Affordable Work Out Gear: Where to Get It, What’s Hot

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I really do not care if it is cliché, but every year in January I recommit to exercise. You know, like every single other adult in North America. The combination of holiday overindulging and the promise of a new year make for the perfect time to get our bodies on track with increased activity.

Well-made work out gear is a great boost and incentive to hit the gym more frequently. If your old gym gear is worn out and falling down mid-jumping jack, or consists solely of free promotional t-shirts, you truly do need to purchase new items. To begin, a supportive sports bra, a top and bottom are all you need to start. You can hand wash them after each use and they will be dry by the next day. Here are my affordable high performance picks – everything is priced $9-49!

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H&M Sportswear 

This one-year-old line of work out gear from budget-friendly H&M is stocked with budget-friendly basics. It has sports bras with three levels of support (high, medium and low), sports tops of all sleeve lengths, pants, jackets and accessories. Most items are fitted and body conscious.

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My picks:

Running Tank Top $14.95 – Support up top, breathable mesh around underarms, reflective details for night runs.

Yoga Tights $29.95 – Ultra-wide waistband that won’t slip down during down dog, hidden key pocket.

Sports Tank Top $9.95 - Fast-drying, racer back, array of colors and patterns for less than ten bucks.

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Fabletics

This new company is co-founded by Kate Hudson and is based on a monthly membership structure, much like StyleMint, JewelMint or ShoeMint, if you are familiar. Basically you join as a VIP and receive your first complete workout outfit of two-three top + bottom pieces for $25. Then every month after you receive outfits curated for your style and fitness preferences that will cost you $49-$59.

However, you can skip any month, as long as you log in the first week of each month and remember to skip. VIP members also receive reduced prices on a la carte items, so if you fall in love with a certain running pant you can order more at a discount. There is no membership fee, just the responsibility to remember to skip or choose each month.

The clothing items are extremely flattering and on-trend. The items I have purchased seem to be holding up well after several months and multiple gentle washings and line dries.

PicMonkey Collage

My picks:

Lima Capri $44.95 (member price) – The most slimming and booty-lifting general workout capri I have found. Gentle compression means everything stays put while you run or lift.

Norwalk Tank $34.95 (member price) – A built in bra, banded top and flowing back make for a super yoga friendly top.

Nadi Legging $49.95 (member price) – Maximum compression and a cool street camo print will make your legs look slender and feel energetic.

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Under Armour

This classic high performance brand is not just for mega jocks, and it is not always expensive. Shop the women’s sales, outlet site and sign up for e-mail deals to find tons of well-made, long-lasting pieces for your gym wear collection.

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My picks:

ColdGear Infrared Crew $36.99 – Super soft, this long-sleeved crew has a thermo-conductive inner coating to absorb and retain your own body heat while pulling moisture away.

Twisted Tech Short Sleeve T-Shirt $18.99 – Made of UA’s signature, sweat-wicking high tech fabric, this tee will serve you in any exercise activity and last for years. 

Studio Luxe Fitted Flare Capri $39.99 – For the gym class hero, this capri will keep you cool and is a shape that is flattering without being overly tight. Perfect for Body Pump, Step and other cardio/weight training group exercise.

What is YOUR go-to place to find new gym gear?  

Appetite for Life: 4 Quick and Healthy Afternoon Snacks

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I am a snacker. I might as well just come right out and admit it to you: I love to snack – I always have and likely always will….but there is this specific time during the day….I like to call it the ‘witching hour’ when I need SOMETHING to keep the afternoon blahs from settling in between lunch and dinner. I have this need about the same time my small people come home from school, or shortly before when I’m looking to have just that last 45 minutes to myself. Sometimes I’m finishing an important task – sometimes I’m taking that quiet to do a little something just for me before the captains of chaos come marching through the door needing hugs, talks about their days, help with homework and, of course, to be taken to one of many sporting practices or games.

As the New Year settles in and the small people head back to school (today), I always look to make tweaks in the way I live. How can I make healthier choices, prioritize the right things, and generally live better? Many of the areas I examine come back to health and the way I eat. Just as I was planning food adjustments, WASA Crispbread reached out to partner. This was the perfect opportunity for me to examine the way I snack and come up with some healthy options I will enjoy AND I can easily create quickly.

