Posts by shorts:

    Host Without the Hassle

    November 17th, 2017
    This conversation is sponsored by Cracker Barrel.  All opinions are my own.

    The holiday season can be a stressful and chaotic time. Between attending holiday parties, shopping, meal planning, baking, gift wrapping, and entertaining, there never seems to be enough time especially when you are hosting. Even though the holiday food is all the talk, the holidays are really about spending time with loved ones and reflecting on the good things in life. This is challenging when you are spending endless hours in the kitchen.

    But it doesn’t have to be stressful. Whenever I host a holiday dinner, I tend to be pretty low-key. From the food to the decor, simple is best! After all, you are there to enjoy your friends and family!

    Host without the Hassle

    Ask for help. There’s nothing wrong with asking your guests for a little help. Does Aunt Mary make the best green bean casserole? Ask her to make it! By focusing on a few dinner items yourself, you won’t stress yourself over every little detail. Another way to ask for help? Get everyone involved in the clean up.

    Here me out. This is where my family has made  a lot of holiday memories. From who is the better dishwasher or giving my mom a hard time about using plastic plates, we relive these moments every single year. And as much as you may not want to wash the dishes or put away the leftovers, it is really one of my favorite times of the holiday.s

    Set the table in advance. Now here’s where I tend to put more effort. I will admit, I love a nicely set table. But it doesn’t have to be anything extreme. Some nice plates. A few candles. Your table will set the mood of your dinner. Cracker Barrel Old Country Store is offering some very unique and special holiday dinnerware patterns for the holidays making it super simple to set your table.

    I love the Woodland set because you can use it for multiple holidays. It doesn’t scream just one holiday which means you can use it all year round.

    Grab the pre-made pie. Yes. Get the pre-made pie. Get the pre-made sides while you’re at it. Cracker Barrel makes it easy to host without the hassle. You can order your Thanksgivng meal and/or pick up Heat n’ Serve Pies. There are a variety of whole pies available during the Thanksgiving and Holiday season available for in-store pickup.

    Visit to bring #JoyToTheTable this holiday season.  How are you sharing joy this season?  Share on social media using the hashtag #JoyToTheTable.

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    Sweet Potato Casserole

    November 15th, 2017
    This easy sweet potato casserole is made with grated sweet potatoes and baked to perfection!

    Confession: I only started eating sweet potatoes about a year ago. And boy have I been missing out. Every Thanksgiving, my mom made these sweet and gooey sweet potatoes that I would turn my nose up at. Why? I have no idea. They had everything a kid could want: a lot of brown sugar and a lot of butter.

    Now that I have been incorporating sweet potatoes in our own meals it had me thinking about my mom’s sweet potatoes. Instead of trying to take over her own recipe, I thought I make my own sweet potato dish for the holidays. And this sweet potato casserole is it!

    Unlike traditional sweet potato casseroles, the base is grated sweet potatoes instead of mashed. While I am guessing you could use mashed sweet potatoes for this casserole, the grated sweet potatoes add great texture and make the dish light and airy.

    If you are making this casserole for Thanksgiving, you can prep it a few days in advance and have it chill in the refrigerator. Before baking, let it sit out and get to room temperature. You can pop this sweet potato casserole in the oven after you take out the turkey to rest!

    Sweet Potato Casserole

    Sweet Potato Casserole
    • 4 eggs, beaten
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1 cup milk
    • ¼ cup butter or margarine, melted
    • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    • ¼ teaspoon each salt, ground cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice
    • 3 cups shredded uncooked sweet potatoes
    1. In a bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, milk and butter.
    2. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice.
    3. Stir into the egg mixture with sweet potatoes.
    4. Transfer to a greased 8-in. square baking dish. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 40-45 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.
    Tips for making sweet potato casserole:

    • Use a food processor instead of a box grater to grate your sweet potatoes.
    • Want a crunchy top? Top your casserole with pecans.

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    Classic Pound Cake

    November 15th, 2017
    A Classic Pound Cake recipe makes one of the most versatile cakes for all occasions.
    This post is sponsored by Keller’s Creamery. ALL OPINIONS ARE MY OWN.

