Monthly Archives: November 2015

The BEST Stocking Stuffers for Dogs

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #ClausAndPaws #CollectiveBias

Our family added a furry-legged companion this past Fall!  Our new chocolate lab puppy is definitely a member of the family and we are continuing the holiday tradition from my childhood.  Every family member receives a stocking FULL of their favorite items(and a few necessities).  Today I am sharing everything that will be in our puppy’s stocking, come Christmas morning.
Stocking Stuffers and Holiday Treats for Dogs

The Best Stocking Stuffers for Dogs

 

STOCKING-

Our family is definitely a Scooby Doo Family, as depicted by Emma Marie and my husband’s Halloween costumes, and both kids thought this would fit perfectly for our new addition.  Perhaps in the future we will embroider all of our stockings with our names(yes, even our dog will get her very own) but this year we stayed with our plain knit stockings- just not quite as festive as Scooby.

The-Best-Stocking-Stuffer-Ideas-for-dogs

Scooby Doo Stocking FILLED with Treats

COLLAR-

Our new collars come locally made here in Arizona.  Indiana is ready for her next size collar as she nears six months old.  Our family picked out a medium and large collar for her to grow into as the new year arrives and I am head-over-heels in love with the custom look.  Definitely a fun addition to her stocking this year!

SAFETY LIGHTS-

Our chocolate lab puppy is rather hard to see at night.  We live near large plots of land that you can let your dogs off the leash and during our nightly walks after dinner it became hard to keep track of exactly where she was.  Now with this set of bike safety lights we can find out just how far from us she is.  Plus on her nightly runs with my husband, both of them can stay safe as they surely will not get tripped up(as easily)!

Stocking-Stuffer-Ideas-For-Dogs

Handmade Collars & Bike Lights

TREATS-

YES.  What else can make your dog literally JUMP for JOY?!?  Indiana is going to wake up and walk down the stairs just like the kids on Christmas morning to find her very favorite treats stashed in her very own Scooby Doo Stocking.  Her favorite treats are PEDIGREE® DENTASTIX® Beef, which are definitely aiding in the training regimen( sit, stay, fetch) and goodness do they help her teeth as we go through the puppy phase of adding in her new teeth.

Stocking-Stuffer-Treats-For-mans-best-friend

Indiana’s FAVORITE Treats

The new addition that I know she will go nuts over are PEDIGREE® MarroBone™!  Moving toward these bite-sized treats for training will be easier I think for us to hide the treats in our hands, especially the kids.  Then we can use the PEDIGREE® DENTASTIX® for helping keep her smile healthy!

Walmart-PEDIGREE-DOG-TREATS

On our weekly trip to Walmart, we stocked up on these two sweet treats for our new puppy!  The kids are definitely going to love seeing that our beloved dog isn’t left out of the holiday magic.  Growing up with dogs and cats, my mother always made sure they had their own treat on Christmas morning which was fun to see just how much joy that brought them.  Kindness matters.

Treats-for-the-holidays-for-puppy-CLAUS-AND-PAWS

Kindness with animals helps show your little ones just how important it is to take care of others.  AND just how fabulous it is to make their day special too.  I will never forget seeing our chocolate lab, Sadie, with this GIANT treat in front of our Christmas tree-she was literally beside herself with pure joy and disbelief.

Puppy's First Christmas

Our puppy came to us abruptly from a farm that couldn’t care for her and a year earlier than we had planned.  But something I am most sure of is that our lives are better because she is in them.  Our kids are learning to love and care for a creature that loves them right back.

Our house may be harrier, but our hearts are whole.  Watching my two little ones with her just reaffirms that this was meant to be.  That our crazy worlds collided on purpose and well, she is truly part of the family now.

I am so excited to watch everyone race down the stairs on Christmas morning!  Holiday traditions make life just that much more magical!

What are you planning to give your furry best friend this holiday season?

Do they receive their own stocking? Or perhaps a favorite treat?

Would love for you to share your ideas with me!

To help inspire you with ideas you can visit HERE to see other fabulous ideas to gift your pet!