Wasa Cripsbreads have been the biggest crispbread maker in the world since 1919 and their products come in so many flavor options including Whole Grain, Sourdough, Multigrain, Fiber, Light Rye, Hearty, and Flax Seed. The crispbreads are baked with whole grain and offer both fiber and protein. For me, they are an alternative to chips or crackers….and the ones I have listed here are all made with non-GMO products and have ‘Non-GMO’ product verification on their labeling.

Here are a few of my favorites:

4 Quick & Healthy Afternoon Snacks WASA

Peanut butter, banana and Wasa Crispbread (this reminds me of my childhood – my mom always paired peanut butter and bananas for me – though you can easily substitute the the Peanut Butter for Almond butter or go crazy and add Nutella – my small girl’s favorite). A second option is Applebutter, apple slices and Wasa Crispbread.

WASA Crispbread - 4 Quick & Healthy Afternoon Snacks  - Peanut Butter & Banana/ Apple Butter & Apple Slices

For a sweet and salty option, pair your favorite cheese or cheese spread with Wasa Crispbread and strawberries or skip the sweet entirely and add hummus, a slice of turkey and a little cherry tomato to your favorite variety. (If you know my previous aversion to tomatoes, you’ll be proud to see I’m including the smallest amount in my food.

WASA Crispbread - 4 Quick & Healthy Afternoon Snacks  - Strawberry and Cheese, Hummus, Turkey and Tomato

Which one do you think looks the best?  I realize the options are endless when you start to include fruits and vegetables, your favorite cheeses, spreads and lean meats.

4 Quick & Healthy Afternoon Snacks WASA Crispbreads

With the temperatures dropping in to the singles digits in the Midwest this week, I’m thinking soup will be on the menu – that gives me the perfect opportunity to pair one of the WASA crispbreads with my favorite cold weather soups. I’m thinking tomato soup, Sourdough WASA crsipbread with a little brie (my FAVORITE cheese on the planet). What do you think?

And just for fun….since we’ve been talking about making some healthy and happy changes – WASA calls it ‘having an appetite for life’….take a look at WASA’s new video campaign…a light hearted way of encouraging YOU to do a little something today that will have your future self saying ‘thank you’.

For me, that’s taking baby steps towards healthy living, starting with healthy snacking.  What choices are you making?

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Wasa. As always, all thoughts and opinions are mine and mine alone.

The Reminder I Needed. Times Two.

She was truly lovely. I noticed her immediately. It was 9am. Orlando Airport. Slightly messy blond pony tail, long sleeve t-shirt and cargo pants, very little makeup, but the brightest smile and love painted entirely across her face.

I followed her eyes as they tracked two little girls  – a toddler and one just learning to walk…stepping, falling on her bottom searching upward for mommy and off to explore as soon as she sensed her world was safe again.

It made me smile, remembering those moments – the crazy of following two in the airport, keeping them entertained and happy and the stress of knowing the flight was still to come. I admired her ease, her clear love of her daughters and the pure joy that she seemed to have in simply following them, watching them experience the world around them.

As the girls wandered towards us, the littlest aiming for the closest electronics, mom swiftly intercepted her with a smile and a quick apology.

I smiled back, ‘No apology needed at all. Your girls are beautiful. I remember this time so well.’

She looked right at me, eyes filling with tears, “Thank you for that. I needed to hear that. This woman just came up to me to tell me I’m a terrible mother for letting my youngest crawl on the floor because she’s a nurse and the ground is disgusting”.

I looked right at her and said, “Then let me trump her with this – when we first walked by you I noticed how much you were smiling as you were watching your girls. Clearly they give you joy. And? Your older daughter keeps hugging your littlest one. Teaching them to love each other is amazing. That’s two incredible things you are doing right and two of the most important…so allow those to be the things you remember from today, not what that woman said to you. You are the furthest thing from a terrible mother. You are doing something extraordinary.”

I smiled and pointed to the ground I was sitting on…having given the only two available seats to my children, ‘Clearly, we can survive being on the ground….and we can wash our hands’.

Reminder #1 If you think something kind, say it. You just might have the words someone needs to hear.

I’d by lying if I didn’t tell you it infuriates me to hear that people – strangers – go out of their way to crush the spirits of other’s that way….especially a young mother. I wish I could say that I believed my words WOULD trump what was said to her, but I don’t know that they can erase the hurt of someone telling her she is a terrible mother. That stings. But I can hope.

