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Survival Guide

Survival Guide to Working at Home with Kids

Working at home with kids is seriously the worst, friends. No, really, it’s exhausting. So if you’re thinking about doing it, or you are doing it and you’re feeling overwhelmed, there’s a few things you need to know. Of course, this mostly pertains to kids who aren’t in school yet. If they’re in school, they’re not with you, right?

Surviving Working at Home with Kids

Full time is NOT an option without help.

Working at home with kids is exhausting, to say the least. Learn how to survive it if you're crazy enough to try it. #WAHM #workingfromhome #workfromhome #moms #kids
You can trust me, look how fancy my office is.

It might feel like I work thirty-two hours a day, but the timeclock usually says about four. Even without this blog (you can read how much of a time suck it is here), there is no way it would be possible for me to work forty hours a week at home while caring for my children. Actually caring, I mean. I could definitely let them watch TV and occasionally toss them a snack, I guess, but doesn’t CPS frown on that? And I’m sorry, but if you’re working full time with your kids and mostly paying attention to your kids, you either have a joke job or you’re not very good at whatever it is you do. Some people will think working at home with kids is totally fine, and you’ll get the best of both worlds that way. Those people are crazy. You might think this is not very helpful advice, and it isn’t, but if you do work full time from home and have a nanny or daycare, when people give you a hard time now you can show them this. 🙂

You need to have kid specific time.

Do you like to sit there on your phone or laptop with a toy in your hand and halfway pay attention to both your kids and your work? I’ve got news for you. You’re actually slowing yourself down this way. We’ve all heard about the problems with multitasking, but it’s not just that.  You don’t have to spend all day with your kids, but you do need quality time with them. That’s not me nagging you, that’s science. But regardless of science, I find that if I sit and play irritating games with my son for half an hour, he’ll leave me alone for half an hour. That means I can actually focus for thirty minutes. Not only do I get more done in a shorter period of time, but I also feel better about my parenting.

You have to leave the house.

It can be really tempting to stay at home forever when you work at home and your kids are there with you. Like, really tempting. But you do need to get out if you’re going to survive working at home with kids. For one thing, it’ll keep you from going stir crazy. For another, it will wear the kids out. That’s probably more important, isn’t it? Let them go crazy out in the real world so they sleep at home. I’m still relatively new in my city, so I joined a Meetup group for moms to help us all be social. I also discovered a coffee house that has a kids area in the back. There’s a ton of toys and an internet connection, so I can work while my son tests everything. That’s a great way to get out.

Prepping for naps is essential.

Working at home with kids is exhausting, to say the least. Learn how to survive it if you're crazy enough to try it. #WAHM #workingfromhome #workfromhome #moms #kids
They wind down, you power up.

Naptime is the best time to work, right? Besides getting up early or going to bed late (hey – that’s what I’m doing right now!). But, moms are tired too once naptime rolls around. It can be really tempting to run around doing something else and avoiding work. That’s why it’s important to prep your work area before you put the kids down. If everything’s already ready to go, you don’t have an excuse not to work, plus you maximize your working time.

Get comfortable with change.

Kids change and grow all the time. One minute they’re napping three times a day, the next they’re fighting twenty minutes of sleep. Their food changes, their energy changes, everything changes. So if you’re going to survive working at home with kids, you absolutely have to be prepared to change your routine, well, routinely. The biggest changes will come if you add another kid to the mix, of course. It’s like juggling when someone keeps throwing random items into your circle. Routines are good for kids, so you don’t have to abandon them, but make sure you do an honest assessment of your work every couple of months or so. You might have to adjust yourself or the kids.

Working at home with kids is exhausting, to say the least. Learn how to survive it if you're crazy enough to try it. #WAHM #workingfromhome #workfromhome #moms #kids

Working at home with kids is exhausting, to say the least. Learn how to survive it if you're crazy enough to try it. #WAHM #workingfromhome #workfromhome #moms #kids

Working at home with kids is exhausting, to say the least. Learn how to survive it if you're crazy enough to try it. #WAHM #workingfromhome #workfromhome #moms #kids

wow overnight guests

How to Wow Overnight Houseguests

Do you want to wow overnight houseguests? Well, you should start by getting yourself a couple.  It’s my understanding that some people don’t have houseguests very often, but I have them all the time. That’s what happens when you move far away from everyone you know. You get a lot of visitors and you can’t let them stay in a hotel room, especially if they’re family. It’s not that big a deal, but it does mean you have to clean your house, have groceries, and tell your husband to stop walking around in his boxers.  I’ve had five different overnight houseguests since September, so feel free to steal my tips.

Steps to Wow Overnight Houseguests

1. Share the WiFi password right away.

Back in the day, it seemed a little rude for people to ask for the WiFi password when they came to your house. They’re there to visit you, not look at their phones, right? But it’s 2018, people. Everyone’s lives are connected to their phones, and there’s no point in pretending differently. Get your overnight guests hooked up to internet access before they have to ask and you’ll already be a great host in their eyes. If you want to be funny about it, provide a card like they do at hotels. If you use the same password for your WiFi as your bank accounts, be on the safe side and input it for them. I have a crazy AT&T provided password, so I took a picture of it and show my guests the photo. Regardless of how you get it to them, make sure you get it to them.

