This post is sponsored by St. Martin’s Press. Thank you for supporting our sponsors!
Are you looking for a way to escape the back-to-school chaos?
Lucky for you, I have the perfect thriller and cocktail to escape with this fall.
Today I’m sharing about the new twisty thriller from T.M. Logan called, “Lies,” and I’m pairing it with a new Candy Apple Martini recipe to sip while you are indulging in this suspenseful read
If you haven’t yet heard of T.M. Logan it is because he is making his debut this month with, “Lies.” Logan is a seasoned writer who has worked as a national newspaper journalist. This is why, perhaps, this book does not seem like a debut at all.
In this story, our lead character, Joe Lynch, is driving home from work with his young son. He happens to see his wife’s car ahead of him and decides to follow her and ends up witnessing a secret rendezvous with another man. This encounter threatens to tear the two families apart and Joe finds that he is being set up for a murder that he never committed.
If you are a fan of Peter Swanson’s writing, I have a feeling you are going to absolutely love this thriller. Logan expertly weaves the plot of this story so well that you will find yourself questioning just who is innocent and who is guilty.
Even more than that though, we all know that a satisfying thriller has a twisty conclusion that we don’t see coming and Logan not only keeps the reader on their toes throughout the story, but he also manages to add smart twists that even a seasoned thriller reader just won’t expect.
Logan really goes to great lengths to help us explore the question, can we ever really trust those closest to us? I absolutely loved this thriller and finished it in a single day. It was the perfect way to unwind from the craziness of back-to-school season.
I know as moms it can be difficult to carve out time for ourselves, particularly during this time of year. The thing is, more than ever it is important to incorporate self-care activities that fill your cup too. Reading, for me, has always been my self-care outlet.
In busy seasons, I gravitate more towards the thriller genre because these tend to be fast page-turners and offer a much-needed escape during difficult parenting seasons.
I wanted to pair this book with a fall cocktail so today’s recipe is for a Caramel Apple Martini that you can sip while furiously flipping those pages.
This drink is a combination of butterscotch schnapps, sour apple schnapps, vodka, and cranberry juice. These flavors, once shaken together in a martini shaker or mason jar, taste just like a delicious candy apple.
To fancy this drink up, dip the rim in water and then dip it in a little cinnamon and sugar mixed together. It can then be garnished with a fresh apple to bring it all together.
I can’t think of a better pairing than a great thriller and a delicious martini.
A delicious combination of butterscotch schnapps, sour apple schnapps, cranberry juice, and vodka make the perfect martini that tastes just like a candy apple. Dip the rim in cinnamon & sugar and garnish with an apple, to add those special finishing touches.
This post is sponsored by Paramount Pictures. Thank you for supporting our sponsors!
Looking for your next Girls’ Night In idea? I have come up with the perfect recipe for a fun night with your gal pals and created a deliciously dangerous Rosé Strawberry Wine Pop recipe that is sure to be a hit at any gathering.
I mean, wine in a popsicle?
As Ina Garten would say, “How bad could that be?”
This treat takes about ten minutes to make and is the perfect accompaniment to a fun night in watching the movie, Book Club now available on Blu-Ray. If you haven’t seen it, you are in for a treat. You can purchase your copy of the movie and make plans to watch it at home this weekend. The release happens to include hilarious bonus content, like the making of the film, deleted scenes, and more! Personally, I can’t think of a better way to spend the weekend than with my girlfriends, a pile of wine pops, and a ridiculously funny movie.
My girlfriend has the sweetest set-up for a movie night so when I proposed a girls’ night in, she graciously offered to have it in her theatre room so we could really get that movie experience.
Let’s all acknowledge that any mom that would offer up her home on a school night is a real gem of a friend.
Book Club is about four lifelong friends that end up having their life turn upside down when their book club starts reading the infamous, Fifty Shades of Grey, and they begin to rekindle their own relationships with their old flames.
The message is pretty simple… their next chapter is the best chapter.
