Creamy M&M’S® Brownie Bites Recipe

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser, MARS Incorporated. All opinions are mine alone. #BakeInTheFun #CollectiveBias

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The tree is up and decorated, Christmas music fills my office as I sit clicking away at the keyboard, and I’m currently in full–on festive scheming and planning mode. It’s officially the most wonderful time of the year!!

As much as I love everything about Christmas and all the many traditions we have that go along with it, if I would be hard pressed into picking a favorite it would end up being baking. Making our special once-a-year recipes is something I’ve always treasured and loved! It’s the tradition that gives back twofold — once with the gift of family time as I bake and create the delicious treat, and then once again with giving the gift of a sweet treat to someone we love! Our family has classic holiday recipes that come out each year, but every year I also try to add new, fun things to our baking bucket list as well.

We get to see my  brother-in-law’s family just once a year, so we always squeeze every bit of fun out of the time we have together, even if it’s just a few days. I always try to make something delicious to gift them with while they’re visiting us as well. Since he’s in the military they’re often in transition, and this year his entire family is actually in the middle of living in a motel for 6 months for a school he’s attending. During times like this, we don’t want to be burdening them down with a bunch of gifts to try to take back and figure out what to do with once they get there. Instead, we opt for clutter-free gifts like delicious treats and experiences we can all enjoy together.

This year I decided to whip up a batch of Creamy M&M’S® Brownie Bites as the sweet part of their gift. You already know how obsessed I am with brownies, and you can never go wrong with bite size, creamy, and M&M’S®!

Were they a hit? Well let’s just say that my sister-in-law was raving about how my brother-in-law loved them so much and, get this, he doesn’t even like sweets!!! I knew right then and there I had created a masterpiece, especially when she asked for the recipe. (Here you go, Lindsey! 😉 ) This was confirmed when my mother-in-law admitted sneaking the second container I brought down for sharing into her room so that she could keep it to enjoy for herself throughout the holiday season!

Can’t wait to make these so you’ll be the star of the show at your next friends or family gathering this season? Here’s what you’ll need–you’ll be amazed at just how easy they are to re-create!

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You’ll be shopping at Walmart, of course! I love using them for all my holiday cooking and baking! You can find the Pillsbury™ items in the baking aisle. I also found a fun and convenient center aisle display with holiday baking goodies. It included the special M&M’S® Brand Minis Milk Chocolate Baking Bits that I needed as well!

Here’s your shopping list for this recipe:

  • Pillsbury™ Family Size Chocolate Fudge Brownie Mix (and items to make brownies as listed on back of packaging)
  • Pillsbury™ Creamy Supreme® Vanilla Flavored Frosting
  • M&M’S® Brand Minis Milk Chocolate Baking Bits (be sure to look for the special holiday packaging so you can get the Green & Red only!)
  • CRISCO® No-Stick Cooking Spray

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Best of all? Right now you can get the Ibotta offer listed above! Just click on the photo to go check out the details!

Items also needed:

  • Mini Muffin Baking Pan
  • Cake Decorating/Piping set or large plastic bag for piping frosting
  • Mini Tart Shaper or small rounded object for pressing down brownies into cups

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Now it’s time for the fun part–baking! First, preheat your oven to 325.

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Next, follow the directions on the back of the Pillsbury™ Family Size Chocolate Fudge Brownie Mix Box to create brownie batter.

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Spray your mini muffin pan well with CRISCO® No-Stick Cooking Spray. This step is vital as you’ll be scooping out the brownies once cooled, and if it is not well sprayed they will break apart.

Spoon brownie batter into cups until nearly full, you’ll want them to get all lovely and puffed up because you’ll be pressing the middles down and you need those good “cups” for holding the M&M’S® Brand Minis Milk Chocolate Baking Bits.

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Bake for 14 Minutes or until the brownies have puffed up and no longer look wet. Keep a close eye because you do not want these to over bake! Allow them to cool for only a moment, and then press down the middles firmly to create a bowl. I use a mini-tart shaper, but any round object that’s the right size will work.

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Once the brownies have cooled completely use a butter knife to trace around the edges and get them out of the pan. Place on a cooling rack & fill with M&M’S® Brand Minis Milk Chocolate Baking Bits. This recipe will actually fill your pan full twice (perfect so there’s some for your family to enjoy and some to share!) Once you have the first batch out get your second batch cooking in the oven as you begin to decorate.

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Using either a cake decorating kit or a plastic bag with the tip snipped off, pipe the Pillsbury™ Creamy Supreme® Vanilla Flavored Frosting on top of the brownie and over the M&M’S® Brand Minis Milk Chocolate Baking Bits. I wanted to create what looked like little snow-covered trees, so I piped it with a wide base coming to a pointed top. You could also use Pillsbury™ Funfetti® Green Vanilla Flavored Frosting to create green “trees” if desired.

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Allow the frosting to sit for about 5-10 minute until it just begins to set. The take additional M&M’S® Brand Minis Milk Chocolate Baking Bits and stick into the frosting, to decorate your little mini “trees” with “ornaments”.

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How adorable and delicious looking are these?!?! The next step is to sneak taste test at least a few, you know, just to make sure they turned out well.

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Once you’ve finished the gift of family time of baking and eating these for yourself, it’s time to spread the love! Pack them up in a sturdy container with plenty of room for the tops. These containers were the perfect height and width and I’ll be sharing more about them in a blog post tomorrow with another delicious recipe plus a fun printable and idea to pay it forward, so be sure not to miss that!

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Complete your sweet treat with a simple bow and you’re ready to continue the holiday magic through gifting these delicious Creamy M&M’S® Brownie Bites to all your family, friends, and neighbors!

Looking for even more amazing recipes to bake this year (of course, you are!!) Check out all the jaw-dropping and amazing recipes for your family to make here!

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Don’t forget to Pin This Post so you don’t lose it!

Want it right now? Here’s a printable recipe:

Creamy M&M’S® Brownie Bites Recipe
Recipe Type: Dessert
Author: Nicole Elliott
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 24 Brownies
These delicious Brownie Bites look impressive but are so simple to put together and sure to become a new family holiday tradition!
Ingredients
  • Pillsbury™ Family Size Chocolate Fudge Brownie Mix (and items to make brownies as listed on back of packaging)
  • Pillsbury™ Creamy Supreme® Vanilla Flavored Frosting
  • M&M’S® Brand Minis Milk Chocolate Baking Bits
  • CRISCO® No-Stick Cooking Spray
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325.
  2. Follow the directions on the back of the Pillsbury™ Family Size Chocolate Fudge Brownie Mix Box to create brownie batter.
  3. Spray mini muffin pan well with CRISCO® No-Stick Cooking Spray.
  4. Spoon brownie batter into cups until nearly full.
  5. Bake for 14 Minutes or until the brownies have puffed up and no longer look wet
  6. Allow them to cool for 1-2 minutes and then press down the middles firmly to create a bowl using mini-tart shaper.
  7. Once the brownies have cooled completely use a butter knife to trace around the edges and get them out of the pan.
  8. Place on a cooling rack & fill with M&M’S® Brand Minis Milk Chocolate Baking Bits.
  9. Repeat with 2nd batch of Brownies
  10. Pipe Pillsbury™ Creamy Supreme® Vanilla Flavored Frosting on top of the brownie and over the M&M’S® Brand Minis Milk Chocolate Baking Bits to form peak
  11. Allow the frosting to sit for about 5-10 minute until it just begins to set. The take additional M&M’S® Brand Minis Milk Chocolate Baking Bits and stick into the frosting.
  12. Allow frosting to set completely & store in a lidded container until ready to serve or gift.
  13. Enjoy!

 

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5 Ways to Not Be Miserable When You’re Sick

This shop for Bigelow Tea that brings you 5 Ways to Not Be Miserable When You’re Sick has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #TeaProudly #CollectiveBias

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It starts with that scratchy tickle in the back of your throat.

“Maybe I’m just imagining it,” you tell yourself. “It’s probably nothing, it’ll probably go away.” That’s what you keep assuring yourself, that is until the next morning or so when you wake up to a sore throat, aching head, and a downright awful case of the sniffles.

“Uggg!!! I just don’t have time for this right now,” you yell. (in your head, of course, remember that sore throat?)

Unfortunately, the most wonderful time of the year also brings with it all sorts of “yucky bugs” as we call them in our family. I firmly believe that it should be against the law for Moms to get sick, but somehow all the viruses and infections floating jollily around this time of year just haven’t gotten that memo yet.

Until they do get it, there’s no doubt that if you have children in school they’ll be sharing a lot more than holiday cheer this time of year–with all their friends and then right home to you. Since this is inevitable here are my secret weapons to help get you through this season! Here’s a hint at my best secret weapon and tip….

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5 Ways to Not Be Miserable When You’re Sick

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#1 Stock Up

The first thing you’ll need to do is go and stock up right now before that itchy throat tickle kicks in. I know, I know–I’m always telling you to go stock up but for good reason!! Trust me on this one! Right now is the perfect time too, just after Thanksgiving’s crazy rush but before the last-minute Christmas shopping rush begins. I’ve found the “sweet spot” to go shopping at Walmart is right after school drop off. The morning stockers have just wrapped up setting up for the day so the shelves look beautiful, and you have aisles all to yourself because it’s before the senior citizen crowd rolls in.

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What you’ll be stocking up on this trip is Bigelow Tea! I’ve loved their Plantation Mint Tea for as long as I can remember. When you pick Bigelow Tea you can know you’re getting foil packaging, freshness, US manufacturing, plus quality tea & ingredients–which means you can Tea Proudly, even when you’re sick!  As I’m sure you already know, tea is one of the most tried and true methods of fighting off colds and flu. Here are the varieties you’ll want to make sure you purchase during this trip (though I’m in love with just about every Bigelow Tea flavor).

  • Green Tea
  • Green Tea with Lemon
  • Plantation Mint
  • Lemon Ginger

The best part? Right now there’s an Ibotta Deal for $0.75 off any box of Bigelow Tea

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You’ll also want to hop on over to the produce section and pick up fresh lemons and mint. For this trip I grabbed a bag of Meyer Lemons–they’re actually a lemon variety from New Zealand that has a sweet and sour vibe to it that I’m obsessed with. They’re seasonal (like Pomegranates) so grab them now while you can! My fresh mint originally came from Walmart but now grows in my garden. Your store might be like mine and sell herb plants right in your produce section. If you’re somewhere the snow is already coming down you can keep these in a container garden in your kitchen, or if you’re in the south like us you could still plant them as the ground hasn’t frozen yet. I have basil, rosemary, and 2 mint varieties that all came from this section of my local Walmart and are flourishing in my garden. I love being able to step outside to snip off some fresh mint for an extra boost in my tea (plus it just looks pretty).

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Don’t forget the honey!!! You’re not going to want to ruin all this natural goodness with refined sugar–no sirree! Honey is the only way to go for sweetening any of these varieties. Walmart carries an awesome selection from the inexpensive classic brand you’ve always trusted, to local raw honey (so perfect for those icky days). Whichever variety you choose be sure squeeze in a nice heaping amount to taste.

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Now that you’ve got your hot tea soothing your throat and warming your body on this chilly winter day, you can relax and move on to the rest of our plan!

#2 Schedule

Honestly, I should probably call this one un-schedule but if you thrive on plans like me, that just doesn’t sound very good. It’s just not fair, but it’s well known that sickness is the most prevalent in months that are the most crammed packed full of activities for parents. Holidays, School, After School Activities, Oh My! Add normal day life on top of that with appointments, work, chores, and eeevverryyything else you do as a mom, and you’re likely to have a jam-packed list for every day from here to the end of the spring–already booked!

I know this will be painful, but you’ve got to trust me on this one, truly you’ll be thanking me!! Right now you need to go through your upcoming 2 months and schedule in time — to be sick!!! Yes, you heard me right. Now no, you won’t know exactly when your family is going to get hit. That’s the part you really won’t like. You see, you need to look through everything you have planned to do, and scale waaaayyyy back. Now don’t get me wrong–I’m not saying you have to sit around all December and throw your traditions out the window and mope. I’m saying it’s time to cut back on the set-in-stone activities, push off all the appointments till into the New Year, and embrace traditions that can easily be rescheduled or that have multiple dates. If you go into these months with the mindset that everything is tentative, it’ll be a lot easier to keep your whole family from being disappointed when you miss something. Backing away from extra obligations outside your home also frees you up to have some amazing down time together, and keeps you from letting anyone else down.

This will look different for every family, but for us, it means that the kids are not in any extra circular activities until the spring (other than Amber’s Chess Puzzle which meets directly after school so requires no extra trips on my part).

This is so critical, it really is. By leaving wide-open gaps in your schedule it means that you can possibly even *gasp* take a sick day when you or one of your children is sick! Yes, you really can, and you really must!

I’m hammering this point home because I’ve learned the hard way how critical this is. Far too often I’ve plunged full speed ahead through colds, only to end up in the Walk-In Clinic a few weeks later as a result. This year at the first sign of that tickly throat I cancel everything extra on my plate. Yes, I did miss out on going to that fall carnival, but it was absolutely worth it to be better in a week, not 2 months.

This actually isn’t as gloomy as it sounds, either, read on to find out how you can help your family have *fun* — while you’re sick!!

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#3 Save Entertainment

Here is my next secret weapon for you! You know that book series you’ve been dying to read, but just never have the time? Or that tv series that’s been on your marathon watching list forever, that all your friends keep raving about? Well, I have good news! During your sick day (remember, you’re supposed to be taking one) thanks to your un-scheduled, schedule you can curl up with your delicious tea and read or watch to your heart’s content! The distraction will take your mind away from the aches and you just might get to the point where you look forward to sick days!

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#4 Snuggle Up

Of course, you can only enjoy your entertainment if you’re absolutely cozy! When sick days hit, pull out your comfiest t-shirt, your coziest yoga pants, and your softest blanket. Since you already stocked up on everything you can just snuggle in with your tea (it really is this attached to my hands during sick days–I guzzle in non-stop from morning till night). This will help you feel so much better and help get your body the rest it needs to recover. I’m not one of those people to go out of the house in PJs and with no makeup on, even for school pick up and drop off lines, but on sick days those rules fly straight out the window and we all get a free pass!

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#5 Sleep!!!!

Carry on the cozy and do your body a favor by getting LOTS of sleep. Again, with your free schedule you should be tucking the kids into bed at 7:30 (if you have older kids do what we do and have them in their rooms by that time with night time routines complete, but with a later age-appropriate time for lights out). And get yourself on into bed waaaayyyy earlier than you think you should be. Do yourself a favor and switch over to the Lemon Ginger Tea around 5 PM — it’s Caffeine Free and the perfect soothing drink to help you drift off to dreamland.

Sickness this time of year is inevitable–but hopefully armed with these tips you’ll be able to, dare I say it, not only not be miserable but actually *enjoy* your next sick day!

What are your best tips for not feeling miserable when you’re sick, did I miss anything? Leave me a Comment and let me know!

5 Ways to Not Be Miserable When You're Sick -- and none of them have to do with medicine! Great tips!

Don’t forget to Pin This Post so you can refer back to it!

 

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Prepare for Thanksgiving By Taking Your Guest Bathroom from Blah To Fabulous!

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #Prep4Gathering #CollectiveBias

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And BOOM! Just like that Halloween whizzed by in the blink of an eye and we are full-on barreling towards Thanksgiving! I absolutely adore this time of year, as Thanksgiving and Christmas are both my favorite holidays. For years when Bob was in the military, we had to spend Thanksgiving alone. But ever since moving to Texas, it’s now full of family, fun, and messes! We always spend the day with Bob’s parents, and every other year his brother and family make the trek over from the East Coast to share in the fun. This is one of their years to come, and we can’t wait to catch up with them!

This year marks a very special holiday occasion, as well. Since we just purchased our first home this summer it means that it’s the very first time we get to host everyone at OUR place for Thanksgiving. I’m SO excited to dust off my hostess hat and put all my skills and tricks to the test.

When you think of Thanksgiving, of course, the first thing that comes to mind is all the food! There is a crucial part of your hostess home, however, that you absolutely do NOT want to forget. It can really make or break a visit. What all-important room is this??? The guest bathroom, of course!

This room is sure to be used by your guests, and it’s one that you want to make absolutely sure that they’re happy and comfortable in! Guest bathrooms tend to be a wee bit overlooked in the scheme of the house, though, so I want to share with you today some great ideas and practical ways that you can take yours from ‘Blah to Fabulous’ before this Thanksgiving! Best of all, none of them are super time consuming, and they won’t break the bank either!

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The first thing you need to do is take a trip to Home Depot. They are our favorite retailer for stocking up on all things Happy Home related!

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I firmly believe that a clean home is a happy home, especially when it comes to the bathroom!! That’s why you’ll be spending a bit of time stocking up in the cleaning supply aisle. Here’s what you’ll need:

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  • Glade® Apple Cinnamon 3.4oz Candle
  • Glade® Apple Cinnamon Automatic Room Spray 8oz
  • Pledge® 9.7oz Multisurface – Antibacterial
  • Scrubbing Bubbles® 20oz Fresh Clean Scent Bathroom Cleaner
  • Windex® 26oz Original Glass Cleaner

If your bathroom is really in need of a facelift, you can also purchase some upgrades for it at Home Depot. They have an amazing selection of rugs, art, shower curtains, and shelves!

For your guest bathroom, try picking a fun and unique theme that really expresses your family’s personality! Classics like the ocean or lighthouses are always fun (that’s our master bath theme), but really let your imagination go wild and have some fun with the guest bath. We chose to go with Fantasy for ours. It’s a totally unexpected one for a bathroom that works really well and makes me smile every time I’m in there!

Now that you’re armed with all your goodies, it’s time to go home and make the magic happen! If you haven’t paid attention to your bathroom in a while, getting it guest ready can feel intimidating, even if it’s a little space. Here’s a plan that will break this project into bite-sized pieces, with some tips and tricks thrown in!

 

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10 Minutes A Day

Even the most busiest of us can squeeze a 10-minute project into the day. Every morning or evening from now until Thanksgiving set your timer for 10 minutes. The very first thing to do is de-clutter. None of your cleaning or efforts will be any good if it’s lost in a sea of half empty products and items that don’t even belong in there. Consolidate, move items that belong somewhere else in their proper homes, and throw out any old cleaning products, medicines, or personal hygiene items. Now that you’ve cleared out all that cabinet space, it’s time to fill it back up, at least temporarily. For all the personal hygiene items you keep, tuck them away in the cabinets during your guests stay, even if you usually leave them out. This will instantly give your bathroom a de-cluttered feel, and if you have overnight guests it will give them a place to keep their items.

Once you have your bathroom totally de-cluttered, it’s time to tackle deep cleaning! Here is a list of items that you’ll want to do. Don’t get overwhelmed! Just do it for 10 minutes a day and stick with the timer. When it buzzes, you’re done! You’ll be amazed at how quickly you work when you have that buzzer on your phone motivating you!

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Guest Bathroom Deep Cleaning List:

  • Clean Shower & Tub Top to Bottom, Inside, and Outside using Scrubbing Bubbles® 20oz Fresh Clean Scent Bathroom Cleaner
    • Many years ago I was struggling to find a bathroom cleaner I really loved. I went on Facebook (of course!) to ask for recommendations. My childhood bestie told me how much she loved Scrubbing Bubbles® to tackle the mess. I immediately bought it and have loved and used it faithfully ever since! We all know that for the cleaner, the secrets that happen in the bathroom are not so secret. Can I get an Amen, Mamas?! I love that Scrubbing Bubbles® gets that, so no matter what we’re facing, we don’t have to handle it alone!! My best tip is to follow the instructions on the back. Spray the whole area down, and then let the product sit for about 5 minutes. During that time you can tackle a different area of the bathroom and let those bubbles do their work! Once the time is done you can wipe all the grime away easily!
  • Wipe down or clean shower curtain/door
    • If you have a curtain rod be sure to hit the top of it and the rings.
  • Thoroughly Clean Vanity using either Scrubbing Bubbles® 20oz Fresh Clean Scent Bathroom Cleaner
    • Which product I choose to use on the top portion just depends on the grime level, but both work fabulously! Also, be sure to use a damp cloth to wipe down
  • Clean the Mirror and any other shiny surfaces using Windex® 26oz Original Glass Cleaner
    • My family has used Windex® Original Glass Cleaner for as long as I can remember. I have memories of my Mom using it to clean our house, and it’s my go-to now that I am a Mom with a home of my own, as well! It’s just so perfect for so many of the surfaces throughout our home including windows, mirrors, sealed granite and marble, glass shower doors, chrome bathroom fixtures, tile, plastic, vinyl, aluminum, and more–most of which are found in the guest bathroom!
  • Sweep & Clean The Floor
    • If your rugs aren’t new from Home Depot take them outside and give them a good shakedown!
  • Wipe Down any mystery smudges or fingerprints from Walls, Doors, and Baseboards
    • If the doors have stubborn spots you can use Pledge® 9.7oz Multisurface – Antibacterial on them
  • Replace any light bulbs that are burnt out and clean those fixtures using whichever of the products listed above works best for their type

