Sunday, August 31, 2014

Secrets of Sloane House by Shelley Gray -- Giveaway and Book Review

I received a copy of this book from Family Christian, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Book Description: Against the backdrop of the 1893 World's Fair, a young woman finds employment with an illustrious Chicago family--a family who may guard the secret of her sister's happiness.

I'm the first to admit that I'm picky about my tastes in historical fiction, but with a Mount TBR the size of mine, I can't waste my time on less than the best. I can handle a few fact discrepancies, ill-chosen words, or underdeveloped characters, here and there, but when the novel is so saturated that I find myself tripping over them, that's when I'm ready to call it quits.

I was put off from the very beginning by the context of the story's beginning. It starts right in the middle of a scene with little back story or character development. I was still lost on the relationship between Reid and the Sloanes at the third chapter and finding myself having to reread the first two chapters because I thought they were step-siblings.  The lack of character development was a theme throughout and made the story very difficult to follow.

Another distraction was that the author, unfortunately, chose to use uncommon words in odd places. The staff's accents were also inconsistent and irritating. It was very frustrating to read over them. I much rather prefer when an author alludes to the accent but writes it legibly, using terms like, "he drawled" or "she answered in her clipped way of speaking".

Finally, it's very difficult to take a historical story seriously when the history is glaringly off. The hymn, How Great Thou Art, is referenced as an "old hymn" and "dear to her heart". However, the very first English version of the hymn was not published until 1925! Also, the term "pipe dream" wasn't even used for the first time until just three years before this, and a young girl of limited means had likely never heard it by 1893. In addition, since the book is marketed as centered around the World's Fair, (a fact that should make it unique among other historicals) it would have been nice to find more details and curiosities about the Fair, rather than surface allusions.

All in all, I was disappointed in the story and remain a bit embarrassed for the author. However, you've got a chance to read it for yourself and see what you think. Family Christian is giving away one copy to a US reader. Enter to win on the Rafflecopter widget below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Awesome Back to School Stationery Designs from Minted.com

This article is sponsored by Minted and I have received compensation for my review. All opinions are honest and are my own.

I am so in love with paper. I always have been. From books to stationery to weird little scraps of whatever, I've collected paper my whole life. I am so excited to have discovered Minted.com, an online stationery store that collaborates with designers from all over the world to create gorgeous products for us to play with!

You can find wedding, baby, and birthday invitations, holiday cards, art prints, and more at Minted.com---all created by fantastic indie designers. Since I'm in back to school mode, I've been looking at all the cute designs for kids. Many of these stationery items can be personalized with the name of your child for a special gift that's uniquely theirs.

I totally love all the notebook designs---especially this astronaut one. You can get them as day planners or address books, as well, and add a name to the cover.

There are lots of cute designs for kids' thank you cards and stationery that can also be personalized. What a sweet way to help your child show appreciation!

One thing I've got on my wish list is a set of mommy calling cards. That is just such an awesome idea! How many times do we introduce ourselves to other moms and talk about meeting up, but then forget the name and never follow through? With a calling card, you've got an easy way to make sure your new friend has your info for getting together at a later time.

I think Minted.com is definitely going to be one of my new favorite places to shop for fun and unique paper designs. What are some of your favorite Minted products?

Linking with:
Homemaking Party @ Hope In Every Season
Thursday Favorite Things @ Katherine's Corner
Thriving Thursday @ Serving Joyfully
Homeacre Hop   
Think Tank Thursday @ Saving4Six 
Home Sweet Home @ The Charm of Home 
Create It Thursday
Open House @ Bernideen's Tea Time Blog 
Share Your Cup Thursday @ Have a Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson
Inspiration Friday @ Dear Creatives
Show and Tell Friday @ My Romantic Home
Pintastic Party
Friendship Friday
The Best of the Weekend
No Rules Party
The Creative Collection @ Craft-O-Maniac
Link Party Palooza
Show and Tell Saturday @ Be Different, Act Normal
The Party Bunch
Simply Saturday Hop
The Art of Homemaking
Inspiration Monday @ Your Homebased Mom
Motivate Me Monday 
Modest Monday @ The Modest Mom 
Living Proverbs 31
Inspire Me Monday @ Create With Joy 
Masterpiece Monday @ BoogieBoard Cottage 
A Round Tuit @ Creating My Way to Success 
Monday Funday @ C.R.A.F.T. 
Making Your Home Sing Monday
Sunday Linkup at ARWB

