Craving something garlicky and buttery without the carbs? Spinach Gnocchi Balls will leave your breath strong, your teeth dirty, and your stomach happy.
I remember many moons ago when I was a teenager I hosted a girls-only Valentine’s Day Dinner for all my gal pals that didn’t have a Valentine’s Day date. This was well before it was called Galentine’s Day or before we all had cell phones to take cute photos of our evening to show social media (thank god for that!) But what I do remember was the rule for the meal; everything we had must be full of garlic or something you’d never eat in front of your date.
So I made heart-shaped crescent rolls, creamy chicken alfredo, and these Spinach Gnocchi balls. The recipe is actually one my mom had been making for me for years and was so. freaking. good. Unlike most gnocchi, these don’t have any flour, so it’s not a traditional dumpling. These are full of spinach and uses cheese as a binder. (So if you’re either on a veggie kick or are riding high on the Keto train, these will rock your world.
Now 15+ later, some of my favorite gals met for a little pre-Galentine’s Day soiree. Each of us brought something to share for Galentine’s Day – so good and so delicious.
Galentine’s Day Ideas
Knitted Succulent Pot Valentine’s with Printable | Julie’s Measures
Jalapeno Grapefruit Mocktail | A Cowboy’s Life
Red Velvet Kiss Cake | Everyday Best
Craving something garlicky and buttery without the carbs? Spinach Gnocchi Balls will leave your breath strong, your teeth dirty, and your stomach happy.
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 10-ounce package frozen spinach (chopped, thawed, and drained)
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
1 beaten egg yolk
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Cook onion in 2 tablespoons butter until tender. Add spinach. Cook 5-7 minutes until tender and all liquid is evaporated; stirring frequently. Cool slightly.Then combine egg yolk and remaining ingredients to mixture.
Grease a round baking pan. Then take 1 tablespoons of mixture into your hands and roll into a ball. Continue with all the mixture. Next drizzle with butter and parmesan cheese. Bake at 425 degrees for 12-15 minutes.
Make a holiday tradition that you will all love with the lights at Daystar. Visit Santa, take photos at Christmas Town and experience the meaning of Christmas. #DaystarChristmas
Thanks to Daystar for the invitation and the opportunity to enjoy the lights with my family and not just taking the photos!
DFW is home to many amazing light displays. Each has its own unique experience and we love going back year after year to see what’s new and to visit our favorite parts. But this year we had the opportunity to add a beautiful new-to-us light display to the list – and it was just around the corner from our home at Daystar TV in Euless.
The lights at Daystar actually aren’t new – they started them in 2005 as a nice way to celebrate the season. But the beauty quickly caught on and this year the display grew two-fold with one million lights, in addition to adding Christmas Town, an area dedicated to entertaining children by bringing in their favorite holiday characters and a lighted tunnel entrance leading guests to a gazebo surrounded by toy soldiers. Children can also see a 6-foot tall Olaf joined by his two penguin friends, a lighted Thomas the Train, Santa’s workshop with elves, and a gingerbread house filled with gingerbread people.
We were able to park right at the displays and take a look around and visit each area at our own schedule while taking photos and singing along the way. The kids LOVED it and what I loved is it was just the right size – without lines, without traffic, and without any costs.
And when we left we had that warm and fuzzy feeling that you want at Christmas.
While the event’s activities are over, you can still check out the light displays until Jan. 6. Also please make sure to Save the Date for next year – it’s definitely on our short list for years to come. You’ll be able to experience the Living Nativity, visit with Santa and take a beautiful shot for your own Christmas cards. Each year more than 100,000 cars drive by the network’s international headquarters everyday, and by adding new additions like Christmas Town and pictures with Santa, hopefully more people in the community will come and enjoy the holiday fun as they spend quality time with family and friends this Christmas season.
About Daystar Television Network
Daystar Television Network is an award winning, faith-based network dedicated to spreading the Gospel 24 hours a day, seven days a week – all around the globe, through all media formats possible. The nonprofit reaches more than 109 million households in the United States and over 4.4 billion people worldwide. Daystar is the fastest growing faith-based television network in the world. For more information, visit daystar.com.
So many toys, so little time! Here’s your annual holiday helper – THE Holiday Hot Toys for your kids this Christmas. And we’re playing Santa too – with some big giveaways!
‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there..”
Hey, don’t kid yourself, even Santa had help even if this poem doesn’t give any credit to the elves.
So consider us your elves and we aren’t looking for any credit either. Here’s your list of hot holiday toys – just in time for you to get them under tree, along with those stockings stuffed. But here at mamachallenge.com have taken it one step further…these gifts are made to make kids play and may even remind you of toys you had growing up. We’ve done some work to find toys that are fun and educate kids while also making them use their imagination. Most of these you won’t see an device needed to make them work or a screen to keep them on for hours. These toys are meant for play, activity, thinking and good ole family time.
Treemendous Ornament Activity
TreeMendous Ornament, Treemendous fun! This patent pending design to let children ages 6 and up to personalize their own ornament. Treemendous is a perfect present because it is an ideal activity to do with grandparents, friends, siblings and parents alike. Boys and Girls alike will embrace the holidays season by making their very own handmade ornament. Sure, to become a family treasure for years to come.
