing stop. I’m sad, and I’m mad, and I think you should be too. We need to stop normalizing alcoholism, and set a good example for our children.

Call me a buzzkill, pun intended, but I’m not laughing anymore. Wine should be savored and enjoyed, not depended upon to make life manageable. Spoiler alert: let me tell ya what makes parenting harder…A HANGOVER, BEING TIRED, and FEELING LIKE ISH ALL DAMN DAY. And/or being obsessed with something so much that you’re thinking more about IT than anything else. And I’m #sorrynotsorry but you’re never going to convince me that you actually LOVE the taste of two buck chuck.

To make sure I’m being clear here. I don’t think all people who drink have a problem. I don’t want to ban wine. I think girls nights out are awesome! I love a good cocktail with dinner, a beer at a tailgate, and a mimosa at brunch. I’m not even saying getting drunk is a problem! I’m talking about a culture that glorifies alcohol abuse, and is specifically targeting exhausted moms. We’re being used as pawns in a game, and we’re the ones buying all of the onesies, AND the damn wine. I simply want us to look around and notice the LINK that’s been made between “surviving motherhood and drinking too much wine nightly,” and we’ve let it happen.

We shouldn’t demean motherhood, especially when so many women want to be, and can’t or aren’t. Is motherhood hard? Sure! Do you sometimes feel like you need to do something to remind yourself you’re an adult? Of course! But I can promise you the answer to any problem isn’t found at the bottom of the bottle of wine. Quite the reverse actually. And I’m not going to apologize for being a bit sensitive about it.

I grew up with copious amounts of alcohol at every family function. Life was a big party. My parents were the consummate hosts, and we even had a saying, “if you leave hungry or thirsty, it’s your own damn fault!” And by “thirsty,” we didn’t mean water. And all was well…until it wasn’t anymore. My dad’s party had become an addiction, and he went to detox, largely because of Joshua and subsequently me…with my mom having to make the call.

I cannot shout it loudly enough from the rooftops that my dad is now 13 1/2 years sober, and that he hasn’t relapsed since that day he was driven to detox. It’s a real mind f%$k to see your dad in a hospital gown, shaking from withdrawls. But it’s music to your ears to hear him say “thank you for telling on me.” I was 22 when he got sober, and a few months later, he walked me down the aisle. I’m so damn proud of him.

But know this ladies, your children see you. They’re watching and absorbing everything you do. They hear your words and see your actions, and internalize them more than you may think. I have 8 and 11 year old girls. I need to set the right example. It starts with us, as most things do.

And when we know better, we do better.

I don’t know what the answer is. I am not an addiction specialist, and am not pretending to be one. I certainly can take a joke. But I feel it in my bones that this has simply gone too far. Maybe I’m wrong? But when I get a private message telling me that a person pretends to drink around their family because they’re questioned to death if they don’t have a cocktail in hand, we have created a culture that doesn’t make sense to me. When I decline a drink at a party, and the first comment is “but you have KIDS…how do you NOT drink?!,” I am confused. How do we fix this? I’m all ears.

I briefly mentioned above that I quit drinking this year, and people were shocked to hear I was giving up alcohol for 2017. “But you don’t have a problem?!!!” I heard that one a lot. Some of my closest friends have never even seen me with a buzz, let alone drunk. So yeah, I know I don’t need to stop. But I had the time of my life New Year’s Eve 2016, and felt like my hangover was going to last a lifetime, so I grandly declared on the most official of all places, facebook (#duh), that I was going to be SOBER for ’17! It even had its own hashtag πŸ˜‰

I did it for a couple of reasons…I love a good challenge (I’m competitive even with my own self), I needed a resolution (for once), I thought I’d lose weight (didn’t work), and more. But mostly, because I had seen the shift in society I talked about above, and it was driving me insane. I thought that if I went sober for 2017, maybe other people reading my post would be inspired to do so too? They would see that I’m a mom, with multiple jobs, a crazy life, lots of stress, and yet STILL didn’t NEED to drink to “deal” with it all! That maybe they had been internally contemplating it, but didn’t want to do it alone? I mentioned in the post that if anyone wanted to do it with me, to PM me and I’d support them on the DL. No one took me up on it. Damnit.

