Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 In Review

As most bloggers are doing, I wanted to recap my year in writing.  Enjoy my laughs, cries, and overall wild ride that we call life!

January - I became a... Teaching Assistant.  What a wonderful experience.  I was paired with one of my favorite professors and began to teach 24 bright-eyed undergrads on the harsh reality of Interviewing.  Prepping for the job, landing the interview, nailing the interview and accepting (or rejecting) job offers became my life for the next few months.

February - Buddy came into our lives!  On 2/19/09 we became the adopted puppy parents of the most adorable little black lab ever.  Since then, he has become my husband's 'canine child' and my favorite cuddler. 

March - Coupons entered my world on a whole new level. I began following a few of my favorite bloggers: Andrea at Savings LifestyleHeather/Little Miss Know It All at Cincy SaversJenny and Emily at Mommin' It Up and so many others. Their savings tips (and also life stories) helped me realize that I can pay off my debt without living as if I am 100% broke!

April - Much like one of my favorite 'pleasure-read' bloggers Kate the Great, I don't have too much to say about April. 

May - Tessa entered our world.  My newest niece Tessa came into our lives and has provided many moments of laughter.  What a hoot!

June - My world came crashing down for a few weeks.  After over a year of working diligently on research, surveys and everything academic, it was determined that my graduation would be delayed because my thesis research was moving at a much slower rate than anticipated.  Who knew that finding young, first-time voters to take a survey would be so much work.  I immersed myself in work and let myself fall behind in my couponing.

July - 1/2 way to 50!  Seriously - I was dreading my 25th birthday like the plague.  I cried on my 20th birthday because I was halfway to 40 and here we were again - halfway to another dreaded age.  I'm glad I decided to suck it up, because so far 25 has been great and I couldn't be happier.

August - My boss returned to work from a 3 month maternity leave and immediately offered me a full-time position at the company.  This was the highlight of my year (after getting Buddy of course).  I love my job and the people I work with and couldn't have asked for more.

September - Coupons took over  my life yet again.  Josh and I sat down and made some goals for the next few months (as Christmas was approaching) and my love for couponing took over.  I also watched as baseball took over the town and my family.  I'm so proud of our Reds (even though I am a true Cubs fan at heart).

October - 30 Days of Service kicked off at church. This year, I led the way and we adopted 7 families, provided 30 babies with blankets, packed up 3000 scarves, hats and gloves for the homeless, fed 7 local businesses, donated 40 coats to Ockerman Elementary, sent 300 Christmas cards to our troops and inmates, and so much more.  It was quite an exhausting mission, but the end result is soooo worth it.

November - I DID IT!  I successfully defended my thesis and passed all of my master's classes with a 4.0 GPA.  What a feeling of relief.

December - Graduation.  2 year anniversary.  Christmas.  Need I say more?

That's my 2010 in a nutshell.  2011 seems to be promising and I can't wait to see what is in store.  What happened in your 2010 and what are you looking most forward to in 2011?

Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 Freebies

It's been a while since I posted some great deals/freebies.  Here are a few of my favorite free samples.  Look for Freebie Friday in 2011!

Feeling crafty?  Get 50 Free Sheets of Origami Paper from Everything in Paper Crafting

If you have a great idea for a coat drive, clothing drive, cleaning up your community, or anything that involves using trash bags, Glad will send you the bags.  Simply visit The Glad Bag Giveaway and enter your idea.  You can select the number of bags you need and what you will be doing.  It's really easy and a great way to start a revolution!

Have a headache?  Get your Free Bottle of Excedrin.

If the winter air has your skin cracked, it's time to try Vaseline Intensive Rescue Lotion.

For the potty-training days, this Pampers Potty Training Kit helps to incentize kids to use the toilet and not a diaper!

You can also check out sites like to see a much longer list of the best freebies, samples and downloads available.

Happy Sampling!

Extreme Couponing

Last night TLC aired a one-hour program on Extreme Couponers in the U.S.  Imagine my surprise when two of the four people profiled turned out to live within 20 miles of me!  I was immediately intrigued because I consider myself a pretty avid couponer.  I am nothing compared to these folks.