    We are headed into my favorite time of the year: the holidays. From the family get togethers to the amazing food on the table, what is there not to love? Thanksgiving kicks the festivities off. My family likes to keep things low-key with waking up to watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade that leads us right into watching an afternoon of football!

    Thanksgiving is the time where families come together over an amazing meal and even more amazing desserts. While we have pumpkin pie and apple pie and all the other pies you can think of, my favorite Thanksgiving dessert we have is the most non-traditional Thanksgiving dessert there is: Classic Pound Cake. You see, there’s a famous bakery in Philadelphia that sells the most amazing pound cakes. You have to order in advance or risk standing in a really long line to grab one.

    If you forget to order yours (like I usually do), you can easily make one at home! It’s a simple, classic recipe that is as basic as can be. Pound Cake, after all, got its name from its ingredients: a pound of flour, a pound of eggs, a pound of sugar, and a pound of butter. Lots and lots of delicious, smooth and creamy butter.

    And Philadelphians love their butter! Did you know that Philadelphia is the third largest butter market in the country? In fact, last Thanksgiving, Philadelphians bought more than 2.5 million pounds of butter.* That’s enough sticks of butter to run Rocky’s path up the Philadelphia Museum of Art steps 28,693 times. Maybe that’s why this Classic Pound Cake is so popular around Thanksgiving.

    Classic Pound Cake

    Classic Pound Cake
    Serves: 2 loaves
    • 1 pound (3¼ cups) all-purpose flour
    • 1 tablespoon coarse salt
    • 4 sticks softened Keller's unsalted butter, plus more for pans
    • 2 cups sugar
    • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    • 9 large, room-temperature eggs
    • 3 Tbsp. Butter, soft but not melted
    • 1½ c. powdered sugar
    1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter two 5-by-9-inch loaf pans. Combine all-purpose flour and salt in a bowl.
    2. Cream butter and sugar with a mixer on high speed until pale and fluffy, for 8 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl. Reduce speed to medium, and add vanilla extract.
    3. Lightly beat eggs, and add to mixer bowl in 4 additions, mixing thoroughly after each and scraping down sides. Reduce speed to low, and add flour mixture in 4 additions, mixing until just incorporated. Divide batter between pans. Tap on counter to distribute; smooth tops.
    4. Bake until a tester inserted into center of each cake comes out clean, about 65 minutes. Let cool in pans on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Remove from pans, and let cool completely on wire rack.
    5. To make the icing, combine the butter and powdered sugar, and beat until smooth and creamy. Evenly spread the frosting over the top of the loaf. Refrigerate to let frosting set completely before slicing. Refrigerate any leftovers in an airtight container.

    As a Philadelphia family tradition since 1906, Keller’s Creamery knows many Thanksgiving dishes simply wouldn’t have the same great flavor without the smooth, creamy taste of Keller’s Creamery butter. About 22 percent would rather give up Philly cheesesteak for a year than have a Thanksgiving with no butter!** That’s how serious we Philadelphians are about our butter and Thanksgiving. That’s why you’ll always find Keller’s Creamery on our Thanksgiving table.

    *According to an October 2017 Survata survey of 717 Philadelphian adults.
    **According to November 2016 industry data.

    You can purchase Keller’s festive turkey butter sculptures as well as salted and unsalted butter sticks at your local grocery store (I buy mine at ACME Market).

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    Hosting a Stress-Free Thanksgiving

    November 15th, 2017
    Hosting Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be stressful! Follow my top tips for having a stress-free Thanksgiving!

    Thank you to Ocean Spray for sponsoring this blog post. All opinions are my own.

    Now that Halloween is over, it’s time to start thinking about our next holiday, Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving really does kick off the entire holiday season and it can be stressful if you don’t plan ahead. With our busy lives and schedules, it’s easy to “forget” about upcoming events. And, before you know it, Thanksgiving will creep right up on you!

    If you host the annual Thanksgiving dinner or maybe it’s your first time hosting and have no clue what you are doing, you want to start your planning now! By planning ahead you can ensure you will have stress-free Thanksgiving and actually enjoy the holiday with your friends and family.

    I recently attended a first-time host CranMa’s Thanksgiving bootcamp! They gave us plenty of tips on how to rock a Thanksgiving dinner. From prepping your food in the days leading up to Thanksgiving to setting the perfect Thanksgiving table (with cranberries, of course), these CranMas were the ultimate source on all things Thanksgiving. Their tips were so good, I can’t keep them to myself!

