Simple Candy Corn Sugar Cookies

Candy Corn Sugar Cookies - No Mix! A simple & delicious homemade recipe for this fun fall treat.

It’s Fall which means cool weather (if you live up North), pumpkins (of course) and if you’re my husband, candy corn. I’ve never been a big fan of the actual candy corn candy so I decided to put my spin on it by making candy corn cookies. The original recipe came from Betty Crocker but I was disappointed to see it used a mix. I’m not a big fan of cookie mixes because I think homemade cookies always taste better. So, I went to my stand-by Texas Sugar Cookie recipe and adapted it to make these cookies.

This sugar cookie dough is the easiest cookie dough you will ever roll out. Even if you’re not rolling it out (like for these cookies), it still handles well and of course, tastes delicious. The nice thing about these cookies is that they become a slice and bake cookie, so you will end up with lots of mini candy corn cookies in no time at all. The other good thing? These cookies freeze great so you can make them ahead of time and serve them at any of your upcoming Fall parties! Here is the recipe.

Candy Corn Cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup butter or margarine
1 1/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 Tablespoons milk

Directions:

Cream butter and sugar in mixer. Add in eggs, vanilla and milk. Slowly add in baking powder and flour. Once you have this dough mixed, it’s time to make the candy corn cookies.

Divide the dough into three equal-ish piles. Just do your best to make it even! Leave one bowl as is. Using food coloring, dye one bowl yellow and the remaining bowl orange.

Line a bread pan with seran wrap. On the bottle of the pan, evenly press the white dough. Next, layer on the orange dough with the yellow dough on top. Fold the remaining seran wrap over the top and refrigerate the dough for 3 to 4 hours.

When the dough is firm, remove it from the refrigerator and cut the dough into slices (like bread). Then, using a knife, cut the dough into small triangles, alternating angles of cut. You can view all the steps below.

4 Simple Steps to Candy Corn Sugar Cookies

Careful place candy corn cookies onto a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes. Cool on a baking rack. Enjoy your candy corn!

Restocking My Wardrobe with Twice

Restocking My Wardrobe with Twice - a Great Bargain Shopping Trip

It was time. After having a baby, my wardrobe needed an update. I don’t buy new clothes very often and after losing the baby weight, I really wanted to update my closet. My life has dramatically changed with staying home, but that doesn’t mean I can’t look cute doing so. I’d been meaning to buy new clothes for some time, but shopping with a baby isn’t easy. Plus, I still wanted to find good bargains. It was Andrea who finally gave me the motivation to go and buy some new clothes.

I decided to shop online at Twice . Twice is an online, upscale thrift store. It has reasonable prices on name brand clothing – Gap, Limited, New York & Company, Ann Taylor, J. Crew, Express and Banana Republic, just to name a few. I thought their prices really reasonable, starting at $7.95 for a lot of the tops. Plus, the deciding factor was that just for signing up, I got a $10 credit to spend at Twice. Everyone who signs up gets a free $10 to spend right away! And for everyone who signs up through your link, you get an additional $10 to spend. Somehow my referral link got spread around online (thank you to whomever shared my link) so I already had some credit to spend, too.

I had read about Andrea’s new wardrobe and then later that week, happened to see that when you liked the Twice Facebook page, you got 50% off your first order. Here was my logic. I needed a new wardrobe. I had money to spend. There was a great coupon code. Plus, when you spent over $50, you got free shopping. So, shopping online at Twice I went!

Before I started, I thought about what I wore and what I wanted to wear. I knew I wanted comfortable tops that were plain and could be worn with my jeans or my black pants. I wanted tops that would look nice whether I’m at home with Nathan, running errands or out on a date night with Andy. I have plenty of teacher clothes but now I need SAHM clothes. What a nice “problem” to have! I decided I’d shop mainly for some new casual tops that were comfortable but with a little something unique about them. I also decided to check dresses, just because dresses are always hard to find!

