Festive White Peppermint Cookies for Santa

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BakeInTheFun #CollectiveBias

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Does anyone else get super nostalgic when it comes to the holidays? It seems like every smell, song, and decoration bring me back to the days where I would patiently anxiously count the days until Santa’s arrival. Thinking about coming home from church, getting ready for bed and then making sure his cookies and milk (along with notes for Mrs. Claus and carrots for the reindeer) makes me all kinds of giddy.

I am so ready to kick off the Christmas season inside our home but my husband still thinks it’s a little too early for decorations. (boo, right?) He had no qualms about me trying out some cookie recipes for Santa though. Hmmm, I wonder why…

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With all of the amazing recipes floating around the blogosphere, I’m sure Santa gets quite the variety of treats on Christmas Eve but, at our house, he still finds good ol’ cookies and milk waiting for him under the tree.

This year, he will probably find a nice spread of cookies at our house (gotta stay on his nice list) including these festive cookies made with Pillsbury™ Funfetti® Holiday Cake Mix and M&M’s®. 

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The ingredient list for these cookies is short and sweet (perfect for the busy holiday season) and everything can be found at your local Walmart. You’ll need: 1 box of Pillsbury™ Funfetti® Holiday Cake Mix, eggs, coconut oil (or vegetable oil if you prefer), a little bit of baking powder and a package of your favorite holiday M&M’s®. For my cookies, I used M&M’s ® Holiday Milk Chocolate and M&M’s® White Peppermint.

Make sure you use this coupon to save $1.00 on ANY TWO (2) M&M’s® Chocolate Candies, 8 oz or larger.

Using the cake mix as the base for this cookie keeps them soft and fluffy – just the way that Santa likes them. I mixed M&M’s ® Holiday Milk Chocolate inside my batter, and then just before baking, I added a few M&M’s® White Peppermint to the top of each cookie. 

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Can’t wait until Christmas Eve to give these cookies a try? I don’t blame you! The good news is, this is the season of giving so nobody will think it’s weird if you make a batch (or 10) of these festive white peppermint cookies to gift to friends, neighbors and any other person you come into contact with from now until December 25th. 

Speaking of giving, the holiday season is the perfect time to make a donation to America’s food banks. Did you know that more than 46 million Americans rely on food banks across the country (including 1 in 6 children?!). These are our friends, neighbors, co-workers and children’s classmates. One of the most requested items for families is milk – a request that, sadly, isn’t met most of the time because the food banks don’t receive a lot of donations of perishable items. 

This year we can change that! Please consider supporting families in your community by making a small donation at www.pourmilklove.com. With every donation, the Great American Milk Drive will deliver a gallon of milk to a family in YOUR local community – providing them with all of the essential nutrients and proteins that they may otherwise be missing out on. PLUS if you purchase any 2 bags of M&M’s ® (9.9 ounce or larger), a gallon of milk will be donated to the drive. May I suggest a gallon of Great Value Milk and the M&M’s® Holiday Peanut Butter?! (aka my favorite mid-afternoon snack as of late)

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You can get the full recipe for my Festive White Peppermint Cookies on the recipe card below! What yummy treat is Santa going to find under your Christmas tree?

Festive White Peppermint Cookies
Yields 12
Festive cookies for Santa using M&M's® candies
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
9 min
Total Time
19 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
9 min
Total Time
19 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 box Pillsbury™ Funfetti® Holiday Cake Mix
  2. 1 tsp baking powder
  3. 2 eggs
  4. 1/3 cup coconut oil (melted)
  5. 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  6. M&M's® Holiday Milk Chocolate
  7. M&M's® White Peppermint
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 (F)
  2. Line baking sheet with parchment paper
  3. In large bowl, mix together the Pillsbury™ Funfetti® Holiday Cake Mix and baking powder, set aside
  4. In medium bowl, whisk eggs, coconut oil and vanilla together
  5. Add wet mixture to dry ingredients and stir by hand until no dry pockets are found
  6. Gently stir in a handful of M&M's® Holiday Milk Chocolate
  7. Roll dough into balls (approximately 1 inch) and place onto parchment paper
  8. Flattening dough only slightly, push a few M&M's® White Peppermint into the top of each cookie
  9. Bake 9 minutes - do not let cookies get golden brown
  10. Remove from oven, cool on baking rack
Notes
  1. Great tip: Coconut oil can be replaced with vegetable oil if preferred
BRINGING UP BYRDS http://www.natashabyrd.com/
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Four Year Anniversary

