Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

Parmesan Risotto With Roasted Shrimp

Monday, February 1st, 2016

Parmesan Risotto With Roasted Shrimp from MomAdvice.com

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and for many years I have chosen to honor this occasion with a special dish for my man. Battling crowded restaurants is one of the least romantic ways to spend this holiday so instead we choose to eat a special dinner at home.  In years past, I focused my efforts on mastering a restaurant-worthy filet, a skill I never thought I could nail. This year, I wanted to challenge myself to make a great risotto for our feast. Mastering risotto has been on my wish list of cooking skills because it is the dish I always order when dining out. Risotto is pricey for such a humble dish when dining out, but one bite has always made it worth it for me. Risotto is gluten-free comfort food at its finest and a beautiful dish to prepare for your favorite Valentine this year.

Rice Select Arborio Rice

When you head to the grocery store, you are looking for Arborio Rice. This is the exact brand I used and it was perfection. Can I be honest and say it was sitting in my pantry for months because I lost my nerve to make risotto? That is the truth! Arborio rice is an Italian short-grain rice. It is named after the town of Arborio, in the Po Valley, where it is grown. When cooked, the rounded grains are firm, creamy, and chewy, due to their higher amylopectin starch content. It creates a deliciously starchy and creamy dish that compliments other flavors that are added to it and it is the rice that is most commonly used to create risotto.

Parmesan Risotto With Roasted Shrimp from MomAdvice.com

Have you had risotto before? If you haven’t yet, you are in for a real treat! It has a reputation for being a fussy dish, but really this dish takes just thirty minutes or less. In fact, I remember watching risotto preparation for the first time on a Rachael Ray 30 Minute Meal show. What makes risotto so delicious is actually you stirring the dish throughout that thirty minutes to release those starches in the rice that helps to create that creamy comforting flavor. The privilege of being the stirrer is having another hand to do the wine sipping as the dish pulls together. It’s a great reason to volunteer for the job, in my opinion.

For a first risotto these simple flavors are so easy to pull together. The shrimp dressed simply in paprika adds a beautiful smoky flavor on top of these creamy bowls of risotto. I have found that the wine, parmesan cheese, and frozen shrimp are all very affordable at ALDI.  That isn’t sponsored talk, I’m just a true store enthusiast!

For frugal girls like myself, I have even found that the risotto reheats well with the addition of a little stock to bring it back together on the stovetop. If you prefer though you can also transform the leftovers into risotto cakes, which I have found makes a delicious addition on top of a spinach salad!

Parmesan Risotto With Roasted Shrimp from MomAdvice.com

Parmesan Risotto With Roasted Shrimp
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6 servings
 
Risotto is an elegantly comforting gluten-free dish that is perfect for a slowed down feast or to celebrate any of life's occasions. Be sure to read the tips for ideas on what to do with leftover risotto.
Ingredients
  • 1 pound medium shrimp
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 1½ cups grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup finely chopped Italian parsley, divided
Instructions
  1. Heat the oven to 400°F. Rinse the shrimp and pat them very dry. Toss them with olive oil and then the paprika and a generous quantity of salt and pepper. Spread them in a baking dish and return them to the refrigerator.
  2. Warm the broth in a saucepan set over low heat.
  3. In a separate Dutch oven or wide, deep sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook until they are soft and beginning to brown around the edges, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the rice and stir thoroughly to make sure it is coated with the butter and onions. Cook the rice for an additional 1 to 2 minutes.
  4. Deglaze the pan with the white wine, stirring and scraping the pan until the wine has evaporated.
  5. Begin incrementally adding the warm broth one ladle at a time, stirring frequently. Wait to add another ladle until the liquid has been almost completely absorbed by the rice. This gradual addition of liquid is key to getting the rice to release its starch and create its own delicious sauce. It is important to take your time with this to achieve the creamy texture you are after. If the broth is evaporating very quickly, or the rice is boiling hard, turn the heat down so you just see a gentle simmer. Expect this stage to take about 18 minutes, and to add most of the broth.
  6. Begin tasting the rice after about 13 minutes to gauge how far it has cooked. The risotto is ready when the rice is still a bit chewy, and the dish has the consistency of thick porridge.
  7. In the last 5 minutes of cooking the risotto, put the pan of prepared shrimp in the oven. Bake for 5 minutes or until the shrimp are pink.
  8. When the risotto is ready, turn off the heat and stir in the Parmesan and about ½ cup chopped parsley. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
  9. Serve immediately, spreading risotto in pasta bowls and topping with shrimp and a sprinkle of chopped parsley.

 Recipe Slightly Adapted From The Kitchen.

Do you have a tried and true risotto recipe or technique? Feel free to share it in our comments below!

This post contains affiliate links. I only recommend what I love- pinky promise! 

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Dora Band-Aids for a Hurting World

Monday, December 21st, 2015

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When my daughter was small, I remember that each and every hurt required some type of medical treatment. We had a constant rotation of ice packs and tiny bandages, often for nonexistent wounds. It was as though the act of putting that Dora Band-Aid on her superficially scraped up knee was enough to close the floodgates of tears and make the world right again. She needed me to see her hurt, to echo how awful it was to be hurt, and then to show my efforts to repair it.

Last week I discovered that a family I had been working with, through a volunteer opportunity I am involved with, had fallen on some particularly hard times and had been living without things that I would consider basic human needs.  The gas in the home had been shut off, the stove was not in working order, medical needs couldn’t be addressed through their insurance, and there was not even a washer to care for their family’s clothing.

When you have a platform like this to work from, you can often make swift work and can create fast resolutions to problems, simply because of the large circle that comes with this type of job. In a matter of 24 hours, I found I could meet all of these basic needs for this family between our family’s resources and many, many generous givers that I reached out to who helped me close the gap through material and financial donations. If there is one thing I feel proud of, it is is the company I keep.