What I love about Twice is how easily you can search. I started by searching under tops. Then, I selected both the small size and the small petite size. Next, I selected short sleeve or three-quarter length. I don’t like long sleeves because they are often too long and cover my hands. Finally, I selected blues and reds, because those are the colors I find myself wearing most because I’ve learned those are the colors I look best in. That narrowed down the search quite a bit. I added in grey later. Finally, because I like a bargain, I sorted my results from prices lowest to highest. Why pay more for a top if I like the cheaper ones just as much? From my results, I selected tops from the Gap, Ann Taylor Loft, Uniqlo, Style & Company, New York & Company, and the Limited. See what I mean? Everything is truly name brand.  Here are the items I selected.

My First Twice Purchases

Cute, aren’t they? I think so and was very excited to try everything on. Sorry I don’t have pictures of me wearing them all yet. Nathan admired my new clothes, but can’t work a camera yet! :-) I ordered 12 items from Twice, but 3 of the items (2 tops and 1 dress) didn’t fit me very well. I wasn’t worried. Twice has free return shipping and offers you full credit back for any items returned within 30 days. That made ordering even simpler because I didn’t have to worry that I would be stuck with any items that didn’t fit / look good.

Just so you can see how good of a deal I got – and because I love good deals, here are my totals. The original value of these name brand clothes (according to Twice) was $369.29. The price at Twice was $107.55. Most of the tops were priced at $7.95 or 8.95. Thanks to the 50% off my first order coupon, I spent $53.78 for these 9 new pieces of clothing! If I had shopped in one of those stores, I would have only been able to get 2 new tops for that same price!

My order arrived in 2 days and all the clothes were in excellent condition. None of them looked worn at all. Plus, I did all my shopping from the comfort of my home. I am amazed at how easy it was to shop at Twice and will definitely be shopping there more in the future!

I love my updated wardrobe so much! If you’re looking for some new clothes, I highly encourage you to check out Twice . If you want to sign up through my referral link here, you and I will both get $10 to spend on clothes. Then, be sure to share your referral link to get more credit, too! I’d recommend liking the Twice Facebook page to get an additional 50% off your first order. For me, as soon as I liked the page, I had 12 hours to shop and get the 50% off so be sure you’re ready to shop!

If you have any questions, feel free to ask. Have fun shopping in a frugal and fun fashion!

With Every Breath Review

I just finished another great book by Elizabeth Camden! Yes, my reading has slowed down a bit since having a baby, but I am trying to make it more of a priority again. I was excited to receive Elizabeth Camden’s latest book and read it on our family drive out to Nebraska.

With Every Breath is set in 1891 in Washington DC. It is the story of Kate Livingston, a widowed researcher. She reluctantly agrees to help a former classmate, now Harvard-trained physician, in his work to find a cure for tuberculosis. Trevor and Kate were always competitive and that has not changed as they aged. Working together, they channel their determination into tuberculosis research. As they make progress in their research, someone begins to sabatoge their hard work. Trevor and Kate have to decide what is worth the risk – in their research, and in their lives.

I found With Every Breath very well written, as are all of Elizabeth Camden’s books. I also found the tuberculosis research fascinating. It was shocking what doctors tried in their search for a cure. I didn’t know much about it until this book. It’s another reason I love historical fiction. I get to read a good story and learn something along the way! I highly recommend that you read With Every Breath for yourself.

Please note that I did receive a free copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Nathan @ 4 and 5 Months

In the wonderful whirlwind that was our summer, I fell behind on my monthly Nathan posts. I trust you all won’t mind if I share the highlights of our past two months now? Here we go, starting with his 4 month picture.

Nathan at 4 Months

At 4 months, Nathan weighed in at 13 pounds, 8 ounces and was 24.5 inches long. That put him in the 10% for weight and the 12% for height. He was also a trooper getting 3 more shots this month. The doctor told us to start solid foods, but we decided to wait until 6 months like the AAP currently recommends. Nathan still nurses well but the distraction stage hit us this month. He pauses many time mid-meal to gaze up at me or look around the room.