I feel like turning 40 has, truly, been a next chapter in my life. This year has been a real exploration in trying new things in my career, I am finally embracing the importance of self-care, I’m okay letting people see the unpolished version of me, and I have learned that there is nothing more important than our family and friends.
I am such a work in progress though and I acknowledge that I have a lot to still work through. I am thankful though that I have such a powerhouse group of ladies who love and support me no matter what. I, truly, can’t imagine my life without my friends. When the chips have been down for our family, they are the ones that take the mess of my life and lift me up with their encouragement. I never have to be anything, but this messy person.
That is what I appreciated about this charming film and how great it is to be part of a book club of girlfriends. I can attest that while we talk about books in our book club, we also talk about so much more as we support, encourage, and enjoy each other’s company.
Book Club is beautifully cast with four Hollywood icons (Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, & Mary Steenburgen) that have forged a believable friendship, with heart and humor, that any girl would want in her life…especially as she segues into the next chapter.
I hope you can pick up this incredible film that is now available to own on Blu-ray!
Now, let’s talk about this incredible wine pop idea! When I heard that stores were carrying rosé pops, I just knew that I could make an inexpensive version of this treat at home.
Honestly, this is an excellent way to use up any strawberries that are nearing their expiration in your fridge, as they are blended in the blender with a touch of lime (to break up the sweet), a little simple syrup, and an inexpensive bottle of rosé. In fact, I found a decent bottle for under $5 at our local market, making these cocktail treats really affordable.
The one thing you will need to buy is ice pop holders and I think they are a smart investment, not just for wine pops, but for making healthy treats for the kiddos too. This set comes with a little funnel that makes pouring your blended ingredients in the pop holders a real cinch.
The most time-consuming aspect is waiting for them to freeze. Be sure to give them a good four hours in the freezer to harden up for distributing to all your gal pals.
I hope this treat inspires you to have a fun girls’ night in too!
In a saucepan, whisk sugar and water on medium heat until the sugar has completely dissolved. Set aside to cool.
Slice strawberries and add them to your blender.
Add your lime juice, Rosé Wine, and simple syrup. Blend well.
Once blended, skim the foam off the top.
Using the provided funnel, pour the mixture into the ice pop holder to the marked line. Seal tight and and place on a cookie sheet (this will protect your freezer from any possible leaking). Repeat the process until you have used up all your mixture (should yield approximately eight ice pops).
Freeze for four hours.
This post is sponsored by Paramount Pictures. Thank you for supporting our sponsors!
Are you as ready for fall as I am? As soon as the weather starts turning, I start thinking of all the things that I love about autumn. The crisp leaves, the cool air, my cozy slippers, flannel sheets, and warm drinks. In fact, sipping warm drinks with a good book is one of my all-time favorite fall activities.
My favorite warm drink is chai and I look forward to making this each and every year for our family. Is it your favorite too? I love to have homemade chai tea mix in a jar on hand for sipping or for sharing with a good friend.
I am sure you have seen that the drink mixes can be quite expensive, but mixing up a batch of this DIY Vanilla Chai mix for yourself can help to keep your pockets nice and warm with a little extra money. Most of the spices, dry creamer, and dry milk are already stocked in my pantry or can be found easily on the baking shelves at our local grocery store. The only additions I usually have to run out and get is the instant tea and powdered vanilla creamer. When I see a sale on these ingredients, I stock up so I don’t run out in the colder months. We tend to go through this mix rather quickly because it is such a hit over here.
To make the batch more smooth, instead of gritty, I process everything through my blender. I first mix all of the white ingredients in my blender (milk, sugar, creamer, vanilla creamer). I dump those in a plastic container and then I mix up all the brown ingredients (tea and spices). I pour this on top in the plastic container, seal the lid and give it a good shaking to incorporate or mix it up with a spoon. If you have a large food processor, you may be able to process it all together, but if you have a blender it is best to do this in divided batches.