But I wasn’t deterred.

And although it was hard at first to say “no thanks!” I got into a rhythm and was drink-free for 7+ months! Now, I’ve promised to always be honest on this blog, so I did have a few drinks on my birthday in August, but I didn’t get drunk! In fact, I fell asleep sans buzz, and woke up feeling awesome! Well, that’s not true. I was allergic to something in the room, and woke up congested and a hot mess of snot, but there was no hangover!!!

I realize that this means I don’t get to say #sober17 anymore (I stopped using the hashtag even).Β I also realize that if I was in an actual recovery program, that I wouldn’t get to decide to just have a few drinks on my birthday…that’s not how it works. But unlike every diet I’ve started, at least I didn’t say, “well I’ve broken my streak, so screw it!” I went right back to saying “no thanks” and haven’t had a drink since that day, and WILL finish out my mission!

My point in telling yall about Sober ’17 is because I wanted you to know that I’m not just talking about the problem I’m seeing, but trying to walk the walk. But also, an important note: those drinks on my birthday had NOTHING to do with my kids, or being a mom. In fact, I was at a local resort with four of my girlfriends, swimming in a pool and getting a facial. Nothing HARD about that day at all, except the already mentioned allergy attack πŸ™‚ The glass of wine I had wasn’t used to cope with life.

I want us to find other things to help cope with the hard, instead of the “Just have a glass of wine! It fixes everything!”

If you need resources to help with alcohol, check out this list. A sober friend of mine also suggests the podcast, Home. If you know of any other great resources, please comment below. Also, I’m curious to hear your thoughts…is anyone else with me on this?! And please share if you’re so inclined. We can’t change the things we aren’t willing to talk about.

Feel free to PIN IT!





You think you know everything about me, huh?!





I was inspired by my friend Chelsea, over at Haute Child in the City, to do a list of ’10 things you don’t know about me’! But this proved to be quite hard for me because as a self-proclaimed “OPEN BOOK” for as long as I can remember, I feel like not much has been left unsaid! LOL! And honestly, if you’ve ever wanted to know something, all you’ve had to do was ask!

But just in case you don’t feel like you know enough, HERE’S EVEN MORE!!! πŸ™‚

  1. I love food. It’s also a huge reason why I gain and lose 40 pounds every few years. I think about it from the moment I wake til the moment I fall asleep, and will often dream about it. I’m not picky about food either, and will try just about anything. What tastes do I hate? Nutmeg, marmalade, and anything obnoxiously slimy. And while I’m on that topic, I LOATHE yogurt with fruit in it. IF IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE SMOOTH, KEEP IT SMOOTH…no chunks, no rogue seeds. Please and thank you.

I’m legit gagging just looking at this pic!

2. What’s my favorite food? Crab legs. I can easily eat 6 pounds in a sitting, which is why ‘all you can eats’ are the only way to maximize my desire for them. I don’t even mess with that 1 pound on a plate BS…THAT’S NOT A “CRAB FEST” RED LOBSTER!!! If we’re talking sweets, I love donuts so freaking much…Duck, Rise, MJ’s, Harris Teeter, Krispy Kreme etc…if the ‘hot light’ is on…I want to be there.

3. I also LOVE olives (all kinds, I’m not picky)…so much so, that I got them in my stocking for Christmas growing up. Why then? Because they were expensive, and my parents didn’t have that kind of money year-round to buy them for me to eat. So Santa would give them to me! πŸ˜‰ Knowing that tradition, Joshua now gets them for me, and every Christmas morning they’re in my stocking. (Say it with me, “AWE!!!!!!!!!”) Which also means that he’s trying to find a grocery store that’s open at 10pm on Christmas Eve to buy said olives πŸ˜‰