Nathan discovered his voice this month and has become quite the “talker.” He babbles on and on and loves to screech to hear his voice. It has made church a bit more interesting but he’s so excited that nobody minds much. Andy and I are more aware of the noise than anyone else, I’m sure.

We had a rough couple of weeks due to Nathan’s 4 month growth spurt with waking every two hours during the night. I have to say that this growth spurt was worse than the newborn stage. Now that we’re past that – and done with all our travels – I’m working very hard at getting us both settled into a good sleeping routine now.

Nathan saw his first fireworks in July. We weren’t sure how it was going to go because it was well past his bedtime. He started to get fussy right before they started but once he noticed them, Nathan was transfixed for the entire show. We watched from the parking lot of St. Paul’s (Andy’s school) so were far enough away that we didn’t have to worry about the noise. We could simply enjoy the show – and we certainly did!

Nathan watching his first fireworks

Nathan’s current favorite book is “Peek a Who?” We’ve read it countless times because there is something about the simple pictures and text that calm him instantly. I wish I had written this book because I could be making millions from it! We also discovered this month that the rhyme “5 Little Monkeys” can stop his crying in the middle of the tantrum. It’s the oddest thing and I don’t know why this works, but we are thankful it does!

We enjoyed a trip to Cleveland to see college friends. Among the 5 couples, we had 4 babies – 20 months, 8 months, 4 months (Nathan) and 2 months. We stayed around the house with the babies and enjoyed visiting. I love this picture of “big girl” Kylie helping hold Nathan. They were both so happy in this moment! This was also the first time I really saw myself (as a baby) in Nathan.

Kylie helping hold Nathan

We also made a trip to St. Louis to celebrate our nephew and Nathan’s cousin’s baptism. Ezekiel is a cutie and it was so fun to have all 5 of the cousins together. We did our best at taking a picture of the Barz cousins – the first of many – with the boys wearing matching outfits bought by my Mom.

The Barz Grandchildren - Summer 2014

At 5 months, Nathan has become more efficient (or quicker) at nursing. He still gets easily distracted by all that is going on around him. He definitely recognizes the voices of his Mommy and Daddy when we come in the room or door from somewhere else. It makes us smile every time.

Nathan rolls over occasionally but not regularly yet. He prefers to scoot around. He is excellent at turning himself 360 degrees on his tummy when playing. He tries to sneak glances at the tv but knows Dad and Mom don’t allow it so we are watching it less and less when he’s in the room…which isn’t a bad thing.

This month, we traveled to Nebraska to celebrate his Uncle Chris’s wedding (Andy’s brother) to his new Aunt Jessica. It was a small but lovely wedding in Omaha over Labor Day weekend. Nathan looked quite handsome in his little suit ($3.50 from Once Upon a Child) and new bowtie. He looks so grown up, too!

Nathan at 5 Months in His tux

Nathan loves to stand – with our help. He is very close to sitting on his own, too. He started spending two afternoons a week at his Grandpa and Grandma Whirrett’s while I go teach music. We are very thankful for their help and for the opportunity for Nathan to see at least one set of his grandparents regularly.

Nathan is still quite the charmer and loves to smile at everyone. He laughs occasionally but always has a smile ready! He is starting to recognize a camera and smile for it as well. We get comments everywhere we go over what a cute and happy baby Nathan is. And he truly is! Nathan really is a people person!

Nathan at 5 Months

Your Family in Pictures

Your Family in Pictures

I love to take pictures! And now that I have a quickly growing baby, I find myself taking even more pictures. I have slowed down a bit since the first days and weeks that Nathan was born, but I am still averaging 300 to 400 pictures a month. I love my DSLR camera that I bought last year but I am still working at improving my photography skills. For this reason, I was very interested in reading Me Ra Koh’s new book, Your Family in Pictures.