She smiled. Teary. Grateful.We talked for a moment. All the while keeping an eye on those sweet girls. She IS doing something extraordinary. She ISN’T a terrible mother.

I watched her walk away.

And then my second reminder happened.

Delaney leaned forward and whispered to me, ‘I love to watch you do that, Mommy…..when you inspire people with your words’.

And I started to cry.

I started to cry.

Sure, it’s been a tough week. And I’m emotional.

I managed a smile, a ‘thank you’ and reached out to hug her. She followed it up with, ‘I hope when I’m older I know lots of people like you.’

Gosh, I hope she does too.

Reminder #2 Be the example: Live as the person I want my small people to grow up to be

All day long, I can tell them to be kind. All day long I can try to inspire them with quotes about ‘doing the right thing’, choosing kindness, keeping their chin up, loving their neighbor and treating others as they want to be treated, but nothing, absolutely NOTHING trumps showing them how to treat others.

Just as they see it when I lose my patience with reckless drivers, waiting in line, rude or unkind people….. they see and understand the opposite when I choose to be kinder than necessary.

I’d rather be the good kind of example whenever possible… as my sweet girl proved to me once again, those little eyes and hearts are watching and learning.

No Bake Cookies For Santa

I bake more during the holidays than any other time of year, so it is important that at least SOME of that baking is simple in addition to being delicious. This recipe is for the kind of cookie that flies off the plate – and even though, in our home, we like to make them for Santa, I do find myself policing my family to make sure we have enough left by the time Christmas Eve rolls around. Just you try them – you’ll see.

No Bake Santa Cookies

Ingredients:
1 ½ Cups of Corn Flakes
1 ½ Cups of Rice Krispies
1 Cup red M&Ms
1 Cup Mini Marshmallows
1 ¼ Pound White Chocolate
½ Cup Creamy Peanut Butter
Red Sprinkles

No Bake Santa Cookies

No Bake Santa Cookies

Directions: Combine Corn Flakes, Rice Krispies, M&Ms, and Marshmallows, and a dash of sprinkles, set aside. Melt white chocolate in microwave (30 seconds at a time – stirring after each) or over a double boiler. Add peanut butter and continue to melt until both are blended. Pour marshmallow and peanut butter mixture to cereal – stir until fully coated. Add more red sprinkles until pleased. Put parchment paper on two cookie sheets. Spoon 2 inch balls of mixture on to cookie sheet, place in fridge until set.

No Bake Santa Cookies

Keep refrigerated when not serving.

No Bake Santa Cookies

Enjoy (and save some for Santa!) And don’t forget to leave Santa some extra special MILK (I’m thinking a milkshake…what do you think?)

Santa Cookies and Milkshake

And….if you find yourself wanting a delicious treat while you are lying around AFTER Christmas…maybe even in to New Year’s and while you’re relaxing while watching ALL of those amazing football games? This is the perfect recipe for you!

I can’t wait to hear what you think.

Disclosure: I’m proud to have Kellogg’s as a long time partner. As always, all thoughts and opinions shared are mine and mine alone.

DIY Photo Keepsake Ornament

HI Everyone!   It’s Kasey.  I’m back with another DIY for your Holiday Season!  Last week I shared how you can make the easiest Hot Cocoa in a jar to give to friends and family and today I’m back to share an equally easy gift – DIY Photo Keepsake Ornament.

DIY Photo Keepsake Ornament

This ornament is quite easy and the perfect gift for grandparents or as a keepsake for yourself!  Here’s what you need to make this adorable ornament:

DIY Photo Keepsake Ornament

1 Box of clear glass or plastic ornaments.
photo of your child
glitter
twine or ribbon

There’s only 3 steps that anyone can do!  Grab your kids and do this together for a fun crafty evening.

1.  Add a small amount of glitter to the inside of your ornament.  Just a shake is perfect.

DIY Photo Keepsake Ornament

2.  Carefully roll your photo up facing inward and place inside ornament.  You can take a pencil or something skinny and straighten out the photo to where you’d like it to be.

DIY Photo Keepsake Ornament

3.  Close up the ornament and tie either ribbon or twine on the ornament hook to be able to hang it up.

DIY Photo Keepsake Ornament

That’s it.  Do one for each of your children or even of your whole family as a gift for someone special.  Wrap in a pretty box or tissue paper and you have a wonderful Keepsake ornament.

