Christmas Decorating & ‘Must Haves’ for Christmas Morning

This is a sponsored post for SheSpeaks/Duracell. All opinions are my own.

In addition to egg nog, sausage balls and old-fashioned fudge, there are a few other things that are a requirement for Christmas at my house. Can you tell me what all of these things have in common?

If you said bourbon BATTERIES, you get an extra piece of fudge. Just kidding, I’m sure I have eaten all of that. Yes, all of these Christmas decorations, plus a few more, require batteries. Multiple batteries.
With three kids, I can’t even tell you the multitude of batteries we go through…Wii remotes, remote controlled cars, things that makes LOTS of noise…it’s a long list. Therefore, I am very familiar with bourbon Duracell. We’re practically BFFs. But seriously, if you’re house is anything like mine,
and you want to hear the Hallmark angels sing (in unison!) this Christmas season…better stock up on those batteries. And yeah, and those angels…we have a set for each child. Thanks Grandma. Where is that egg nog?!
Avoid the Christmas morning meltdown caused by not being able to play with new toys by stuffing those stockings with batteries. Duracell (as most of us probably know as the “copper top” battery), is a dependable brand with a 10-year guarantee in storage with Duralock Power Preserve Technology – which is great because I got smart last year and stored our Polar Express Train WITH all of it’s batteries (they were removed and placed in a paper bag, but stored in the same container with the train. Do not keep batteries in an item that is in storage.) That way, when time to set it up this year, we had everything we needed. Nothing like getting a 6 year old all excited about the train, just to say, ‘nope, can’t play with it yet, gotta go get batteries!’. 
 
Full disclosure: storing the batteries with the train may have been my husband’s idea..but I’m going to take credit for it since it worked out so well. *wink*
 
Check out Duracell on Facebook, and give a shout out on Twitter to Duracell and Walmart, letting them know how you will use Duracell to #PowerTheHolidays! 
 
What’s your favorite Christmas decoration? Do you have any really loud ones that drive you a little crazy when your child insists on playing it over and over again? Okay, maybe that’s just me…
But this guy’s batteries might get “lost”.

VTech Switch & Go Dinos Turbo Review & GIVEAWAY {#sponsored}

If you have a little boy on your Christmas list (or a dinosaur/race car loving little girl) then today’s post should interest you. It’s all about VTech® Switch & Go Dinos® Turbo Bronco the RC Triceratops™. We are VTech fans in the Mo’Betta house and I can honestly say that my 6 year old absolutely loves this toy.

Switch and Go Dinos Turbo comes with a remote that allows the child to transform it from race car to dinosaur at the touch of a button. The remote is easy to us and very kid friendly. The car/dino can make various sounds, talk, move in different directions, and of course, transform from race car to dinosaur and back again. Just check it out…

That’s just a little snippet of it’s “transformation”. I was thrilled at how much my son has enjoyed playing with it. It engages his imagination and gets him away from his beloved video games! (Which is priceless!) It also drives our dogs insane, which my little man thought was quite hysterical. He spent quite a while just torturing playing with the dogs and the toy. Which brings up a good point, VTech products are very durable! One of my dogs attempted to bite it, and didn’t leave a mark on it. You have to be tough in this house.

Bronco the RC Triceratops is just one in a line of VTech Switch and Go Dinos Turbo toys. It is recommended for ages 3-8, with MSRP $44.99. It does require 8 AA batteries, so just keep that in mind if Santa will be leaving one under the tree. Re-chargeable batteries are pretty much the best thing ever for kid toys in my opinion! (They are more expensive initially, but in our house, they pay off in the long run.) As stated, this toy is durable, and has lots of fun features (talking, LED headlights, LCD screen, turbo charge lever, transformation button, and more.)
GIVEAWAY! VTech is providing one Makin’ it Mo’Betta reader a VTech® Switch & Go Dinos® Turbo Bronco the RC Triceratops™. Awesome right?! Just enter via the Rafflecopter Form. Entries will be verified. Shipping only available within the US. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*I was provided with a sample product for review purposes. All opinions are my own, or that of my 6 year old! The sample product, giveaway product and information has been provided by VTech.