As I shared those gifts with this family this weekend  I had a flashback of being that mom sharing a Dora Band-Aid again- I was so unequipped. This wound was so beyond the reach of the tiny offering that I had.  I could see so very clearly that there were many other needs that were there and I knew that the gift I offered, while appreciated, was just a small bandage on a problem bigger than I could fill. 

I left my humble bandage for this wound, I echoed the hurt, and I hugged those people and gave what I could.

Those bandages though, those are mine to give out and sometimes I have a whole box at my disposal and sometimes I just have a couple to share that I can sprinkle around. This box is mine to do with what I choose, and yet,  I was surprised at some of the commentary that came from what others said about those bandages.

“Did they deserve them?”

“Were they working?”

“Why had they fallen on hard times in the first place?”

“So many people working the system….”

You have probably heard a few of these before, am I right?

Here’s the thing.

My family?

We worked the system. 

My husband lost his job for a year and we became part of the system that people refer to with that shake of their head.  We found ourselves unable to make ends meet, unable to find employment, and the seeker of any government gift that we could qualify for. My husband and I went without health insurance (a gamble that kept me up every night), we placed our son on a healthcare plan funded by the state, and we eagerly waited for those unemployment checks so we could do things like get groceries and pay our mortgage.

What helped us get through those times were those tiny bandages that so many giving and kind people shared with us. They knew they couldn’t heal the gaping wound we had…it would have been impossible!  Yet, they were happy to share the smaller bandages that made each of those dreary days in my life better.

They brought us meals, they watched our baby, they gave us gift cards to have nights out, they even bought a pizza for the volunteers who later had to move us out of our very own home that we could no longer afford.

I could not even have purchased that pizza for them as a thank you.

Our debt situation?

Well, we needed a full-body cast at that point, not a tiny bandage.

But those bandages made such a difference and I still reflect on the generosity of the people that got us through such a depressing time in my life. 

And now, I’m the lucky one who has a box of tiny bandages to help those in need.

The bandages are often the smallest gifts, but not only are they my gifts to give, but it is their gift to do what they need to do with it. I don’t worry about if that bandage is going to someone working hard enough or if they are deserving of my tiny bandages.

I know God will figure all of that out.

He has a way of sorting things out for me. 

I only hope that other people are sprinkling them in some of the same spots that I am so we can close the gap on those hurts in the world together. When cobbled together, incredible things happen like the small Christmas miracle I got to witness this weekend as we met these basic needs for a family I love.

As we close out another year here at MomAdvice, I hope you will find a way to share your gifts with others, whether they are big or small. Just as I did with my daughter,  I am acknowledging these hurts in the world today, I echo your hurts because I think about them too and pray for resolutions, and I share a tiny bandage with those of you who are hurting.

I am also hoping you are one of the lucky ones holding a box and you won’t forget to share a few Dora Band-Aids of your own, even if the wounds seem too big for such small offerings.

They all matter.

And so do you.

xoxo

3 Unique Ways to Package Gift Cards (GIVEAWAY With Shoe Carnival)

Friday, December 18th, 2015

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3 Unique Ways to Package Gift Cards  (GIVEAWAY With Shoe Carnival)

*This post is sponsored by Shoe Carnival.  Thank you for supporting the companies that support this site!

I’ve really enjoyed sharing some new holiday gift-giving strategies and traditions that are important to our family with you. Today I wanted to talk about a gift that I really struggle with… the gift card.

While practical in so many ways, I have found it difficult to make gift cards feel personal. I want people to always know that when I give them a gift card, it isn’t because I don’t care about them to shop, but only that I want them to treat themselves to something they really love.

I can tell you that I don’t know a single girlfriend, sister, or mother that would object to a shoe gift card. I may not know their shoe sizes to always shop for them personally, but I know that if I give them a gift card for shoes that they would be more than thrilled to peruse the shoe aisles for the perfect gift. Bonus points if that gift card accompanied a gift card to their favorite coffee shop so they could sip while browsing.

Today I wanted to share with you 3 ways I have created to make a gift card to Shoe Carnival more personal and make it truly stand out!

3 Unique Ways to Package Gift Cards  (GIVEAWAY With Shoe Carnival)

3 Unique Ways to Package Gift Cards  (GIVEAWAY With Shoe Carnival)

3 Unique Ways to Package Gift Cards  (GIVEAWAY With Shoe Carnival)

(Shoes: Nicole Carleigh in Black)

Create a Snow Globe Jar

If you put anything in a jar, I think it instantly amplifies its level of awesomeness on any gift. Jars are very inexpensive gifts to give and this little snowy-filled scene only took a couple of minutes to pull together and requires zero craft skills.

Simply add a little faux snow on the bottom with whatever you might have in your craft supplies or purchase those delicious rolls of snow they have out with all of the snow villages this time of year. Place a little snow on the bottom, add an inexpensive ornament, and finish with a bottle brush tree. TADA!

With just a few moments you have created something really cute for their mantle out of items that they can use for their own holiday decorating or food storage. Best of all, tucked underneath that blanket of white is a gift card to do a little shoe shopping!

WINNING!

3 Unique Ways to Package Gift Cards  (GIVEAWAY With Shoe Carnival)

 

Knit a Gift Card-igan

As you know, I am a knitter, so I always find fun ways to use my hobby for the holidays. This year, I stumbled upon this amazing little pattern for a Gift Card-igan and knitted this out of a little scrap yarn I had left over from another project. It is a perfectly gratifying project since it is so small in size and the pattern is easy enough to execute while watching holiday movies on the couch.