Not only is this drink mix wonderful for yourself, but mixing up a batch of this and tucking some of it in a mug would be a wonderful gift to give to someone special in your life. I often rely on this easy mix in a jar for a teacher or bus driver gift because it is always a hit. Who wouldn’t want a jar of that in their pantry?
I am so excited to be partnering this year with the Florida Department of Citrus to celebrate National OJ Day today. In celebration of this fun day, I wanted to create an interactive way you can enjoy a glass of FLOJ and craft up a cute funny faces cup with your kids.
Did you know that one glass of Florida Orange Juice provides a total of 5 amazing nutrients in every glass? In just one glass you have Taste, Vitamin C, Folate, Potassium and No Added Sugar!
More importantly for me, as a busy mom always striving to get our fruits and veggies into our diet, it’s good to know that a single 8-ounce glass of 100% orange juice counts as one of your daily recommended servings of fruit.
We wanted to celebrate National OJ Day in an interactive way so we have loads of cute printables for you to decorate your own Florida Orange Juice cup. A serving of fruit AND a fun way to keep kids busy? #winning
Print out our funny faces printable and have your child cut out the different mouths, shapes, noses, & Captain Citrus action graphics to decorate their cup. This is a fantastic way for your child to practice cutting.
Have your child flip each piece over and cover it in glue using their glue stick.
Finish by applying the pieces to the clear cups. Don’t forget to fill your glass with Florida Orange Juice
How fun is this? We hope that this post inspires you to celebrate today with your family. If that wasn’t fun enough today we are giving away a Florida Department of Citrus kit to one lucky reader. Follow the instructions in the widget below to enter to win!
There are a few great gifts I give myself in the morning. The first, is to rise an hour earlier than necessary to get in an uninterrupted hour of reading (BLISS!). The second is to always program my coffeemaker the night before so I wake up to a fresh brew (HEAVEN!). The third? Packing my freezer with smoothie packets that make creating a morning smoothie filled with greens and fruits incredibly easy and practically effortless (WINNING AT LIFE).
I posted about my make-ahead smoothie packets on Instagram and got a lot of questions about it. Something I have come to think of as a weekly routine really sparked a lot of questions about my recipe, what the smoothie looked like, and what to do for fruit substitutions. I thought it deserved its own little post because it has become a very vital part of my morning routines and sets a good foundation for healthy eating the rest of the day.
Not only does this strategy save you time in the morning, but it also puts ripe fruit to work and is a great way to utilize spinach before it goes bad making the most of every grocery dollar. I never waste a banana in our house or any greens anymore because they always have a home. If I have run out of frozen berries, I just add the rest of these ingredients into a packet and get them ready for my next grocery day when I can get the frozen fruit to add to it. As someone trying to reduce their food waste, this has been an awesome use for those often tossed items.
Also, if you buy smoothies regularly, you know they are not cheap. A typical smoothie around these parts (said in my best Midwest accent) is around $4-6. Even if bought weekly, that can add up fast!
Here were a few of your questions for me!
Do you store these packets in the freezer and for how long?
Yup, I recommend freezing in quart-sized freezer storage bags and making sure to push out any air in the bags to keep these ingredients as fresh as possible. I would recommend using these in one month for optimum flavor.
How many smoothies do these packets make?
I drink an enormous smoothie in the morning (24 ounces) and my daughter has the size I am showing you in the cup below and this packet with my recipe I have listed makes enough for that. For “normal” people, maybe it might make three, but this is my breakfast, people, and I’m a big eater. I got one of these for me to help make toting these in the car a little easier since I drink these on the way to the gym in the morning. I also have this giant water bottle from the same company and it has improved how much water I intake as well as my healthy smoothie habit for breakfast. I have been happy how they have held up (over a year now!) compared to some other insulated cups I have tried.
Do you blend these with milk or use a milk substitution?
