The calm after the storm. | Holiday 2017

First and foremost, I want to start off this blog post by saying that I hope everyone had an absolutely wonderful Christmas.

The last 48-hours seem like they came and went in the blink of an eye, and I am finding myself in slight disbelief that today is actually December 26th and Christmas is actually over and won’t be back until next year.

As the work day pushed forward on Friday, I could feel myself getting sicker and sicker, and I ended my day with a trip to immediate care on my way home to ensure I didn’t have strep throat, or any other illness that would prevent me from enjoying this weekend – #teacherprobs, am I right? While I did miss out on an ugly sweater party that I had been looking forward to with friends on Friday night, I did not miss any celebration or preparation with my family in regards to Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Little victories, right?

All in all, this weekend was a great one. For the first time in years, it was a white Christmas. I am filled to the brim with way too much food and way too many goodies. I spent time with every single person in my life that I love and adore. I gave away all of the gifts that I have been staring at under the tree for the past month, and received so many generous and thoughtful gifts in return. I am thankful and I am blessed to have the life I do. And now, I am looking at my trees wishing it didn’t all end and that they weren’t going to have to come down sometime this week.

With that being said, here’s to the last week of 2017. . and the last week of being 24! Let’s end it with a bang! xoxo.

‘Tis the season for Christmas parties! | Holiday 2017

Today is my last day of work until January 2nd aka hello Christmas break!

Between pajama day with the kiddos, a holiday party at school with my team, and an ugly sweater party tonight with friends, kicking off Christmas break could not get any more Christmas-y, and I could not be any more full of copious amounts of sugar.

When packing up all of my gifts and goodies today to bring into work for my team and my kiddos, I realized just how much my mom and I have been baking this year. This could be thanks to a lack of hockey, as my brother is now away at college, or just an extra burst of energy, but holy cow, my bag this morning felt like it weighed 20 pounds with just treats alone.

The other day, I posted an easy, no bake recipe for you out there, like me, that are crunched on time and quite frankly don’t have the patience to bake for hours on end. Today, you’re in for another treat, because I have another no-bake recipe for you folks to whip up this weekend before Christmas is suddenly upon us. So, without further ado, here is a recipe for Christmas Buckeye Balls!

Christmas Buckeye Balls

Ingredients

  • 3 cups creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup butter at room temperature
  • 7 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 16 ounces of chocolate chips or candy melts [any variety of your choice – I used milk chocolate]
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
  • Holiday sprinkles

*** DISCLAIMER: I doubled this recipe! So if you don’t want to make as large of an amount, simply cut it in half!

Directions

  1. Place the peanut butter, butter, and powdered sugar into a large bowl. Mix until the ingredients are incorporated, then knead with your hands until a smooth dough forms.
  2. Shape the dough into tablespoon sized balls and place on a sheet pan that’s been lined with parchment paper.
  3. Refrigerate the peanut butter balls for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Place the chocolate chips and shortening in a medium bowl. If using two types of chocolate, place 4 ounces of each chocolate with 1 tablespoon shortening into two bowls.
  5. Microwave the chocolate in 30 second intervals or until melted. Stir until smooth and thoroughly combined.
  6. Remove the buckeye balls from the fridge. Use a toothpick to pick up each ball and dip it into the melted chocolate. Quickly roll the ball in sprinkles. Repeat with each ball. Use your finger to smooth over the top of each ball to remove the mark from the toothpick.
  7. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or until set, then serve.

Christmas baking, minus the baking | Holiday 2017

Being able to freely use the oven/stove the week of Christmas is something that just does not happen. Between meal prep and baking for the holiday in addition to feeding yourself for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the kitchen is a crazy place.

With that being said, I have become extremely familiar with no-bake dessert recipes that taste amazing and don’t get you near-killed for trying to use the oven amid the hustle and bustle.

One of these recipes is a Christmas twist on the classic “white trash” dessert. I made this last night and I can confirm to you that not only is this probably the easiest and cheapest thing you will ever make, but it took almost no time to prepare whatsoever. So, if you’re looking for something easy-peasy, stick around, because the recipe below is totally for you!