4. For as far back as I can remember, I’ve always been “OBSESSED,” and not just in the way the Kardashians say it. πŸ™‚ I was always intrigued by docu-series, and inevitably they’d “educate” me to the point of making me paranoid about something. I became obsessed with washing my hands/spraying down my desks/not touching any door handles/rails, etc. after I watched the one on germs. I also counted every Honda I saw on the road for three years…OUT LOUD. I developed a cough that I had to do every five seconds, or else I would burst (also lasted for years). I would bite all of the skin on the inside of my mouth til it felt totally smooth, except it never would of course (lasted for a decade). For many years, I’d need my hands constantly wet, but I hated the feeling of lotion, so if it had just rained, I was excited to touch every car in the parking lot. I would pick all of the skin off of my feet religiously too. I am SUPER proud to say that the ONLY habit I have left of all of these is my Blistex reliance. Yes, I rely on it. But it hurts NO ONE, and it’s cheap, so I’m not giving it up! Do I realize that I probably had some OCD tendencies, that probably at some point needed medical help? OF COURSE! But look at how I’m doing now?!!! πŸ˜‰

5. On a serious note, speaking of things that needed medical intervention, I had an eating disorder for many years (also watched a docu-series on this), and I probably used everything in #4 as a distraction/to cover up the real issue I was hiding. I was anorexic and bulimic, anorexic for all of 8th grade and parts of my high school life, and bulimic in college. It lasted for about six years on and off, and all came to a head at Appalachian State University when I was on the cheerleading squad. I got busted by some dorm mates, and they confided in some people, and those people told the coach. I was asked to leave the squad, and go get the “help” I needed. I was in group therapy (don’t recommend), individual therapy (with a dude…don’t recommend), and saw a nutritionist. I played along, and tried to get better, but wasn’t getting very far. Then I met Joshua, and all seemed right with the world finally, and I stopped disordering almost immediately, and haven’t relapsed since. He better never leave me…NO PRESSURE JOSHUA! πŸ˜‰

6. Growing up, I LOVED to watch infomercials, and LOVED to watch QVC. I am such a sucker, because I felt like those peeps were talking DIRECTLY TO ME!!! Mission accomplished tv hosts! I don’t know how many Christmases I asked for a food dehydrator, simply because I wanted to make beef jerky! It’s also a HUGE reason why I went to school for broadcasting. I wanted to be one of them more than life itself. Or a host of ‘Regis and Miranda,’ E! News Daily, The Today Show, or Trading Spaces! I even applied to host that show once πŸ˜‰ I can still get sucked in to a QVC broadcast if I’m not careful, but at least this time, I don’t beg my mom to order me the TODAY’S SPECIAL VALUE!!!

7. I haven’t seen any movies that were put out before I became an adult. Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration, but not by much. We weren’t allowed to watch movies growing up…for no specific reason other than my parents wanted us to be OUT of the house, not IN the house. It was also expensive to take us to the movies, so we didn’t go. The exceptions were Batman, and Batman Returns (I don’t know why). This includes Disney movies yall! I saw The Lion King at a friend’s house or else who knows when I would’ve finally watched it?! To this day, I haven’t seen Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, Top Gun, all of the Star Wars pre 2015, The Goonies (I’ve since tried and just CAN’T), ET, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Back to the Futures, Scarface, Indiana Jones’, and the list goes on forever! NOW that I get to make my own decisions, movies are a favorite past time of mine and we go A LOT.

8. What we WERE allowed to watch growing up was JEOPARDY! Yep! We were always allowed to watch JEOPARDY, which means that I’m extremely good at trivia, but a master at nothing πŸ˜‰ I still LOVE to watch it any chance I can, but fully realize I’d never be smart enough to be on it.

9. I secretly want to be a comedienne (watch my Instastories and you’ll see the stage show ;)). But my stage fright would prevent me from ever seeing this to fruition, plus my fun friend, self doubt πŸ˜‰ I’ll say this though…if I ever even got the courage to attend a comedy class, and for some reason decided to step foot on a stage, NO ONE in my life would know about it until I became a huge star. Then I’d let everyone in on the fact that I’m killing the comedy game, and they can get seats for my special that I’m obviously taping for Comedy Central. And I realize having stage fright doesn’t seem like “me” because I’m an emcee, on television a lot, and do speaking engagements often. But comedy is a whole ‘nother ballgame (as is karaoke).

