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Friday, December 23, 2011

Nutella Fudge & Christmas Decorating

This fudge is so easy to make, this recipe is a keeper. Plus, it has the flavor of Nutella; so it ranks very, very high in book. Simple and highly addictive – a must try!!

Chocolate Nutella Fudge with Sea Salt
1 (14oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
8 oz high quality semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup Nutella, room temperature
3 Tbs butter, cold – chopped

1. Put all ingredients into microwave safe bowl and stir
2. Line 8x8 baking dish with parchment paper. I spray the bottom of the pan with cooking spray to help the parchment paper stick
3. Cook in microwave in 30 second intervals, mixing before starting the next cycle. Continue doing this until mixture is smooth
4. Pour mixture into the parchment lined baking dish, spreading evenly with a spatula
5. Refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours
6. Cut into chunks and enjoy!

Adapted from The Crunchy Mamacita

Last week one of my long-time dreams came true… I got the first pieces to my very own Christmas village! I have always loved the little villages that I see people create during the holiday season. Every one of them unique, I have yet to see two alike as the combinations of the countless buildings and accessories are limitless. For $100 at Kmart we started our own little Christmas village, check it out!

Let me take you on a tour through our Christmas village. Grab a jacket, it is snowing...

First up is the Wintergreen Tree & Wreath Nursery. Make sure to check out the Award Winning Poinsettias and the Tree Lot out back. :)

If it gets a little chilly you can warm up at the Hot Cocoa and Doughnuts stand, if you are hungry stop by the Grill for hamburgers or hot dogs. Perfect for a chilly day outside. If you want to take a break there are some Park Benches by the village Christmas Tree and a Christmas Outhouse behind the fence. Take your time. :)

Fun for all ages can be found at the Olde Time Toys store. It is complete with a real revolving door; they always seem to bring out the kid in me. ;)

Last but certainly not least is the Cupcake Cottage. Today's specials are Pumpkin Muffins and Dark Roast Coffee!

I am already excited to set this village up again next year. Each year we add to our Christmas decoration stash - so I will make sure to add at least one piece a year. Hopefully one day when I am old and grey I will have acquired an entire Christmas town! Christmas is so magical and this Christmas village honestly adds to the magic. Everything purchased for this village is Lemax brand with pieces from their Coventry Cove line which can be found at Kmart - check out everything they have online here.

This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias. #CBias

Friday, December 16, 2011

Caramel Eggnog Milkshakes & Kmart Holiday Shop

Because the cold weather outside is not cold enough for me. :)

Caramel Eggnog Milkshakes

4 cups vanilla ice cream
1 cup egg nog
¼ cup caramel syrup

1. Mix all ingredients in blender until well combined
2. Top with cool whip and pecans
3. Enjoy!

Decorating for Christmas is a huge thing at our house. By the time Halloween is done I am just itchin’ to get those Christmas bins down and start the decorating. We love decorating for Christmas so much that it is what we do every year for our Anniversary; we buy each other Christmas decorations and decorate. Our Anniversary is at the end of November, so it is the perfect time to put up the holiday cheer! May sound crazy to some, but it is perfect for us. This year was no exception, all of our lights and decorations were put up by the 1st of December – in and outdoors. I was just telling my husband last night that I could leave up the Christmas decorations all year long but I probably shouldn’t… probably. Haha

Our Christmas Tree this year

I was recently given the opportunity to check out the Holiday decorations that Kmart has to offer, I was totally game! I had not yet been to Kmart since the holiday season started so I was excited to see what was new for the holidays. Check out our trip to Kmart here on Google+.There was so much Chrsitmas decor to choose from. From ornaments to wreaths to snowglobes to dancing Santas.There was so much to pick from it was hard choosing...

And more...

 Even more!

So what did we decide on?

Our first Christmas village! Check out next week to see how we decorate with it!!

This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias. #CBias

Cinnamon Roll Cupcakes & Champions for Kids

When I was younger and my parents would take me out to breakfast we would almost always get a cinnamon roll and split it, three ways. It would be our treat before breakfast, as we would eat it while we were waiting for our food to be served. It may sound little, but the ooey-gooey deliciousness was something I looked forward to every time we went out for breakfast. To this day Cinnamon Rolls are a special treat to me, perhaps because they hold a special place in my heart. ♥

The other day I was looking for a new Cream Cheese Frosting recipe when I stumbled across a recipe for Cinnamon Roll Cupcakes at Confessions of a Cookbook Queen. I was frozen in awe. My mind was no longer on a quest for the perfect Cream Cheese Frosting, but now on a quest to make these cupcakes. And into the kitchen I went...