Whatever your craft skill set is, consider using it to create a unique gift card holder of your own. Sewing, embroidery, decoupage, crochet… there are so many fun ways to incorporate your own crafting skills to make a gift card holder that is unique and special. It adds that personal touch to any gift you give and showcases your talents in such a fun way!

3 Unique Ways to Package Gift Cards  (GIVEAWAY With Shoe Carnival)

 

(Shoes: Crocs Cap Toe Rhinestone)

Add Our Free Holiday Sparkle

I’m all about the holiday sparkle from attire to the gifts I give. These Crocs Cap Toe Rhinestone shoes add that holiday touch I love with their shiny cap toes and rhinestone embellishment. Did I mention how comfy these are? They are the perfect shoe for any gathering because you can be on your feet for days without any discomfort! I found the same holds true for the Nicole Carleigh Boots I got, thanks to their low and wider heel.

3 Unique Ways to Package Gift Cards  (GIVEAWAY With Shoe Carnival)

Of course, sparkle can also be added to your gift and I wanted to share this fun printable that our designer, MJ from pars caeli, created just for you to add that personal touch to your gift card this year!

(scroll to the bottom for this freebie!)

3 Unique Ways to Package Gift Cards (GIVEAWAY With Shoe Carnival)

 

Shoe Carnival happens to be running a Give 1, Gift 1 Gift Card promotion this week which is perfect timing with our gathering of packaging ideas. If you purchase a $50 gift card, you can receive a $10 bonus reward card that can be redeemed from 12/26-1/16, in-store only.

Be sure to cash in on this incredible promo and I hope you can use a few of our ideas for your gift-giving needs this year!

3 Unique Ways to Package Gift Cards  (GIVEAWAY With Shoe Carnival)

FREEBIES Galore:

FREE Colorful Cute Shoes Fund Envelope

FREE B&W Cute Shoe Funds Envelope

 

Today I am giving away two $50 gift cards to two winners to add a little holiday sparkle from Shoe Carnival for those upcoming holiday festivities!  Follow the instructions below in our Rafflecopter widget to enter.  Good luck and happiest of holidays!

 

*This post is sponsored by Shoe Carnival.  Thank you for supporting the companies that support this site!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Christmas At Mom Advice: Traditions, Decor & Food

Thursday, December 17th, 2015

Christmas at Mom Advice-Traditions Decor and Food

With the Christmas season in full swing I thought it would be fun to bring you an all-in-one resource of our best holiday ideas to help with your celebrations! I gathered any family traditions posts I could find, including ideas to make the holidays meaningful for your family, tips for baking with your kids, how to keep your marriage at the top of your list, entertaining ideas, and more.

Then I pulled our Christmas decor projects together along with our little holiday home tour. If you like simple DIY decor, these are for you! Lastly, you can find all our recipes that would be perfect at the holidays for giving as gifts, using for entertaining, or just enjoying with your family.

These are all things I use again and again to help make the holidays special and meaningful, but not crazy, and I hope you will be able to pull something from this list, too!

Holiday Traditions

Celebrating St. Nicholas Day

Celebrating St. Nicholas Day

Favorite Holiday Traditions (+Peppermint Cocoa recipe!)

Top 10 Christmas Ideas for the Family

10 Ways to Make the Holidays Meaningful for Your Kids

Tips for Baking with Kids

Family Traditions to Celebrate the Holidays in Meaningful Ways

Tips to Put Marriage at the Top of Your Holiday List

Holiday Entertaining Made Easy & Budget-Friendly

Christmas Decor

Christmas home tour at Mom Advice

A Little Home Tour

DIY Holiday Yarn Trees

DIY Holiday Mantel Ideas

Washi Tape Christmas Tree Wall Card Display

How to make a Yarn Pom Pom Wreath

How to Make a Pom Pom Wreath

DIY Yarn Pom Pom & Ornament Garland

Easy Burlap Wreath Tutorial

Food for Giving & Enjoying

Christmas Tree cinnamon Rolls

Easy Christmas Tree Cinnamon Rolls

Galette Des Rois Kings Cake

Gluten Free Cranberry Orange Morning Buns

Chocolate Chiffon Cake with Peppermint Frosting

No-Bake Peppermint Cheesecakes in a Jar

DIY Peppermint Mocha

Homemade Peppermint Mocha

Homemade Gingerbread Latte

Light Cranberry Bar Recipe for the Holidays

Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake Bars

Gluten-Free Cake Mix Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Gingerbread Biscotti

Microwave Peanut Brittle

Easy Microwave Peanut Brittle

Sugar & Spice Nut Mix

Homemade Peppermint Marshmallows

2-Ingredient Cranberry Pancake Syrup

Baked Donut Recipes

Peppermint Candy Cane Ice Cream

I hope you’ve enjoyed these ideas for your holiday season! I wish you the merriest Christmas of all!!

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Blind Date Book Club Exchange

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015

Blind Date Book Exchange from MomAdvice.com

As a minimalist, I really love to give and get gifts that I really would love and use which can be difficult when it comes to holiday exchanges. We all, I am sure, have went home with a White Elephant gift we really did not love or spent good money on exchanges where we have felt a little disappointed in what we received in exchange. It’s tricky to not look like a Scrooge when you want to opt out to save money.

Last month though, I got a little inspiration for an idea to host a book exchange for my fellow bookworms. I visited Asheville for a conference and saw my first Blind Date Book display in person at the book shop. After snapping a photo for Instagram, I started thinking what a fun idea it would be to have a Blind Book Book Exchange for the holidays with my book club. What would an evening look like where we all brought blind dates to share?

Last night we had our exchange and it was, honestly, one of the best exchanges I have been a part of.  Perhaps, a bit nerdy, I loved going home with a great book AND a whole slew of ideas for books I’d love to check out at the library. 