The Sleepover Party Game
Endless Games sleepover party game break out the sleeping bags and leave the lights on. It’s a sleepover party and wear staying up late! Spin the spinner and attempt to complete one of over 200 act It, work it, or party challenges. Be the human mirror and copy everything another player does! Take part in the “Funny sound competition” and make the most ridiculous noise you can!! Try to lick your own elbow!!! Being silly and having fun is The name of the game at this sleepover, so be prepared to sing, laugh, perform, and make a general fool of yourself! Don’t fall asleep early, or you’ll miss out on earning the most cards and staying up all night!
Road Trip the Family Game
It’s a family game that is really for the whole family! Roadtrip could be played in the car, but you can play it for any great game night. This is a well-made game that has won all the toy awards including the Sterling Fun Award Winner, The Toy Man Seal of Approval, The National Parenting Center Seal of Approval and many more.
Welcome to Tiki Island, home to nine colorful carvings all competing to be the top Polynesian Idol! In this fast-paced strategy game, try to maneuver your secret tikis to the top of the line by playing the right combination of action cards. Use a Tiki Up card to move a tiki ahead in line. Tiki Topple sends opponents’ tikis tumbling to the back of the pack. But watch out for the sneaky Tiki Toast cards, which knock your tikis off the board! Score the most points and call yourself the Tiki Master.For 2 – 4 players, ages 10 and up.Contents: 55 cards, 9 custom tiki pieces, 4 playing pawns, 1 game board and instructions.
One of America’s oldest doll companies and have delighted parents and children for over 102 years with our wonderful dolls. Baby’s First Kisses can be easily cleaned and always ready for play – they are Hypoallergenic and MACHINE WASHABLE! The adorable baby doll kisses pleasantly when her soft tummy is squeezed. Helps children develop large motor skills, while stimulating their senses of sight, sound and touch. Great size for babies 1+, toddlers – easy to hold, carry, squeeze and love. Remove the Kisses mechanism from the smart “sanity” pocket and she is ready for the washing machine!
Kenya Dolls is the oldest and most loved ethnic brand in the toy market celebrating 25 years of growing up proud. Kenya’s roots trace back to Dallas, there are several versions to love, but the stand out of this toy is her authentic hair. Whether curly and short, long and natural, or braided and beaded, Kenya truly represents every black girl’s stylish locks.
Insect Lore Deluxe Butterfly Garden Gift Set with Live Cup of Caterpillars Habitat
Watching the butterfly life cycle up close is more fun than ever with the Butterfly Garden Gift Set with live cup of caterpillars. Exciting butterfly-themed bonus items make this butterfly-raising kit the perfect gift! feed and observe your very own beautiful butterflies for a few days before releasing them into the wild! the entire transformation takes about three weeks, depending on the temperature and humidity in your area. There is no need to feed your caterpillars; all the nutritious food they require to become beautiful butterflies is included in their cozy cup.
Project MC Perfume Maker
Project Mc2 is a team of super-smart and seriously cool girls who use their love of science and their spy skills as they go on missions for secret organization, NOV8 (that’s “innovate”!). They’re real girls with real skills ready to take on anything. Watch new episodes of the Project Mc2 original series, only on Netflix!
Adrienne Attoms’ next mission is to use her cosmetic chemistry skills to formulate the perfect look for saving the world. Formulate your own perfumes with Project Mc2 Perfume Maker. Now you can perform this same cool S.T.E.A.M. experiment at home using just household items again and again. Pretty brilliant!
An award-winning educational toy, Orboot is a no-borders globe that connects with the fun and interactive Orboot app. Explore the world with 400+ highlights and 1000+ cool facts across 6 categories – cultures, cuisines, monuments, inventions, animals and maps (national and state boundaries of countries). A STEM toy that sparks the imagination and creativity, Orboot encourages the little ones to explore and discover on their own. It builds knowledge as well as develops linguistic and cognitive abilities in the process.
LEGO® Creator 3-in-1 Treehouse
Enjoy imaginative pirate adventures with this LEGO® Creator 3-in-1 Treehouse Treasures set, featuring a 3-level pirate ship treehouse with a ship deck, ship’s wheel, treasure chest hideaway function, bowsprit with flag and teddy bear, crow’s nest, tire swing and an upper-level den. Pirate accessories include a hat, telescope and 2 swords. This 3in1 model rebuilds into a Pirate Ship or a Skull Cave for more pirating fun, and includes 2 minifigures rigged out for pirate adventures, plus a scary spider figure.
BrickHeadz Luke Skywalker™ and Yoda™
These LEGO® BrickHeadz™ Luke Skywalker™ & Yoda™ construction characters are fun to build using LEGO bricks that recreate all their iconic details, including Luke’s Lightsaber™ and Yoda’s pointy ears and cane. The master and apprentice each stand on a buildable collector’s baseplate for easy display in your home, office or any planet you like. Buildable Luke Skywalker™ & Yoda™ LEGO® BrickHeadz™ construction characters feature decorated eyes and authentic details from the original blockbuster Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back movie, including Luke’s Lightsaber™ and Yoda’s pointy ears and cane.
