Tuesday, December 30, 2014

My Five Favorite Soups List Of 2014

With the new year just a couple of days away, I wanted to share with you my five favorite soups that I cooked this year. Soup is such a delicious and comforting meal, and perfect for those chilly nights that winter brings.

I hope you enjoy my soup round-up, which starts with Italian Sausage, Noodle, and Kale Soup. This soup is extra hearty, and even people who say they don't like kale, end up loving this soup. And the Italian sausage in it, brings a great flavor to it.

For me, Butternut Squash Soup is earthy and delicious. I roast a couple of squashes in the oven to make a double batch of this soup, and freeze half of it. It's so great to come home on a cold day and know you can pull a batch out of the freezer and have it for a yummy meal.

I'm such a big cheese lover, and it's so packed with cheesy goodness, that this soup is one I make over and over again. Cheesy Vegetable Soup lets you be very flexible about using the veggies you have on hand. I usually always have most of the ingredients on hand, and this soup is very quick and easy to put together.

Your slow-cooker can be your best friend when it comes to making soup. It's so easy to toss ingredients into it and let them simmer away all day. This Chicken and White Bean Soup is packed with flavor, and my whole family adores it, especially the kids.

I think every cook should have a really great vegetable soup recipe. This Easy Vegetable Soup is mine, one that I make year-round. It adapts well to veggies you have on hand, and the flavor really is deep and delicious. I love pairing this with a hearty bread, and it makes a delicious and comforting meal.


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Recipe for Cranberry Muffins

Cranberries always remind me of Christmas, so I make sure to include a few baked goods with them as an ingredient. I love the tartness of them balanced with sweetness. Muffins are quick and easy to make, and you can even make these ahead and pop them in the microwave to heat up.


Recipe for Cranberry Muffins


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup fresh cranberries
2/3 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg, lightly beaten


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl; stir well with a whisk. Stir in cranberries; make a well in center of mixture. Combine milk, butter, rind, vanilla, and egg; add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Spoon batter into 12 muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 18 minutes or until muffins spring back when touched lightly in center. Remove muffins from pan immediately; place on a wire rack.

Makes 12 muffins.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Recipe For Turkey Meatloaf, A Favorite Family Meal

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and Quaker. All opinions are mine alone. #CollectiveBias #LoveMyCereal #QuakerUp

Like most cooks I know, I have certain things that I make over and over again. My family loves my meatloaf, so I try to make it for us a few times a month. I recently decided to put a little different spin on it, and have begun making it with ground turkey instead of ground beef.

My family still loves it made with the turkey, and I love giving them a tastier meal. I've also started making my meatloaf with Quaker® Life cereal as the filler, instead of overly salty crackers.

The cereal gives it a great earthy flavor. It's delicious with our favorite sides, which are mashed potatoes and gravy, and green beans. This is one of our favorite dinners, especially in fall and winter.

Of course, we also eat Quaker® Life cereal for breakfast. I  always bought it for my kids when they were growing up, and now I buy it for my grandchildren, too. And it's delicious different flavors make it great for baking, yogurt parfaits, snacks, and more.

When I'm doing my grocery shopping at Walmart, I always pick up a couple of boxes of Life cereal. I'm always a little surprised at how much cereal my family and I eat, but it is one of our favorite breakfasts.

I also picked all my ingredients to make my meatloaf dinner. My grandchildren tend to be picky eaters, but they love a dinner of meatloaf and mashed potatoes and gravy. So do I, and I always hope there's enough leftover meatloaf for a sandwich the next day.

Turkey meatloaf is very easy to put together, and has pretty basic ingredients. Sometimes I'll add things like green peppers, or tomatoes packed in oil, but usually I make it very simple.

I use my rolling pin to crush the Life cereal to add to the meatloaf. It works really well, and so much easier than having to get out the food processor.

Just put the ingredients in a large bowl, and use clean hands to mix it up. My favorite way to make meatloaf is to bake it in a loaf pan, but it works well too in very small loaf pans, or even cupcake pans. Any way it's baked, I love it!

After the meat mixture has been put into the loaf pan, spread 1/4 cup of catsup on top of it. I love the sweet flavor of the catsup baked into it. Then I add lightly crushed Quaker® Life cereal as a topper.
It gives it a great, added crunchy texture and flavor.

Bake the turkey meatloaf in a 375 degree oven for 1 hour. I always let my meatloaf rest for about ten minutes after it comes out of the oven. It holds together better when you take it out of the loaf pan, and I think it just taste better this way.