Blind Date Book Exchange from MomAdvice.com

What Are Blind Date Books?

If you haven’t seen a display before, they are books that are wrapped in paper and then they have words written on them that describe what the book is about. Displays can be found at many bookstores and I have even heard that libraries do this too.  You can illustrate the paper or just write words about what makes the book special. I love this Pinterest board that shows so many ideas for a fun blind date book display. As you can see, there are many interpretations.

As someone who truly judges books by their covers, this gives you a chance to think differently, perhaps, about a book you might not have picked up before. Since it is a blind date, you are taking a bit of a risk that the money you invest may or may not pay off so you want to choose wisely.

I purchased a book at the bookstore and it sounded just like something I would love.

Guess what? It was something I already loved very much. I loved it so much that it made our top ten books of 2015.

I was happy to pass it on to someone else and, honestly, if I loved it enough to put it on my top ten, I would have been happy to own it too.

Blind Date Book Exchange from MomAdvice.com

How Do You Do a Blind Date Book Exchange?

Of course, since I have never heard that anyone has done this before, I made up my very own rules. That means, if these rules don’t work for you, feel free to make your own! It’s your blind date, friends!

Tell Everyone to Bring a Book Wrapped In Paper- I encouraged everyone to bring a book that was special to them or that they would want to read themselves. You could pass down a book that you already owned and loved or purchase a book for the exchange. Have everyone wrap their books and then write their own descriptions about them. I have found that reviews on the backs of books offer a plethora of beautiful words to use.

Draw Numbers- Write down numbers equal to the amount of people participating and have everyone draw a number.

Select Your Books- Give people time to browse the descriptions before the exchange and then start going in order of the numbers drawn. Beginning with the person who has drawn #1,  have them select their book, read the description on the outside, and then open it.

Steal Away- Just like those White Elephant exchanges, the next person in line can steal the opened book, if they are wanting to read it, or they can draw from the book pile. We allowed two steals per book to keep it fun while still moving along.

Go Home With a New Book, But Keep The Exchange Going Strong- What a treat to go home with a new read! The best part is, if your book club meets regularly, you can bring the book back to the next book club meeting and share it again with your book club members. It creates a little lending library for your group with just a small investment.  I can’t take credit for that idea though, it was thought up by my fellow book club member, Kate! Smart girl!

What Book Did I Give?

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

GAVE: Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

DESCRIPTION: Worldview Changer, America’s Mandela, A Voice to the Voiceless, Thrilling, Heroic Endeavors, Compelling, Hope for Humanity, Inspiration for Change

Nonfiction can be intimidating to fiction lovers so I wanted to share this one because it read like a legal thriller and completely changed my view on people in the prison system. I couldn’t put it down and I wanted someone to read it so I could talk about the injustice of so many.

What Did I Go Home With?

Looking for Alaska by John Green

GOT: Looking for Alaska by John Green

I am really excited to dig into this- have you read it? I’ve heard such good things. I think this is the only John Green book I haven’t read yet!

Blind Date Book Exchange

This was the best exchange I’ve ever been part of  and it’s not because I invented it.

Or maybe it is.

Who is to say?

Regardless, I hope it inspires you for a fun night with your own book clubs. We look forward to making this one an annual tradition and it made for a really fun evening talking about all of our favorite books. I look forward to cozying up with my book over the winter break and I don’t even have to return it back to the library- winning!

Want to be part of a book club? Join me over here for our first online book club happening in January. We are reading this one as our first selection and I am so excited!

Have you ever taken a blind date with a book? Tell me about it!

This post contains affiliate links. I only recommend what I love, I promise!

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My Favorite Holiday Traditions (Peppermint Cocoa Recipe & GIVEAWAY)

Sunday, December 13th, 2015

Tracking PixelMy Favorite Holiday Traditions (Peppermint Cocoa Recipe & GIVEAWAY)

*This post is sponsored by Shoe Carnival.  Thank you for supporting the companies that support this site!

I hope you didn’t miss my post last week about our family’s first celebration of St. Nicholas Day. We had the best time adding this new tradition to our family rituals and hope you can bookmark it for next year for your family too!

Today I wanted to share with you a few of our family’s favorite holiday traditions. We really try to focus on simple blessings in our home and moments with our kids, rather than a lot under our tree. It’s a focus that has served our family well and it frees up funds to do more giving to those in need which is a big priority for us.

I’d love to share with you a few ways we have found to do this!

The 4 Gift Rule

The 4 Gift Rule

Years ago, I ran across a gifting strategy that has worked really well for our family over the years. As you know, last year our family went the Choose Your Own Adventure route with our kids and we had an incredible vacation to Florida. Due to my husband’s new role at work, it has become difficult to get away this year and so we are defaulting to a timeless tradition of 4 gifts that keep our gifts thoughtful and keep the excess at bay. Have you heard of the 4 Gift Rule? It’s so simple and easy!

In our family we do:

WANT

NEED

WEAR

READ

My husband and I do these gifts for each other as well and the tradition has really served us well over the years. Everyone gets one thing they want, one thing they need, one thing to wear, and one book to read. It simplifies purchasing for each other and we all end up with really great gifts that actually get used every year.

Open One Gift Early

Of all the categories, the wear category is my favorite because it is the one gift that my kids get to open early before all their other gifts. In that gift is typically a pair of festive pajamas that they get to slip on to see the holiday lights through a local neighborhood known for their tradition of incredible lighting in our town (that also happens to give back to our community).

We usually head to Steak & Shake for Peppermint Shakes and take in the beauty of the holidays in our jammies and bundled up in cozy blankets. Why icy cold shakes became the tradition, who knows? It is that cold and warm contrast that the kids love though so we have been doing this for many years for them as a holiday treat.