Snap Circuits Bric Structures
Combine SNAP CIRCUITS with ordinary building bricks and make endless combinations of construction and circuitry. With Bric-2-Snap technology, kids can wire up their brick builds with SNAP CIRCUITS lights, sounds, moving parts and 3-D circuits to invent almost anything and make it go! Instead of just building a structure, learn how to build the circuit that makes the lights in a skyscraper illuminate or that makes the gears on a drawbridge move! There’s no limit to what kids can create.
HEXBUG BattleBots Arena Pro
It’s robot fighting time! Modeled after television’s hit series BattleBots, comes the HEXBUG BattleBots Arena Pro. With over 100 possible configurations, BattleBots fans can experience the excitement that comes with engineering your very own fighting robot. This set includes one arena and two customizable Build Your Own BattleBots.
Tudor Games Deluxe Electric Football Game
Set your plays and watch your teams do battle on this 32″ x 16″ SpeedTurf metal vibrating NFL gridiron with the Deluxe Electric Football Game! The PlayAction remote control places the fate of your offense in the palm of your hand, with its on-board variable speed control. Both offensive and defensive players are outfitted with all new Invisibase Cleat technology, sending your players where you want them to go. The all new PlayAction remote control places the fate of your offense in the palm of your hand, with its on-board variable speed control. Offense? Set! Defense? Set! Slow down the play with your PlayAction remote to see your blockers in action as the play develops. Got a man wide open downfield? Gaping hole in the defensive line? Shift into high speed and accelerate your team to victory!
Dynacraft Realtree 24V UTV
Your little one will love zipping around the neighborhood on this Dynacraft Realtree 24 V UTV, which features working headlights and suspension springs for a smooth ride. The dual seats make it easy to bring a friend along, and a built-in rack offers convenient storage space. A working steering wheel and foot pedal allow realistic use, and an MP3 input makes it easy to enjoy songs and music during the ride.
READY TO WIN?
Enter now for this Realtree UTV today! Enter to win more of the MAMACHALLENGE HOT HOT HOLIDAY TOY LIST!
Looking to celebrate the holidays? In the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex we’re lucky to have so many to experience but here’s our shortlist of Must-Do Holiday Events in DFW!
Ready for the holidays? Don’t worry, they’re already here, so get ready.
And in the DFW metroplex, from Fort Worth to Dallas, Arlington to Plano, Grand Prairie to Grapevine (and of course everything in between), there are plenty of great ones to choose from every day of the week. However, there are a few events that you need to have on your must-do, must-go, must-see list for the holidays in 2018! (And make sure to look as some of these have giveaways too!)
1. The Trains at Northpark
Northpark Center / Nov. 17 – Jan. 6, 2019
Prices: Tickets for The Trains at NorthPark are $4 for children ages 2-12 and seniors over 65. Adults are $7, while children under 2 are admitted for free. The exhibit closes for Christmas and Thanksgiving, also closing early for both Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.
Celebrating its 20th year, The Trains at NorthPark have been a holiday tradition for many families (you can spot them through the mall sporting their PJs as they head to the exhibit!) Benefiting Ronald McDonald House of Dallas (RMHD), and presented by Bank of Texas, The Trains at NorthPark features 750 railcars on a 1,600-foot elaborate configuration of tracks and scenes. The Trains at NorthPark features cityscapes like Dallas, the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge and Fair Park; New York with Times Square and Grand Central Terminal; Washington, D.C. with The White House; and San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. Other highlights include New England’s fall foliage, the Grand Canyon, Garden of the Gods, Mount Rushmore and Route 66. The charming exhibit has been seen by around two million since its original run over 30 years ago. (As you can see here from 2013, we’re big fans!) Get the details.
2. Enchant Christmas
Globe Life Park / Nov. 23 – Dec. 30
Tickets: Start at $21.99 for adults 14-64, $24.99 for children ages 4 -13, Seniors (65+) and free for children 3 and under with accompanying parent.
This year you’ll find this world of light inside Globe Life Park! Wander through the world’s largest light maze, get some Christmas goodies in the marketplace, enjoy delicious food and drinks, and enjoy live entertainment. You’ll find a 100-foot Christmas tree, a ice skating trail, hear some of DFW’s best entertainment, and don’t miss Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus. Get the details.
3. ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, A Holiday Musical and Parody Spectacular
Casa Manana / Nov. 23 – Dec. 23 (see site for specific dates and times)
Tickets range $21-$53
Get ready to laugh, cry, and dance for this perfect play for celebrating the holidays. From the press release: Molly is having trouble finding her Christmas spirit. Determined to make it a Christmas to remember, Molly’s mother takes her on a magical treasure hunt through New York City from Radio City Music Hall to Macy’s, where they encounter dancing elves and even Santa Claus himself! Featuring Christmas parodies of some of today’s most popular songs (Justin Timberlake, Bruno Mars, Mariah Carey, and more), ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas is a yuletide spectacular guaranteed to put you in the holiday spirit! Get the details.