2. Show them around the kitchen.

You already know to clean your house, but to wow overnight houseguests you should take a few more easy steps. #houseguests #hostess #overnightguests #entertaining
Good luck finding any sort of organization in there, houseguests.

Some people will automatically feel comfortable getting things for themselves, but others won’t. You’re hosting overnight guests, not people stopping by for an hour. Trust me, you want them to get their own food and drinks. Show them where to find water glasses, what water to drink (some people have filters, others drink bottled, whatever, just give your guests the clean stuff), and other things like snacks. If they’re coming from a later time zone, you should give them access to breakfast foods as well. Actually, you should probably call them ahead of time and get a few food requests, just in case. That will really wow overnight houseguests.

3. Give them their freedom.

You know what sucks when you’re on vacation? When your hotel gives you a curfew and makes the bellhop go everywhere with you. What, that doesn’t happen? Hmm. Then maybe you shouldn’t attach yourself to the hip of your overnight guests either. We recently had one of my husband’s classmates staying with us on weekends because she moved out of state before they finished, and she wasn’t there to hang out with us, although she did join in our MBA graduation celebration. Anyway, she came and went as she pleased. Our family members don’t typically do that, but we wouldn’t mind if they did. Trust me, if you want to wow overnight houseguests, don’t make them feel like prisoners.

4. Offer bathroom goodies.

You already know to clean your house, but to wow overnight houseguests you should take a few more easy steps. #houseguests #hostess #overnightguests #entertaining
Courtesy of the dentist and Best Western.

I have a basket in my guest bathroom with extra soaps and shampoos and whatnot. That way, if I have a guest who doesn’t want freedom, they don’t have to run off to the store if they forget something. I do have a separate guest bathroom so it stays out all the time, but if you don’t, you can hide it away until someone comes to stay. Don’t want to buy a whole bunch of stuff that may or may not get used? Relax, all mine comes from an actual hotel. Just remember what you can and can’t steal before you try this!

There are plenty of other tips I could give you for hosting overnight guests, but I feel like most of them are obvious. You know, clean the sheets they’re going to use, don’t give them blankets covered in dog hair, provide breakfast, and make it easy for them to park. But some of these others are overlooked, and it’s so important to making your guests feel comfortable. Now you can invite people over!

You already know to clean your house, but to wow overnight houseguests you should take a few more easy steps. #houseguests #hostess #overnightguests #entertaining

You already know to clean your house, but to wow overnight houseguests you should take a few more easy steps. #houseguests #hostess #overnightguests #entertaining You already know to clean your house, but to wow overnight houseguests you should take a few more easy steps. #houseguests #hostess #overnightguests #entertaining You already know to clean your house, but to wow overnight houseguests you should take a few more easy steps. #houseguests #hostess #overnightguests #entertaining

style sneakers

What to Know about Blogging Time Commitments

Thinking about starting a blog? Then you probably need to know something about blogging time commitments. Look, I’m no expert on blogging, I’ll be honest about that. But I have perfected the art of not having time to do anything, so you can trust me when I tell you a blog can rule your life if you let it. So, before we get into that, you may be wondering why I’m writing about blogging at all. Let me tell you all a little something about my daily life. Once a day someone says to me, “You’ve got your hands full,” especially when I’m walking my two dogs, wearing my daughter, and pushing my son in his stroller. Once a week, someone asks, “How do you get anything done?” I decided it’s time to write about it.

When someone asks me how I get anything done, I usually tell them it’s easy, I’m a bad mom and a bad employee. Poor quality takes no time at all! They laugh, and then they say, “It’s sleep, right? You don’t sleep?” Yes. They are correct. Sleep is for the weak. And the healthy. Anyway, after that they want actual detailed advice, usually in email form, so I decided to add a weekly post to the blog that discusses things like how I hate schedules. If you’re here for entertaining posts only, Saturdays will still be for you. Fellow busy moms, work-from-homers, and bloggers, Mondays are the day to see how I manage to do it all and only partially lose my mind. So, let’s get to it!

Blogging Time Commitments (for monetized blogs)

Blogging is fun, but if you want to monetize it can consume you. So, how much time do you have? #blogging #time #planning #newbloggers

1. Writing Blog Posts – 30 minutes per post

Real fast, I am only discussing blogging time commitments for monetized blogs. If you aren’t trying to make money, or at least doing what I do and daydreaming about trying to make money without really trying, you aren’t going to be doing half of this. You’ll just be writing to your heart’s content, I assume. On with it. You know what’s the easiest part of blogging? Writing the posts. Think about it. It’s typically 300-1000 words about something you WANT to write about, not a term paper you’re trying to avoid. Not exactly time consuming. Of course, how many you want to write is up to you. I know some people will be faster or slower depending on typing and whether or not they grammar good, but as long as you know what you want to write it should be easy.

2. Photos – 20 minutes with stock photos, eternity if you take them yourself

Eternity might be a slight exaggeration. Just a slight one though, taking pictures is exhausting. First of all, half of them suck, and secondly even the good ones need to be edited. Granted, I’m not a photographer, but I would think actual photographers take even longer. They would need to put up their best work, whereas mine just has to be usable. Looking up stock photos usually goes really quick, but only if you know what you want before you start. If you don’t, I suggest taking some time while you’re cooking dinner or something and visualizing it. Then you’ll know the keywords to look up. PS – these are all stock photos. Eight minutes.

