Browsing Tag:


Halloween/ Holidays/Parties/ RECIPES/ Sweets

Caramel Apple Biscuits


Fall has arrived and with it is some of my most favorite flavors, holidays & traditions! I love all things about fall– the changing colors of our midwest trees, lighting candles to cozy up on cool fall evenings, and both the color and the taste of caramel!

Halloween is the first fun fall holiday, and with it comes many traditions our family has participated in, old and new.  It has hit hard lately how quickly time passes and I never realized until lately that some traditions are destined for change.  As the years pass, our girls get older and some things that excited & brought joy to them years ago, just are not quite what they used to be!

Trick or treating is one of those things, and will only be done by our youngest this year, which is really hard to believe! The older two used to LIVE for Halloween, with the most anticipated moment being when they arrived back to our warm home & dumped their bags of candy out.  They would immediately start sorting their candy, lining all the ‘likes’ together and trading out their least favorites.  I loved watching it, their rosy cheeks puffed up from smiling so big (and also because they were so full of candy!)


{a recent family photo-2015}

This year, I will be home with my older two girls, Teagan & Colsie, while Todd takes Avery trick-or-treating.  I will make a crockpot full of chili, which is our traditional Halloween meal.  I do not like being in the kitchen on Halloween, so chili in the crockpot is a great way to be able to offer a warm, comforting meal to my family by making it earlier in the day.

I’ve been thinking about what I could make that was sweet for my older 2 girls who are home with me and not out gathering a bunch of candy. I wanted something easy & festive, and I did NOT want to be in the kitchen for very long. I wanted something that would make the house smell like fall and help us make a new traditions of being home together, passing out candy and eating a great dessert instead of trick-or-treating.

 Since I did not want to make anything from scratch, and it IS a holiday after all, I have decided to make my girls Caramel Apple Biscuits using Pillsbury Grands®!

Pillsbury® has been part of a few of our past family traditions, from a family favorite Monkey Bread recipe that came from my aunt, to a Taco Ring recipe from a cousin of mine. Both recipes  have been passed around and are favorites at family potlucks. It is only fitting for Pillsbury® to be a part of our new tradition!


When it comes to special occasions, I am totally at peace with taking shortcuts.  These little Caramel Apple Biscuits were actually inspired by shortcake! A shortcut shortcake.

I did a little practicing on the recipe to make sure what was in my head would actually work, and boy, did it ever!  It turned out beautiful and scrumptious.  I think this sweet will be the perfect follow-up to our spicy chili dinner.




I went to Wal-Mart and took advantage of all things store-bought to keep this recipe short and sweet! I grabbed Pillsbury Grands® Buttermilk Biscuits, some already-made apple pie filling, some caramel bits for melting, and whipped cream. I had butter on hand for coating the tops of the biscuits. This little step made me very happy, as I am a big salted caramel lover, and the saltiness of the butter and the biscuits give this recipe a nice salty/sweet balance. It is so good.


It took no time at all to put together, and I think my girls will be quite impressed with how sophisticated it looks.  Their palates and tastes have become pretty mature, which I love because they appreciate pretty food that has a variety of flavors and textures.

This recipe certainly has a variety of flavors and textures, with the cinnamon-y apples, the tender biscuits with salty-buttery tops, the ooey- gooey caramel drizzled all over, and the creamy whipped cream. It is key to serve it up warm which keep the soft gooey factor to a maximum! It is super shortcut easy, and really delicious — and I can’t wait to serve this new tradition to my girls on Halloween night!


Caramel Apple Biscuits

{a no recipe, recipe}

1 Roll Pillsbury Grands!® Buttermilk Biscuits, warm from the oven

1 can apple pie filling, warmed up a bit

1 pkg. caramel melting bits or plain caramel’s, melted

Whipped cream

Cube of butter


Bake the Pillsbury Grands!® Buttermilk Biscuits according to package directions.  Remove from oven and immediately rub tops of biscuits with the cube of butter.


~Cut the buttered biscuit in half.  Add a scoop of warm apple pie filling to the bottom part of the biscuit.

~Drizzle with melted caramel. Note: You may need to thin with some milk and stir well until drizzle consistency.  I melted mine in the microwave.

~Add the top biscuit.

~Top with a dollop of whipped cream.

~Drizzle the whole thing, including the plate, with more caramel.

~Serve warm



What is your favorite holiday tradition?


{my youngest, Avery, last year in her ‘nerd’ costume, which she made by herself!}

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Pillsbury. The opinions and text are all mine.