10. I’ve wanted to be a surrogate for seven or so years. Ever since I had Lilly (our second who is 8 years old), and we knew she was our last kiddo, I wanted to help others who couldn’t have babies. I wanted to be a gustational surrogate, which means it’s the other couple’s egg and sperm (or a donor’s), not mine or Joshua’s. I have extremely easy/uneventful pregnancies, and I was watching so many friends close to me go through infertility. I knew I could carry a child, and “give it up” to its parents without issue, because 1. it’s not my baby, 2. I didn’t get super attached to my own children in vitro 3. it’s not my baby 4. it’s a contractual agreement that everyone enters together 5. it’s not my baby. (Did I make the point that’s it’s not MY baby?) It’s an intense process full of ups and downs, highs and lows, and I actually have offered a few of my friends my uterus. But the couples all ended up getting pregnant on their own (which is awesome)!!! I doubt it’s still in the cards for me to do (being a mom of two, a nanny of two, and a guardian of four keeps my life ever-changing as it is), but it’s on my heart for sure, and always will be!

So now that I’ve shared a TON of personal information about myself, share something about you in the comments, so I can feel less vulnerable πŸ˜‰ PRETTY PLEASE…don’t make me beg πŸ™‚ If enough people play along, I’ll do another list because as I was writing this, I realized there’s plenty more to share!

PIN IT!




Can kindness be the super hero this Halloween?




It’s that time of year again. You know the time. When people complain about kids who don’t live near them, or kids who don’t live in their neighborhood, coming to their house to ask for a PIECE OF CANDY. Yep, I’m referring to the Halloween Haters.

I know. I know. You live in the huge, popular neighborhood (Baxter Village, Willowmere, Providence Plantation), where you not only have to provide candy to your regular neighborhood kids, but also to kids who DON’T LIVE THERE.

{Here is where I’m supposed to loudly gasp with disgust}

Oh yeah. Except, I’m not disgusted by it. And maybe that’s because I don’t live in the big neighborhood, so I’m not forking over the added cost of feeding children for ONE NIGHT A YEAR. But I just can’t imagine that I would be as livid and as rude as I’ve seen some people be on social media about this. Actually, I know I wouldn’t be like that because I believe the more the merrier, and that we belong to each other, but I digress. Yes, I see your posts/comments. Fun fact: Your comments are seen by your friends’ friends. Yes, I think it’s crazy you’re upset.

I actually saw where a woman had typed,Β “I think they’re BUSING the poor kids in from miles away!” Or this gem, “I’ve never been a fan of people who go to other neighborhoods to trick or treat.” And another facebooker said, “I’m sick of paying for the extra mouths of the kids I don’t see in our neighborhood on a daily basis…I spent an extra $100 last year!”

WOW.

Let me mention this, in case you’ve forgotten, or it hasn’t dawned on you. Not every kid lives in a neighborhood. Some live on a busy street with no sidewalk. Not every kid lives near other homes. The next closest home might be 5 miles away. Not every kid lives near people who participate in Halloween. Not every kid lives in a SAFE neighborhood where they can walk outside (before OR after dark) and knock on unfamiliar doors, knowing they won’t be in danger.

NOT EVERY KID HAS WHAT YOUR KID HAS…a neighborhood, filled with homes that are warm and welcoming. Or maybe they aren’t, huh?! So I BEG YOU, before you complain AGAIN this year about this “problem,” keep some perspective. You have to buy extra candy, and see some unfamiliar faces, for a few hours on ONE night out of 365. But you may just make a kid’s (or many kids) day, week, or possibly life.

Because these are memories that can last a lifetime. Not just from the Halloween standpoint. But maybe they’ll notice that strangers were kind to them? Maybe they’ll get candy for the first time in a long time, because their parents struggle to get dinner on the table, let alone the “extras” like candy/pencils/stickers/treats?! Or maybe they just really love the decorations your neighborhood puts on display, where their home has none to look at? Maybe they just want to have carefree FUN for one night, and your neighborhood provides that for them?

Sure, there are probably some ungrateful, rude, disrespectful bad eggs in the bunch. But that goes for any neighborhood in America, and I can assure you that some of those rude kids LIVE in your neighborhood FYI! And even if they don’t, why punish the good kids because of a few?

So I ask you, is it really THAT big of a deal? Is it really THAT hard to give them a treat without being bitter? Is it really worth saying anything unkind about them, or their parents who may drive them there?!