Today, we have been married for 4 years. 

Today, we celebrate 208 weeks of laughter. 

Today, we celebrate 1,461 days of partnership. 

Today, we celebrate 35,064 hours of unconditional love and support. 

Today, we celebrate 2,103,840 minutes of us. 

Today, I celebrate the best 126,230,400 seconds of my life.  

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Thanks for doing life with me, babe. I love you. 

 

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DIY Thanksgiving Wreath

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #HappyThanksGathering #CollectiveBias

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I love Thanksgiving. The food, the traditions, the nostalgia – all of it. It’s the perfect kick-off to the busy holiday season and something that I look forward to every year.

Since getting married four years ago, I have been telling my husband that I can’t wait to host Thanksgiving dinner. Unfortunately, between not having a big enough space and our traveling to see other family, I haven’t had my chance yet.

This year, I will be much too pregnant to travel off-island and we have a home large enough to host family and friends so it looks like I’m finally getting my chance!

To say that I am excited is an understatement but I’m trying hard not to go overboard with the planning and preparation.

My main goal when doing any kind of hosting is comfort. No matter how great your kitchen and decorating skills are, your guests will eventually forget what you served them to eat, but they will always remember how you made them feel. That’s why creating an authentically warm, relaxing, and comfortable environment is key.

I feel most at peace in my own home when things are tidied up. I know that my guests will feed off of my energy, so I will be spending some time sprucing up the main living areas of our home before the big day to make sure that I am able to relax.  The last time I was at Walmart, I picked up a few of my clean-house essentials: Scrubbing Bubbles® Toilet Cleaning Gel, Scrubbing Bubbles® Disinfectant Bathroom Cleaner and Windex® Original Glass Wipes. (Bonus: there is an awesome rebate going on right now which saves you $5 on your holiday photos)

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Cleaning up the house, especially when you have a meal to plan/cook is a big job but with the right cleaning products and some holiday tunes turned up nice and loud it’s a big, fun job.

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^My brother kindly demonstrating how easy and fun cleaning the bathroom with the Windex® Original Glass Wipes is. Isn’t he the best?

After the house is clean, and before I get to cooking, I’ll make sure that our house is decorated festively for the occasion with some traditional items and a special Thanksgiving wreath.

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We all know to expect the “what are you thankful for” activity at the Thanksgiving dinner table but none of us likes to be put on the spot, right? I know I don’t. I think this is especially true when sitting around the table with strangers or a new group of people. (think your first Thanksgiving with your significant other’s family or maybe a group of your parent’s colleagues) but also applies to those dining with family and loved ones that they see all of the time.

Even though I have SO much to be thankful for, and love spending time reflecting on them, my naturally introverted self sometimes cringes at situations like these. To combat that awkwardness, and to make sure that all of my guests feel comfortable this Thanksgiving, I created this wreath that we will incorporate during dinner time.

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The wreath is already hanging above our piano. Underneath, I have a box with pre-cut “thanks” circles and some pieces of leather cord. The idea is that from now until Thanksgiving, anyone who comes into my house can write down what they are thankful for and tie it onto the wreath. Guests who are here only for the day will have their opportunity to write down what they are thankful for while they are mingling and waiting for our meal.