    Ready to host a stress-free Thanksgiving with the help of the CranMas?

    Hosting a Stress-Free Thanksgiving

    Prepare Your Menu

    Plan as much as you can ahead of time. I know I keep saying that but it really is key. Start thinking about the following things:

    • What will the menu include? Don’t forget your side dishes like Cranberry Orange Relish or Sweet Potato Casserole.
    • Will you prepare the entire meal or will others bring food as well?
    • Keep track of who will prepare and bring which dishes so you’ll know what needs to be cooked and you don’t end up with too many deviled eggs and desserts with no other sides.

    Prep Your Food

    Next, consider what you can do ahead of time rather than waiting until the week or day of Thanksgiving. Which of the dishes can be prepared in advance? CranMa Mary Ann likes to prep her Sweet Potato Souffle a few days ahead of time. One less thing you have to worry about on Thanksgiving day! Some things you might be able to do a few days or a week before the holiday include:

    • Bake a cake and freeze the layers; you can take them out the day before to thaw and frost. If you are topping your cakes with fruit, like cranberries, wait to add them until the day of.
    • Make a couple of pies and freeze them as far in advance as you can. As Thanksgiving Day arrives you can take the pie out, thaw it and heat it up. It’ll taste just like it was just made.
    • Casseroles can also be made a day or so ahead of time. Prepare the casserole, place it in the refrigerator and then cook it on Thanksgiving Day.
    • Take your turkey out in plenty of time for it to defrost safely in the refrigerator.

    Setting the Table

    Another thing you can do to lessen the stress of a Thanksgiving dinner party is to determine how many and who will attend so you can plan seating for everyone.

    • How many tables and chairs will you need?
    • Will you have enough seating or will you have to borrow tables and chairs?

    Place the tables and chairs so everyone has a seat. Decorate the tables and then put all the place settings out. CranMa Sue shared with us that she sets her table the week ahead! If you can keep the kids from touching the table that long, get it done and over with! If you can’t set the table a week ahead, try and do it at least a few days ahead of time. This way you know if you need any extra plates or chairs.

    • Do you have a seating plan to ensure everyone is comfortable and family members who don’t get along so well don’t have to be seated next to each other?
    • Put name tags at each seat so everyone knows where to sit.

    When it comes to decorating your table, think simple! Place some cranberries in water and top with floating candles. Or string some cranberries on wire to make napkin rings. You don’t have to get crazy to add these simple touches to your table.

    Prepping the House

    Now the dreaded part, the cleaning. Ask your family to help pitch in to ensure at least the rooms guests will spend time in are clean. Rather than waiting to clean up, wash dishes as you cook. Enlist several people to help act as the clean-up crew after the meal.

    The more you can plan and do prior to the day, the less stress you’ll be likely to experience. And the more you can enjoy your family and friends. Remember to have fun and be thankful for those who have shared the day with you.

    And when all else fails, ask CranMa! Have questions on how to make your dinner perfect? Chat with CranMa anytime on Ocean Spray’s new CranMa chatbot!

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


    75+ Handmade Gifts Under $5

    November 13th, 2017

    Don’t let your budget deter you from having an enjoyable Christmas season. This is a time to remember: It’s not all about the cost of the gift, but the thought that you put into the gift. Yes, there are those who may feel different, but for the people who are close to you in your life, they are more likely to be appreciative of the time and care you put into the gift than how much money you spent on it. People love being recognized and thought of, and managing your budget with handmade Christmas gifts is a wonderful opportunity to show how much you care.

    Here are 75+ Handmade Gift ideas to get you going!

    75+ Handmade Gifts Under $5


    DIY Key Fobs from Lil Luna


    Mason jar sewing kit from Momtastic


    Easy Scrapbooking Coasters from See Mom Click


    Jewelry Storage from Monaluna


    Oven mittens from I Heart Nap time


    Macaron Coin Purse from Craft Passion


    Etched Hot Cocoa Jar from Oopsey Daisy


    Beaded Leather Wristlet from I Always Pick the Thimble


    Homemade {Stress Relieving} Foot Soak from View From the Fridge


    Camera strap cover with pocket from Life After Laundry


    Dainty Leather Clutch from I Am Momma


    Homemade Lime and Mint Soak & Printable from Tidy Mom


    DIY Floral Spoons from Smart School House


    Photo Puzzle Block from Somewhat Simple


    Berry Basket Succulent Planters from The Happy Housie


    Rose Gold Foiled Pencil Cup from Damask Love


    5 minute infinity scarf from Sweet C’s Designs


    DIY Headband from Craft Snob


    Glitter State Art from The Effortless Chic


    Birch Pillar DIY Candle Holder from DIY Candy


    Stenciled Tea Towels from Number 2 Pencil


    Colorful Chalkboard Calendar from Hawthorne & Main


    Foaming Bath Soap from Paula Deen Network


    DIY Milk and Honey Soap from Happiness is Homemade


    Upcycling DIY button rings from Lana Red


    Jewelry Tray from Style Me Pretty


    Hello There Stenciled Flower Pots from Little Red Window


    Pop-Up Photo Box from The DIY Village


    A Gift For Grandma from Eighteen 25


    Simple hand warmers from Sugar Bee Crafts


    DIY Painted Basket from A Thoughtful Place


    Tea Towel Gift Set from The Casual Craftlete

    Adorable Mini Succulent Planters that make lovely favors or small gifts! Find out more at

    Mini Succulent Planters from Live Laugh Rowe


    DIY Jewelry Dish Plate Organizer from Cleverly Simple


    Terra Cotta Coasters from Jaderbomb


    DIY Photo Display Stand from Seven Thirty Three


    Mason Jar Soap Dispensers from Love Grows Wild


    Mason Jar Oil Lamps from Fave Things


    DIY Beach Bag from The Melrose Family


    Beeswax Candle from Oh Happy Day


    Plastic Toy Planter from Little Bit Funky


    DIY “Fancy” Tumbler from Pretty Providence


    Picture Frame Pin Cushion from Love Grows Wild


    Cupcake stands from Giver’s Log


    Gingerbread Sugar Scrub from A Pumpkin and A Princess


    Marbled Clay Dish from A Beautiful Mess


    DIY Cookie Cutter Set from Yellow Bliss Road

    IMG_3202_edited-1 copy

    Year Long Gift In A Frame from Eighteen 25


    Chalkboard mug from Wit & Whistle


    Birds Nest Necklaces from Sarah Ortega


    Fabric Covered Message Board from Rain on a Tin Roof


    Chalkboard Coasters from Honey Bear Lane


    Monogram Ring Dish from Simply Darrling


    $5 Chalkboard from Shanty 2 Chic


    Tea cup candles from Everything Fab


    DIY Ipad Stand from Shanty 2 Chic


    Wood Caddy with Rope Handles from Making Home Base


    Peppermint candy can sugar scrub from The Idea Room


    DIY Wood Burning Projects from DIY Ready


    Snow Globes from Whipperberry


    Avocado Cucumber and Oats Soap from The Casual Craftlete


    Oh the Places You’ve Lived Map Decor from Mabey She Made It


    Instagram Coasters from Tatertots & Jello


    Terrarium Kit from Wit and Whistle


    Stitched Handprint Keepsake from 30 Days Blog


    Sunglasses case from Positively Splendid


    DIY Wheatgrass Planter from Design Dining and Diapers


    Marbled Polymer Clay Statement Ring from Pitter and Glink


    Reversible Cup Sleeves from Crafty Staci


    Gold Mousepad from Homey Oh My


    Project Life Notebooks from A Pumpkin & A Princess


    DIY Hello Sign from The Crafted Sparrow


    Cable Cozy from Live it. Love it. Make it.


    DIY Chalkboard Tray from Hello Lidy


    Etched Oil Bottle from Love Grows Wild

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    How to Make Homemade Pasta

    November 13th, 2017
     This homemade pasta dough recipe is made from scratch by hand the Italian way with flour, eggs, olive oil, and salt. Fresh and easy.

    Growing up Italian, we only had homemade pasta a few times a year, usually around the holidays. My dad had a fancy pasta machine and we would wake up the noise on Christmas morning. Fresh, homemade pasta was a treat and everyone looked forward to it.