Yum, this is such a great family dinner, with the kids usually asking for seconds of meatloaf. Here's my easy recipe:

Recipe for Turkey Meatloaf


1 pound ground turkey
1-1/2 cups crushed Life cereal
2 eggs
3/4 cup barbeque sauce
1 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

For Topping:

1/4 cup catsup
1/4 cup semi-crushed Life cereal


Combine first 7 ingredients in a large bowl. Mix together well with hands. Pat evenly into loaf pan. Spread catsup over top of meatloaf. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup cereal on top.
Bake in a 375 degree oven for 1 hour. Let rest in pan for 10 minutes, remove from pan and slice.

A couple nights ago, my family decided to drive around and look at Christmas lights in a neighboring town. We do this every year, and the kids love it. But they do get restless in the car, so this year I put together a bag of tasty snacks for them to enjoy.

I just mixed together some pretzels, a little candy, and some Life cereal. The kids loved it, they were little angels (well, almost!) and we all had a great time looking at all the lights.

Cereal makes such great snacks, especially if you mix different kinds together. Quaker® Life is also great mixed with Quaker® Oatmeal Squares, Quaker® Real Medleys®, and Quaker® Simply Granola.

You can find all these delicious Quaker® cereals at Walmart, in the cereal aisle. Besides Original, Life cereal comes in lots of different flavors too, so be sure and look for them.

You can also connect with the Quaker® brand here and find lots of recipes and great snack ideas. 

Do you use cereal for more than just breakfast? Do you cook or bake with it, too? Please leave me a comment and let me know.


Friday, December 19, 2014

Disney Planes Rollback Prices at Walmart

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

Looking for last minute holiday gift ideas? Delight the little ones in
your life with Disney Planes items now on Rollback at Walmart! All
items listed below are on rollback through the holiday season!
#PlanesToTheRescue #ad

Disney Planes Flight to the Finish Speedway ($24.97)
Disney Planes: Fire & Rescue Die-Cast Vehicles, 3-Pack ($14.97)
Disney Planes: Fire & Rescue Deluxe Talking Vehicle Assortment ($19.97)


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Hearthsong Toy Review and $50 Gift Certificate Giveaway

 I was provided with a product for my review. All opinions are mine alone.

 As a mom and grandmother, I have been buying toys for almost 40 years. What's important to me now when I give my grandchildren toys, is that they are well-made, creative, and sparks their imaginations.

That's exactly what Hearthsong toys do. Hearthsong lets parents provide their children with wholesome, age-appropriate, and high-quality playthings.

When I was given the chance to review the Skyscraper Glow-in-the-Dark Marble Run, I knew my grandsons would really love it. And they do, with it providing hours of creative play and fun.

Here are this toy's very cool features:

Our bright-window-filled skyscraper blocks are fun to play with day and night! Glittery windows soak up the sun and reflect it back to you after dark. Build stacks of varying heights and connect their tops with a marble run so you can watch the glow-in-the-dark marbles jump down, around, and along that fun run's stair step, water wheel, seesaw, and funnel. Illuminating!

• Glow-in-the-dark skyscrapers make a marble run
• Wooden blocks with glittery windows
• Windows soak up the sun and glow at night
• Build stack of varying heights
• Connect stacks with marble runs
• Includes tricks like stair step, water wheel, seesaw, and funnel

It's really been fun for me to see how creative the boys are with this Marble Run, and the glow-in-the-dark feature is awesome. They love turning off the light at night and playing with it. It's an absolutely great toy that boys and girls will love, all the while using and developing their imaginations.

 You can visit the Hearthsong website here to shop for toys. It's actually one of the best shopping sites I've ever used because it's so in-depth and easy to navigate. It lets you find the perfect toy for your child by age groups, interests, categories, and prices. And using the Gift Finder is very helpful to narrow down your choices from the hundreds of selections available.

I love talking about the Hearthsong company because it's toys remind me of the days when children had the chance to be creative and make using their imaginations a part of growing and learning. Good toys like these are important, I think, for developing creative thinking and imaginative playtime.

Besides the Hearthsong website, you can visit them on Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter.