HEALTH/ Natural Products

Renewing My Skin With Burt’s Bees & The End Of A Challenge


I’ve come to the end of my Burt’s Bees 28 Day Renewal Challenge and I’m ready to tell you all about it.

When I started the challenge, I immediately fell hard for the Renewal Refining Cleanser because it is so exfoliating.  It has awesome little bits in it that are just the right texture for scrubbing.  Not too rough, but enough to feel like you are getting the skin nice and scrubby clean.

My second most favorite thing about the line is the scent.  I’m a big scent girl, and Burt’s Bees got it spot on with the scent of their Renewal line.  I think it smells earthy with a bit of floral & hint of fruit. Really it smells like nature and health and that is exactly how I would explain how it made my skin feel–super healthy and natural!

After 28 days, I would say my skin is soft, glowy and the lines in my forehead have diminished some.  I especially like the ‘dewy’ type look the products give.  When I see glowy, dewy skin, I see health. That is all I ask for–healthy looking skin!


I was able to stick to my 28 day challenge by doing these 3 things:

1. A cute container.

Keeping my products all together in a cute container in my bathroom was key. They were out in the open on a shelf to remind me to cleanse, within reach and ready -to- grab and get cleaning!

2. Soft, clean wash cloths.

Having a stack of soft, clean wash cloths right next to my products was the perfect way to keep me faithful in my face washing! It reminded me of being in a nice hotel.  There are always clean, white wash cloths ready to use in nice hotels, and I don’t know about you, but in a hotel it is almost a pleasure to wash up and take care of my skin.  Having them stacked and ready to use at home gave me that same feeling.

3. Hydrating.

I know so much beauty comes from within, both from our spirits and from what we put into our bodies.  I made sure I hydrated well during the 28 Day Renewal Challenge, filling my water bottle often with lemon water and also making my favorite smoothies for an extra nutritious treat.

Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 5.19.17 PM

Now that it is the end of the challenge, I will continue the journey and use the products.  I have no complaints about the Renewal line, and I still have a TON of product left, which is really exciting as I have already been using it faithfully for almost a month.  I’m impressed with how concentrated the products are, especially the Renewal Firming Night Cream, so you really don’t have to use very much.  A little goes a long ways!

IMG_4160 {My no makeup ‘after’ picture. I’m months away from 40, so not bad, huh?  Do you see a bit of a glow?}


How about you?  Did you take the 28 Day Renewal Challenge?  Are you going to? You should!  Let me know if you do and what your thoughts on the product are.


This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Burt’s Bees. The opinions and text are all mine.

GF, Vegan & Raw/ Meals/ RECIPES

Creamy Chicken Rice Casserole With Crunchy Buttery Herbed Cracker Topping –Gluten Free


There is nothing like a creamy, comforting chicken rice casserole with a butter crunchy cracker topping.  Back when Todd and I were first married, I made a recipe very similar to this one, but it has not made it into our recipe box in years because the ingredients were not what I would have considered healthy.

When I had the opportunity to come up with a healthy, gluten-free recipe for Breton crackers, a crunchy cracker topped casserole is what immediately came to mind.  I decided to do a little makeover on the recipe that I used to make when we were newlyweds and the results were amazing!

We are no longer newlyweds (we are now going on almost 20 years!) but the flavors of this casserole took me back to those sweet days, and it really made me smile that all 3 of my girls heartily approved of this recipe, too, especially since I don’t make creamy comforting casseroles very often around here!


I started by baking some organic chicken breasts.  I just sprinkled them with grill seasoning and throw them in the oven until done.  These were sliced pretty thin so they only took about 20 minutes at 350 degrees.


I wanted to keep this recipe gluten-free, as we try to limit gluten around here and I also have several extended family members who eat gluten- free.  I love having a few key recipes on hand that are easy to make and fully gluten- free.

The creamy base of this recipe is sour cream and cream of chicken soup.  I used organic sour cream and used Pacific brand cream of chicken soup as it is gluten- free and also free of ingredients that I would not want to feed my family.  I am pretty picky about pre-made cream soups and this brand make me very happy, and also tasted great!


I used brown rice for the base of the casserole for extra fiber and flavor. I used to make the rice separate from casserole, but not this time.  I loved throwing it all in one dish.


After mixing the shredded chicken, sour cream and cream of chicken soup together, simply spread out on top of the rice layer.


Here is where it gets good.  BRETON GLUTEN-FREE HERB & GARLIC CRACKERS.  I’ve done a lot of tasting of gluten-free crackers, and I have not found one with such tender-crisp texture as Breton crackers.  These crackers are so good,–bursting with herb and garlic flavor. They are made with arrowroot and green lentil flours, which make them quite good for you. They can be eaten alone or topped with delicious toppings for a nutritious snack your family will love.  We like to top them with some organic turkey and cheese for an easy protein-filled snack.

There are several flavors:





For this recipe, I crunched up the herb and garlic crackers and drizzled them with a bit of melted organic butter for the crunchy casserole topping.


I use a ziplock bag to keep mess to  minimum.  I crunched one sleeve of Breton Herb and Garlic crackers all up and then drizzled the butter right into the bag, then sealed and did a bit of a shimmy- shake to distribute it evenly.


The crunchy crackers are the last layer to the casserole.  It really is a breeze to throw together, especially if you have pre-cooked chicken and rice ready to go.


Here is the casserole all baked and ready to eat.  You have the chewiness of the brown rice, the creaminess of the chicken mixture, and the crunch of the cracker topping.  It is GOOD…and for me there is the bonus of being taken back to those newlywed days!



Creamy Chicken Rice Casserole With Crunchy Buttery Herbed Cracker Topping

2 cups chopped cooked seasoned chicken

1 10 oz-12oz  cream of chicken soup (Pacific in a box is gluten-free)

1 8 oz carton sour cream

1 1/2 cups Breton Gluten- Free Garlic & Herb crushed crackers ( I used one sleeve)

1/4 cup butter melted

2 1/2 cups brown rice, cooked


Combine chicken, soup, & sour cream. Put rice in 9×13 pan, add chicken mixture & spread out.  Combine crushed crackers and butter in a large ziplock bag.  Sprinkle over chicken mixture.

Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 20-30 minutes or until hot and bubbly


I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

HEALTH/ Nutrition

The Easiest Way To Get Your Probiotics


With 2 teenage girls and one preteen girl, I find myself in a season of life that just feels busy! As much as I try to slow and simplify life, their active lives make my life quite active, too! My Teagan will start driving next year which should help a bit, but in the meantime, I’ve been trying to find simple, daily routines to keep myself in the best health so that I can keep up with my girls!

You all know that I am a 2 time cancer survivor and how important health and immunity is to me. To keep taking care of myself in the middle of teenage busyness has been a goal, and one that I find I can only reach by having simple daily routines.

One of those routines is to make sure I am getting my probiotics. There are several ways to do this, but by far my favorite, most easy & simple way for me to do it is by taking Culturelle® Health & Wellness. I take one every night before I go to bed.


The probiotic in Culturelle works in the digestive tract to help keep the immune system healthy.

*with just one capsule per day, the immune system is provided with a clinical strength serving of 100% Lactobacillus GG containing 15 billion active cultures

​* the probiotic in Culturelle helps your digestive system work better

*its probiotic restores the natural balance of good bacteria in your digestive tract where 70% of the immune system is found

*Culturelle has the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval

*it uses easy -to-open packaging and is an easy-to-swallow capsule –which I appreciate!


It is my immune support made simple.

If you want to purchase Culturelle Health & Wellness, make sure to visit their store locator and click here for an awesome coupon to take along with you.


Add Culturelle Health and Wellness Probiotic to your daily routine with 100% Lactobacillus GG to support your immune system and keep you healthy, so you can be 100% you all day, every day. It’s Immune Support Made Simple.*

With the seal of approval from Good Housekeeping, you can trust the daily intake of the probiotic in Culturelle Health & Wellness to support a healthy immune system.*  Visit Culturelle’s website for more information.

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

††Based on the number of Lactobacillus GG clinical studies, as of August 2014

Official Rules

Culturelle Probiotics sponsored this blog post. The opinions and text are all mine.


Walking Made Fun


Are you still with me on #WalkOutWednesdays? Walk Out Wednesdays are days where Mom’s are walking out on their families for some ‘me’ time.  Walking outdoors for a bit will not just benefit you and your health, but it will also benefit your family to have a Mom who is healthy and takes some time for herself.

I’ve continued using my fun little tool on my walks called the  Omron Alvita Wireless Activity Tracker. It is a small little tracker that I can just put in my pocket, in my purse or clip to my waistband. It keeps track of steps, aerobic steps, distance and calories. I just tap on the screen to see my progress, which is super fun and motivating! It without a doubt makes me want to just keep walking and go further than I normally would.


The Omron Alvita Wireless Activity Tracker is also Bluetooth Smart. You can wirelessly sync your data to the Omron Fitness mobile app on your phone, where you can store months of data, view progress charts and graphs and set personal goals related to steps, miles and calories.  It is super motivating to watch my daily, weekly and monthly progress!

Here are a few more things I do to make walking fun:


 1. Music

Music is a powerful thing.  I switch mine up depending on the mood I am in.  Lately I’ve had some down days, so the combination of uplifting music and getting my exercise walking outdoors has really helped my mood.  I love listening to praise and worship music especially during the spring, where everything is new and blooming.  I have a few different playlists to walk to, one of my favs being all 80’s music!


2. Podcasts

Podcasts are a great way to pass the time while walking.  I love listening to podcasts that can further my business, as it makes me feel super productive to exercise and learn at the same time.  I come home so inspired!  I also love listening to the podcast of my pastor’s sermon if I happen to miss a Sunday at church. Yep…I have church while on my walk!


3. Pretty trails or neighborhoods

We live just a block or so from one of the most beautiful neighborhood areas in town.  The houses are old, several roads are still the original paved with brick, and trees and landscaping are to die for.  I feel so fortunate living so close to such beauty!  When I’m in the mood to see water, I will hop in my car for a 5 minute drive to a nearby lake, which has trails that go all the way around it.  There is something about the early morning sun shimmering off the lake.  So beautiful!


4. With a friend!

This is my favorite way to walk.  I have several friends that I meet with to walk.  It used to be we would meet socially for coffee, but as I brainstormed more ways to get my 10,000 steps in a day, I started asking friends for a walking date instead of a coffee date.  This has worked so well.  I’ve met friends all over town, depending on where they live, which keeps the scenery new.  I have a sweet friend who lives right by a rural trail, so we meet at her house, have a piece of toast (toast always tastes better when someone else makes it!) then off on our walk we go.  I just love it!  It is so fun to get my workout in and my girlfriend time in all at the same time!



How about you? Do you need some ‘me’ time?  Is walking an exercise you think you would enjoy? Do you think it would be motivating to track your progress?

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Omron. The opinions and text are all mine.

HEALTH/ Uncategorized

Walk Out On Wednesdays


It’s time to walk out on your family and friends! Bet you never thought you would read those words on this blog, huh?

I’m suggesting that you join me and other mom’s who are ready for some ‘me’ time on #walkoutwednesdays. It is springtime, and what better way to enjoy spring than on a walk with a friend, getting some much-needed ‘me’ time and exercise at the same time?

Did you know that the average mom only spends 15 minutes a day on themselves? That is must not enough! We do so very much for our families, from carpooling to all of those dinners, running errands…it seems to never stop… so how about a walk out? One that will benefit those much-loved friends and family members.

I’m learning if I don’t take care of myself, I won’t have my best to give to my family, and walking is one of my most favorite ways to take care of my body and mind. I’m especially excited as spring is here and I can leave my treadmill and walk out on my sweet family and into the beautiful outdoors.

Can’t seem to coordinate with a friend? Then walk out alone. Sometimes, especially for us introverts, ‘me time’ at times means alone time. You can walk with a friend, your husband, your dog, or just by yourself. Regardless, just do it!


Here are a few amazing benefits of walking:

~improves heart health by increasing heart rate and circulation

~improves blood pressure

~engages ab muscles

~builds bone mass

~strengthens legs, including quadriceps, hip flexors and hamstrings

~reduces risk of osteoporosis

~works arm and shoulder muscles

~improves balance

~boosts endorphins, easing stress, tension, anger, fatigue and confusion in 10 minutes





Omron Alvita Wireless Activity Tracker

A fun little tool I have been using on my walks is the Omron Alvita Wireless Activity Tracker. It is a small little tracker that I can just put in my pocket, in my purse or clip to my waistband. It keeps track of steps, aerobic steps, distance and calories. I just tap on the screen to see my progress, which is super fun and motivating!


The Omron Alvita Wireless Activity Tracker is Bluetooth Smart. You can wirelessly sync your data to the Omron Fitness mobile app on your phone, where you can store months of data, view progress charts and graphs and set personal goals related to steps, miles and calories. It is super motivating to watch my daily, weekly and monthly progress!

How about you? Do you need some ‘me’ time? Is walking an exercise you think you would enjoy? Do you think it would be motivating to track your progress?

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Omron. The opinions and text are all mine.

Emotional Health/ FAMILY/ Kids/Family/ Sponsored

Family Night With Hallmark Hall Of Fame + Peanut Butter Chocolate Slice Recipe

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Hallmark Hall of Fame for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.


Our family loves movies.

Even before our 3 girls were born, (who are now 15, 13 & 11 years old) you could find Todd and I in our basement in front of the TV with a whole bunch of snacks and a movie.  When our girls came along, they joined us every week for family movie night.  I have vivid memories of them sitting in front of the television in their little portable chairs with a tray, with their faces full of chocolate and smiles.

Now that they are teens, we do our best to continue the tradition each week.  It is not as easy to find a movie we all agree on!

That won’t be an issue this week.  This week I’m planning on making a couple of our family’s favorite snacks, and gathering us all around the television to watch Hallmark Hall of Fame’s“AWAY & BACK” movie.

Hallmark Hall of Fame“AWAY & BACK” Movie

The movie stars Jason Lee and Minka Kelly and the premier is on Sunday, January 25th at 8/7 Central on the Hallmark Channel. It sounds like a movie that we all will enjoy.  It is a heartwarming, family -friendly film that has adventure, humor & romance.

With 3 girls, family-friendly romance is always a fun thing!  My two older girls love it, but my 11 year old just rolls her eyes and moans.  I know she will be fine during “AWAY & BACK” as there is a girl who is just a bit younger than she is in the movie.

What I Know About The Movie

“There is a 10 year old daughter named Frankie (Maggie Elizabeth Jones) in the movie who experiences love at first sight when a family of swans makes their home on the Peterson farm. But along comes no-nonsense ornithologist Ginny Newsom (Minka Kelly), who rushes in to “save” the majestic birds.  For Frankie’s dad Jack (Jason Lee), it’s dislike at first sight when he encounters pushy, know-it-all Ginny.  Frankie and her brothers are anything but neutral observers as they watch the initial hostility between their widowed father and the song-willed Ginny transform into something else.”

How great does that look/sound?  I’m really looking forward to it, and I know my girls will love it.  Todd will appreciate the humor and that the movie is family-friendly.  He also loves any excuse to get the family gathered into the basement for some family-time.

It never fails, when we are all down there together, (in what I call Todd’s domain), I can glance over at him and he just sits there and grins with his eyes. Ever since the day I met him, he has smiled with his eyes and I melt. Aww…can you feel the romance?  Can you just see my little one rolling her eyes?


Hallmark Hall Of Fame

More than 60 years, the Hallmark Hall of Fame has presented original films that entertain, enlighten and inspire.  AWAY & BACK is the latest in the series and is no exception to the Hallmark Hall of Fame legacy!  It is directed by Jeff Blackener, director of Hallmark Hall of Fame fan favorites like Remember Sunday (2013) and Loving Leah (2009).

Enter the AWAY & BACK Trailer – Share to Win Sweepstakes .  Watch the trailer, sign up and share the trailer for a chance to win a family vacation!


Family Movie Night Recipes

2 things we always ‘need’ during our family movie nights is popcorn & chocolate! This Sunday for our Hallmark Hall Of Fame AWAY & BACK movie, I am going to make delicious Raw Peanut Butter Chocolate Slice & pop some popcorn! Chocolate, sweet & salty.  Can’t wait!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Slice

Chocolate Peanut Butter Freezer Slice

6-8 Fresh medjool dates
¼ cup of raisins
1 cup of nuts (they can be mixed nuts or not. I like to use macadamia nuts, Brazil nuts or walnuts)

pinch of good quality salt

1/2 cup cocoa

1/4 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup of honey
2 Tsp of water
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 Tbsp coconut oil (melted) (no substitutes)
2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp peanut butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt

~Place Your nuts into your food processor or high speed blender and process until crumbly.

~Add your dates and raisins and process again. 

~Now add your salt, cocoa, honey and peanut butter.

~ Process till it starts to come together. If the mix is too dry add a little water a bit at a time till the mix sticks together when pressed into a ball. 

~Press this mix into a small lined container. 
Directions For Icing 
Mix cocoa, melted coconut oil, honey, vanilla & a pinch of salt to bring out the flavor. Add water if too thick, if too thin, don’t worry, it will firm up in the freezer.


What About You? 

Do You Have A Regular Family Movie Night?

Are You A Hallmark Hall Of Fame Movie Fan?

What Are Your Favorite Foods To Snack On During A Movie?

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