Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

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:





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
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.
  • 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
  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

Tracking Pixel

How to Celebrate St. Nicholas Day with

*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


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

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

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

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

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

DIY Trophy Wine Toppers from

DIY Trophy Wine Toppers from

DIY Trophy Wine Toppers from

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!!


The Big List of Handmade Gifts on Mom Advice

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015

Big List of Handmade Gifts on

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

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

(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

My Little Holiday Home Tour from

(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

My Little Holiday Home Tour from

My Little Holiday Home Tour from

My Little Holiday Home Tour from

My Little Holiday Home Tour from

(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

My Little Holiday Home Tour from

My Little Holiday Home Tour from

My Little Holiday Home Tour from

My Little Holiday Home Tour from

My Little Holiday Home Tour from

(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

My Little Holiday Home Tour from

My Little Holiday Home Tour from

My Little Holiday Home Tour from

(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

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

My Little Holiday Home Tour from


My Little Holiday Home Tour from

My Little Holiday Home Tour from

(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


My Little Holiday Home Tour from

(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

My Little Holiday Home Tour from

My Little Holiday Home Tour from

(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

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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Last Minute Thanksgiving Tablescape Ideas

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

Last Minute Thanksgiving Tablescape Ideas from I can’t believe that Thanksgiving is tomorrow! I am hosting both sides of our family and as a hostess, I know the struggles of decorating AND getting the feast on the table. Today I wanted to show you a few easy last minute ideas for decorating your Thanksgiving table that don’t cost a lot and can be pulled together rather quickly for the holiday.

Head on over to the Goodwill Tips blog where I show off these easy to execute ideas for your holiday table today!

Bacon, Apple, & Cornbread Gluten-Free Stuffing

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

  Bacon, Apple, & Cornbread Gluten-Free Stuffing from

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Tyson Foods, Inc. All opinions are entirely my own. 

I don’t think any holiday meal is complete without a good stuffing. Being gluten-free can be a challenge around the holidays, trying to recreate those comforting holiday dishes, but without the gluten. Today I wanted to show you a delicious Bacon, Apple, & Cornbread Stuffing that you can make for the holidays with a few delicious ingredients at Walmart that you will never guess is gluten-free and so affordable to make too!

Bacon, Apple, & Cornbread Gluten-Free Stuffing from

The star of today’s ingredient line-up is definitely this Wright® Bacon! I love that this thick bacon is naturally hickory smoked which adds a rich depth to your stuffing. This grocery staple can be found in the refrigerated section of Walmart.

Rounding out our ingredient list are sweet apples, savory celery, onions, Great Value Brand chicken broth, a gluten free-cornbread mix, fresh thyme, fresh sage, and just a pinch of cayenne pepper to add a kick to this dish. I love that these ingredients are all available at one store, even my gluten-free cornbread mix, leaving me more time for making those family holiday memories!

Bacon, Apple, & Cornbread Gluten-Free Stuffing from

Confession time! I was really nervous about creating this dish for you. This was actually my first time baking any gluten-free bread so I was really nervous about the texture of this bread, but even more nervous that the bread wouldn’t stand up to cubing. I am so happy to say that it actually cubed up and toasted beautifully in my oven for this dish.  I would recommend baking it the day before and cubing it the next day to help it keep its shape and prevent any crumbling. In 15-18 minutes you have your base for a beautiful bowl of stuffing.

Bacon, Apple, & Cornbread Gluten-Free Stuffing from

Great stuffing is all about the layering of flavors and this one has them all. From the sweetness of the apples to the savory of the celery and onions to the deliciously salty and chewy bacon to the kick of spices from the cayenne, each bite is like a little holiday symphony in your mouth.

Bacon, Apple, & Cornbread Gluten-Free Stuffing from

I would definitely say that this dish takes my holidays from good to great. You can find this and so many other great recipes over at the Joy to the Meal site to help inspire you in the kitchen. I hope you can experience a few #joy2themeal dishes at your table and I hope this recipe helps you to be brave and tackle your own gluten-free stuffing for the holidays!