My stomach can’t process a lot of dairy so I use unsweetened almond milk in mine. I do use Greek yogurt though (either vanilla or unsweetened) and that doesn’t seem to bother me. You can definitely use milk, soy milk, or coconut milk if you would prefer. I’m a big fan of the flavor of the almond milk!
Can I make these without spinach? I don’t think my kids will drink these if they are green!
I just want to show you how very slightly these are tinged with green when you only add a cup or so of spinach to them. Additionally, if I am really concerned an extra handful of frozen blueberries cancels out all other colors so sometimes if I am really generous with the blueberries, these look more blue.
Are you using frozen spinach? Frozen berries? What does the spinach look like when it is frozen?
Here is a packet that has been frozen for three weeks and this is what it looks like. The spinach is fresh spinach (I don’t want to hassle with the frozen stuff- personal preference), the berries are frozen, and the bananas are fresh. I like to cut the bananas in half to help them break down a little easier in the blender. As you can see, the spinach looks almost the same as it did when I threw it in there.
The bananas may brown over time, but they will still taste the same. As rapidly as we go through these though, I have rarely even seen that happen.
By freezing these fruits and veggies, you eliminate the need for ice in your smoothie which creates a much creamier consistency and a smoothie that holds together longer. Sometimes I will make these in the morning and pop one in the fridge for my daughter for her afternoon snack. It always looks just like I had just made it. When I add water or ice, it tends to separate and grosses her out.
Should I flash freeze any of the ingredients?
If you aren’t familiar with flash freezing, I do this a lot with foods for our freezer. Typically, I fan whatever I am freezing out on an open parchment paper lined cookie sheet, freeze just until frozen, and then toss in a bag.
I experimented with this and here is what I will say about that. You can cut the bananas in half and flash freeze and they will stay separated, making it easier to pour into your blender and it is really great. It’s an extra step though. My lazy freezer routine is to cut them in half right in the bag, freeze (where they tend to fuse back together) and then smack the bag as hard as I can on the counter until they loosen from each other while I listen to the political crap insight on NPR. It’s kind of like a therapy session. You can do it whichever way fits your lifestyle best.
What kind of protein powder do you use? What can I use if I am vegan or dairy-free?
When I was dairy-free, I experimented with a lot of terrible protein powders so I can honestly tell you this is the only brand that I really liked that was plant-based. Now that I’m not dairy-free, I just purchase the store brand protein powder at our local grocery store in a vanilla flavor. Like I said, we had to try a few before we found the ones we liked best and I always try to keep my eyes peeled for a sale to maximize the savings. The goal is to keep this as a frugal routine for us.
What kind of blender do you have?
I have had the same blender for probably eight years or so and, unfortunately, they don’t make mine anymore. When mine bites the bullet, I will probably invest in this one because I have heard they last forever. In order to blend up these fruits, you really need to have a high powered blender though. If you have a $20 blender, it will burn out your motor. I say this because I did it. Twice. Invest in a good blender and it will more than pay for itself, I promise you!
I can’t eat bananas. Do you have any recommendations for substitutions for my smoothie?
Do your kids really like these? My kids are really picky!
They really do and so do I. My daughter was a terrible breakfast eater, like her mother, and I worried a lot that she wasn’t eating enough to be fueled for her day at school. This is what she “eats” and she stays full until lunchtime. If she is running late, it is something that can be finished while she waits for her bus. Fun straws are always a great addition to this morning treat especially when first pitching this idea to your kids. She says it tastes like a milkshake.
For me, it’s been an incredible way to get fueled before I workout. Working out on an empty stomach isn’t a good idea for someone with low blood sugar. Eating something too heavy made me feel like I was going to be sick. These smoothies are a great option to be fueled without a lot of heaviness in my stomach. Sometimes I drink half and pop it in the fridge until I get done exercising and finish the other half when I’m done.
I hope these tips are helpful and I hope you love these as much as our family does!
I’m so honored to have my friend, Liz of The Lemon Bowl, sharing this amazing smoothie recipe with us today!