Voila! You’re almost there!! Take a minute and stand back and admire all that hard work. With these amazing products and breaking it into 10-minute chunks it didn’t feel that hard, did it?!

Now that you have a completely gorgeous and sparkling bathroom, it’s time to put the finishing touches on it! Nothing brings a smile to my face more than walking into a sweet-smelling bathroom. To make sure it stays that way, you’ll want to equip your home with a Glade® Apple Cinnamon 3.4oz Candle and also Glade® Apple Cinnamon Automatic Room Spray 8oz.

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Keep these feelings going by putting Glade® Apple Cinnamon Automatic Room Spray 8oz into the bathroom. I love to keep mine in a pretty basket right on top of the toilet. That way all your guests will see and feel free to use it!

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Now that your bathroom is totally guest ready, you still have a few days left until they arrive! Now just set your timer for 5 minutes each day and pop in to check everything and spot clean any little messes that come up. You’ll also want to do this daily during their visit.

If you follow this easy plan you’ll have a fabulous guest bathroom that leaves everyone smiling! Want more amazing ideas on how to be the hostess with the mostess? Check out all these great Tutorials for Thanksgiving Hosting Prep!

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How To Make Your Kitchen Feel Like Christmas: Cleaning & Decorating Tips and Tricks

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #ScrubSeason #CollectiveBias

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There is no denying it now, we are up to our eyeballs in holiday festivities! I personally, am loving it! Texas has even finally agreed to act like it’s the holiday season and has graciously dipped its temperatures below 80. For me, this signals finally getting to wear jeans and boots again, woo hoo!

It also means that I get to do something I’ve been waiting on for years now–I get to decorate my very own home for the holidays! Through the years when all our things were in storage I kept purchasing Christmas decorations here and there and tucking them away, in hope and anticipation of the home we would be buying once hubby graduated from college. This will be the very first year celebrating Christmas in our own home, and we couldn’t be more thrilled. I absolutely love decorating for Christmas, it’s my hands down very favorite holiday!

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It’s a hard decision, but if I had to narrow it down I would say that the kitchen here is one of my favorite rooms in the house. It has the gorgeous cedar cabinets, granite countertops, and tile floor that I’d always swooned over on Pinterest. Add in some beautiful big windows in the eat-in nook and a fun paint scheme and I’m in love with it! Because it’s such a central part of our open layout home, I wanted to make sure to give it extra attention and love while preparing for Christmas this year. Here are some tips and tricks to make prepping and decorating a joy in your home as well!

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The first thing you’ll need to do is haul down all of your Christmas items and take inventory of what you have. Next, you’ll need to do the same, but with all your cleaning tools and products. Most of the dish cloths I had stored away were ones that we were given as gifts for our wedding. Needless to say, after all these years tattered is a kind adjective for them. I knew I wanted some new ones that would be multipurpose and that could tackle any job from protecting my delicate china to scrubbing away crusted on messes. After I made my list of need it and want it items for Christmas Kitchen Decorating I headed to Walmart (of course!)

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There I found the New Scotch-Brite® Scrubbing Dish Cloths in the aisle with all the other kitchen cleaning products like dish soap and sponges. The New Scotch-Brite® Scrubbing Dish Cloth gives you non-scratch scrubbing power with the wiping and drying functions of a dish cloth. The premium, textured fiber dish cloth features two sides with scrubbing dots technology on one side originating from their stay clean sponges. The icing on the cake? The Scotch-Brite® Scrubbing Dish Cloth is fully washable, reusable and sturdy. I also loved their fun color options–my store had Tan and Coral but it’s also available in Navy and if you shop online you can get it in Gray & Mint!

Right now you can also Save $1 on any two Scotch-Brite Products (Scrub Sponges, Lint Rollers, and Scrubbing Dish Cloths). So definitely print it out and stock up on them! I love them so much I’ll be printing it off and heading back for 2 more of the 2 packs!

Now that you’re back with all you need it’s time to get down to business! Here’s your plan of attack!

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How To Make Your Kitchen Feel Like Christmas: Cleaning & Decorating Tips and Tricks

Step One: De-clutter

Set your timer for 20 minutes and use that time to de-clutter your kitchen, specifically, focus on all the visible areas. That pile of papers lying on the counter that has been needing to be filed? Do it! Those papers on the fridge from the first day of school? Take them down. Those random items that migrated into the kitchen that really belongs anywhere but the kitchen? Send them off to their proper home! During this time look around for special items that can be used in your Christmas decorating. You know all those fancy crystal dishes and vases tucked away in your china cabinet and in your cupboards? Pull them out! I firmly believe that you should use the special things you have, and what better time than to celebrate Christmas?