Christmas Crack [“White Trash”]

Ingredients

  • 10 cups of Chex cereal [I chose Rice Chex – but pick any that you desire!]
  • 4 cups of Snyder’s pretzel rods
  • 5 cups of Bugles
  • 1 bag Christmas Milk Chocolate M&M’s
  • 1 bag of peppermints, unwrapped and finely chopped
  • Christmas sprinkles
  • 24 ounce bag of white chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons shortening or solid coconut oil

Directions

  1. Place the Chex cereal, pretzel rods, and Bugles into a very large mixing bowl. Set aside.
  2. Place parchment paper on two large baking sheets. Set aside.
  3. Unwrap individual peppermints and place into a Ziploc bag. Break into fine pieces using a mallet or meat tenderizer.
  4. Place the white chocolate chips and shortening into a microwave safe bowl. Place in microwave for 30-second intervals and stir until smooth.
  5. Drizzle the melted chocolate over the dry mixture and immediately sprinkle the M&M’s, crushed peppermints and sprinkles on the candy [to ensure it sticks to the mixture].
  6. Mix gently with a spoon until all ingredients are coated evenly.
  7. Divide the mixture in half and spread in even layers on the baking sheets.
  8. Let the candy set. If you are in a rush, place it in the refrigerator until it sets.
  9. Break apart and serve – or place into an airtight container for later snacking!

What are some other quick and easy Christmas recipes that you can’t live without? xoxo.

 

 

Concrete jungle where dreams are made of!?

Next Friday, I am traveling to New York City for New Years Eve and the Winter Classic. It was my brother and my Christmas present from our parents, combined with a birthday gift for me, as my birthday is on January 2nd, aka the morning after we fly back home to Western New York.

I am absolutely no stranger to the city. I’ve been there more times than I can count, and it’s one of my favorite places to be. I have only been in NYC once during the holiday season; it was two years ago on the first weekend of December. However, I have never been to NYC for New Years!

So, what I am asking you on this fine Tuesday is this: What do you recommend I do on my trip to New York City?

I am open to any and every suggestion you throw my way. I can’t wait to hear from you. xoxo.

Santa! I know him!! | Holiday 2017

I mean, is it really pre-Christmas week without an Elf reference?

But for real. We are exactly one week away from Christmas!

I always feel like the week leading up to Christmas is always the craziest. There are always last minute presents that have to be wrapped, baking to be done, and the work week feels like a complete drag. Houses need to be cleaned, organized, and set up to host what feels like a million people [at least with my family], and meals need to be prepared. Christmas music is played, snow is [hopefully] falling, and then you blink and. . bam, it’s Christmas morning. And then you blink once more and. . bam, it’s all over with.

I will fully admit that this year, I went a little too crazy when it comes to Christmas. Part of me feels as if it is because I was able to take on Christmas at my own pace. Years prior, working retail, I was in Christmas mode starting from mid-October when the holiday décor would start to be set up and sales would be set. By the time Christmas actually got here, I was basically over it, as I had been hearing “Holly Jolly Christmas” in my ear, on repeat, for over two months and, quite frankly, was ready to slam my head against a wall. Not so holly jolly, am I right?

This year, though, my excitement has been at an all time high. I didn’t hit my full Christmas mode until Black Friday when all of my shopping was completely done and it was time to wrap all these gifts while sipping on my Peppermint Mocha latte, listening to the holiday tunes I actually enjoyed hearing over and over. I had time to watch Christmas movies cozied on the couch at night, as my hours at work didn’t extend past, at the latest, 5:00pm. The added bonus of working a “real job” that pays “real money” helped too, as for the first time in forever, I feel as if everyone is getting the gifts they actually deserve or want, not just the ones that I could barely afford.

I have been staring at my abundantly large stack of Christmas gifts under “my” tree for what seems like forever and I have been waiting for decades to hand these gifts out. My parents, especially my mom, is no amateur when it comes to Christmas decorating so between our tree in the living room filled with gifts, our tree in the dining room filled with my gifts [*ahem* I went a little too crazy], and then on the flip side, Jon and my tree at the apartment filled with gifts, there’s enough holiday cheer to keep you on edge waiting for the big day to come.

