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The holiday essentials

Wednesday, November 29, 2017





The holidays can be a crazy time for everyone. Between cooking, cleaning, shopping, planning, traveling, and everything else that comes along with this time of year, I'm looking for anything that will make my holiday plans easier. I want to be able to enjoy the time with my family, not stress myself out even more! That's why I'm doing pretty much everything I can online this year, including grabbing the essentials that you can't be caught without (especially on a day where the store is closed!) I'm having everything sent directly to my front door with free 2 day shipping from Walmart.

Yes, I'm talking about stocking up on things like toilet paper, paper towels, and tissues. If there's one thing you don't want to be caught without on Christmas Day when you've got a house full of guests, it's toilet paper. Trust me- we've been there. In fact, my family jokes about it now, and we always say "did you get the TP?" while doing our pre-holiday planning together. It's a little inside joke about a certain family member always having to run out and find somewhere that's open on Christmas, Thanksgiving, or New Years Day after we run out of toilet paper (and inevitably forget batteries for the new toys, too). I told myself then that it wouldn't happen again, and this year I'm avoiding it altogether by ordering all of my household essentials on Walmart.com. I'm also saving a ton by stocking up and using these great Ibotta coupons and rebates.


Don't leave your guests hanging! I have 3 bathrooms to stock, so I grabbed a couple of these Cottonelle toilet paper packs (and used this Ibotta rebate!) I also stocked up on these cute little holiday themed Kleenex, because 'tis the season for germs and runny noses. I love how compact the little canisters are and they don't take up a lot of room on the bathroom counters, plus, they're so pretty. You better believe I have one in just about every room in the house! Use this Ibotta rebate for Kleenex. 


Ordering all of this stuff was easy. Walmart has all of the household essentials in one easy place to find everything you need to prepare for a house full of guests this holiday season. Once loaded in your cart you can select the free 2-day shipping (orders of $35+) or if you're short on time you can save some extra money and pickup at your local Walmart store. They actually give you a discount if you pick it up. Your order will be ready and waiting for you when you get there! How cool is that?

Make sure to check out all of these great Ibotta rebates before you get your house stocked up. Save some money and beat the holiday rush by avoiding the crowds and lines altogether- order it online, snag your free shipping, and enjoy your time spent with family this year! I'm much happier now knowing I'm not forgetting anything. 

Holiday appetizer with goat cheese + prosciutto

Wednesday, November 8, 2017



There's almost nothing I love more than sharing delicious food with some of my favorite people. It's one of the best parts of the holidays. Family, food, and friends. Whether it's at my house or theirs, as long as we have good food and good conversation I'm happy. I've been dying to share this yummy recipe and I'm definitely serving it the next time we're entertaining. 

Cheese is definitely a weakness for me. I love all kinds of cheese! On everything. Who doesn't like cheese? I would be so sad if I couldn't eat it...how do you live without cheese in your life? Anyway, it's a great food to serve when you need a yummy appetizer to pair with some wine. I'm a big fan of cheese trays, cheese spreads, cheese on crackers, on bread, veggies...like I said before, I love cheese! As I've gotten older I've branched out and experimented with all kinds of cheeses and my tastes have become a bit more refined. Goat cheese is one of my new favorites, and it's the centerpiece of this yummy appetizer I'm sharing. Here's the easy recipe:

Ingredients:

4 oz goat cheese 
1 loaf of French bread, sliced
1 package thinly sliced prosciutto
olive oil
herbs, fresh or dried
salt & pepper 

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly brush slices of bread with olive oil and place on a baking sheet. Bake them in the oven for about 3-5 minutes, just until bread is warmed and starting to get crispy on the edges. Remove from oven and let them cool slightly before handling. 

Once the toasted bread is cool enough, spread on a generous layer of goat cheese. Roll up the slices of prosciutto and slice them into thin pieces. I did the same thing with some fresh basil- roll it & slice it thinly, and then put some of the prosciutto and basil on top of the bread with goat cheese. Drizzle with a little bit of olive oil and give them a generous sprinkle of sea salt and fresh ground pepper. 

Arrange on a serving platter and garnish with fresh herbs. Serve with other meats, cheeses, crackers, and charcuterie. 

This recipe is so versatile and you can mix and match the goat cheese with all kinds of other savory or sweet flavors. You can also add whatever herbs and spices you'd like. I just used what I had on hand, but there are so many other ways to change up goat cheese.

Joan of Arc has been my favorite brand of goat cheese that I've tried so far. It's rich and creamy with a fresh, light, tangy taste. I found mine at my local Winco with the rest of the artisan cheese selections. You can find all kinds of appetizer recipes using goat cheese here for your next holiday get-together. I'm sure your friends and family will love whatever you're serving! 

Preparing for a new baby

Monday, November 6, 2017



Pregnancy. It can be one of the most special, joyful, exciting times in a woman's life as she takes a giant step towards motherhood (or adds more children to her growing family). It can also be a very nerve-wracking, stressful time, depending on your personality and how your pregnancy goes. It's a lot to prepare for! Having a plan and support is essential. Enfamil, the #1 pediatrician recommended formula brand, is here to help new moms and dads with their Enfamil Family Beginnings® program. 

I know a lot of moms go into their pregnancy with plans of breastfeeding, but let's face it, sometimes plans change, and that's OK. I experienced the need to supplement with formula for baby number four (something I've never had to do) and I was totally unprepared. Enfamil Family Beginnings® can guide you through all of the options available! Not only will you receive free formula samples from Enfamil, but you'll also get valuable coupons, special offers for your new baby, monthly emails, expert advice, and you'll be entered into the Free Formula For a Year Sweepstakes. *See full rules below


Signing up for Enfamil Family Beginnings® is easy. Just fill out this online form and your welcome kit will be on its way. Every mother's journey is different and the kit is tailored to you and your baby's needs, so everyone's will be slightly different. Mine came with a very generous tub of powdered formula, some premixed, ready to serve bottles of newborn formula (great for on the go), and some individual, pre-measured packets of powder formula as well. I also got some bottle nipples, a bunch of formula coupons, lots of offers, and a great little feeding guide that I enjoyed flipping through. Plus, I've got a chance to win the Free Formula For a Year Sweepstake. Wouldn't that be nice? By joining Enfamil Family Beginnings®, you're joining a community of parents looking for the same answers as you, and you're gaining access to a great wealth of knowledge from their experts. 


The opportunity to win free formula for a year ends on December 31st, 2017, so hurry now and join Enfamil Family Beginnings® before it's over! Official rules below. 


*NO PURCHASE OR PAYMENT NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A purchase will not increase your chances of winning. Open to legal US residents 18 or older. Void where prohibited. Promotion ends on December 31, 2017. Odds of winning depend on the total number of eligible entries received. For full Official Rules, visit Enfamil.com/freeformula-year-sweepstakes-rules. Sponsor: Mead Johnson & Co., LLC, 2400 West Lloyd Expressway, Evansville, IN 47721

An easy way to give back this holiday season

Friday, November 3, 2017



The holidays are quickly approaching, and soon enough everyone will be caught up in the hustle and bustle of finding the perfect gifts, hitting up the biggest sales, deciding what to wear to their office Christmas party, or making the perfect dinner for their family. Sure, there are plenty of reasons to celebrate during the holiday season, but wouldn't it be nice to give back this year? In a meaningful way?

The Children's Cancer Institute at Hackensack University Medical Center started an amazing program, Tackle Kids Cancer, to raise funds and awareness for pediatric cancer patients. 100% of the donations made to TKC benefit the essential clinical care, unique support services, and groundbreaking cancer research needed to find a cure. Did you know that only 4% of government cancer funding is directed towards pediatric cancer? Childhood cancer is the number one cause of death by disease in children! They need so much more than just 4%. Go read some of the stories on Tackle Kids Cancer and you will be moved to tears and want to do something!

Take Joshua, for example...a teenager who was diagnosed with a rare soft-tissue sarcoma back in 2015. He's a lover of science and co-founded the Robotics club at his high school. My 13 year old son is also a proud member of his own Robotics club at school, so I know how fun and important it is to the kids involved in the club. Josh's club was only in its second year of existence when they placed at the state championships and he was diagnosed. He describes the kindness of the nurses and specialists who worked with him during his chemo treatment, who all made sure he was still able to keep up with the robotics competition. Reading his story of cancer as a teen and his fear of missing out on "normal" life really hit me and I couldn't imagine my own precious 13 year old battling cancer and still wanting to just be a normal kid and attend his robotics competition. 

These stories truly touched my heart and really made me want to help in some way. It made me realize how incredibly lucky and blessed I am, and it really makes you realize that giving back is essential. These families are going through so much and need all of the support they can get. This holiday season my family will be showing our appreciation for our health and wellness by donating to Tackle Kids Cancer. Remember, 100% of all donations go directly to the cause, so the funds you give we be put to good use, no matter the size of your heartfelt donation.

Please, I urge you to read some of these stories and find it in your heart to give to Tackle Kids Cancer this holiday season! 
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Melissa Swenson and Lulu & Sweet Pea