Thanksgiving Ideas – Desserts!

For some of us, dessert is the most important part of any meal. For others, it’s an afterthought…and for some, it’s whatever can be bought because you absolutely hate to bake. Whatever category you fall into, there should be something here for you! We love dessert around here, so there were lots of recipes to choose from and most of them are pretty easy to whip up.

Pumpkin Spice Cake – this is a “doctored” cake mix and is full of Fall flavor.
Brown Sugar Pumpkin Cheesecake – a little more labor intensive but a change from traditional pumpkin pie
Pecan Pie Brownies – I think the name speaks for itself. Elevate your traditional pecan pie with a brownie base! These have gotten rave reviews in the past.
Fudgey Mocha Nut Pie – Another pecan and chocolate combo…this pie is rich and delicious. We will be making this or Chocolate Chess Pie this year.
Chocolate Chess Pie – a Southern tradition that makes an appearance every year.
Chocolate Oreo Chess Pie – We made this one last year. It was amazing. There is also a Chocolate Chip Cookie version a.k.a. Baltimore Bomb Pie. It’s the bomb alright!
If you are looking for something super quick and easy, I have a round up of “dump cakes“, as in ‘dump and go’, just a few ingredients but oh so good. The above Blueberry Dump Cake is one of my favorite desserts ever.
These German Chocolate Cake bars are one of the most popular recipes on my blog. Or you could go for the “real thing” …
German Chocolate Cake – the frosting is phenomenal.
A few other things that may come in handy – this 5-Minute Chocolate Frosting is delicious, and because my son is allergic to nuts and is super picky, I will be making cookies with my favorite thick and chewy cookie base. I’ll be adding fall colored M’s which he loves.
I also have some ‘special diet’ recipes – Dairy Free Chocolate Pie which is so good no one would ever know what it’s made of; Low Carb Chocolate Eclair Cake; low carb, gluten free “Thin Mints“; egg free Chocolate Cake (aka wacky cake). This is my “Allergy Friendly” Pinterest Board too.
As you can see, we usually do things a little different than the traditional pumpkin and pecan pie! Well, I should say in addition to the traditional pecan and pumpkin pie. You can’t have too many desserts!
Previous Thanksgiving Ideas posts
I may be linking up at any of the following – (Monday) The Tumbleweed ContessaThe Dedicated HouseSkip to my LouI Should Be Mopping the FloorHuckleberry Love (Tuesday) Tickle My Tastebuds TuesdaySowdering About in SeattleNaptime CreationsMandy’s Recipe Box, Memories By the Mile,Inside BruCrew LifeVMG206Anyonita Nibbles (Wednesday) The Newlyweds PilgrimageFluster BusterMostly Homemade MomAdorned from Above,Ginger Snap CraftsNaptime is My TimeTessa the Domestic Diva (Thursday) Project Inspire,Joyful HomemakingMiz Helen’s Country CottageLamberts Lately (Friday) Foodtastic FridaysJust Us FourBacon Time with the Hungry Hungry HypoDiana RamblesThe Better BakerThe Best Blog Recipes,Close to Home30 Handmade DaysA Peek Into My Paradise,The Jenny Evolution Walking on SunshineVintage ChicLady Behind the Curtain (Saturday) Six Sisters’ StuffMade from Pinterest

Thanksgiving Ideas – breads

Bread may not seem all that important for Thanksgiving, but it is at my house. My kids will eat way more bread/rolls than anything else on Turkey day! Here are a few of my favorites…

Sweet Potato Pumpkin Butter Biscuits – these are so good!


Copycat King’s Hawaiian Bread – these can easily be made into rolls, large loaves, or a bread braid (if you are talented enough to do that…my technique needs work!) The dough can be mixed in a mixer or a bread machine…I love my bread machine!


Pumpkin Yeast Bread


Pumpkin Cornbread


Spiced Pumpkin Biscuits

yummm….carbs!

Previous Thanksgiving Ideas posts:

Veggies
For the kids

 I may be linking up at any of the following – (Monday) The Tumbleweed ContessaThe Dedicated HouseSkip to my LouI Should Be Mopping the FloorHuckleberry Love (Tuesday) Tickle My Tastebuds TuesdaySowdering About in SeattleNaptime CreationsMandy’s Recipe Box, Memories By the Mile,Inside BruCrew LifeVMG206Anyonita Nibbles (Wednesday) The Newlyweds PilgrimageFluster BusterMostly Homemade MomAdorned from Above,Ginger Snap CraftsNaptime is My TimeTessa the Domestic Diva (Thursday) Project Inspire,Joyful HomemakingMiz Helen’s Country CottageLamberts Lately (Friday) Foodtastic FridaysJust Us FourBacon Time with the Hungry Hungry HypoDiana RamblesThe Better BakerThe Best Blog Recipes,Close to Home30 Handmade DaysA Peek Into My Paradise,The Jenny Evolution Walking on SunshineVintage ChicLady Behind the Curtain (Saturday) Six Sisters’ StuffMade from Pinterest

Thanksgiving Ideas – Veggies

You’ve probably got your main dishes all figured out, but what about the sides? Today is all about the veggies…a necessary evil in my opinion. There is always the traditional green bean casserole, but here are a few other recipes that make eating your vegetables much easier…

Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Vinegar Reduction – if I have to eat them, this is how I want to do it!


Cauliflower Au Gratin – low carb and surprisingly good (coming from someone who doesn’t like vegetables cauliflower very much!)


Bacon Wrapped Green Beans – because e’rything is better with bacon


Bacon Green Beans for a Crowd – a super easy variation of the above bacon wrapped green beans. Delicious.

What’s your favorite vegetable dish? Do you have to cover yours in sugar or bacon to eat them or is that just me!?

Yesterday’s post – Thanksgiving Ideas for the kids


 I may be linking up at any of the following – (Monday) The Tumbleweed ContessaThe Dedicated HouseSkip to my LouI Should Be Mopping the FloorHuckleberry Love (Tuesday) Tickle My Tastebuds TuesdaySowdering About in SeattleNaptime CreationsMandy’s Recipe Box, Memories By the Mile,Inside BruCrew LifeVMG206Anyonita Nibbles (Wednesday) The Newlyweds PilgrimageFluster BusterMostly Homemade MomAdorned from Above,Ginger Snap CraftsNaptime is My TimeTessa the Domestic Diva (Thursday) Project Inspire,Joyful HomemakingMiz Helen’s Country CottageLamberts Lately (Friday) Foodtastic FridaysJust Us FourBacon Time with the Hungry Hungry HypoDiana RamblesThe Better BakerThe Best Blog Recipes,Close to Home30 Handmade DaysA Peek Into My Paradise,The Jenny Evolution Walking on SunshineVintage ChicLady Behind the Curtain (Saturday) Six Sisters’ StuffMade from Pinterest

Thanksgiving Ideas – for the kids

Over the next few days I’m going to post some different Thanksgiving ideas since turkey day is almost here! Today is all about making the kiddies happy (and keeping them busy!)

Harvest Blessing Mix – fun for the kids to make, and to give as gifts. Each ingredients represents something..

Cornucopias‘ can be made out of store-bought ice cream cones, then filled with treats. I’ve done these on a few occasions, and tried a couple of different ways. They are kind of a pain, but super cute in the end. If you have a steamer/rice cooker, that is the easiest way to do it IMO, however, this method also works. This definitely requires an adult (but the kids can fill them!)
These are filled with Pumpkin Spice Chex Mix.

“Acorn” Cookies – no bake, just assemble and eat!


More edible cornucopias! No recipe, just Bugles chips with the ends dipped in white chocolate, then dipped in sprinkles and colored candy pieces (these are Sixlets). I made a Thanksgiving Snack Mix with them one year.

What do you do to keep the kids occupied while the turkey is cooking?!