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Homemaking Party

It's been a fun week for the Collers as we've spent time with friends, joined a new homeschooling co-op and celebrated two birthdays! Summer is wrapping up around here and routines are setting in. 

My new literature blog, Belle's Library, debuted this week with a review of Geraldine Brooks', March, and its very own Facebook page! I'm still looking for more contributors. You can make a one time commitment, or sign on to submit regularly. I'm looking for any kind of writing on books. You can submit commentaries, essays, book reviews, book memes, quizzes, author fun facts...the options are endless! Visit the Writing Opportunity tab above for details.

Speaking of books, I'm participating in two reading challenges and am keeping a running list of what I've read here. Here's the info on the challenges I've joined---in case you're wanting to join too!

Since August 1st, I've finished these books:
French Lessons by Peter Mayle
Persuasion, Captain Wentworth, and Cracklin' Cornbread by Mary Jane Hathaway
Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart by Beth Pattillo
Pride, Prejudice and Cheese Grits by Mary Jane Hathaway
Emma, Mr. Knightley and Chili-Slaw Dogs by Mary Jane Hathaway

Current Read: Becoming Jane Austen by Jon Spence

Here are my plans for Simply Audra Marie's Friday "It Begins with SUMMER" challenge:

S---....unsure. The book I was reading wasn't good so I didn't finish.
U---Undone (will read in September)
M---Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart (done)
M---Motel of the Mysteries (will read in September) This book also counts for Audra's Not Your Typical Genre challenge)
E---Emma, Mr. Knightley, and Chili Slaw Dogs (done)
R---Recipes for Easy Living (will read in September)

I'm considering reading Beverly Lewis' October Song for Audra's, A Reader Is Born challenge in September. She's got another weekly challenge, Summer Title Waves, that I need to pick for, as well.

What are you reading?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Raspberry Razorback Lemonade for Game Day #TeamJello #shop #cbias

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #TeamJello #shop #cbias
I've had my eye on these university-themed Jell-O mold kits for several weeks now and am so glad I snagged one for our game day food table! I had so much fun making little hog-shaped Jigglers, as well as some awesome raspberry Razorback cubes for lemonade. I came up with a great technique to get perfectly-shaped cubes and I'm sharing it here so you can do some of your own. 

I definitely learned my lesson about waiting until the last minute on stuff like this. Once I was ready to buy my kit, I looked all over Northwest Arkansas, but hog fans had already snatched them all up! Luckily, I found a few left at a Missouri Walmart, just over the border. Woo Hoo! Thanks for showing some dual-state loyalty in Jane, Missouri!

Jell-O made molds for 20 university teams, so be sure to find out if your favorite team can be represented in Jell-O, too. You can find them in their respective universities communities, or check out Walmart.com for a coupon and a bigger selection.

This is our first summer in Arkansas and we've just been having such a blast getting into the spirit of all it means to be Arkansans. (Even though I haven't yet learned how to say, "Arkansan"...) I thought these hog molds would just be so fun for celebrating our local team. 

To make this easy raspberry drink, first mix up a pitcher of lemonade. Set aside 1/3 c. and put the pitcher in the fridge.

Wash 6 oz. raspberries and crush in a bowl with a fork. Then add the 1/3 c. lemonade and stir.

Pour the raspberry and lemonade mixture into a clean, dry Jell-O mold. Use a spatula to evenly fill each spot, but don't worry if there's a little overflow. It's really easy to scrape the excess off the top before popping out your frozen hogs. Freeze for several hours, until firm. They'll pop right out of the tray like ice cubes and you can float them in your lemonade.

Look how awesome that turned out! I surprised even myself on that one! Adding the lemonade to the raspberry mix helped fill in all the fine details of the mold to give me the perfect Razorback shape. Totally love this.

Once all my little hogs were frozen, I served Jamie and I some raspberry lemonade and Jell-O Jigglers. This is definitely the most redneck thing I've done yet; but hey, I'm an Arkansan now! Woo Pig Sooie!

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Friday, August 22, 2014

Pride, Prejudice and Cheese Grits by Mary Jane Hathaway -- Book Review

Book Description: "Shelby Roswell, a Civil War historian and professor, is on the fast track to tenure--that is, until her new book is roasted by the famous historian Ransom Fielding in a national review. With her career stalled by a man she's never met, Shelby struggles to maintain her composure when she discovers that Fielding has taken a visiting professorship at her small Southern college. Ransom Fielding is still struggling with his role in his wife's accidental death six years ago and is hoping that a year at Shelby's small college near his hometown of Oxford, Mississippi, will be a respite from the pressures of Ivy League academia. He never bargained for falling in love with the one woman whose career--and pride--he injured, and who would do anything to make him leave. When these two hotheaded Southerners find themselves fighting over the centuries-old history of local battles and antebellum mansions, their small college is about to become a battlefield of Civil War proportions. With familiar and relatable characters and wit to spare, this book shows you that love can conquer all...especially when pride, prejudice, love and cheese grits are involved!"

This story is laugh-out-loud funny! Totally loved it. This is the second by this author that I've read and I just love how she has a way of making me want to jump to the last page. I very rarely feel the urge to prematurely find out how it all ends, but Hathaway is excellent at building anticipation. I regularly felt my breath caught in my chest. 

"Cheese Grits" is an excellent modern-day retelling of Austen's, Pride and Prejudice. It was so hard not to put Kiera Knightley's and Matthew MacFadyen's faces on the characters of Shelby and Ransom. Yes, I know, everyone thinks the BBC version is better---but MacFadyen completely makes the Hollywood version. Swoon! 

This is one of those rare books that is so fun to read that you don't want to put it down. I love how she makes some characters so hateable. She has a way with dialogue that really develop her characters' strong personalities and her humor is just awesome. The turkey plucking story on page 268 TOTALLY cracked me up!

I've been getting to know the author on Facebook as we found out we used to live just minutes from one another in Oregon. The more I get to know her, the more I can hear her voice in this story. It's so fun to read books by people you know. Can't wait for more!

Linking with:

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Making Wellness Fun in Northwest Arkansas {Pea Ridge Battlefield Adventure} #BalanceRewards #shop #cbias

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BalanceRewards #CollectiveBias
All my life I have wanted to live in a place rich with history and full of beautiful walking trails and mysterious forests to explore. The idea of quietly slipping down paths that hundreds of thousands of people have walked on before me has always been intriguing. Now that we're living here in Northwest Arkansas, I'm finding my dream coming true as our family explores more and more of the beautiful area around us. It's easier to work toward our health goals when we've got such a gorgeous place in which to make healthy choices.

The Walgreens Balance Rewards for healthy choices app is great for keeping track of my wellness goals. Once you've got the Walgreens app installed, you can find the healthy choices option at the bottom left of the screen. Click through to access lots of options for tracking your health goals. You'll earn Balance Rewards points by completing some of your goals, and be able to see how far you've come from where you started.

One of my health goals is to eat foods that will help me feel awake and positive throughout the day. Walgreens has a nice selection of filling and healthy foods that will energize me and help me feel great. I found these fun little cups of oatmeal and thought they'd be good for my breakfast. The older kids are in charge of making breakfast for everyone while I do my morning blog stuff, which means I often get so busy afterward that I skip the morning meal. These little oatmeal servings will be a quick and easy way to give me some good morning energy.