Bacon, Apple, & Cornbread Gluten-Free Stuffing from

Bacon, Apple, & Cornbread Gluten-Free Stuffing
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6 servings
It's hard to believe that this stuffing is gluten-free thanks to the richness of the bacon & cornbread. I hope you love this dish as much as our family does this holiday season!
  • 1 package of prepared Gluten-Free Cornbread Mix (12 ounces), prepared one day prior
  • 10 oz Wright® Brand Bacon, chopped, ¼-inch pieces
  • 1 onion, chopped finely
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 2 Fuji apples, peeled, cored, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of thyme, removed from stem and chopped finely
  • 2 tablespoons of sage, leaves removed and chopped finely
  • 1 cup Great Value Brand Chicken Broth
  • ¼ tsp cayenne
  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cube your prepared gluten-free cornbread and spread on a rimmed cookie sheet. Bake for 15-18 minutes until cubes are lightly toasted. Reduce the heat on your oven to 375 degrees.
  3. Fry bacon until crisp, remove with a slotted spoon to a plate layered in paper towels. Drain the fat from your pan, reserving three tablespoons to sauté your veggies.
  4. To the pan, add your onion and celery and sauté these until golden about 6-8 minutes. Add apples, thyme, sage, and cayenne pepper. Cook until apples soften, about 4-5 minutes.
  5. Toss cooked apples & veggies in a large bowl with cornbread cubes, broth and cooked bacon. Mix well.
  6. Bake at 375° in a buttered dish covered with foil for 40 minutes, remove foil and bake until top turns golden, about 15 minutes more.



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The MomAdvice Unique Holiday Gift Guide 2015: 20+ Ideas for Everyone On Your List

Saturday, November 21st, 2015

The MomAdvice Unique Holiday Gift Guide 2015: 20+ Ideas for Everyone On Your List

Each year I look forward to sharing a few fun gifts to add to your holiday wish list. This year we added a new weekly feature called It’s the 3 Little Things where you will find loads of recommendations for things that I love, but I still wanted to honor our annual list for you. Today’s list includes a few I have shared before and lots of new things that I think you will love. My promise to you is that I only share gifts that I believe will add value to your home and life, not more items to junk it up. There are gifts at all price points so I hope you find a few gift ideas that will inspire you for the giving season!

Puffin In Bloom Collection

Puffin In Bloom Collection

I have been coveting these Puffin reissued classics for our family’s bookcase for so long now that I am adding these to my Christmas wish list this year. Little Women &  A Little Princess were two of my favorite books as a child and I would love to share this classic set with my family and dive in with these with my daughter. ($45)


Adele- 25

It is killing me to wait on purchasing this one, but Christmas is just around the corner and I would love to have Adele’s 25 album on vinyl for our collection.  Although Hello is being way too overplayed on the radio right now,  I still can’t get enough of this lady and know that this would be an incredible addition to our collection. Following closely behind it on my vinyl wish list is the 500 Days of Summer album since that has become one of my favorite little films. ($22.99)

Ticket To Ride

Ticket to Ride

Ticket to Ride is our ALL TIME favorite game in the world to play and share with friends. Players collect train cards that enable them to claim railway routes connecting cities throughout North America. The longer the routes, the more points they earn. Additional points come to those who can fulfill their Destination Tickets by connecting two distant cities, and to the player who builds the longest continuous railway. For 2 to 5 players this one is recommended for ages eight and older. Once you have the game, I highly recommend adding a couple of expansion packs on it.  The first one we added was the 1910 expansion ($19.99)  because the cards are really tiny in the board game and these give you the full-size cards. To really create havoc on your board though, we love the Alvin & Dexter expansion pack. ($39.99)


Nikibiki Seamless Tops

I am obsessed  with these Nikibiki seamless layers to go underneath my layers in the winter. They are long enough to cover my rear, don’t add a lot of bulk under my sweaters, and they keep me cozy. If you are local, check out Ali on the Boulevard to snag a few and support a local business! If you aren’t, you can find all the colors on Overstock. These are made in the US and are a one size fits most item. ($19.99)

UGG Ansley Slippers

UGG Ansley Slippers

This past year, I found a pair of brand new UGG slippers on eBay and I wear them every single day without fail. Quit throwing out cheap slippers and invest in good slippers- it is a gift that keeps on giving.  As a gift to my husband, I got him this pair too and now we are both super cozy this winter. These UGG Ansley Slippers look delightfully cozy and I love all the colors they come in. If you are already a proud UGG slippers owner, a fresh pair of inserts makes a lovely stocking stuffer. ($99.95)


