Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Antipasto Skewers

It's the night before Thanksgiving and all through the house, no one is sleeping, not even a mouse. Mom is frantically putting pies in the oven and making the trimmings with lots of loving.

It truly is the night before Thanksgiving and I truly am babysitting food for tomorrow's feast. We had done Thanksgiving by ourselves more than once, but this is the first time we are having my husband's entire family over for the meal. We did a pretty good job divvying up the food, so I am focused on the turkey, tablescapes and before meal snacks. When I am great food for people to much on before the biggest meal of the year, I want them to be something light and delicious, something that helps their stomachs not growl without filling them up so much they can't eat. These antipasto skewers are perfect.

We are so excited to start creating some new family memories with new delicious recipes we are trying out this year, including this one.
There are so many different ways to make an antipasto bar, but I prefer them on skewers, everything is more fun to eat on a skewer and then people can load up and walk away from them table instead of crowding it.

You will need:

I leave everything out on cutting boards and small bowls so that people can assemble their own, or you can premake them if you think it is easier. Just slide olives, peppers, mozzarella balls, tomatoes and small stacks of prosciutto onto the skewers. I always pour a little of the dipping oil off of the artisan olives for dipping bread and skewers in. It is delicious! 
The best part of this appetizer is that it looks really fancy without a crazy amount of work. Your guests will love it and you will love that you go to bed a little bit earlier the night before Thanksgiving.

Click here to enter win a Mezetta Holiday Memories Pack!
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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Peppermint Cake Muddy Buddies

I love peppermint. Peppermint candy, peppermint ice cream, but especially cake with peppermint frosting. It is absolutely delicious way to celebrate the season. I have always wanted to create a cake flavored Muddy Buddy recipe and when I saw the crushed candy canes at Winco, I knew that the recipe needed to mimic one of my favorite holiday treat.

This sweet and flavorful take on Muddy Buddies has all the taste of cake batter with just the perfect hint of peppermint and because I was in the mood for extra chocolate, I threw in some Christmas candy too!

You will need: 

  • 6 Cups of Rice Chex (Right now you can save $1 on Bulk Foods when you buy any two boxes of Chex cereal  at Winco)
  • 12 oz of vanilla melting chocolate (use melting chocolate, not chocolate chips)
  • 1 and 1/4 cups Betty Crocker Yellow Cake Mix ( You can also save  $1 on Bulk Foods when you buy four Better Crocker SuperMoist Cake Mix or Ready to Spread Frosting at Winco)
  • 1/2 Cup Powdered Sugar 
  • 1/2 C. Crushed Candy Canes
  • Christmas Sixlets just for fun

Melt the chocolate in the microwave in 30 second increments. Using melting chocolate versus white chocolate chips ensures a better and smoother chocolate. I use chocolate chips when I make things with milk chocolate, but always using melting chocolate for white chocolate. Stirring each time. When the chocolate is smooth pour it over the cereal in a large bowl.
 Stir the chocolate into the cereal, thoroughly coating it. Combine the cake mix, powdered sugar and candy cane bits and then pour over top of the cereal. Mix to combine well. If you want a stronger peppermint taste, you can always add more to your taste. I bought crushed candy canes in bulk at Winco, but you could always use a food processor too.
What is your favorite Christmas treat?

Would you like to win a $10 Amazon Gift Card to help with your Christmas shopping this year? All you have to do is head over to Winco's Site here and then leave a comment here telling me which of the two recipes feature on the home page would you want to make this Christmas season! (You can also get another entry on our Facebook page!
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You Can Never Have Too Many Guitars

I received a Sweetwater gift card as part of my relationship with the Quality Blue Community. All opinions expressed are my own.
There is just something about the guitar. The moment I saw my husband playing the guitar, I was sold. He could have proposed right then and I would have said yes. It is such a beautiful, swoon worthy instrument that I have fallen more and more in love with over the years. In the past 9 years, listening to my husband play his guitar almost daily has been one of my favorite things. While we were dating, he wrote and recorded a song for me, I listen to it often, especially when I am away on business trips of having a bad day. He has since written songs for our little girls, some silly and some sweet. I think their favorite song is the hurry up song that he plays when we are going to be late somewhere and they are still getting ready. 

Ever since we have had kids, one of the guitars in our house has found its home on the floor. We have always strongly believed the way to get kids interested in music, is to let them experience for themselves often from an early age. My husband just starting teaching our 7-year-old how to play the guitar and as you can see, she thinks she is quite the rocker all ready. 