For more Puppy information:

Top TEN Things to Know Before Getting a Puppy

How to Train a Puppy

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Spread the CHEER

Sometimes giving is even better than receiving; especially during the holiday season.  As a mother to two, young and impressionable children I work hard on instilling in them a sense of purpose.  Understanding that giving to others is of great value to them takes some understanding, but the conversations and squeals of joy will be with me forever.
Spread-the-Cheer-this-Holiday-Season

Spread the Cheer

“Mom, why are we putting all of those toys and clothes in boxes?” -asked Raymond my four year old.  I could see his eyes furrow and a look of worry, I gently prodded, “Some children do not have any toys sweetheart.  Won’t it be nice to give all of these toys that you no longer play with-to someone who will love them just as much as we did?”

An enthusiastic, “YES!” was then shouted as he now realized we could make someone’s day THAT much better.  Simple acts of kindness matter.  Being a role model that actively makes these types of giving possible?  It matters.

Excited-to-spread-the-cheer

Spreading Cheer

Both Emma Marie and Raymond were giddy with excitement when we were going to make cookies and then leave them on someone’s doorstep.  We simply grabbed Betty Crocker’s Sugar Cookies Mix from Walmart and we were able to whip up a couple batches of cookies in no time.

Although it must be said that baking with a toddler and a preschooler is a feat in itself.

Baking-Sugar-Cookies-with-my-Kid

Baking with Kids

Preparation is KEY when baking with kids.  All of the tools, and ingredients were out and ready to go before I had them don their aprons.  Love my little helpers.

Kids-Making-Sugar-Cookies

Messes Make Memories

Baking is messy.  Is it supposed to be?  I think so.

The dog and literally everyone were covered in the cookie mess, but most importantly were the smiles on everyone’s faces.

Decorating-the-Sugar-Cookies

Let the Decorating Commence

After nap-time(we were in the middle of a preschool plague run amok) we got to icing and decorating our first batch.  Suffice it to say, that since they knew they were giving them away they tried TWICE as hard.  Pretty darn priceless.  Chalk this up to another Holiday Tradition we will be embracing in the coming years.  Baking cookies to help spread cheer.

Spread-the-Cheer-decorating-cookies

Just taste-testing the icing, making sure it was going to live up to expectation.

Decorating-Sugar-Cookies-for-giving

Both of them worked extra hard on icing their entire cookie.  I worked on just sitting back and enjoying the moment of us around the table- AND not interfering.  Their version of the perfect cookie may look different than mine, but it should.

Sugar-Cookies-Spread-the-cheer

Perfecting the placement of sprinkles.  Both definitely had in mind the sprinkle to icing ratio that worked for them.  I am pretty sure they are much more careful decorating cookies than I.  My “art” that I created as a Junior in HS was some clay jars.  Everyone that sees them asks if they were done in 1st or 2nd grade.  And I couldn’t disagree.  I did my best, but my best looks different than others.  Learning to embrace those differences in the age of perfection and Pinterest is harder than I thought.  But I will admit, the cookies THEY created?  Are the ones pictured below.  No editing or strategic placement of sprinkles.  Just pure kids making cookies for others.

Cough-cough- they look better than my cookies-cough-cough.

Spreading-Holiday-Cheer-with-Cookies

Spread the Cheer

Well the kids grabbed this basket full of Spread the Cheer Cookie Tags and hand delivered them to the hardest working teacher we know.  The conversations of giving in our house have continued this holiday season and we are making another batch for our local Fire Department.  Can’t wait to help Spread MORE Cheer throughout our community!

Check out the kids running up with their basket!

Now you can grab a coupon to start your own cheer!  PLUS enter to win the giveaway!

COUPON

Coupon Offer: Save $0.50 when you buy ONE (1) Betty Crocker™ Cookie Mix. #SpreadCheer

 

Enter to win $20 in Paypal Cash to help spread the cheer to your friends, family, and neighbors!
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What cookie do you like to bake during the holiday season?  

Any family recipes you would be willing to share?

 

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Holiday Cheer Treats

Spreading holiday cheer! Our kitchen has been FULL of fabulous holiday goodies and I can’t wait to share our winning secret with our Holiday Cheer Cupcakes.  DELICIOUS.  Treats that taste better than they look?  AWESOME.  Treats that look JUST as good as they taste?  EVEN BETTER. Here are some family tested treats that are sure to help brighten up your tablescape this holiday season.
Holiday-Cheer-Cupcakes

Holiday Cheer Cupcakes

Holiday Cheer Cupcakes are a GAME-CHANGER.  We added in one special ingredient-dropped a bunch-and voila- our perfectly sweet and satisfying Holiday Cheer Cupcakes.

Holiday Cheer Cupcakes

Ingredients

One box of Betty Crocker Super Moist Yellow Cake Mix

One can of lemon lime soda

The lemon lime soda works as a substitute to ALL of the extra ingredients needed to bake your Holiday Cheer Cupcakes.  Don’t forget to grab some frosting and fun sprinkles.

Sprinkles can cover even the worst icing job.  I would know, that’s how I roll.

Directions

Sub Lemon Lime Soda for all ingredients of Betty Crocker Super Moist Yellow Cake Mix.  Bake according to the back of the box.  Seriously, it is THAT easy.

Betty-Crocker-and-Chex-Holiday-Treats

We stock up on Chex at Winco every two weeks, one of the only allergy-safe options for my son, and love how much we’ve save this year just in cereal.  Plus baking mixes, crock pot mixes, and other staples are usually 20-30% cheaper (you really need to check it out) than what I can find at my neighborhood grocery store.  It pays to stock up on essentials at Winco.

Holiday-Cheer-Treat

Holiday Cheer Cupcakes

Holiday-Cheer-Chex-Mix-Treat

Holiday Cheer Chex

For my son, making sure there is a safe holiday treat option is a must!  He knows he can not have what everyone else has at parties we attend, so it’s fun to bring a treat that is tasty and pleasing on the eyes.  Most of his friends want a bag of their own!

To make the Holiday Cheer Chex you need to get 1 pound bags of candy melts and a box of Rice Chex.

PLEASE read the directions on the bag.  They can and WILL catch fire in the microwave.  You can read more about our close call here.  Talk about needing to read ALL of the directions. Goodness.

Simply grab a 1 pound bag in the color, or colors, of your choosing.  Microwave according to directions.  Then stir in the chex mix.  I let the mix dry for about thirty minutes before transferring to a cute container for storage.

 

Holiday-Chex-Mix-Blue

Holiday Cheer Chex Mix

Candy melts can really help make your holiday treats POP this season.  The easy concoction has helped transform the last few parties- Avengers Super Hero Party & Star Wars Party.

What are your GO-TO holiday treats?  

I would love to add in some more no-fail options as the holidays approach.  Thank you for sharing!

 

QUICK GIVEAWAY

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Born to Save

When is it too early to start saving?  Most would probably agree that if you have the opportunity to save money away for the future-that you should use that power to ensure the ones you love are taken care of.  Who doesn’t want to feel like they’ve helped their children toward the first step of financial freedom at the ripe old age of, one?

If you save it, they will come… er become… er Field of Dreams reference.  Dating myself?

NEVER.
Born-To-Save

Born to Save

Voya has a fabulous program that can help get your child off on the correct financial foot even before they can crawl.  Exercise fiscal responsibility and work toward your financial goals every year.

Seriously, every little bit matters.

BIG QUESTION

Was your baby born on October 19, 2015?

The Voya Born to Save® program offers every baby born in the U.S on October 19, 2015 a $500 mutual fund investment as a head start on their retirement savings.

Talk about an amazing opportunity! What a great way to start an account for your new little one.

Voya Financial helps Americans plan, invest and protect their savings — to get ready to retire better.  Advice on what works best for YOUR family?  Yes, please.  Everyone’s situations are different.  Perhaps a 529 Savings Plan is an avenue you can explore.  Either way- Voya can help break through the fog of financial planning.

Voya Findings

Voya conducted a survey of more than 1,000 new parents, and found the following:
• Four-in-ten (40%) spent $500 or more on baby-related items in the first year that they later determined were nonessential or they never used.