Should I Wash My Hair Today? Flowchart Print

I hate washing my hair so this Should I Wash My Hair Today? Flowchart is one of the first pieces of art I picked out for our bathroom. It makes me laugh when I see it and is always enjoyed by the guests in our home. Poor hygiene always makes for a great ice breaker with new friends, doesn’t it?  Do you have a hair washing problem? Consider this print from ChipperThings for a spot on your bathroom wall! ($20)


Kamik Porto Boots

I have been coveting the lace-up furry boots for our Indiana winters that so many of my friends own. Kamik sent me these Porto boots & my daughter received an adorable pair of Girl’s Solstice boots to sample this winter and this helped quiet my urge to spend a lot more on the Sorel boots I have been eyeing. These Kamik Porto boots are really cozy and well constructed to keep your feet toasty while still looking stylish. I have never had a really good pair of snow boots and always wished I did when playing outside with my kids or for our sledding days. I am excited to break these in with my kids and tackle some hill. Half the price of Sorels and just as cute!   If you are in the market for these, I recommend sizing up one size for the perfect fit.  ($107.96)



Janet Hill is a Clark favorite and I dream of adding one of her original oil paintings to our walls. The English Major was a print that I asked for last year for Christmas and is one of my favorites in our home. It would be perfect for a little girl’s room too!  My Janet Hill wish list is LONG (this one is on my list right now!). We have 7 of her prints in our home and it is never enough. I dare you to look at her art and not find something that speaks to you! ($18)



I purchased Carcassonne after playing it at Secret Door Games and we have already played it three more times this week.  This is one of those rare games that can be played with up to five people (yay for families with three kids, am I right?)  Basically, the game board is a medieval landscape built by the players as the game progresses. The game itself is not complex (although they do have a junior edition), but it is more the point system and your own strategies they make it complex and interesting. It reminds me of a combo of Blokus & Ticket to Ride, but medieval. Building roads, castles, and land has now become a highly addictive game in our house. We watched this video the first time to get the hang of it and now we can’t stop playing! Locals can find this at Secret Door Games. ($23.36)

Skin Authority Cleansing Brush

Skin Authority Cleansing System

I have tons of friends that swear by these facial brushes for helping reduce breakouts and keeping their skin looking fresh. I am a newer convert, but am already seeing great benefits with this Skin Authority Cleansing System for my sensitive skin. I liked the price tag on this system and appreciate that it is battery powered since we have a tiny bathroom and minimal outlets for charging. This would make a great stocking stuffer for a teen girl in your home! ($59.00)

Coobie Bras

Coobie Bras

Looking for a bra that is the equivalent of your favorite yoga pants. Let me introduce you to the Coobie Bra.  There are no wire, no hooks, no clasps, and these are perfectly lightly padded. I mean, what more could a girl ask for?  It comes in the plain version  or you can get ones with a lace detail if you prefer a lacy cami look. They are intended to fit women from a 32A to 36D, but they also make a full-size version for  just a few dollars extra if you need a little more support. This is another great gift for a teen, yourself, or for your bestie! ($20)

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

A Man Called Ove 

If you are looking for a book that would be perfect for anyone (your mom, your grandma, your best friend, your husband, your father,  ANYONE), I must recommend, A Man Called Ove to share with them for the holidays. This is the most beautiful fictional book on aging that I have ever read. It really served as a reminder to me how we all have things that happen to us that shape us as we get older and how we often neglect to listen to those layered stories of our elders. I laughed and cried over this sweet story of Ove & the stray cat that claimed him. The touching story of his beautiful bride and the difficulties of seeing your friends age and forget you just really pulled at my heartstrings. Beautifully written supporting characters in the neighborhood just brought the whole story together for me and rounded out the beauty of finding “home.”(Hardcover, $18.74)

hazel and ruby knitted boot cuff

Holiday Knitted Boot Cuffs Crafternoon Kit

I love putting  my own products in my gift guides- ha!  If you do have a crafter in your family though, they will love my Holiday Knitted Boot Cuffs Kit that I created with Hazel & Ruby. The kit comes with a recipe card to walk you through your knitting a pair of boot cuffs as well as a code on that back that you scan to access a video tutorial. No need to understand double-pointed needles with this one since the kit provides needles that let you work this one just on smaller circulars.  This would be a fun gift for a tween, teen, or perfect girlfriend gift for them to craft or you could make the set and give it as a gift for a non-crafter. ($14.99)