I found Me Ra’s story intriguing. She didn’t learn photography until after she was married and had a baby. Photography was therapy for her after giving birth to your daughter (conceived in date rape) and miscarrying her second baby, a son. She is truly a self-taught photography who now aims to take the mystic out of wonderful pictures.

The concept of this book is simple. Me Ra believes anyone can take memorable pictures if you learn to look for the little moments. To help parents, she has come up with 40 photography “recipes” for us to recreate the pictures in our own homes. Each recipe includes the when, prep, compose and capture. She also gives advice for point and shoot cameras, as well as DSLR. I love how simple she makes it!

What I noticed about this book is that it is truly geared for families. It covers a large variety of ages and occasions. Currently, I haven’t tried these pictures because Nathan isn’t quite old enough. As soon as Christmas rolls around, I am going to be trying her Christmas tree light recipe!

For me, I now want to read her books Your Baby in Pictures and Your Child in Pictures. If you are past the baby stage, jump right in with Your Family in Pictures. Otherwise, I think it is probably best to start with one of her other books. Me Ra did a wonderful job of creating a truly user friendly photography book. I look forward to using this book for years to come as I photograph my family!

Please note that I received a free copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Sally’s Baking Addiction Links

Links I Love Button

I have a theme to my links today because I’d like to introduce you to someone. Everyone, I’d like you to meet Sally of Sally’s Baking Addiction. Sally, meet everyone! I stumbled across Sally via one of her recipes on Pinterest and one recipe quickly lead to another and another and another. Since I have so many of her recipes on my to make list, I thought I’d share a couple that are on my current list.

Starting with breakfast, I want to try this chocolate peanut butter lover’s granola. It looks delicious for breakfast – or a snack! I also want to try making Sally’s raspberry swirl sweet rolls. What a fun twist on a cinnamon roll!

I’d eat this cinnamon-swirl chocolate chip bread for breakfast or at anytime. Yum! I’m also curious to try her sky high apple pie muffins. She has lots of delicious looking muffin recipes but this one is at the top of my list. Plus, these are made with greek yogurt and applesauce which really makes them a healthier muffin treat!

Now, onto delicious looking desserts. The gorgeous pictures Sally takes of her desserts will instantly entice you to make countless of these recipes. Here are some of the desserts I want to make.

Peanut butter stuffed brownies. Need I say anything more? S’mores brownie pie looks like a fun twist on a classic s’more.

Pumpkin chocolate chip cookies are going on my fall baking list. I love pumpkin chocolate chip muffins so am excited to find a cookie recipe for the same flavors!

Fluffernutter cake intrigues me since it’s a combination of peanut butter and marshmallows. I’ll probably make cookie dough lovers ice cream pie first because cookie dough is another one of my favorites.

Although Sally  is known (at least to me) for her desserts, she does have other recipes – main dishes and healthy ones, too.

I want to try her honey bbq chicken fingers that are actually marinated in bbq sauce. Why have I never thought of that as a marinade before? I’m going to try her crustless 110 calorie quiche with some of our garden goodies. The quiche recipe is for me, but the cheesy garlic breadsticks for me and my husband!

You see why I needed an entire links devoted to Sally? I might have to do this with a couple of my other favorite blogs soon. For now, go check out Sally’s Baking Addiction. It’s great cooking inspiration!

Becoming a SAHM: Make the decision.

Becoming a SAHM: Make the decision. Part of the SAHM Series on www.JoyfullyThriving.com.

This post is part of my “Becoming a SAHM” series, based on my real-life journey to becoming a Stay at Home Mom. Thank you for joining me on this journey!

Ah. Stay at home Moms. It’s (unfortunately) an often heated topic of debate. I don’t believe it should be. I think it’s a wonderful thing but each and every Mom – and family – needs to make that decision for herself and for her individual family.