My Favorite Holiday Traditions (Peppermint Cocoa Recipe & GIVEAWAY)

Have a Family Day in the Snow

Our family loves to play in the snow together and we make it a point to hit our favorite sledding hill at least once a year! When they put up a caution and sled at your own risk sign on our favorite hill, we felt like we were snow warriors or something!

If you haven’t checked out Shoe Carnival’s winter boot selection yet, you are in for a treat. Warm boots are a must-have item in Indiana and, thanks to my children’s enormous growth spurts each year, one of those items we purchase each year.

My Favorite Holiday Traditions (Peppermint Cocoa Recipe & GIVEAWAY)

Welcome, to the boot show!  I picked out four great shoe options for our family that I think you will love. First, for girls I have the Capelli New York Kids Storm Duck Boots as a winter must-have. As I have said before, I have discovered Duck Boots are a really practical option for Midwest weather because it can protect you from the snow and rainy season very fashionably.

For the less snowy days (or for our friends enjoying warmer climates this winter) we recommend the Mia Lauren in Cognac Smooth for a great kid’s boot option to stay fashionably warm and that should go with everything in your closet.  I only wish it came in my size!

For my son, Tommy Hilfiger Charlie Duck Boots were the best option for all of the crazy weather conditions here.  We aren’t a very brand-focused family so I really just looked at all the options at the store and felt the insides for warmth, good stitching, and a well-crafted shoe. I can truly say that these are boots that will last him forever. Should he outgrow them, he can hand them down to his Dad to wear (how crazy is that?).  For tweens and teens, this is the boot option I would recommend!

My Favorite Holiday Traditions (Peppermint Cocoa Recipe & GIVEAWAY)

My Favorite Holiday Traditions (Peppermint Cocoa Recipe & GIVEAWAY)

The third option is for me, the fashionable Northside Bishop. The lower portion is water resistant while the top is decked out in faux fur and a Nordic-inspired trim.  It also has a Nor-Foam insulation to protect my feet against the cold. Once again, these boots are fashionable AND practical.

Do you remember the boots that we had when we were kids? They often weren’t that warm and they definitely weren’t stylish. How lucky are we to have such beautiful options and at such affordable pricing.

Lucky for you it is the Perfect 10 season! You can get $10 off for every $50 spent, upward of $40 off of 200! That is one great deal to take advantage of as you stock up on your winter necessities.

My Favorite Holiday Traditions (Peppermint Cocoa Recipe & GIVEAWAY)

My Favorite Holiday Traditions (Peppermint Cocoa Recipe & GIVEAWAY)

This year I wanted to make the occasion even more magical so after our annual day of sledding we are finishing the evening with this rich Peppermint Cocoa to warm up by the fire. I created this delicious treat for my kids and would love to share it with you today to inspire you to spend a day in the snow with your kids!

Peppermint Hot Chocolate
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 servings
 
A delicious peppermint hot cocoa recipe perfect for sharing while viewing those holiday lights as a family.
Ingredients
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 quart milk
  • ½ cup semisweet chocolate chips (3 ounces)
  • 7 peppermint sticks; 3 crushed (1/4 cup), 4 left whole
  • pinch of salt
Instructions
  1. Place cocoa in a medium saucepan. Gradually whisk in milk until cocoa has dissolved. Add chocolate chips and crushed peppermint; simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until chocolate and peppermint have melted, 8 to 10 minutes.
  2. Bring to a boil and immediately remove from heat. Add salt. Ladle into mugs; serve each with a peppermint stick.

Today I am giving away two $50 gift cards to two lucky families to find some warm and stylish boots for the holiday season from Shoe Carnival so you can tackle those crazy sled hills too!  Follow the instructions below in our Rafflecopter widget to enter.  Good luck and happiest of holidays!

*This post is sponsored by Shoe Carnival.  Thank you for supporting the companies that support this site!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Celebrating St. Nicholas Day (Giveaway with Shoe Carnival)

Thursday, December 10th, 2015

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How to Celebrate St. Nicholas Day with Momadvice.com

*This post is sponsored by Shoe Carnival.  Thank you for supporting the companies that support this site!

I am so excited to be partnering with Shoe Carnival again for the holidays. This month I will be sharing some of our family’s favorite holiday traditions with you, some gorgeous shoe options for outfitting your entire family, and some refreshing new ideas for personalizing gift cards for this holiday season. We will also be offering gift cards to share at the end of each of these posts to treat yourself or someone you love to a beautiful new pair of shoes!

To kick things off, I wanted to show you a fun idea to bookmark for next year. This year our family started a new tradition to celebrate St Nicholas Day which is observed in the states on December 6th.  Have you heard of St Nicholas Day? It is actually something I heard about recently from my friends and I thought it would be a sweet tradition this year to share with my kids.

How to Celebrate St. Nicholas Day with Momadvice.com

 

What Is St. Nicholas Day?

St. Nicholas Day is a popular holiday for children, especially children in many parts of Europe, because it is another day of sharing gifts. What kid doesn’t love that?  In fact, in some European countries, St. Nicholas is celebrated with not only gift-giving, but it is so special that it is celebrated through parades and festivals too.

This holiday celebrating him is derived from Nicholas of Myra who officiated as a bishop in 4th century Greece. During his lifetime he was known, in particular, for his gift-giving. They say that he slipped coins in other people’s shoes, which accounts for many of today’s Christmas traditions that involve leaving gifts in shoes or boots today.

How to Celebrate St. Nicholas Day with Momadvice.com

The Simplest of Treats

The presents need not be grand, but are simple gestures that build up that sweet anticipation for Christmas. Gifts like chocolates, chocolate coins, nuts, cookies, small trinket gifts, apples and oranges are just a few sweet treats that are perfect for tucking in your shoes on December 5th.