And while I’m on the topic of giving out candy even when you don’t want to…give it to the dang teenagers and kids who didn’t put on a costume. I’m thrilled to pieces that they still want to get out there and walk door to door. I also don’t know their motives behind collecting the candy. I know of a few dentist offices that have a “buy back” program, where they’ll give you cash for your pounds of candy, and then they ship that candy to troops overseas! I call that hustling at its finest πŸ˜‰ Or maybe they’re not getting enough food at home, and haven’t eaten since their free lunch at school? Do they have sensory issues and costumes just don’t work for them, as it’s tough enough to just get them dressed in pants with buttons on them? Does it really bother you THAT MUCH if they’re “too old” or “not dressed up,” or are you “supposed” to be pissed?

Here’s an idea…try not to be annoyed. Instead, feel gratitude. Be appreciative that you live in such a wonderful neighborhood, that people WANT to be in it. Because, if you love all of the perks (fun, safety, decor, kindness) of where you live, how can you expect others not to notice, and want the same, for even just one night?

Or there’s always this idea…turn off the light, don’t answer the door, save all of your money, and don’t see any of the joy you could’ve brought to many faces. Like these…

 

 

 

Throwing back to 2015 I think?!

Let’s have kindness be the superhero this Halloween, shall we?!




Halloween meals from breakfast to dessert!





I LOVE THE HOLIDAYS! I long for a reason to celebrate anything, and with any given holiday, there’s typically the extra promise of more family time! And Halloween is no exception in our house! I decorated six weeks ago, and have been coming up with fun ideas to play up the holiday with THIS post, and THIS one too! Please go check them out πŸ™‚

But this post is all about the actual day, from start to finish! You have to feed your family/yourself anyways, right?! So why not make each meal have a Halloween component, or theme?! I’m giving you some ideas, and I promise you they are SIMPLE, CHEAP, and EASY (otherwise know as my “happiness trifecta”) πŸ˜‰

Let’s start with breakfast…

We don’t always start our days with sugary donuts, but it’s Halloween, so we’re going all out! Take a chocolate Entenmanns pop-em (or chocolate donut hole), and place it in the center of a cake donut (glazed would work fine too). Then take a piping bag filled with black buttercream, and pipe four legs on each side coming out of the spider “body.” DONE!
#protip: you may need to make the hole of the cake donut bigger, so carve out a bit with a knife to create more room!

Moving on to lunch:

I’ve already showed yall how to make these cute Halloween-themed Babybel treats over HERE, but look how great they fit in the girls’ lunch cubes (link will be at the bottom of post for these)!
#protip: use these silicone cupcake liners to separate the food!

On to after school snack:

Knowing that they’re going to eat more sweets than usual tonight, I’m going to give the minis fruit for their after school snack! Pineapple, mandarin oranges and whipped cream make the cutest candy corn fruit parfaits! You could even put a few candy corns on top if you want!
#protip: use a martini glass to get that perfect triangular shape (I used a low-ball because there’s a less likely chance it gets knocked over than one with a stem)

What’s for dinner:

I’m not reinventing the wheel here, as you’ve probably all seen this one, but it’s a crowd favorite so I keep making them! Hot dog mummies are not only cute, but with three ingredients, I’m sold! Take crescent rolls and cut the dough into thin strips. Wrap them around hot dogs in any design you want, leaving room for the mustard eyes! Bake according to package instructions!
#protip: you can cut into the hot dog to make legs and arms if you’d like, but I love them either way!

Room for dessert?!

Maybe you’re hosting a Halloween party? Or have a Halloween birthday? “Make” this cake! Make is in parentheses because I bought this one from the grocery store (ask for double layer, smooth base iced, no border…it’s only $10), and decorated it myself with Oreos, M&Ms and Wilton eyeballs! Use buttercream to attach the Oreos on to the cake, and the candy on to the oreos. The grocery’s bakery will sell you spare buttercream yall!
#protip: TWIST your oreos VERY slowly in order to keep as much cream on the one cookie as possible

If cupcakes are easier, use the same technique as the cake!