$1100 grocery bills turning into $51 OOP expense.  You really just can't beat that.  I was impressed, yet disgusted at the same time - if that makes sense.  I found myself wanting to be able to get deals like that, but I wouldn't want to hoard them in my garage the way these folks do.  A stockpile is one thing, but when you enough toilet paper to last you 40 years, it's time to share the wealth.  There are so many non-profits, shelters and food banks struggling right now.  The least that these people, who have upwards of $30,000 of product just sitting in their house, can do is to donate some of their stuff.  Even a donation of a few boxes can help, and trust me - it won't make a huge dent in a three or four room stockpile. 

Watching it, I realized that saving money can turn into an obsession, an addiction, and can alter your life.  One of the women profiled said she is known to cancel plans with her husband and friends to go to the grocery store.  And it's not out of necessity.  It's because of the rush of adrenaline she receives when shopping.  The haul that was caught on camera took over 6 hours - and shut down several checkout lanes in the store.  At some point there needs to be restrictions.  There needs to be rules.  I mean, her register shut down because she hit the 1,000 scan limit! 

So while I was impressed with the savings, part of me wonders what this type of behavior is doing to these people.  Is it making them anti-social?  Is it impacting their interpersonnal relationships?  Is it driving their very behavior?  Is it something they obsess about?  I'd love to know your thoughts.  Were you impressed?  Were you disgusted?  Were you just plain confused?

For more information on the program, visit

Disclosure:  This post is entirely based on my own personal reaction to watching a program.  TLC did not contact me about this post and all opinions stated in the post are those solely belonging to the author.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Almost a New Year

It's nearing the end of 2010 and as I reflect, a lot has happened to make 2010 a milestone year.  I thought, instead of just making a huge list of everything, I'd focus on some of my favorite moments and share with all of you.

BUDDY came along!  That's right - after a year and a half of begging my husband for a dog, we finally found Buddy.  I am so thankful for this little (well, if you consider 75 pounds little) loveable guy.  He is the most dramatic dog I know and the best cuddler!

TESSA was born!  Little Tessa is one of my most favorite people and her smile makes me light up.  I'm so proud to be her aunt and I'm determined to help shape her into an influential, powerful and independent woman.

FULL TIME JOB!  After working hard for two years, I was offered a full-time role at work.  I absolutely love what I do, and can't imagine doing anything else so I am thrilled to spend 40+ hours a week with my co-workers, doing what I love.

I met SARAH PALIN!  That's right.  I ran into the coolest guy at a Sarah Palin book signing at a local Kroger.  Palin Man was kind enough to let me borrow his jacket and stay warm while waiting outside and then offered to let me tag along for the signing and I had the opportunity to meet Miss Palin herself.  It was quite the surreal experience.

I GRADUATED with my Masters.  Three years of hard work, studying and having no social life paid off and I am now officially a Master of Communication. 

Those are just some of the highlights from my year.  It makes me very excited to think about what 2011 will bring my way!  What are the highlights of your 2010?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Quote

I ran across this quote this morning and it really hit home.  I wanted to share it with all of you:

"There has only been one Christmas - the rest are anniversaries."  W.J. Cameron

Christmas Travels

I'm not sure how many of you travel on Christmas.  We did 99% of the time when my sisters and I were younger.  My parents are both from the Chicago area, so every year we would pack up and head north for the holidays.  I love spending time with my family, but traveling can be a bear.  So here are some of my holiday travel tips (both as a traveler and a former airport employee).

Ship Presents!  There is nothing worse than a carefully wrapped package getting ripped open by the TSA because the scanner isn't getting a good read on it.  About two weeks before Christmas, ship your gifts to your destination.  That way, they are waiting on you and ready to go for Christmas morning.

Skip the Shampoo!  If you are staying in a hotel, there is complimentary shampoo, conditioner and soap in the room.  If you are staying with relatives, you can borrow or hit the local drug store.  This will save room in your bag, reduce the chance of a spill, and potentially save time in airport security.  If you do choose to pack liquids, remember you can only have 3 oz bottles and all liquids must fit in a one quart ziploc bag.

Pack for Snack Attacks!  It can be expensive purchasing snacks at a shop in the airport or a gas station when filling up the tank.  Instead of spending all of that money, pack a small bag of snacks for the trip.  This can be especially helpful if you hit construction (in the car) or get stuck with a delayed plane.

Plan for Plan F!  That's right.  Don't just have a Plan B, have multiple back-up plans.  The weather this time of year is pretty unpredictable in most of the country and the slightest shift in weather patterns can screw up all your travel plans.  We used to fly stand-by, so we always had four or five routes planned out before stepping foot in the airport.  If a flight to Chicago O'Hare filled up, we hopped on the next flight to Midway, Milwaukee, or anywhere an O'Hare connection was available.  Keep a list of alternative flights on hand so you don't have to bug an already annoyed and overworked gate agent.  If you are driving, bring a GPS and constantly check on traffic.  Most states have a number to call for traffic - write it down and call ahead. Make sure you have a few alternative routes available, and - most importantly, give yourself extra time.  There are lots of cars on the roads, the weather is not always great and a two hour drive can take six hours this time of year.

Bring a Blanket.  Whether you are sitting on the tarmack or in a car in traffic, having your own blanket is a must.  This will help cut back on the heat and gas you use in the car and keep you warm when stuck in a plane that may be experiencing technical difficulties.

MOST IMPORTANT - keep a smile on your face and a positive attitude.  The number of rude travelers is astronomical this time of year, and I am telling you, kindness goes a long way.  When I worked at the airport, I was far more likely to help out the traveler who came in and was cheerful than the one who bit my head off for something completely beyond my control.  A good attitude also helps keep the kids inline.  If your kids see you are calm and happy, they won't panic.  But, the second you panic, they panic, causing you to panic more.  It's a vicious cycle, so nip it in the bud and just SMILE!

Happy Travels to everyone and a Very Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Graduation Time

It's that time - seven years and I am 100% done with being a student.  In four hours, I'll graduate with my Master's degree and oh, does it feel good.  The idea of having free time is a new one, but one I will embrace wholeheartedly.  I cannot wait to come home and not open an academic journal, not open a 60 page word document that needs two perfect words to be complete, not have to pull out "the mean machine" (the computer) and ignore the dog.

My life will be my own again and boy, I can't wait.  So here's to a new chapter!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Countdown to Christmas - Stocking Stuffers

I don't know about anyone else, but stocking stuffers are some of the most fun gifts you can get at Christmas.  There is nothing better than the little things that make others think of  you all year long.  They can be somewhat difficult to think of, so I thought I'd share my favorite stuffers of Christmas past. 

Concert Tickets - some of my most favorite gifts are experience-oriented.  Something that I am excited to receive and then care share with others.  Last year my parents gave my husband and I each a Jeff Dunham comedy tour ticket in our stocking and we had such a blast.  In years past we have received tickets to our local theater and it is always a good time.

Favorite Candy - my mom begins her candy shopping just after Halloween and makes sure to fill each of our stockings about halfway with our favorite kinds of candy.  Mine always has Rolos, Reeses, and Butterfingers.  It's something I look forward to each year and it satisfies my sweet tooth for a couple of weeks.

Travel Games - I love games, especially Sudoku and Tetris.  Each year my mom and dad spend some time picking out a game to put in our stockings.  Then we can take them with us wherever we go. 

What are your favorite stocking stuffers?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Countdown to Christmas - Scrooge Edition and Contest!

We all know someone who loves to "Bah Humbug" through the holidays.  In fact, we're probably all guilty of letting the stress of the holidays make a Scrooge of us all at some point between Thanksgiving and New Years.  I have learned, over the years, that sometimes, having a Scrooge moment can actually save Christmas.  Yes, you read that right.  Here are my tips for dealing with a Scrooge, or accepting your inner-Scrooge.

1)  Let yourself really experience the emotion that is running through you.  Don't toss it aside because you are 'supposed' to be super cheerful.  If you have an off day or a moment of pure selfishness, resentfulness, whatever - feel it, deal with it and move on.  By dealing with it right away, you are lessening the chance of a bigger, more painful Scrooge moment.  CASE IN POINT:  A few years back my family had plans to go to Chicago for Christmas.  I planned on going, and at the last minute, I was not able to get off work.  I worked at the airport, and while the store was not 24/7, we were open just about everyday - Christmas being one of them.  So my family packed up and headed north and left me behind.  On the outside I encouraged it, as my mom's brother had passed away the Christmas before and I knew she wanted to be near her sister, but inside I was a mess.  I was left alone on Christmas.  It took me two years to finally admit it bugged me, but I harvested that resentment and it was made a bigger issue than it really was.  After all, I worked a 16 hour shift that day, so I wouldn't have seen them much anyhow.

2)  Put yourself in the other person's shoes.  Sometimes a person acts like a Scrooge to guard their real feelings.  Other times, being a Scrooge is easier than facing real life.  Instead of huffing and puffing about their huffing and puffing, be kind.  Offer words of encouragement or a simple "Merry Christmas" to everyone who seems upset.  You never know if that will make their day or not.  CASE IN POINT:  Another story from my days at the airport.  There was a passenger who ended up stuck in the terminal for two days because of poor conditions at their destination.  I was working doubles both days and this man frequented my store.  He was very rude and at first I thought it was because of the delay.  He snapped at me constantly, told me I was too slow in ringing out his purchase, complained about the size of the office he rented and nothing could make him happy.  Finally, towards the end of my second day putting up with it, I asked what his problem was.  He stood there and started crying.  Then apologized.  Then told me his story.  It turns out earlier that year he lost both parents in a car accident and his wife had been diagnosed with some rare disease that has little chance of survival.  She was in the hospital (in the city he was headed to) and he was stuck in Cincinnati.  The doctors called to say they felt she was holding on to say good-bye and he needed to cut his business trip short.  The airlines had lost one bag when he arrived in Cincinnati and his cell phone charger had disappeared at some point during his stay in the airport.  After hearing his story, I realized that he was dealing with a lot and just needed someone to talk to.  After our conversation, I told him to have safe travels and a Merry Christmas.  I was the FIRST person all year to tell him Merry Christmas.  Everyone else had said Happy Holidays.  He was so excited to hear Merry Christmas that he hugged me and promised to be in touch about his wife (I told him I would pray for her).  I never did hear from him, but the conversation, smile and hug made it all worthwhile.  Sometimes a Scrooge is just a person in need in disguise.

3)  If you are confronted with a Scrooge and don't have the time to sit and converse with that person, simply wish them a Merry Christmas and a smile and be on their way.  It's just like my momma always said - kill them with kindness. 

4)  If you are the Scrooge, take a deep breath and walk away.  The holidays are very overwhelming, so turn down a dinner party invitation or take a half day at work to take some time for yourself.  It's easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle and lose track of the real reason we celebrate.  So take the time.  A few hours to yourself, doing something you love, is just what the doctor ordered.

Do you have a Scrooge moment you would like to share?  Tell me about it in the comments section and be entered to win a Christmas Surprise!  Share this tweet for an extra entry "@BuddyBits is giving away a Christmas Surprise. Enter at"  Contest closes on 12/19.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Countdown To Christmas - Oreo Balls!

It's time for another recipe favorite.  My sister introduced me to this wonderful creation just a few months ago and it has easily become one of my favorite desserts to make, serve and eat!  It's quick and simple and requires very few ingredients.

1 package Oreos - crushed
1 8oz package of Cream Cheese - softened
1 package of White Chocolate Chips - melted

Combine crushed oreos and cream cheese with a blender (I use my Kitchen Aide Mixer).  Roll into walnut-sized balls and refrigerate for one hour.

Melt white chocolate chips and drizzle onto cooled Oreo Balls.  Refrigerate for 10 minutes to harden chocolate. 

Serve on decorative plate! YUM!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Countdown to Christmas - Giving Back Edition

'Tis the season.  We all hear that phrase a lot this time of year, but what does it really mean?  To me, it means it is the season to give back.  It's the season that depression hits folks full force.  It's the season that those without family suffer in silence as the rest of us gather and sometimes gloat about our family traditions.  It's the season where random acts of kindness seem to mean more.

So how do we spread Christmas cheer and help others this holiday season?  There are plenty of ways to do it.  Here are a few of my favorite.

Make Winter Gear.  Many homeless shelters and schools provide scarves, hats and gloves for those using their facilities.  Stock up on some fleece and make scarves to donate.  One scarf can go a long way.  This year my church partnered with Scarf It Up, a local organization that provides scarves, hats and gloves to shelters, school and the homeless in our area.  Tammy, our contact, told us two stories that touched my heart and I wanted to share them with you.  She said that the homeless really appreciate knitted scarves, because they can wrap their bodies in the scarves and use them as a layer of warmth under their coats.  I couldn't believe this and I immediately felt guilty for taking my down-alternative coat for granted.  The second story brought tears to my eyes.  One of the school's in our Covington area receives donations each year.  A teacher noticed that the day after the scarves, hats and gloves were given out, one of her students showed up to school wearing only the donations as his winter gear.  He walks to school each day with his brothers and when his teacher asked about his coat, the little boy replied that it wasn't his turn to wear the jacket.  He and his three brothers share one coat, and take turns wearing it.  Sometimes the only winter gear these kids get are the scarves, hats and gloves that Scarf It Up donates.  So, take some time today and make a few scarves.  You never know how far it will go.

Write Christmas Greetings.  Get in touch with someone at a local recruiting office or military base.  Ask for the names and addresses of some troops overseas who may not have a lot of family.  Send them a care package or Christmas card.  They are fighting for our freedom, and the least we could do is thank them and show them someone cares.

Carol.  While it may seem a bit old-fashioned, many senior living facilities welcome carolers into their buildings this time of year.  Gather some friends together (and bring someone who can play the piano) and gather around the piano for some old-fashioned holiday cheer.

Those are just some of my ideas on how to give back this year.  What are yours?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Countdown to Christmas - Wrapping Edition

It looks like time slipped by yesterday and I didn't get a chance to post.  So here is the post intended for Wednesday.

Wrapping is my favorite part of gift-giving.  Okay, my third favorite part.  My first favorite is picking out the most-perfect gift for someone.  My second favorite is seeing their face when they realize it is the most perfect gift.  So wrapping is third.  I really do enjoy it and I put a lot of time and effort into it.  It doesn't have to be an expensive thing either. 

One thing I love love love to do is make the wrapping paper personalized.  How do I do this without breaking the bank?  Buy two or three rolls (or ten if you have a lot of presents) of plain white or cardboard-colored wrapping paper.  It's available at most Walmart or Target stores.  Then, dig out stamps, magazines, cards, whatever it is that reminds you of your loved ones.  Then, decorate.

Well, it's not that easy.  First you will want to cut off the size wrap you will need.  Then decorate.  If I am stamping, I stamp before I wrap.  Otherwise, anything that is glued or taped on goes on after the gift is wrapped so I can make sure it's in the right spot.  Use ribbon, stickers, cut-out pictures, whatever it is that will make the wrap look as good as the gift inside.

I'd love to see your pics - so comment and leave them if you choose.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Countdown to Christmas - Great Gift Edition

We all have them in our lives.  The people who are absolutely impossible to buy for.  They either buy things themselves and leave no room for a gift or they have everything and are de-cluttering.  Well, here are three simple suggestions for the person who seems to have it all.

Gift Idea One:  Gift Card Wheel
This is one of my favorite gifts to make.  It's fun and even the person who has everything will appreciate this.  Here is what you will need:
  • 6 Gift Cards ($5 - $10 range)
  • Cardboard circle
  • Cardboard arrow
  • Brad
  • Tape
Divide the circle into six equal parts and decorate each one with markers or paint.  In each part, secure a different gift card using tape.  Once that is done, align the arrow with the center of the circle and secure with a brad.  Attach a note stating that there is a whole wide world of places to go, and when it's hard to decide what to do, spin the arrow and away you go.

Gift Idea Number Two:  The Picnic
This gift is great for children, a close friend or significant other.  Using Microsoft Word or InDesign, create a picnic menu.  Include snacks, drink and a meal.  Make it as pretty and festive as possible.  Print the certificate and present it as the "perfect afternoon" on you.  The recipient names a date and time, you do the rest of the work.  Take some time off from the technologically inclined world we have all become dependent on and have some good old fashioned fun.