3. Social Media – At least 30 minutes a day

Blogging is fun, but if you want to monetize it can consume you. So, how much time do you have? #blogging #time #planning #newbloggers

Unless you’ve hired a virtual assistant to do this for you, you will have to handle your own marketing for your blog. This is my least favorite of the blogging time commitments. Before I started blogging I had a Facebook I checked once a week, and now I use hashtags with ease. Now, I know thirty minutes a day probably sounds like a lot to new bloggers, and like a joke to pros, but let’s just assume you’ll want to check your Twitter or Instagram once a day. Perhaps you’ll want to join in on some Facebook group threads, or schedule a week of posts. The thirty minutes isn’t a firm number, but it is firm that if you ever think you’re going to make money, you can’t skip social media. You just can’t. So, plan to spend time on it, whether you like it or not.

4. Research – Varies

What will you be researching? I have no idea. But I can tell you you’ll be researching something. Perhaps it’s SEO, or how to set up a business Pinterest account, or what the heck is a linkup party. Maybe you need to do a research heavy blog post, like I did with parties for pay. You could see the coolest thing ever on someone else’s blog and become obsessed with figuring out how to do it. Or, heaven forbid, you might have a technical problem. Basically, you can assume that one of your widest varying blogging time commitments is going to be research, if you want to have a cool, functioning website that people actually want to visit.

5. Pinterest – Double what you do anyway

Blogging is fun, but if you want to monetize it can consume you. So, how much time do you have? #blogging #time #planning #newbloggers

No, Pinterest is not social media. It’s a search engine. You don’t post pictures of your kids there, do you? Comment on your friends’ vacation pictures? Nope. It’s Google, but with pictures. You’ll probably read over and over that Pinterest is going to bring you most of your traffic, and it’s true. Unless you are a SEO genius, you’ll wind up on Pinterest eventually. Now, Pinterest is pretty saturated in the US, so there’s a good chance you use it personally anyway. Double the time you spend on it daily because you’re going to need to make your own pins as well as find others. Yes, there are ways to speed up your Pinterest usage with schedulers, but you won’t be at the set it and forget it part for a while.

6. Other – Whatever you’re willing

I have to confess something. My blog is monetized, and I have written one sponsored post, but that post came to me and I would be on Amazon anyway so I joined their affiliate program. I have no idea how much time it would take to really go after the money, because I don’t have time for it. I also only look at Google Analytics for about five minutes once a week, which I know is really stupid, but guys, I have another job and my boss is the worst (I’m self-employed). Plus there’s those little kids I’m supposed to be responsible for. Any better bloggers than me reading this? Comment with how much time this stuff takes you.

You should know that your blogging time commitments will only grow once you get into it. That is, if you enjoy doing it. You’ll start coming up with new and terrible ways to let it take up your time. If you’re good at it, it could eventually take you forty hours a week! That’s like a full-time job! Ah! But it is fun to do, and FYI, this 1100 word post just took me 28 minutes. I’m outta here!

Blogging is fun, but if you want to monetize it can consume you. So, how many blogging time commitments can you make? #blogging #time #planning #newbloggers

Blogging is fun, but if you want to monetize it can consume you. So, how many blogging time commitments can you make? #blogging #time #planning #newbloggers

Blogging is fun, but if you want to monetize it can consume you. So, how many blogging time commitments can you make? #blogging #time #planning #newbloggers

Blogging is fun, but if you want to monetize it can consume you. So, how many blogging time commitments can you make? #blogging #time #planning #newbloggers

Blogging is fun, but if you want to monetize it can consume you. So, how many blogging time commitments can you make? #blogging #time #planning #newbloggers

warm boozy drinks

The Best Warm, Boozy Drinks for Winter

This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase through them I will receive compensation at no additional cost to you.

The best warm, boozy drinks are the ones that require little effort and only hint at alcohol. You can drink whiskey straight, or a naked martini, but do you really want your vodka steaming? Yuck! If you haven’t noticed, it’s been freezing this week. There’s apparently a bomb cyclone roaming about, which sounds terrifying but is mostly just cold. That means I’m stuck inside with my two children and two dogs with no breaks for a week. I’m going to go insane. And I’m also cold. I think that calls for a nice toasty glass of alcohol. Oh, and if you’ve stumbled upon this thinking I meant boozy drinks for warm weather, check out my ways to keep drinks cool instead. Enjoy!

List of the Best Warm, Boozy Drinks

Mulled Wine

The best warm, boozy drinks are easy to make while you're too cold to move! #boozydrinks #warmdrinks #booze #alcholicbeverages #winter #bestdrinks

The first time I tried mulled wine I thought I was going to hate it, but it turns out it’s delicious! Making it is not that hard although it is definitely harder than opening a bottle of plain wine and drinking it. But how many glasses of room temperature wine would it take you to get warm? Too many for your liver, my friends. Try one of these recipes or get a mulling packet (way easier) and don’t forget the cinnamon stick!

Cider and Spiced Rum

In college, I dated this terrible human being who came from a family of terrible human beings. One of them actually murdered another one, I’m not exaggerating here. Anyway, I have one bright memory from that time and it is drinking spiced rum and hot apple cider with the non-terrible sister. I don’t have a recipe for this. Just get yourself some Captain Morgan and some warm cider and mix the way your heart desires.