And for every special occasion, we buy the Welch’s sparkling juice, and our minis absolutely love it (probably because they don’t have juice on typical days)! I found these plastic goblets at the grocery store, and they make the perfect vessel to hold the vampire blood, I mean red grape juice πŸ˜‰

If you decide to do all, some, or even just one of these ideas, please make sure to tag me at #MirandainCLT so I can see your creations! Don’t forget to check out my gluten free Halloween bark treat HERE!

Check out my segment from NBC’s Charlotte Today!

Some of the things I used in this post:

Have so much fun, be safe, and HAPPY HALLOWEEN!




How to make gluten free Halloween Bark!





My daughter, Bella, recently went gluten free. Without getting too much into her personal body stuff, her stomach has been hurting for a long time. And with her aunt and nanna both having gluten sensitivities, I decided to eliminate it from her diet and see if there was an improvement. I knew it would probably be the first thing her pediatrician suggested too, so I figured I’d do this experiment before I paid a copay πŸ˜‰

My beautiful Bella!

Sure enough, she is feeling MUCH BETTER! She hardly ever says her stomach hurts anymore, and sure, it could be the placebo effect, but I’m thinking this really may be helping her for reals! But since she’s been gluten free for about 3-4 weeks now, she’s had to give up a lot of her favorite treats. And with Halloween coming up, I wanted to make her something special…to show her she can still indulge, and yet stay on track!

ENTER GLUTEN FREE BARK!!!

I’m a fan of making bark year round, for any occasion, because it is SO FREAKING EASY, but also because if gives me a chance to use up a bunch of random stuff I might have laying around in my pantry! For this bark, I honestly had put a bunch of gluten-free candy in my grocery cart, but then I started thinking about everything I already had on hand at home (that I’ve been putting in her lunches), and threw this together with only having to buy the chocolate at the store!

Start with melting the chocolate; I used this kind…

Remember our chocolate-dipped strawberries from Easter? I told yall to always save your colored chocolate, right?! That’s because you can reheat it again and again! So I grabbed my orange and got it all melted (add vegetable oil if it’s thicker than you’d like), and get ready to swirl!

Next, have all of your toppings ready to go! I used (always double check your packaging for gluten-free goods):

  • Gluten free pretzels sticks (love the ones from Aldi)
  • Mini marshmallows
  • M&Ms (orange)
  • Trail mix (peanuts, cashews, raisens, etc.)
  • Popcorn

Line your cookie sheet with parchment paper, pour the melted chocolate onto it, and spread it out in a nice even layer (edges do not need to be straight at all). Grab your orange chocolate and just drop it on the milk chocolate…no need to be perfect here either because you’re going to swirl it anyways! Take a toothpick, tip of a knife, skewer, butter knife, whatever, and start making figure eights all over the chocolate until it looks pretty!

Working quickly (while it’s still melted), drop the toppings all over the chocolate mixture! Once they’re all on there, press the pieces that are sticking up and not touching any chocolate, to make sure they’ll harden in it and stay put. Pop the cookie sheet in the fridge and let harden completely.

Once cooled, take it out, break it up (with your hands), and display/wrap them up however you’d like! I used clear spiderweb bags so the cute bark can still be seen through them, but use whatever you find that’s cute!

 

This treat is so perfect because it can be adapted to ANYTHING…any occasion, holiday, color scheme, etc. The possibilities truly are endless! These make a great hostess gift, especially with holiday season coming up. Because they can stay fresh in your fridge, you can always have some on hand, although you don’t have to refrigerate them by any means! You know what I would do if I were you? I’d take some of my kids’ Halloween candy and save it to make Christmas bark πŸ™‚

And guess who loved her gluten free surprise after school today?!

Poor girl busted her lip!

DON’T FORGET TO PIN IT!!

Check out my other Halloween post about how to use Babybel cheese as the perfect Halloween snack, and it’s also gluten free (plus I need your vote on something over there)!

What are you going to put on your bark?!




Halloween Crafts using a healthy food?!





