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Stop and Smell the Chocolates

~ Savor Life's Sweet Blessings

Last Build Date: Wed, 04 Apr 2018 07:46:51 +0000


It's My 6-Year Blogaversary!

Thu, 10 Apr 2014 06:30:00 +0000

Amazing! 6 years of blogging! I know - it's April and this is only the 5th blog post here this year. But I am technically still blogging, even though it's sparse! :)If you're wondering about the lack of posting, one reason is explained in New Year, New Direction, but the other reason is that I started a full-time, outside-the-home job! Crazy!! You can read a little more about that in From SAHM to WOHM on From Lisa Marie.I feel the need to celebrate this occasion with some cake, don't you?To celebrate 6 years, I'd like to share a favorite post and a popular recipe from each of the years:2008: I Forgot To Thank My Mom, Part 1Chocolate Chip Cheesecake 2009: Plugged Back In - A Redecorating TaleMini Nutella Cheesecakes 2010: Why The Garbage Truck Makes Me SmilePumpkin Truffles2011: Encouraging Bloggers ~ A Blog Is A Blog No Matter How SmallNo-Bake Chocolate Chip Cheesecake2012: Will You Hold My Hand?Chicken Caesar Lasagna2013: Dare *Not* To Compare Puffy Apple French Toast BakeIt's been fun looking back and following along my journey through the years with you! Thank you all so much for coming back here again and again, whether there were new posts or not. Hugs to all!!I'm keeping this post short and sweet. Just wanted to say hi, share a few links, and say Woo Hoo to 6 years! © copyright 2013 – All rights reserved Stop and Smell the Chocolates [...]

Frozen Nutella Mousse {World Nutella Day}

Thu, 06 Feb 2014 02:00:00 +0000

Every February 5th, rain or shine, is World Nutella Day! Or at least it has been the last few years. :) I like to make up a new Nutella recipe each year to celebrate. {Do you love Nutella? Or do you prefer another version or make it yourself?} Last year I made Nutella Oatmeal Bars.This year's recipe is oh so simple. I just adapted my Frozen Chocolate Mousse recipe.Frozen Nutella Mousse1 cup heavy whipping cream1/4 cup Nutella {or other chocolate-hazelnut spread}Milk to thin NutellaMeasure out Nutella into small bowl. Add a little milk and stir until well-mixed and smooth. Continue stirring in small amounts of milk until consistency is similar to chocolate syrup. Set aside.Whip heavy whipping cream in mixing bowl until fairly stiff {not too long or you'll have butter!}. Pour in Nutella sauce, about a third at a time, and gently fold into whipped cream until evenly mixed. Mound into cupcake cups or other serving dishes, cover, and place in freezer. Freeze at least 4 hours, until firm. Makes 6-8 small servings. Recipe can be doubled.Thaw at room temp about 10 minutes before eating. Enjoy!I decided to use a handy dandy Pampered Chef gizmo and pipe my mousse into the cups this time. But I usually mound it - it's simple elegance either way!Stop by to see what all the fuss is about! World Nutella Day is hosted each year by Sara from Ms. Adventures in Italy and Michelle from Bleeding Espresso. They declare February 5th “World Nutella Day 2014″ – a day to celebrate, to get creative with, and most importantly, to EAT Nutella.And if you need more Nutella ideas, you can try my other recipes:~ Nutella Macadamia Cake ~ Nutella Biscotti~ Nutella Popcorn~ Mini Nutella Cheesecakes~ Nutella S'Mores Cake~ Nutella BitesWhat's your favorite Nutella recipe? Or do you just eat it with a spoon {I prefer to use pretzels}? Have a blessed day, friends! © copyright 2013 – All rights reserved Stop and Smell the Chocolates [...]

Double Almond Cake

Wed, 15 Jan 2014 00:00:00 +0000

I told you I had a yummy recipe that needed to be shared. I had this one a while back, but never had a chance to get it on here. It's easy and so delicious and you make 2 pans at once - more for me more to be shared! :)

I call it "Double" because there are almonds inside and outside of the cakes plus it makes 2.

Double Almond Cake
adapted from a reader recipe in Sunset

1 1/3 cups unbleached flour
1/3 cup almond meal
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons almond extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 to 3/4 cup sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350. In large bowl, stir together all ingredients except sliced almonds. Grease 2 9-in. pie pans {or cake pans}. Add batter evenly to both pans. Sprinkle each with half of the sliced almonds. Bake until edges turn light brown, about 30 minutes. Can be served warm or at room temp.


So so yummy! We ate it plain, but it could certainly be served with some whipped cream or warm with some ice cream.

Do you love almonds? What's your favorite recipe with almonds in it?

Have a blessed day, friends!
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New Year, New Direction

Fri, 10 Jan 2014 19:30:00 +0000

I can't believe we're already 10 days into January! This year is moving right along, just like all the others it seems.With this new year come some new things for me. One of those things is a brand new blog! Don't worry - this blog isn't going anywhere. But I am shifting my focus.Stop and Smell the Chocolates has always been linked with recipes - sometimes to the point that people assume that I'm a food blogger {I'm soooooo not - LOL.}. Including recipes was my intent from the beginning, but it was just supposed to be a small part of the blog. My vision and the kinds of things being posted have been all over the place during the past 5 years. Now I feel a need to do some writing in a separate place, free from the distraction of food and attempts at "pinworthy" posts. A place to just be me, chatting about life, with you. Going forward, I won't be posting as often on this blog {though you already know that my posting was somewhat sporadic anyway}. When I have a great recipe that I want to share or a tutorial about a project or household tips or even a review - I will post those things right here! In fact, I have a yummy recipe that I need to share soon. :) If those are the things you love about this blog, then be sure to check back in every so often to see the new stuff, to use the Recipe Index {I access it myself regularly when I cook}, or to dig back through some of the old stuff that you missed!If you're looking for a little more of a connection and musings about life in general - hopefully musings that encourage you in your daily life - then come find me at the new blog. It's called from Lisa Marie. It will take me a while to figure out what I'm doing over there as it's a self-hosted WordPress blog and that's all new to me. So I'm focusing on the writing there at the moment. The extras will come later. And that means don't get used to what the design looks like there - I know that it will be going through many changes as I figure out exactly what I want!I'm so thankful for all of you that have been with me for so long! You make this whole blogging thing worthwhile! I look forward to connecting with you more this year, whether it's right here at Stop and Smell the Chocolates, or over there at from Lisa Marie.Have a blessed day, friends! © copyright 2013 – All rights reserved Stop and Smell the Chocolates [...]