My decision came early. Even before I had children, even before college, even before I was married, even before I was pregnant, I knew I wanted to be a SAHM someday. I credit this desire in large part to my Mom who stayed at home with all four of her children. I saw firsthand what a good thing it was for our family. Early on, I didn’t realize how special it was or what a blessing it was. This was just the way our life was. It was the way my parents chose to raise us. Dad continued serving (working) as a Pastor and Mom stayed home. Sure, Mom played the organ on Sundays and directed choirs and subbed on occasion. She kept busy and supplemented our family income with various jobs but her primary one was to stay home. Since I grew up this way, I knew from early on that I wanted my someday children to have that same comfort and confidence that comes from having their Mom at home.

My husband and I discussed this topic while we were still dating. Like me, Andy grew up with a Mom who stayed home. Like me, he realized what a wonderful opportunity this was for him and his siblings. Like me, Andy wanted our children to have that same upbringing. It was so wonderful to know that we were on the same page from the beginning! I pray that your husband is as supportive of your desire as mine. If he is not, pray about it – and discuss your desires with him. This is an important decision that you need to make together. 

Now, please understand this. I know there are many Moms who chose not to stay at home. Some of them are the primary breadwinners while Dad stays home. Some want to continue advance in their careers. Some are in the midst of schooling. Some are single Moms who have work. Some feel it’s not financially feasible. (We’ll talk more about that feasibility of staying home on limited finances in the future part of this series.) I believe being a SAHM is a choice and it is a choice that I am glad I made.

Know this. It’s not easy. I’m only 4 months into this new life as a SAHM and as much as I wanted this, I am daily learning how challenging this job can be. I am the one who wakes up in the night with our son and I am the one who puts him down for naps. I am the one who reads the same story countless times a day. I am the one who cooks with one hand while holding the baby with the other. I am learning to run a household at the same time as caring for a baby. I am the one who loves our relaxed mornings but still longs for adult conversation at moments throughout the day. It is indeed difficult to be a Mom (whether you stay at home or not), but this decision of mine to be a SAHM was still a good one.

Maybe you are not sure if you are ready to be a SAHM. Maybe you don’t know if you can handle the day in and day out monotony. Maybe you are not sure you can financially make this choice. Maybe you don’t know if can and will be the Mom you want to be while staying at home. All these are valid concerns but it all starts with a choice. Make the decision to be a SAHM. It’s a wonderful decision to make and I think you’ll be glad you did!

Tell us. When did you make the decision to be a SAHM? Was it a difficult or easy decision for you?

Highly Happy Marriages: A Review

Highly Happy Marriages

A couple of years ago, I read For Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn and I loved the insights it gave me into my husband. When I saw she had just published a new book about marriages, I wanted to read it.

The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages: The Little Things that Make a Big Difference by Shaunti Feldhahn was certainly an interesting read. First and foremost, it is important to note that Mrs. Feldhahn researches in depth every topic she presents. She has the statistics from a thorough study to support her writings. She shares her findings on every topic, and it is very interesting. Also, these books are written from a clear Christian perspective. Shaunti does not preach but her faith does permeate her writing, as even Christian would hope and expect it to do.

The concept of this book is simple. Anyone can learn the secrets of a highly happy marriage! Shaunti learned that is the little, unexpected actions that are often overlooked that make a huge difference in marriage. Her book covers the importance of these principles found in highly happy marriages.

  • Go to bed mad.
  • Keep score.
  • Boss their feelings around.
  • Have factual fantasies.
  • Get in over their heads.
  • Don’t tell it like it is.
  • Don’t look to marriage to make them happy.

This book gives you a lot of food for thought. It is also an encouragement that anyone can go from an ordinary or happy marriage to a highly happy marriage. Shaunti recommends slowly adopting these principles to your life and marriage. I found the research, stories and suggestions compelling. I would certainly recommend Highly Happy Marriages to anyone who is looking for a good, Christian marriage book.

For more information, check out the following links from Shaunti Feldhahn.