Nothing says “holiday season” to me, like signing up for a million things to bring to your kids’ classrooms, #amiright?! I actually really love to do this sort of stuff NOW that I don’t own the cakery, and delight in trying to come up with creative ways to use ordinary things. And as usual, budget is of the essence, as is time, and of course when food is involved with a ton of kids, I try to sneak in a healthy item here and there! I mean, they’ll get enough candy Halloween night πŸ˜‰

Enter Babybel mini cheese snacks! Who doesn’t love these cute, little, portable, delicious 100% real cheese snacks?!!! And for the month of October, the original flavor has Halloween packaging on it, which just adds to the fun! And for someone like me (who is eating low carb, I am living for all things cheese, but I digress) πŸ˜‰ Back to the kids! And not only will this work well for a class party/craft, it’s super cute to throw in a lunch box as a surprise for your kiddo!

So in the spirit of coming up with a fun kids’ craft, that would be a hit for 25 or so kids, relatively inexpensive, AND double as a snack, I present to you…

Babybel goes BOO!

Here are three ways to use those cute little cheese wheels, using the same three supplies of a plastic tablecloth, pipe cleaners, and a sharpie (all found at the Dollar Tree for a total of $4):

GHOULISH GHOSTS…


Cut a square of the plastic, white tablecloth, and put your mini Babybel cheese in the center. Fold over, and gather underneath the cheese, and using a silver pipe cleaner, twist until secure, and trim the excess! Draw oval eyes on the front of the ghost’s face, and voila!

CUTE CANDY…

Cut a rectangle out of any fun, printed plastic tablecloth, and put your mini Babybel cheese in the center. Fold the tablecloth together lengthwise and tape the back seam. Then, using two pipe cleaners, one on each side, twist until secure! You now have a fun piece of candy, just like you’d get in your bucket on Halloween night!

PERFECTLY PUMPKIN…

For this one, I made a video to show you the how-to! It’s one minute long, and super easy to do!

TIME TO VOTE!

I’m curious as to which project you like best? Click on the pic that’s your favorite! OH, and when you get to the Babybel website, make sure you click on the OK button at the top to let them know I sent ya!


That’s it friends! Couldn’t be simpler to make fun, delicious, Halloween-themed treats, for not a lot of money! Speaking of not a lot of money, Target is running deals on Babybel all month long, so grab some from your local store! Let’s not act like you’re not there three times a week anyways (cough, cough)! πŸ˜‰

My little ghoul, I mean, girl πŸ˜‰

Speaking of Halloween, check out THIS POST to see how to make gluten free Halloween bark!

Don’t forget to pin this!!!





Cake isn’t my favorite dessert!

ARE YOU SHOCKED?!

Well, you shouldn’t be if you follow me on social media πŸ˜‰ Because I’ve admitted this a number of times! Don’t get me wrong…I like cake, but I don’t looooooovvvve cake. What I do love is sugar in general. I’m addicted to sugar (well I was until 6 weeks ago…more on that later). And since I owned a cakery for ten years, people assume that I must love cake the most! A fair assumption for sure, but nonetheless incorrect. I’m a pie, cobbler, crumble, cookie, ice cream, froyo, macaroon (NOT macaron), cheesecake, brownie kind-of-girl.




Which got me to thinking…can I make a tiered cake out of my favorite desserts?! And thus give people a different option to the traditional tiered cakes?!

Which led me to this precise idea…

A BROWNIE A LA MODE CAKE!!!

And I’m not gonna lie…I think it’s kind of brilliant πŸ˜‰ We have a restaurant we eat at often that has the best brownie a la mode (besides my dad’s), and it’s HEAVEN. So I recreated it in a tiered cake form, minus the chocolate and caramel drizzle (simply because I ran out of time), not because I didn’t want to do it πŸ˜‰

Watch the video! And even if you aren’t interested in a brownie cake per se, you’ll see other tips, tricks, and techniques used to stack/make a tiered cake in general! From how to use cardboard rounds and straws to support a tier to which piping tip is my favorite to how to make the perfect whipped cream!

And speaking of whipped cream…since it is used at the “icing” in this “cake,” make sure it’s not out of the fridge for longer than 4 hours at a time!

This would also make a great alternative to the “naked cake” trend right now, since brownie edges are supposed to be crunchy anyways #amiright?!

Without further ado, here’s the video!!!

Here’s the video I referenced on how to level a cake, or brownie πŸ™‚

Let me know in the comments if you have any questions, comments or concerns! And here are some of the products I used in the videos!

 

 

 

 

DIY candle decor for the fall!




You know the signs.