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Step Two: Wipe Down

It’s hard to create Christmas magic with crumbs and smudges everywhere. Set your timer for 20 minutes again and give your whole kitchen a good rub down using Scotch-Brite® Scrubbing Dish Cloth. The soft side is perfect for tables and cabinets while the scrubbing dots handle sticky countertops like a pro. Also give a pass over items like coffee pots, toasters, and those vases and crystal bowls you brought out. If they’re super grimy you’ll want to save them for the next step, but since mine were in my china hutch they just needed a gentle pass over.

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Step Three: Wash Up The Decor

Fill up your sink full of soapy water and your Christmas decor. If it’s not too bad you can just wipe it down, but after 4 years in storage in Texas, my items were all a little yucky! If you have any really stuck on gunk allow the items to soak for 10-15 minutes in super hot water before you start scrubbing them down.

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Again, the Scotch-Brite® Scrubbing Dish Cloth is the perfect tool for the job. The non-scratch scrubbing power of the one side was perfect for my delicate glass ornament candle holders (how cute are they?!) While the scrubbing dots tackled some wayward soap scum that had accumulated on my snowman soap dispenser.

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Step Four: Set Up Your Decor

Now that you have a gorgeous sparkling kitchen with gorgeous, sparkling decor it’s time to set it all up! I was excited to get to set up a tablescape for the first time. Since we eat at the table every day I wanted it to be pretty but not overly large to give us plenty of room to sit and eat. A cloth tablecloth & napkins lend an elegant feel while also being super practical even with kids or if you’re a wee bit clumsy like I am (easy to throw in washer and dryer to get clean!). For the centerpiece I purchased this beautiful silver cut out place mat at Walmart. I topped it with the decor I’ve gotten over the years, and my crystal candy dish filled up with seasonal candy. Two vases from my wedding are filled with these gorgeous flowers that I got from Walmart as well! Buying carnations is an easy and inexpensive way to make your space feel instantly festive! I’m so in love with these blue and silver bouquets!

Once you’re done stand back and do a happy dance to Christmas music as you admire in your beautiful kitchen!

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Don’t forget to Pin This Post for easy reference this year!

Be sure to also check out other great recipes and cleaning tutorials for this holiday season here!

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How to Assist Your Child’s Growth by Focusing on Their Comfort Zones

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Children are creatures of habit and often fear the unknown. Having a daily routine not only help your children have a sense of security while also keeping the household running smoothly. Daily schedules will vary based on the needs of the family, and you should use trial and error to determine what works best for you and your children. If something doesn’t seem to be working that well, it’s okay to modify them so they do work.

Set Up a Checklist for Daily Routine

One way to set a daily routine and stick to it is to write it all down. If your children are old enough to read, make a schedule that is easy enough for them to follow. If you make a checklist using a dry-erase board, you can have them check off the things they’ve already done. You can also make a checklist for yourself to have things run smoothly, including things you need to do for the day and things you need to do to prepare for the next day.

Prepare Clothes Ahead of Time

A problem that many parents face is the dreaded morning rush when everyone is rushing around and you’re running behind schedule. You can save yourself and your children time by selecting their outfits ahead of time. This will allow you to have more time in the morning for getting the kids ready for school and out the door in a timely manner. Compression clothing for kids is something to consider if your child has Sensory Processing Disorders, Rett syndrome, or Autism because they provide therapeutic comfort.

Plan Meals and Snacks for the Next Day

It’s a huge help to already know what the meals and snacks will be before mealtime approaches. You can either make a weekly menu or plan it out for the next day. Again, if your children are old enough to read, you can have the menu for them to read. If your children are not yet in school, a meal plan will still help you because you’ll already know what to give your kids or what you need to make dinner.

Keep Bedtime the Same Every Night

Having your children go to bed at the same time every night, including weekends, helps you stick to your routine and it allows your children’s body to stick to the same routine. Set aside time that allows your children to wind down and relax, getting in the mindset that bedtime is soon. Let your children know that lights out will be the same time each night and stick to it.

Keep it Simple

Don’t focus on planning every minute of your day because that’s less likely to work. Sticking to an hourly schedule makes the most sense to many parents, even if some hours are designated as free-time. Keep the routine simple so you children can adapt to it. Try to stick with the routine every day so your children can get used to it, but do understand that things can come up, completely throwing off your entire routine for the day. Children do take a lot of comfort in knowing what’s going to happen the next day, but not every day will run as smoothly as you wish it to.

Life can be hectic, especially with children, work, and keeping the house running as smoothly as possible. You and your children will benefit from having a set plan and a checklist to make sure everything that needs to get done does. Prepare for the next day the night before and you can make school mornings much less hectic for everyone involved.

Written by Monique

The Brilliant Way To Organize Your Medicine Cabinet Now That You’ll Thank Yourself For Later

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #HealthySavings #CollectiveBias

The Brilliant Way To Organize Your Medicine Cabinet Now That You’ll Thank Yourself For Later - love this! So handy!

Tis’ the Season!! And no, today I’m *not* referring to the upcoming holidays.

Somehow it seems that we always forget that the busiest, most  festive, and most fun time of the year brings with it all sorts of nasty germs. Add on top of that chronic or surprise conditions, like heartburn, pregnancy, or a newborn, and life can get complicated quickly!