Top Ten Posts of 2013 {Non-Recipes}

Wed, 01 Jan 2014 19:30:00 +0000

I already shared my Top Ten recipe posts for the year, but those of you who hang around know that this blog isn't just about food. So I find it even more interesting to see what kind of non-food posts interest my readers most.1000th PostHow Can It Be August?Stop and Write a Blog PostYou CAN Make Your Own Household Cleaners10 Tips For Hosting Thanksgiving DinnerYou CAN Find The Little Blessings {Savor 7 Saturday}Simple Itch ReliefA Way To Pray Each DayHere a Pumpkin, There a PumpkinSavor 7 {Saturday} ~8/10And I want to give an Honorable Mention to a post that was one of my favorites for the year {It didn't have quite enough page views to make top ten, but it did have more comments than usual meaning more people connected with it.}:Dare *Not* To CompareIt's been a good year of blogging, though I still often feel like I'm sort of limping along. Thanks for sticking around! Here's to 2014 and better blogging days ahead!Happy New Year! Have a blessed day and a blessed year, friends! © copyright 2013 – All rights reserved Stop and Smell the Chocolates [...]

December Declutter Update

Tue, 31 Dec 2013 06:00:00 +0000

I posted about my December Declutter challenge earlier this month. I really wanted to offset some of the "stuff" that makes its way into our homes during this month. But I wanted it to be a simple challenge. So I attempted to get rid of 100 items, but only spending about 10 minutes a day - no big reorganization projects.

I didn't care how small or big the items were because I knew they would add up. So I included items ranging from stickers and pens to books and clothing. Though I still have until the end of the 31st, as of right now, I'm up to 113 items!! Some of it is being donated {a trip to Good Will in the afternoon} and much was thrown away. I really liked seeing how just a few minutes finding 3-4 items each day added up at the end of the month.

Here are my donation items for the month...

Did you join in the challenge? If so, how many items did you get rid of in December? {You still have a few hours left to get rid of stuff - LOL!}

A couple of people have mentioned that they are looking for a decluttering challenge for January. Are you? What works best to keep you on track in a challenge?

Have a blessed day, friends!
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Top Ten Recipe Posts {2013}

Fri, 27 Dec 2013 08:00:00 +0000

As we approach the end of the year, it's a good time to look back. I always enjoy seeing what recipes or food posts were the most popular for the year.Here are the Top Ten recipe/food posts for 2013 on my blog:My Favorite Thanksgiving DessertsNutella Oatmeal BarsPuffy Apple French Toast BakeHomemade Italian Dressing MixLoaded Caramel Apple Upside-Down CakePumpkin Pie TrufflesGerman Chocolate Cookie PizzaFrozen Coconut Tres Leches MochaPie Crust Chips & Apple SalsaMelt-in-your-Mouth Sugar CookiesWell there you have it. I think you all have good taste! :) Have you made any of these recipes?What's your favorite new recipe from 2013?Have a blessed day, friends! © copyright 2013 – All rights reserved Stop and Smell the Chocolates [...]

Belated Merry Christmas

Thu, 26 Dec 2013 23:30:00 +0000

Sorry for the lack of posting lately - I was very busy with Christmas preparations, as I'm sure many of you were!A belated very Merry Christmas to all of you! I hope you all had a blessed time of faith, fellowship, family, friends, fun and feasting!Although I was very behind, I did get everything done that really needed to be done by Christmas. Monday night we took time to go out and look at Christmas lights, which was fun. And this year I sent out cards...postmarked *before* Christmas {it's not like I have control over when they arrive, right?}. We don't do tons of presents, but everybody was happy with what they got. And I managed to put together goodies that son delivered to the neighbors on Christmas Day. We had 2 of my brothers-in-law over. It was all casual,low-key, and enjoyable.For Christmas breakfast, we enjoyed White Chocolate-Cranberry Cream Scones, Fabulous Fruit Salad, and bacon. I serve something different every year. Do you have a special Christmas breakfast tradition?For Christmas dinner, we had Chicken Caesar Lasagna {leftovers today - yum}, Winter Salad with Apples and Walnuts, and Rosemary Asiago Rolls. Dessert? Pioneer Woman's Nantucket Cranberry Pie. Mmmmmm. Now if I just didn't have to go weigh in at Weight Watchers today, all would be well - LOL! {It's OK - gotta get in there and log that gain so I can get to work on losing it!}We're relaxing today...aaaahhhh. The decorations stay up here into January as we're still feeling festive {and they haven't been up very long...ahem}.We are blessed to be able to celebrate Christmas together, but we also remember that we should celebrate Jesus' birth all year long! I hope that you had a lovely Christmas and will have a very blessed new year, friends!How was your Christmas? What is your favorite Christmas tradition?Have a blessed day! © copyright 2013 – All rights reserved Stop and Smell the Chocolates [...]