Hot Chocolate and…. Whatever

The best warm, boozy drinks are easy to make while you're too cold to move! #boozydrinks #warmdrinks #booze #alcholicbeverages #winter #bestdrinks

 

Hot chocolate goes with anything. In fact, I think it’s the only way you’re legally allowed to drink peppermint schnapps. (That’s a joke, non-sarcasm reading folk). Whiskey and chocolate are good, you know, and there’s plenty of flavored vodkas. I personally enjoy a regular hot chocolate packet with a dash of whiskey to spice it up, but here’s a list of a bunch of fancy ways to do it. Just don’t drown out the chocolate or you’re doing it wrong.

Coffee and Bailey’s

Yep, Irish coffee. Of course it’s one of the best warm, boozy drinks! I suppose you could drink any of them in the morning, but this one is especially good for that, if that’s your thing. If you enjoy mixing uppers and downers for dinner, then it’s a night drink too. Apparently there’s an actual recipe from Bailey’s for this, but I just add a little whiskey and a little Bailey’s, then head off to my early morning tailgate. Yeah, I only drink this one for tailgating, but it’s perfect for it!

Bonus: The Hot Toddy

Why is this one a bonus? Because I really can’t think of a reason why you’d drink it if you’re not sick. You probably shouldn’t drink when you’re sick, but if you do (no judgment from me), give this recipe a try and see if it cures your ails.

So that’s my list of the best warm, boozy drinks! Did anyone notice I mentioned murder up there? You rum drinkers are still thinking about it, aren’t you? Mulled wine people never even got to that part. Too bad for them. Besides that, what do you think? Do you have a favorite warm, boozy drink? A way to make any of these easier? Let me know in the comments!

The best warm, boozy drinks are easy to make while you're too cold to move! #boozydrinks #warmdrinks #booze #alcholicbeverages #winter #bestdrinks The best warm, boozy drinks are easy to make while you're too cold to move! #boozydrinks #warmdrinks #booze #alcholicbeverages #winter #bestdrinks The best warm, boozy drinks are easy to make while you're too cold to move! #boozydrinks #warmdrinks #booze #alcholicbeverages #winter #bestdrinks The best warm, boozy drinks are easy to make while you're too cold to move! #boozydrinks #warmdrinks #booze #alcholicbeverages #winter #bestdrinks The best warm, boozy drinks are easy to make while you're too cold to move! #boozydrinks #warmdrinks #booze #alcholicbeverages #winter #bestdrinks
how to (1)

Last Minute Party Planning for Underachievers

This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase through them I will receive compensation at no additional cost to you.

Welcome, underachievers! Ready for some last minute party planning tips? New Year’s Eve is coming up, and that means it’s the perfect time to host your friends without overexerting yourself. I am a big fan of the last minute party, but when I go to do a search for last minute party planning ideas, it seems like everyone gets “last minute” confused with “easy.” Yes, it would be easy to blow up fifty balloons and tape them in a rainbow design to your wall. No, it would not be something I could do at the last second before guests show up. So, with that in mind, let’s see what us realistic party planners can actually get done when we decide to host a same day party.

Last Minute Party Planning Tips

Food

Looks like I’m serving pizza and cookies.

First of all, there’s no point in last minute party planning if you don’t have time to go to the store. At that point you just call everyone and tell them what to bring. If you do have time to go to the store, then you’re in luck, because the deli/bakery section is going to plan your menu for you. Whatever tasty looking desserts and/or dishes they have cooked up is what you’ll be serving. They pretty much always have cookies and cakes and some sort of chicken, so those are  safe bets, but you do not need any sort of theme for a last minute party, so feel free to pick up whatever looks tasty. Now, if you live in a small town with only one grocery store and they don’t have a deli/bakery (I grew up in a town like this, so they exist), just pick up frozen stuff instead.

You’re also going to want chips or whatever. I highly advise against taking on too much actual cooking, but if you are going do so, I’d go with an easy dip. There’s so many of them and they don’t have to look nice. Here’s a place to start. Thinking about making your famous dessert? Can I tell you why I wouldn’t bother? Unless you’re a professional baker or your friends are food critics, they probably won’t know the difference between a box dessert mix and something homemade. Trust me, I tried it with brownies. Save those good recipes for when you have more time.

Decorations

Well, my general theory on decorations is don’t bother, but I know how people are obsessed with decorating, so here’s my thoughts. Get something fancy and tall to put on your food table. I like a crazy cupcake holder, although that would require you to buy cupcakes. If that’s not your thing, really any serving dishes with varying heights will do. I’ll put a few shopping items at the bottom for you – surprisingly, this kind of thing is hard to find at your regular Walmart! I think that’s really all you need, but if you can’t stand the idea of using only dishes as decor, add a tablecloth and/or confetti, and possibly balloons, assuming you have time to get helium-filled ones. Don’t bother if you have to blow them up yourself.

Clean Your House

Okay guys, here’s why you can’t spend all your last minute party planning time on decorations. It is so much more important for you to clean your house than it is for you to google free printables or hang streamers. If you’re like me, you’re always prepared for drop-in visitors, but if you’re not I suggest you get yourself a housecleaning schedule put together now so you’ll be able to throw spur of the minute parties later. If it’s too late for the party you’re currently working on, find the worst areas and work on those. The good news is you won’t be doing much cooking so the kitchen should be easy!

