Easy Christmas Decorating with Starbucks & Muffins

Christmas Tree Decorating

 It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Cliche–but I really do love Christmastime SO very much! The sights, the sounds, the feelings, the activities, and—oh yeah—the tastes!!! I just adore the seasonal drinks and goodies that you don’t have to feel bad about indulging in this time of year.

Starbucks Sam's Club

When we were in Sams Club recently I noticed this fun Christmas Gift Starbucks display–I thought it would make an adorable gift for a coffee lover! I love getting Starbucks Lattes every now and again as a special treat while we’re out and about. I just tried their new Carmel Brulee Latte and oh my soul….sooooooo good!!!

Starbucks Holiday Blend

On our going-back-to-college budget, however, Starbucks really is just a special treat-and I normally brew my own coffee at home each morning. When I saw that Starbucks also had a new Holiday Blend and Sam’s was selling a 28 oz I wanted to try it out! I’d never brewed Starbucks at home and was looking forward to seeing if I’d like it or not. I’m especially picky when it comes to my coffee at home so I like to spend a little more on great coffee-especially knowing I’m saving a bunch of money by brewing it at home rather than buying fancy lattes all the time! I tried the Starbucks Holiday blend in the morning with breakfast and really did love how it tasted-it helped me get ready for a busy day!

Starbucks Holiday Blend

 Holiday decorating is a lot of work–but I after doing it for many years I have a few tricks up my sleeve to try and make it a lot of fun and a little bit easier!

Christmas Decorating

Tip: Store your Christmas Decor in Red or Green Tubs. It will keep your decor dry & safe and be easy to find each year (even if you’re living with most of your things in storage-like we are!)

Starbucks Holiday Blend

I decided that we would wait until Tyler was napping in the late afternoon to decorate. That way Amber could help and have the joy of it and Tyler could enjoy it *after* the work was done and all the breakables were high out of reach! I knew it was going to be a big job so I decided that a treat might be in order! While we were pulling out everything I got the coffee brewing!

Starbucks Holiday Blend

For our treat I picked up these super oh-so-delish looking Artisan Fresh Cinnamon Crunch Muffins from Sam’s Club. I didn’t even realize that Sams sold baked goods–let alone ones like these! Originally I was looking to purchase Cinnamon Rolls but when they didn’t have those in stock (pretty sure that they were all gone because everyone bought them all!) I opted for these instead!

Christmas Decorating

Amber loved getting to help me with both of the trees! Since we’re staying with my in-laws right now it was a lot of fun getting to set up a whole new set of decorations and admiring how adorable they all were!

Christmas Tree

 Tip: Pack all your Christmas Books, DVDs, and CDs in one specially marked bin. Pull it out first so that you can listen to the music while you’re setting up the rest of the decor!

Starbucks Holiday Blend

 One thing that I love about Starbucks Holiday Blend is that it’s the kind of coffee that makes the whole kitchen smell good while it’s perking. As soon as I heard it finish I hurried over to pour myself a mug and we decided it would be a good time to rest and have a little afternoon pick me up!

Artisan Fresh Cinnamon Muffins

Although Amber’s a wee bit young to share a cup of coffee with me (that’s not to say that she hasn’t snuck some on her own….maybe more than once…much to my chagrin, but I digress) She was SO excited about having the muffin as a special treat! Just look at how HUGE it is!

Artisan Fresh Cinnamon Muffins

Mmmm….a cinnamon muffin and a mug of coffee–a little piece of Christmas Bliss! It was interesting seeing how different the coffee tasted when paired with a Cinnamon Muffin–the flavor of the muffin really brought out the complementary notes in the coffee and made it taste a lot spicer–and by that I means spices like ginger, pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, orange, cloves–not the spicer of a Mexican food variety! The special treat to accompany the decorating was such a hit I’m sure we have a new Christmas Tradition in the making!

Christmas Movies

Tip: Top off a day of decorating by snuggling up to a favorite Christmas Movie! Here are just a few of our favorites!

 Do you have any great tips on easy Christmas Decorating or fun, special traditions?! Let me know in the comments!

As you know I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community.  Because they’re so awesome this shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™. #CBias #SocialFabric #DeliciousParings

Nicole Elliott

Holiday Memories with Hickory Farms

Christmas Gift Guide


 Some of my  best memories from growing up revolved around Christmas-especially Christmas Eve. Each year we had the exact same agenda–first we’d attend the Candle Light Christmas Eve service at church, then it was off to squeeze far too many people into far too tight a space at my Grandparents house.

Family Christmas Eve
Christmas Eve 2008 — last time we had a big family Christmas Eve

There was always lots of laughter, silliness, presents, singing, Bible reading (the Christmas story ), and –of course–food! (My Grandma is 100% Italian–so we have a love of eating and being loud and crazy that runs throughout the family).

Romero sisters
Me (as a red head), Amber as a baby, & my sister Hannah

 While there were always the sweeter goodies the most popular snacks were usually platters from Hickory Farms–I don’t think there was a single one of us who didn’t love their Beef Summer Sausage & cheeses! A few years ago after I was “all growed up” and moved away my Grandparents sent me a Hickory Farms box for Christmas–it made me smile as it brought back many Christmas Eve Memories!

Hickory Farms

  
These days Christmas has radically changed for me as I have our my own little family and what was once my immediate family is now the extended family and the extended family–well, if we were all able to manage to get completely together for a holiday I don’t think we’d find any house big enough to fit us!

One of the things that hasn’t changed is Hickory Farms involvement in my holidays–time and time again over the years I’ve purchased it as a present–for my dad, my grandparents, my in-laws, a gift exchange. It’s the perfect gift to give someone you have no idea what to give–because everyone likes Hickory Farms–right??!! 

Hickory Farms  Home for the Holidays Gift Box


Hickory Farms is also the perfect military gift–their amazing new Home for the Holidays Gift Box includes all the best of Hickory Farms–sausage, crackers, cheeses, mustard & more! Best of all it ships for FREE free to APO/FPO addresses worldwide. If you’ve had a loved one deployed or living over seas you realize what a HUGE deal this is! It warmed my heart to know that a company that I have fond memories associated with is founded on great, gracious principles like supporting our military! 


Not to mention I can’t wait to devore this gift box–I’m giving it as a family gift but you better believe I’ll be mooching a little (hey it’s one of those kinds of gifts!)

Hickory Farms  Home for the Holidays Gift Box



Do you have any special holiday memories that involve food or any really cool traditions? Please leave me a comment and let me know what they were/are!

Just in time for the holidays one lucky reader will win a  Home for the Holidays Gift Box of their own!

 
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Nicole Elliott

Ideas For College Students

As you might remember my hubby will be going back to college beginning in January.  We recently just attended his orientation so since I have college on the brain I decided to share this Idea for College Student Christmas gift.

 When people are back in school a practical gift is a great idea because finances are sure to be tight and anything that helps ease that up will definitely be appreciated! I hate giving gifts that aren’t at least a little bit of fun, however! That’s why I came up with the idea to make a “Ace The Exam Kit” as a Christmas present which includes:

  • C-Line Expanding File with Handles — super sleek way to keep important papers from all their different classes organized in a convenient, non-bulky way–super important in small dorm rooms!
  • C-line Bound Sheet Protector Presentation Bookthe best way to make a good impression on essays or finals is to bring the paper in a stylish presentation book–it would also be great to use to organize a cover letter and resume to bring to a job interview!
  • Stainless Steel Thermos — a must for all the coffee that will need to be consumed! Make this kit even cuter by adding a Starbucks gift card!
  • Bic Mark-It Permanent Markers – great for displays or doodling the 36 set is useful for all kinds of things!

 
To make the gift even more fun try giving it in a laundry basket with a few new towels and pre-made goodies. You can add a “loofa bow” like I did on my homemade Christmas Gift. A homemade card saying what each item is for and giving study tips would top it all off!
  
Do you have a great Christmas Gift for College Students Idea? Share it or link it in the comments!

Thanks to Shoplet.com your one stop shop for all office supplies for providing me with two of these products!
 
Nicole Elliott

Quick Christmas Gifts

If you have many plans for the Christmas season one of those might very well include a White Elephant gift exchange or  gifts for family friends. It can be hard to come up with a gift that has wide-spread appeal, so here is a quick idea of one that just might work!

Here is the gift that I’ll be bringing to the big family Christmas party my hubbies family throws each year. These are the items I have:

Put them all together and you have a fun bowl full of great goodies that any gal would love–whether she cooks a lot or not!

Do you have any great gift ideas that pack a mass appeal? Share them in the comments!

Nicole Elliott

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins

For Thanksgiving this year we got to celebrate with all of hubbies family here for the first time since his brother got married-it was absolutely wonderful!

For holiday breakfasts I like to keep things nice and easy while having them be tasty and feeling a little “special” too. This year I decided to try making some Pumpkin Spice Miffy’s Muffins for Thanksgiving morning.

They were super simple to make–I just used all of the ingredients above and then added in a few handfuls of dark chocolate chips in. I loved that they are made of organic whole grains and use real pumpkin in them.

 TIP: Use fun props like a mini pumpkin to dress up your muffin platter

They also came with a special brown sugar to sprinkle over the top that really came them a fun and pretty look when they were finished! It took me just a few minutes to put them together and they stayed super tasty and fresh for the next morning–I liked them best when I stuck them in the microwave for 20 seconds because it made them warm and the chocolate chips gooey as if I’d just pulled them out of the oven….yummm!!!!

 They were a huge hit the huge platter is now completely gone! (and that was even with competing with the 8 different pies me & my MIL made) Everyone really loved them, especially both of my kids who thought because of the chocolate chips in them that they were getting a “special treat” with them–I didn’t mention to them that they were actually healthy!

Miffy’s Muffins are running a great special right now through the end of November:

o 4 packs/$20
o 6 packs/$30
o 8 packs/$40

In addition to the tasty pumpkin flavor we got Miffy’s also offers  Banana, Banana Chocolate Chip & Apple Spice!

These also would make great gifts–stay tuned for a future post soon with more on that idea!

What is your favorite Holiday Breakfast Recipe?

Nicole Elliott

What To Do For Dinner

Yesterday I talked about cooking quick healthy food. Along with easy side dishes figuring out what to do for dinner on busy nights can be a challenge!

I’ll be the first to admit I’m moderately picky when it comes to food-especially packaged food. Since I cook mostly from scratch meals any convenience dinners will have to be high quality and especially tasty to fit all the differing taste buds that are present in my family. As I mentioned before-I love having quick and easy options during times like the holidays!

My family eats a lot of skillet meals, and a lot of chicken, so the new Campbells Skillet Sauces looked like they would be right up our alley! We were sent 4 of the new flavors from Campbell’s to try out!


TIP: Always have 3 or 4 “easy meals” on hand so that on those days things just get crazy you’ll be less tempted to hit up the drive through!

The meal was definitely quick and easy! Just cut up the chicken, brown, add in the sauce, stir & serve! Our favorite was the Chicken Marsala. I loved the taste and the mushrooms in it were delicious. I served it over linguine which was especially yummy!

This was just perfect for a busy week day night and I will be adding it to my list of “quick, easy meal ideas”!

What is your favorite, easy busy day dinner to make?

Nicole Elliott

Quick Wholesome Food

Me as little miss Suzie Homemaker

 During the holiday season you still want to feed your family nutritious meals but it can be tricky with all the busyness! Between the shopping, the baking, the traveling, the festivities, the parties-phew!!!!!! (do you want me to go on? Because I could!)

During times like this I tend to turn to quick, wholesome meals that will get the job done in the quickest amount of time possible!

Green Giant’s new Seasoned Steamers are a perfect, wholesome, easy side dish! Just pop it right into the microwave then pour out into a serving bowl-easy peasy!

 I added a little bit of extra Parmesan cheese to mine to make it super tasty for the kids! While I have to admit I like fresh steamed broccoli a little better this was done in half of the time and with so much less effort-perfect for those crazy nights!

Wholesome & easy–Green Giant Steamers are a great thing to add to your holiday shopping list! download a printable coupon for $1.00 off the purchase of one package of Green Giant Seasoned SteamersTM so you can try them out for yourself!

One Lucky Winner will win

  • (1) VIP coupon for one free package of Green Giant Seasoned SteamersTM
  • Apron
  • Green Giant Serving Spoon
  • Mixing Bowl

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I received this great package from MyBlogSpark for my review-as always all cute photos & opinions are my own! 
Nicole Elliott

How You Can Save Money Shopping After Thanksgiving

Happy Black Friday! Did you get any great deals?! Even if you didn’t camp out for 2 weeks before today (did you see about those crazy people on the news??!!) You can still save money shopping after Thanksgiving! Here are some of my favorite tricks! Be sure check out my first Christmas Gift Guide post for other freebie Christmas gifts!

