All posts by Melissa

Cranberry Nut bars

Cranberry Nut bars

This is a yummy alternative to all the rich deserts of the season. It is a little healthier than the others too. The fruit and healthy fat from the nuts makes this a nutritious treat. These are a great make ahead gift that store just as easily as other cookies.

2 eggs

1 cup sugar

1 cup flour

1/3 cup melted butter

1 ¼ cups fresh cranberries

½ cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 inch baking pan. Beat eggs until thick; gradually add sugar until thoroughly blended. Stir in flour and melted butter, mix well. Add cranberries and walnuts mix until just combined. Pour in pan and bake for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool completely and cut into bars. Recipe from Ocean Spray.

Start Your Family’s Holiday Tradition

Start Your Family’s Holiday Tradition

Let this year be the year you start a holiday family tradition, one that your children will continue with their children.  It doesn’t take much to start a tradition just pick a day and time to do something special with your family. If your family has a good time then remember to do it again the next year, if it’s a really good time chances are your children will remind you. Need some ideas, well look no further.

Movie Night: Everyone put on their favorite pajamas and meet in Mom and Dads room where you will all cuddle and watch your favorite holiday movie while enjoying a bowl of popcorn or other favorite snack. Let the Children choose the movie and snack a few days ahead of movie night and then be sure to bring it up several time over the next few days to get them really excited.

Craft Night: Make your holiday cards, the children will love helping decorate each card for that special person and you get help finishing up a task that it usually kind of boring. Or have the whole family help to make handmade gifts for the people on your list. Grandma would love a famed picture that the kids worked together on. Make this more fun by voting on what to make for each person on your list. Be sure to talk about it often before it happen and have lots of fun snacks to share.  Involve the kids in the entire process from picking the craft to buying the supplies to making and raping the finished product. Take pictures of each person with their finished creation, not only to remember the fun you had but the person who is receiving the gift would love to see it too.

Holiday Light Tour: dress the children up in warm clothes and make hot chocolate to go then load up in the car and drive around looking a Christmas lights see who can spot different things such as a snow man, Santa clause ext. make a fun game of it. Don’t want to go out in the cold or waste gas driving around? Gather the family around the computer and Google Christmas light displays under Google images and let the tour begin.

          Game Night: Holiday edition. Here are two fun ideas I found just doing a quick Google search on holiday family games.

Holiday Trivia

Half the fun of playing a holiday trivia game is preparing the questions for it. Create questions that members of the family know the answers to, but that they’ll have to search their memory banks to find. Examples of questions you can write are “What dessert did Aunt Bertha bring to the Easter luncheon last year?” and “Where did Uncle Ray go to college?” Put family members in teams of two or three so that even the youngest members can participate. Keep a scorecard handy to add up points and provide prizes for the winners.

Unwrap the Gift

The game of Unwrap the Gift is similar to musical chairs, in that the action starts and stops with the music. Select a present that anyone in your family would enjoy winning. Wrap the present in several layers of gift wrap. Ask everyone to sit in a circle on the floor or around a table. Turn on some music and tell family members to pass the gift around. When the music stops, the person who is holding the gift gets to remove one layer of gift wrap. Keep turning the music on and off until the gift is unwrapped. The person who peels off the last layer of gift wrap wins the gift.  This is a partially fun game to play with lots of children provide you have enough gifts to unwrap that everyone gets one.
Read more: Fun Family Holiday Games |

Cookie Exchange: This is more fun to do with the extended family but with a little creativity you could do it with less. Invite everyone over to the house to either bake lots of different cookies or bring homemade cookies to share, let everyone try one of each and then nominate their favorites for cute prizes like a holiday cookie cutter.  The children will love getting to taste all the different kinds of cookies. The more people the more cookies so invite everyone. Have plenty of milk and hot coco on hand to wash down all the sweets. Have everyone bring some cookies and a few copies of the recipe to share. Take pictures of the winners with their prize winning treats.

Whatever you decide to do make it fun and unusual; hang up signs around the house to build excitement.  Talk it up for a few days before the big event. Involve the children at each step in the process and more than anything else have fun. Have an idea for a fun family tradition? Please comment and we will pass them along. Trying one of my suggestions comment and tell us how it went we would love to hear all about it.

Christmas Cleanse

Christmas Cleanse

This is a cleanse for your house not you body, I just wanted to get that out there right away to avoid confusion. Why Christmas time? Christmas is a great time to purge the unwanted items from your life because you can give all the items to charity which will help someone else have a Merry Christmas. Plus getting rid of stuff is not as hard when you think that you will soon have new items to replace what you are giving away (this is particularly true with children’s toys).

I would start in your closet and remove any clothing that you haven’t worn in a year along with anything that is too big or too small. Move from your closet to your kids and if you haven’t put away out of season clothes yet this would be a great time to do so. Let your children choose a few items that they no longer wear to give away. Take the time to explain to them why it is nice to give away the items that you no longer want instead of just throwing them in the trash. Move from clothes to the rest of your house remove anything that is broken I know you think you might get around to fixing it but be honest with yourself do you really have the time, energy, ext.? I would save the kids toys for last.

Now that you’ve done the rest of the house lets tackle the children’s toys. Start by reminding the Children how many gifts they got the previous year and that they need to make room for the gift they will receive this year. Explain to the children that by giving their toys to charity they will help someone else have a better Christmas. Go slow and let the children lead, if they are not ready to get rid of something you think they should just wait and give them time to come to that conclusion on their own. Once your child has decided to give something away make it disappear quickly so they are not tempted to change their mind. If they ask about that toy in the future remind them of what a good decision it was to give it away and that some other child it now loving and playing with that toy.

Of course leading by example is the best way to help your child let go of excess things, it is hard to explain to a child that they should give away their toys if you hang on to everything. Good luck and I hope your Christmas Cleanse goes well. Leave us a comment and let us know how this article helped or didn’t help. If you have some tips that you want to share comment on this article and we will make sure to share them with our readers.

Tips for new moms

Tips for new moms


*Sleep when the baby sleeps

*Ask for help

*Bring a change of clothes for you in the diaper bag too.

*Take care of yourself; you can’t be a good mom if you don’t meet your own needs

*Colic, growth spurts, teething, and illness this too shall pass.

*It’s ok to co-sleep, just do it safely. It will make for a happier mommy and baby

*A hot shower is almost as good as sleep, it did say almost

*Take all advice with a grain of salt

*If at first you don’t succeed try, try again

*Breast is best, feed your baby when they need it, babies don’t understand that it’s not time to eat when they are hungry

*Fussy breast feed baby? Think about changing your diet

*Let some stuff slide, the floors don’t need to be vacuumed the baby needs to be held

*Go with your gut, if something you are told to do doesn’t feel right then it probably isn’t right for you and your baby.

*Its ok to disagree with doctors they don’t know everything and are not trained for all situations just use common since

*Ask questions

*Google is great when you have a crying baby and are out of ideas to settle them down, type in your situation and know you are not the only parent going through this

*Take lots of pictures and notes; this is such a trying time it is hard to remember all the wonderful little milestones

*One day you will look back on this time and realize how wonderful it really was.

Zesty Pretzels

Zesty Pretzels

This recipe goes perfectly with yesterday’s recipe for spicy nuts. Use your favorite pretzel varieties, any shape. Give in a gift basket with the spicy nuts and their favorite beverage and your set. Tasty alternative to the giant tins of popcorn you can get at the grocery store. Also this is a great item to bring to a holiday party, were there will be lots of sweets this salty snack will sand out.

4 10 oz packages of pretzels

1 cup vegetable oil

1 envelope ranch salad dressing mix (I suggest Hidden Valley)

1 tablespoon stake seasoning (McCormick’s Grill Mates Montreal Steak Seasoning is good)

2 to 3 teaspoons cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon dill weed

Empty pretzels into a large bowl. In a small bowl combine the oil, and seasonings. Pour over pretzels and toss to coat. Transfer coated pretzels to two 9×13 baking pans and bake for 50-60 minutes stirring after every 15 in a 250 degree oven. Once cool store in an air tight container. Give in a tin or decorated container alone or as part of a gift basket.

Spicy Nuts

Spicy Nuts

Use your favorite raw nuts in this yummy recipe. Give in a gift basket with tomorrow’s recipe and their favorite beverage. This would be a great gift basket for the football fan in your life. If you don’t like the nuts quite so hot you can always reduce the amount of cayenne pepper.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 cup raw nuts (almonds or cashews are good)

½ to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

½ teaspoon ground coriander

¼ teaspoon salt

Dash of cinnamon

Dash of ground cloves

In a heavy skillet (I would suggest cast iron), heat oil over medium heat, add nuts. Cook and sir often for 3-5 minutes or until lightly browned. Add seasonings; sir to coat. Remove from pan and cool completely.Serve warm or cold. To sever warm place in baking dish and heat for 5 minutes at 300.

Reindeer Noses

Reindeer noses

This is a super cute gift idea. Be sure and make a lot of them because they will get eaten before they get where you plan to take them. For a gift just fill a tin or mason jar and make a cute label.

1 bag mini twist pretzels

2 bags Hershey’s Chocolate Kisses

1 bagHolidayred and green M&M’s

First unwrap all kisses and place in a bowl, then open M&M’s and pour into separate bowl. On an ungreased cookie sheet line up pretzels in a single layer and place one kiss on each pretzel. Place in preheated oven at 300 degrees until the kisses are just starting to melt about 3 minutes. Remove cookie sheet from oven and place one M&M in the center of the melted Kiss. Let cool until the chocolate is hard before removing from cookie sheet. Putting them in the freezer will speed up the process; I suggest that you have multiple cookie sheets.

Snack mix

Snack mix

This snack mix makes a yummy homemade gift. Just fill a quart size mason jar and when its time to serve, pour in a bowl and stir to combine. Supper easy and the kids can help because there is no cooking involved. This would also make a great quick treat to take to a holiday party.

2 cups Honey Nut Cheerios

2 cups chow mein noodles

1 cup honey roasted peanuts

½ cup raisins

½ cupHolidayM&M’s

½ cup peanut butter chips

½ cup vanilla or white chocolate chips

Layer all ingredients in 2 wide mouth quart mason jars, make a label and tie a pretty bow. When it is time to serve, pour into a bowl and sir. Its that easy so have fun.

Homemade Jewelry Cleaner

Homemade Jewelry Cleaner

This is simple and if you follow my site you’ll notice it is the same as my stain remover. I was scrubbing a stain and noticed that it made my rings really shiny so I cleaned them with it and a tooth brush and wow did it make them sparkle.


2 tablespoons peroxide

½ teaspoon baking soda

2 tablespoons Dish soap.

Combine and let set covered overnight, makes a gel then apply to stain with a tooth brush and wash like normal. I make this in an old baby food jar and find that it is the perfect size.

Beautiful Ohio taken by Jim Palmer

Taken by Jim Palmer