The Important Stuff

I want you to think of the granddaddy of all parties. You know, weddings. What’s the best one you’ve ever been to? Was there food? Probably. Decor? Undoubtedly. Dancing? Absolutely! You remember that part even if you have no idea what the centerpieces were. Having fun is what makes a party memorable, not oohing and ahhing at tissue paper creations. So what should your focus all your last minute party planning energy on? Entertainment, of course!

Now, I’m not saying you need to turn your house into the club, but music would probably help. I’m not a big buyer of music, but there’s always things like Party Mixes on Soundcloud. Games are always enjoyable, drinking or non. Or both, if you’re creative. Drinking Operation, anyone? If you don’t own games, charades or Pictionary are easy to do. Playing cards are cheap to pick up and can be found everywhere, plus the game options are endless. Remember, if you’re enthusiastic about whatever you’re doing, your guests will probably get more excited too. Now go have fun at your last minute party!

 

Last minute party planning for underachievers - no need to DIY everything here! #lastminuteparty #partyideas #lastminute #timesavers #easypartyideas

 

Last minute party planning for underachievers - no need to DIY everything here! #lastminuteparty #partyideas #lastminute #timesavers #easypartyideasLast minute party planning for underachievers - no need to DIY everything here! #lastminuteparty #partyideas #lastminute #timesavers #easypartyideas

Last minute party planning for underachievers - no need to DIY everything here! #lastminuteparty #partyideas #lastminute #timesavers #easypartyideas

 

Are Scratch Brownies worth it_

Are Scratch Brownies Worth My Time?

This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase through them I will receive compensation at no additional cost to you.

I wonder about things from time to time. Like, are scratch brownies worth my time? Short answer: No. Long answer: Nooooooo. Oh, what, you want more explanation? You’ve read this post in Bon Appetit, written by a professional baking blogger, and you assume your brownies are going to be as delicious as hers and your friends’ palates are going to be as sophisticated as her friends’? Well, that’s fine. If you are also a professional baker, you have my permission to not read this. If you aren’t, though, let me walk you through my methodology and explain why homemade brownies just aren’t worth the effort.

Are Scratch Brownies Worth my Time Experiment

The Method

Are brownies made from scratch better than the box kind? #brownies #timesaver #baking #dessert #partyfood
One of these looks like a lot more work than the others.

I made two types of brownies: box brownies and homemade. The box was Betty Crocker and the homemade recipe came from one of the top rated recipes on allrecipes.com. You can try it here if you want. I chose that one because the pictures looked most like the box ones. Then I also had to buy store-bought. They came in mini-muffin form from Walmart. I wish I could have found them in squares so I could use this amazing invention. If you are big brownie eaters, you’re going to want one. Instead I had to use my mini-muffin tin, which if you don’t already have, I’m not sure we can speak anymore. How do you make your desserts cute or serve mac and cheese bites? Anyway, three types of brownies.

I made the two types of brownies about an hour apart so my tin had time to cool down. I bought the store ones on the same day. Then I made the recipients of my Christmas baking (which I’m very organized at doing, by the way) try one of each. I did have to serve them upside down because the tops were very obviously different, but if you aren’t wearing your baby and trying to work while you’re baking, maybe you will have an easier time being tidy than I did.

The Results

Are brownies made from scratch better than the box kind? #brownies #timesaver #baking #dessert #partyfood
Yes, I know which one is which, but if you can’t tell I guess it doesn’t matter.

Guess how many people preferred the scratch brownies? Are you ready? Here goes…. Zero! Zero people preferred the scratch brownies over the box or store-bought. Now, I’m not the best baker in the world, but I can follow a recipe, especially an easy one like that. As for the favorites, most people skewed toward the box, myself included. We had two people prefer the store-bought, although my husband did wait until the next day to eat them. Obviously that warps the result a little bit since they had preservatives, but he adamantly disliked the homemade ones. So I guess they don’t hold up well either.

Conclusion

Are brownies made from scratch better than the box kind? #brownies #timesaver #baking #dessert #partyfood
This experiment caused a lot of extra holiday weight in my neighborhood.

Is making scratch brownies worth my time? Nope. Probably not yours either. I’m not trying to knock your cooking skills or anything like that either, honestly. My mom felt guilty when she tried the experiment because she didn’t like the homemade ones, but you know what? I was relieved. I wanted everyone to like the easier ones better. That means busy moms like me don’t have to worry so much about creating the perfect dessert! We don’t have to be the best at baking, because we can trust Betty Crocker and Walmart to know what they’re doing. Will I still make my own whiskey bacon brownies from time to time? Sure, when I actually have time! And you shouldn’t throw out your cool cheesecake or red velvet or whatever brownie recipe either. Just don’t feel guilty when you have to turn to the box. 🙂

 

Are brownies made from scratch better than the box kind? #brownies #timesaver #baking #dessert #partyfood

 

Are brownies made from scratch better than the box kind? #brownies #timesaver #baking #dessert #partyfoodAre brownies made from scratch better than the box kind? #brownies #timesaver #baking #dessert #partyfood

Are brownies made from scratch better than the box kind? #brownies #timesaver #baking #dessert #partyfood
Are brownies made from scratch better than the box kind? #brownies #timesaver #baking #dessert #partyfood
host a tamale party

How to Host a Tamale Wrapping Party

This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase through them I will receive compensation at no additional cost to you.