When I think of things to tuck in our shoes it reminds me of the cozy nights I spent reading with my daughter about how Christmas was celebrated in the Little House in the Big Woods. As Laura described her thrill over a peppermint stick and a small cake made with real sugar, I remember my daughter’s wide eyes that these small offerings were the only presents they received for their Christmas. Can you imagine anything that small feeling magical for our kids today? It’s that nostalgia of sweet treats that is so perfectly captured through this tradition and why I wanted to share it with my two. Less electronics and more magic, I say!

We are displaying our treats in two beautiful shoe options from Shoe Carnival. In Indiana, it is all about cozy footwear and these are two great selections that I found for the holiday season that would be great options to wrap under your Christmas tree this year.

How to Celebrate St. Nicholas Day with Momadvice.com

The first option is the Tommy Hilfiger Charlie Duck Boots that I found for my son. We have outgrown the days of little kid’s boots after an enormous growth spurt this year and now my son & husband can share shoes.  Duck Boots have become my new obsession because they can be worn in the Fall, Winter, & Spring making them a really great option for keeping your feet warm & dry for several seasons unlike boots that are just dedicated to snow. I consider them to be a wise investment!  I have a pair for myself and my daughter has a beautiful pair too. They are stylish and practical which is why I am recommending this option this Winter.

How to Celebrate St. Nicholas Day with Momadvice.com

The second pair is actually one that we featured here this summer for myself and fell in love with.  I discovered that they make Lil’ Bobs for kids with the same supportive memory foam sole that I love for my own feet. It’s like walking on a cloud and I wish everyone could feel that way! This trendy Bobs Pure Flex gives a nod to our pink obsession with the stripe detail on the sole, but reflects her big girl status in the print. If my daughter is anything like me, these will be doubling for slippers because they are so darn comfortable. You just can’t go wrong with this option and the modern prints available are beautiful and on trend.

I am so excited to share with you that this weekend is the Friends and Family Weekend which means that everything will be 30% off all weekend long so definitely take advantage of these discounts on top of their affordable pricing! Yay!

How to Celebrate St. Nicholas Day with Momadvice.com

I hope that this tradition inspires you for next Christmas season and I hope these shoe options help you when selecting shoes for your kids!

Today I am giving away two $50 gift cards to two lucky families for a holiday shopping day at Shoe CarnivalFollow the instructions below in our Rafflecopter widget to enter.  Good luck and Happy Holidays!

*This post is sponsored by Shoe Carnival.  Thank you for supporting the companies that support this site!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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DIY Trophy Wine Topper

Thursday, December 3rd, 2015

DIY Trophy Wine Toppers from MomAdvice.com

DIY Trophy Wine Toppers from MomAdvice.com

DIY Trophy Wine Toppers from MomAdvice.com

DIY Trophy Wine Toppers from MomAdvice.com

Oh, you know I love a good hostess gift for the holidays! I am so excited to show off my DIY Wine Trophy Toppers I created for this gift-giving season. Our amazing designer, MJ from pars caeli, created these adorable free printable gift tags to customize your gift for the holidays. This is a 5-minute craft that is sure to get a good laugh from your favorite hostess and it couldn’t be easier.

While you are crafting these up, be sure to print out the trophy wife one for me- ha!

Head on over to the Kenmore blog to grab your free printable today- a holiday gift from us just for you!!

xo

The Big List of Handmade Gifts on Mom Advice

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015

Big List of Handmade Gifts on MomAdvice.com

Since you all know I’m a crafty girl, it’s probably not hard to figure out that handmade gifts are high on my list of great things to give and receive! Over the years on Mom Advice I have complied a pretty good size archive of crafts and ideas that make great gifts any time of year, can be made easily – and sometimes really quickly – and would be perfect for your holiday gifting needs. So I decided to put them all together in one big list (that I can easily add to in the future!) to make it easy for you to find them.

You’ll find something for everyone on this list – kids, teachers, friends, family, as well as DIY projects that work for every skill level- easy to a little more involved. But never difficult, I promise!

Here’s how I’m organizing the list (and the categories are in order, so if you’re looking for kid’s gift ideas, you’ll know to scroll to the bottom):

  • Crafty Gifts
  • Knitted Gifts
  • Food Gifts
  • Fashion & Pampering Gifts
  • Kids Gifts

Crafty Gifts

DIY Paint dipped spoons make a perfect hostess or Christmas gift!

Paint-Dipped Spoon Sets

DIY Personalized Stamped Pencils 

DIY Herb & Garden Markers

Easy DIY Terrarium

DIY Monogrammed Wine Glasses

DIY Slow cooker candles on MomAdvice

Slow Cooker Citronella Candles

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Spice Candles

Vintage Book Page Art

Heart String Art on Wood (free template!)

Knitting/Crochet Needle Holder from Vintage Linens

Knitted Gifts

Knitted coffee cozies made a great, stash-busting gift!
Knitted Coffee Cozies

Knitted Sweater Coffee Cozies

Knitted Wine Bottle Hat & Scarf

2 Dishcloth Patterns: Circle & Chinese Waves

4 More Dishcloth Patterns (& Homemade Cleaners to pair them with)

2 Sweet Little Baby Blankets 

Make a pair of quick knitted boot cuffs tonight!
Quick & Easy Knitted Boot Cuffs

Knitted Dovetail Cowl

Ruffled Scarf with Sashay Yarn

Snowflake Scarf from Purl Soho

7 Easy Scarves & Cowls to Knit

Knitted Headbands

3 Scarves, 2 Fingerless Gloves & 1 Hat Pattern

Learn cabling and make a Headband ear warmer to keep or give away.
Cable Knitted Ear Warmers

Violet Ruffled Shawl

How to Make the Perfect Prayer Shawl

Knitted Gap-tastic Cowl

2 Kids Knitted Hat Patterns

Food Gifts

Make chocolate coffee covered spoons.