Harry Potter Illustrated

Harry Potter Illustrated

Jim Kay is going to be illustrating the entire Harry Potter series and the first colorful book is the Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone in this newly illustrated series. This first one had over a hundred illustrations, but each illustration is like a million illustrations because of his incredible detail. Watch this piece on BBC to get a peek at his technique and artistry- it is jaw-droppingly beautiful! What is more impressive is that he is putting his own interpretation on each of these characters which I would think is one of the biggest challenges since the movie versions are so beloved.  You will be proud to add this to your library. Amazon seems to have trouble keeping this one on the shelves so I’m linking to Target to grab it! ($26.48)

Our Q&A

Our Q&A 3-Year Journal for 2 People

If strengthening your marriage is something you want to work on, this Q&A journal is a great way to bond with your spouse especially in busy seasons of your life. Each day there is a writing prompt like, “What feels vitally important right now,” or “Do you have enough independence,” for example. On one page, there is room for three years that gives each person the opportunity to write a line or two to answer the question. Each year, you answer the same question so you begin to see how your answers have changed each year. We have this on our bed and I move it to his side after I fill it out. I look forward so much to reading his responses and it has been a good way to begin talking about things that we didn’t even know were important to each other. ($12.00)



Tapple is a game that our whole family loves and every family member could play.  The object of the game is very simple and there aren’t a lot of rules.  There are a set of cards that tell you a topic like, “Pizza Toppings” or “Animals at the Zoo.” You start the timer and then you try to think of a word that starts with each available letter on the game board that fits under that category. If you can’t get it under the allotted time, you are out, and play continues with the remaining players. The kids absolutely loved this and really loved making up their own categories (an option available on the cards) to create their own game like, “Words to Describe Our Cat Lulu,” or “What Mom Is Like Before Her Coffee” (hardy-har-har!). We love this one! ($13.19)



For the person who has everything, may I present to you Bucky. We love this guy so much in our house that my husband got one for his office too. They come in a flat package and you assemble them much like you would a very beginner LEGO set. This cardboard guy is a statement piece in any room and comes plain or patterned. So beautifully made that it is a treat to put him together, he is always a great conversation piece in our house. Nerdy glasses and accessories you might want to add to him are all sold separately. ($55 for the large size)


Sherpa Comforters

If you are looking for a gift that will keep your recipient cozy all winter long, these sherpa comforters are my family’s new favorite thing. We have one on every single bed after I ordered one for my post that I was writing for BHG at Walmart. It’s the perfect blanket- warm, but not too warm, velvety on one side, furry on the other, and a surprisingly lightweight warm layer. These do make it a difficult bed to leave, but a delight to stay in on the weekends. ($38.96$43.97, depending on your bed size)

11/22/63 by Stephen King


Have a history nut to buy for? Give them 11/22/63 right now so they can wait with bated breath for the Hulu series to come out. King offers up the hypothetical scenario, if you could change something in history, would you alter it? Jake Epping discovers a secret portal to 1958 that he uses to time travel in the back pantry of a restaurant.  The goal? See if he can alter the JFK assassination, killing Lee Oswald Harvey before he kills JFK. Hang on tight, this is a true adventure!  (Hardcover, $24.50)

Happy Socks

Happy Socks

My husband has a million pairs of Happy Socks and they have become a go-to gift for him for the holidays from everyone in our family.  I love the trend of wildly patterned socks for men and I also  love seeing these peeking out from his normally neutral attire. For the guy who has everything, I present Happy Socks. ($12.00)

What If? by Randall Munroe

What If?

What If? is the book I am recommending for the boys in your life! Munroe explores the absolute craziest, “what if” scenarios and comes up with a truly scientific explanation of the outcome for each of them. It is accompanied by hilarious drawings of what might occur in these scenarios, making it a perfect book for tween & teen boys who loved the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. (Hardcover, $14.40)

Coloring Flower Mandalas

Adult Coloring Books

I love the stress relieving trend of adult coloring books and my friend Wendy has a beautiful mandalas collection she has designed that I am hoping to give as gifts this year. I plan to pair one of these with beautiful colored pencils for gift-giving. This would also make a great teen or tween gift for the holidays! ($9)

I hope this little list helps as you plan your holiday shopping. You can also find a great list of 54 handmade gifts you can make for those special people in your life!  Anything from my list on your wish list? Share below!! xo

This post contains affiliate links. I only recommend what I love though! Promise! 