Last weekend I attended a tamale wrapping party. Well, halfway attended. My neighbor threw it, so my husband and I kind of traded off during the kids’ naps. It was a good time, so I figured I’d share how she pulled it off. It wasn’t my first rodeo with tamales (my husband loves them and we’re from Nevada, so it’s kind of a typical Christmas thing), but I do have a confession. I really don’t like tamales. It’s the masa. So gross. But, I like the idea of them, and I love a big group of people getting together to wrap them up, so I’m totally going to recommend you do it anyway! Just don’t make me eat them if you invite me. 🙂

Tamale Wrapping Party Guide

Set a Price

I’ve talked about parties for pay before, but this is totally not the same thing. Tamales are expensive, and unless you’ve got a group of super hungry guests, they’re going to take the tamales home. It’s one thing to invite friends over and provide food for them at a party. It’s another to provide them with take-home meals. My neighbor does $20 for 2 dozen tamales, which is pretty reasonable. However, she makes all the meat filling herself. If you’re going to have guests bring meat too, you’ll probably want to charge less. Speaking of…

Let Guests Know What to Bring

Tamale wrapping party tips. Tamalada parties can be a great way to get together! #tamales #tamaladapartyideas #tamalepartyideas #tamalada

This is up to you. If you’re hosting the tamale wrapping party, you should probably have the masa, cornhusks, take home bags, etc. But, it is a lot of work to make a whole bunch of meats, so maybe you want to split that chore. That’s fine; only cooking up one meat and dragging it along with you is no big deal. You should still check with everyone and see what filling they’re going to bring, though, or you might wind up with only super spicy pork or something.

Send them Home with Instructions

People who want to come to this party probably already know what tamales taste like, but that doesn’t mean they know how to cook them. It’s really not hard. You steam them forty minutes to an hour. There you go, copy and paste that to a text message and you’ve gone and an extra step besides just telling them what to do! Oh, you should also let them know they’re great for freezing.

Provide Snacks & Drinks

Tamale wrapping party tips. Tamalada parties can be a great way to get together! #tamales #tamaladapartyideas #tamalepartyideas #tamalada

This tamale wrapping party was your idea, friend! Since it is a form of party, you should be offering your guests refreshments and snacks. I suggest chips and guacamole and/or salsa. I also think it’s fun to have margaritas or Mexican beer like Dos Equis, but that’s all up to you. If you were having a cookie baking party or something, people might eat the ingredients as they go along, but that’s unlikely with tamales. You don’t have to spend a lot, but have at least a little something.

Set Everything Up on a Big Space

If you don’t have a big table, use your counter space to set up your tamale wrapping party. You’ll have big bowl of maza, husks, paper wrappers, and all the different fillings you’ve made. It’s easier if your guests can get to everything without constantly passing it back and forth, so if you can put two bowls of each out, that’s helpful, but in smaller spaces it’s not realistic.

Demonstrate

Tamale wrapping party tips. Tamalada parties can be a great way to get together! #tamales #tamaladapartyideas #tamalepartyideas #tamalada

It’s totally okay if you’ve never wrapped a tamale before, but you should be the one willing to look like an idiot and go first no matter what. It’s  not hard, but it is time consuming, and no one has the time to sit around guessing what you’re supposed to do. If you don’t want to demonstrate, pull up a YouTube video on your phone. Here’s one. Play that and you’re good to go!

Well, that’s it! It’s pretty simple to throw a tamale wrapping party. Now, you may have noticed I didn’t provide any recipes. I don’t have any that I didn’t steal from someone else, so I’m not going to provide that, but here’s a few places to get started:

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Frenzied Guide to Getting Ready on New Year’s

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How do you plan on getting ready on New Year’s? Will you be locking the bathroom door as your children bang on it? Perhaps throwing on a nice coat over your stained t-shirt and refusing to take it off all evening? Or, even better, paying the babysitter for an extra hour so you can actually make yourself look presentable? I’ve gone to three different events over the past month, ones that required more than my regular jeans, and I have a few ways to survive getting ready. Warning: Not meant to be taken entirely seriously. 🙂

1. Give yourself an extra hour when getting ready on New Year’s

New Year's Eve outfit ideas and tips for Getting Ready on New Year's. #newyearseve #gettingready #goingout #newyearseveideas

Well, okay, you guys, you actually can take this one seriously, especially if you’re a mom. However long you think it’s going to take you to get ready, start an hour before that. That gives you time for multiple interruptions, such as your husband barging in to have you decipher your son’s toddler babble or your dog sneaking in to destroy everything in the bathroom garbage can. Trust me, you need the extra hour.

2. If you can’t get an extra hour, wear something sparkly.

New Year's Eve outfit ideas and tips for Getting Ready on New Year's. #newyearseve #gettingready #goingout #newyearseveideas

 

The whole point of New Year’s fashion is to be flashy, right? Sparkly, metallic, whatever. If you’re wearing something really bold, maybe no one will notice that you’re not wearing any makeup and your hair hasn’t been styled in approximately six months.

3. If that’s not enough, make your hair shiny.

There’s so many shiny hair products, like this one.  I have curly, frizzy hair on the best of days, and I look like an 80’s hair band on the worst (okay, I secretly think those are the best, but don’t tell anyone), but I can put my hair up and spray those shiny products on and it looks like I tried. Getting ready on New Year’s is much easier when you don’t have to turn on a curling iron. If you’re really feeling sarcastic about it, don’t even get the shiny kind of spray. Get regular hair spray and put it in your normal hair. People will probably assume you did a lot of work.