One Word 2013 Update ~ Diligence {December}

Thu, 19 Dec 2013 05:30:00 +0000

I did the One Word thing this year. I tried it in years past without much success, but this year it stuck. My word was Diligence. And it's been a great word for me! I'm not really sure if the word itself made me diligent, or made me think more about being diligent or if it was just time for me to be diligent so that's why the word came to me in the first place. Doesn't really matter - I've been diligent in many things this year!Here are some of my examples of Diligence this year:Trained using Couch-to-5K and ran a 5KEarly to Rise challenge in MarchStop and Write a Blog Post challenge in AprilClutter-Busting challenge in MayWeekly walking with friendsStop and Do 2 series {establishing new habits}31-Day Series in October: Anything I Can Do, You Can Do Too!Started Weight Watchers {down over 7 lbs so far} December Declutter {Working on getting rid of 100 items this month - currently at 61!}Seems like a pretty good year to me! I guess it's about time to start thinking about a word for 2014.Did you have a One Word focus this year? If so, how did it go? Are you going to try One Word for 2014? Have a blessed day, friends! © copyright 2013 – All rights reserved Stop and Smell the Chocolates [...]

The Naming of Husbands

Mon, 16 Dec 2013 22:30:00 +0000

The naming of husbands is a difficult matter...OK, I'm talking about what we call our husbands in the online world. Most of us don't use their first names and use some sort of nickname rather than just "husband." But I struggle with this as none of them seem quite right. And those of you without husbands - I know you're rolling your eyes when you hear us use some of these expressions. I'll share some of my issues with the names we frequently use.{Please tell me that I don't need to explain how this is humorous and you should not take offense if you use these phrases. Because I use them too.}Husband - Just too formal. Feels like you should go ahead and say "That's Mr. Husband to you!"Hubby - It sounds a little plump and jolly, neither of which describe my husband. Plus he asked me not to use that one. :)Hubs - This is the one I currently use but it really struck me as odd the other day. And plural. If I say "My Hubs" maybe you think I have more than one spouse. That's not how I roll.DH - Text speak for "Darling Husband" which is a little too hip for me. And every time I see it, I first wonder who they are talking about with those initials - *gasp* Is she talking about David Hasselhoff?!Lover - Um...get a room. Please.My Man - Well if that doesn't sound like I have a Butler, I don't know what does.My Guy - If "My Man" is the Butler, then "My Guy" is the Handyman. I require a lot of servants.The Mister - Lord help The Mister, that comes between me and my sister. Sorry - just watched White Christmas.My Old Man - You mean my dad?? Because my husband is *not* old. Because that would mean that I am old. And I am not.What am I left with? I don't know. Maybe we need to come up with something new - our own abbreviation, perhaps.How about Spouse And Male? You know, SAM. As in, SAM is working from home today and wondering what very important subjects I am writing about instead of doing the dishes.What do you call your husband? If you're not married, which husband names drive you crazy?What...did you think I would be talking about Christmas since it's 9 days away?? :)Have a blessed day and plenty of smiles, friends! © copyright 2013 – All rights reserved Stop and Smell the Chocolates [...]

Raise Your Hand If You Haven't Decorated For Christmas Yet

Wed, 11 Dec 2013 08:00:00 +0000

I know you're out there. You quietly listen to others describe their decorations and slightly nod as if you too, have already done that. You put your head down and leave the house quickly so the neighbors won't ask if you need help putting the lights up. You tell yourself that you'll leave the decorations up through mid-January to make up for it. You. Actually, if you're here, you are my people, whether or not you've got a lot of Christmas bling happening in your house right now! :)

I know there might not be many of you, but my hand is raised way up! In fact, every year is this way and I've just decided that it is one of my own Christmas traditions. I don't like to rush into Christmas right after Thanksgiving. I'm not going to feel pressured by allllll the decor around me. So I'm going to make it official and say that in our family, we don't start the decorating until about 2 weeks before Christmas {uh-oh...that's like, now}. Who's with me?! And willing to admit it?

In fact, this is still on my table...

Yes, some of you are shaking your heads in disbelief - LOL. But it is technically still Fall, right?! Yes. It is. Really.

Please don't think I don't love Christmas, because I DO! Merry Christmas to all of you - with or without the decorations!!

I wanna know - am I the only one here???

Have a blessed day friends!
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December Declutter

Fri, 06 Dec 2013 19:00:00 +0000

I still can't believe it's December, even though we're so many days in. And yes, I meant to get this post up sooner, but I'm still in shock that there are so few days left until Christmas. :)I realized that it's almost impossible to avoid adding things to our households during December. There are new decorations, wrapping & craft supplies, Christmas cards, ingredients for baking, gifts from friends & family, gifts we're buying, and more! I decided that this is a great opportunity to counteract that a bit by decluttering and getting rid of some items this month! Just think, every item we get rid of offsets an item coming in. By the end of the month we'll throw away more junk and have more things to donate!Earlier this year, I participated in a challenge to throw away 7 items a day for a month. That seemed a little high for this month since I've already gone through things, so I decided on a total of 100 things gone for the month! That comes out to 3-4 items a day. Those 3-4 things might seem like no big deal, but when you get to 100 things, you can see that it's worth it!Want to join me? You don't have to do 100 things - you can make it 75 and start now. Or come up with your own decluttering goal, but keep it simple. I've been working on this for the last few days and am up to 21 things gone so far!Here's what I've thrown away/donated so far:Yay for getting rid of stuff! If you want to join me, just leave a comment and keep track of the number of things you get rid of. We'll check back in at the end of the month and see what kind of totals we have!Have a blessed and clutter-free day, friends! © copyright 2013 – All rights reserved Stop and Smell the Chocolates [...]