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Host a Friendsgiving Feast

Thursday, November 19th, 2015

I love the concept of Friendsgiving and plan to continue this special tradition – the giving to both our friends AND our added component of giving to our community at the same time makes this a perfect post to share again with our November M Challenge Focus on Giving. I hope you all are inspired – it really is a wonderful time!

Host a Friendsgiving Feast

This post is sponsored by Walmart AND ALL PROCEEDS WERE DONATED.

I feel like such a lucky mom to have so many incredible women in my life. Most of these friendships started when I was a new mom still trying to figure out the ropes of motherhood.  Now my kids are growing up, but I need them as much as I did in the early days. Unfortunately, our schedules have all become so crazy that it becomes nearly impossible to get our group together anymore. I decided a few weeks ago that I really wanted to see them all before the holidays took over and we all began to hibernate for the Indiana winter. I invited them to my home for my first annual Friendsgiving feast to share in a meal together before the holidays and I couldn’t wait to share about it with you.

Let me disclose by saying that I wanted to make this as easy on myself as possible and, if you are considering hosting a feast of your own, I would advise you do the same. I wanted to do it on budget, make it as effortless as possible, and I wanted the cooking to be easy too.

Here is how I executed the world’s easiest Friendsgiving Feast and helped give to our community in the process.

Host a Friendsgiving Feast

Create a Facebook Event (And Get Positive Responses)

Like I said, my friends are crazy busy and getting our group together is nearly impossible. Instead of setting up an event and shooting blindly in the dark for a date or receiving a million responses and being responsible for sorting people/dates, I utilize Doodle to schedule get togethers. Simply plug in the dates and times that will work for you and send out the link to the scheduling tool for each person to vote for the days that work best for them. Once you receive the responses you can set the date for the one that received the most positive response.

Once you have the date, it couldn’t be easier to invite your friends especially since everyone (at least in my group) is on Facebook. I just put up an event and asked that everyone respond there. It was easy to create, to monitor, and gave me an accurate headcount for making food purchases. Make sure that you set the privacy to, “Invite Only” for viewing otherwise everyone who is a friend can see a response (and might not be included- ouch!) I admit, the only time I wish I had a bigger house is when I host events like this. Believe me, Invite Only for viewers is the way to go.

Herb Roasted Turkey

You Supply the Turkey, They Supply the Fixins’

Last year I hosted my family for Thanksgiving all while photographing each and every dish for the site. This year I wanted to take an easier approach so I offered to supply the turkey, gravy, and stuffing, but requested that each person bring their own dish and a bottle of wine to share. To make sure all the categories were filled, I utilized Jooners to create a sign-up sheet for dishes. Be sure to specify what you need under the, “Needed,” box. That is where I asked for side dishes, desserts, bread, and appetizers. This will help you have a well-rounded feast and since everyone can fill in the dish they are bringing, it  helps cut down on anyone bringing the same dish.

Not only did I do store-bought stuffing and gravy, I purchased turkey breasts (here is my favorite method of preparation) instead of dealing with the bones and carving. It killed me a little bit to do this when I know I could do so much more, but this also helped me to truly enjoy the evening with my friends and allowed me to not worry about laboring over dishes and missing out on all the fun together. Not to mention the cost factor that I saved on by having everyone help me with dishes and drinks.

Decorate Store Bought Pies

Of course, there is always our make-ahead feast that gets you out of the kitchen that day altogether!  Here are my make-ahead mashed potatoes, make-ahead fresh green bean casserole, make-ahead gravy, make-ahead stuffing, make-ahead cranberry sauce, make-ahead appetizers, make-ahead rolls, make-ahead pie crust, and even some great make-ahead ways to dress up a store-bought pie… just to name a few!

Knitted Leaves Centerpiece

Invest in Smart Party Supplies That You Use Over & Over Again

Over the years we have hosted so many gatherings that I have accumulated an arsenal of tools so that I can pull a get together at a moment’s notice.  I honestly didn’t buy a thing other than disposable cups for our get together, but that is because I have invested over the years and I try to create handmade items that can double as centerpieces if I don’t have time to run out and purchase fresh flowers.