 If you have a little budding artist like Amber is you’ll love Kelly Kits an all inclusive art play curriculum for children 2 – 102. Right now they’re having a Flash Site of 10% off site wide.

Swagbucks ~ I was able to get a bunch of the kids gifts for free this year just through using Swagbucks as my search engine throughout the year! I installed the toolbar because it gives you extra points and it helps me remember to use it when searching because it’s just right there! There’s still time to earn points and cash out for hundreds of different gift cards!

Ebates ~ Will you be shopping online for Cyber Monday?! I do 90% of my Christmas gift shopping online–it’s so much easier than dealing with stores and hassles! Ebates is great because it gives you cash back on tons of the stores you’re already buying from and often it has exclusive discount codes too! I used it last year to get cash back from Wal-Mart.com on the kitchen set I bought Amber, and we recently just got a great coupon and $8 back from buying Bob shirts from JCPenny.com and Dockers! They send you a check in the mail-I love it!

York Photo ~ So I’ll be sharing a LOT of ideas for photo gifts-but that’s because I just love them so much! If you use this link to sign up for York Photo (my favorite online site for prints!) You’ll get 60 Free Prints–use them with your Christmas letter or just for yourself to print out all those great Thanksgiving shots!

And just for fun why not enter to win chocolate and a bunch of other fabulous prizes!

What are your great tips for saving money on Christmas Gifts?

Nicole Elliott

Give Thanks

Texas Fall

For Salvation
For Freedom
For Loving Family
For Sweet Babies
For Gracious In-Laws
For Precious Friends

East Texas Fall
 For Walking in Crispy Crunching Leaves
For Hot Coffee
For Strong Legs and Healthy Lungs
For Hugs
For Puppies
East Texas Fall

For Facebook “likes”
For Instagram Smiles
For Twitter Parties
For Blogging Fun

East Texas Fall

For a million gifts
Big and small
Every moment, every day, all year long.
Especially today – I give thanks.

Nicole Elliott

Smokin’ Hot $700 Shopilly Holiday Cash Giveaway

Smokin’ Hot $700 Shopilly Holiday Cash Giveaway


Shopilly makes shopping a pleasure.

I know that you all could use a little extra holiday spending $$$ — so here is a  great giveaway!! ~ Nicole

What your Shopilly Dashboard looks like

Welcome to the Smokin’ Hot $700 Shopilly Giveaway sponsored by Like a Bump on a Blog, with considerable help from the lovely Lexie Lane at VoiceBoks and Bridget at Giveaway Promote. Enjoy the post provided by our generous sponsor, Shopilly, to learn more about them, and then enter via our Rafflecopter entry at the end. It’s a cold Sunday night, and I’m huddled on my couch, flipping through never-ending channels on TV. I think I get about 400 channels, and it can be overwhelming to decide what to watch DWTS, Idol, The Voice? Luckily, my trusty DVR puts all the shows I like — and only those shows — in one place, where they wait patiently for me to catch up on them.  Email is a little like TV. Every day I get tons of emails from my favorite brands, retailers and flash sites. I love getting all of that information and having so many choices, but my inbox is getting a little out of control. It’s nearly impossible to sort through the clutter to find emails I really care about, and I have to select and delete almost all of the marketing emails, always wondering whether I should opt out or stick around to see if something actually relevant lands in my inbox. But I’ve discovered that now there’s a DVR for email! It’s called Shopilly. By signing up for a free account, I can ask Shopilly to automatically pull all of the marketing emails from my email inbox and put them in a fun “visual inbox” in my Shopilly account, where I can review them when I’m ready. My inbox is totally clean; it’s like a breath of fresh air. And when the time is right for me to check out my latest offers, they’re neatly collected for me at Shopilly.

Shopilly is organizing my email inbox for me, and that’s great. But it’s more than that. On Shopilly, I can also opt in to view offers from other brands I wouldn’t have discovered otherwise. The way they’re presented makes it really easy to check out all of my options and to add or remove offers from my window shop. It’s like visiting my own personalized shopping mall right from the comfort of my couch. Now, where did I put that remote control? Improve your shopping life at Shopilly today and tell us what you think at contact@shopilly.com.

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