Monday, October 28, 2019

The Perfect Foods For Festive Parties

According to different times of the year, there are certain foods that are more suited to the season than others. Sometimes we like to eat light when it’s beach body season and you’ve got a swimsuit to slip into. Sometimes we like to eat heavy and hearty when it’s Sunday lunch during the springtime, and all the family has come round! And sometimes we like to eat because of the weather - if it’s cold outside, we fill ourselves up with warming, hearty foods, to help the evening go by smoother.

And there’s no occasion more fruitful when it comes to food than a party, and Christmas is all about keeping the festive spirit alive!

No matter where you’re going this Christmas, whether you’re staying at home or heading abroad, there’s going to be a festive party of two nearby that you’ll love to attend! And because of those endless partying possibilities, here are some of the best foods to layout on the spread, to keep your guests thinking of Christmas as they dance and carol the night away.

Mulled Wine

So it might not be a food, but it’s definitely part of the food and drink spread that’s commonly laid out at festive parties. It’s a staple of the season, after all, and your party just wouldn’t be complete without a batch! Especially if it’s below freezing in terms of cold outside!

But any old flagon of wine isn’t going to cut it here; there’s a long history behind it, dating back to the Romans. And considering such a great amount of trial and error, red wines seem to be the common favorite amongst the people who like to drink the stuff. So, if you’re in need of a mulled wine recipe, look no further: we’ve got a perfect one for you right here.

Mince Pies

Not everyone likes them, do they? But if you do, and you’ve got a friend coming to the party who does too, you’re going to chow down on them for all you’re worth. And seeing as they’re not too hard to make, you can whip them up in just a few minutes, and be able to feed a whole village with the product by the time you’re done. Now isn’t that in the Christmas spirit?!

But don’t just stop at the mince pies! Make sure you’ve got something to pair them with too - whilst you’re at it, check out this whipped cream recipe, because the two pair, as well as gloves and hands, do during the winter period.


They’re a favorite at all kinds of parties, thanks to being colorful and tasty little hits of flavor. But come Christmas time? They’re unmissable for when a party rolls around! Of course, they can be very tricky to make, especially if you’re never tried your hand at it before, and that’s what makes them quite pricey if you decide to just go out and buy instead.

However, if you are a first-timer, follow this rather quick macaroon recipe. It’ll get you to grips with the basics of making these biscuits, and if you’ve got some spare time on your hands, make two or three batches to really learn the craft. If you bring them along to a party, you’re definitely going to be the favorite person of the night!

Christmas Canapés

The ‘beginning with m’ naming convention over, this last hit of flavor will work great for any festive party you hold or attend in the upcoming season! Christmas canapés can be of the sweet or savory variety, and depending on the kind of tooth you have, make as many of each as you like.

No matter what ingredients you’ve currently got in the house, there’s a good chance you’ve got the makings of a good Christmas canapé recipe all ready to go. Got some cheese in the fridge? Perfect. Got a bit of cauliflower in the bottom drawer? Even better. Or maybe you’ve got some frozen cranberries leftover from the summer? Put them to good use here!

There are a lot of foods you can layout at a festive party, but some are going to work better than others. If you're really trying to set the atmosphere, make sure you follow recipes like the ones we’ve listed above! The amount of effort you put in here will be paid back tenfold by anyone who comes along to your party, so there is no love lost here!

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Christmas Jars In theaters Nov. 4, ONE NIGHT ONLY! Review and Giveaway #ChristmasJarsL3

Disclosure:  We watched a screener copy of this DVD to facilitate our honest and unbiased review.  All thoughts and opinions are those of the Shelly's Bits and Pieces family.  All prizes will be fulfilled by the sponsor.

When I looked at my calendar, I realized that Christmas is just around the corner,  This year will be harder for our family since we lost our 91-year-old matriarch, my grandma, on August 28th.  My grandma loved Christmas more than anyone I have ever met, and I can honestly say that she passed her love of Christmas to me.  I am one of those people who can listen to Christmas music and watch Christmas movies year-round!  With that being said, I am lucky enough to have viewed a new movie that is coming for one night ONLY in theaters!  Christmas Jars will be in selected theaters on NOVEMBER 4, 2019 ONLY!

About Christmas Jars:

Based on the beloved novel by Jason F. Wright, CHRISTMAS JARS shares the story of Hope Jensen, a reporter who uncovers the remarkable secret behind a holiday phenomenon: money-filled glass jars anonymously given to people in need. The New York Times bestseller has created a new holiday tradition that has changed the lives of people in their time of need, all over the country. CHRISTMAS JARS is a one-night movie event that provides hope to all as we enter this special season. In theaters Monday, November 4 only, CHRISTMAS JARS is a heartfelt reminder that kindness truly is contagious.