Hi friends! I’m Liz from The Lemon Bowl and I am honored to be guest posting today for the beautiful and crazy talented Amy. As a healthy recipe blogger and busy mom of two young boys, I love creating easy recipes made from simple ingredients.
I don’t know about you but we love smoothies in our house. Not only are they a great way to use up fruits and veggies that are a little past their prime but they are literally a meal in a glass.
Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, this protein-packed Mango Coconut Green Smoothie is naturally sweetened and has no artificial coloring. Made with creamy coconut milk, juicy mango and sweet bananas, your entire family will love this healthy and delicious smoothie.
Whether you make it for breakfast, an after-school snack or dessert, just promise me you’ll make it.
Place all ingredients in a high speed blender and puree until smooth.
To prepare glass, pour ¼ cup or so of chia seeds on a plate. Run the rim of a glass under running water then carefully dip the top of the glass onto the plate until the rim is covered in chia seeds.
Pour the smoothie into the glass and serve.
If you are working with frozen fruit you may need to add a bit of liquid to get the smoothie blending - I like to add water or a bit more coconut milk to reach the desired consistency.
Nutrition Information Serving size: 1 glass Calories: 391 Fat: 14.9 g Saturated fat: 7.2 g Unsaturated fat: 7.7 g Trans fat: 0 Carbohydrates: 58.2 g Sugar: 33.1 g Sodium: 145 mg Fiber: 16.5 g Protein: 17.1 g Cholesterol: 0 mg
My favorite drink in the summertime is iced coffee, but I don’t love the price tag that comes with the iced coffees from our coffee shops. Thankfully, I discovered how to cold brew my coffee and make the perfect iced coffee at home. This month on my site I am showing you how I cold brewed my coffee and today we tackle how to make the perfect iced coffee just for you by adding your own favorite flavor combinations.
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of ALDI.
Today I wanted to share an adorable gift idea for someone special in your life. Today’s tutorial is how to make beautiful chocolate coffee spoons that you can pair with a big basket of coffee for gift-giving. This gift is perfect for any occasion and can be made in less than 30 minutes. The inspiration for this project came along with the opportunity to try the new Barissimo line of premium coffee products that are available at your local ALDI store. I’m so excited to be partnering with them again on this project.
In case you missed my Maple Coffee Bacon post from last week, I had the opportunity to try out all of the new coffees from ALDI and create some fun projects using this newly launched line at their store.
This line features nine bagged and single serve coffee items, along with additional seasonal and Special Buy items that will be available for a limited time. Pictured below are a few of the ones that I found on my store shelves this month.
Nothing pictured here is over $5 (even the Fair Trade coffee) which means it is quite the steal. In the past, I have relied on these bags of coffee for easy hostess gifts and breakfast baskets for new homeowners. It is an excellent gift to give especially to a tired new mom or a new college student. I thought it would be fun to dress these baskets up a bit with beautiful chocolate coffee covered spoons that you could package in your basket.
Let’s get started!
1 bag Baker’s Corner Real Semi-Sweet Chocolate Baking Morsels
1 bag Baker’s Corner Milk Chocolate Baking Morsels
1 cup Baker’s Corner White Chocolate Baking Morsels
½ teaspoon Carlini Pure Vegetable Shortening (or more, if needed)
Edible sprinkles of your choice
Pastry/candy decorating bags
Antique spoons or plastic spoons (I got these six for $5 an antique store)
*Some of these items are Special Buy or Seasonal items that are only in stores for a limited time and may no longer be available.
Melt your semi-sweet chocolate chips (the whole bag) over a steam bath or in microwave. Melt chocolate slowing, stirring frequently. If chocolate clumps or doesn’t melt smoothly, add 1/2 teaspoon of shortening to help smooth it out.
Dip your spoons into the chocolate and then rest them on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper.