The crispness in the air, the colors of the leaves, holidays are fast approaching, and seasonal decor makes it’s appearance! It’s that time of year…

IT’S FALL, YALL!!!

Fall is admittedly my favorite season, but not because I like PSLs (I tried one once and thought it was awful), or wear UGGS (never owned a pair), or because chunky sweaters are LIFE (they just make my chins more prominent). It’s because it’s the time for LOTS of family togetherness! I have a HUGE family, and we use any excuse to party together, but the holidays are all that much more fun when you have a big family to celebrate them with.

I also love that Joshua will take a bit more time off of work, we’ll have more time together in our little family of four, and we may even try to get to NYC at some point during the holiday season, even if only for a few days!

But fall just says COZY to me. Snuggle up with the ones you love, get a fire going in the fireplace, and curl up under a blanket. I love condo living, but we don’t have a fireplace and it bums me out. So we did the next best thing…put a mantle up, and have lanterns of different sizes and shapes filled with candles under it. It’s not the same obvi, but it sets the mood just fine πŸ™‚

Speaking of candles, they’re great for so many reasons…from scent to glow to look…they make a room in my opinion! So I’m going to share SEVEN of my DIY candle ideas with you! Almost everything you see was bought at the Dollar Tree, with a few items from Walmart, so you know that these are also affordable projects! {PRAISE HANDS}

  • The Pumpkin Spice Latte…

Found this glass coffee mug at the store, filled it with whole coffee beans, and sunk a pumpkin spice candle down in the beans! And as the candle starts to burn and warm up, the fragrance of a PSL fills the air! I like the scent, but not the drink, go figure!

  • The Crisp Apple…

Plain glass vase, plus burlap around the side, tied with twine and an apple-scented candle dropped inside…reminds of apple picking in the mountains (which we’ve never done, but makes a lovely anecdote doesn’t it?! ;))

  • The Not-candy Corn…

You don’t always have to buy a vase/votive; just look around the house! I filled a martini low-ball glass with popcorn kernels, and sunk a tea light in them. Then I found a candy corn-colored striped ribbon, and tied it around the neck of the glass! But why not candy corn you ask?! It certainly is in season, right? But let’s be honest…if it was filled with candy corn, I’d want to eat every last one of them. It’s safer this way πŸ˜‰

  • The Footballer…

This one is super fun for kids and you can do the concept a million different ways, so please customize it for your kiddos how you see fit! But fall means football to me, so I chose that fabric. Walmart sells fabric squares for less than a dollar, so grab a few (I was looking for plaid but didn’t find one that day), and cut a strip of one. Wrap it around a tin soup can you’ve cleaned out, and secure it with a dot of glue, and an extra ribbon! Then instead of using a real candle/lighter and having to worry about the flame/burning, just use a battery-operated light!

  • The Colorful Leaves…

Again, I started with a cheap glass vase, and then used leaves bought at the dollar tree, and hot glued them all over. When a candle goes inside of this, the colors are gorgeous!!! After you hot glue them on, you could always seal them with Modpodge, but I didn’t!

  • The Cinnamon Stick…

Start with a plain pillar candle, and wrap a sheet of paper around the side of it, because as much as I wish hot glue would stick a cinnamon stick to the candle, it won’t. WHY?! Because hot glue melts wax yall!!! {Not speaking from personal experience or anything} πŸ˜‰ So wrap in paper, glue the sticks on to the paper, and then cut the remaining paper off! YALL. When this one is lit and warmed up?!!! Close your eyes and imagine the smell. You’re welcome.

  • The Glitter and Hemp?!

I like mixing high and low in decor, and this candle is no exception. Starting with a plain pillar again, wrap some sparkly ribbon around and secure it with a push pin. After that, take your roll of hemp, cut off a piece, and make a letter on the side over the existing ribbon, using more push pins. I did M for Miller, but these would look so pretty spread down the center of a table, on a mantle, on your porch, wherever, and they could spell out your whole last name!

These candles are simply meant to give you some ideas, but always add your own spin on them as you see fit! Do multiples of them and use them as centerpieces to a tablescape. Line a mantle with an array of them. Maybe even give them as gifts…they make awesome hostess gifts!

Also, don’t forget to pin it!