My favorite things…

Happy election day all! Yes, I realize it’s a huge oxymoron for sure. Between the lead up to today and now the long lines (which is a good thing because that means people are actually taking the time to voice their opinion in a constructive way), we need something a little more uplifting. Because this election has the whole nation on edge, let’s think about something happier- hot cocoa, holiday lights, Christmas trees, cookie exchanges, family and friend get togethers.  Today, we leave all the stress and animosity of election day behind to talk about some of my favorite things!
Are you headed to a cookie exchange this season? Maybe 2 or 3? I know I have at least one on my calendar. My FAVORITE cookie for a cookie exchange is Magic Cookie Bars983028I butter the pan instead of using a crisco spray, but otherwise, I follow the recipe. I love these cookies for exchanges because they are a bar vs a traditional cookie so you can easily make 2 dozen in one pan, 4 dozen in two pans. They are super easy. Almost zero clean up! I hve also made my own graham crackers in the past but the blog I found them on is no longer working so I haven’t done that in a while. (The recipe I found was ridiculously easy to follow and make and I am so bummed I can’t find it.)

I always head to my in-laws on Christmas day and every since I dated my husband, I came with a dessert. I always brought a bowl of Reindeer Chow. It can certainly get a little messy making it and it cannot be done in a rush, so make sure you have a bit of time to do it correctly, otherwise it is super easy to make and always a huge hit. I also would bring along a cheesecake. chocolate_raspberry_cheesecake_1My father-in-law and nephew especially like this cheesecake and request it every year. There have been a few years I couldn’t quite get to it and to make it travel 4.5 hours to their house wasn’t always ideal but they can rest assure that they will get it this Christmas. While the Keebler Ready Crust no longer has it on their website, I was able to find it on this blog. It’s the perfect combination of tart and sweet and super easy to make.

A fun holiday tradition we have is to head to look at holiday lights. One of our favorite places to head is Meadowlark Botanical GardensMeadowlark Garden Winter Walk of LightsIt has always been a low key event when we go with not a ton of other people. You get a nice stroll through the park and finish up at the fire. It’s great for little ones to point out different animals and plants, but the adults can also enjoy the hard-work and intricacy of the lights throughout. It’s a great event to get you out of the house and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg $13 for adults and $7 for kids (2 and under are free) and you can save $2 off online ticket purchase on Mondays through Thursdays through December 8 (excluding Thanksgiving). There are over 500,000 lights on display during a .6 mile walk (so not too long so even the littlest ones can get through it). You can pick up hot chocolate before the walk and then shop at the Snowflake Shoppe at the end of your trip.

Are you headed to an event with a grab bag? I have LOVED any and all of Beautycounter’s Holiday Sets, but my three favorite that can be good for any and everyone are the Naughty to Nice Gift SetThe Jet Set, and the Shimmer & Shine Gift Set. I love these because ANYONE can use them! The Naughty to Nice Gift Set is a small spa experience. It combines the Charcoal Cleansing Bar with the Purifying Charcoal Mask, giving a luxurious at home spa regiment. The Jet Set is perfect for that friend or family member who is always on the go. It is a travel set of the shampoo, conditioner, body wash, body lotion, and charcoal bar in a travel pouch. Perfect for a carry on or gym bag! The Shimmer & Shine Gift Set combines travel sizes of the famous Sugar Scrub and Body Butter with a luxurious shimmer body oil. 12276954_1017875141597900_933821065_nAll of these are packaged and delivered in a limited edition red gift box so only a bow is needed to hand these out! If you don’t know Beautycounter, they are a company on a mission to get safer products in the hands of everyone. The US has ban only 11 ingredients in the skincare industry and no laws have been passed since 1938. Beautycounter has a rigorous and thorough screening system in place to get the SAFEST ingredients in their skincare and makeup products. They are not all natural or organic but their products all score a 1 or 2 on the EWG website (which is a non-profit organization that rates products on a 1-10 scale based on their ingredients. If you have not been on there, highly recommend!)

Do you have a kid that has everything?? I have the gift for you!! A subscription to any of the Kiwi Crate is exactly what you need. kiwi-crate-june_zpsbe7ddecdMy daughter has received either a 3 or 6 month subscription of the Koala Crate for her birthday or Christmas and she looks forward to getting them each month. They are filled with 3-4 activities that center around a theme (oceans, colors, farms, etc). It keeps her busy for a few hours and it’s something we do together and we either keep the stuff around for a short period of time or it’s now something she can play with for a long time– for example, she has made a stuffed snake, a stuffed cloud, a tote bag, weather sock and chart, or a wooden car that we have kept around, but items like a glow in the dark moon, 3-D tree, and other crafty things that we adored for a little bit but then after a quick picture of it, found it’s way to the garbage.

Have a friend that has everything?! Have you heard of StitchFix?? o-stitchfix-facebookI am OBSESSED with it.As a busy mom of two small kiddos, I find myself picking up most of my clothes at Target (which is not a bad thing at all— I love my Target clothes), but I tend to buy the same style and I am not a good shopper for myself. StitchFix is a personal stylist who sends you 5 pieces (clothing and accessories based on your preferences) and you have three days to try on and send back what you don’t want and buy the things you want to keep. I do it about 1-2 times a year as I tend to try to buy everything in my box and it runs me about $200, which is WAY more than I would ever spend BUT it’s the clothes I get the most compliments on. What I love most is that you can link a Pinterest board to your account and write notes to your stylist to get the best match. I usually state I want machine washable items that are great for a day with the kids but don’t make me feel mommy. They have provided me with things I have LOVED that if I saw it in the store, I would never have bought for myself. It’s definitely a fun treat.  I love getting a gift card from there.