I'm so happy to share with you that Heartsong is giving away a $50.00 gift certificate to one of our readers. Be sure and enter and have your own chance to experience these great toys.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 *Limited to US residents 18 years old and above. Giveaway starts Dec. 18, 2014 and ends on Jan 1, 2015 at 12:01 am EST. Winner will be emailed and has 72 hours to respond before another winner is selected. I was not paid for this giveaway or post. The opinions on this item are 100% mine and may vary from others. The sponsor is responsible for providing the prize. I was sent a product to review for this post.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

RSVP for the #HolidaysAreComingTwitter Party


Do you love a good Twitter Party? You know we do, and we’re excited to host a party about last minute holiday shopping and how a Walmart Family Mobile phone and starter kit would make a great gift. Please join us on Tuesday, December 23, 2014 at 3:00pm EST for the #HolidaysAreCalling Twitter Party where we’ll chat about shopping for a new phone and how the Walmart Best Plans make gift giving even easier.

When the holiday season comes around, I love to catch up with family and friends. Unlimited Talk Text and Data allows me to spend all the time I want talking on the phone, without worrying about receiving a big surprise phone bill. Lowest Priced Unlimited Plans make it so easy to stay in touch with the people you care about. And if someone on your holiday shopping list wants a new phone and plan, they make wonderful gifts. I hope you’ll join me for the #HolidaysAreCalling Twitter Party as we chat about this great holiday gift idea!

Join me and RSVP for the #HolidaysAreCalling Twitter Party on SoFabChats!


DATE:Tuesday, December 23

TIME: 3:00 – 4:00pm ET

EARLY BIRD PRIZE: 1 – $50 Walmart Gift Card


PRIZE 1: – (1) $100 Walmart Gift Card & Lumia 520 smartphone ($49.88)
PRIZE 2: – (1) $100 Walmart Gift Card & Evolve 2 smartphone ($49.88)
PRIZE 3: – (1) $100 Walmart Gift Card & Galaxy Exhibit smartphone ($79.88)
PRIZE 4: – (1) $100 Walmart Gift Card & LG L90 smartphone ($119.00)
PRIZE 5: – (1) $100 Walmart Gift Card & FIERCE 2 smartphone ($129.88)

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Legal residents of the 50 United States (+ D.C); 18 years and older. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. Valid 3:00 pm – 3:55 pm ET on 12/23/14. For Official Rules, including odds and prize descriptions, http://cbi.as/7ldim. Find details for Lumia 520: http://cbi.as/as3-k, Evolve 2: http://cbi.as/b7i5u, Galaxy Exhibit: http://cbi.as/f44ao, LG L90: http://cbi.as/a2qdl, FIERCE 2: http://cbi.as/iog2m, and Walmart Gift Card details here: http://cbi.as/osr4i.

HOSTS:@blueviolet, @frugalfamtree, @afrugalfriend, @peanutsgang2004 and @tsue1136


RULES:#HolidaysAreCalling Twitter Party Official Rules

RSVP & PARTY GRID: #HolidaysAreCalling

How To Participate In A Twitter Party on SoFabChats!
TIP:  How to join a Twitter Party – sign in! Before party starts, click on the green “Sign In On Twitter” bar at the top of the page!

TIP: Who to follow at a Twitter Party? Follow the Party Team by clicking on the Twitter handle links on the RSVP page!
TIP: Want to win Twitter Party prizes? RSVP by clicking on RSVP button before you join the party, follow everyone on the Party Team, and tweet with the party hashtag during the party to be eligible!
TIP: How to win the Early Bird prize? Watch for chance to share a tweet when you RSVP for chance to win!
TIP: Special deals and brand coupons? Keep that option checked when you RSVP for the party!
TIP: New to Twitter parties? Watch your column and Party Team tweet columns – they are slower paced and easier to follow!
TIP: Where to find Twitter Parties? Check out the SoFabChatsTwitter Party Calendarto find more fun parties to attend!

Find more helpful Twitter Party Tips on SoFabChats!


DIY Pinecone Christmas Trees

As a child the magic of Christmas was always in the decorations, especially ones that my brothers and sisters and I had made ourselves. Every year our mother would pull out the decorations we had made over the years and floods of great memories always came to mind.

I set out to do a simple project with my little ones, something easy, fun with instant results. These Pinecone Christmas Trees were perfect for my 3 year old and almost 2 year old.

A few simple supplies: pinecones (from Michaels), sparkles for the ornaments, different string choices for the garland or lights and glue. Honestly a hot glue gun would have been better but they are so young, later as the items start to fall off I will go behind them with the hot glue gun.