The things that I have used the most over the years:

Centerfold Table- I bought this three years ago and I use it at least three times a year. It has a handle on it and folds down the center making it easy to pack up and take it if you need to and also making it easy to store when you don’t.  I purchased this tablecloth (you can see it here in a game day party I did awhile back) because it was stain-resistant.  To save on time ironing, I just wash it and then spread it on the table the night before since it is so lightweight and dries quickly without even going through the dryer. It helps cut down on wasting time ironing and is wrinkle-free in the morning.


Elegant Plastic Dishes- Elegance and plastic might not seem like they go together, but plastic dishes have come a long way. I hosted a shed-warming party (totally a thing!) this summer and since we had so many guests coming, I decided to buy twenty of these dishes. If you go to Walmart, you can purchase the plates individually, which is exactly what I did.  Unfortunately (but then fortunately), they didn’t have enough in a single style so I ended up getting three different styles which adds a bit of fun to the dinner table. I love that these are lightweight and can be reused over and over again.

DIY Bar Cart

Bar Cart- This summer I transformed a tool cart into a bar cart and it is truly one of my favorite entertaining tools. Since we live in a small home (which we are very committed to) we don’t have a lot of counters or surfaces to use for putting out drinks and food. My bar cart resides in my shed, but I wheel it in when I am entertaining and it offers a fun place to tuck bottles of wine and glasses.

Inexpensive Silverware- I actually hit our local restaurant supply store for inexpensive silverware that reminds me of some of my favorite diners. There is never a shortage of forks, spoons, or knives at our home.

Decor That Can Be Used Over & Over Again- I love to craft and in the back of my mind, I am always thinking how I can weave these items into our seasonal decorating especially when it comes to the holidays. For our Friendsgiving feast my Knitted Leaf Centerpiece was perfect for my table (and is on display year-round in my craft room). This winter the table will be adorned with these Yarn Pom Pom Trees that I made. Think of creating something that you can get out every year and that can save you money when entertaining.


REALLY Make it a FriendsGIVING

I have some truly generous friends so I called upon them to assist me with giving back to our community.  First, I asked each of them to take a moment to clear out their pantries so that we could make a donation to my church’s food pantry. Right before the holidays is a great time to clear some space and make room for all of those items you will need to tackle your holiday baking and dishes.

The shelter that I have helped in the past where we achieved our MomAdvice Big Give, the Elkhart Faith Mission, is a charity that I love to support. Longtime readers may recall the MomAdvice Big Give we executed with them. Here is a little throwback footage for you.

It costs a mere $.1.79 to give a Thanksgiving meal to one person at the shelter. I left an envelope out and asked if anyone felt like giving that they could donate as little as two bucks to give someone something to look forward to for the holidays.

Consider making a true FriendsGIVING experience and find a scraps of life way to give back or gather together to make care packages for the homeless.

Faith Mission of Elkhart

Each year I like to dedicate one post from Walmart to those in need and today’s post is for the families heading to Faith Mission that need a holiday dinner to look forward to.  

I understand that sponsored posts aren’t always the favorite posts here, but the proceeds from this post today and the donations I collected fed 187 PEOPLE a Thanksgiving meal and many of our posts this year gave a community of  people clean water this year.  How cool is that? Please support our sponsors because they do help many- perhaps, more than you realize! 

I hope my Friendsgiving inspires you to give back to your community and to throw a get together with your own amazing friends!

Have you ever hosted a Friendsgiving? Any tips or tricks you would like to share!


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Fall Wreaths That Wow

Wednesday, November 18th, 2015

Fall Wreaths That Wow from

I can’t believe that Thanksgiving is just around the corner!  Of course, the first thing our guests see when they pull up to our house is our front door adorned with a festive wreath for the occasion. I have made a lot of wreaths over the years. In fact, I used to shadow a silk florist at one of my first jobs and she taught me so much about creating beautiful wreaths.

Today I want to talk about dressing up a doorway, mirror, window, wall, or frame in your house with a fall wreath that really wows. There is just something so great about a well-dressed door. It doesn’t have to cost a lot to create a beautiful wreath and I have a stunning collection to share with you today of unexpected ways to decorate.

Head on over to the Goodwill Tips blog to find some great ideas for creating beautiful fall wreaths today!

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