MEXICAN STREET CORN RECIPE

Elote is a traditional street food in Mexico. In America, it is typically called Mexican street corn. It is corn on the cob charred on an open grill and smothered in cheese, a cream sauce, and chipotle seasoning. It is the perfect side for any barbecue or summer get-together! With Cinco de Mayo coming up, this is also a perfect option for any party!

Mexican Street Corn on the Cob Recipe

Corn on the cob is a summer staple for my family. I always look forward to seeing the first stand on the side of the road and pulling over to get a dozen ears. It hits the spot every time, especially with a meal that is fresh off the grill.

What is Mexican Street Corn on the Cob?

Elote is an authentic and tasty side for any summer meal. Roasted sweet corn layered with yummy Mexican crema, spicy chipotle, and fresh cotija cheese is so delicious. Your family will love this new way to eat their juicy ear of corn!

If you’ve ever seen elote listed on the menu at your favorite Mexican restaurant, and asked, “What is elote?” I’m here to answer that question for you. Elote is the authentic name for Mexican street corn.

At times (such as with this recipe) served as corn on the cob, other times served as a corn salad, Mexican street corn is a dish made with cooked sweet corn that has been coated in mayo and Mexican crema and topped off with chili powder and sprinkled Cotija cheese.

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 ears of corn, husked and all silk removed
  • Olive oil
  • 2 tsp chipotle chili powder
  • ¼-⅓ cup cotija cheese, crumbled
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • Sea salt
  • Juice of 2 limes

INGREDIENTS FOR MEXICAN CREMA

  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • ¼ tsp chipotle chili powder
  • ⅛ tsp salt

ingredient substitutions

Mexican crema or sour cream: A common question that arises when making this recipe, is Mexican crema the same as sour cream? Can sour cream be used as a substitute? While they are similar, Mexican crema is different from sour cream and I would recommend sticking with the recipe listed above.

Mexican crema is runnier and lighter than sour cream. It has a tangy sweetness to it that sour cream is lacking. The outcome of your elote will be enhanced greatly by using the crema recipe over sour cream.

Sweet corn: This recipe can be made using corn on the cob or kernels corn off the cob.

HOW TO MAKE MEXICAN STREET CORN ON THE GRILL

  1. Place each ear of corn on a piece of foil. Brush olive oil on each ear of corn and lightly sprinkle all sides of corn with sea salt. Wrap foil tightly around corn.
  2. Preheat the grill to medium heat and place all 6 ears of corn on the grill grates. Close the lid and cook for 15-20 minutes or until the corn on the cob can easily be pierced with a fork. Turn often while the corn is cooking to prevent burning the corn cob.
  3. When the corn is done cooking carefully remove the foil.
  4. Lightly brush each ear of corn with Mexican Cream Sauce and sprinkle additional chipotle chili powder, cotija cheese, fresh parsley, and fresh lime juice over each ear of corn.
  5. Serve hot and enjoy!

HOW TO STORE

If you have leftovers, store them in a tightly wrapped plastic wrap and place them into an airtight container. The Crema recipe will make a little bit extra, to account for the corn being a bit dry the next day! Be sure to save any extra crema as well.

Then, when you are ready to eat the leftovers, add additional leftover Mexican Crema to each cob to enhance the creaminess. After adding extra crema you can also add more chipotle powder, cotija cheese, parsley, and lime juice.

The Mexican creme sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.

This recipe for Mexican Corn on the Cob, also known as Mexican street corn, is an authentic way to eat your favorite summer food. Roast your sweet corn, slather it in a Mexican style sour cream, and top it off with spicy seasoning and cotija cheese. Mexican style corn is an easy and delicious side.

SIDE NOTE

If you are looking for a great margarita recipe to pair with your Mexican street corn, check out one of my other blog posts for that recipe here!

What are some of your favorite takes on Mexican Street Corn? Let’s chat in the comments below!

XO,

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EARTH DAY 2021

What is Earth Day 2021, you might ask? 51 years ago, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) did not exist, which meant there was no Clean Air Act, no Clean Water Act, and no legal regulatory mechanism to protect our environment. That all changed in April 1970 when Senator Gaylord Nelson created Earth Day as a way to force this issue onto the national agenda. Twenty million Americans demonstrated in different U.S. cities – and it worked. In December 1970, Congress authorized the creation of the EPA, a new federal agency to tackle environmental issues. Now, each year on April 22, people all around the world come together on Earth Day to celebrate the planet’s environment and raise public awareness about pollution. 

EARTHDAY.ORG’s theme for Earth Day 2021 is Restore Our Earth™, which focuses on natural processes, emerging green technologies, and innovative thinking that can restore the world’s ecosystems. In this way, the theme rejects the notion that mitigation or adaptation are the only ways to address climate change. It is up to each and every one of us to Restore Our Earth not just because we care about the natural world, but because we live on it. We all need a healthy Earth to support our jobs, livelihoods, health & survival, and happiness. A healthy planet is not an option — it is a necessity.

You might be wondering how you can personally help in the matter, as did I. The planet is a big place, as you might know already, but it starts with our efforts. Every preventive measure adds up, even if you don’t realise it!

HOW CAN I HELP?

♡ ECONOMICAL DECISIONS IN EVERYDAY LIFE

  • Shop Eco-Friendly Household Products
    When it comes to your household products, shopping eco-friendly goes a long way. Instead of single-use, disposable items, look for “green” products that are reusable, sustainably sourced, or made of recycled materials.
  • Use a Cloth Towel Instead of a Paper Towel
    It’s certainly cheaper to hold onto a cloth towel than to buy a new roll of paper towels every week.
  • Stop Drinking out of Plastic Water Bottles
    This one’s a simple fix. Replace your regular single use plastic bottles with some of plastic, glass, and stainless steel reusable water bottles that are all the rage right now.
  • Turn off Your Lights When You Leave the Room
    Turning off your lights when you’re not home, or even not in that room, can significantly cut down how much energy you’re using. What do you need them on for anyway?
  • Bring a Reusable Cup to Your Coffee Shop
    You can still fulfill your caramel frappuccino cravings every once and while — without throwing a way a plastic cup afterwards. Bring your reusable coffee mug to your regular coffee shop and ask them to put the coffee in there — chains like Starbucks and Dunkin will even give you a discount.
  • Collect Rainwater
    Invest in a rainwater collection system. There’s so much you can use this non-drinking water for — like cleaning or watering plants.
  • Ditch the Plastic Straws
    Americans use nearly 500 million plastic straws every day. Replace your plastic straws with a set of reusable ones made from stainless steel, silicone, or bamboo — the sea turtles will thank you.
  • Go Paperless
    Everything is online these days. Think about how much paper you can save just by getting bank statements and bills sent electronically and paid the same way. It’s the same deal with event or travel tickets. Most places don’t require physical copies anymore.
  • Plant a Tree

♡ DONATE:

  • The Conservation FundThe Conservation Fund practices conservation to achieve environmental and economic outcomes. Every Fund program places conservation at its center, and our entrepreneurial staff create and implement innovative, practical ways to benefit the natural world and the well-being of Americans from every walk of life. Since 1985, The Conservation Fund has protected over 8 million acres of America’s most important, at-risk lands and waters. Last year, the Fund worked on more than 150 projects in 35 states conserving nearly 207,000 acres valued at more than $323 million—35 more projects than the previous year! None of this is possible without you—our partners and supporters. Click here to learn more about the Fund’s impact on the following focus areas: Land, Water, Wildlife, Finance, Food, Community Development, Cities, Partnerships, Climate, and Restoration.
  • Feeding America: Many people think of ending hunger when they think of Feeding America – and they would be right. However, Feeding America is also an important ally in the work to end food waste. Every year, 197 million pounds of food goes into landfills every single day. That’s 72 billion pounds of food, or $218 billion, thrown away every year, while 42 million Americans struggle with hunger. Feeding America and its partner network rescues food every day — rescuing 4 billion pounds of food in 2020. Learn how you can fight food waste in your own kitchen and learn about one Feeding America’s newest innovations, MealConnect, which makes safe and quick food donations possible by matching food businesses directly to the Feeding America network. Local grocery stores, restaurants, hotels and more can use MealConnect to alert nearby food banks, food pantries or meal programs when they have food ready for immediate pick up, making more good food available and revolutionizing local food rescue.
  • Rails-to-Trails Conservancy: The mission of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) is to create a nationwide network of trails from former rail lines and connecting corridors to build healthier places for healthier people.  For 30 years, RTC has been the leader in the national rail-trail movement and is the voice of more than 160,000 members and supporters. RTC has helped develop more than 1,600 pathways, transforming more than 30,000 miles of former rail corridors into beautiful paths for walking, biking, riding, and other outdoor activities. Rail-trails encourage healthier, more mobile lifestyles by providing safe places to walk, bike and be active. They stimulate healthier economies by promoting tourism and local businesses, and increasing property values. They support a healthier environment by making active transportation a viable transportation alternative. They contribute to healthier, more vibrant communities, connecting people of all ages and abilities to the places where they live, work and play. 
  • Engage with others on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn and let them know you are celebrating Earth Day. Be sure to include the hashtag #EarthDay in your posts to join the global conversation online. 

ways to get kids involved

How are you planning to help with the conservation of our precious Earth? I would love to hear from you in the comments below!

XO,

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CELEBRATING BLACK HISTORY MONTH

Black History Month actually started as Negro History Week in 1917. Author, journalist and historian Carter G. Woodson, now appropriately recognized as the “father of black history,” lobbied vigorously for the national recognition of black stories and perspectives. Woodson believed deeply that equality was only possible with the acknowledgement and understanding of a race’s history, and dedicated his life to the study of African-American historical research.

Black History Month should be viewed as an opportunity to spotlight contributions by African Americans, like musicians, artists, writers, poets, inventors, explorers, scientists, business people and soldiers, etc. It should be an opportunity for us all to learn from others who have a different and diverse viewpoint, all with the intent of uplifting and highlighting those who are all unique.

Allow this month to be one where you to educate yourself. I, personally, haven’t done the best in researching in the past, but I want to aim to do better about inclusion and my thinking from now on.

If you live in the Western North Carolin area, below are some options for you to support those who are like neighbors to you. If not, do more research into how you can support black-owned businesses in your area.

Laundry is the only thing that should be separated by color.

Author Unknown

READ BOOKS

If you are a reader like me, I love to sit on the couch curled up with a good book. Take this time to read a new book that offers insight to one you might not have had before. Target offers a Black History Month section with books by many talented black writers. Below, I’ve listed a few of my personal favorites. There are hundreds to choose from, so get to reading!

  • The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  • A Promised Land by Barak Obama
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

CHILDREN’S LITERATURE

  • Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison
  • Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly

WATCH MOVIES / DOCUMENTARIES

Regardless of your background, we can all stand to watch more diverse films, so let Black History Month be the catalyst for committing to taking a look at your movie nightfare. Diversifying our consumption doesn’t just broaden our worldview, it also shows Hollywood that we want to see better Black and BIPOC representation onscreen. It’s all about aligning media with what the world actually looks like. Also, who doesn’t love Remember the Titans?!

  • Hidden Figures
  • If Beale Street Could Talk (Hulu)
  • The Hate U Give
  • The Help
  • Remember the Titans

SHOP / EAT LOCAL

  • BLACK MOUNTAIN CIDER + MEAD
  • SPICE + TEA MERCHANTS

This month, do your own research. Find companies owned by African Americans in your area and make a conscious effort to not only support them this month, but in the coming months and years ahead. We are put on this Earth to learn from one another and to have different viewpoints. The Lord made no mistake in His children precious in His sight.

  • Make an ongoing, monthly donation to an organization 
  • Consciously buy from Black-owned businesses and restaurants 
  • Continue your self-education.
  • Sign petitions online, send texts, make phone calls and attend local events.

How do you plan to support black owned businesses around you? Let’s chat in the comments below!

XO,

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TOP [FRUGAL] VALENTINES DAY DATES

Have you been to the store and seen the HUNDREDS of candy heart boxes and decorations lining the shelves? Yeah, so have I… Valentine’s Day is less than a month out and Cupid is making his way on February 14th whether we like it or not. Planning something on this day of love can be really a hassle, especially since this holiday can be overplayed and can very much be a “Single Awareness Day.” With that being said, it is what you make it.

Below, I will delve into what will make for an enjoyable Valentine’s Day for you and your partner or your group of friends. Make it what you will and enjoy yourselves.

STAY-AT-HOME IDEAS

✰ BAKING & COOKING

Baking is always a fun and easy, yet simple way to have a relaxing night in. Make treats for friends, coworkers or church friends and see their eyes instantly light up. We all know how much homemade treats can go a long way. If going out to eat isn’t necessarily your thing, look up new recipes on Pinterest and also try out something you’ve both been wanting to try.

✰ DIY CRAFTS

Anything that involves arts and crafts is an automatic “go” for me. Find something that is simple and something both of you will enjoy. Things such as stringed canvas art or making homemade cards are both great options.

✰ GAME & MOVIE NIGHT

My husband is very much a “game” person. Card games and board games alike are a great way to put the phone down and have time set aside for each other. Pick a ole’ faithful or find a game you’ve both been wanting to try out. Valentine’s Day trivia is another fun, inexpensive way to have a friendly competition.

Movie nights in are another inexpensive way to have a night together without dealing the bank. Rent a movie on Redbox or on Netflix and have the snacks ready to enjoy!

✰ MAKE A COUPLE’S TIME-CAPSULE

Instead of making a typical scrapbook, consider taking items that mean the most to you as a couple and putting them in a time capsule.

You can bury the time capsule and dig it up years later when you are are further along in your relationship. Put in letters to each other, pictures or other little gifts and make sure to remember where you put it. Set a time frame, like a year or five years and have an unveiling party.

✰ PLAN FOR A WEEKEND TRIP IN THE FUTURE

If you are like my husband and I, we both enjoy visiting new towns and seeing new places. Pick a place, near or far, and plan for a weekend away. Discuss the logistics of your overall budget, how you will get there and sites you want to visit. We just got back from a weekend in Dahlonega, GA and had the time of our lives. A weekend away with your significant other or with a group of friends creates memories that last a lifetime.

OUT ON THE TOWN

✰ TRY A NEW RESTAURANT OR PROGRESSIVE DINNER

If you are wanting to try this option, make sure to make reservations far enough out in advance. We all know how quickly restaurants can fill up and how long the wait times can be. For Valentine’s Day last year, Chandler and I had just moved to the Asheville area and we did a progressive dinner the weekend after Valentines Day. Restaurants weren’t as crowded and we enjoyed doing drinks and apps at a local brewery, a small entree at a Cuban restaurant and dessert at bakery.

✰ PLAN A TRIP TO THE RIVER

Most places have a local river that has a nice dock area that you can sit and just watch the water while you enjoy a hot coffee and good conversation.

If you have this in your area, take advantage of this date because not only is it inexpensive, but it is a great way merely to spend time with someone you care about. In Asheville, we have the French Broad River, which is a beautiful, breathtaking view that is perfect for sitting and enjoying each other’s company.

✰ PHOTOSHOOT

Why not get dressed up and have a photoshoot? Now is a better time than ever! I know lots of local photographers are doing cute “Valentine’s Day” sessions. I know from personal experience how I wish I had more professional pictures of my husband and I, so sign up for a shoot and go for it.

What are some of your favorite Valentine’s Day ideas? Let’s chat in the comments!

XO,

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COMPLETE GUIDE TO CHRISTMAS AT BILTMORE

Hiya! My husband and I visited the Biltmore House for the first time on Sunday and we loved every minute! We have lived in Asheville for almost a year now, but haven’t had the chance to visit this beautiful monstrosity of a mansion yet. Since my husband is a sucker for all things Christmas, I bought tickets for the Candlelight tour at the Biltmore and it was nothing short of amazing! We also had friends from Charleston visit and were able to tour the house with them, which also made the experience really special for us!

In this blog, I will go over certain tips and tricks that made our trip to the Biltmore seamless and easy. Buying a ticket to the house does grant you two days entrance onto the property. If you are from out of town or plan to be in Asheville for the weekend, plan to go back both days. Believe me when I say that the Biltmore Estate is full of things to do. It is breathtaking in every way and should be something you be able to do without being rushed.

Antler Hill Village & Winery

Antler Hill Village sits on the north side of the property. It is approximately 1.2 mile from the Estate, so be sure to factor that into your travel time if you have a reservation for the house. They do have trolleys that drive from AHV to the house, but will take you 10-15 minutes. At Antler Hill Village, you have the Winery, lots of restaurants and plenty of shopping to keep you busy.

Due to limited number of people allowed in for each tasting, reserve a time slot to the Winery in advance to guarantee your spot, especially if you have a bigger group. They have a QR Code for you to scan to put in your information, which will then send you an email confirmation. Each tasting is complementary, so don’t miss out on the chance to taste five of the best wines from a long list of //. After your tour, buy bottles to take home from the wine shop to enjoy at your convenience or join the Vanderbilt Wine Club, in which you will receive three different wines each quarter by mail. You can choose from all red, all white, mixed or sweet. They also offer a pick-up option on site as well for those who live in the area.

Estate Tour

The Biltmore House was completed in 1895 and is currently still the largest home to date in the United States. There are sixty-five fireplaces, an indoor swimming pool and a bowling alley! The self-guided tour takes you through a one way route, but feel free to roam at your own pace. The typical time frame is anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half in the house.

Audio guides are available for $12.99pp. The 90-minute tour allows you to select the corresponding number to each room that then tells you more about he surrounding architecture, design and decor. It also tells you more about the lives of the Vanderbilts, their guests and servants alike.

The estate also offers a…
Rooftop Tour ($25pp) – Get an amazing view from rooftops and balconies of the Biltmore House.

Premium Biltmore House Tour ($175pp) – Get a personal guide, see the rooftops, and a behind-the-scenes look of the servant’s quarters.

Backstairs Tour ($25pp) – Offers access to rarely-seen servants’ areas and workplace stores.

Behind-the-Scenes Winery Tour & Tasting ($10pp) – See how the vineyards run and what it takes to make the wines of Biltmore.

Pro Tip: Make sure to walk up the hill across from the house to see the Diana & the Esplanade. This gives you one of the most iconic and most breathtaking views of the house from afar. As a preface, the Christmas is not there year round.

Bags no larger than a 12″ x 6″ x 12 plastic bag or 4.5″ x 6.5″ clear bag are allowed into the house, so make sure to come prepared.

Gardens and Conservatory

Chandler and I weren’t able to visit the gardens during our trip, but we plan to during the spring time now that we have annual passes. Yay for Christmas gifts! From what we have heard from friends and family who have been, we have heard nothing but great things!

There are 2.5 miles of paths that you can take through themed gardens around the house.
In the the winter, most of the gardens are empty. Any other time of year, you will find hundreds of variations of blooms.

Some highlights include:

+ 50,000 tulips in Wall Garden during the Spring
+ A mile long sunflower patch near Antler Hill Village in the late summer
+ Click here to find more details on blooms you can expect to see.

Walking Trails

There are over ten different walking trails on site at the Biltmore. They vary anywhere from a 1/4 mile to a 1/2 mile loop and there are 22 miles in all. During the Spring time, you can experience the blooming flowers at the gardens, go biking, fly-fishing hiking, horseback riding or even float down the river. The estate also offers Segway tours, sporting clays and falconry.

If you have smaller children and are planning to be on property for a majority of your day, there is the Pisgah Playground which is located near Antler Village. Plan for adequate time for the farm as well. Once home to the Biltmore Dairy, you can now stop by the farm to see the blacksmith, woodworking and craft demonstrations. Stop in to see the farm-friendly animals with your kids as well. They have sheep, chickens, goats and pigs.

COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What can I expect at Biltmore Christmas?

A lot! If you’ve never been to the Biltmore before, the Estate at Christmas time is an even better first impression. There are stringed lights atop the walkways, Christmas trees at every turn and hot cocoa for //. For it being our first time touring the house, I am so glad we waited to do so at Christmas time. Every room of the house is decorated to the nines and was more than I expected.

Is the Biltmore Candlelight Tour worth it?

Starting at $114 per ticket, seeing the Biltmore during the Christmas holiday is like nothing else you’ll ever experience. We personally went with the self-guided tour, but there is also three different other tour options they offer throughout the year, which are all unique in their own way.

All in all, the Candlelight Tour was worth the “big” price tag. Seeing the estate’s fifty-five Christmas trees, lights, garland and hundreds of poinsettias were so magical to me. They also had all sixty-five fireplaces lit, live music playing on each floor and so many things to see and learn about in the house.

How long is Biltmore House decorated for Christmas?

The Biltmore house is decorated for Christmas from early November to into mid-January. Take advantage of the holiday festivities and make a trip during the Christmas season.

Where can I eat on site the Biltmore?

There are many different options to eat at the Biltmore! There are both fine dining and casual “light bites” for more on-the-go eats.

Antler Hill Village & Winery

  • The Bistro $$$ – causal spot serving farm to table foods
  • Cedric’s Tavern $$ – pub food, global cuisine and drink options
  • The Creamery $ – ice cream, sundaes, pastries and coffee
  • The Kitchen Cafe $$ – house-made soups, salads and sandwiches
  • The Smokehouse $$ – carolina bbq, sandwiches and southern favorites
  • Village Social $$$ – southern style food using sustainable seafood and regional ingredients
  • Wine Bar (Winery) $$ – sip of delicious wine and munch on a plate of cheese

Biltmore House & Gardens

  • Stable Cafe $$ – bbq, grilled foods and other southern favorites
  • The Bake Shop $ – fresh-baked pastries, coffee and tea
  • The Conservatory Cafe $ – small plates and wine
  • The Courtyard Market $ – gourmet hot dogs, salads, snacks and drinks
  • The Ice cream Parlor $ – hand-scooped ice cream, milkshakes and sundaes

Can I stay onsite during my visit?

You can! There are two different hotels on site where you can book reservations.

  • Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate $$
  • The Inn on Biltmore Estate $$

GENERAL INFORMATION

Address: One Lodge Street, Asheville, NC 28803 (map)

  • Biltmore Estate Ticket Prices: $45-$85 (depending on day/season)
  • Flex Daytime Tickets
  • Annual Passes: $219 pp (you can also apply the price of your day pass to an annual pass)

Pro Tip: Save $10 by purchasing tickets online 7+ days before your visit.

Hours:

  • Admissions Gate: 8:30am-5pm (or last scheduled Candlelight tour)
  • Reception & Ticketing Sales Center: 8:30am-5pm (or last scheduled Candlelight tour)
  • Biltmore House: 9am-5pm
  • Winery in Antler Hill Village: Sun-Fri 11am-9pm, Sat 10am-9pm
  • Gardens: 9am-6pm
  • Conservatory: 9am-5:30pm

Note: Always double check their site for hours in case they have special events going on.

Chandler and I absolutely loved our first visit to the Biltmore Estate. If you are planning a casual trip to Asheville for a weekend getaway or are coming to the area specifically for the Biltmore, make sure to factor in enough time to see this house in its fullest. Our trip did not disappoint by any stretch and we are excited to be able to make it a more common excursion.

Have you been to the Biltmore? What tips and/or tricks would you give first timers?

HOW TO: CHRISTMAS CHARCUTERIE BOARD

Are you wanting to steal the show at your next family gathering? Impress everyone with a show-stopping holiday charcuterie board!

In order to build the ideal charcuterie board, I will walk you step by step through the basics of the must-haves to get started.

Let me also preface with saying that Charcuterie boards have been a favorite appetizer of mine for some time now. Although these spreads often look daunting and overly priced, they are actually quite simple and can be quite cost effective. They often involve different types of meat, cheese and nuts/olives, but you there are hundreds of varieties to choose from. Use in season fruits and veggies to make it easy on yourself and add a few special touches for holidays. For example, a Christmas charcuterie board could have sprigs of thyme and cranberries scattered about. A Valentine’s Day charcuterie board could have a small bowl of conversation hearts, red cinnamon gummy bears, and LOTS of chocolate.

My mom put together a “s’mores” board as a dessert to enjoy by the fire for my birthday in August and was a huge hit.

Ingredients placed in the shape of a Christmas tree

1. CUTTING BOARD

Picking out the size of your board is the first big step in creating your ideal spread. Take time to do your research, but buy a board that feels like it will be big enough to hold an adequate amount of food. The Target dollar section has had small cutting boards for sale in the dollar section in the past, but check out Etsy for more personalized options. There are circular ones, square ones with handles or ones that have hidden compartments to store “refills.” It’s amazing to see what’s all possible!

2. INGREDIENTS

I’m stating the obvious, but the kind of charcuterie board you’re planning to do dictates the type of ingredients you’ll need to pick up. Like I previously mentioned, a typical board has hard and soft cheeses, deli meats, nuts and olives but long gone are the days where Charcuterie is “restricted” to just that. They have long evolved since those early days of “just” meats and cheeses.

3. RAMEKINS

I have found small ramekins to be extremely useful when holding dips, spreads or candies on your charcuterie board. You can find these at your local dollar store or somewhere like Target and/or Walmart. If you’re a traditionalist like me, I go for the white but use a pop of color if that fits your fancy. My recommendation is buying four or five matching ones at a time to have readily available. If you have honey or different kids of dips or spreads, make sure to have the appropriate utensils ready. Cutting knives for cheese and a honey comb to drizzle over fruit is kinda important.

Have fun and be creative with your charcuterie board. There are no rights or wrongs in this process. Let your creative side shine and build to impress. Think outside of the typical board because the possibilities are truly endless!

What are some of your favorite charcuterie boards? What are ones you’ve been wanting to test out?

MY CHRISTMAS DAY ROUTINE

Christmas is quickly approaching, y’all! Since I was a little girl, I have been enchanted by the magic and suspense surrounding the holidays. Christmas is a time when friends and family, near and far, come together to reflect on the year that’s past, but also look forward to a new year with excitement and expectation. Christmas is a time of singing carols loudly for all to hear, decking out the house from top to bottom and watching embarrassing amounts of Hallmark movies while drinking hot chocolate by the fire. It is a time to reflect by the shadows of the dimly lit tree or watch the snow fall peacefully outside your kitchen window.

I’ve been blessed with many great Christmas memories growing up and will always cherish what it has meant for our family. I know this year might put a damper on many family’s travel plans, but remember the magic behind the season. Below are some of my favorite Christmas Eve/Day traditions from childhood until now. Enjoy!

+ Christmas Eve

My parents started this game night tradition a few years back and it quickly grew to be a family favorite. On December 23 each year, my extended family comes together to play Christmas Bingo and Dirty Santa. Aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and often times neighbors/family friends are begging to get in on the action. My great-grandmother also passed down her Bingo cage with fifty year-old cards and bright red chips, which makes this game that much more special. My dad, who is often the “caller” (bless his heart), will often shout out a B quickly followed by a “Bethlehem!” or N for “Nativity!” We’ve got creative in how we play over the years, but we all have a blast! My parents also have a basket of prizes to chose from, which are small but often fought over.

+ Christmas Bingo & Dirty Santa

Dirty Santa is another thrilling game of strategy and will. Check out my other blog to see the ins and outs of Dirty Santa.

Growing up, Christmas Eve was always another chaotic, yet fun packed night my grandmother’s house. Now that she’s much older and isn’t in a place to do so, my parents have graciously taken over the reigns with hosting the holidays at their home. For Christmas Eve, the extended family comes over for another night of eating, chatting and opening presents. We’ve always enjoyed the fellowship of this holiday and celebrating the gift of togetherness.

+ Christmas Day

Christmas Day is more of a relaxing time for my immediate family. Now that my siblings and I are all “grown” and two thirds of us aren’t living at home, we all crash at my parent’s house from the previous night’s shenanigans and sleep in until 8 or 9am. My parents, brothers and our spouses start with opening our stockings and then quickly move into unwrapping presents. We all sit sleepily in our matching pajamas and spend the morning reminiscing and talking absolutely what we’re most excited for. As a young girl, I remember spending hours playing with my new toys and eagerly showing them off to my grandmother when she came back over later that afternoon.

+ Hot Cocoa Bar

If you’re anything like me, hot chocolate is a classic staple of the winter months. It instantly warms your soul after a long day building snowmen and sledding for hours on end. A hot chocolate bar is a fairly easy way to enjoy traditional hot chocolate but also allows you to add your own flair. Creating a cocoa bar is also a great way to offer family fun without breaking the bank. Who could ever turn down a great cup of hot Cocoa?

For a Christmas work party a few years ago, I naively jumped headlong into putting a Hot Cocoa Bar together for the team. As my first time doing something of this magnitude, it was a good learning curve into what was a big hit and what wasn’t.

Hot Cocoa Bar Essentials

In order to get the best bang for your buck, make sure to buy in bulk. Costco and Sam’s Club both have a wide array of hot chocolate to choose from. Swiss Mix and Girhadeli are both popular options, but buy whatever fits your fancy. The individual packets of hot chocolate are also an easy, yet efficient and germ-free way to it portion out. Below, I’ve listed some of my favorite Hot Cocoa bar necessities for the holidays.

  • Mason Jars
    Mason jars are a fun, but elegant way to put your hot chocolate toppings in. You can use ones that you’ve collected over the years or buy some from the local Dollar Tree. They also make cute drinking classes! It’s my true southerner upbringing speaking, I know!
  • Tags/Labels
    These aren’t necessarily a must, but tags make for an easy way to label each jar with what’s inside. You can make your own tags and labels, or find some to your liking on Pinterest or Etsy. #shopsmall
  • Hot Chocolate Packets
    As you all know, this is essentially the basis of your whole bar. 😂 Like I said previously, you can be creative with the types you buy.
  • Peppermint Sticks
  • Toffee Bits
  • Marshmallows
  • Caramel Sauce
  • Pretzels (Sticks or Pieces)
  • Chocolate Chips
  • Marshmallow Fluff

There is something so cheerful about a cup of hot chocolate. I’m a big believer in creating happiness from within and this, to me, embodies simple joy. I’m happy to arm myself and my family with whatever small acts of love and endless amount of hot chocolate it takes to see us through.


What are some of your favorite Christmas Day traditions and memories growing up and now as an adult? I would love to hear from you and what resonates to you when thinking back on favorite holiday traditions.

EVERYTHING IS CANCELED

Love is not canceled.

Sunshine is not canceled.

Relationships are not canceled.

Reading is not canceled.

Naps are not canceled.

Hope is not canceled.

Coffee is not canceled and thank the Lord for that.

Kindness is not canceled.

Imagination is not canceled.

Going for a walk is not canceled.

Laughter is not canceled.

Family is not canceled.

Above all else, salvation is not canceled.

A lot of things in 2020 have been canceled and we all can feel the weight of life, especially this year. Remember that joy and hope can’t be taken away, no matter the circumstance. Life is too short to worry about things out of our control. Do your best and give every day all you have. Be kind to yourself and your neighbor.

Let’s not aim to be perfect in 2021, but to be available. Be intentional. Really aim to actively hear what those around you are saying rather than being a passive listener. This world can be a dark place, but be the light.

Life will only get better, I promise.

Happy Thanksgiving week, folks!

TOP SECRET SANTA GIFTS

For those of you who have participated in Secret Santa, White Elephant or Dirty Santa in the past, you know how fun they can be! For those of you who haven’t, below is a little explanation of both games. They are a fun, alternative way to do a gift exchange with family and/or coworkers. My family has done both in years past and loved every minute of it.

Dirty Santa

Dirty Santa is a family-friendly gift exchange game that has been a staple of holiday traditions for many years. The phrase was coined in the Southern states and is called “dirty” because the game involves “stealing” more desirable gifts while scheming to avoid the gag gifts that nobody wants. Rules vary depending on who you are playing with, but the general gist is the same. Each person begins with drawing a number. From there, the person with number one starts by opening a gift. The second person can either steal that gift or open one from the pile. My family has always allowed the #1 player to be the last one the to swap and/or steal after the last person has gone.

Secret Santa

Secret Santa is a game often used for office staffs or as a game for bigger families. Depending on your budget, I have listed gift ideas below that around $20! Good luck shopping and remember to have fun with it. Be intentional with your gifts, but remember not to break the bank.

☆ Wine Tumbler

For those wine connoisseurs in your life, a tumbler paired with a bottle of wine will a sight after gift. Personally, I would go down fighting for this gift if this was in the running for Dirty Santa. You can’t go wrong with a red or white wine, or you could go more bold with a rose. You could also fill the tumbler with some chocolates and you’ve just put out the best gift in the game. Preppy Pineapple Shop has customizable tumblers that are durable and also come with a straw.

☆ Blue Light Glasses

Know anybody that is consistanly on their computer or phone for business? Our constant connection to our smartphones, tablets, and laptops may contribute to headaches, sore eyes, and stiff necks — all symptoms of digital eyestrain. With the majority of our waking hours spent in front of a screen, paired with harmful blue-violet light from devices, it’s no surprise that our eyes are working harder than ever. Blue light glasses are helpful in that they help with protecting your eyes against those harmful lasting effects. Glasses have also made a comeback in the fashion world, so here is your answer. Urban Vogue Shop offers an oversized clear pair of blue light glasses that are unisex in my book.

☆ Fleece Blanket

Now is the time of year to cuddle up with a fleece blanket and a book by the fire. Fleece blankets are an inexpensive, yet practical gift for those homebodies in your life. Target, Kohl’s, and Walmart all have a great selection of fleece that are inexpensive, yet durable. Depending on the price of the blanket, you could also throw in a $5 or $10 gift card of choice to pair with the fleece.

☆ Soap/Body Care Package

Who doesn’t need body care products? Nourish is a soap company based out of Savannah, GA, but has a location in Greenville, SC and Hilton Head, SC that offers a wide array of soaps and handmade cosmetic products. Lush is another body care company that offers bath bombs, shampoo, and body gels that are amazing. Like I said before, check out other shops in your area or check online to see what else you can find.

☆ Whistling Tea Kettle

A tea kettle is great idea in that it suitable for many different uses. You can make tea, coffee, hot chocolate or boil water for your soup with a tea kettle. They have stood the test of time and can also be left out on your stovetop as a decoration. Think about throwing in a set of tea bags or hot chocolate to make it a complete set. World Market makes nicely made, but more budget friendly tea kettles.

☆ Coffee Mug & Grounds

Who doesn’t love coffee and mugs? I have a slight obsession to both – just ask my husband. My kitchen cabinet is spilling over with a lifetime supply of both. Most of us adults rely heavily on coffee to get through the day and would greatly appreciate this gift. Stop by any local coffee shop and check out their selection of coffee for sale. In terms of coffee mugs, Apparent Project sells my favorite mugs of all time. I found AP in Port-au-Prince, Haiti when I visited a few summers ago and stocked up on Christmas gifts for the entire family.

☆ Airpods Case

If you’re doing a more of Secret Santa type game and know who you’re buying for has a set of Airpods, a carrying case would be a great gift. As someone who just splurged on a pair for myself, I have been eyeing a few cases, but haven’t bought the bullet. This is definitely the cheaper alternative and would be greatly appreciated by all Airpod wearers. Check out April and Kiwi and Topgogo who both offer real cool, diverse options.

☆ Keychain

Since we have keys to just about everything of importance in our lives nowadays, a nicer keychain would be a great option for either game. This gift is very practical and could last many, many years. LoomChoi has over twenty different colored macrame keychains available and Unus Leather highlights more of the rustic, leather look.

☆ Candles & Lotion

We all know how delightful a good smelling house can be. Head to Bath & Body Works or find a local artist to pick out a few of the holiday scents. Now is the time that they are in full swing with Christmas scents, so there are hundreds of options to choose from in terms of login and candles. If you’re feeling really bold, you could make your own candle as well. If not, Sweet Water Decor and Zen Body Creations both have some of the best smelling candles and are some of the coolest I’ve seen. This gift will always be a big hit among family or coworkers.


Be mindful in your shopping this Christmas season, folks. We all know how hard 2020 has been mentally, financially and physically on everybody. As shopping for the holiday only gets ramped up, be cognizant of the many talented artists and creators around you. There are so many deserving “small” shops who often get overshadowed by the Fortune 500 companies, but deserve so much credit. As you do your shopping this year, check out Etsy, Facebook Marketplace or other small businesses in your area first. They pour hours of their time and talent into one-of-a-kind products. That is a win-win situation for me, folks.

Be the change you wish to see.

DIY CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS

Christmas is right around the corner, folks! We are only forty days out from today. How crazy is that?! We all know how quickly that time will go. Currently, I have a Christmas playlist blasting through the house and plan to coerce my husband into watching The Santa Claus with me tonight.

We all know 2020 has been a hell of a year. It’s been tough, uncomfortable and not at all what we expected. The economy is in a recession, unemployment numbers skyrocketed overnight and businesses are having to shut down because of the circumstances. Are you on a budget but looking to add more decorations to your tree or in your home? I’ve got you covered! Below are some DIY decorations that are fun, family friendly and budget considerate.

Gingerbread Ornaments

I made these with my mom growing up and loved them! These gingerbread ornaments last years and smell heavenly. These also make great gifts for teachers, neighbors or your Sunday school teacher. This is the recipe that I follow, but feel free to find one that you like. I also added a dab of glue to help keep its shape. Don’t forget to poke a hole in the top to string it with some cute holiday ribbon!

Orange Garland

This garland makes for a beautiful decoration to hang from your hearth or above your bed. I prefer this over store made garland, anyhow. To get the optimal finish on your garland, follow The Ginger Home’s recipe or find one of your liking. This also makes for the best aroma when the oranges are done baking.

Pinecone Name Plates

These pinecone name plates make the cutest decor for a Christmas get-together for family or friends. Find a handful of pinecones outdoors or buy them from the store and spray paint them with a gold or silver spray paint. Cut down a piece of card stock or find your favorite piece of Christmas scrapbook paper and get started writing those names!

Pallet Christmas Trees

If you are into the “bigger scale” project, then this is your scene! My in-laws made my husband and I a set last year and stained them a dark chestnut color. String lights and hang ornaments on your Christmas Pallet tree and voilà! You can also paint them green to immolate more of a “real” tree if that’s the look you’re going for. Making smaller trees is also a great option for keeping them inside as well.

Wooden Sign Decor

With wooden signs, you have endless opportunities! If you have a Cricut or are artistically blessed, in which I am not, then there are so many options in terms of signs you can make. I also have Chalk Couture, which is a chalk-based transfer system that is fool proof. Chalk Couture came out with so many new Christmas designs this year, which has been really exciting to test out. Plan a trip to your local Michaels or Hobby Lobby to check out their wooden section. They have so many different options to choose from. Look at Pinterest for some inspiration if need be!

Stove-Top Potpourri

This isn’t necessarily a “decoration,” but stove-top potpourri is amazing to have simmering at home doing chores or relaxing on the couch curled up with that book you have been wanting to read. I have experimented with lots of varieties that all smell like you set foot onto a tree farm. You can also put ingredients into a mason jars that make for great gifts. This website has some great options you //.

QOTD: What is some of your favorite Christmas decorations, either store bought or handmade?