Please note that I received a free copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

5 Great Music CDs for Preschoolers

5 Great Music Cds for Preschoolers

I’m a music teacher and an early childhood teacher. Since I am both, I use a lot of music in my classroom. I have dozens upon dozens of music cds that I have collected over the past ten years of teaching. I use a song or two from many of the cds, but there are certain cds that I keep returning to, year after year. These cds are the ones my preschoolers love – and the ones that I love, too. I love that these cds get my children singing! Rather than listening them all, here are five of my favorite cds to use with preschoolers. Whether you are a teacher or mom or grandma of a preschooler, you will enjoy listening to and singing along with these cds and so will your young children!

Please note that some of these links are affiliate links. If you purchase any items through these links, I get a small percentage back which helps support this website. Thanks!

Six Little Ducks by Kimbo Music is a cd with many classic children’s songs on it. This is a great cd to introduce children to songs such as “Old MacDonald,” “You Are My Sunshine,” “Skinnamarink,” and “The Wheels on the Bus.” My preschoolers also really enjoyed singing the silly song, “On Top of Spaghetti.” I enjoyed it because it was sung as an echo song, which makes it easy for the teachers to remember – and children to sing.

Hide ‘em In Your Heart by Steve Green is a series of scripture verses set to song. I had these cassettes when I was growing up, and upgraded to cds when I began teaching. I like these cds because they are word for word scripture verses set to music – with the scripture reference included. The songs are well written so that before very long, parents and children will be singing these Bible verses. I often sing “Do not worry” to myself from this cd. There are two volumes of this cd, and I recommend them both! Amazon is currently selling them as a 2 for 1 deal, so look for that.

This cd is relatively unknown, but another one of my childhood favorites. Late Last Night by Joe Scruggs is a lively cd enjoyed by younger and older kids alike. “Wiggle in my Toe” and the “Turn Around Game” are favorites of my preschoolers and Kindergarteners when we have inside recess. Of course, “Late Last Night” is the all-time favorite as we pretend to put on different shoes throughout the song. It’s lots of fun!

Do you Go Fish? No, not the game, but the music group, Go Fish! If you don’t, get to know them. Go Fish is the group with kids music that won’t drive Moms crazy! Plus, they sing mostly Accapella. A Christian group, I have a couple of their cds and enjoy all the ones I have. If you’re looking for a good introduction, Party Like a Preschooler by Go Fish is the perfect place to start. Their twist on the “Itsy Bitsy Spider” is a great one. You can check this song out on Youtube with this clever Go Fish video.

God is Great Arison

Finally, the God is Great series by Arison rounds out my list. Arison is another Christian group that children of all ages will enjoy. I first heard that a teacher’s conference in Ohio years ago and promptly purchased their first cd – God is Great. Now, there are four volumes in this series and they are all very good! If you are wondering with which volumes to start, I own and like them all. Volume one is still my favorite and their latest, volume 4, is a close second. You can listen to the songs on their website.

There you have it! Those are my favorite music cds to use with my preschoolers. Of course, I’ve used these cds with Kindergarteners and students in the lower grades as well. What are your favorite cds to use with preschoolers?

More New Recipe Links

Links I Love Button

Yes, I’m back with more recipe links because I’ve discovered lots more that I want to try. I simply can’t help myself! Don’t these look delicious?

Edie shared her recipe for best ever blueberry cake with lemon glaze. Since it’s blueberry season, it’s the perfect time to bake this.  I also want to try making chocolate covered blueberries.

Ree showed how she makes her own veggie cream cheese. Yes, it takes more work but you can easily customize it to your taste.

Jen reminded me of one of my Mom’s recipes with this no-bake chocolate eclair cake. What a perfect summer treat!

Ruth made a 5 minute ice cream cake which is another great summertime dessert.

Adriane shared her recipe for rhubarb cherry crisp. I don’t think I’ve ever had this rhubarb combination but it looks delicious!

Brenda made her take on rhubarb with her recipe for grilled angel food cake with rhubarb sauce. Another winner, I think!

Lynette intigued me with her recipe for juice pie. Yes, the frugal filling comes from juice.

Now, the ever important question. Which one shall I try making first?

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