That’s why I’m encouraging you to set aside just 30 minutes of time this week to take care of and organize your medicine cabinet. Trust me, you will absolutely be thanking yourself later when you do NOT have to go fight the holiday crowds just to pick up Nexium® for your after holiday heartburn or Advil® for that splitting headache!**

Here is the brilliant way to organize your medicine cabinet, as well! When you are sick or in pain the very last thing you want is to be digging for 15 minutes past expired vitamins to find the one relieving product you need. Here’s where to start!

How To Organize Your Medicine Cabinet

The Brilliant Way To Organize Your Medicine Cabinet Now That You’ll Thank Yourself For Later - love this! So handy!

The first thing to do is clear your medicine cabinet out completely and take stock of the space that you have.

Every house will have a different setup, and whenever you move you’ll need to readjust and reorganize. Whether you’re organizing in small spaces or have a nice, big area, this system will work! Using a tape measure, see how much space you have so you’ll know what size of containers to purchase. Remember that you’ll want to leave extra space to easily slide them in and out and that if you’re going to purchase a container with a lid the top lip is usually the widest part.

In our new home, we have a nice large cabinet over the toilet and smaller one in the guest bathroom that we put up ourselves. I store all of the kid’s medicine and personal care products in the other bathroom and all the adult products in ours.

The next thing to do is to sort through all of the items you already have and toss anything that is expired.

I pride myself on staying pretty organized, but with how crazy our lives have been I was shocked to find how many items we had multiples of, half-used and expired! This new system will help ensure I won’t be tossing out 6-year-old medicine ever again! As you throw items away make a list of what you need to stock back up on, and what is missing from your stash.

The Brilliant Way To Organize Your Medicine Cabinet Now That You’ll Thank Yourself For Later - love this! So handy!

Now it’s time to head to your local Walgreens to stock back up on all those essentials! I was so thrilled that when we moved to our new town I have a Walgreens just right down the road. I pass it every day when I drop Amber off for school, which makes it oh-so-convenient for trips like these! Ever since learning how to coupon and do match ups from Thrifty Texas Penny I’ve been in love with Walgreens and use it when I need to get us medicine cabinet essentials!
The Brilliant Way To Organize Your Medicine Cabinet Now That You’ll Thank Yourself For Later - love this! So handy!

During this trip I stocked up on:

You’ll also need containers to organize everything in. You can purchase these new, or use some you already have some around the house. You can go really pretty and do baskets or cloth containers, but I’ve found that plastic bins with lids & handles are the simplest and easiest to haul out when you’re not feeling your best!

The Brilliant Way To Organize Your Medicine Cabinet Now That You’ll Thank Yourself For Later - love this! So handy!

Now it’s time to label them! Depending on your families needs and items, break them into similar categories. For our family, I came up with six that covered all the products we own and use.

  • Colds, Cough, & Flu
  • Stomach & Digestive Help
  • Pain Relief (Fevers & Aches)
  • Vitamins, Supplements, Oils
  • Pregnancy & Postpartum
  • Allergy

The Brilliant Way To Organize Your Medicine Cabinet Now That You’ll Thank Yourself For Later - love this! So handy!

How you label them will also depend on the containers that you purchase. I used large, fun labels that I had in my craft supply. Using a dark marker I wrote the different category names. I then used packing tape to secure the labels to the boxes and to also protect them against wear and tear over the years.

The Brilliant Way To Organize Your Medicine Cabinet Now That You’ll Thank Yourself For Later - love this! So handy!

Now fill the buckets back up with all the products that fit into those categories!

The Brilliant Way To Organize Your Medicine Cabinet Now That You’ll Thank Yourself For Later - love this! So handy!

With all the delicious food coming up for the holiday, it’s important to make sure that you have heartburn medication on hand! Many people hold back from enjoying some of their favorite foods because they are afraid they may experience heartburn. But no one should have to miss out on the foods they love! By keeping Nexium® 24HR stocked in your cabinet you’ll be able to enjoy all the holidays have to offer!** Just one pill a day provides all day, all night protection from frequent heartburn – no matter what triggers it*

*Nexium® 24HR may take 1-4 days for full effect. It is not immediate relief.

 

 

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It seems like every time I turn around another friend is announcing a pregnancy or birth on Facebook and I’m absolutely loving it! If you’re in this amazing, crazy, and complicated stage of life then you absolutely need to have a bin dedicated to pregnancy and postpartum!

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Some essentials you might not know you need in this bin are vitamin B6 and Ginger supplements, Iron supplements, Vitamin D drops, and Preparation H® Medicated Wipes**. As always, check with your Doctor before using anything during pregnancy or postpartum, but do your research on these items–they’ve been lifesavers for me through my two pregnancies and crazy deliveries!

The Brilliant Way To Organize Your Medicine Cabinet Now That You’ll Thank Yourself For Later - love this! So handy!

Once you have all of your items into the bins it’s time to organize them into your cabinet.

Now, stand back, admire your beautiful work, and pat yourself on the back. Your future self is thanking you right now!

Do you have any amazing products you can’t live without or some amazing organization tips I missed? Leave me a comment and let me know!

