All About the Sides: 7 Awesome Thanksgiving Side Dishes

I adore the Thanksgiving meal. Don’t get me wrong, I love spending time with my family, but there’s something about the glow of candles and being a little overheated from being in front of the stove all day that makes a person enjoy the meal a little more than normal. Everyone knows that Turkey is the star on Thanksgiving, but let’s face it,we all know we are there for the sides that we only have the patience to make once a year.

This year I have been enlisted to make a few side dishes for Thanksgiving dinner, and I thought I would share my 7 favorite side dish recipes from the internet that I have made over the years. It’ll be ok if you’re Turkey is a little dry and playing second fiddle to these all stars.

  1. Cranberry Fluff from My Baking Addiction is so sinfully fluffy and delicious. Also, the pineapple helps to balance out the tartness of the cranberries. Oh, and don’t forget you’ll need whole berry cranberry sauce for this recipe (which is a bonus since everyone wants the jelly stuff this time of year, it’s easier to find).
    Photo courtesy of My Baking Addiction.


  2. Corn Pudding from Taste of Home is pretty rich, but it is a holiday after all. I have made this a couple times, and every Thanksgiving it is GONE!

    Photo courtesy of Taste of Home.
  3. Not Your Mama’s Green Bean Casserole from Alton Brown is time consuming but so so worth it. You might not ever eat the canned soup version again after trying this awesome scratch variety.

    Photo courtesy of The Food Network.
  4. Speaking of green beans, if you want something a little quicker and a little lighter, you can try my Green Beans with Lemon and Garlic. They are easy, light, and oh so healthy.Stouffers-12
  5. I have also tried my hand at a couple different dressings in my day. My favorite is this Apple and Onion Dressing or Cornbread Stuffing. Both are variations on what my grandma used to make.Apple-Stuff-4
  6. Let’s not forget something that has been at Thanksgiving for as long as I can remember. The old Broccoli Cheese deliciousness. I make this once a year, and every year I have to ask the grocer where the processed cheese is in the store, Thanksgiving wouldn’t be the same without this blast from the past.

    Photo courtesy of Kraft.
  7. Finally, I adore this recipe for homemade cranberry sauce. It is my favorite to put on a Day after Thanksgiving Day Sandwich. (Maybe I will show you how to make one of those soon). If you want to dress up this recipe, add a tablespoon or two of amaretto.

What is your absolute favorite Thanksgiving side dish?

7 Awesome Food Free Valentines {FREE PRINTABLES}

Valentine’s Day is almost here! This typically means flowers and candy, but for those who suffer from allergies, it can mean trouble.  With schools becoming more supportive of kids with allergies and other food related illnesses such as diabetes by keep parties FOOD FREE, it can be hard to know what to bring to a class Valentine’s Day Party.

As a Mom of kids who have several food allergies, I thought I would share some ideas (7 of them) for some cute and clever Valentines that are FOOD FREE, but not free of fun.

With the help of Canva (for the printable cards) and my favorite store Target (for the little goodies), I came up with a few ideas to share some FOOD FREE FUN this Valentine’s Day. I hope you enjoy it as much as my little ones have.

1.) Pencil Valentines are adorable (and handy for when you need an extra one for homework.)


Print out this card HERE and attach a cute pencil.

2.) When you’ve got it you’ve got it, and with these little notebooks


you can tell your friend they have the “write stuff.”

Print out this card HERE and add a small notebook.

3.) Erasers are always easily found in bulk for big class parties, and are nice to have on hand for mistakes. My kids have started an “eraser collection” from all the cool ones they have collected over the years. These cute erasers


and a card make a great Valentine.


Print out this card HERE, then add a cute eraser.

4.) Bubbles will never go out of style for kids. They are easily found this time of year, but can also be found around Easter time and in the wedding sections.


Tell your friends how you feel with a card.


Print out this card HERE, then attach bubbles.

And voila.


5.) Small action figures or toys are always a fun gift, and when you’re telling your friends they are DINO-MITE they can’t be beat.



Print out this card HERE, then add a dinosaur figure or eraser.

6.) These small heart shaped slinkies I found at Target (but regular ones would work just fine too), are an adorable way to tell your pal how you feel.



You can find the spring card HERE!

7.) Small mazes are awesome for traveling or on the go. It is fun to remember your friend when you play it too.


The maze card can be found HERE!

For a complete list of the printable cards you can CLICK HERE!


Happy Valentine’s Day, Readers!

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This past weekend we celebrated Easter by going to Easter mass at our parish (getting there early to avoid the crowds), a brunch with my family at my brother’s house, and a dinner at Brian’s Aunt and Uncle’s house.


While it was a lot of running around throughout the day, it was worth it to spend time with those that are closest to us. The Easter egg hunts at everyone’s houses were a nice bonus too.



I know not everyone celebrates Easter, but how do you usher in Spring? Is it like my friend Mary Tyler Mom?


Spring Break 2013

In the last ten days, life has been pretty hectic. The kids were on Spring Break, I hosted a small baby shower for a friend, we finished up a few little projects around the house, we finally got some outside time now that Spring is finally arriving, and we were able to celebrate a wonderful Easter with our family.

As you know by now, when my kids are on a break from school, I spend a little less time writing and blogging and more time with my munchkins.

However, I cannot wait to share all the details in the coming days and weeks as well as some wonderful pictures that I was able to capture.

Finally, I hope you will join me on ChicagoNow on my other blog South of I-80. I am going to be posting more often there too.

Presidents’ Day

We are in the midst of a long weekend! There have been a few projects happening as well as some project planning. In the meantime, it is time to have some fun with the kids. Enjoy the rest of your day!