Almost every person who has walked into our house has freaked out when their small children have touched the guitar and then had their mouth drop open in shock when we tell them that we don't mind if their kids play it, in fact we love it when they do. Even when there are cringe worthy musical moments from the kids, I am always glad we have guitars in our house. 
We have five guitars in our house. Two electrics, two acoustics and this gorgeous Fender CD-60CE - All Mahogany acoustic-electric. This gorgeous guitar was a dream come true in our house. My husband has always wanted an acoustic-electric because who doesn't want to be able to play louder? 

After a bad experience buying a guitar in high school, where he ended up with a defective guitar my husband is wary of who he purchases guitars from. We were both nervous to buy our next guitar online but Sweetwaters guarantees convinced us. The Sweetwater site is very easy to use and has a ton of information about each guitar. I happen to have my own guitar guru in my husband, but Sweetwater makes it possible for everyone to feel like they have their own guitar guru helping them purchase their guitar. After I placed the order, someone from Sweetwater actually called to see if I had any questions they could answer. They CALLED. Seriously, nobody does that anymore! 

Sweetwater offers free tech support on all purchases and a 2 year warranty on every guitar. Every guitar goes through a 55 point inspection. The inspection includes playability (stretching the strings and checking for playability), electronics (checking for a smoothless and noiseless operation), fit and finish (check the body and fingerboard), hardware and the case. They even tune the guitar before the ship it. I love knowing that I am getting a guitar that is guaranteed to be in perfect condition. It provides the peace of mind you need to buy a guitar online. I don't think I could purchase anywhere else but Sweetwater. 

This guitar sounds gorgeous both plugged in and played acoustically. My husband loves the on board tuner and clarity of each string allows for better picking while still having gorgeous chords. The cut away lets you do a more solo work than a typical guitar and honestly, it is just simply gorgeous. It has become a family favorite in a short amount of time and my 7-year-old is convinced we need to let her have it for Christmas. 

 My daughter loves this guitar and since I think we might need a smaller guitar while she grows into this one we will be shopping Sweetwater's Cyber Monday deals for the best one for her. I am so glad my little ones love music and the guitar especially. 
Check out Sweetwater's Cyber Monday deals this coming week to score the best deal for the musician or aspiring musician in your life!
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Monday, November 23, 2015

Reddington's Red Cherry Tarts

Blacklist, Reddington
We are huge The Blacklist fans in our house. We started out watching it when it first started to air and expected it to be my like dramas. We watch a few episodes, get really bored and stop halfway through the first season. The Blacklist hasn't been like that at all for us. We can hardly wait until the next episode. These tarts remind me a little bit of Reddington because they are rich and delicious, but also a little sneaky with the ingredients. We love to mix up a batch before the show starts and there are rarely any afterward!

You will need:

  • 2 8-oz packages of cream cheese (softened)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • vanilla wafers
  • cupcake wrappers
  • cherry pie filling 

Mix together the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and eggs together until very smooth. Add a wafer to the bottom of each muffin tin. Sometimes I make mini versions of these with a mini muffin tin and the wafers are the perfect size to fill the bottom.
Spoon the filling over the wafers until each cupcake wrapper is two thirds full of filling. This should take just about all of the filling you made.
Bake the tarts at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. It usually takes my oven on the longer side for these to be completely set. Wait for the cheesecakes to cool completely and then top with cherry pie filling for the perfect finishing touch.
Our one struggle with The Blacklist has been that we are never around when it is actually airing. We struggle to catch it on the air and then sometimes can't find it on demand later. It can be frustrating to miss one of our favorite shows, especially one that has an overlying season arc that you can miss pieces of. NBC has released NBC TVE which makes catching up on your favorite shows, like Blacklist and Heroes Reborn easier than ever. You don't have to worry about recording it, just sit down and watch it whenever you want to! Sign in with your TV provider info and you can watch entire seasons of select shows! 

If you haven't started watching The Blacklist, what are you waiting for? In the third season of the hit NBC drama “The Blacklist,” FBI Agent Elizabeth “Liz” Keen  is now a fugitive and on the run with criminal mastermind Raymond “Red” Reddington. With Assistant FBI Director Harold Cooper under investigation, a conflicted Agent Donald Ressler leads the FBI Task Force on a massive manhunt for Liz and Red – more dangerous together than apart since Liz has expert knowledge of FBI procedures and no one exceeds Red's vast resources. As they struggle to stay one step ahead of their former colleagues and Liz immerses herself into Red’s underworld of disreputable contacts and covert operations, will the notorious list of new Blacklisters this season play a key role in their survival or their demise? 
So what are you waiting for? Click the image or here to watch now! 
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Sunday, November 22, 2015

Play Felt Gingerbread House

 I kept telling myself to wait just three more days until Thanksgiving was over to pull out the Christmas crafts, but I couldn't help it! Christmas crafts are so much fun to make and I LOVE how many of them can involve my kids. In the past, I have made felt Christmas trees for my kiddos, so they can decorate them over and over and leave my tree alone. This year it hit me. Why not do the same thing with a Gingerbread House? My kids were both thrilled when I told them my idea and sat with me the whole time I was making their house. They have had a blast with it.
 This house is super easy to make, it took me about a half hour and some basic supplies.