 

**This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Use as Directed.

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Easy Fall Family Craft

Family Thanksgiving Crafts

Want to find some simple family thanksgiving crafts? I just love doing fun and simple crafts with the kids because it’s a great way to really show my love and give us great quality time together! Plus I really just don’t have the time or effort to invest a ton into an elaborate craft that I know I will have to throw away in just a few weeks!

After several years this is still my all time favorite fall craft to do with my family. It’s especially awesome since right now all those pumpkins and gourds are on discount, and the rest of the items you can find for free right in your neighborhood!

I came across this *adorable* idea in a Family Fun Magazine issue back in 2012. I used what we had locally and tweaked it to make it our own, that’s the beauty of it! I just adore my magazines and Pinterest to find things like this!

In case you want a happy little family as a Thanksgiving centerpiece here’s how I did it.

  • Get a few bags (we picked up 3) of the decorative pumpkins & gourds from wherever you go grocery shopping. These little guys were a steal on discount at .50 a bag! (score!!)
  • Next go and scavenge around your yard for anything fall and fun! We picked up leaves, acorns, twigs, sunflower seeds from the bird food and dried flowers.
  • Next have your kids help you decide how to “dress” each “person” and what their face should look like. Then  use a hot glue gun to secure everything together.

Super simple, super fun, and super adorable!

What’s your favorite fall craft? Leave me a link in the comments if you have one! If you’re looking for more great, fun, and easy ideas check out my Falling For Fall Pinterest Board!

Nicole Elliott

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How To Put Together The Perfect Kitty Treat Basket For Thanksgiving

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser, MARS Incorporated. All opinions are mine alone. #PAWsomeGifts #ClausAndPaws #CollectiveBias

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Blessings come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, including tiny, gray, soft & sweet ones.

As you know, the past months have been full of great big, huge changes for our family.  In the midst of moving to a new city, getting our first home, and hubby starting a new job came a change we weren’t expecting at all. Due to a traumatic incident, we lost our family pet of four years. This would have been hard to deal with at any point, but coming in the middle of so many other huge life changes it rocked our little world and left all our hearts hurting.

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That’s just when Kitty Sylvanas entered our lives and hearts. Our new neighborhood is a beautiful gated, round one that’s just perfect for playing outside and after school walks. One Monday after school we went outside to discover the teeniest, tiniest little gray kitten bouncing all over our front yard. She was super friendly and the kids and I played with her for a good 30 minutes while I kept looking up and down the street for any sign of an owner–either Cat Mamma or Human. I grabbed my camera and got some shots of her playing, to remember her by once she was claimed. After that time passed by, however, with no one in sight, I told the kids we could bring her inside to keep her safe away from the busy street, which was greeted by their squeals of pure joy.

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I cautioned them that surely someone was looking for this precious little kitty and that we would just keep her in and safe until they showed up. I waited for someone to come looking, and the next day I hopped onto the local lost pets Facebook group to try to locate the owner. While many other people had posted about finding kittens, no one had lost a sweet fluffy gray one. Since she was still drinking milk and too little to be away from her mommy, we came to think that she might have been from a wild litter and got separated from her family somehow.

And just like that the weeks slipped by, Kitty Sylvanas grew and stayed, and she’s filled our hearts and empty pet home with love and cuddles and playfulness once more!

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I am truly grateful for what a huge blessing her coming into our lives at this crazy time has been. With the month of November, I’m focusing on the blessings in my life, people and pets, and how much I love them and want to treat them to a happy Thanksgiving season!

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For me, Thanksgiving is all about sharing delicious treats with those you love, and the easiest and the best place to stock up on those is during my weekly run to Walmart. This holiday season, MARS Pet and Walmart are inviting shoppers to  share their pet’s personality and the brands are rewarding them with a fun experiences and special offers.

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Our store has an awesome Cat Treat Selection  so I stocked up on several different fun flavors and types! I put them together in a beautiful but easy Gift Basket that doubles as a kitty bed! If your cat is anything like ours, you know they love to have several comfy sleepy spots. This one is so inviting they just *might* leave your favorite blanket alone, maybe!

Here’s what you’ll need to recreate this amazing Perfect Kitty Treat Basket For Thanksgiving.  I purchased everything for it at Walmart!

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  • Temptations® Classics Tantalizing Turkey Flavor Cat Care & Treats, 6.3 oz
  • Temptations® Classics Tempting Tuna Flavor Mega Pack Treats for Cats, 6.3 oz
  • Temptations® Classics Catnip Cat Treats, 6.3 oz
  • SHEBA® PERFECT PORTIONS™ Pate & Cuts
  • Large Basket
  • Small, Soft Flannel Blanket
  • Old towel or blanket for extra padding

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Take your basket and put in the old tablecloth, blanket, or towel in the bottom.

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Place your new, super soft fleece blanket on top. I went with this cute animal print, but it would be super fun to buy different holiday themed blankets and switch them out accordingly!

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Place all the treats inside and present to your kitty on Thanksgiving to enjoy when you’re feasting on your treats as well!

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As soon as the treats are out of the basket you can move it to your kitty’s favorite snoozing spot. It makes the perfect cozy cat bed!

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Want even more great ideas on how to treat your cat this Thanksgiving? Check out all the Amazing Pet Gifts & Clever Tutorial Ideas Here!

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