Here they are working so hard, Ashley even moved on top of the table for a better angle! I let them do it all by their selves, they always love it when there are no rules during a craft! There was no fuss, no fighting and beautiful results. I can't wait to pull these out of the Christmas tub every year and seeing the same memories come to mind for them.

This was published last year, but I wanted to share it again.


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

RSVP For The #McCafeMyWay Twitter Party Dec 19 3PM EST

twitter party

Twitter Party
Do you love a good Twitter Party? You know we do and we’re excited to host a party to share about the McCafe New Product Launch at Walmart! On December 19th at 3pm EST, please join us for the #McCafeMyWay Twitter Party where we’ll be discussing the new McCafe Coffee Pods, Ground Coffee, and giving you a chance to win prizes!

I am such a coffee lover, and am very happy when I get to enjoy a great cup of McCafe Coffee. You can now enjoy it's delicious flavor by brewing it right at home. So easy and so delicious. Come join us for the #McCafeMyWay Twitter Party to talk coffee! Also, you can try it before you buy it, because Walmart is hosting a few demos at selected stores December 18 - December 21. Hope to see you at the party.

Join me and RSVP for the #McCafeMyWay Twitter Party on SoFabChats!

DATE: Friday, December 19th
TIME: 3:00 – 4:00 PM ET
EARLY BIRD: 1 – $50 Walmart Gift Card
PRIZES: 5 – (1) $100 Walmart Gift Cards
RSVP & PARTY GRID#McCafeMyWay Twitter Party Page


How To Participate In A Twitter Party on SoFabChats!
TIP: How to join a Twitter Party – sign in! Before party starts, click on the green “Sign In On Twitter” bar at the top of the page!
TIP: Who to follow at a Twitter Party? Follow the Party Team by clicking on the Twitter handle links on the RSVP page!
TIP: Want to win Twitter Party prizes? RSVP by clicking on RSVP button before you join the party, follow everyone on the Party Team, and tweet with the party hashtag during the party to be eligible!
TIP: How to win the Early Bird prize? Watch for chance to share a tweet when you RSVP for chance to win!
TIP: Special deals and brand coupons? Keep that option checked when you RSVP for the party!
TIP: New to Twitter parties? Watch your column and Party Team tweet columns – they are slower paced and easier to follow!
TIP: Where to find Twitter Parties? Check out the SoFabChats Twitter Party Calendar to find more fun parties to attend!
Find more helpful Twitter Party Tips on SoFabChats!


Jam Thumbprint Christmas Cookie Recipe

Jam Thumbprint cookies bring back happy memories of my mom baking in the kitchen at Christmas time. She made these several times during the season because they were eaten almost as soon as they came out of the oven.

I wish I had her recipe, but I never asked her for it. So, decades later, this is the first time I've tried making these cookies. They honestly aren't as pretty as my mom's were, but they do taste great.

My grandchildren ate these right up too, and it was bittersweet for me to realize how time passes, and the generations carry on.

You can use different flavors of jam for the cookies. I used strawberry jam for these, but I'm making a few more batches where I'm going to try raspberry and apricot.

Recipe for Jam Thumbprints


2/3 cup sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups plus 3 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup raspberry or strawberry jam
1 cup powdered sugar
2-3 teaspoons milk


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, combine the sugar, butter, and vanilla and almond extracts.
Beat at medium speed until creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour. Continue beating until well mixed.
Take a scoop of dough the size of a walnut and roll it into a smooth ball. Place the balls 2 inches apart on baking sheets liked with parchment paper. With your thumb, make an indentation in the center and fill each cookie with 1/2 teaspoon of jam.
Bake for 12-15 minutes. Allow to cool on the baking sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Stir together powdered sugar and milk. Drizzle over cookies.

Makes 2 dozen cookies


Friday, December 12, 2014

Warm Tradition Hot Water Bottle Review and 2 Giveaways

I was provided with a product for my review. All opinions are my own.

Site Logo

One of my favorite things to do during the holiday season is to curl up on the couch with a stack of my favorite Christmas magazines. On a chilly night or afternoon, this is such a cozy thing to do.

My beautiful Warm Tradition Hot Water Bottle makes this even cozier, and I love using it all the time. Whether it's to ease my occasional back pain, or to keep my toes toasty in bed during the night, a good hot water bottle can be a great comfort.

I've used a lot of hot water bottles through the years, and not all of them worked very well. Often times they leaked, or gave off a plastic odor, or lost heat after a short while. This isn't the case for Warm Tradition, and I'm very happy with mine.

