Holiday Apple Tea Punch

Holiday Apple Tea Punch It’s the most wonderful time of the year!! The holidays are here and one thing is for sure… there will be holiday parties! I absolutely LOVE hosting but this time of year can be stressful because it’s as if a whole year’s worth of celebrations, eating and parties all come together into one little month! If you are anything like me, you worry that you are not enjoying the season because everything rushes by so fast. When I am having a party (any time of the year) my single most important tip is to make anything and everything you can make ahead of time! Finish the decor then make the food and the drinks the day before too! That way you can enjoy your company and visit instead of playing short order cook.

Holiday Apple Tea Punch  I came up with a super fun and very easy Holiday Punch that you can make, pop in the fridge a day early and the flavors will only get better! I love Iced Tea so this is a fun and festive spin on that. I used Milo’s Tea which I love because it is fresh brewed, and made from natural ingredients with no preservatives or added acids! It has a super fresh taste like you just brewed it at home! Milo’s is a Holiday must have; they offer Unsweet Tea, Tea Sweetened with Pure Cane Sugar, No Calorie, Decaf… even Lemonade. I used the “No Calorie” because I just need all the help I can get this time of year haha. Milo’s was started years ago in Alabama by a woman named Bea when her husband Milo returned from WWII and they have been brewing fresh tea ever since… How cute is that?!  I found Milo’s at my local Randall’s in the refrigerated juice and dairy section but they are available at lots of retailers. Find a store near you by using the store locator.

Holiday Apple Tea Punch Here’s how to make it:

Holiday Tea Punch

Ingredients:
2 cups Milo’s No Calorie Sweet Tea
1.5 cups Club Soda (or a little less if you like it sweeter)
1/2 cup Apple Cider
the juice from 1/2 of a Lemon
a dash of Cinnamon
Sugar
Cloves, Cranberries, Apples and Lemons for garnish 

Mix the following ingredients; Milo’s Tea, Club Soda, Apple Cider and Fresh Lemon in a pitcher.

IMG_8419Then add a dash of Cinnamon and mix together. Slice apples and lemons and drop in the punch. Add a few cloves and cranberries and refrigerate for a few hours or even overnight.

Holiday Apple Tea Punch

Holiday Apple Tea Punch Before you serve your punch, you can really impress your guest with cinnamon sugar rimmed glasses. Just add a little sugar and a sprinkle of cinnamon to a flat plate and mix it around. Then take a lemon slice and slide it around the rim of a glass a few times and dip the rim in the cinnamon sugar. Everyone will think you are very fancy ;) Let that set for a few minutes. Then add ice and pour in your Holiday Apple Tea Punch… so festive, fresh and tasty!

Holiday Apple Tea Punch

Holiday Apple Tea Punch

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® andMilo’s Tea Company, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #PassTheMilos http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV

Grinch Munch Popcorn

Grinch Munch Popcorn I can’t believe we are 13 days away from Christmas! For some reason this year, the Holidays really crept up on me! I felt like this last year but it really had nothing on my current status haha! We are super busy, I think that comes with having kids that are getting older. Each one of them have more and more functions…. super fun and kind of exhausting. Ha! We are currently in the last week of school over here and you know what the means… field trips, parties, book exchanges, jammie day, and teacher/class gifts.

grinch munch popcorn I have the teachers covered. All of the kids have amazing teachers this year who go above and beyond so we are getting them gift cards to their favorite restaurants. But… that leaves me with class party treats. I came across this Grinch Munch Popcorn from Imperial Sugar and I actually gasped at how perfect it was! Imperial is an amazing resource if you are looking for last minutes gifts  (like me haha) that your kids can help with or just for fun crafts to do together over Christmas break. This treat is super cute and yes, it is sweet, but I think popcorn is a pretty decent snack that kids actually love. This one is super simple but pretty, so people will think you went to more trouble than you actually did haha!

You Need:

-Popcorn Kernels

-Imperial Sugar Extra Fine Granulated Sugar

-Vegetable or Coconut Oil

- Sea Salt

-Green Food Coloring

- Christmas Sprinkles/Non-Pariels

Grinch Munch Popcorn Start by heating up 1/4 c of oil in a skillet or dutch oven with a lid. I like to use coconut oil with popcorn, but vegetable will work fine too. Put 2-3 kernels in the oil and when they all pop you know the oil is ready.

Grinch Munch Popcorn When the oil is ready, add in 1/2 cup popcorn kernels, 1/2 cup of Imperial Granulated Sugar, and green food coloring. Remove from heat, add lid and wait about 30 seconds.

Grinch Munch Popcorn

Grinch Munch Popcorn

Grinch Munch Popcorn Put back on heat and watch carefully (so you don’t burn the sugar) cook for 4-5 more minutes or until the popcorn pops slow down :) Add your Christmas sprinkles or non-non-pariels and sea salt.

Grinch Munch Popcorn

Grinch Munch Popcorn This batch I made was huge so I bagged some up for the class party and my kids all had a really festive after school snack! This would also make a super cute girlfriend or teacher gift in a cute bag with a custom tag, So may options! Be sure to check out Imperial Sugar for more Christmas Recipes, and Holiday Crafts with kids. Imperial is also hosting a Holiday Baking Bonanza Contest with tons of amazing foodie loving prizes. Check that out HERE. Happy Holidays everyone!

Grinch Munch Popcorn

Grinch Munch Popcorn

Grinch Munch Popcorn

Kid Photo Tips… for the Amatuer

Kid Photo Tips

You know how it goes… you have a baby then all of a sudden you have to have a nice big DSLR camera but you have no idea how to use it. It actually happened to me a few years before having kids so I had a tiny bit of practice :) I am by no means anywhere close to a photographer, I just have a few lenses that are “ok” and I practice a lot. I did take one class in person which I highly recommend if you have access to that but the internet is the next best thing. If you are anything like me you think your own kids are the cutest thing on the planet so you have to get everything documented and you have to do it now. Here are a few tips that I’ve learned for the Amateur mom (or dad) so you can be a total Paparazzi and follow your kids everywhere with your big ole camera.

