Category: Holidays

My Go-To for the Holidays- Sweet Family Recipe


The holidays are coming!  The holidays are coming! So excited to host family in Arizona again this year.  Love a full house with tons of great company and food to eat as we head into the New Year.  Check out one of my favorite recipes to share around the holidays!
Holiday Family Recipe

Extra Family Time Around the Holidays

Immaculate Baking

Immaculate Baking- Chocolate Chunk Cookie Dough

LOVE baking this time of year!  The house smells delightful and there are no empty bellies around.  This past week I picked up the Immaculate Baking Chocolate Chunk Cookie Dough and BOOM was this girl excited!  After a long day of teaching, coaching, and then driving home- I finally could throw this simple holiday treat in the oven.  Depending on the week, we usually use different toppings that fit with the menu for the night.

Chocolate Chunk Cookie Dough

Chocolate Chunk Cookie Dough

For flank steak with brown sugar rub, smoked and then seared on the grill we pair with fresh, organic frozen fruit that we buy in bulk.  The simple sugars pair well together and EVERYONE is happy with the result.

Family Favorite Holiday Recipe

As for grabbing cookies and throwing them into lunches for the next day?!? GUESS WHO IS THE BEST EVER?!? This girl!

Delicious Cookie Recipe

Holiday Sweet Treat- Gluten Free from Immaculate Baking

Antique Cookie Jar

Check out exactly what the process looks like and hear a tired teacher/coach/mom explain JUST HOW EASY Immaculate Baking makes my life….


It is SO Easy.


Badda Bing- Badda- BOOM. Holiday Treats IN THE HOUSE.

Holiday Recipe Ideas

Hands & Heart So Full

Now you can try adding some sweetness this holiday season!  Check out the coupon below-

Click here for $1 off any Immaculate Baking product!

What is your go-to sweet treat recipe?

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Our Christmas Wish

Through the years the holidays for our small family have meant so much.  Typically this is one of the only times we get to spend with those we hold dear and a time to be thankful for all that we have.  Last year I sat down to write a little letter to Santa and I wanted to carry the tradition forward.Our-Christmas-Wish


Dear Santa,

This year was more magical than ever before!  My two children have grown big and strong.  Both of them underwent a barrage of tests for different heart problems and I am happy to say that their hearts are healing.  The holes are closing, slowly but surely, and the tendons are starting to be pushed down against the wall of the heart. Our heart doctor does not need to see Emma Marie for another two years and Raymond only needs to go once next year! Good health is one of our biggest blessings.

Raymond started school this year and it came with incredible trepidation on my half.  As a former teacher I know how important preschool is AND YET food allergies make going to school a life or death risk.  Some people get it.  The principal gets it, the school nurse GETS IT, and our fabulous teacher and aide.  Please let us always be surrounded by staff that understand.

Raymond has flourished in school and thrives with his friends.  I am continuously grateful for his kind heart and empathetic soul.  May that never change. He loves fiercely and does his best to understand the world around him.  I am proud to see him grow into a true little gentleman.

Emma Marie wants to be three, like yesterday.  Really she is a proud two year old who is doing her darnedest to keep up with big brother.  She always makes sure he is taken care of first before she thinks about what she needs.  Never grabs something to eat or drink without bringing something to him first.  And goodness is she the best mom to Indiana our new puppy.  My wish is for her to not want to grow up too quick.  I want her to revel in her toddlerdom and to continue to find joy in the simplest things.  Life is pretty spectacular through her eyes.

Our family was blessed through this sphere of work to be able to go to the Happiest Place on Earth this past summer.  Disneyland is fantastic-especially with the wonder of two young ones.  I traveled to conferences to be with writers and partner with amazing companies.  I am continuously in awe of how amazing this community is and how supportive my readers are.

Santa- three years ago we felt a crushing blow of self-doubt.  A single soccer ball lay beneath our tree for our son.  Our newborn daughter was going to go without and we felt like complete failures.  How were we supposed to share this magical world of the holidays like our parents before us if we couldn’t even afford a present for both kids?