I also found this double-walled drink cup in the kitchen section at Walgreens. I find that I drink a lot more water when I'm drinking from a straw, and it's always fun to drink your water when you've got a pretty cup!

In addition to healthy eating, I also like to get out and move! I've spent a lot of years cooped up in the house and making excuses not to be active. There are so many fun things here to see and do and I don't want to miss out! The Walgreens app is designed to make that easier by keeping track of fitness, as well as several other wellness goals like, steps taken, weight management, sleep, water intake, and more. My favorite parts of this app include the steps tracker and the water intake tracker.

 On Saturday, our family drove out to the Pea Ridge National Military Park. It's the most well-preserved Civil War battlefield in America, and it's just minutes from our front door. We had no idea what to expect, and were totally blown away by the beauty and history we found there. The park has walking, biking, hiking, and horseback riding trails, as well as a car path to get you to the most beautiful spots faster. It's only seven miles all the way around, but we spent five hours enjoying it.

At one point, I found a sign indicating that a portion of the Trail of Tears was preserved there in the park. Growing up, I was reminded, time and again, of our ancestors' trip down the Trail of Tears to Oklahoma. It was an amazing experience to be walking it now, over 180 years later, with my children.

Later in the day, the kids and I took this path, the original Telegraph Road, that runs through the park and served as a main road even long before the war. I'm telling you---with something as awesome as this to venture down, I'm going to have legs of steel before long!

Just like the Pea Ridge park is carrying on the legacy of it's amazing history, I want to leave a legacy to my own family. I want them to have seen me enjoying myself outdoors and reaching goals that are important to me. What kinds of goals have you made for your own healthy lifestyle?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Having Children Early Saved My Marriage {A Shout Out to the Dillards---Congrats!}

Derick and Jill (Duggar) Dillard have just announced they're expecting their first baby. Fans of the show, 19 and Counting, couldn't be happier and critics couldn't be more vicious. I don't know why we're always compelled to read the comments in a "controversial" article. I guess there's something in us, deep down, that wants to know where our viewpoints lie in relation to the rest of society. I find I'm usually in the minority---shocker, right?

Many are saying it's too soon, after their wedding only two months ago, to be announcing a pregnancy. Many others are saying things I won't repeat. Lots of well-meaning Christian-folk are saying, "Well, I'm happy for them, but it's too bad they couldn't enjoy being married first."

Ah, yes. Because once the babies start coming, your marriage is never the same again. They change everything. No more freedom. No more sleeping in late or romantic dinner dates. No more "just the two of us".

Jamie and I heard these exact same sentiments when we discussed having a family right after our wedding. Thank God we didn't listen to the haters. If we had, there's no way we'd be married right now and what's more, we probably wouldn't have the slightest interest in serving the Lord, either.

Our society is so turned around from what God intended, that we're accusing the very things that were meant to keep us together of being the things that are tearing us apart. Children are meant to seal a man and woman together as a family. They're the one flesh that is created when the two become one. They bring a married couple hope. They solidify their future. They give us a reason to stay together when all we want to do is run. 

When I was 11 or 12 and my parents were talking about divorcing, I remember the topic of "staying together for the kids" was a big one. I used to think that was so pointless. If you can't work it out, then what's the point of staying together just for us, I'd think. Now I think differently. Sometimes we're so caught up in our own pride, selfishness, and frustration, that the kids are the only reason we're not walking out the door---and that's totally ok.

Jamie and I married young---even younger than the Dillards. He was barely 19 and I was still 18. We didn't know much about keeping a marriage together, we didn't know how to communicate, we didn't understand traditional roles, we didn't comprehend how big of a part God should play in a marriage. All we knew was that we desperately wanted to do things differently than our divorced parents had. We wanted this marriage thing to work.

Everything was peachy until Lynzie showed up four months after my twentieth birthday. Suddenly, I was faced with something massive that neither I, nor anyone close to me, understood: post-partum depression. After that, Jamie and I went through trial after trial. I'll save you the details, but I'm bringing it up to make this point:

  • The thing that saved me from cheating on Jamie with an old boyfriend? Baby Lynzie.

  • The thing that brought me home after drinking all night with friends? Baby Lynzie.

  • The thing that made me stop being physically abusive to my family? Baby Lynzie.

  • The thing that pulled me off the train tracks on a particularly bad night? Baby Michael.

  • The thing that caused me to quit working and focus my attention at home? Baby Elisha.

  • The thing that helped me realize it was ok to be a feminine lady? Baby Selah.

  • The thing that completely turned this whole mothering thing around? Baby Hope in Heaven.

  • The thing that is teaching me not to take this "baby a year" thing for granted? Baby Brenna.

As a large, homeschooling family living in Northwest Arkansas, we and the Duggars have several mutual friends and acquaintances. We were at a party earlier this summer and the Duggars and Dillards were also in attendance. Like most monthly-weds, Jill and Derrick were receiving lots of congratulatory hugs and smiles. Like most monthly-weds, they had that starry-eyed look that so many people think goes away after time. 

Critics, well-meaning or not, think the Dillards, and other families like them, are losing something by having children right away. Oh, how very wrong they are! Derick and Jill have everything to gain by solidifying their marriage with children. Children bring a Christian marriage stability, focus, and direction like nothing else can. 

Because, even one of America's supposedly "perfect" children is going to have days when all she wants to do is punch him.

Linking with:
Sunday Showcase Party@Under the Table and Dreaming 
Seasonal Sundays @ The Tablescaper
One More Time
Link It Or Lump It
The Chicken Chick Blog Hop
Weekend Bloggy Reading
Think Pink Sunday
Nifty Thrifty Sunday
Sunday Funday
Bouquet of Talent
Submarine Sunday
It's Party Time
Creativity Unleashed
Sunday Showcase
Silver Pennies
Snickerdoodle Sunday
Make Bake Create @ Hope In Every Season
Cottage Style Party @ Lavender Garden Cottage
Winsome Wednesday @ My Daily Walk in His Grace
Whole-Hearted Home Wednesdays 
Wake Up Wednesday
A Wise Woman Builds Her Home
Homemaking Link Up @ Raising Homemakers
What's It Wednesday @ Ivy and Elephants 
Wednesday Link up at Adorned from Above
Thought-Provoking Thursday
Quitting Thursday Linkup
Hearts for Home

Battlefields, Books, & Feet Photos

Welcome to the Homemaking Party! Last weekend, our family spent the day at the Pea Ridge Battlefield Site in Northwest Arkansas. It was a perfectly beautiful day and we just enjoyed the history of it all so much! I took this photo by accident with my iPhone. Isn't it awesome?

Here I am at a Trail of Tears site that runs through the park. My entire life, I've heard my family talk about how my Oklahoma ancestors walked the Trail of Tears. I'm so thankful we're living here in a place with such intriguing history.

Completely unrelated to Pea Ridge, but still... Here's my step onto the oldest man-made place I've ever been. This is me at the Roman Bath in Bath, England last fall. My whole life I've had an obsession with taking photos of my feet---something my husband has teased me about since high school. What's funny is that one time I was looking through an album of my parents' pictures and there was a picture of my dad's 20-something feet. Cracked me up. Ok...off that random topic now...

Have you seen my newest project: Belle's Library? Kick off is later this week so make sure to sign up for email alerts so you don't miss anything. Also, I'd love to have some contributors! You can make a one time commitment, or sign on to submit regularly. I'm looking for any kind of writing on books. You can submit commentaries, essays, book reviews, book memes, quizzes, author fun facts...the options are endless! Visit the Writing Opportunity tab above for details.

Speaking of books, I'm participating in two reading challenges and am keeping a running list of what I've read here. Here's the info on the challenges I've joined---in case you're wanting to join too!

Since August 1st, I've finished these books:
French Lessons by Peter Mayle
Persuasion, Captain Wentworth, and Cracklin' Cornbread by Mary Jane Hathaway
Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart by Beth Pattillo
Pride, Prejudice and Cheese Grits by Mary Jane Hathaway. 

Current Read: Emma, Mr. Knightley and Chili Slaw Dogs by Mary Jane Hathaway

Here are my plans for Simply Audra Marie's Friday "It Begins with SUMMER" challenge:

S---Secrets of Sloane House by Shelley Gray (reading next)
U---Undone (will read in September)
M---Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart (done)
M---Motel of the Mysteries (will read in September) This book also counts for Audra's Not Your Typical Genre challenge)
E---Emma, Mr. Knightley, and Chili Slaw Dogs (reading now)
R---Recipes for Easy Living (will read in September)

Also, I'm considering reading Beverly Lewis' October Song for Audra's, A Reader Is Born challenge in September.

What are you reading?

Monday, August 18, 2014

Celebrating Happy Times & #MyGoodLife #shop #cbias

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.
A couple of years it occurred to me that, as homeschoolers, my kids hadn't had the experience of a sack lunch. One day, I made each of them their own paper bag lunch and took them to the park. It was awesome to see their excitement over something that was a regular part of my every day as a kid. Now when I make them a sack lunch, it's a really special thing. Yesterday, Lynzie and Michael were outside enjoying the sunshine and I decided to bring them a lunch to enjoy under the shade trees. I included a sandwich, chips, an apple, some Nestlé chocolate milk, and a couple little boxes of Nerds. My mom loved to put Nerds in our lunch boxes after Halloween when my brother and I were in grade school. She was branding us at an early age, I think.

I know I have a blessed life. It's so relaxing and fulfilling to me to watch my teens outside, playing music, being artsy, and thoroughly enjoying being family. Want to see what Michael's playing? Check out the little Instavideo I took.

I found the Nesquik at Walmart in what I call the "alternative milk" section. It was in the chip aisle, next to the dried fruits. They had chocolate and strawberry flavors and there were 10 to a pack---just enough for each of the kids and Daddy to have one.

I love having these bottles to pack in a lunch when our family is headed to the park or going on a field trip. I have the kids save them when they're done and I wash them out to use as water bottles later on. Since it takes us all so long to get ready, load up, visit somewhere, pack up, and head home, we're guaranteed to eat at least one meal on the go. Still, it's worth it to take the extra time to make up lunches so we can all enjoy a day out together.

Lynzie, especially, really enjoyed her chocolate milk. She sipped it slowly to make it last and kept her Nerds in the box to enjoy during her reading time later that night. I'm so happy to be able to provide her with a life of comfort and happiness. At her age, I had already started working a regular job, on top of my hours of school and homework, and didn't have time to explore my hobbies or the world around me. I hope Lynzie will always take time to relax and take in the beauty of nature and art, even as her life gets busier as an adult.

Michael had fun enjoying his Nerds and, like Lynzie, he wanted to save some of them for later reading time. They both really appreciated their fun lunches and I had a blast taking their pictures and making videos. I'm sure there are some out there who would say we could be doing more productive things with our time, but for us, family time and making memories is time perfectly spent!


Get Gorgeous Nails with Vinyl Nail Wraps & Palmolive #Palmolive25Ways #shop #cbias

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.
If you asked me to recall scents from my childhood, Palmolive dish soap would be on the list. I don't remember if it was my mom who used it, or another close family member, but the smell of original Palmolive brings up nostalgic feelings in me every time. With it's deep emerald green color and memorable phrase, "Tough on grease, Soft on hands," Palmolive is a classic---and for good reason, too.

There are lots of uses for this timeless household product: from making bubbles for kids to ridding your dog of yucky fleas, Palmolive is great to have around the house. I like to use it as a beauty aid. My friends and I have really been getting into vinyl nail wraps lately, so I like to use it when I'm prepping my hands.

I found Palmolive at Walmart on Rollback---yay! Just an FYI, the original Palmolive may be in a different spot than the other scents of that brand. As you can see from the photo, all the other scents are at the right of the picture, while original Palmolive is at the top left.

Speaking of Walmart, make sure to enter the Palmolive sweepstakes where you could win a $2,000 Walmart gift card and other weekly prizes!

Since Palmolive is tough on grease, it's a great product to use to prepare my hands for nail wraps. It's important to wash off the oils from my skin and nails so the wraps will stick better.

I can be assured my pretty manicure will stay on for a couple weeks when I prepare my hands first. I've never really been a nail girl---with nine kids, it's sort of hard to keep your nails nice. However, with these great vinyl nails, I'm able to do all kinds of homemaking tasks without ruining my nails---even dishes!

I also like to keep Palmolive in the bathroom for washing liquid makeup off my hands. I like to use a really good quality foundation, but the drawback to that is it's hard to wash off! Palmolive attacks it and softens my hands in the process!

 What are some of your favorite ways to use dish soap outside of dishes?



Sunday, August 17, 2014

Back To School Giveaway: Win an iPod Touch or a $75 Target Gift Card

I'm joining with several other blogs in a big Back To School Giveaway! You could win an iPod Touch or a $75 Target gift card! Go here to enter!

Sweet & Salty Fall Brownie Pizza & Kraft Printable Coupons #PackedWithSavings #shop #cbias

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.
Fall prep is in full swing at our house and this afternoon I made my first fall dessert of the season! Kraft had a bunch printable coupons online, so I took advantage and got some ingredients to make this easy and super yummy Sweet & Salty Brownie Pizza. The coupons are available for just a limited time, so make sure to check them out and clip the ones you need.

I love it that finding and printing coupons is so easy. Like everyone else, I love to save money when I can, and using coupons allows me to purchase more for my money, as well as choose the name brand items I prefer.

I found coupons for Planters peanuts and Philadelphia cream cheese---both of which I would use in my dessert recipe. I also grabbed this coupon for sliced cheese since I'm planning on making the kids grilled sandwiches for dinner this week.

I shopped at Walmart for my ingredients. Using the .50 off Philadelphia coupon, I was able to buy the name brand for a lesser price than the store brand! After adding the peanuts to my cart, I grabbed a few more toppings for the pizza: Jet-Puffed Marshmallows, candy corn and chocolate chips.

This brownie pizza is really easy to make, if you use the right technique. When you bake brownie mix on a flat surface with no sides, you want to make sure to put down a layer of parchment paper first. I use the pan to trace out a circle and then cut about 1/4 inch inside the circle when cutting it out.

After mixing up the brownie mix, I smooth it into a circle, leaving a half inch or so around the edges. Then I bake it for 10 minutes or so on 350º.

After the brownie is cooled, I spread on the peanut butter cream cheese mixture. I work in small batches with this mixture, and spread it all one direction, so it doesn't tear up the brownie.

Finally, I add toppings to the pizza and we all dig in! I'm loving this festive feeling we've got going on. I think I'm going to put up fall decorations this week!

Sweet & Salty Brownie Pizza
1 brownie mix + ingredients to make brownie
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 c. peanut butter
1/2 c. powdered sugar
toppings: peanuts, chocolate chips, marshmallows, candy corn

Prepare pan with parchment paper lining, as shown above. Mix brownie mix, according to package directions, and smooth out into a circle on top of parchment paper. Bake at 350º for about 10 minutes, or until the brownie is done. Cool on a wire rack. Mix cream cheese, peanut butter, and powdered sugar until smooth. Carefully spread out on brownie, using small amounts at a time, as explained above. Arrange toppings and use a pizza cutter to serve.


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