Cinnamon Roll Cupcakes
1 box yellow cake mix
3 eggs
1 cup of water
1 stick of butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon
1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Mix together brown sugar and cinnamon – until well combined
3. Mix cake mix, eggs, water and butter - until well combined
4. Place cupcake liners in muffin pan
5. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full
6. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of brown sugar/cinnamon mix on top of each cupcake. Swirl into batter using knife or toothpick
7. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean
8. Cool on rack

Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 ½ cups powdered sugar
1. Mix all ingredients together in mixer until well combined. Honestly, I used my blender and it turned out wonderful.
2. Let chill in refrigerator for 15 minutes and frost your Cinnamon Roll Cupcakes

Last week I mentioned that we were participating in the Champions for Kids Disney Stocking Stuffer Celebration. It was a blast going shopping for the stocking stuffers and checking out the Disney merchandise available at Walmart. Check out my shopping trip on Google+ here.

Champions for Kids works with people across America to improve the lives of children in their communities. They are a wonderful organization and I recommend everyone to check out their site and see what they are about.

The recipients of the stockings we put together are two little boys of a family friend. It has been a rough year for them and without going into details; the economy has greatly affected their family. This was a small, small thing we could do to help them out this season. The stockings are not going to be given to the children until Christmas, but I am sure they will be overjoyed to be receiving stockings filled with items from some of their Disney movies. It honestly feels great to give back – even if it’s something small like this. I encourage everyone to try to do one thing for the less fortunate this season, however it is you can help.

The holiday season is so magical – and the more magic we can spread around the more joyous the season will be. :)

This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias. #Cbais #DisneyCFK

Friday, December 9, 2011

Pretzel Kisses & Champions for Kids

Christmas will be here in just 2 weeks! In our family, Christmas is huge, huge, huge. We have 3 days filled with family, love, fun, happiness, food and presents. The 23rd is at our home, the 24th at my in-laws and the 25th at my parents. It is pretty amazing for an adult, let alone how magical it must be for the kids.

To us, Christmas is about family and love. Of course it is about the presents and the food too, but those would not matter if we did not have our family to share them with. We will be enjoying our family and appreciating the love and support we have year round from our loved ones.

My little helper :)

Tomorrow is my husband’s grandparent’s 54th Annual Christmas party! It is truly something we look forward to every year. It is fun for all ages and filled with laughter, love and food. ;) Everyone brings a dish – so there is enough food for a small army! We will be bringing Mississippi Sin Dip and Pretzel Kisses, both of which my 2 year old (he turns 3 on Monday, but until then he is still my 2 year old. Haha) will be helping me make. :)

Look at his skills! I think he only ate 3 of the kisses he opened, pretty impressive. :)

Pretzel Kisses
12 oz bag of Hershey’s Kisses - You will have leftover Kisses, the agony! ;)
9 oz bag Snyder’s Butter Snaps – Again, you will have leftovers

1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Place wax paper on baking sheet, spread out pretzels evenly
3. Top each pretzel with a Hershey’s Kiss
4. Bake for 5-7 minutes, until chocolate is soft but not melting completely
5. Carefully place a pretzel on top of each Kiss and press down gently
6. Let cool
7. Enjoy!

This year we will be giving back to our community by helping out a friend of ours who does not have the financial means to give their children a present-filled Christmas this year. Although Christmas is not just about the presents, I do believe every child should be able to experience the magic of Santa Claus. Over 16 million children in America live in families that are caught between poverty wages and a livable income – which means they don’t necessarily need public assistance; it just means they have a harder time during the holidays.

Right now, Champions for Kids, is running a campaign; Disney Stocking Stuffer Celebration. They are encouraging anyone who is able to help to put together a Disney themed stocking for children in need this holiday season. We will be shopping at Walmart for all of our Disney items, as they have a large selection of Disney items and their prices are pretty much unbeatable. Make sure to come back next week to check out our shopping trip to put the stockings together, I am so excited!

Also, if you are interested in learning more about Champions for Kids or their current campaign, check out their website, Facebook page or follow them on Twitter. There will also be a Twitter party on 12/15/2011 at 9:00pm EST, you can join the fun using hashtag #DisneyCFK

This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias

Monday, December 5, 2011

Pumpkin Soy Shakes

I was recently offered the opportunity to try Silk Soy Milk from Sam’s Club (check out our shopping trip here) and although I have tried Soy Milk a few times, it is definitely not a staple in our home. We are HUGE milk drinkers, I am talking about 1 gallon every 2 days – we are usually buying so much milk that another milk option is not on our grocery list.

I found these in the deli section of Sam's Club.
Yes, yes and yes. 

Due to my stockpile of pumpkin left over from Halloween and Thanksgiving I knew that I wanted to make some Pumpkin Soy Milkshakes. All I needed was the Soy Milk, so we packed up the kids in the car and headed off to our favorite Sam’s Club.

Festive food serving items. So cute!

Sam’s Club is one of my favorite stores to go to during the holidays. Not because of the crowds, but because of the awesome selection of holiday items. From decorations to kids toys to edible gifts to seasonal food – there is so much that almost anyone could find something they like. I found a lot. ;)

For the Tequila and/or Gun enthusiasts in your life!

Pumpkin Soy Shakes
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 1/3 cup Silk Soy Milk
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups of ice (or more if needed)

1. Put all ingredients in blender .
2. Blend
3. Enjoy!

This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias