Holiday Treat Recipes: Fondant Snowman Cupcakes

Time for another one of our holiday treat recipes! We’re going back to cupcakes with fondant today…and listen, don’t be afraid of it.  If you are nervous, order Satin Ice. Really. It’s easy to use and SO simple to open a package in lieu of making your own. You can be a fondant maniac in no time!  fondant-snowman-cupcakes

Ingredients:

2 Cups Sugar

½ Cup Water

2 tbsp Light Corn Syrup

Powdered sugar

Green/Red Candy Sprinkles

Orange Candy sprinkles

Black Glitter Gel Frosting

 

Fondant Directions: *** Please note, you can quite easily head over and order Satin Ice Fondant– it tastes great and saves you a lot of time!

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar, water and corn syrup. Stir until all sugar is dissolved.

 

Cover saucepan, and allow to boil for 2 minutes.

 

Remove cover and allow syrup to heat to 240 degrees, do not stir during this time.

 

While syrup is heating, sprinkle a large baking sheet with powdered sugar.

 

Once syrup has reached 240 degrees, pour into prepared baking sheet. Allow to set at room temperature for 5 minutes.

 

Once syrup has cooled enough to handle, use a scrapper or spatula to push syrup into a pile in the center of your baking sheet.

 

Using your spatula stir mixture repeatedly, and continue to scrap back to the center.

 

Once syrup becomes opaque, using damp hands and begin to knead the fondant, it will become softer the more you knead it.

 

Wrap fondant in plastic wrap and place in an airtight container. Refrigerate for 5 hours before using.

 

 

 

Snowmen:

 

Roll your fondant out to ¼ inch thick. Using a circular cookie cutter cut out 3 circles for each snowman.

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Taking the same cookie cutter cut a small portion out of the top and bottom of a circle for the middle section of your snowman.

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Place your 3 circles on top of your cupcakes. Using the black glitter gel frosting, carefully draw on your eyes and mouth of your snowman.

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Using the red or green sprinkles, dampen the backs and place them on the body of your snowman.

 

Carefully place your orange candy sprinkle in the center of the head to create a nose.

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Refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to serve.

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Stocking Stuffers for Men

I don’t know about you, but finding fun and cute things to fill my kids’ stockings is, well fun to do! For the mister? Um…it isn’t that I don’t find it fun…it’s just a lot harder.  I have to challenge myself to think of ideas.  In talking to friends and family, this seems to be a recurring theme when thinking of a spouse’s stocking. So I decided that maybe I would share some of my ideas, and some that I’ve heard over the last few weeks, in the hopes of helping one of you. :) This post about stocking stuffers for men is brought to you by our friends at Lunchbox.

mens-stocking-stuffer-ideas

– Fun Boxers (or briefs, I don’t judge a man by his skivvies)

– Fun socks

-Favorite candies

-Nuts for work (mine keeps some at his desk)

– Cool nut cracker (see above)

photo illustration by Julie Hillebrant

Image via http://news.byu.edu/

-Lottery scratch off tickets

Windows-app-Gift-Card

-App store gift cards, gift cards to fave restaurant, etc

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-Wireless mouse

-love coupons (I am fairly certain you can all figure out the specifics on that on your own, but I will help you find resources should you ask)

-Beef Jerky

-Razors

-Video game

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-Movie or Show on BluRay/DVD

-New cell phone case and/or screen protector

-Contact Solution

-Air fresheners for car

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-Deoderant, Shampoo/body wash/after shave:  Hair Gel, mousse, etc (And I won’t lie, my friends…I love when my hubby uses AXE brand because it smells AWESOME and all manly and whatnot.  Plus you can find great holiday gift packs at Walmart!

 

What are YOUR ideas for stocking stuffers for men? 

 

Hurry! $5 off $35 Amazon Coupon!

Happy Holidays to ALL OF US!! Amazon is back at it again! They are giving us a $5 off $35 total purchase Amazon coupon when you share this year’s wish list with friends. Head here, fill in the blank, press “Share & Claim” and the $5/$35 credit will be applied to your account.

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Simply shop the site and add items that say “Ships from and sold by Amazon.com”. Once you add $35 or more of eligible items to your cart, proceed to Checkout. On the Review Your Order page, you will see the $5 savings applied in the Order Summary. You have until 11:59PM PST on Sunday December 13, 2013 to use this offer.

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 Thank you Leandrea from Coupons are Great!! (She has a LOT of great Amazon deals posted- check them out!)

DIY Gift Idea: Melted Snowman Ornament

Check out this super cute Melted Snowman Ornament that is very simple and very inexpensive to make.  Lots of fun – this is a great group craft idea!

diy-melted-snowman-ornament

Items Needed:

Sea Salt-

Black Polymer Clay

Orange Polymer Clay

Clear Plastic or Glass Ornament

Glitter (Optional)

 melted-snowman-ornament-supplies

Directions:

Mold 4-5 round balls and a top hat out of the black polymer clay and allow to dry.

 melted-snowmen-polymer-pieces

Take a small piece of the orange clay and shape a carrot for the nose and allow to dry.

 

Using a funnel fill your ornament a quarter of the way full. Add in glitter.

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Gently drop in your buttons, eyes, top hat and carrot nose into the ornament.

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Cherishing holiday memories #PCholiday

Every year when we take ornaments out to decorate the tree, I share the stories behind each one as we take them out and place them on the tree.  This one, I tell my kids, was made by my sister Debbie, when she was in high school.  Even at 8, 6, and 4, I hear a chorus of “MOM! We already know that, you tell us every year!”  But still I share. And I will continue to share. No matter how many eye rolls I get from the mini Martins. That’s how I instill in them a love for cherishing holiday memories like I do!

cherishing-holiday-memories

You can see the flaws in our tree. Our angels dress got stuck and the kids insisted she stay that way this year. The ornaments get moved- hourly, it seems. But it’s ours and it’s real and it’s perfect just the way it is!

There’s the paper mittens my niece Erica made at 4.

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The macaroni angel Kelsey made when she was about 7.

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The ornament my dad made for his mom in 1950.

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The basket ornament my mom wove.

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Baby’s first Christmas.   Big sister. Big brother. Photo ornaments made in classrooms.  Nativity ornaments made at church.

The 20 point origami star my sister Debbie made, I don’t even know when- but she made it, and it’s one of the few things I have that she made when she was alive.

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The first family ornament given to us by my dear friend Ally, when our oldest had her first Christmas.

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Almost all of our ornaments have a story.  They aren’t fancy, they don’t match, some aren’t even pretty.  But they all have a story and it’s part of OUR story, and I want my kids to know and understand the how and why we need to treasure these memories.  Every year I make a point to get each of my kids an ornament- often they are from Personal Creations, because I love their selection and quality, and GREAT pricing. But mostly, I want personalized ornaments that are symbolic of their year they’ve had.  This year, the kids are getting a Soccer player ornament (my son), a tap dancer ornament (my littlest) and a gymnast (my oldest) — because those are the things they are each loving the most right now.

 personal-creations-gymnast-ornamentpersonal-creations-personalized-soccer-ornament

My tree won’t ever be perfect.  Truthfully, I wouldn’t want it to be. There’s not matching sets, nor a color scheme. There’s not symmetry and that’s ok! The little cinnamon applesauce blob that my then 2 year old son pronounced was Santa?  That will hang proudly on my tree as long as it is around to be hung. Those are what make our family memories. Those are part of how I can share my family history with my children, and how we start our own traditions.

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New addition for 2013- we each have a mini stocking. Notes, tiny gifts, gift cards, surprises? That’s my hope for these. Tiny little stockings to have some fun with!

When my kids grow up, the ornaments we’ve given them each year will leave home with them, to start their own tree.  And it will be there turn to start sharing our memories with their own new little families, and maybe one day make their own kids groan at them telling that same story about Aunt Debbie’s origami star that she made so many many years ago.

 personal-creations-personalized-embroidered-christmas-stocking-needlepoint

I added something new for myself for Christmas this year.  When I was growing up, we had felt stockings my mom made.  They fell apart years ago, I’m not sure what my parents used from then on, but I had always wanted a stocking with my name on it. When the kids were born, we got each a stocking with their name embroidered on it. My husband still has his childhood stocking with his name on it- it was knit by his grandma. He swears he just keeps it around because it’s knit, stretchy, and therefore can fit more stuff, but he’s full of beans.  He treasures that stocking because his grandmother made it for him. As do I.  He got me an adorable stocking from Disney one year, and we are still enjoying it – but this year, there’s a new “Mom” stocking hanging in the living room. I finally got that stocking with my name on it.
Follow Personal Creations Blogger Board: Christmas Ideas on Pinterest


Ready to personalize your own Christmas creations? Personal Creations is offering my readers 20% off of all of your purchases through the end of December. Click here to start shopping and the 20% will be applied in your shopping cart.

What’s your favorite holiday coffee? Merry Mugmas! #DunkinMugUp

For those of you who don’t already know, Christmas is a BIG DEAL in my home….really, in my extended family.  When I say Christmas, I really mean the entire time between Thanksgiving week’s beginning and the end of New Year’s Day.  There’s a lot of sappy and emotional stuff, of course, but I’ll save that for another day. Today is the day we discuss holiday decor. 

Part of our love for the season, of course, is the decorations.  In our world, it’s considered perfectly normal to have an entire collection of Christmas dishes.  We even have a dish for the dog and cats that match my holiday dishware.  No joke. I actually have a full service for 12 in my holiday dishes.  At last count, I had 7 dinner plates and 8 salad plates, plus 5 bowls intact, and 1 with some chips.  But it’s ok, it makes sense. It’s for Christmas.  (My mom believed in the ENTIRE set of whatever, so for years we got pieces to add on to the dishes!! YEARS).

We aren’t going stop at the dishes, my friends.  There’s also the 2 bins of ornaments.  One is full of special, family ornaments, that my kids are already telling me “Mom you tell us about this EVERY TIME you take it out of the bin to hang on the tree!!” and I think it’s my most favorite part of the decor.

Once the holiday decorations come out, the holiday coffee comes out, too. You knew that was coming, right? I mean, we have Christmas mugs, we need Christmas coffee (and cocoa…and tea…)

My most favorite decoration of all time was a toilet lid cover that had Santa on the top saying “Ho Ho Ho!” but when you lifted the lid he had his face covered saying “oh, oh oh!” because…well, you can use your imagination. Most years, there was coordinating toilet tissue.  No room is left untouched in this family when it comes to holiday decor.  

From my mug to yours, I wish you all a very Merry Mugmas! Enjoy your holiday coffee!

Merry Mugmas! Dunkin’ Donuts wants to see you sip holiday cheer from your favorite holiday mug. Upload your photo here for a chance to win sweet prizes, including a year’s worth of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, a $500 VISA gift card and an extra-large gallon size Dunkin’ Donuts coffee mug.
 

Merry Mugmas! Dunkin’ Donuts wants to see you sip holiday cheer from your favorite holiday mug. Upload your photo here for a chance to win sweet prizes, including a year’s worth of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, a $250 VISA gift card and an extra-large gallon size Dunkin’ Donuts coffee mug. 
 

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Dunkin’ Donuts. The opinions and text are all mine.

Elf on the Shelf Ideas That’ll Leave Them Puzzled

Got elves?  Check out these creative elf on the shelf ideas! Don’t forget to check out our Elf on the Shelf alernatives for some other fun elf friends! ElfOnTheShelfCollageThisMamaLoves

It’s that time of the year when the family tradition of your beloved Elf on the Shelf makes his appearance. As tradition continues, the mischief your Elf gets into is becoming uncontrollable! I love the magic that comes alive during this time of year. With Elf on the Shelf it’s like the Toy Story movie coming alive in your own home!

 

Check out these fun Elf on the Shelf ideas to leave your children puzzled…

 

 

 

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The kids gummies come into play as this little fellow is playing a game of…tumble!

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Rainbow Looms aren’t just for your kids  and used to keep Mr. Elf warm during his travels back to the North Pole to report back to Santa!

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Candy + Coloring = A fun night for one and all {and upset belly for Mr. Elf and his friend}!

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You just can’t go wrong with a little cookies and milk.

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Awww….poor Mr. Elf just isn’t feeling so well. The tissue box sure does feel cozy. Now if only the medicine would start getting in so he can pay Santa a quick visit.

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Utilize your kiddos Skylanders toys that you keep stepping on as they captured the Elf!

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“Can someone let me in? It’s a little cold out here!”

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Someone was in the baking cabinet and spilled the salt. Instead of cleaning it up Mr. Elf created a snow angel!

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Mr. Elf brought back a sweet “Little Kisses” treat from the North Pole. He even decorated the Elf Kisses jar by himself to an added touch!

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A little wrestling match anyone?

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Someone is a little full of themselves! This elf placed his picture in the families picture frames…silly Elf!

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{In my best singing voice} “He’s making his list and checking it twice”. Find out if your child’s name made Santa’s list.

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Did you know that Elfy is an artist is well? What can’t he do?!?

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Just chillin’ with my people drinkin’ milk and cookies!

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Elfy is getting into the holiday spirit and taking it upon himself to decorate the house…what do you think?!?

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Elfy wants to know why he isn’t in any of the family photographs?

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Elfy is helping to decorate the Christmas Tree! Do you think he’s capable of putting the star on top?

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UNO! A little game of Uno Attack or Hungry Hungry Hippos anyone?

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Elfy is up to his shenanigans again by creating a zip line and his own hammock!

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These two sure did create a mess with Mommy’s purse…they ended the night kicking back and admiring their work!

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Tonight Elfy decided to go take the Reindeer to the North Pole, he was feeling a little lazy!

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Surprise! Elfy’s make their appearance in their own little way. Elfy was craving cookies…cookies of himself that is!

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It wouldn’t be winter with out a little s’more making!

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Elfy is just taking a little cat nap waiting on the family to wake up and start breakfast!

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Looks like Elfy created his own little home…don’t light the Firestart!

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Looks like Elfy might be changing her wardrobe to black so that she can stay warm in the winter.

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Just hanging around with the Santa’s.

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Elfy brought the family some donuts back from the North Pole…and himself!

Check out some of these fabulous Elf ideas from some of my blogging friends:

Coupons are GREAT

The Suburban Mom

The Coupon Challenge

Mom on Dealz

The Centsible Family

Madame Deals

Don’t have an elf yet? Check out Elf Magic, Christopher PopinKins and Elf on the Shelf! Do you have another kind of elf?  Tell us! Share your photos, links, pins, etc! 

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Make your own Elf on the Shelf Cookies!

The Perfect Pairing for Dinner- or, My Favorite Side Dishes

Betty Crocker, a classic brand that most American households are familiar with, has a line of delicious and mouthwatering Specialty Potato side dishes  that can make any meal complete.  From Au Gratin to Classic Mashed Potatoes, Betty Crocker has something for every weeknight dinner.

Now, many of you know that I’m not Betty Crocker.  I’m not even Bretty Crocker (see what I did there? Because I think I’m funny?).  I don’t have a repertoire of wonderful, gourmet meals that I rotate every 4-6 months so that my family doesn’t tire of the same foods over and over again.  We don’t do much pasta in our house, so when it comes to side dishes….well, that’s frequently a struggle. Meal planning is NOT my forte.  Other people planning my meals and giving me a list?  Totally my forte. 

So…main dishes, I can do.  It’s not that hard. But sides? Side dishes?  It’s hard for me to find the perfect pairing. I struggle. I stress. Sometimes, I look to old favorites for inspiration or help.  Like Betty Crocker and all of her lovely potatoes. Some nights, our perfect pairing for a meal is a salad.

betty-crocker-potatoes-au-gratin-side-dishes-ideas

Other nights, like when my daughter has basketball right when we’d normally eat dinner, I don’t have time to make involved meals.   I decided to make some Au Gratin Potatoes for a side dish, with our burgers and veggies. I think we were all happy to be eating something besides holiday leftovers!!  I was VERY happy to have an easy to make side dish that was a little different than our everyday plain rice or roasted potatoes. Those are our “favorite” side dishes….or extra veggies.  It gets boring quickly! That’s when I look for some more fun or adventurous (or at least DIFFERENT) side dish options, and Betty Crocker has so many that we can choose from! I guess you could say my favorite side dishes are the ones that take very little thought on my part :)

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Tonight, we’re doing Loaded au Gratin Potatoes with some Ham Steaks and Peas.  I’m making dinner early in the day because we have dance and gymnastics after school and will not be home until 6pm. 

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Loaded au Gratin Potatoes
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Adding to Betty Crocker Au Gratin Potatoes for a more substantial side dish
Author:
Recipe type: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 box (4.7 oz) Betty Crocker® au gratin potatoes
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 2 tablespoons margarine or butter
  • 6 slices bacon, cooked, crumbled
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese (4 oz)
  • ¼ cup sliced green onions (4 medium)
  • ¼ tsp coarse ground black pepper
  • Topping
  • ½ cup Progresso® plain bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 400°F.
  2. in 2-quart casserole, mix Potatoes, Sauce Mix, boiling water, half-and-half and butter.
  3. Stir in remaining potato ingredients.
  4. Bake uncovered 35 minutes.
  5. In small bowl, mix bread crumbs and butter; sprinkle over top.
  6. Bake 8 minutes longer or until topping is golden.
  7. Sprinkle with parsley.
  8. Let stand 5 minutes before serving (sauce will thicken as it stands).

 

 

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Need a quick and easy meal solution for the busy holiday season?  Try Betty Crocker Potatoes today.

            Get recipes at http://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/product-recipes/potatoes-recipes

What are your favorite side dishes? 

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Betty Crocker via Glam Media.  The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Betty Crocker.

8 Tips to Stay Healthier in the Winter


During the winter months, many people are prone to illness. For children in schools, and many professions relating to health care, it can make us all even more susceptible.  The reason for this is that they have not or are not eating the proper foods that help to build their immune system. Eating properly is essential any time of the year, and even more important during the winter months. You can avoid becoming run down during the winter months if you happen to follow these simple steps to stay healthier in winter.

tips to stay healthier in winter

  1. Get the Proper Rest- During the warmer weather we tend to sleep less. Take advantage of winter hibernation and catch up on your needed rest. Anywhere from seven to nine hours of sleep is sufficient.
  2. Drink water! Water, water, water and more water!! Hydration is critical
  3. Watch What You Eat-During the winter months; remember to eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Many winter vegetables can provide your body with a much-needed energy boost. When you are hankering for a snack, avoid sugary foods and choose an apple, banana, or dried fruit instead. Experiment with the winter vegetables. They can be boiled, roasted, and even incorporated into a winter soup.
  4. Do Not Forget to Exercise- During the winter months, our bodies can become sluggish. Find an activity that the whole family can take part in that will get you outside. Stuck inside all winter staring at the four walls will definitely put you in a slump.
  5. Eat a Hearty Breakfast- Remember to eat a healthy breakfast so that you can start your day off on the right foot. Oatmeal and a piece of fruit, along with a glass of juice will give your body energy.
  6. Ingest More Milk Based Products- During the winter months make sure to get enough calcium. Dairy products are an excellent source of protein and have vitamin A and D, among others.
  7. Wash your hands!! Wash them often
  8. Take Dietary Supplements- Make sure that you take a multi-vitamin or dietary supplement to provide your body with the proper nutrients that you may not get from your diet. We love the L’il Critters brand vitamins-our whole family likes their Immune C Plus Zing & Echinacea supplements.  The kids love the taste, and I’ll admit, they do taste great, but what I like most is that I know they are getting an extra boost of vitamins and minerals to help them to fight off the germs they will come in contact with throughout their days. My only complaint is that I can’t find a place to buy the Immune-C in BULK- with 3 kids, even a bottle of 190 bears doesn’t last a long time in our house!

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Following the above tips will help to boost your immune system and lessen your chance of becoming ill during the winter months. During the winter months, your body needs more energy to help you face the colder weather.

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L’il Critters™ are the #1 child gummy vitamin. We are the better tasting gummy vitamin that is preferred by Kids and trusted by Moms.

“We Make Nutrition Taste Good.”

 

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Church & Dwight via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Church & Dwight.

Holiday Lights in Connecticut at Lake Compounce (Printable Coupon Inside)

This past Friday, my family and I were invited to attend the opening night of Holiday Lights at Lake Compounce in Bristol, Connecticut.  We were very excited to attend this event, since we are all enamored with all things Christmas and the kids absolutely love theme parks!  We bundled up (most of the attractions are outdoors) and headed down to Bristol with Babysitter Katie along for an extra adult since my husband was not feeling well.

The lights  begin before you are even in the parking lot, and as you walk into the park, you are met with thousands and thousands of twinkling lights, Christmas music playing, and a fun, festive air.   (Also chilly, so again, bundle up!)

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There are costumed characters wandering around the park for fun photo ops and to interact with park guests.  I loved the Nutcrackers on stilts- they were really cool to see and just so fun watching them go around on stilts!

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So funny to see hats and coats in bumper cars!!

There’s several rides open- some changed for holiday themes- the little train that takes you to the other end of the park in summer is now the North Pole Express, and brings you on a journey of (many) thousands of lights, ending in a loop that will delight anyone who loves holiday decor as we do.  This ride took a while and since we were sitting and not moving around- it might be a good ride to go on last before you leave, my little ones had a hard time with being so cold after it ended.  They LOVED the lights so much, they didn’t really seem bothered!!

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When you are at Holiday Lights, be sure to visit the Winter Wonderland building- you’ll have a chance to warm up a bit, but you can also visit Santa himself, along with some of his elves (and have a great photo opp- additional fee applies!), decorate holiday cookies or gingerbread houses (nominal fee applies for the cookies and houses) and even Kyle Crocodile dressed in his holiday finery!

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There are 12 Days of Christmas light displays around the park- you have to look to find them.  We did miss a few but we didn’t have enough time to go through and visit everything (my kids use the bathroom a lot). That’s also how we missed the awesome balloon animal makers.  Don’t miss that when you go!  The animals we saw were festive and holiday themed and AWESOME!

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One of the firepits at Holiday Lights

There’s also a printable coupon for $3 off admission on Friday or Sunday, and $2 off Saturday admission. (Through 12/15) Or you can print it right here :) Holiday Lights is open weekends from 11/29 to 12/22 on Fridays from 5-9 pm and Saturdays and Sundays from 4-9 pm.  There is hot cocoa available as well as some vendors selling warm food and other beverages.  Adult tickets are just $14.99, kids 10 and under are $10.99 and kids under 3 are free.

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This is a WONDERFUL family event right here in the Nutmeg state!  Great place to see holiday lights in Connecticut and worth the drive! We can’t wait to go again!