Gift Idea Number Three:  Shadowbox
To commemorate a great friendship or a long journey together, collect all of the goodies that made you friends.  Ticket stubs, old notes that were passed back and forth, an album or CD cover... anything!  Arrange everything in a shadowbox and secure with glue or tape.  Watch as you bring back the best times of your lives together.

There you have it.  Three gifts that can be given to the person who has everything!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Countdown to Christmas - 19 days to Go!

It appears that my "timed" posts haven't gone up as planned, so I am going to make a more conscious effort to get online each day and post myself.  So I do apologize to anyone who was looking for the new Countdown to Christmas posts each day, as it appears several posted yesterday and again today.  (Don't forget to check out the Pictureka! giveaway).

Today's Countdown to Christmas is yet another Christmas tradition - the Christmas Card!  Who do you send a card to?  Are you obligated to send someone a card because they sent one to you?  Where do you draw the line?  Are e-cards acceptable?  So many questions and so little time.  Here are my suggestions for avoiding Christmas Card burnout.

First - make your lists (again, here I go with the multiple lists thing).  Write out all family members first.  Then, go through and write out friends, co-workers, church friends, etc.  After you have each list made, you can move on to step two.

Step Two:  Condense.  Are Cousin Billy and Susie away at school right now?  Send one family card to Uncle Jack and Aunt Betty and include your cousins.  They won't know the difference, and unless you are super close, no need to waste postage.  Also - if you are sending cards to someone because you feel indebted, don't.  Send cards to those who actually impact your life.  This may sound harsh, but your mother's co-worker's daughter, that you met once at a party doesn't need a holiday greeting from you.  Seriously.

Step Three:  Mail vs. Hand Deliver.  While it is absolutely wonderful to open the mailbox and be greeted by something other than a stack of bills, it can be costly.  If you regularly see folks, hand deliver their card.  This also allows you the opportunity to spread some Christmas Cheer with cookies (just saying, it's a nice touch).  The hand delivery is actually preferred in my mind - it means you care about me enough to remember to bring my card with you and not stick it in the mailbox with hundreds of others.

Okay, so we have covered the basics of who to send to and how to deliver.  Now what?  How about deciding between a physical card and an e-card.  In my opinion, you may only send e-cards to people like your cousins in college.  They will have a handwritten family card waiting when they get home, but a holiday greeting in their inbox during finals week will definitely bring a smile to their face.  E-cards are definitely more cost-effective, but lack the personal touch that a handwritten card (or even a photo card) has.

So obviously, the next MAJOR question is what to write?  Keep it simple.  That's my motto.  Address the card to each family member (list them out - don't say "Smith Family" on the inside of the card - TACKY!).  Then, write a small message.  The message can be generic ("Here's to a very Merry Christmas and happy New Year") as long as there is a personal message tied into it.  My favorite way to do that is write in a Scripture that reminds me of the people I am sending the card to, or a small note, "Can't wait to see you, Billy and the kids on Christmas" or "We will miss you on Christmas, but wish you safe travels".  Something short and sweet, yet more than the generic Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays.

My final tip for Christmas Card Chaos is to start early.  Start writing your cards the week before Thanksgiving and send them in batches.  This way, you don't overwhelm your postal worker and you also don't suffer from insane hand cramps.

Those are my tips to managing this most awesome tradition.  What are yours?

Countdown to Christmas - Giveaway!

Okay, it's my first Countdown to Christmas Giveaway.  This giveaway is open until 9pm on Tuesday, December 7th.  The winner will be notified by Wednesday, December 8th and 48 hours to respond before another winner is chosen.

Pictureka! provides a ton of fun for both adults and kids.  The board game is a classic, but Hasbro has made the fun portable with a Pictureka! card game - which is what I am giving away.  There are two ways to enter this contest:

Mandatory Entry:  Comment on this post and tell me your favorite game to play with family or friends.  Please include your email address in your post or email it to  (Entries without an email address will not be accepted).

Optional Entry:  RT:  Countdown to Christmas with @BuddyBits!  Recipes, Holiday Tips and Giveaways!

Good luck and Merry Christmas!

Countdown to Christmas - 21 Days to Go!

Today is another recipe day.  On the table today is something that can be used as a side dish during dinner or served alone as a dessert.  It's a wonderful grape salad.

This recipe requires no oven (yay) and makes a large serving bowl size.  I find it typically serves between 10 and 12 people who take large spoonfuls.

1 1/2 large bags of red grapes
8 oz cream cheese
8 oz sour cream
2 tsp sugar
3 full size Butterfinger Bars

Wash all grapes and lay out to dry. 

Combine sour cream, cream cheese and sugar in a large bowl and mix (Kitchen Aide mixer is preferred).  Once the sauce is smooth, add one cup to serving dish.  Mix in 2 handfuls of grapes.   Repeat until all grapes and sauce is used.  Then, crumble Butterfinger Bars and shake on top of grape salad.  Chill 15 - 45 minutes then serve.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Countdown to Christmas - 22 Days to Go!

We're getting closer and closer to the big day!  I absolutely love the Christmas season and everything that comes with it.  Except for one little thing - TRAFFIC!  So here is my first tip for this glorious season we find ourselves in.

If you can't use Ebates and shop online, there are ways to avoid major traffic.  First - plan your route to use as many back roads as possible.  These roads are less crowded and typically have less stoplights, thus saving time!  Next - shop in the morning during the week.  Most people do their shopping in the evenings and on the weekends.  Shopping in the morning will help you shop with less crowds and with the best selection.  Stores typically restock overnight so if you shop in the morning, you will be a step ahead of the rest.  Finally, pair up.  Try and shop with a friend or two, split up the lists and pay in cash.  Send one person for clothes, one for toys and one for other items.  This cuts down on time and also on the number of stops you need to make.

Merry Christmas and Happy Shopping!

Countdown to Christmas - 23 Days Left!

This countdown is delicious!  Below is my recipe for the most scrumptious Hershey Kiss Cookies you will ever eat!

Preheat the oven to 375.  Pour 1/2 cup of sugar into a cereal bowl.

Ingredients Needed:

1 1/2 cup flour                                          1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup sugar                                            1/3 cup brown sugar (firmly packed)
1 tsp baking soda                                      3/4 cup peanut butter
2 tbsp milk                                                1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and blend together.  Shape dough into balls and roll in sugar.  Place 2 inches apart on baking pan (or pizza stone). *

Bake for 8 minutes, remove from the oven and place Hershey Kiss in center of each cookie.  Place back in oven for two minutes.  Remove and let cool for 10 minutes.

*While each batch is baking, unwrap the same number of Hershey Kisses as there are dough balls.  This will ensure there is no waste of scumptious chocolately-goodness.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Countdown to Christmas

I woke up to snow.  What a great way to start December and the Christmas season.  There is no better way to celebrate Christmas than with family, friends, hot cocoa, cookies and snow.  Seriously.

Everyday this month, my goal is to bring a little holiday cheer to all of you.  This is going to be done through the sharing of traditions, holiday tips, recipes and giveaways!  These will be short giveaways, typically lasting only 24 - 48 hours so that you can receive your goodies in time for Christmas morning, so make sure to check back regularly. 

Photo courtesy of
Today's Countdown to Christmas Moment is all about the tradition.  Each year, as a child, I watched as my parents opened their stocking stuffers.  Favorite candy, concert tickets, homemade gifts from their wonderful daughters and more filled the stockings.  But each year, I saw my mom carefully tuck away a piece of paper or an envelope.  She never opened it in front of us, but always gave my dad a loving smile and tears filled her eyes.  Finally, one year, I asked what it was.  She said, every year since they have been married, my dad writes her a letter and puts it in her stocking.  It's full of what he loves most about her, what he is thankful for and their favorite memories together.  Each year, it's a great reminder of the love that is shared in our family.

This year, I want to start that tradition with my husband.  This Christmas marks two years of marriage and I think now is a great time to begin setting traditions of our own.  Yes, it is borrowed from my parents, but I will tweak it to make it my own.

What is your favorite tradition?  I'm eager to hear!