3. Decorate with your choice of milk chocolate, white chocolate and/or various garnishes. Drizzle with melted white chocolate (using my pastry bag) and then shake on some edible pearls so they would stick. Let these set completely before placing into decorative bags and tying with beautiful ribbon.
We placed these beauties into a basket with a variety of our favorite Barissimo coffees, exclusively from ALDI. A pretty dishtowel on bottom pulls it all together and acts as bonus gift.
These spoons add another level of richness to your coffee giving you a rich chocolate flavor. These also would make a fun addition to your cocoa.
I hope you enjoyed our fun series with ALDI this month and that these ideas have inspired you to give their new coffee line-up a try! I promise that you won’t be disappointed, not just in the incredible taste, but the incredible amount of savings to be had for your family!
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of ALDI.
It’s no secret around here that I love a good coffee drink and you all know I love a good way to save – especially when it’s easy. Making your own versions of coffee shop drinks gives a particularly good return since most DIY drink recipes take only a few minutes to make and are only a fraction of the cost of buying. And the no-guilt feeling while you’re enjoying your beverage? That’s right – priceless.
So I’ve rounded up some of the best copy-cat Starbucks drinks recipes for you from our own Mom Advice archives and other fabulous blogs so you can save some of your hard-earned money and enjoy a coffee (or non-coffee!) break at the same time. Here are 33 copy-cat Starbucks drinks categorized into four sections for your convenience – Hot Coffee Drinks, Hot Non-Coffee Drinks, Iced Coffee Drinks, and Iced Non-Coffee Drinks (as always, please pin individual pictures from the original source):
This was originally published in July of 2013 and goes so well with our focus challenge on health that I thought you’d enjoy it again – fruit-infused water is refreshing any time of the year!
Back-to-school means back to the grind of packing lunches. Today I wanted to share a healthy alternative to juice boxes and recipes for creating a fun fruit-infused water for lunches any time of the year. Fruit infused waters are frugal, fun, and a healthy alternative to the traditional juice box.
Packing a healthy lunch is always a top priority in our house. You may recall my fun lunch box station that I created in our house just for this reason? I am happy to say that this lunchbox system is still performing so well in our house and I am looking forward to packing lunches with it again.
What is Fruit-Infused Water?
Have you ever infused water before? It truly could not be easier and you can mix up any flavors that you love and personalize these to your own personal taste. Pictured above are some mix-in ideas we tried in our house. We purchased mint, basil, berries, limes, oranges, and lemons to create different flavor combinations for fun fruit waters. We like to keep things simple with just plain water, but you can also make it a little sweet with a little liquid stevia.
Seltzer can also be a fun switch-up, but carbonated drinks are always a gamble in our lunchbox, since they tend to get a lot of shaking and movement on the way to school!
Fruit-infused water is best enjoyed after two-four hours or after it has had a chance to infuse overnight. The length of time it lasts depends entirely on the type of fruit and herbs you use. Basil, for example, only lasts for three days while heartier varieties like rosemary or thyme can last up to seven days.
You can reuse the same fruit and add another batch of fresh water over it once you have gone through your first batch. The fruit can be used (typically) up to three times, but it will also depend on the freshness of the fruits you are using. If the fruit starts to look bad, it’s best to toss it and start with a fresh batch.
Citrus fruits are best cut fresh for your batches because the rind can add bitterness to your fruit-infusions. I like to keep my lemons, limes, and oranges fresh for that reason while reusing my berries for several batches.
It is really a matter of preference though and once you get the hang of making your own batches of fruit-infused water you will have a better idea of timelines.
Fruit Infused Water Combinations
The beauty of making your own infused waters is that you can create any combination that your heart desires and add as little or as much fruits and herbs into your drink as you like! Get inspired by the fruits and herbs that are on sale that week in the supermarket flier to help inspire new combinations and keep your fruit-infused waters frugal!
If the recipe calls for muddling, it just means bruising your fruit or herbs to release the flavors. I just use a wooden spoon for this.
Here are a few of our favorite combinations we tried: