Confessions of a Stay-At-Home Mom

December 18, 2014

Sweet Stocking Stuffer Ideas

As we finish up our holiday shopping, it's easy to forget the finishing touches. Whether it's ingredients for Christmas Day brunch, wrapping paper for gifts or even a last minute present or two. We find ourselves frantically braving the mall on Christmas Eve, battling lines, and clawing out eyes over that last sweater or overpaying for a measly feet few of wrapping paper just to get the job done.

One of the things I often overlook are the stockings. They looks so pretty and festive throughout the month of December. But it's not until the final hours that I look them over and realize, "Shoot! They need to be filled!"

Luckily, we don't have to overthink stockings. My mom was awesome at keeping them simple and useful. She'd usually fill the stockings with every day items: toothbrushes, packs of gum, deodorant. I loved receiving the little things that I needed on a daily basis!  But even better, my mom would always slip in a few sweet items, and that was always super welcome!

If you find yourself scrambling for stocking stuffers at the last minute, direct your sights to CVS, where you can find both the every day items (toothbrushes, deodorant, gum, hair ties, etc) AND sweet stuff from their Gold Emblem line!  So many of the Gold Emblem treats are perfectly sized for those oversized socks hanging on the mantle! There is something for all the different people in your life:

Flavor Fiend

If you have someone who loves bold flavors, check out Gold Emblem's Habanero Barbeque flavored almonds or the eye-opening Cappuccino Biscotti Bites. Sure to tantalize the palette!


We've all got a few nutty people we love :)  CVS offers a variety of trail mixes chock-full of nuts, as well as nicely-portioned packages of nuts like Cashews. Great to throw in a bag on the way to work or pack in a lunch!

Chocolate Lover

Who doesn't love a little cocoa? The Gold Emblem Select line has some tasty treats for those with a sweet tooth, from the  Gourmet European Dark Chocolate Bar to the variety of filled Milk Chocolate Truffles. We'd all love to see a few of these items in our stocking!

Cookie Monster

Nom nom nom!  Pair these Sea Salt Caramel Shortbread cookies with tea, coffee or crumbled over some ice cream. YES!

Minty Fresh

And for those who like to keep it simple, Soft Peppermint Puffs are a general crowd pleaser. Throw them in your purse or keep them in your car for a hint of freshness wherever you go.

For more holiday ideas from CVS, check out my other posts:

DisclosureI’m proud to partner with CVS/pharmacy for the Gold Emblem and Total Home Prep for Holiday Entertaining campaign. I am being sponsored to help lead this campaign, but all opinions expressed are my own, and all product claims or program details shared should be verified at or with the appropriate manufacturers.

December 17, 2014

Easy Holiday Appetizer

We are officially in the EAT ALL THE THINGS season.

And I kind of love it.

Mainly, I love sampling interesting appetizers, tasting delectable desserts and whipping up fun recipes I find on Pinterest. 

As we know, every recipe starts with one very important thing: quality ingredients. And despite what lies you may hear, not all ingredients are created equal. Sometimes a recipe requires you to go above and beyond the everyday. Sometimes a recipe calls you to take it up a gourmet notch.

Which is why I am a huge fan of the Simply Enjoy line at Giant Food Stores. My love for Giant Food has been well documented (yes, they create the best generic Nutella that one could ask for). But when I am hosting guests or going to a special party, I love going a little upscale with my ingredients. And Simply Enjoy does the trick.

Simply Enjoy is the best of both worlds: gourmet but affordable. These artisan-style foods range from prepared appetizers and desserts to foundation ingredients such as glazes and sauces. And they offer the perfect staples for my favorite 2 ingredient appetizer!

This recipe is a no-brainer go-to for me:

Cream Cheese + Simply Enjoy Pepper Jelly.

That's it.

For those who are like me and need formal directions:

  • 1 block of Cream Cheese (or carton)
  • 1 jar of Simply Enjoy Pepper Jelly
  • Crackers for serving

1) Place block of cream cheese on a serving plate. Alternatively, scoop cream cheese into a decorative serving bowl.

2) Spoon Pepper Jelly over block or bowl of cream cheese.

3) Serve with crackers.

It's a serious crowd pleaser. Serve it alongside Simply Enjoy Pepper and Poppy Water Crackers and you've got an appetizer that will keep guests coming back for more!

For more information on Giant's Simply Enjoy brand, check out their website:

What are YOUR easy holiday appetizer recipes?

It Takes a Village: Giving Back During the Holidays #TwinHillSanta

Can you feel it?  This time of year there seems to be a little extra magic in the air, people seem to smile more, have longer conversations with people they don’t know, hold doors open and find ways to do more kind things for people.  People they may know or they may not.  Its the holidays!  

For some, the holidays is not a time of magic. As a social worker, I saw the needs during the holidays. The stiff upper lips of kids who wouldn't let their lack of presents bring them down. For the haggard parents working night and day yet unable to provide even the smallest things for their children.  

For some, the holidays are a time of hardship, of loneliness, and a harsh reminder of difficult circumstances. It is those people, for the people who stand in need during a time where people are overflowing with so much, that need a holiday miracle the most.

Some people need a little extra magic given to them.

My friend Colleen, who happens to be a food blogger, had the idea to reach out to other bloggers as well as some of their collective contacts to pull off a fantastic holiday surprise for 21 children who live in a small remote village in Alaska where one can only get in or out by bush plane or a small boat via the rough Nushagak River. Over 20 bloggers from PA, NJ & DE jumped on board and #TwinHillsSanta began to take off.

A friend (Dani) of Colleen’s took a position in the village teaching this year, Dani didn’t know what to expect when she packed up and moved from Pennsylvania, however she has already fallen in love with the people, their culture and Alaska.

She has 16 students ages 4-13 and the village has 5 additional kids under 4. There are no places for the 76 residents to work or shop, so they live simply.  They don’t have much.  As a matter of fact while discussing Christmas and Santa recently one day in school, one of the younger kids said simply “Santa doesn’t come to Alaska.”  

Let that sink in for a second….

This year...these kids have one heck of a surprise in-store for them!!

We reached out to some of our contacts and I am so humbled and thrilled to share with you that they hopped right on board!  

Lee Jeans is sending clothes to the kids, those kids are going to be so excited and well dressed!!

CVS Pharmacy is sending all kinds of personal products from toothbrushes to scrubbies and body washes, & shampoos to chapsticks, candy, small toys and much more!

Nuby USA jumped in to send the younger children sippy cups, infant and toddler toothbrushes & toothpaste, toys and fun feeding plates & utensils!  

Tyrrells English Chips (who has the most fun website BTW)  sent cases of their crazy delicious chips - those kids are going to be happily crunching away with a new-to-them snack!

And speaking of snacks, Pretzel Crisps sent cases of their crazy-good pretzels - Boy are the kiddos in for a tasty treat! I see new fans just ahead!

Educational Insights was happy to send the kids learning games, reading games, puzzle toys and more.  These kids are going to be happy, busy and fine tuning their skills as they play!

Kind Snacks shipped some of their healthy AND tasty Kind Bars to the kids, those will get them pumped up and full of energy!

And DecoArt sent a bunch of craft supplies to the kids who I hear are LOVE making things and crafting any chance they get, they are going to be blown away!

How awesome are these 7 companies who said YES to pay-it-forward!  When stories like this reach my ears it makes me an even more loyal customer OR it makes me want to try/support a brand I am not familiar with!  Thank you all!

All of the bloggers involved made sure every kids will get a new pair of pajamas, hats, scarves, gloves and more!  Then additional friends, some bloggers and many not heard what was happening and either grabbed USPS flat rate boxes or hopped on Amazon to send stuff the kids way!

I can’t wait to share more specifics, which I will do in January once I get the intel from Dani as to how it all went.  The pilot who flies in and out of Twin Hills with deliveries won’t know what hit him and neither will the post office!  

Magic is in the air!!  When people come together...great things happen!

Thank you Lee Jeans, CVS Pharmacy, Nuby USA, Tyrrells English Crisps, Pretzel Crisps, Educational Insights, Kind Snacks and DecoArt for making THIS a very special Christmas for 21 children, who I know are going to be so very grateful!

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