Christmas came and went and our son was BEYOND thrilled about the best toy ever.  His soccer ball.  He hadn’t needed a stocking full of trinkets or an entire tree-full of gifts with perfectly wrapped presents.  A simple soccer ball was his pride and joy for an entire year.

Through that Christmas we saw that you can truly cherish what little you do have.  We knew we were very lucky to be together, to have a tree(the same one that stands today), and for us to be all healthy.  But we will be forever grateful to have made it through such hard times with such a kind soul who gently reminded us what really matters.

With a little hard work from both my husband and myself we are slowly able to add a toy or two to the linen closet throughout the year.  This Christmas there will be stockings hung up with toothbrushes, toothpaste, band-aids, and socks, along with three presents to each of our little ones.

Our son remembers he may only ask for one toy of you, Santa, as that was our strict rule from necessity a few years prior.  I am thankful that a toy from you, just one, is more than enough.  Both of them were eager to tell you their item this past week when we visited your toy shop.  Raymond quietly asked for a remote control train to go with the our old wooden train set.  Emma Marie kindly asked for just a “baby thing”-Stroller? Crib? You name it and she would be exceptionally happy.

As I sit here and listen to the quietness of the night.  Our house is full of everything I could ever want.  My Christmas Wish is this: may we always remember the true meaning of thankfulness.  May we not get caught up with the wishes of things. And goodness, if you are reading this and you saved everything you had for that tiny size three soccer ball- you are doing the very best that you can. You are.  Life is hard, but it will get better.

Santa, please may I never forget how far we’ve come from.  And that a soccer ball once saved Christmas.

I hope you enjoy the smorgasbord of cookies that will be left out for you.  I am apologizing ahead of time that they are going to be vegan, gluten-free, and nut-free.  Chug the milk and breathe through your mouth.

Merry Christmas!


Holly Marie





Thank you for the candy canes!

WHO’D WE SEE?!? -Santa #momlife #parenting #santa

A photo posted by Holly Marie (@ascuteasabugsear) on


Dear Santa 2014

Classic Holiday Style

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

Classic holiday style can be accomplished by adding just a few key pieces to your outfit. Accessories can pull an entire ensemble together. My favorite pieces to wear are timeless with just enough sophistication to remain classic through the ages.  Check out holiday outfit ideas and classic accessory pieces you’ll wear time and again.


Classic Holiday Style

The first three things a person notices on someone are hands, shoes, and hair. I love knowing that I can add a few classic pieces to my wrists to help smooth over another new introduction this holiday season. Whether it be at the company holiday party or the end of the semester P.T.A gathering making sure I am completely put together is all in the details.


On our most recent date night, my husband and I went about gathering those last few holiday presents for friends and family. The Anne Klein Gift Set? Well, that was just for me. 


I loved being able to find which Anne Klein box set worked well with the pieces I already own and cherish at our local Dillard’s. Plus those luscious Swarovski® crystals really know how to sparkle just right this holiday season! I chose the Anne Klein Box Set in Rose Gold and I love the extra warmth it plays off with my silver and white gold jewelry.


Holiday Style in the Desert

Out in the desert our temperatures last week were in the mid-80s. That’s right, in December. Styling for the holidays just got a tad more interesting. The rose blouse plays off nicely with the gorgeous rose gold Anne Klein set.



Mix & Match

I love being able to mix and match all of the pieces in the gift set. Two on a hand or even adding in other classic pieces for a layered look on both hands can be a fun way to style your holiday wardrobe this season.


Holiday Party Outfit

Winter holiday party outfit mantra? Add black tights. The benefit of warmth with the added layer of sophistication. Win on both fronts!


 Classic Blouse & Accessories

A classic white blouse, dark blue skinny jeans, and deep chestnut boots are definitely part of my winter wardrobe staple. I love the crisp clean lines, and the POP of brightness in the grayness of December.


 Trips to the Farm

Our winter trips to the farm are just a tad brighter with my new Anne Klein pieces. I love how it can help transcend a look from day to night.