There are a lot of items I WISH we would’ve been able to purchase when our kid’s were babies.  Alas, they were luxuries and we were on a necessity budget.  But we MADE it.  On less than a teacher’s salary.

Here are some of my ideas of what NOT to buy to save money in the first year with baby.

Baby-Related Non-Essentials

Wipe Warmer

Rocker & Swing (pick one OR none)

Baby Bath Tub(although we swore by ours)

No Cadillac Strollers(top shelf-not necessary)

Baby Mobile

Bumbo

Padded Bumpers(not necessary-AND dangerous-until toddlerhood)

We cloth diapered during the day and used disposables at night when our budget was really tight.  We saved THOUSANDS between two kids using the same set of all-in-ones. We also made all of our own baby food.  This was a necessity as baby food tends to be expensive and it was reassuring knowing exactly what was going into my two kids.

Whatever works for your family.

No judgement here.

All-Mommy-Wants-For-Christmas-Is-A-Silent-Night

From Voya:

Voya Financial, believes it’s never too early — or too late — to save for the future. Voya’s vision is to change the way Americans think about retirement — it’s not simply a destination, but a journey that starts the day you are born.

Happy Tidings to you and your family!  Hope this holiday season is good to you!

 

What was/is a non-essential item you thought you NEEDED?

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Why Messes MATTER

Messes matter.  Messes are ESSENTIAL to making memories.  How about some good, old fashioned clean fun?  No thanks.  I will take a side of mud pie any day and twice on Sunday.  No great story happens with-when I was cleaning my house.  Horror stories start that way, actually…

But that’s another story, for another day.

Messes Make Memories

Why Messes Matter

My most fond memories involve water.  Which is a little perplexing seeing as we live in the Valley of the Sun now.  But growing up in the Pacific Northwest-come rain-shine-snow-sleet-or hail- we were outside.  Goodness with three little girls that MUST have been a ton of laundry and dirty carpet.

The years are short people.  Soon enough you will only be cleaning up the messes you make.

Why do messes matter?

The days are long, but the years are short.

They will not always be in those clothes.  And NO clothes are too good to play in.  Seriously, why have clothes for a kid if they can’t run, jump, and play pretend in them?  There will be YEARS upon YEARS of schooling that will reiterate how important it is to SIT.

AND SIT STILL.

Messes Make Memories

Well, I’ve made a promise to my kids since my littlest was just shy of two that as long as there wasn’t a thunder and lightening storm overhead-that we could be outside playing in the weather.

That may mean swimsuits and slip and slides all summer.

The grass WILL grow back.

Messes Make Memories

During spring and fall that may mean going to the zoo with boots and SPLASHING in the puddles.

Because, why not?

Most people avoid the zoo in rain which makes it a perfect time to relish in an empty zoo AND watch the animals enjoy the wet weather.  Animals DO love the rain.

Messes Make Memories

It ALWAYS involves some sort of boot.

Boots make life fun.

I know this as I have a pair I’ve had for years that I promptly join in the mud and puddle jumping.  These are the moments I want them to remember.  That I was present in their lives.  That they knew that I wanted to be with them.

Even if that means running away from two mud monsters.  Oh, mud monsters.  It takes one to know one.  I taught my kids a well placed mud pie to the back is a sign of endearment.

Toddlerhood does have it’s perks.

Messes Make Memories

It does mean some stains will not come out.

So that just means that is the mud puddle-jumping outfit.

Designated outfit. FOR THE WIN.

Remember clothes are just that, clothes. Don’t put a burden on a toddler to not be a toddler.

Messes Make Memories

With that being said, the kids know Rule #1 is they MUST ask permission before tromping through the epic puddle in the parking lot, field, or even at the farm.

They always ask.

I say yes as often as I can.

Although a soaking wet kid filing into the grocery store just makes for an even harder trip and perhaps a cold to be caught.  But I usually promise as SOON as we get home and grab our boots.

Messes Make Memories

Messes Matter

The sand in my toes(hair and ears).

The mud on my face.

The puddle water coating my layers of clothes.

The mess is short-lived.

Those memories?

Eternal.

 

What are your favorite memories from childhood?  

How are you helping to capture those moments you hold so dear with your own child?

 

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