My very last favorite thing is to take the month of December and make it Random Act of Kindness month. Many families around the country have those pesky little Elves on the Shelves. We are one of them. The first year, luckily my daughter was too young to realize what was happening because I could not keep up with moving it around and coming up with creative things for the elf to do. It took 2 years for me to rethink the whole idea and now our Elf comes down from Santa and gives my kiddos an act of kindness to do each day.  To start you off, here are some ideas thanks to this amazing blog:

100-acts-of-kindness-for-kids-free-printable-in-post

100 ACTS OF KINDNESS FOR KIDS

  1. Put change in a vending machine.
  2. Hold the door open for someone.
  3. Do a chore for someone without them knowing.
  4. Tell a joke.
  5. Return someone’s cart at the store.
  6. Give candy to your bank teller.
  7. Leave a letter in a library book.
  8. Feed the birds.
  9. Leave happy notes around town.
  10. Put a small bin in your car to collect recycling.
  11. Call your grandparents and ask them about their childhood.
  12. Pick up litter.
  13. Let someone go ahead of you in line.
  14. Compliment a friend.
  15. Wash someone’s car.
  16. Write a thank you note for your mail carrier.
  17. Plant something.
  18. Bake dessert for a neighbor
  19. Walk dogs at the animal shelter.
  20. Check in on an elderly neighbor.
  21. Set up a lemonade stand and donate the profits.
  22. Send a card to a service member.
  23. Bury treasure at the playground.
  24. Set the table for dinner.
  25. Leave bubbles on someone’s doorstep.
  26. Put money on a stranger’s layaway bill.
  27. Tell someone why they are special to you.
  28. Donate outgrown clothes.
  29. Buy a coffee for a stranger.
  30. Pass out stickers to kids waiting in line.
  31. Talk to someone new at school.
  32. Write chalk messages on the sidewalk.
  33. Weed or shovel for a neighbor.
  34. Donate food to the food pantry.
  35. Bring flowers to your teacher.
  36. Tell a manager how good your service was.
  37. Tape change to a parking meter.
  38. Donate socks and supplies to the homeless shelter.
  39. Give a lottery ticket to a stranger.
  40. Call a friend you haven’t seen in a while to say hello.
  41. Tape money for the ice cream truck to a friend’s front door.
  42. Take treats to the fire station.
  43. Read a book to someone.
  44. Leave heads up pennies on the sidewalk.
  45. Donate a book to a doctor’s office waiting room.
  46. Tell someone how much you love them.
  47. Say hello to everyone you see.
  48. Make someone else’s bed.
  49. Hold the door open for someone.
  50. Wave at kids on school buses.
  51. Sing songs at a nursing home.
  52. Invite someone to play on the playground.
  53. Tell the principal how great your teacher is.
  54. Donate a toy to Toys for Tots.
  55. Turn off the water while brushing your teeth.
  56. Say thank you when you see service members.
  57. Fill a kindness jar with candy for another family.
  58. Make a thank you sign for sanitation workers.
  59. Make a busy bag for a family with young children.
  60. Bring cookies to the custodian.
  61. Help make dinner.
  62. Donate new pajamas for foster kids.
  63. Make a get well card for someone.
  64. Bring your neighbors’ garbage cans up for them.
  65. Take care of someone’s pet while they’re away.
  66. Leave a popcorn surprise on a DVD rental machine.
  67. Share a special toy with a friend.
  68. Clean up your room without being asked.
  69. Tape a video message for faraway friends.
  70. Leave kindness stones at the park.
  71. Give a candy bar to the bus driver.
  72. Send dessert to another family at a restaurant.
  73. Give spare change to the food pantry.
  74. Buy extra school supplies for a teacher.
  75. Make muffins for your pharmacist.
  76. Teach someone something new.
  77. Reuse paper when you are drawing.
  78. Pay for someone’s toll.
  79. Give someone a hug coupon.
  80. Volunteer at a soup kitchen.
  81. Write a note for someone’s lunch.
  82. Collect money or items for your favorite charity.
  83. Donate coloring books and crayons to the children’s hospital.
  84. Write a poem for a friend.
  85. Ask for donations instead of birthday gifts.
  86. Help someone unload groceries at the store.
  87. Make a candy gram for the police department.
  88. Collect books for the library.
  89. Adopt an animal online.
  90. Decorate tissue boxes and hand sanitizer for nursing stations.
  91. Make a homemade gift for someone.
  92. Clean up your toys without being asked.
  93. Deliver water bottles to the homeless shelter.
  94. Create activity bags for families of deployed soldiers.
  95. Give high fives to a friend.
  96. Make a thank you card for your librarian.
  97. Dry the slides at the park with a towel after it rains.
  98. Make play dough for a preschool class.
  99. Send a postcard to a friend.
  100. Smile at everybody. It’s contagious.

I hope this helped to take you away from the craziness today and enjoy some great things to come!! May we all find a little unity and peace over the next few months, regardless of the outcome today. Happy Tuesday!