Classic Beauty

After our last holiday party this past weekend more than a few of my girlfriends thought this set would be a fabulous treat to find under their tree come Christmas morning. All husband’s have been emailed details accordingly… sometimes it’s nice to find something you truly love(and want) under the tree.


Anne Klein Box Set

Go grab a box set for that special someone in your life!  I know my sister’s would both love these timeless pieces and a few girlfriends that are pining for a set of their own.  Each Anne Klein Gift Set comes in a variety of finishes with 2-3 coordinating bracelets.  It was hard for me to choose from the classic silver finish and the warm rose gold.  As soon as I saw it on my wrist the rose gold won and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

All of our holiday shopping is complete and now we are slowly working on wrapping all of the presents to place under the tree.  A little at a time takes the pressure off as all of our family is coming to visit this holiday season. Don’t forget to head to Dillard’s if you need a last minute gift for that someone special.

Which Anne Klein Gift Set would you choose?  

Who would love this gift set in your life?

What is your key piece for classic holiday style?

Would LOVE to hear from you!

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DIY Laundry Update + Freshen Up for the Holidays

Holiday guests will be arriving soon!  Don’t forget to freshen up all of your linens with a dose of Beach Sage which immediately sets the tone for a relaxing holiday with family.  Plus, an easy way to update your laundry room decor with a faux metal sign.


DIY Laundry Update

As much as I would like to “set it and forget it” our laundry room is a focal point of our house.  If the door is opened it can be viewed from the kitchen, dining, AND living room.  This makes me cringe and has led to some small updates that help me cope with our laundry room constantly being opened up with guests.

First off- this is not a catch-all.  Everything has it’s place and those are bins that are NOT see through.  I know where everything is- BUT my guests can’t SEE everything.  Helps the laundry room feel a lot less cluttered with everything hidden in it’s spot.

A long time ago I saw a metal letters- W A S H- in a fabulous magazine delivered around the holidays.  My jaw dropped when I saw the price tag and I had to simply recycle the copy.  They wanted HOW MUCH for each letter?

Not on our budget.

So I simply grabbed cardboard letters at my local thrift store.  Actually I grabbed ONE on each trip over the course of a few months(hello frugal) with their 50% off coupon each time.  One can of metallic spray paint and an old cardboard box to prop them up on and I was all set.

Helpful Hint: Pin tacks into the cardboard so that you can “prop” up the letters before spraying.  That way they will not stick to the cardboard, which makes removal upon drying just that much more simple.

Even if you buy the cardboard letters AND spray paint for full price you still only equate to ONE of the letters from that fabulous magazine.  Another AWESOME thing about being thrifty?  They are cardboard and can be hung up on the wall with double sided tape.  No holes in my wall AND saved a bunch of money.

Three years later and these bad boys now sit on a shelf over both washer and dryer(nothing can fall behind them anymore-winning!) and are in pristine condition.


All of our family will be traveling to the desert this lovely holiday and we are working on refreshing ALL of our linens.  New puppy, a toddler, and preschooler can make you numb to the fact that houses CAN smell good.  Over the past week I have taken the time to wash all of our large quilts and fleece blankets that we cuddle with on the couch.  I am now working on pillows and the kid’s stuffed animals.

Goodness am I in love with the new method 4x concentrated laundry detergent in Beach Sage that I grabbed on our weekly trip to Target.  My nose is picky and this is just the right amount of fragrance to bring upon an heir of tranquility and freshness. PERFECT for the busy holiday season.  Plus I love that I get more bang for my buck. Cough-Cough-Frugal.

The other new fragrances in the lineup for method: beach sage, ginger mango, spring garden.

Grab this fabulous COUPON CODE: YAYFORLAUNDRY for $3 off at checkout!

Let me know if you update your Laundry Room OR perhaps use the technique for a NOEL or JOY sign.  Timeless and easy.

Happy Holidays Friends!

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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



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.


Scooby Doo Stocking FILLED with Treats


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!


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)!


Handmade Collars & Bike Lights


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.


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!


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.


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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