4. Christmas at the Anatole
Hilton Anatole / Nov. 23 – Dec. 23
Rates and prices range based on activities.
When it comes to having some real face-time with Santa and Mrs. Claus, Christmas at the Anatole is the perfect place. The legendary hotel transforms into a winter wonderland complete with festive décor, Santa fun and Peppermint Park with all kinds of kids activities like a train ride, cocoa, tree lighting and more. But waking up with Breakfast with Santa and Mrs. Claus might be the icing on the Christmas cookies! Make a weekend of it with a stay at the hotel which includes a holiday movie night or try to snag one of the select opportunities for Breakfast with Santa only. Either way, you’ll make some great memories! Get the details.
5. Prairie Lights
Joe Pool Lake / Nov. 23 – Dec. 30 (hours vary)
Prices start at $25 per car. (Splurge on the other activities for a full night of fun with the fam.)
Long one of my favorite of displays in DFW, Prairie Lights in Grand Prairie is well worth the time and money! There is such much even beyond two miles of lit paths and four million lights, it’s a whole night of fun for the kid in all of us. The experience includes not only the drive-through display, but a Holiday Village with free rides, delicious holiday fare, a marketplace and of course, Santa. There’s even a special Holiday Magic theatrical show and a Walk-Through Forest (for an added cost), so you can keep the spirit of Christmas going all night long! Get the details.
6. Holiday at the Arboretum
Dallas Arboretum / Nov. 4 – Jan. 7, 2018
Prices range with activities (some activities included with admission.)
Holiday at the Arboretum features the return of the magnificent The 12 Days of Christmas outdoor exhibit, as well as 500,000 lights throughout the garden at night, trimming the architecture of the historic homes and lighting the canopies overhead—including a 30-foot-tall tree. But that’s just the beginning! You can snag a kiss under the mistletoe, get a glimpse of Santa and a real reindeer and much more. There are activities available both morning and nights, throughout the week and the weekends so make sure to check the schedule to get your favorites. Get the details.
7. ICE! at the Gaylord Texan
Gaylord Texan Hotel and Convention Center / Nov. 9 – Jan. 1, 2019
Rates and prices range based on activities.
If you’re looking for a winter wonderland, you won’t find more ice and snow than at the Gaylord Texan for their annual Lonestar Christmas! From its ICE! at the Gaylord Texan exhibit with 2 million pounds of hand-carved ice inside the 9 degree, 14,000 sq.-feet exhibit, outdoor ice skating, Snow Tubing, you’ll get your fix. Looking for something a little warmer? Decorate your own gingerbread house or breakfast at Rudolph’s Holly Jolly Christmas, you can Christmas to your heart’s content. Once your all Christmased out, stay the night for a full holiday hotel experience. Get the details.
8. Robert Earl Keen’s Cosmic Christmas
Bass Performance Hall / Dec. 29, 2018
Tickets starting at $55.
Oh, if there’s a Christmas song to sum up our Christmas, I’ll admit it’s Robert Earl Keen’s “Merry Christmas from the Family.” One of my all-time favorite Texas legends (he was one of my first concerts and many more have followed), REK and his band kick up Christmas favorites with his own sound of storytelling, bluegrass and always lots of fun. And where else would you want to enjoy him than in Cowtown for a little Christmas fun. Get the details.
9. Tree Lighting at Galleria Dallas
Galleria Dallas / Nov. 23 – Dec. 23 (dates and times of events vary)
Galleria Dallas celebrates its 37th holiday season with tree lightings, ice skating performances, kids events (like Slappy’s Holiday Circus), Chanukah Menorah Lighting and of course, SHOPPING. But it’s the tree lighting (referred to as the Illumination Celebration featuring world-class ice skaters and Missile Toes, the ice-skating, back-flipping, pyrotechnic Santa, along with local children performing, a countdown to a fireworks finale and the lighting of the country’s tallest indoor Christmas tree that make the magic of Christmas come alive (Believe me, I’ve spent many years doing this and you won’t be dissapointed, but come early to get a good spot on one of the the levels.) Get the details.
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That tree. 🌲 I spent more than a decade sharing how amazing it was as the “tallest indoor Christmas tree in the U.S.,” but no matter how many amazing Olympic skaters we hosted around it, or the times I saw Missile Toes flip as fireworks fired from his skates, it’s still that beautiful tree that captures my heart and says “Happy Holidays from DFW.”🎅🏼 My heart is full I can share it with my kids tonight.❤️ . . . #galleriadallas #galleriaholiday #galleria #mamachallenge #Dallas #BigD #dfwhappenings #dallasblogger #happyholidays
10. Vitruvian Lights
Vitruvian Park in Addison / Nov. 23 – Jan. 1, 2019
Free / Parking $10
The most dazzling and spectacular time of the year is here! Vitruvian Park transforms into a magical holiday wonderland during Vitruvian Lights. Walk through the park to view the lights, gourmet food trucks, sweet treats, FREE photos with Santa, classic holiday characters, elf balloon artist, and Metrocrest Services Donation Drive.