PS I wrote a little something over on South of I-80 about my sepia tone childhood 🙂

Happy Valentine’s Day

Since having kids, Valentine’s Day is one of those days that is really about us as a family. We like to do special things for each other and for the kids. For example, Brian is taking the boys out to breakfast today on the way to school. Coco and I have a Mom and Me Date at the Children’s Museum. Tonight the kids and I are preparing Brian’s absolute favorite dinner complete with garlic smashed potatoes.

I have a busy day ahead of me.
Hope everyone has a wonderful day!

Flowers, Candy, and Books: Valentine’s Dining Table Decor

I know everyone in the home blogosphere is decorating their houses for Winter, but to be honest, I’m a little lazy. I don’t like having to put things up and take things down all the time. Occasionally, I will skip a holiday or a whole season in this case. This year, I decided to skip the snowflakes and the winter white decor, and start on Valentine’s Day.


When I think of Valentine’s Day, I think of my parents bringing home little gift bags of flowers, candy, and the latest Ramona book as a treat. My siblings would get their favorite candies and magazines. It was just a small gesture, but it is one I want to continue with my kiddies.

Since I don’t know how to decorate with books, and my favorite flower (tulips for those who ever want to send me flowers) isn’t really in season right now, I thought it would be cute to decorate with some candy.

Valentine’s Candy is the best because it is in small amounts, doesn’t count toward your New Year’s Resolution eat healthy plan (at least that is what I am telling myself), and it is wrapped in pretty colors.


The first thing I did, was buy a few bags of conversation hearts and fill the glass hurricanes I keep on my dining room table with them. We are not conversation heart people, I actually think they taste chalky, so I stuck candles in the hurricanes and used the candy strictly for decorative purposes. I felt kind of weird using food for decoration, but there are people that use bags of lemons that go wasted, so I didn’t feel so bad after that.


The rest of the candy is for consumption though (trust me I keep sneaking dark chocolates). I bought all our favorites: Dove dark chocolates, Dum Dum suckers, and a bag of Valentine M&M’s and then put them in some glass vases at different heights.


I then found some leftover fabric from this curtain project, and Ta Da! I made a simple, easy, sweet, and edible tablescape for the cost of some candy, that let’s face it, I would have bought this time of year anyway. Plus, at the rate we are going, the vases will be empty in time for Valentine’s day for Brian to fill with flowers (hint, hint).

Happy Valentine’s Day!!

A Few Christmas Decoration Traditions

There is so much to write about when it comes to Christmas, I feel like I might be writing for weeks after Christmas about all our experiences so far. While everyone has gotten a chance to see tree 1 and tree 2 as well as our mantel and our dining room table. I thought it would be nice to show you a few other decorations we have put up around the house that have been around for many many years.

This was my grandmother’s nativity that I inherited after she passed away. Every year when I take it out of its box, I am reminded of her and the millions of cookies we all helped her bake, seeing her at Christmas Mass, and Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinners of my youth.
Here is a smalls snippet of my collection of snowmen. Some were gifts from family, some were made for me like the ceramic one by my mother in law. I did the needlepoint one many years ago. But my favorite is the sock snowman with the red hat made for me by my niece and god daughter when she was a little one. Now she is a senior in high school. Time goes too fast!
My parents had an idea pretty early on that I was Christmas crazy, so when I was in high school, they started a Christmas village for me. People have added to it over time. The kids love it.
Since Brian and I have been dating, I have bought him a penguin ornament every year. Some are fancy silver from Pottery Barn and, some are plastic from Target . But it is our tradition, and I love the quest of trying to find a unique one every year for our tree.
Do you have any family heirloom type Christmas decorations? Do you have a holiday collection that has been gathered over time? Share!

The Fire is So Delightful: Holiday Mantel Decor

There is no snow here in the midwest yet. In fact, on Monday of this week we had a high of 70. 70 degrees. In December. I have a feeling we are going to pay for this later on this winter.Even though the weather is far from frightful, our mantel is ready for a cozy Christmas fire.


I found these Pottery Barn velvet stockings six years ago at an after Christmas sale for $5.00. Brian and I were just married and weren’t sure how big our family would be, and I was afraid of them being discontinued or something, so I bought six of them. Now we all have matching stockings. Also, we have a wonderful friend who has an amazing embroidery machine, and she has stitched all of our names on them for free!


The banner I found at Target for $4.00 and the ornaments are extras I had leftover from our family room Christmas tree. The Waterford ceramic presents were a wedding gift from my oldest brother and sister-in-law 6 years ago (they are probably my favorite Christmas decoration).


The finishing touch are the mercury glass candle holders which put a sparkly glow over the whole mantel. I found these after Christmas last year at Target on clearance. I think they are meant to be holiday decorations, but I keep them out all year. I love how they have a little bit of sparkle.


There you have it. Now, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.


Linking up today at Ten June for the Christmas Cheer to the Blogosphere Event and The Lettered Cottage for the Holiday Home event! Get your hot cocoa ready for two great link parties. You’ll be at the computer for hours 🙂

Something Wonderful is Happening

We put up two trees in our house every year. One is a big traditional tree with ornaments collected over time. The second tree is a small one my Mom gave us last year. We put it in the corner of our family room since the kids spend most of their time there.

The kids yesterday were a bit antsy with some of the boxes being out so I broke my usual rule of no decorations before Thanksgiving. We put up the small tree in the family room.
Here is how it turned out.
Last year, I bought a package of coordinating ornaments at Lowe’s on sale which is just enough to fill the tree. I love the chocolate brown sparkly ones best. I put a string of red shiny beads that I had on hand from years past and a small star ornament on the top. I set it on an end table covered with a table cloth and made a tree skirt out of some white fabric I had on hand.
We have a teeny bit of Christmas in our house this week. Anyone else started decorating yet?