#ForWhatMattersMost: Family, Time, the Traditions

 

Christmas Traditions For What Matters Most

Christmas Tree

Each ornament on the tree has significance for us. There are photos of my small people from the time they were born.

Christmas Traditions For What Matters Most

Some marking their first year of birth (by far, Cooper’s favorite is his very first.), our first year of marriage and our first home.

Christmas Traditions For What Matters Most

We purchase an ornament for every city we visit and every major life event including attending the 2010 Olympic Games.

Christmas Traditions For What Matters Most

Easily one of my favorites is this one below. It may not look like much, but it was made for me by my now 101 year old grandmother shortly before Alzheimer’s claimed her mind.

Christmas Traditions For What Matters Most

A new tradition for us as a family this year is dedicating one full day to local Christmas celebrations – just the four of us. That may be standard for many families, but for us finding a day that wasn’t already usurped by kid’s sporting events or holiday parties wasn’t easy… it was, however,  glorious. The magic of holding my kids’ hands while walking through holiday lights and seeing a real reindeer? I’ll hang on to those memories forever.

ChristmasTraditionsHolidayLights

ChristmasTraditionReindeerAnd finally – a tradition carried on from my childhood – the reading of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve. No matter how big they get….my small people still snuggle up next to their Daddy to listen as he reads….just as I did with my dad when I was little.
Holiday Tradition - Twas The Night Before Christmas

Amidst the crazy, the hustle, the bustle….it is these moments, these traditions that matter most in my family.

 TYLENOL® For What Matters Most™

What Matters Most is a question we often ask ourselves this time of year. For many of us family is a large and incredibly important part of that….clearly it is to me….and yet ‘family’ is celebrated and honored in so many beautiful and different ways. Because I love their message, I’ve partnered with the makers of TYLENOL® for the holidays this year who have decided to put a modern spin on Norman Rockwell’s classic holiday painting FreedomFrom Want….showing that while we may not look exactly like this painting, we still have the same love in our hearts.

Take a look at this sweet video – I’m certain you will be as touched as I am.

I’d love for you to join me in sharing What Matters Most to you and your family - you can pin the photo below to one of your Pinterest boards. The photo is of the Yee Hoshida family and they appear in the video you just watched above – part of the ‘modern’ version the Norman Rockwell photo and like you and I – celebrating our own versions of family, of tradition, of love and holidays.

TylenolWhatMattersMost

What matters most to you?

Disclosure: I have received information about the TYLENOL® For What Matters Most™ campaign from McNeil Consumer Healthcare Division of McNEIL-PPC, Inc., the makers of TYLENOL®. The opinions stated are my own. This is a sponsored post.

 

 

For the Love of the Game: Why We Defend Our Turf as a St. Louis Rams Family

If you know anything at all about me, it is that I am quite clearly one of the least athletic people you might know. But I live and breathe sports on a daily basis. I’m married to a former sports TV guy. My small people both play three competitive sports each – and LOVE it with their entire tiny beings – and I was raised by a man who watched his teams religiously year ’round.

As a little girl, I would sit with my dad on Saturdays and Sundays while he watched his beloved football, hockey and baseball…my focus at the time was initially fixing his hair just to spend time with him, but you’d be amazed how much a girl can pick up about field goals, first downs, interceptions and blocked punts just by being in the room.

That little girl grew up and while her athleticism didn’t much improve, her love of the game did.

This season something extraordinary happened with my family and I want to share a bit of that journey with you. You may have seen bits and pieces shared here and there on Instagram or Twitter, but as I wrap my brain around what this experience has meant to us, I think it is worth talking about how it has brought the four of us together. (Together? Weren’t the four of us already together? We’re a family, right? Yes… but bear with me.)

I’ll start from the beginning.

For their 2014 campaign, the St. Louis Rams decided to create a ‘Superhero’ theme titled ‘Defend Our Turf’  – aptly singling out some of their star players, Chris Long as ‘The Beast’, James Laurinaitis as ‘The Gladiator’ and Robert Quinn as ‘The Machine’. But, as their goal is to show families that the sport can be an enjoyable experience, they wanted to include a family as one of the centerpieces of the campaign.