4. Show up fashionably late.

Hear me out on this one guys. I’m not suggesting you wait to go to the party until you’ve spent hours making yourself look perfect. In fact, I’m suggesting the opposite. Don’t bother getting dressed up at all! Stay at home, drink a glass of wine, enjoy yourself. Or leave your kids and go hang out in the car for an hour just to get some peace. Whatever. Then you show up after everyone else is already drunk. They’ll tell you you look beautiful. Plus they’ll look wasted in all the pictures and you won’t, so it’s a win-win. 🙂

5. Still worried? Do some prep work.

I don’t mean prep yourself. Actually, I mean the opposite. Spend a couple of weeks running around town in your pajamas with crazy messy hair. Make sure you run into at least half of the other New Year’s party guests you expect to see. Then dress completely normal on New Year’s, perhaps with a clean shirt and brushed hair, and everyone will talk about how refreshed you look! How’s that for prep?

Well, I know all you busy ladies will look fantastic on New Year’s no matter how much time you have to get ready. Concerned I was a little too silly with this advice? Sorry, but I am the person who suggested you jump under a table to avoid political conversations, so I’m not sure what you thought you’d get!

New Year's Eve outfit ideas and tips for Getting Ready on New Year's. #newyearseve #gettingready #goingout #newyearseveideas
New Year's Eve outfit ideas and tips for Getting Ready on New Year's. #newyearseve #gettingready #goingout #newyearseveideas
New Year's Eve outfit ideas and tips for Getting Ready on New Year's. #newyearseve #gettingready #goingout #newyearseveideas
New Year's Eve outfit ideas and tips for Getting Ready on New Year's. #newyearseve #gettingready #goingout #newyearseveideas

New Year's Eve outfit ideas and tips for Getting Ready on New Year's. #newyearseve #gettingready #goingout #newyearseveideas

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MBA Graduation Party Ideas

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I can’t believe it’s finally time for me to come up with MBA graduation party ideas. Yes, that’s right. The Frenzied Hostess is about to be less frenzied. If you’ve ever read my about page or read this steadily, you probably know my husband has been doing his MBA program on the weekends at UT. Since I work from home, that means I’ve basically been on my own Monday-Saturday either pregnant or with two children for the whole thing. Yeah. Super fun. So even though this is his accomplishment, it’s just as much my celebration as it is his, and I want to do it right. When I think of MBA grads, I think of Wall Street, despite the fact that Mr. Davidson works in government, so we’re going high class all the way.

I do want to point out a few things about MBA graduations here before we get started. First, they’ve already had two other graduation parties, so you don’t need to get those cheesy high school decorations. You don’t need to throw a kegger like in college. My hubby’s already had both of them, although I didn’t know him in high school and I missed his bachelor’s degree party since I was the maid of honor/officiant at a wedding that day. It’s fine though, my master’s degree graduation party was the next day, and he missed that due to being hungover. Hmm. I’ve apparently always had too much going on. Anyway, since he’s already done those, it’s  okay to make an MBA celebration totally different.

5 MBA Graduation Party Ideas

1. Get a Bottle of the Good Stuff

MBA Graduation Party Ideas include nice bottles, fancy meals, and the general Wall Street lifestyle. #mbagrad #mbagraduation #graduationparty #graduation #party #fancypartyideas #graduationpartyideas

If you don’t drink alcohol, that’s fine, but you can’t tell me there’s no beverage you ever splurge on. Only drink water? Get it sparkly. Soda’s your thing? Fine, get the glass bottles. There’s like 8 million juices and teas to get crazy with. Now on to the hard stuff. My husband’s a whiskey man, so that’s what I went with, but my parents think champagne is where it’s at, so they’re getting him something fancy. This is what the MBA life tastes like, right? Whether he shares it with everyone is up to him.

2. Cook a Beautiful Cut of Meat

MBA Graduation Party Ideas include nice bottles, fancy meals, and the general Wall Street lifestyle. #mbagrad #mbagraduation #graduationparty #graduation #party #fancypartyideas #graduationpartyideas

Oh hey vegetarians, what’s up? Vegans, I’m sure you’re hating this list by now, but hang with me. There is amazing vegan food out there, right? Like, the very best stuff? That’s what you need to be serving. Now, as far as meat goes, it can get really expensive and I am aware of that. For my husband’s graduation party, that’s totally okay because I’m using his credit card. Muhuhahaha. It’s also okay because there are only a few people coming. That’s what happens when you graduate over the Christmas break. I can go ahead and serve a full dinner with steaks to my number of guests, but if you’re MBA grad has a lot of people coming, I suggest steak appetizers, like this or this.

3. Skip the Slideshows/Collages

You’re probably thinking skipping something shouldn’t count in this list of MBA graduation party ideas. But, it’s important. This is NOT the time for some slideshow of his accomplishments (or her – mine is a him, I’m sticking with it). MBAs don’t take that long. The average age of an MBA student is 27-29. No need to pretend they’ve just finished some great chunk of life.  It feels like my husband has been complaining about school for a lifetime, but it was really only 18 months. Not much of a slideshow for a 34-year old. Instead of doing a collage,  what about honoring him with something related to his school? Since Mr. Davidson attends UT, we’ll be celebrating by having him turn down the head football coaching job.  Just kidding. We’ll be presenting him with a UT degree frame.