Couch Friday

Sat, 30 Nov 2013 01:00:00 +0000

I know that the day after Thanksgiving is known as Black Friday, but it's been a long time since I really went out in the craziness. Since I host Thanksgiving each year and do most of the cooking for it, I need Friday for recovery time! So I declare it to be Couch Friday!!

OK, so I'm not on that particular couch today, but it was too much trouble to actually get off the couch and take a pic of the couch that I'm on right now - LOL!

If you've been busy prepping for Thanksgiving, visiting with family, and/or shopping - I give you permission to take a break sometime in the next few days to catch your breath! The busy holiday season has begun and you don't want to start out already feeling stressed. I know that I need that recovery time so I take the Friday {and sometimes Saturday too} after Thanksgiving to de-stress and mentally prepare for December.

In fact, this goes right along with my friend Denise's post: Take Time for Silent Nights {part of her wonderful Holiday Bliss series}. I do recommend that you read it and find some time to keep yourself from getting overwhelmed during this next month.

Are you relaxing today? Or do you have another day planned to relax and recover?

I hope you all had a blessed Thanksgiving and have a wonderful weekend!
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Not Too Late ~ 12 More Thanksgiving Dessert Ideas

Mon, 25 Nov 2013 18:00:00 +0000

While I do love to serve my favorite Thanksgiving desserts, there are so many more great dessert ideas to try! I think any of these 12 desserts would be a fabulous addition to a Thanksgiving meal. It's not too late to shop and whip up a couple of these desserts by Thursday! Pumpkin Pie TrufflesNutella Bites Orange-Chocolate Slice Cookies Apple Pie Ice Cream Pumpkin Pie Pudding with Maple Sugar Nuts & Cream Pear Dessert German Apple Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting Chocolate-Pecan-Cranberry Cake Loaded Caramel Apple Upside-Down Cake Caramel-Brownie Cheesecake Sour Cream-Apple Pie Pear Custard Pie Yum! I need to have a HUGE Thanksgiving gathering so I can have an excuse to make a bunch of desserts - LOL!Do you still serve some of the same Thanksgiving desserts that you grew up eating?Have a blessed day, friends and a blessed Thanksgiving! © copyright 2013 – All rights reserved Stop and Smell the Chocolates [...]

Thanksgiving Menu 2013

Fri, 22 Nov 2013 18:30:00 +0000

It's official - I'm hosting Thanksgiving dinner again and I finally finished my menu {though it doesn't change much from year to year}! I followed my own Thanksgiving tips, included my Thanksgiving dinner faves, and I'm making one of my favorite Thanksgiving desserts. You can find links to the recipes below plus many more I've made at past Thanksgiving meals on my Thanksgiving Menu Pinterest board. AppetizersHoliday Cranberry SpreadSweet Spiced NutsPumpkin BreadOther {Brought by guests}Main DishesBrined Roasted TurkeyHamSlow Cooker StuffingMashed Potatoes & GravyColorful Roasted VegetablesWinter Salad with Apples and WalnutsCranberry-Apple SauceRolls? {Brought by guests}DessertsAmaretto CakePumpkin Pie TrufflesCranberry GelatoPumpkin or Pecan Pie? {Brought by guests}If you like checking out Thanksgiving menus, you might like my friend Kim's menu - she switched out several of her dishes for Pioneer Woman's recipes and it all sounds delish!Are you staying home or traveling for Thanksgiving this year? What are you assigned to make for or take to a Thanksgiving meal? I hope you get to enjoy some yummy food no matter where you are on Thanksgiving Day! Have a blessed day friends! © copyright 2013 – All rights reserved Stop and Smell the Chocolates [...]

My Favorite Thanksgiving Desserts

Sat, 16 Nov 2013 18:30:00 +0000

I shared my tips for hosting Thanksgiving dinner and my Thanksgiving dinner faves. That means it's time for dessert!Of course I like standard apple, pumpkin, and pecan pies for Thanksgiving! And for a few years, I made a basic apple pie for Thanksgiving. But gradually I branched out and the following desserts have made multiple appearances at our dinners over the years. I tend to serve at least one of these faves, one new recipe, and one thing that contains chocolate in some form! {Sorry about the pics - I really need to retake these when I have a chance.}Amaretto Cake. My step mother-in-law served it once and I've been making it ever since. Dessert. Combine cake, nuts, butter, and a pumpkin pie mixture? DElish. I first had this recipe years ago from a coworker. It was often my go-to Thanksgiving dessert.No-Bake Pumpkin Pie. Found this recipe when I was a teenager and have been making it on and off for Thanksgiving since then. It's a great alternative to regular baked pumpkin pie.No-Bake Chocolate Chip Cheesecake. Found this recipe a few years ago and altered it a bit. It's so ridiculously simple and super rich. I have made and enjoyed many other desserts, but these are definitely my favorites - for Thanksgiving that is! I have different favorites for each holiday. :)What are your favorite Thanksgiving desserts? If you have a link to one, share it in the comments!This post linked to: ~ Chic & Crafty Party at The Frugal Girls If you enjoyed stopping and smelling the chocolates with me, I'd love it if you click to Subscribe to Stop and Smell the Chocolates by Email or RSS! Have a blessed day friends! © copyright 2013 – All rights reserved Stop and Smell the Chocolates [...]

My Top 5 Thanksgiving Dinner Faves

Thu, 14 Nov 2013 17:30:00 +0000

My Thanksgiving dinner menu stays mostly the same from year to year. I usually choose one side dish to vary and often throw in a new dessert to try. But there are a few items that must be included every year - no exceptions {or make those exceptions rare - LOL}!1.  The Turkey. Sometimes we add in other meats, like ham or tri-tip roast, but there must always be turkey. And now it must be a brined turkey. We started brining our turkey a few years ago and we've been believers ever since. Definitely makes the turkey more juicy and flavorful. And after years of trying different roasting methods, we've settled on one that we think is best. We follow the method that Alton Brown shows in these videos: Cooking Perfect Turkey, Part 1 and Cooking Perfect Turkey, Part 2. 2.  Mashed Potatoes and Gravy. I think I would cry if we didn't have mashed potatoes and gravy. Seriously. We use plain old Russet potatoes, but golden potatoes are yummy as well. There are a few tips that we've learned over the years. After boiling and draining the potatoes, put the pot back on the warm burner so the rest of the moisture steams away. We like to add half 'n half and butter to the potatoes while we mash them. If you do that, the butter should be melted first and both the butter and the milk/cream should be warm when added to the potatoes. Above all, don't overmix! Otherwise you get a gummy consistency that is not pleasant. And I do my best to make homemade turkey gravy though I have yet to actually master that - mine never turns out quite right no matter what tips I follow - LOL!3.  Slow Cooker Stuffing. It's a basic yummy stuffing recipe, but I LOVE that it cooks in the slow cooker. Not only do you avoid the risk of food poisoning from cooking it inside the turkey, but you also save on oven space if you were cooking it separately. You do have to do some cooking on the stove first before putting it in the slow cooker and it takes a few hours until it's ready so I'm always up really early getting it started. But after that, you do nothing until it's time to serve! And oh, those spices smell so good while it's cooking!4.  Cranberry-Apple Sauce. I do enjoy traditional cranberry sauce, but most of the family does not. And hey, I do still like the jellied cranberry sauce from the can because that's what I grew up eating. :) But I love the flavor of this mixture of cranberry sauce and applesauce. That's really all there is to it - mixing whole-berry cranberry sauce with chunky applesauce and adding cinnamon. The nice thing is that you can use either homemade or store-bought ingredients, whatever you prefer or have on hand - keep it simple!5.  Something Pumpkin. I'm not picky about what has the pumpkin in it - could be Pumpkin Bread, Pumpkin Dessert, No-Bake Pumpkin Pie, Pumpkin Pie Truffles, or Quick Pumpkin Pudding. {You can check my Pumpkin Perfection Pinterest board for ideas.} I do like a traditional baked pumpkin pie as well, though I have yet to make a really good one. My fave purchased one was from Whole Foods.I do have other dishes that are regularly served at our Thanksgiving meal, but they're not necessarily must-haves like these 5! I have a Thanksgiving Menu Pinterest board that contains links to recipes that I've used in Thanksgiving dinners over the years - check it out for ideas!What are your favorite Thanksgiving dinner recipes? What can't you live without in your Thanksgiving meal? Feel free to share links to recipes in the comments!If you enjoyed stopping and smelling the chocolates with me, I'd love it if you click to Subscribe to Stop and Smell the Chocolates by Email o[...]

10 Tips For Hosting Thanksgiving Dinner

Wed, 13 Nov 2013 18:30:00 +0000

Thanksgiving Day is fast approaching. I've been hosting Thanksgiving dinner for at least 10 years, though it's not for a large crowd. Still, I've learned a few things over the years. Whether you've never hosted before or you've hosted for years, I hope you find a helpful tip {or share one in the comments}! Of course, these could be applied to any holiday meal.1.  Plan the menu ahead, preferably 2 weeks ahead or more {which is}. Gather up all the recipes you need and start making a shopping list. Check the ingredients in your cupboards - you might remember having an item last year, but perhaps it's expired by now. Why so far ahead? Because if you wait until the last minute to do this and then try to shop, the stores may be out of some of the key ingredients you need {trust me on that}. And the crowds. I get a little claustrophobic when I have to shop and can't even make it through an aisle filled with carts and people.2.  Look again at the menu you created. If you are anything like me, you just need to cross one dish off of there right now. I have a tendency to overdo it and then end up having to eliminate something at the last minute because I run out of time. Also, if there is too much food then people get full quickly and we end up with way too many leftovers or one dish that's hardly been touched. {For us, that means we skip having a green salad and sometimes skip the rolls.}3.  Schedule out the menu. What does that mean? You need to figure out how long it takes to make each dish and when it needs to be ready. You also need to know what can be made ahead and what can't. Work backwards from the time that you want to eat and figure out when you need to start each item. I usually start preparing some things a couple of days ahead.4.  Be flexible about what time you need to eat. If you really need to eat by a certain time, then plan for everything to be ready an hour before that since something always ends up taking longer than you expect. I've learned to stop giving an expected meal time. I give a general idea and tell everybody to just come early to hang out and visit while we finish cooking.5.  Decide whether you want to serve the meal to everybody sitting at the table or serve it buffet style. Either way is just as delicious! But decide now as this will determine if you need to bring out extra tables or configure your room differently. Even if I serve the meal at the table, I usually set up a small table to set some of the food on after it's been passed around as it won't all fit on the main table.6.  Set the table(s) ahead of time - maybe even the day before. Not only will it look pretty, but it will save you that step as you are scrambling to get all the food ready at once. Of course, if you have lots of kiddos around with nothing to do, then maybe that can be their job! {But don't stress about table setting - do what works for you and your guests. To make you feel better, check out my post from last year: Bring Out The Fine...Chinette?}7.  If you have appetizers during the day, keep them light! You don't want everybody feeling full before they ever get to the table to enjoy the meal that's been so lovingly prepared. I used to use the opportunity to try new appetizer recipes, but then realized it was just too much. Now I let my guests bring the appetizers and just ask for veggies, chips & dip/salsa. Simple and light, but something to snack on in case the meal is taking waaaaayyyy longer than anticipated. :)8.  Let others bring some of the food. Don't try to do the whole meal yourself. Let people help you! [...]