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During dinner, I will remove all of the circles from the wreath, divide them equally amongst our guests and we will take turns reading off what we are all thankful for. Of course, anybody can share more if they are so inclined but I believe that by having this anonymous way of sharing what we are thankful for will ensure that all of my guests feel comfortable, welcomed and pressure-free.

Sounds great, right? If you want to make a Thanksgiving wreath of your own, please feel free to download this free printable which gives you twelve “thanks” circles per page. Once you have the circles printed and cut out, punch a single hole into the top of the circle, cut some string and lay those items out with some pens.

I have so much to be thankful for this year – our wreath is going to be pretty full by the time Thanksgiving rolls around. I’m looking forward to it! That and, of course, the food. You can find more #HappyThanksgathering inspiration here. 

 

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Halloween Snack Fail

With it being Halloween week and all, I thought I would switch up our lunch routine a little bit and make some of those cute banana ghosts. You know, the ones that have chocolate chip faces? Lyla loves bananas and chocolate [ I mean…I’m assuming she does, I wouldn’t know that my toddler loves chocolate from experience or anything 😉 ] so I figured that they would be a home run.

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After she woke up from her nap, I sat Lyla on the kitchen counter we built them together. We peeled the banana, sliced it in half and then stuck some chocolate chips inside. Easy peasy. 

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She seemed to think it was cute at first. 

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But then decided that chocolate chips don’t belong inside of her bananas. 

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So she put her serious face on and helped me pick the chocolate chips out. 

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Chocolate chip removal is serious business. 

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I think it’s safe to say that this Halloween snack was a fail.

Maybe next year.

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Our Eighteen Month Old

Eighteen months. A full year and a half.

Where has the time gone?

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I know we’ve said it at every stage that you have gone through, but this stage is definitely our favorite.

You are learning and growing so much every day. It truly is amazing to watch. 

You love shoes. Definitely not a trait you picked up from me or daddy. You climb into my lap with a different pair at least 5 times a day and have me switch them for you. You always end up losing one which has earned you the nickname “one shoe zalinsky”. 

You love to eat. Nobody can sneak a bite of anything in the house without you finding out and asking for some (in the sweetest voice ever I might add). I’m not sure if you really have a favorite right now, you are pretty good at trying everything.

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Your vocabulary is growing everyday and I love listening to what you have to say. You can say “uh oh” “please” “dada” “mama” “bocko” “all done” “bocha” “hi” “bye” “uncle” and count down from 3. You know the noises for cats, dogs, monkeys, owls and sheep. I’m sure there are some I’m forgetting – I’ll have to start writing them down. 

Ninety-eight percent of the time you are totally fearless. You are a climber and a problem solver. No playground slide is too big for our bean. You don’t just sit and scoot yourself down the slide either. You make a literal run for it and plop down with a giant smile and a happy laugh. I’m equal parts terrified and proud on a daily basis at the things you are doing. 

You love dogs. Bocko (aka Rocco) is your favorite playmate. He is so patient with you. One of your favorite things to do is chase him around (and around…and around…and around) the house with your toy lawn mower. Poor guy. You are in little Lyla heaven every time we go to the dog park. Even if most of the dogs are bigger than you. 

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You also love to go to the beach. Just like your daddy, the waves call to you and you are so anxious to answer them. We have no doubt that you will be out on a board in no time at all. Just as soon as we get you in some swimming lessons. 

You love to play in the dirt and sand, color all over yourself and don’t mind having food ALL over your face, but, the second that you have a piece of hair or fuzz stuck to your hand you run to the nearest person to get it off immediately. 

You are a dancer. No matter where we are, when you hear the music you can’t help but shake your groove thang. You already have better rhythm than mama, but that doesn’t stop me from having dance parties with you. One day, I’m sure this will be the most embarrassing thing ever but right now you love it (and so do I). 

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I am already so proud of the person you are becoming. You are strong-willed, sweet, and musical. You have a soft heart and a joyous soul. I constantly find myself just stepping back to watch you. I am so blessed to be your mama. 

 

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