Chocolate Coffee Spoons

No-Bake Peppermint Cheesecakes in a Jar 

Homemade Peppermint Marshmallows

Sugar & Spice Nut Mix

Oreo Biscotti 

Gingerbread Biscotti

DIY grill seasonings plus free printable labels for gift giving!
Grilling Seasoning Mixes with Printable Labels

Easy Microwave Peanut Brittle

Drink Mixes: Creamy Hot Cocoa & Vanilla Chai Tea

Quick Breads with Printable Gift Tags

Vanilla Scented Granola

Homemade Mint-Truffle Coffee Creamer

Fashion & Pampering Gifts

How to make a blanket scarf - it's easy!
How to Make a Blanket Scarf 

DIY Fitbit Bracelet Tutorial

Easy Felt Fabric Brooch

T-Shirt Flowers

Rosette Bib Necklace Tutorial 

Add cute fabric flowers to slippers to make a personalized gift.

Slippers with DIY Interchangeable Fabric Flowers

Rolled Ribbon Rosette Hair Accessory

Sweet Ribbon Rings

DIY Mojito Bath Salts 

Peppermint Bath Salts & Oatmeal Cookie Bath Soak (+ Free Printable)

Kids Gifts

DIY Book Tote with free printable designs
Library Tote Bags with Free Printables

Knitted Princess Leia Hat

Homemade Sidewalk Chalk Paint

Homemade Playdough

Kid’s Crafts: Painted Mugs

World’s Greatest Homemade Bubbles

 

See? That’s a lot! And you’ll want to pin this or bookmark it since I’ll be adding to it as I post more handmade gift ideas. Let’s get making!

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My Little Holiday Home Tour

Monday, November 30th, 2015

My Little Holiday Home Tour from MomAdvice.com

Can you believe that December is here? I am so excited to celebrate another holiday with my family in our home. You know bloggers that do those beautiful home tours? I am always in amazement at their beauty & style and it inspires me so much. Our ’60’s fixer upper has never felt blog tour worthy, but I started to think about the types of things that really appeal to me in my real life. They aren’t always the big and elaborate homes with loads of store-bought accessories or even what one might find Pinterest-worthy, but more simplistic in beauty & a nod towards homemade.

Doable stuff, that’s what I am after. I think that our home accomplishes those two things so well so I wanted to invite you in for a bit!

I hope you like coffee because that’s what we serve around here! Please leave your shoes at the door in our beautiful boot tray that I have left out for you. It’s usually one of the first things people remark on and I found that gem at Target years ago! It’s perfect for the narrowest of hallways like ours!

My Little Holiday Home Tour from MomAdvice.com

(bells: michaels)

Guess what? I will have already known you have arrived because I put bells on our door. Typically, I am more of a wreath girl, but I loved the minimalistic simplicity of these bells. I also happened to get them while they were 60% off  at Michael’s and I had a gift certificate to spend from my birthday so these babies were FREE. Yay! Welcome to our little house- we are awfully proud of it!

Pay no mind to our hideous yard and feel sad for our neighbors who must view it every day. Notice this is not a yard tour because, seriously, we aren’t that amazing at yard work.

Let’s just ignore it for now and move on into our front room where no televisions are allowed, only vinyl.

My Little Holiday Home Tour from MomAdvice.com

My Little Holiday Home Tour from MomAdvice.com

(sources: bucky cardboard deer head/yarn pom pom trees tutorial/every day i’m hustlin pillow/knitted leaves centerpiece tutorial/pillows (a daily deal)/curtains (a daily deal)/fabric-lined bookcases tutorial/ thumbtack pumpkin tutorial/charlie brown vinyl)

Here is a wide shot of our front room. I am leaving my mountain of knitted cabled earwarmer projects because I am too lazy to move them.

Now that I think about it, this is probably why I don’t get invited to do blog tours.

Hey, we live here!

We just had this room painted in my favorite Benjamin Moore Gray Owl paint color along with fresh ceilings, new trim, and the window trim painted. This was a much needed update to this tired old house. This is my favorite room in our home now because it houses our record player that was gifted to us by my husband’s father and all the light spills into this room making it warm & cozy in the winter.

Our favorite accessory is our deer (I even included him in our gift guide!). We have way too much fun with this cardboard deer and decided to move the furniture around to really put him on display because Bucky is the star of the show. I loved decking him out for the holidays, although there is rarely a day when Bucky isn’t decked out in some way. In fact, he looks ridiculous now without glasses.

My Little Holiday Home Tour from MomAdvice.com

My Little Holiday Home Tour from MomAdvice.com

My Little Holiday Home Tour from MomAdvice.com

My Little Holiday Home Tour from MomAdvice.com

My Little Holiday Home Tour from MomAdvice.com

(sources: love grows best in little houses pillow cover/eddie ross modern mix/vintage home ec trophy (similar)/ pom pom wreath tutorial/ laura ingall’s wilder collection reissued b&n classic (similar)/wuthering heights reissued b&n classic)

I wanted a creative spot to put our keys and found a vintage first place home economics trophy from the 60’s on etsy that I absolutely love for throwing our keys into.  Let’s face it, no one is giving me any awards around here so I have to award myself. Well done, self.  It’s not Christmas-y, but it is one of my favorite things in our house.

My pom pom wreath was so labor intensive that I never put it away and it is now a year-round addition. I find that happens with a lot of homemade goodness around here. When you work that hard on something you really should show it off!

 

My Little Holiday Home Tour from MomAdvice.com

My Little Holiday Home Tour from MomAdvice.com

My Little Holiday Home Tour from MomAdvice.com

My Little Holiday Home Tour from MomAdvice.com

My Little Holiday Home Tour from MomAdvice.com

My Little Holiday Home Tour from MomAdvice.com

(source: mrs. meyer’s everything/ painted desk with bookshelf tutorial/ painted kitchen table tutorial/painted kitchen cabinets tutorial/ barclay light gray armchairs/yellow metal dining chairs/furry throw/ornament wreath handmade/succulent wreath/ yarn pom pom garland tutorial/chalkboard)

I have found the addition of red to anything green instantly makes it feel like Christmas. I tacked on a few bows to my green wreaths so I don’t have to switch them out for a month and just wired them on with a little floral wire for easy removal. Instant holiday!

Our kitchen is transitioning slowly which can be hard to do for this go-getter, but the funds needed for a complete kitchen overhaul just aren’t there. I wasn’t ready to make a big financial commitment in a new table & chairs so we switched out chairs for now and added a fresh coat of paint to our 13 year-old table to make things feel new again. Those two things have brought a lot of contentment for me in this space.

My Little Holiday Home Tour from MomAdvice.com

My Little Holiday Home Tour from MomAdvice.com

My Little Holiday Home Tour from MomAdvice.com

My Little Holiday Home Tour from MomAdvice.com

(source: owl ornaments/ornaments/bells/plaid ribbon/have yourself a merry little christmas pillow- all from Michael’s! Grab your coupons!)

We divided and conquered our tree this year. The boys went tree shopping and the girls purchased fresh ornaments. Our fifteen year-old ornaments looked REALLY bad last year, but I thought my kids would appreciate the sentiments behind them.  When I “broke the news” that I thought we should get some new ornaments, Emily said, “OH GOOD! You mean we will have Santas for our tree with TWO LEGS?”

So….surprisingly, they did not care one bit.

My husband was the only one who was like, let’s still have a tree with Santas with only one leg, but he got vetoed by the three unsentimental people in the family.

I guess he can have a tree for his office with the Island of Misfit Ornaments and we will keep this shiny tree here for the fancy folks!

My Little Holiday Home Tour from MomAdvice.com

My best friend said I should show you all this because she had never seen anyone do this before. I wire my ribbon garland to the tree limbs. I know it is completely OCD, but I never want it to move once I put it on. You can twist it there or just do what I do which is kind of bubble it up and then cinch it with an ornament hook. It makes it look super PROFESSIONAL. Which I am not.

When I was in high school I worked at a hardware store where we decorated trees every holiday season so I know a lot of things that seem useless like how to make bows and make garland stick and wrap lights around limbs like your life depends on it,  but these useless things definitely comes in handy around the holidays!

My Little Holiday Home Tour from MomAdvice.com

My Little Holiday Home Tour from MomAdvice.com

 

My Little Holiday Home Tour from MomAdvice.com

My Little Holiday Home Tour from MomAdvice.com

(source: bar cart tutorial/blanket scarf tutorial/forbidden desert/carcassonne/boss monster/tapple/ticket to ride/alvin & dexter/boss monster extension/love actually/white christmas/annie (don’t forget a treat!)/nightmare before christmas/yarn garland tutorial)

I switch the bar cart out for the season and it doubles as a great entertaining tool when hosting large groups in our home. Although our house is on the smaller size (about 1,500 square feet), we maximize every space with little storage ideas like this for our home. For the winter, it is loaded with our favorite board games, holiday movies, holiday puzzles, and all my vintage records that I collect from Goodwill for just a quarter each!
My Little Holiday Home Tour from MomAdvice.com

 

My Little Holiday Home Tour from MomAdvice.com

(source: blanket scarf tutorial/diy painted laminate fireplace/furry throw/copper deer head (michael’s)/winter garland (michael’s)/storage ottoman)

The picture above the mantle distracted from the beautiful copper deer head so I covered it with one of my blanket scarves for the holiday. This little fireplace is probably one of the smartest home investments we have made. This is our sub-basement (our home is a quad level) so it can get chilly down here in my office. This addition not only added warmth, but it added a focal point to this room that wasn’t my work and desk.

The only bad part is feeling motivated to work when I have such a cozy spot to curl up in.

I mean…look at that focal point.

My Little Holiday Home Tour from MomAdvice.com

My Little Holiday Home Tour from MomAdvice.com

My Little Holiday Home Tour from MomAdvice.com

(source: yarn pom pom & ornament garland tutorial/yarn-wrapped letters tutorial/sherpa blanket/bed/nightstand/nobody puts baby in a corner pillow (similar)/q&a for couples/ yarn trees/bell wreath (similar))

I photographed my bed with yarn pom pom garland, but I think I pushed too much yarn bombing on my husband so we are back to the minimalist metal frame. He’s actually such a good sport about yarn, but maybe that is because his mom is a knitter.

Basically, he was raised right.

One vow I have always made to myself is that our room will be treated like a sanctuary which means NO CLUTTER. There is nothing relaxing about sleeping in a room that is filled with stuff so this is truly a retreat space for me during the holiday season. I would stay in this room all day if I didn’t have kids and have to work.

My Little Holiday Home Tour from MomAdvice.com

And just because everything feels more magical at night, I wanted to close with this photo. I love the twinkle of Christmas lights!

I don’t know if this home is “blog tour worthy,” but I couldn’t be prouder of our sweet little home if I tried. It is filled with my favorite people which makes it the most special place of all.

And if I want to retreat from those special people even more, you can find me hiding out in my She Shed thanks to the heating unit out there. It’s like my own private getaway.

I hope you liked touring our little house with us! Happy holidays!  xoxo

*This post contains affiliate links. I promise to only recommend what I love!

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