Needs a Title <---Oh no, it's one of *those* posts

Wed, 06 Nov 2013 09:30:00 +0000

One of *those* posts might mean that I just showed up here to ramble. Maybe. Probably. :)I've been so focused on trying to put up coherent topical blog posts in October that I almost don't know what to do with myself now that it's over. I need a good random post to get me back on track! are you? What's new? Can you believe it's November already? What are your Thanksgiving plans?Here are a few random things happening with me:I started Weight Watchers - yay! I've done it successfully in the past and nothing I was trying on my own was working very well. Already down 5.6 lbs in 2 weeks. Not bad! And I have lots of WW cookbooks from before so I'm having fun making lots of new {or old fave} recipes. I celebrated my 21st wedding anniversary! Woo Hoo! We enjoyed a lovely dinner out at a local French restaurant and my hubs gave me a beautiful bouquet of roses.My son wants to play on his school's basketball team, but he's never played competitively. I got to watch him at practice for the first time and was happy to see that he's got potential {which is handy since he's got the height thing going for him}. Needs more practice and confidence, but I look forward to seeing him play in a game at some point this season! Go Builders! :)I had my first freelance article published in a local free magazine {Dandelion}. It was not an article submitted by me - rather it was an assignment that I agreed to do and it involved a telephone interview plus some online research. I found it very challenging to write as I've never done anything like that before. When I had my husband read my first draft, he said that it sounded like a term paper. Ouch! The facts were all there, but it did not draw the reader in at all. It took a lot of work, but I got it to a point that I was OK with and sent it in by the deadline. It's kind of cool to see something you wrote in print. {Shoutout to Genny who steered me in that direction!} But it was also a privilege to write about an awesome story like that.I'm learning touch typing. Say whaaat? Well yes, I do already type but it's my own strange method and I have to look at the keyboard. It would be more efficient if I knew touch typing. My son touch types - it's crazy watching him type more than 60 words a minute. It just required my finally buckling down to learn it. I'm coming along quickly, but oh my it's hard for me to go through being bad at something for a while until I get better. And I refuse to cheat and look at the keyboard while I'm doing the lessons so that I'll learn it faster, but I do make a lot of faces while forcing myself not to look - quite hilarious if you could see me! I'm using this free site: www.typingstudy.comI think that's probably all the bullet points you can handle for today! Tell me a few of your recent bullet points in the comments. C'mon, inquiring minds want to know. :)Thanks for stopping by and have a blessed day friends! © copyright 2013 – All rights reserved Stop and Smell the Chocolates [...]

You CAN Do 31 Days Your Own Way

Sun, 03 Nov 2013 06:30:00 +0000

If I can do 31 days my own way, then you can too! So, #31Days was technically over on 10/31. I'm finishing mine up now on 11/2 at just 22 posts. And you know what? That's OK!Hundreds of bloggers attempt #31Days in October, but the results vary widely. Some will post 31 posts and end on 10/31. Some will run behind but still do 31 posts and end in early November. Some end on 10/31 with however many posts they managed to do, whether that's 5 or 25. Some will have started, but quit after getting too far behind. No matter how you do it - everybody wins!We're all winners in this #31Days thing because no matter how you did, there are some great posts and series on hundreds of blogs now. Bloggers have got back into writing good, focused posts. Readers have so many great topics to choose from - enough to read over the next few months even! Win, win!I found this #31Days to be a challenge, but a good one. I was sidetracked part of the month by company and other things which made it too hard for me to get all 31 posts done. I had more post ideas and partial drafts done, but in the end I was happy with the posts I did manage to do. I hope that you found at least one of the posts in this series useful and helpful!Thank you so much for being with me through through my October series! If you haven't had time to read the posts, you can take your time and work on reading them all. {I even pinned a few series to my #31Days Pinterest board that I plan to go back and read.} If you participated in #31Days, I hope you were happy with your results even if they didn't exactly fit your original vision. If you participated at all, then you rock for trying!Click here for all my #31Days posts.-----> CAN do 31 Days your own way! Did you do a #31Days series? Do you have a favorite post from your series? Have you been following some of the October series? What are some favorites you have read? Share in the comments!If you want to make sure you keep up with future series and posts, just click to Subscribe to Stop and Smell the Chocolates by Email or RSS!Have a blessed day friends!   © copyright 2013 – All rights reserved Stop and Smell the Chocolates [...]