With that being said, I hope everyone has a smooth sailing, stress-free, pre-Christmas week.

Keep on spreading the joy and love. xoxo.

 

DIY Christmas gifts. . kid approved! | Holiday 2017

I don’t know about you, but for me, Christmas shopping for kids is not as easy as people make it seem. Now, I’m not talking mini’s – they are extremely easy to shop for, I’m talking kids that are of the 7+ age group.

You’d think that working in a school I’d know a little about what is “hip” and what is not in the kid community, but to be completely honest, I see some things on the shelves or that students bring in and I am left puzzled and confused about not only what things are, but why they are even a thing in the first place.

With an over-abundance of kids in my extended family, I didn’t quite know which way to turn. However, after much debate, I eventually got there – a DIY gift filled with candy and other goodies that can be personalized to each kid’s specific likes and dislikes!

To create these presents, the things you will need fall on a list so short you might think to yourself, *wow, I’m not the most creative, but even I can do this!* . . no, seriously.

DIY Christmas Gift Jars 

Items Needed

  • Mason jars – any size!
  • Hershey kisses
  • Gift tags – preferably ones that you can string through a piece of ribbon or yarn, and can write on yourself
  • Ribbon/yarn
  • Small toys/goodies (e.g. nail polish, Chapstick, mini Lego sets, surprise bag sets for different characters. . My Little Pony, Despicable Me, Paw Patrol, etc. – the list really could go on and on and on)

What to Do

First and foremost, take a nice swig of coffee- it’ll really get you going and in the spirit to create!

Next, open the Mason jar and fill with Hershey kisses and little goodies. Then, simply close the filled Mason jar.

After the jar is filled and closed, take a gift tag and simply write the child’s name followed by “Merry Kiss-mas!”

String the tag with decorative ribbon or yarn and tie around the Mason jar.

Find your kiddo and give them this easy, cute gift! (Names crossed out to keep a secret until Christmas!)

What are some DIY gift projects that you absolutely swear by with each passing holiday season?! xoxo.

Rockin’ around the Christmas tree. . literally | Holiday 2017

Let’s be real here, I have been playing Christmas music for quite some time now. I’d be lying straight to your face if I said that I wasn’t listening to the Glee Christmas album on repeat over and over and over again throughout my ride to work.

Keeping this in mind, it only makes sense to craft, in my opinion, the most perfect holiday playlist. With a mix of some classics, some can’t live withouts, and some new favorites, I have dipped into everything making for a jolly good time. So, buckle up, grab your egg nog, and listen by your Christmas tree or while wrapping presents.

What are some songs you can’t live without during the Christmas season?

xoxo.

Thankful | Holiday 2017

For the next few days leading up to Thanksgiving, my blog posts will revolve around things that I am thankful for.

I hope that by doing this, you will reflect on all that you are thankful for, as well. It could be something as large as the love of your life, or as small as your new candle from Bath and Body Works [totally guilty for this one!].

In return for you listening to me sharing my blessings and thanks, I’d love to hear from you and I’d love to know what you are thankful for this holiday season. xoxo.

How early is too early? | Holiday 2017

I love Christmas. 

If you have ever seen the movie, Elf.. Buddy the elf is basically me. I have no shame in admitting this.

There is a long-standing debate in what seems to be throughout the world as to how early is too early to put up holiday decorations [in my case, Christmas]. I feel like previously being in retail management for six years has tampered with my thoughts as to what is an acceptable time versus what is not. Heck, we started changing floor sets and window displays the week before Halloween! So, in my defense, it only seems natural that I am already in full Christmas mode and I am ready to explode. It is like a switch turned on in my body the second the clock hit November 1st and I cannot be contained.

couch

While I have not put up a Christmas tree, I did go as far as to put just about everything else up throughout the apartment – signs, figurines, pillows, blankets, candles, hanging decorations, and so forth. Adding more fuel to the fire, I cannot stop buying Christmas decor. It would be best for everyone if we all just worked together as a team and guided my body away from the Target or JoAnn Fabrics entrances, because I have a [semi] serious problem.

So, with that being said, how early is too early? I am ready and willing to listen to what all of you have to say. Help me out here, am I really as crazy as I make myself seem? xoxo.