4. Use Real Dishware, Classy Decorations

MBA Graduation Party Ideas include nice bottles, fancy meals, and the general Wall Street lifestyle. #mbagrad #mbagraduation #graduationparty #graduation #party #fancypartyideas #graduationpartyideas

Do you know how much the average MBA grad makes? Well, it depends on your program, but the low end is HR graduates, and they can still expect to make about $48K with hardly any experience.  Since most people don’t go into an MBA program before they have experience, they can expect to be making good pay. Now, you aren’t always going to be celebrating this person with fancy things. But just this one time, get fancy. Put out actual platters instead of dollar store ones. Skip streamers. Balloons are nice; I’m not a super fan of heavy decorating, ever, but I like a nicely done balloon archThings like dessert stands will add a little class as well and don’t require any work. Even better, hold it at a restaurant. Then you know it’s all real and you don’t have to do a darn thing.

 5. Dress Up

MBA Graduation Party Ideas include nice bottles, fancy meals, and the general Wall Street lifestyle. #mbagrad #mbagraduation #graduationparty #graduation #party #fancypartyideas #graduationpartyideas

My MBA graduation party ideas wouldn’t be complete without a dress code! I love throwing fancy dinner parties anyway, but in this case it’s essential. If you’re celebrating right after graduation, it’s not even an issue since you’ll probably already be dressed up. Now you’ll be looking all classy while you sip your fancy drink and eat tasty food. Then tomorrow it’s all back to the same old same old. At least your MBA grad got to enjoy the Wall Street life for a minute, right? 🙂

MBA Graduation Party Ideas include nice bottles, fancy meals, and the general Wall Street lifestyle. #mbagrad #mbagraduation #graduationparty #graduation #party #fancypartyideas #graduationpartyideas
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Ways to Create Fun Christmas Food Traditions

Everyone needs some fun Christmas food traditions. I don’t mean fun as in, oh yes, it’s fun to have the same traditions year after year. I mean, let’s jazz this up and get a tradition that can change a little bit to keep it interesting! If you haven’t heard, millennials are foodies. My husband and I are technically millennials,  and we are most definitely food people. I’m not going to mess with Thanksgiving. Those foods are sacred. But Christmas is a little more flexible, and I think it’s a great idea to come up with traditions that evolve. Here’s a few ways to do that:

4 Fun Christmas Food Traditions

1. Get Crazy with Breakfast

Fun Christmas food traditions can stay the same each year but offer different foods. #Christmas #christmasfood #christmasmeals #foodtraditions #christmastraditions #holidays #familytraditions

I don’t know about you, but I enjoy a late Christmas breakfast. Well, later. I guess it’s still pretty early since I have a toddler with serious FOMO. I don’t have any fun breakfast traditions yet, but if my family decides they want to have the same dinner year after year, I can definitely see myself turning breakfast into a surprise meal. There are so many ways to do this. I suggest making really Christmassy breakfasts. One year you can try Christmas tree waffles, the next a candy cane pastry. Seriously, so many options!

2. Choose a Base Dessert and Dress it Up

Fun Christmas food traditions can stay the same each year but offer different foods. #Christmas #christmasfood #christmasmeals #foodtraditions #christmastraditions #holidays #familytraditions

Desserts are the most important part of fun Christmas food traditions, right? So make yours especially fun by choosing a basic dessert and changing it each year. What do I mean exactly? Think of cheesecake. You’ve got a basic cheesecake, and they’re delicious, but there’s approximately 8 million cheesecake recipes out there (that might be a slight exaggeration). One year you do basic, the next year you try a pecan pie or a caramel apple crisp cheesecake.  Now every year your family knows they’re getting cheesecake, but you get to experiment with new ways to make it!

3. Go International

Fun Christmas food traditions can stay the same each year but offer different foods. #Christmas #christmasfood #christmasmeals #foodtraditions #christmastraditions #holidays #familytraditions

What if your tradition was celebrating a new culture every year? Then every year you’re doing the same thing, but eating something totally different. I personally love this idea, because there’s nothing I like more than cooking up something new and delicious. Here’s just one place to start on your search for other country’s Christmas food. If you can’t stand the idea of having something different every year and not getting that big fat turkey, you could always implement this on Christmas Eve, or make Christmas Eve your regular dinner. Christmas is so nice it gives you two chances for fun Christmas food traditions.

4. Add a Fancy Drink

Fun Christmas food traditions can stay the same each year but offer different foods. #Christmas #christmasfood #christmasmeals #foodtraditions #christmastraditions #holidays #familytraditions

I’ve been known to throw a cocktail competition or two, so this makes perfect sense to me. Except, instead of alcohol, I think it would be really fun to try a different hot chocolate every year. Then the kids can play too. Of course, I’m not anti-alcohol, so that also works. Either way, this gives you the chance to make the same food every year but add something a little extra to keep yourself interested. Or to keep yourself from getting too irritated by all those new noisy toys, if you choose the alcohol way. 🙂 Now go out, enjoy your new fun Christmas food traditions, and be merry!

 

Fun Christmas food traditions can stay the same each year but offer different foods. #Christmas #christmasfood #christmasmeals #foodtraditions #christmastraditions #holidays #familytraditions