Vitruvian Lights Special Event Dates & Performances:
Friday, November 23, 2018 from 6:00pm – 10:00pm – Jordan Kahn Orchestra
Saturday, December 1, 2018 from 6:00pm – 10:00pm – Dallas String Quartet
Saturday, December 8, 2018 from 6:00pm – 10:00pm – Sonny’s Holliday
11. Gift of Lights
Texas Motor Speedway / Nov. 29 – Dec. 30
Tickets start at $30.
Head to Texas Motor Speedway for the Gift of Lights. There you will see a fantastic light show, travel to Santa’s Village where you will meet Santa and experience what Christmas is like at the North Pole. First responders and military also get a special gift with a free 5 x 7 photo in Santa’s Village. Get the details.
12. Holiday in the Park
Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington / Nov. 16-Dec. 30
Tickets start at $30.
If you’re looking for holiday thrills you’ll find them at Holiday in the Park at Six Flags over Texas. Discover a winter wonderland filled with holiday attractions including a snow hill, visits with Santa, sing-a-longs, and holiday shows. This year introduces the Merry Marketplace filled with holiday treats, shopping, and photo opportunities. Get the details.
13. Tea with Santa
The Fairmont Dallas / Dec. 15 at 11 am and noon
Tickets start at $49.12 for adults. See website for special prices.
Make memories while enjoying the arrival of Santa this season with “Tea with Santa,” including a delicious Christmas-inspired brunch spread, Holiday Wonderland Candy bar, gingerbread and sugar cookies make-and-take with Santa’s elves, and a “Santa Reveal” photo to commemorate the big moment with the big guy from the North Pole! Tea with Santa Brunch features Crispy Chicken & Waffle Skewers, Mini Holiday Ham & Cheese Quiche, Winter Spiced Pumpkin Bisque, Chocolate Maple Pecan Éclair, Peppermint Macarons, Raspberry Pistachio Financier, Lemon Meringue Choux. And Bottomless Champ/Mimosa bar for adults and Hot tea station with “Lemonade Tea” for kids. Get the details.
14. LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Dallas/Fort Worth’s annual Holiday Bricktacular
Grapevine Mills / Dec. 15, 16, 22 & 23
Prices: Admission is included in the normal ticket price. Admission is $21.95 for guests 3 years of age and older, and free for kids 2 and under.
‘Tis the season for LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Dallas/Fort Worth’s annual Holiday Bricktacular! Holiday Bricktacular activities include:
- Giant LEGO Nutcracker: View the Master Model Builder’s newest creation, a 5-foot-tall Nutcracker.
- Meet & Greet LEGO Santa: Meet jolly old LEGO® Santa and tell him about all the LEGO® sets you want this year.
- Holiday Quilt Build: Test your building skills by helping the Master Model Builder create an oversized, one-of-a-kind holiday LEGO® quilt.
- Scavenger Hunt: LEGO® Santa has lost his toy bag filled with iconic toys. Help him find all the lost robots, cars, planes, dolls and teddy bears in MINILAND for a chance to win an annual pass.
15. SEA LIFE Grapevine Aquarium
Grapevine Mills / Various dates and times through Dec. 24
Price is included with regular admission
Celebrate the holiday season and see Scuba Diving Santa, along with his elf, make a jolly appearance in a water wonderland at SEA LIFE Grapevine Aquarium amongst sharks, stingrays, sea turtles, fish and other marine life, with special holiday dive shows and other festive fishy activities around the aquarium.
Holiday activities include:
- Scuba Diving Santa: Experience a dive show like no other with a jolly red-suited diver, beard and all, along with his elf as they take the plunge in a magical dive show amongst the fish, sharks and stingrays in SEA LIFE Grapevine’s 160,000-gallon ocean tank. Pose for pictures and find out if Scuba Diving Santa thinks you’ve been naughty or nice. Scheduled dives occur at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays, Dec. 12, 15, 20 and 23.
- Meet and Greet with Santa Sharky: Meet and pose for a holiday photo with Santa Sharky.Fridays and Sundays, Dec. 14, 16, 21 and 23 from 12 to 3 p.m.
- Elf on a Shelf: Try and find SEA LIFE’s mischievous elf Minnow as he move’s around the aquarium. Snap a selfie with Minnow and share on Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #SeaLifeElfie for a chance to win an annual pass. Daily Dec. 12 through 24.
- Holiday Cards for Creatures: All of SEA LIFE’s animals made the nice list this year. However, which one is the nicest? The aquarium is asking the public to vote for their favorite from sharks, rays and sea turtles by writing them a holiday card in the theater. The sea creature with the most cards wins! Daily Dec. 12 through 24.
Check back often: This list will update throughout the season.
Thanksgiving isn’t just primetime for turkey, it’s time for wine, too! With so many dishes to enjoy in one meal, here’s a guide for winin’ and dinin’ for Thanksgiving Pairings from Messina Hof.
It’s not everyday that you get invited (again) for a private wine tasting with the owners of the most-awarded winery in Texas, so when it happens, you say yes (again.)