You will need:

 Empty your tissue box and save the tissues for later, or just wait for one to be empty. It is cold and flu season, I am sure you will end up with a Kleenex Lotion box in no time! Cut a long strip of tan felt. It should be slightly wider than your box and tall enough to go all the way up the sides.
 Cut a skinnier strip of tan. It should fit in the space you see above. Hot glue that skinny strip to the box and then hot glue the long strip on the opposite side, folding it around the edges, kind of like a present.
 Cut a long strip or white or sparkly white felt and glue around the edge.
 Fold your cardboard piece in half, so it creates the roof.
 Cover the roof in sparkly white and hot glue a triangle of tan on the edges to complete the house. I didn't do any gluing on the bottom of the roof, so that it still folds easily for storage.
 Fold the felt on the bottom into the opening and hot glue. You don't want to cover the opening because you want a place to be able to store the pieces.
 Using different colors of felt, cut out pieces for your house. I cut a brown door, some white frosted windows, a wreath, some hearts and a tree which I glued little ornament pom-poms to.
 I also gave my daughter some pieces of felt and let her cut out a bunch of different shapes to play with to. She had a blast just with a few scraps making little decorations for the house.
 Let your kids decorate the house over and over again with the felt pieces and when they are done, just slide them inside the Kleenex box for storage!
When we are down for the count in our house, we count on Kleenex Lotion. It is the only facial tissue I can count on to be soft on little noses when they have to be wiped over and over again. We love to buy them from Sam's Club because then we always have enough on hand for cold and flu season. Being able to create cute crafts from the boxes is just a bonus! 

What would you create from a Kleenex box? 
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Diono Pacifica Convertible + Booster Car Seat Giveaway

Diono Pacifica Giveaway It's the holiday seasons and that means there's a good chance that you'll be traveling with your family a lot over the next few weeks! We want your little ones to be safe while you're on the road, so we've teamed up with our friends at Diono to bring you a fantastic giveaway for the Diono Pacifica Convertible + Booster Car Seat!
Here are some details about the Pacifica Convertible+Booster Car Seat from Diono:
The New Diono Pacifica is the ultimate in car seat safety with new extra deep side walls providing enhanced side impact protection, taking Diono car seats to a whole new level. With its extended rear-facing capabilities, it can comfortably seat rear-facing children from 5 to 50 lbs. and forward-facing children from 20 to 90 lbs. in 5-point harness mode (up to 57" in height). Additionally, it converts to a booster for children between 50 and 120 lbs. or up to 57" in height. Its unique SuperLATCH™ system makes installation easy and the Pacifica is NCAP crash tested, the industry benchmark for verifying child seat performance in severe accident conditions. The Pacifica has a space saving design allows extra room for passengers while providing a spacious interior for child. It also folds flat for travel and is FAA certified for air travel.
Janessa from the blog Thrifty Nifty Mommy recently had a chance to review the Diono Pacifica Convertible + Booster car seat. Make sure you check out her full review to read about her experience with this car seat.
Diono want to give one lucky reader their very own Pacifica Convertible + Booster car seat! Open to the US only, ages 18 and up. Ends 12/7/15 at 11:59 PM EST. Enter using the Giveaway Tools form below. Good Luck!
Entry Form Disclosure: This giveaway is hosted by Viva Veltoro and Thrifty Nifty Mommy, and generously sponsored by Diono. Thrifty Nifty Mommy, Viva Veltoro, and the participating blogs are not responsible for prize fulfillment. Please contact vivaveltoro(at) with questions about this giveaway. One winner will be randomly selected using the Giveaway Tools random selector and notified via email. Once notified, the winner will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or Google. Void where prohibited.

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Thursday, November 19, 2015

Kids Craft:Hand Print Wreath

This sweet and simple craft is one of our favorite things to make around Christmas time. My little ones love tracing their hands and this craft takes about 20 minutes, perfect for short attention spans.

You will need:

  • red and green construction paper
  • a pencil
  • scissors
  • tape or glue
  • a large paper plate

Trace your child's hands over and over again. I ended needed 7 of each color. If your child is smaller, you might need more.
Cut out all of the hands.
Cut out the center of the paper plate. I really like to use a sturdy plate, it helps the wreath hold up so much better.
Tape or glue your hands around the wreath. overlapping a little on each hand. I alternated the colors, but you can go with whatever pattern you want.
Hang on the fridge or door for all to see! Have you ever made one of these with your kids?
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