Chris Long The Best Defend Our Turf St. Louis Rams

Robert Quinn Chris Long The Best Defend Our Turf St. Louis Rams

As I’ve done a little social media work with the Rams over the course of the past few years, Brian Killingsworth, the Vice President of Marketing and Brand Strategy called, told me a little about the campaign, mentioned they needed a family to complete the project. He asked if we would be interested.

Count my sports loving, football loving, St. Louis Rams loving family in.

ALL CAPS.

In the Beginning 

Know this: When we said yes, we had NO IDEA just what the ‘campaign’ would include. We were thrilled to be a part of what we thought was simply going to be 1-2 commercials and maybe a static advertisement supporting a team we loved.

We were giddy we were going to be able to start going to the games.

Keep in mind that I grew up in Los Angeles… then the home of the Los Angeles Rams. Doing my dad’s hair, watching and listening over his shoulder, asking questions as I grew to understand the game, I was a fan then…I was still a fan now.

My Rams moved to the Midwest with me.

All day, as we shot the spots, the vision became more clear, the kids were singled out for individual commercials. Cooper was a ‘beast’ as a mini Chris Long, even doing the ‘ Joel’ – his traditional sack celebration .

CoopTheJoelChrisLong

And Delaney was a small version of Robert Quinn, mastering the ‘Bernie’ – his signature move.

DelaneySTLRamsTough

We posed as Superheroes for what would become one of the centerpieces of the Defend Our Turf Campaign.

SmithDefendOurTurf

But in the studio that day, we were just having the time of our lives…had truly didn’t know. We didn’t know the campaign would be so big, so beautiful, so full of life and would hit a homerun on so many levels. We were given a sneak-peek just before it launched. To say we were excited was an understatement. Until that moment, we hadn’t fully grasped the vision. We hadn’t been able to picture ourselves as Superheroes. But there we were….Defending Our Turf.

DefendOurTurfPreview It was a campaign that continued to astound us with commercials (you can see all of them here) and then billboards.

STLRamsDefendOurTurfBillboard

And then it was the radio spots – ALL of them were voiced by my small people – which was, quite honestly, the pinnacle of this for me. Up until this campaign, my small girl had been mortified at the very idea of speaking in front of people she didn’t know. When she was required to do these voiceovers, she found a quiet, inner confidence I didn’t know she possessed and she NAILED them. As she sat, alone, in the sound booth, I watched a group of adults applaud her.

DelaneySTLRamsVoiceOver

And then this… in the video below, you can see her hearing herself on the radio for the very first time. Color me proud…watching your child develop some self confidence is a beautiful thing. Her radio spots give me chills every time.

Close to the end of the season, Brian surprised us with two more bits of fun campaign pieces: an ad in the St. Louis Rams Program.

St. Louis Rams DefendOurTurfProgram

And – probably the most exciting piece for the kids: our very own Topps Trading Card.

STLRams ToppsCards

The Campaign and Why it Works

I realize that I am biased, and I know that the St. Louis Rams did not have the season that we all hoped, but I love this campaign.

St. Louis Rams Defend Our Turf

Defend Our Turf does EXACTLY what the St. Louis Rams intended for it to do.

Defend Our Turf puts Family back in Football

St. Louis Rams Defend Our Turf Commercial

For the longest time, football has been seen as a predominantly ‘male’ sport. Men play it. Men watch it. Men love it.

But here’s the thing…I love it. As a woman, as a mom. My daughter loves it. My son and husband love it.

DelaneyMomSTLRamsSidelines

We love it as a family. 

SmithSTLFamsSidelines

By far my favorite experience is actually seeing the positive effect the campaign has had: As the spot airs in the Edward Jones Dome on the big screen, people would turn to us, families would turn to us, men would turn to us and ask, ‘is that you?’ and then turn to their sons and say, ‘did you see that little girl in that commercial? She’s right there. See? I TOLD YOU. GIRLS LIKE FOOTBALL TOO.’  I almost cried the first time it happened.

DelaneyNFLBallSidelines

And I’ve heard from people who don’t even live here in St. Louis that they LOVE the campaign – that involving families – everyday families – is GOOD. And I agree.

We go to the games. We are there early and we stay until the very end each and every time. Certainly this season has been unlike any other for us….my small people have been spoiled by the experience. They were beyond thrilled to meet Robert Quinn and Chris Long (and to do those signature moves for them just like they do in the commercials), but for me – I’ve watched my kids grow.

DelaneyCooperRobertQuinn

DelaneyCooperChrisLong

They are stronger, they are proud of this work they have done and will look you in the eye in a way they hadn’t previously. This has given them some extra self confidence, which is especially amazing for my small girl – the one who would previously struggle to make eye contact when anyone she didn’t know would talk to her.

The St. Louis Rams Football Experience

My family feels as though our St. Louis Rams season ticket experience has been like an extended family. We sit by many of the same people. We see many of the same people – around us, on the big screen, at the concession stands, even as we wander around the Edward Jones Dome.

There may only be eight regular season games, and the season may not have been the winning one we hoped to have, but the St. Louis Rams give you a fun, committed, exciting environment while you are there.

STLRamsThrowbackUniforms

From the team’s grand entrance before each game to the many St. Louis local restaurants that were added this year (think Crown Candy, Sugarfire Smokehouse and Strange Donuts) to hearing the regular chants begin to play and the ‘regulars’ chant right back to by far, one of my FAVORITE moments – honoring a Veteran from the Wounded Warrior Project – imagine a standing ovation for that soldier each and every game. It is chill-inducing.

STLRamsEntrance

There are free after-game concerts and, if you are like us, with a crazy full schedule, you can always split your tickets…enjoy some with your family….

STLRamsConcert

Bring Grandparents… (for this we bought a few extra tickets)

KidsMumDadSTLRams

Make it a girl’s day out…

STLRamsFriends

Or keep it as family time as we did for most games.

St. Louis Rams Jeff Danielle

DelaneyCooperSTLRamsJamesLSidelines

We have one more game to go this season and admittedly, I’m already looking forward to 2015.

I have to thank Brian Killingsworth and Lisa Boaz with the St. Louis Rams for having faith that my family would be good representatives for the team and for allowing us to be a part of this campaign for the season. We’ve had a remarkable time. We’ve watched the games from our seats and from home and have definitely done our best to Defend Our Turf.

 

 

 

 

Holiday Gift Guide for the Fashionista

Have a mom / sister / cousin / BFF who is all about clothes and fashion? (My friends and family should all be nodding yes right about now. ;) ) Then this gift guide is the perfect place to start your holiday shopping list! The clothes-crazed ladies in your life will thank you.

 

fashionista gift guide

If you’re looking for a pricey gift, you really can’t go wrong with a classic designer item. J.Crew’s Cocoon Coat is super-chic and comes in ten colors! A pair of riding boots are also perfect for cold weather. Tory Burch’s Bristol boots are a great pick, and they’re currently on sale! Even if your favorite lady doesn’t collect watches, a glamorous Michael Kors watch is a timeless piece of jewelry. And a classic Kate Spade handbag, like the Cobble Hill Devin, will work year-round, regardless of the season!

 

fashionista gift guide

If she doesn’t already own the popular J.Crew Herringbone Vest, your fashionista is probably lusting after it. Faux fur is also another great less expensive gift option. Vests or a snuggly warm snood are perfect for this time of year! A great pair of sunglasses is always a safe bet too. These tortoise shell frames from Michael Kors are perfectly on trend.

 

fashionista gift guide

If you’re on a budget or looking for a smaller gift, you can’t go wrong with cold weather accessories. An adorable hat or trendy plaid blanket scarf is sure to be a hit. And a little glitzy statement necklace is a great pick for a girly girl. Does your lady love all things monogrammed? Then C.Wonder’s zip top pouch that doubles a clutch is perfect! And they offer plenty of prints to match your fashionista’s wardrobe!

Easy Christmas Dinner Recipes

easiest-christmas-dinner

Friends….hosting Christmas is sooo much easier than Thanksgiving. Trust me. On Christmas Day, faith, family and, let’s face it, gifts take center stage, rather than the menu. On Christmas Eve or Christmas evening, guests simply want something cozy and sort of special to fill their bellies.

If you are hosting this traditional winter feast and are not required to follow a familial tradition, here are some easy yet fully festive ideas to try.

main-courses

MAIN COURSES

Prime Rib Roast:  I always think prime rib is to Christmas what turkey is to Thanksgiving. It is such a treat and beloved by all carnivores. You basically throw most of your holiday dinner budget at this big, beautiful beef and can scrimp on all other dishes. Jen Tilley of How to Simplify’s prime rib recipe is the bee’s knees and oh-so-simple to follow.

Grilled Moroccan Lamp Chops: Succulent cuts of lamb with exotic spices make it look like you slaved and slaved, when really you were reading your new book by the tree all day. Jamie Oliver’s strategy for the baby sheep is a winner.

Osso Buco: This veal dish is classic Italian feast food and has a richness perfect for Christmas. As usual, Giada breaks down the old school Italian classics for the kitchen cook.

Wild Mushroom and Port Brioche: Make your vegetarian family or friend feel special with their very own brioche, stuffed with fragrant veggies. You can even modify this for vegans.

side-dishes

SIDES

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon: Skip over all those other Brussels recipes and go with Rachael Ray’s easy, excellent dish.

Perfect Roast Potatoes: Every time I make Nigella Lawson’s truly perfect roast potatoes I find grownups and kids at the fridge later, devouring them from the Tupperware…on the off chance any make it to leftovers. These are waaaaay easier than mashed potatoes, although if you need to have those with your roast you can always make them ahead.

Christmas Soup: This one dish stew has sausage, kale and potatoes, making it a heavy side or first course, or a perfectly casual main course meal. It is the easiest Alton Brown recipe I have made but it tastes complex.

Creamy Parmesan Grits: Minimal ingredients, maximum comfort food! This pairs perfectly with a meat main course.

treats

TREATS

Campari and Blood Orange Cocktail: I love a signature cocktail at Christmas. It tempts those who only drink on special occasions with something worthy, and reminds everyone else to keep it classy.

Herb Coated Goat Cheese: Fresh herbs and cheesy goodness combine for the perfect savory delight. After lots of fudge and sugar around the holidays, this non-sweet treat will hit the spot. Serve as an app or after dinner (a cheese course is so chic, no?)

Buche de Noel Yule Log Cake: I do not often bake, but when I do I lean on Andrea’s Recipes for her clear directions and incredible-tasting confections! Her take on the Christmas table classic, the Yule Log Cake, is pure heaven.

Monster Cookies: You can find lots of fiddly, finicky, complicated Christmas cookies elsewhere. When you are pressed for time but nothing but fresh-baked Christmas cookies will do, Monster Cookies do the trick. Christy Jordan of Southern Plate’s recipe is almost identical to the one my grandma gave me.

What is YOUR go-to Christmas menu? Please share with us!

Chocolate Krave Peppermint Milk Shake

Ok, I admit it, we love Chocolate Krave Cereal.

It is not unusual for a box of it to disappear from our home in less than two days. That’s fair, I guess, when you consider that my husband and my daughter have both been known to go back for seconds AND to have it for dessert AND breakfast. In fact…as we roamed the grocery store aisles just yesterday, I asked my small girl if there was anything she needed…and she said, ‘Yes, Mommy…just one thing, Chocolate Krave. I only have one bowl left’. Admittedly, I’m impressed, not only that she had an answer to my question, but that the child who forgets to put her shoes and her backpack away each day knew EXACTLY how much cereal was left in the box AND knew enough to plan for the moment when she just might run out.

Krave has power as a double-duty cereal in our home, so I decided to see if I could give it yet another role: Milk Shake.

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In case you’re wondering? Success.

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Here’s how simple it is to make:

Ingredients:

1 Cup Chocolate Krave Cereal – Crushed

2 Cups Vanilla Ice Cream

½ Cup Milk (of your choice)

Whipped Cream (Optional)

Peppermint Garnish (Optional)

Directions: Crush the cup of Krave in a plastic bag using a rolling pin. Blend ice cream, milk and crushed Krave in a blender until smooth. Top with Whipped Cream if you so choose – we do. For the peppermint rim, wet the edge of the glass and touch it in to the peppermint sprinkles.

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Enjoy.

In our home – this is a not only a special treat around the holidays but we’ve decided there’s a big guy in a red suit who will be visiting soon who just might be in need of an extra treat.  The small people are excited to leave their new favorite for Santa with some extra special cookies we’ll be sharing soon. (Assuming Daddy doesn’t sneak down and steal it after the kids go to sleep!)

Disclosure: I have been a long time partner of Kellogg’s and am always excited to share new recipes, ideas and suggestions with you – ways to include cereal and milk in your world. As always, all thoughts and ideas are mine and mine alone.