Pulling up to the Main Street in Grapevine, I was all smiles (and a little bit of anxiety) to spend the afternoon with my mom getting to know Paul and Karen Bonarrigo, the other half-owners of Messina Hof. The couple hails from the 40-year-old Messina Hof legacy began by Paul Vincent and Merrill Bonarrigo in Bryan, Texas, which has expanded to produce 130,000 gallons per year and the leader in the Texas wine industry. Paul also is the president-elect of the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association (TWGGA), so to say this “pairing” knows wine is an understatement.
However, about two seconds together, as the first ounce hit the bottom of the glass, it seemed like four old friends were catching up as we enjoyed several of the newly released wines. But that’s exactly the best way to describe Messina Hof – and it’s line up of more than 90 wines from 30 varietals – you can taste the family and tradition that has made it the name it is today. And each taste we enjoyed took on a new taste, but with a familiar feeling you just wanted to continue to enjoy.
So just in time for Thanksgiving, an event heralded for spending time with great food, great friends, and great family, there’s no better winemaker than Messina Hof to help you pair with the dishes you’ll have around the table. From turkey, to green bean casserole, and even your cranberry sauce, there’s Texas’ own Messina Hof to pair perfectly.
Holiday foods are usually bigger than life – big flavors, heavy textures, rich ingredients, and lots of herbs and spices. Those complex dishes make for dynamic wine pairings that can flex in different directions. Plus, your guests will have different palates and will enjoy different elements of dishes. So, have multiple wines available for sampling.
BROWN SUGAR GLAZED TURKEY
GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE
Angel Riesling, Late Harvest
Dry White or Rosé
Think getting something mom wants for Mother’s Day is hard? Take it from this mama, you don’t have to work too hard (or pay too much) to get her something she’ll really want.
Thanks to JCPenney for making it easy with this sponsored post.
As mamas we actually don’t expect much. We’re actually kinda used to it (as experienced at Christmas as most of the gifts under the tree are researched, purchased and wrapped by us.) But at Mother’s Day, we do (no matter what we say) kinda want a little something.
While we’ve taught you that it’s the thought that counts (and believe me you score points when you do), it’s nice that it’s not always something that we’d like to have too. Now there’s plenty of things we need (ask any mom and even though she swears there’s nothing she wants, she has a list somewhere.)
Mother’s Day Gift Tip: Head to her Pinterest for great gift ideas she’s secretly thinking about.
While most moms will be happy with a card, a craft or even a hug, kiss or a phone call… it doesn’t hurt to give her something she’s gonna love. For me, after moving, I’ll be honest, my list is SOOOO long.
- I need stuff for the house.
- I need new summer sandals (to replace all the ones I threw away because they were so old my kids had never seen some of them.)
- I always need a new handbag (because Mom’s handbag is really everyone’s tote, right?)
- I need new clothes (new season means a new reason, right)
And well you get the picture.
On a recent trip to Pasadena for Mom 2.0, I wanted to get a few staples that could go in a suitcase without the worry of too many wrinkles, that also felt good for a morning meeting or an evening out. Unfortunately, I had about 30 minutes to do a spring through JCPenney.
But honestly, in my 20 minutes I found a Liz Claiborne clutch that doubled as a charging station (huge for a conference where everyone is taking photos and video), Liz Claiborne summer white jeans, and a Worthington mushroom taupe tunic (channeling my inner JLO) for the trip. The beautiful flowing top was forgiving in all the right places, but had just enough flair to show a little bit of skin and a little bit of spunk. Plus I was able to grab a bottle of dry shampoo too. All on one floor. All in 20 minutes. All at JCPenney.
I found a lot more too (including some adorable Mommy & Me matching dresses) that I would be bringing me after the trip. So see if you think that it’s going to take awhile to find her a gift, you don’t have to work that hard. Plus with some gifts including a set of pearls already boxed to give for just $10, you’re taking longer thinking about it then just going, buying, and then giving.
Here are a few picks of what I purchased that also doubled as good buys for summer travel. But with so much at JCPenney Mother’s Day, check out the flier to really save yourself some time and give you a few ideas.)
And if you’d heed your own mama’s advice, you know she’d prefer you be smart with your time and your money. And listening to your mama always makes her happy, right?
Now you have time to take her to brunch too 🙂
Don’t just celebrate Mother’s Day, make it a charming tradition to look forward with something just for you and her. #MyJamesAvery
Thank you to James Avery for this special Mother’s Day offer and this sponsored post.
It’s normally a day that people send flowers or take mom to brunch or make a card or sometimes just let her not do anything.
While those are all things I love (who doesn’t), this year I wanted it to be different. I wanted it to be a day that I didn’t just look forward to, but my daughter, who possibly, hopefully, will have a daughter of her own, will look forward to as well…a new family tradition.
As a storyteller, my whole life and everything around it, what I wear, what’s in my house, the music I listen to, all have an experience attached to them. My life is much like a charm bracelet, where each small, delicate charm signifies a milestone, big or small, that makes my life what it has become.