The hot water bottle covers come in so many different designs and fabrics, that it's hard to choose just one. I chose my cable-knit sweater style cover because I like it's classic, pretty look.

 I'd like to share a few facts about the Warm Tradition brand that make it such a great product:

  • Fun & fashionable way to melt away aches and pains & stay warm and toasty this season with 100’s of luxuriously soft & huggable covers to choose from.
  • Melt away tension, warm hands and feet, soothe children, relieve stress, restful night of sleep, bed warmer, ease backaches
  • Made from eco-friendly thermoplastic that is BPA & phthalate free
  • Odorless & safe
  • Long lasting heat – up to 6 hours!
  • Extra-large opening for easy filling and less spills
  • Covers are removable & machine washable
  • Hot Water Bottles made in Germany and Covers made in the USA

Warm Tradition is Martha-approved, and that certainly means they meet a high standard of quality.

Kids love the warm comfort of a hot water bottle in bed at night, or on a tummy that needs to be soothed. You will find many cute cover to chose from for kids. Let them pick out their own, and add to how much they will enjoy using it.

A hot water bottle for friends and family on your holiday shopping list makes a great gift. Choose a cover that fits their personality to make it even more special.

Let Warm Tradition keep you and your family cozy during the cold days and nights of winter. I'll be using mine to do just that.

Here at Frugal Family Tree, we are pleased to be partnering with Warm Tradition to be giving away two hot water bottles, to two of our readers.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Limited to US residents 18 years old and above. Giveaway starts Dec 12, 2014 and ends on Dec. 24, 2014 at 12:01 am EST. Winner will be emailed and has 72 hours to respond before another winner is selected. I was not paid for this giveaway or post. The opinions on this item are 100% mine and may vary from others. The sponsor is responsible for providing the prize. I was sent a product to review for this post.


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Snowball Cookie Recipe

*Originally Posted Dec. 19, 2013

As the children get older and start attending school (elementary or preschool) holiday teachers gifts are something we love to make and buy. Teachers are a very important part of our lives, they help mold our children into the adults they will someday be. I want them to know how important they are to not only my children, but to our family as a whole. Homemade gifts, along with a gift card to their favorite coffee shop or cafĂ© are a pretty standard gift for our family to give. This year we made Snowball Cookies for the teachers and they were a huge hit! The boys helped out by rolling the dough in the "snow", it ended up everywhere but at least they had fun!



Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Holiday Shopping With Tense Wooden Watches

I was provided with a product for my review. All opinions are mine alone.

I've never given up wearing watches, even though like lots of people, I have my cell phone to let me know what time it is. I think a watch can be a part of your personal style, and reflect the kind of life you lead. Whether your style is classic, sporty, or feminine, a watch really is a personal way to express yourself.

When I was offered the chance to review a watch from Tense Watches, I immediately said yes. A couple of months ago, I was having lunch with a friend, and remarked on what an attractive wooden watch she was wearing, and it was from Tense.

Needless to say, when I received my watch in the mail, I immediately loved it. Pretty and stylish, it's perfect for wearing when I am being everyday casual, but also looks great when I want a more dressed-up, evening look.

Tense Watches offers six themed collections to choose from, Adventure, Coastal, Discovery, Heritage, Passage, and Mainland. It's easy to see why they are worn by nature lovers all around the world.

All watches are made from natural materials from Africa, India, and other exotic places. They are also made with one of the worlds top watch movements, Miyota 2035, from Japan.

There is a watch available for everyone on your Christmas list, from your beloved grandfather, to your stylish 20-something niece, or your mom or dad. For all styles and age groups, you can count on Tense Watches to be a welcome and appreciated gift this holiday season.

I choose the Women's Pacific watch. I love it's casual elegance, and appreciate it's quality and durability.

It's made of solid sandalwood, and with a stainless steel clasp. Like all Tense wooden bracelet watches, it is hypo-allergenic.

I have never worn a wooden watch before, and I think the concept is quite unique. It feels totally comfortable and natural. I love my Tense Watch, and will be enjoying it for years to come.

You can choose from Men's, Women's, and Unisex styles. Tense also offers gift certificates for that hard to buy for person on your shopping list.

To see the complete collection of Tense Watches, you can go and visit their website here. You can also find them on Facebook and Pinterest.

If your holiday shopping includes buying someone you care about a wonderful new watch, shop at Tense, because beauty and quality are always appreciated.

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