You CAN Rescue A Recipe ~ Pumpkin Pie Truffles

Wed, 30 Oct 2013 02:30:00 +0000

If I can rescue a recipe, then you can too! And oh my, this was a happy and yummy rescue! But before we get to that one, let's talk about rescuing recipes in general.The first way to rescue the recipes is to avoid mistakes in the first place, of course! Here's an article from Real Simple: How to Fix 17 Basic Cooking Mistakes. I also recommend reading each recipe carefully before you start cooking. If I would have paid closer attention a few times, I would have realized that a measurement or two didn't sound right before I started mixing ingredients together. And then I wouldn't have had to throw away the super salty Raspberry Chocolate Chip Muffins - sigh.There are ways to fix recipes when you already know you've messed up as you're making the food. This is a great article that give you several rescue ideas: How to Fix Kitchen Flops. Sometimes it just means getting creative and thinking outside the box - like when a cake falls apart while taking it out of the pan. Not only could you use the pieces to make a trifle, but you could also cut it into cubes and serve with melted chocolate and whipped cream to dip into! Or crumble it all and mix with frosting to make some cake balls to dip in chocolate - yum.This was my recent recipe rescue. I was making Pumpkin Truffles, but the mixture wouldn't firm up enough to form into balls. {I believe this is a problem due to the "white" chips in the stores mainly being vanilla chips instead of white chocolate. The vanilla chips are too *melty*.} I could not throw away that mixture - what was I to do? A friend who recently had the same issue said that she made hers into a pie, but mine was too runny even for that. Finally - light bulb! I would add graham cracker crumbs to the mixture until it was bulky enough to make into balls. It worked! And the truffles were FABULOUS. Maybe even yummier than the original. I call the new version Pumpkin Pie Truffles.Pumpkin Pie Truffles2 1/2 cups vanilla chips1/4 cup heavy whipping cream1/2 cup pumpkin puree1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice3/4-1 cup graham cracker crumbs2 cups dark chocolate chips2 tablespoons oil {I used coconut oil}Ground nutmeg for garnish Combine vanilla chips and cream in saucepan. Stir over low heat until chips melt completely. Remove from heat. Stir in pumpkin and spice until smooth and blended. Chill mixture in refrigerator for at least an hour. Stir in graham cracker crumbs until mixture is thick enough to roll into balls and hold shape. Roll into 1-inch balls. Place on wax paper. Place pumpkin pie balls in freezer for 15 minutes or so. Reshape slightly if necessary.Combine dark chocolate chips and oil. Gently heat {in microwave or in bowl over simmering water on stove} until chocolate is melted. Dip chilled pumpkin pie balls into melted chocolate and coat thoroughly. Place back on wax paper to set up. Sprinkle tops with nutmeg while still wet, if desired. Store on wax paper in covered container in refrigerator.Watch out - these beauties disappear very quickly! I've even had more than one person tell me I should sell them. Seriously though, you don't need to buy any because you CAN make these! I would not have ever attempted them if they were really difficult. Trust me. I gotta say - you'd be a big hit if you showed up at Thanksgiving dinner with these!So if you have a recipe going all wrong, don't just give up on it! Try to rescue it. You never know, you might come up with your new favorite thing. :)You CAN rescue a recipe!Have you experienced recipe failures that you had to throw awa[...]

You CAN Make Your Own Household Cleaners

Mon, 28 Oct 2013 06:30:00 +0000

If I can make my own household cleaners, then you can too! I should be using more homemade cleaners than I do because they're SO simple to make, good for the environment, and they save you money <----yay for that one!Here are a few links to natural/homemade cleaner tips I've shared before...Microwave cleaning: Easy Microwave Cleaning                                   Sterilize That Sponge & Clean Your MicrowaveShower cleaning:  Homemade Shower CleanerOven cleaning: Natural Oven Cleaner  Vinegar is a great thing to have on hand for cleaning. Using it can be as simple as diluting some distilled white vinegar in a spray bottle and cleaning your kitchen counters with it! For more great ideas on how to use vinegar, check out the Big List of Creative Uses For Vinegar over at The Frugal Girls.I also use baking soda and vinegar to clean my drains. Basically, you put 1/2 cup of baking soda down the drain, then slowly pour 1/2 cup or so of vinegar, which will cause it to foam up. Cover the drain and wait about 5 minutes. Then you flush it with a gallon of boiling water. Definitely helps though it may take more than one try if you have a drain that's really clogged.Keeper of the Home has an awesome post: 67 Homemade, All-Natural Cleaning Recipes. Pick a few - you might already have some of the ingredients in your cupboards! These recipes are easy to try, so I know you can do it! C'mon - try a new one this week!You CAN make your own household cleaners!Do you make homemade household cleaners? Have you avoided homemade cleaners for some reason? What's your favorite homemade cleaning tip? Share in the comments!Day 20 of #31Days. Find all the posts in this series by clicking the pic...Want to connect with me?Click here ---> to subscribe by E-mail.Click here ---> to Like my Facebook page.Click here ---> to follow me on Pinterest.Click here ---> to follow me on Twitter.Click here---> to follow me on Google+.Have a blessed day friends! © copyright 2013 – All rights reserved Stop and Smell the Chocolates [...]

You CAN Find The Blessings In The Negative {Savor 7 Saturday}

Sun, 27 Oct 2013 05:00:00 +0000

If I can find the blessings in the negative, then you can too! I know this is easier said than done depending on just how big of a negative it is - but there are blessings to be found. Sometimes we don't see those blessings until we're through it or past it though.It's time for Savor 7 {Saturday} again - listing out 7 blessings from the week. But I'll try and find 7 blessings from the negative instead of from the positive. I don't have any big trials going on right now, so it's a little harder to find the blessings in the little negatives. I have talked about seeing the blessings that come out of the bigger negatives before, in my Just One Son post.Ok, here are 7 minor negatives that I've experienced this week and the blessings I've found in them:1. Negative: Mosquito bites. In October. So not right. They love me and I get a nice red itchy welt after they bite. Blessing: The only one I can come up with is experiencing the relief and satisfaction of scratching an itch! {Simple itch relief tip here.} How would we know just how good it feels to scratch an itch if we never had an itch in the first place, right? :)2. Negative: Spilling a whole bunch of water on the floor, making a large puddle that involved a lot of cleanup. Blessing: Hey - easy blessing there - my floor is extra clean in that spot!3.  Negative: Friends who bring over too many yummy, fattening goodies {not always a negative, but I happen to be doing Weight Watchers at the moment}. Blessing: Friends who take all the extra goodies back when they leave, just to help you out.4. Negative: Busy busy grocery stores. Ick. Blessing: When those stores are busy, then lots of cashiers open up so the lines are short and fast! {Except for Walmart - that is never the case there - LOL.}5. Negative: Filling in for the 4th grade teacher at the end of the day when you aren't sure of the exact procedures to follow as you cover the material. Blessing: A class full of shiny, happy, helpful students telling you about 10 different ways that things may or may not have been done in the past. Too funny!6. Negative: Having to track all the food you eat because you finally went back to Weight Watchers. Blessing: Losing 3 pounds in a week! Woo hoo!7. Negative: Running way behind on #31Days posts. Boo. Blessing: Learning to give yourself some grace and deciding to continue posting the series through 10/31, whether or not the total number is 31 posts. Did it! Yay! But I have always been a look-for-the-silver-lining, cup-half-full kind of gal, so I realize that this may be more difficult for some of you. Do give it a try though! List out some negatives from the week and try to find the blessings. If you can't find a blessing in some of those things, look at them again in another week or a month and see if the blessings can be seen then.You CAN find the blessings in the negative!Do you always look for the blessings in your trials? Have you experienced an amazing blessing from something negative? Share in the comments!Day 19 of #31Days. Find all the posts in this series by clicking the pic...If you want to make sure you keep up with future series and posts, just click to Subscribe to Stop and Smell the Chocolates by Email or RSS!Have a blessed day friends! © copyright 2013 – All rights reserved Stop and Smell the Chocolates [...]

You CAN Use Google+

Wed, 23 Oct 2013 18:00:00 +0000

If I can use Google+, then you can too! Some of you are already on there and having a great time! But so many of you are like me and thinking that you can't learn how to use one more social media site. And when you stop by Google+ {G+}, well, it's just so different than Facebook. Ah, but different can sometimes mean better!I admit, I took a while to set up my profile on G+, and even then I still hardly used it, because I just didn't get it. Also, it seemed like very few people that I knew were on there. Much later on, I decided to give it another try. As I started dipping my toes in to figure things out, a food blogger found me that just happens to be a Google+ expert! Not only has he written a very helpful series on G+, but he also hosts hangouts on Fridays with guests to teach more about G+. I've already learned so much!   That expert is Chef Dennis Littley and you don't need to be a food blogger to follow him and get the benefit of his extensive G+ knowledge. First, check out his series on Google Plus. I highly recommend that you read everything he's written about it - so helpful! And try watching Chef Dennis' first Good Day Google+ hangout for great info, including tips from David Amerland {author of Google Semantic Search}. Feel free to watch the other HOA's also - even if you can't attend a hangout when it's happening, you can watch a recording later.Another big help as you're starting out on G+ is to read this post by Jenny Melrose of The NY Melrose Family: How to Grow Your Google+ Following. And she has a monthly linkup called Grow Your Google+ Circles Hop. I just did that for the first time this month and I added several new people to my circles and lots of people found me too!While you're learning how to use G+, get started by setting up your profile if you haven't already done so! Start adding some people you know to your circles {you can add me too!}. Try posting a status on there first and then try sharing a link to an article. It's not hard to do! Next, try clicking +1 on someone's post that you like. See? You're doing it! Be sure to follow the tips from the resources I've listed in order to use G+ properly {there are wrong ways to use it which could make it harder for you to build a following} and to make the most of your time on there.You CAN use Google+!It's not only a great opportunity for exposure for your blog or business, it's also a fantastic way to connect with new people! C'mon - give it a try!Are you on Google+? Have you been successfully using it? What's your best G+ tip? If you're not on Google+ yet, what has stopped you from trying it? Share in the comments!Day 18 of #31Days. Find all the posts in this series by clicking the pic...If you want to make sure you keep up with future series and posts, just click to Subscribe to Stop and Smell the Chocolates by Email or RSS!Have a blessed day friends! © copyright 2013 – All rights reserved Stop and Smell the Chocolates [...]

You CAN Write Poetry

Tue, 22 Oct 2013 06:00:00 +0000

If I can write poetry, then you can too! You don't have to be a profound, prize-winning poet to write a poem. Just let your creative juices flow and have fun!I enjoy writing silly little rhyming poems from time to time and it doesn't bother me one bit that they are not good enough to publish in a book of poems. The point is that I had fun doing it! Your poems don't even have to rhyme, you know - could it get any easier?! :) But I am partial to rhyming poems...If you haven't tried writing poetry or it's been a while, start out small with a few Haikus. They're Japanese 3-line poems with a set number of syllables in each line {5,7,5}. Here are a couple of my blogging haikus:Blogging is your work,Working at your writing craft,Crafting words of joy.Turning imagesSwirling all around my brainInto word paintings. If you want to try some rhyming poetry, just pick a topic and start to work out some phrases. I never know how long a poem will be when I start it. You can click here to check out my silly rhyming tea poems if you need inspiration. Or look at this poem I wrote about soup {see - you can write about ANYthing!}...Simmering Soupby Lisa W.The soup is on and simmering away, Drawing us in from our weary way, Filling our bowls, Soothing our souls, Warming our toes, Healing our woes, Bringing us together at the end of the day.If you think you'd like to go ahead and try, click here for an article with more info on how to write a poem. And it's a good idea to read poems to help give you ideas.You CAN write poetry!Think of a topic right now and write just 2 lines about it. Now keep reworking those 2 lines until you have the start of a poem - whether it rhymes or not. You'll get a feel for it once you try it and you just might find yourself addicted to it! It doesn't have to be great; just enjoy the process! It's a wonderful way to bring a little bright spot into your day.Have you written poetry? What kind of poems do you prefer? What's stopping you from giving it a try right now? Share in the comments!Day 17 of #31Days. Find all the posts in this series by clicking the pic...Want to connect with me?Click here ---> to subscribe by E-mail.Click here ---> to Like my Facebook page.Click here ---> to follow me on Pinterest.Click here ---> to follow me on Twitter.Click here---> to follow me on Google+.Have a blessed day friends! © copyright 2013 – All rights reserved Stop and Smell the Chocolates [...]