My baby girl is definitely one of the biggest milestones I’ve ever had.
“It’s a girl,” the Dr. showed me on the sonogram more than six years ago.
And then it happened.
All the color just went away from my face and the flood of emotion took over my whole body.
From the moment I found out I had a daughter on the way, I’ve experienced an overwhelming responsibility to not just be her mother, but the female role model in her life that, God willing, will make her strong, proud, kind, smart, independent and all those other amazing qualities you want your daughter to possess.
While it’s been quite the journey and I’m sure with her vivacious sense of life, it will always been an adventure, I wanted to share something with her. Something that would continue to tell my story and something that she could have; to begin telling her story, too.
So one warm Sunday, we put on our girl dresses. She even snuck on a little bit (too much) lipstick, but she was so proud I didn’t make her take it off and headed for our girl day. On our way, we listened to our favorite girl songs a little too loud. And we headed to James Avery.
James Avery is a family-owned, Texas-born, Texas-based jeweler based in Kerrville that began more than 50 years ago. Started on family and faith, the jeweler offers more than 1,100 designs and has more than 14,000 separate jewelry items in the product line.
“I strive to keep designs from being contrived, cluttered or cute. The challenge is to keep things simple.” James Avery
Her first time in a fancy jewelry store, my heart immediately began to swell after I told her to “go find her favorite.” Her instructions were that she could find her favorite charm and I would find one to give to her as the beginning of her charm bracelet to have one day. At 6 years old a nice piece like James Avery was a little much to wear to school, but ok for those special occasions. Until then, I’d wear it.
And then the story changed a little: James Avery was running a Mother’s Day special offering a free bracelet (or necklace) for free with the purchase of two charms. Somehow it wasn’t just going to be a charm bracelet for her, but for me too.
With so many charms to choose from including the special Texas legend that has taken over social media, as well as anything from a stand-up mixer to a tube lipstick, the selection process was a big part of the fun. Taylor couldn’t help to find a beautiful cupcake and a princess tiara…so fitting for my sweet little princess.
For my bracelet (and ultimately hers), I was drawn to the “Mother’s Love,” a heart design that embodies a mother and daughter; and a rose, well…because our middle names are both Rose.
After making our purchases (and saving so much more than I expecting with the Mother’s Day offer), we enjoyed dinner together at The Theodore where we could enjoy “fancy mac n cheese” (her special request) and drink fancy glasses of Shirley Temple.
Now this is a Mother’s Day tradition I could get used to. And I think James Avery was smiling down thinking that’s exactly what he had wanted for everyone.
And now we have something else to look forward, next Mother’s Day with our own charming tradition.
James Avery Charming Mother’s Day Offer
- Now through May 29, buy two charms and receive a charm bracelet or necklace for free, up to a $70 value.
- There are so many mix-and-match necklace/bracelet options available with 15 styles to select.
- Create your personalized gift in-store or at JamesAvery.com stores.
- For specific questions on this offer, check with your store for more details.
Just because it’s an Easter basket doesn’t mean it has to be full of candy! Get them excited to hop into spring with this Spring Easter Basket Idea.
Thanks to Mirum for inspiring Easter fun ideas with this sponsored post.
Through the years I’ve done pretty good with egg decorating and egg hunting, but I’ll admit, the Easter egg basket hasn’t been my forte.
Mostly because the idea of voluntarily giving my kids a whole basket of sugar is never on my agenda. So when we gave baskets it was full of things like activity books, small toys, etc. However, a lot like bad birthday party favors, I’d rather not give anything if it’s not good.
Let’s face it, if it’s not, we moms throw out the junk. It’s what we do.
So this Easter basket season, only good ideas to the rescue. Items that my kids can use, that my kids want, stuff I don’t mind them having, and most of all anything that can keep them occupied!
After a cold winter, it’s time to get ready to get outdoors which is what inspired this “Hop into Spring” Easter basket. Full of things to keep the kids outdoors, enjoying spring, and keeping them moving from sun up to sun down! It’s so important to get the opportunity to enjoy the perfect temperatures and beautiful work of Mother Nature!
And best of all, I was able to get it all at Walmart, which has some awesome things to put together a great Easter basket. And most everything was just a few dollars, making it super easy to make a quality basket.
“Hop into Spring” Easter Basket Idea:
- Cute Basket: This baby even comes with the bow and can be used for a picnic basket later!
- Bunny Ears: Bunnies. Hopping. You get it.
- Sunglasses: To protect those cute little eyes!
- Kite: In the words of Mary Poppins “Let’s Go Fly a Kite.”
- Bubbles: Because bubbles.
- Pinwheel: You can’t go wrong with
- Balloon Launcher: Water balloons make everything better.
- Emoji Frisbee: Frisbees are fun for everyone.
- Beach Towel: Either to sit on or wipe down from the balloons.
- Slim Jim Smoked Snacks: All this activity is going to work up an appetite! Thankfully our version of “meat and cheese” includes Slim Jim Smoked Snacks (26 ct.) in just the right size and cheese popcorn!
You can choose to BYOB (that’s Build Your Own Basket for clarification) at Walmart or get REAL creative by making your own online for a chance to enter the sweepstakes at SlimJimBoldBreak.com. Plus when you share it socially and you can increase your chances of winning with more entries.
Just take a look at our BYOB Basket (see our Funny Bunny!) and share yours too!
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Void where prohibited. The Slim Jim Build Your Own Basket Sweepstakes is sponsored by Conagra Brands, Inc. Open to legal U.S. residents of the 50 U.S. & D.C., 18 & older. Begins 12:00 a.m. PT on 3/1/18 & ends 11:59 p.m. PT on 4/1/18. Twenty potential winners will be randomly selected to each receive a $100 Walmart eGift card. Total ARV: $2,000. Odds depend on number of entries. For full details see official rules at SlimJimBoldBreak.com.
What are your Easter traditions?
For more there’s nothing more classic Christmas than Robert Earl Keen. Celebrate Christmas his way with this mamachallenge.com exclusive and get your tickets to a “Fam-O-Lee Back to the Country Jamboree” in Fort Worth, Dec. 30 at Bass Performance Hall.
“Carve the turkey turn the ballgame on
Make margaritas when the eggnog’s gone
Send somebody to the Quik Pak Store…
We need some icing and extension cords…”
Growing up this song describes my family Christmas to a tee I heard it the first time, but more so it would be the first of many R.E.K. lyrics that would become our anthems growing up in small town Texas. As I look back at those big memorable moments in my life, Robert Earl Keen is often the soundtrack.
So when asked if I would like to talk with the Texas singer/songwriter to chat about his upcoming show at Bass Performance Hall featuring my favorite Christmas song, “Fam-O-Lee Back to the Country Jamboree, “I kinda fanned out. A LOT. You have no idea how big of a dork I acted.
But after I gained my composure and a few minutes into chatting with Robert Earl Keen (always by his full name because it never sounds right saying it any other way), like his songs, I’m calmed and collected, and brought to my happy place.
That and that just listening to hi say anything reminded me of all the stories he shares before he belts into one of his own songs…The same stories that have connected him to audiences for decades. Except this time, was my own moment…
And like you’d hope and expect, everything about him is just what I thought: a good ole boy that’s thankful each time he heads to the stage to do what he loves, his way. A man, I would find out, spends his life pretty normal in Kerrville, Texas where he describes it as a lot like “Leave it to Beaver.” Except quite possibly the way he actually spends his Christmas.
“I’m known for my making homemade personalized pizzas on Christmas Eve,” he shared when asked how close his Christmas is to the song that was released in 1994. “Everyone comes over and I spend hours making 20 or so pizzas for all my friends and family,” he continued. “Then on Christmas Day we eat Lasagne.”
While I didn’t expect the Italian twist, REKs own personal Christmas tradition encapsulates his own way of authentic, “real way” of sharing much like the recent $55M fundraiser he played in this September “Hand in Hand: A Benefit for Hurricane Harvey Relief” with George Strait, Miranda Lambert, Chris Stapleton, Lyle Lovett and tons of celebrities taking donations over the phone or as the headliner on October 21 for Deep From The Heart Concert at Texas A&M University hosted by former living U.S. Presidents performing alongside Alabama, Cassadee Pope, Lady Gaga and more.
Yes, it was as perfect as it gets,” he shared. “The music was just stellar.”
But as star-studded as that evening was, it’s the less than red-carpeted evenings I had to know more about.
“So Robert Earl Keen, is “Merry Christmas from the Family” real or is it just a fun song that all the words came together to make it a hit?” I bravely asked finally.
He took a deep breath and began his story in only the way REK could, began to share how the “Christmas song,” a song that would become the impetus for the Christmas production many years later, came to be.
“Right before Christmas, to amuse myself, I just wrote about Christmas just off hand, with these words of my experiences in Houston growing up that I had in the back of my head,” he began. And in 20 minutes, it was done, so I just put it in my back pocket. Then one day I was sharing some music to production guy and it wasn’t going great. Then the guy asked ‘Well, is that all you got?’ I was pretty frustrated so I just started to play it…and he said ‘That’s the best song you have here.’ And that was the tipping point.”
While “Merry Christmas from the Family” is one of REKs most popular songs so much so that he actually had to put a “Linen Rule” on when he plays it, “Coming Home” stands as his own possible favorite (as well as mine.) But when it comes to Christmas tunes, he shared “O Holy Night” is one of his all time favorites as well as “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.”
And the Town this Santa is coming to is what Keen calls ‘his favorite city in Texas’ – Fort Worth.”
And the Town this Santa is coming to is what Keen calls “his favorite city in Texas,” Fort Worth, for his one-night performance of the “Fam-O-Lee Back to the Country Jamboree.” The show is described as it “brings visions of sugar plums, elves and maybe a cow or two while families bond with those closest to them at what is sure to become a favorite, non-stop laughing, holiday tradition!”
But honestly, Robert Earl Keen has long been a holiday tradition for many of us for a long-time now.
See the show:
Dec. 30 at 7 pm
Bass Performance Hall
Fort Worth, Texas