   I may be linking up at any of the following – (Monday) The Tumbleweed ContessaThe Dedicated HouseSkip to my LouI Should Be Mopping the FloorHuckleberry Love (Tuesday) Tickle My Tastebuds TuesdaySowdering About in SeattleNaptime CreationsMandy’s Recipe Box, Memories By the Mile,Inside BruCrew LifeVMG206Anyonita Nibbles (Wednesday) The Newlyweds PilgrimageFluster BusterMostly Homemade MomAdorned from Above,Ginger Snap CraftsNaptime is My TimeTessa the Domestic Diva (Thursday) Project Inspire,Joyful HomemakingMiz Helen’s Country CottageLamberts Lately (Friday) Foodtastic FridaysJust Us FourBacon Time with the Hungry Hungry HypoDiana RamblesThe Better BakerThe Best Blog Recipes,Close to Home30 Handmade DaysA Peek Into My Paradise,The Jenny Evolution Walking on SunshineVintage ChicLady Behind the Curtain (Saturday) Six Sisters’ StuffMade from Pinterest

White Chocolate Popcorn {Party Favors}

Having your guests have a little something to take home at the end of a party is a fun thing to do. I, of course, like for it to be something edible. Everyone likes food right? If they are friends with me, the answer to that is yes. Because seriously, who wants to hang out with someone who doesn’t like to eat? Don’t answer that. You people out there who just “forget to eat”…I have issues with you. I’m kidding. Sort of. 

For my sister’s baby shower, I made white chocolate popcorn with pink, green, and white M&M candies.
It looked cute bagged up, and it tastes good. We placed a framed sign on the table with the favors that said ‘Ready to pop’. My cousin made it and it was very cute (it was also done in pink and green), but somehow I didn’t get a picture. That’s the downside to hosting a party, it’s hard to get as many pics!
The popcorn was tied with pink and white curling ribbon and I found little strollers, pacifiers and baby blocks at a dollar store (The Dollar Tree), so we tied those to each bag. It’s similar to the Birthday Cake Batter Popcorn party favors I did for my daughter’s 10th bday party.

White Chocolate Candy Popcorn

*The amounts are going to vary depending on how much you want to make. We made 25 favor bags, and I am guessing it was about 2 cups per bag, maybe a little more. The recipe is for one ‘batch’ and I doubled it.
 
12 cups popped popcorn (1/2 cup unpopped kernels)
1 (24 oz) package of white almond bark or white chocolate chips, melted
*sea salt (optional)
desired candy or sprinkles
  • In a large bowl, pour the melted chocolate or almond bark over the prepared popcorn.
  • Stir to mix.
  • Spread chocolate covered popcorn out on wax paper.
  • *Sprinkle with sea salt if desired (this is not needed if using salted microwave popcorn. I used plain popcorn from my air popper) You can also skip the salt all together, but I like the sweet-salty combo.
  • Add candy to popcorn BEFORE CHOCOLATE HARDENS. Lightly press candy down onto the popcorn. (You can mix the candy in with the chocolate, but then it gets covered in white chocolate so it’s not as pretty. I like to add it on the tops, you just have to work quickly before the chocolate hardens.)
  • Once chocolate/bark is set, break apart and place in bags.
This simple recipe can be adapted to pretty much any party or theme. Just change up the candy used, add sprinkles, etc. I don’t recommend making it more than 24 hours in advance because the chocolate coating causes the popcorn to get soft…it’s still good however!
If looking for a good party punch, you can check out this post.
If looking for more baby shower ideas, you can check out my Baby Shower Pinterest Board.
I may be linking up at any of the following – (Monday) The Tumbleweed ContessaThe Dedicated HouseSkip to my LouMaking the World CuterI Should Be Mopping the FloorHuckleberry Love (Tuesday) Tickle My Tastebuds TuesdaySowdering About in SeattleNaptime CreationsMandy’s Recipe Box, Memories By the Mile,Inside BruCrew LifeVMG206Anyonita Nibbles,Tasty Tuesdays (Wednesday) The Newlyweds PilgrimageFluster BusterMostly Homemade MomAdorned from AboveLady Behind the Curtain,Ginger Snap CraftsNaptime is My TimeTessa the Domestic Diva (Thursday) Project Inspire,Joyful HomemakingMiz Helen’s Country CottageLamberts Lately (Friday) Foodtastic FridaysJust Us FourBacon Time with the Hungry Hungry HypoDiana RamblesThe Better BakerThe Best Blog Recipes,Close to Home30 Handmade DaysA Peek Into My Paradise,The Jenny Evolution Walking on SunshineVintage Chic (Saturday) Six Sisters’ StuffMade from Pinterest

Sparkling Pineapple-Lime Punch {and Baby Shower Beverages}

Anyone who knows me knows that my sister is having her first baby very soon *squeal* and they also know that I recently gave her a baby shower. The colors for the shower were white, pink and green. As I was perusing Pinterest for ideas, I saw this punch recipe. The vivid green caught my attention and I thought it would look good on the beverage table with the pink lemonade we were serving.

A couple of things….first, those are mint leaves! For a baby shower, I probably should have removed the leaves, or really muddled them better. It kinda looks like my ducks are swimming in some very realistic pond water. (However, it gave me the idea that this punch would be awesome at Halloween. Take out the fruit and ducks, add in some creepy frogs/eyeballs etc…perfect!)
Other than the floating mint leaves/lily pads (haha) the punch was a pretty color and the best part – it was very good! Several people commented on it (and no one said it looked like pond water – except my middle child…which comes as no surprise to me. Who said honesty is the best policy? Oh yeah, that was me. *sigh*) It reminded me a little of a mojito, and you could easily add in some rum to make an adult, non-baby-on-board, beverage!
So – pretty color, tastes great, and EASY to make – that makes it a keeper in my book!

Sparkling Pineapple-Lime Punch

1 bunch fresh mint, stems removed

2 packs Kool-Aid Lemon-Lime Flavor Unsweetened Drink Mix

2 qt. (8 cups) pineapple juice, chilled

1 (2 L) bottle of carbonated lemon-lime soda, chilled (7-Up, Sprite, etc)

1 lemon, cut lengthwise in half, then sliced crosswise (I just quartered mine…oops)

1 lime, sliced

  • Muddle mint with the dry Kool-Aid. This can be done in the punch bowl or in a separate bowl using anything with a flat bottom or with a wooden spoon.
  • Once mint and Kool Aid are muddled together, pour in the chilled pineapple juice. Stir until Kool Aid is dissolved.
  • Add lemon, lime and 2 L soda just before serving.

Note: I made an ice ring with about a half quart of the pineapple juice, along with some whole mint leaves. This is optional, but helps keep the punch cold without watering it down.

 Recipe Source: Kraft

The green punch, aka ‘green juice’ as my sister referred to it, was served in a punch bowl I’ve had forevah. The pink lemonade, with slices of lime, was served in a glass drink dispenser that I picked up at TJ Maxx or Marshall’s relatively cheap. A tip about the the drink dispensers with the spout at the bottom – they either have to sit on the edge of the table/counter or they need to be on some type of stand. An inverted cake plate works great if your dispenser doesn’t come with a stand! We also had water bottles available…

The labels were a free printable from Over the Big Moon. We just cut them out and used packing tape to tape them on. The tape also helps keep them from ripping. If your water bottles are going to be in ice, or are cold and going to ‘sweat’, you may want to consider laminating them first. Ain’t nobody got time fo’ dat.

*Baby Shower Pinterest Board if interested*

I may be linking up at any of the following – (Monday) The Tumbleweed ContessaThe Dedicated HouseSkip to my LouMaking the World CuterI Should Be Mopping the FloorHuckleberry Love (Tuesday) Tickle My Tastebuds TuesdaySowdering About in SeattleNaptime CreationsMandy’s Recipe Box, Memories By the Mile,Inside BruCrew LifeVMG206Anyonita Nibbles,Tasty Tuesdays (Wednesday) The Newlyweds PilgrimageFluster BusterMostly Homemade MomAdorned from AboveLady Behind the Curtain,Ginger Snap CraftsNaptime is My TimeTessa the Domestic Diva (Thursday) Project Inspire,Joyful HomemakingMiz Helen’s Country CottageLamberts Lately (Friday) Foodtastic FridaysJust Us FourBacon Time with the Hungry Hungry HypoDiana RamblesThe Better BakerThe Best Blog Recipes,Close to Home30 Handmade DaysA Peek Into My Paradise,The Jenny Evolution Walking on SunshineVintage Chic (Saturday) Six Sisters’ StuffMade from Pinterest

Delicious 5-Minute Chocolate Frosting

Over the years I’ve tried several different variations of frosting. Most are the same basic ingredients with slightly different sugar to cocoa ratios and varying amounts of added liquid (some call for milk, some cream, etc.). Finally, I think I’ve found THE one. This will be my quick and easy go-to recipe from now on because of its great chocolate flavor and super creamy, easy, spreadable consistency.

I love that it whips up in just a few minutes, with just a few ingredients.
And it’s creamy and spreadable..but not so soft that it slides right off!
You can take 5 minutes to whip this up with butter, sugar, vanilla, cocoa and milk or you can buy the canned version with palm oil, high maltose corn syrup, distilled monoglycerides, polysorbate 60, and the list goes on.
The key to a great frosting is not only the texture/consistency, but even more important…the flavor! The amount of desired chocolate flavor is going to vary from person to person. I love dark chocolate, but some of my family prefers milk chocolate.  For us, I found the perfect compromise by combining regular and dark cocoa powder.

5 Minute Chocolate Frosting

1 cup butter, softened
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup cocoa (I used 3/4 cup regular Hershey’s cocoa and 1/4 cup Hershey’s Dark)
4 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup half and half (mine was fat free, can also use milk of choice)
  • In a large mixing bowl, add softened butter and vanilla. Mix until creamy.
  • Add cocoa. Mix until blended.
  • Add 2 cups powdered sugar and half of the creamer (or milk). Slowly mix together (to prevent having sugar all over your entire kitchen!) Mixture is going to get thick.
  • Add remaining 2 cups powdered sugar and remaining milk. Stir until well blended and creamy.
If frosting is not at desired consistency: 
-too thick? add small amounts of milk until desired consistency is reached
-too thin? add small amounts of powdered sugar or cocoa until desired consistency is reached
Recipe adapted from Discount Queens
NOTE: I made a double batch to frost this 4 layer cake, however, I had a lot leftover. It freezes great! Place leftover frosting in a sealed container in the freezer, when ready to use again allow to thaw and then mix well to “fluff” it up again!
My son was very specific on what kind of birthday cake he wanted for his 6th birthday. He wanted four layers, chocolate cake, chocolate icing, with M&M’s and Kit Kats on top! He also picked out his Lego candles. Nothing fickle about this kid…he knows exactly what he wants! What can I say…my boy has his mama’s heart and generally gets what he wants!

Happy 4th and good riddance Hurricane Arthur!

Well, Hurricane Arthur decided to make an appearance just in time to ruin a lot of folks’ July 4th plans…lots of people left the beach, fireworks were cancelled/postponed, cookouts were abandoned…BUT Arthur is out of here and thankfully no major damage was done (that I know of). Some minor wind damage, and routine flooding, but nothing compared to what a hurricane is capable of, nor what we’ve experienced around here in the past. For that, I am grateful! I hope everyone else fared as well as my family and friends did. In light of all that, I didn’t make any goodies for the 4th, but here are a few quick and easy things I’ve done in the past, and may do before the weekend is over!


Red, White and Blue Kabobs – quick and easy…no oven required!


Patriotic Sweet and Salty Bark – also no baking/cooking required


Strawberry Spectacular – add blueberries to make it red,white and blue!


Red, White, and Blueberry Overnight Oats – okay, so probably not something you are going to serve a crowd, but hey, it’s patriotic 🙂


Chocolate Covered Strawberry Pizza – there are so many variations for this easy fruit pizza..if you made this with white chocolate and added some red and blue sprinkles or colored sugar, or blueberries…could also use a sweetened cream cheese spread as the “sauce”, then top with strawberries and blueberries…yumm


Top this Weight Watchers low fat Cherry Angel Food Cake with light whipped topping and blueberries – and you have a treat without all the guilt…

And I guess there is more to life than dessert…
Hot dog - All the way
Whip up this 3 ingredient chili in no time at all – it’s quick, easy, and best of all…delicious! I’ve made this many times.


This lightened up Loaded Potato Salad makes a great side for any cookout too…

And you need something to drink to wash all this goodness down…

Southern Iced Fruit Tea


Pineapple Margaritas

What’s on tap for your weekend?