Kid Photo Tips

kids photo tips

1. Lighting – my absolute favorite time of day is the “golden hour” as the fancy photographers call it :) It is the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset when the sun looks magical… or golden. Trust me, during this time everything looks pretty. My kids are not morning people so waking up at when the sun rises is usually not an option but I do try to take pics in the afternoon if I can. I like to use this website HERE to find out when that time is going to be for my area… it knows when the sun will set and tells you when to go take your photos, couldn’t be easier!

golden hour

You also want to look for areas that have a lot of light around them but aren’t in the direct light. See this clearing, it’s perfect because it’s very warm and sunny but the shadows won’t be harsh on anyones face. Ideally you want to be close to that light line without being in it.

how to take kid photosPicMonkey Collage

2. Location and Background – If you start to look around your area there are plenty of places to take photos that you didn’t notice before! This road is only about 1/2 mile from my house and has a huge open field with tall trees behind it. You want a background that is somewhat neutral or uniform… I usually go for trees or greenery, I live in Houston so our scenery isn’t too exciting ha! As we were driving I saw this open field and right behind it was the prettiest red barn, which was so perfect for Bee and her adorable dress.

Kid Photo TipsKid Photo Tipskids photo tips

3. Cute clothes and accessories!- This dress from Little Skye Kids Boutique from the Paper Wings Clothing line is so perfect for an easy Holiday Photo shoot and how cute would it be on a holiday card?! It’s super soft and flowy… Bee loves anything she can twirl in! Little Skye is a one-of-a-kind children’s boutique that embraces the beauty, joy, innocence, and artful wonder of childhood. Classic but whimsical… It’s the perfect holiday dress for all little girls and all their holiday functions :)  Bee is wearing the Winter Wonderland Bustle Dress in a 2T because with a timeless piece like this I wanted her to be able to wear it for a few years. She is kind of short so it looks long on her but I love the maxi look she is giving it. That’s the great thing about girls dresses, they can keep growing and eventually it’s a tunic haha!

kids photo tipskids photo tipskids photo tips

Lastly, don’t forget to take pictures of all the little details like the ruffles or the shoes! Also, at this age I like to give them something to hold to keep their little hands occupied. And most importantly… let them have fun and run wild! It’s the only way to get the real faces you want!

kids photo tipskids photo tipsIMG_3050 Holiday dresses for girls kids photo tipskids photo tips

And I have an awesome deal for anyone little girls who need some fun and unique Boutique clothing!:  All Paper Wings for Little Skye and Blu Pony Vintage for Little Skye purchases through 12/15/2015 receive a Free Shipping & a $25 gift card valid on future purchases for every $100 spent when you use code BLGLS2015.

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Little Skye Boutique, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #embracechildhood http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV

Cider Beetles: A Teacher Gift

cider beetles

Before staying home with my kiddos I used to be a teacher. I was always very spoiled every holiday by my student’s parents and received so many gifts, too many to remember. But I will always remember one year when a student made me a Cider Beetle attached to Apple Cider. It was so stinking cute that I told everyone about it. I decided this year I would re-create this adorable little gift.

cider beetles

I was so happy to find the recipe on the Imperial Sugar website. Imperial has a great Christmas page full of recipes and craft ideas you can do with your kids! They are also running a Kids Cookbook Giveaway that runs through Dec. 19th.

The boys did almost all the work here and LOVED it! I love boys who love to cook :)

cider beetles

How to made your own Cider Beetles:

Supplies:

  • 12 oranges
  • 5 cups Imperial Sugar Light Brown Sugar, firmly packed
  • 24 (1 1/2-inch) stick cinnamon
  • 24 small whole nutmegs
  • 48 large whole allspices
  • 192 whole cloves (8 legs on each beetle)

Directions:

  1. Slice oranges in half crosswise; scoop out the pulp, and reserve for other uses.
  2. Place orange half shells, cut side up, on a wire rack on a baking sheet. Bake at 250°F for about 2 hours or until dry and hard. Let these cool completely before assembling the beetles.
  3. Pack brown sugar firmly into each orange shell, mounding it slightly. Arrange spices in brown sugar to resemble a beetle, pressing slightly into the sugar. Use cinnamon sticks for bodies, nutmegs for heads, allspices for eyes, and cloves for legs. If not using immediately, cover tightly with plastic wrap secured with a ribbon. Store in the refrigerator.
  4. To use, unwrap beetle and drop into 1 1/2 quarts apple cider or straight apple juice, simmer 30 minutes. Remove rind and spices to serve. Store the unused cider in the refrigerator.

We started with our oranges.

cider beetles

Remove all the “insides” of the orange.

cider beetles

Then place them on a baking sheet and bake at 250 degrees for about 2 hours.cider beetles

Then for the fun part… making the beetles! Pack the orange full of Imperial Brown Sugar.

cider beetles

cider beetles

cider beetles

Then you arrange all of the beetle parts.

cider beetles

cider beetles

cider beetles

cider beetles

I wrapped them in plastic wrap as soon as we finished and tied them up with a rubber band.

cider beetles

Then I just attached some ribbon around the apple cider and attached the beetle to the top for a perfect little teacher gift! I also attached some directions on how to brew it but I forgot to attach that before I took this picture. Brewing them is the best part because of the smell :) I hope you guys love making these as much as we did!

cider beetles

cider beetles

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