    This year, I decided to take over the pasta making duties for my own family’s Thanksgiving memories. I don’t have a the fancy machine but I do have a vintage pasta crank (passed down from my husband’s grandmother). There’s something so simple about forming a simple pasta dough and cranking it through the machine. And it’s a lot easier than you think!

    How to Make Homemade Pasta

    I am going to walk you through making homemade pasta but there’s a printable recipe below!

    To make our homemade pasta, we’re using all-purpose flour and sea salt. You can also use semolina flour if you have it on hand. Mix the flour and sea salt together in a large bowl or on a flat surface.

    In a separate bowl, beat 3 large eggs plus 2 egg yolks and olive oil. Create a well in the center of the flour, pushing the flour out to the side to make a 1-inch-wide ring. Make sure that the well is wide enough to hold all the eggs without spilling. Pour the beaten eggs and oil into the well.

    Now it’s time to get your hands into it! Using your fingers begin turning the eggs in a circular motion, keeping them within the well and not allowing them to spill over the sides. Keep moving the eggs while slowly incorporating the flour. The mixture will thicken and eventually get too tight to keep turning with your fingers.

    When the mixture begins thickening and starts forming a dough, bring the dough together with the palms of your hands and form into a ball. Take the dough out of the bowl and using a clean work surface, knead the dough for 10-15 minutes by pressing it, bit by bit, in a forward motion with the heels of your hands rather than folding it over on itself as you would with a bread dough.

    The dough is ready when you can pull your finger through it and the dough wants to snap back into place. You cannot over knead this dough! Wrap the dough in plastic wrap to ensure that it does not dry out. Let the dough rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes and up to an 1 hour before rolling it through a pasta machine.

    Now you’re ready to feed the dough into your pasta machine. Dust the rollers with a little all-purpose or semolina flour so the pasta doesn’t stick. While dusting, spin the rollers to coat them with a very thin layer of flour.

    Flatten the dough on the end you’ll be feeding into the pasta machine. The rollers will catch it and pull it through. Set the rollers to the largest setting (the 1 setting). Feed the dough through the machine, fold into thirds, and roll again.

    Repeat this process, narrowing the roller settings as you go, until the dough is your desired thickness. I have found that I end up going up to the number 4 setting. The dough should be smooth, shiny, a little moist, and have no cracks or blemishes.

    You are ready to start cutting noodles! To make a fettucine noodle, feed your dough through the fettucine noodle cutter on the pasta machine and dust it with flour while spinning the rollers. Feed one end of the pasta sheet into the rollers. Pass the entire sheet to go through the cutters, then dust the noodles lightly with flour or cornmeal so they don’t stick together. If you skip this step, you’ll end up with a blob of pasta.

    At this point, you can either hang your pasta on the drying racks or throw it in a pot of hot boiling water. Remember, fresh pasta cooks fast! It only takes a few minutes in the water to cook.


    How to Make Homemade Pasta
    Serves: 4
    • 2 to 2½ cups of all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspon sea salt
    • 3 large eggs, another egg can be added if dough is dry
    • 2-3 large yolks
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    1. In a large bowl, add 2 cups of flour and sea salt. Mix to distribute salt evenly. Create a well in the center, pushing the flour out to the side to make a 1-inch-wide ring. Make sure that the well is wide enough to hold all the eggs without spilling.
    2. Crack 3 whole eggs and 2 yolks in separate bowl. Use a fork to break the eggs up.
    3. Pour the beaten eggs and oil into the well. Using your fingers begin turning the eggs in a circular motion, keeping them within the well and not allowing them to spill over the sides. Keep moving the eggs while slowly incorporating the flour. The mixture will thicken and eventually get too tight to keep turning with your fingers.
    4. If the dough is extremely dry and crumbly, add the additional egg yolk.
    5. When the mixture begins thickening and starts forming a dough, bring the dough together with the palms of your hands and form into a ball.
    6. Take the dough out of the bowl and using a clean work surface, knead the dough for 10-15 minutes by pressing it, bit by bit, in a forward motion with the heels of your hands rather than folding it over on itself as you would with a bread dough.
    7. The dough is ready when you can pull your finger through it and the dough wants to snap back into place. You cannot over knead this dough!
    8. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap to ensure that it does not dry out. Let the dough rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes and up to an 1 hour before rolling it through a pasta machine.