Check out this movie trailer:

My thoughts:

This movie touched my heart in so many ways.  It deals with adoption, loss, giving, and most of all LOVE!  I loved the movie from beginning to end and there were times when I was crying.  When my brother and I were small, we started Christmas Jars around September and we would use the money we saved to buy Christmas gifts.  That was the original idea of the family who started the jars, but thanks to the kindness in their daughter's heart, that idea morphed into so much more.  Instead of buying gifts for their family, that money became a gift for someone in need!  Such a blessing.  I will gladly recommend this movie to everyone.  Whether you are a believer or not, this movie will touch your heart.

Check out the website for CHRISTMAS JARS by clicking here.  You can buy your tickets, watch movie trailers and snippets, and learn even more about the movie on their website.  Start your holiday season out with a heartwarming movie event!  Remember, CHRISTMAS JARS will be in theaters Nov. 4, 2019 for ONE NIGHT ONLY!


We are giving away a DVD copy of this wonderful movie!  Simply enter on the rafflecopter form below and you could own your own copy!  This movie might start a tradition that you will love forever!

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Comforting Dishes To Serve On Cold Winter Nights

Is there anything more comforting on a cold winter night than a tasty warm dish? Herbs and spices can really help to warm us up on a night where the temperature drops below freezing - take a look at the comforting dishes below for a few ideas:


Chili is a great dish because you can make it to your own tastes. It can be mildly spicy, or you can add lots of different spices for a real kick. It all depends on your tastes. Plus, you can use Quorn mince if you’re trying to cut down on animal products. The vegetarian version is just as yummy!


There are all kinds of curries you can go for depending on your mood. Whatever you choose, there’s no denying that this is a dish sure to warm your bones on a freezing cold night. Whether you can only handle a tikka or you’re brave enough to go for a bhuna, this could be the ideal comfort dish.

Mac And Cheese

Is there anything more comforting and filling than mac and cheese? If you love gooey, cheesy dishes then this one is for you. All you need to do is add your pasta, various cheeses of your choice, milk, and herbs to your pan or slow cooker and you’ll have a delicious meal in no time.


Who doesn’t love a hearty stew? You could even throw in some dumplings for good measure! If you’d like to feel extra warm and snug, look at the best red wine facts and see if you can figure out what drink goes best with your dish. You’ll hardly notice the cold at all!


Soup is always a winner, and the perfect excuse to use seasonal vegetables such as pumpkins. The wonderful thing about pumpkin soup is that you can add as much or as little spice as you like, as well as lots of coconut. Then, you can spray the seeds with oil and roast them in the oven, before sprinkling with salt. They make the perfect soup topping or snack!

Slow Cooker Minestrone

This vegetable-packed soup is usually also dotted with pasta to make a wholesome and nutritious meal. You can also add croutons for a satisfying crunch.


You can’t forget the deserts! Brownies are one of the most delicious and gooey treats straight out of the slow cooker. Try it!

Better yet, all of the above dishes can be made in the slow cooker - yep, even mac and cheese! This means all you have to do is throw your chosen ingredients in (you may want to check out a few recipes first if you haven’t made it before) and then leave it to cook all day. You could say that many of the above dishes make themselves! You can leave it there for hours and it’ll be the perfect temperature when you’re ready to eat it. It’s the perfect way to save time and still enjoy a tasty, home cooked meal.

Leave your own ideas below!

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Staying Organized: How To Manage Relatives Far Away

Most people grow up and move away from their family homes in the pursuit of education and experience away from the apron strings of their parents. It’s not unusual that as we settle our own lives away from home, our parents' age and become infirm. Some people move back to their family towns and homes to be closer and look after their parents. Others choose to stay put, having already put down roots elsewhere.

When this happens, it’s ahead and heart tug of war. You want to be able to help, but if you have life pinned down elsewhere, it’s not always easy. However, there are plenty of ways that you can help your relatives to manage their lives, even if you are miles away.

Person Holding a Stress Ball

Providing long-distance elderly care is important for their health and wellbeing, and while you don’t have to be a carer to look after someone that you love, you just need to be informed of the situation at hand. Once you know what they need the most, you can ensure that you are remotely giving them that help. Forgetful relatives could benefit from you setting up a virtual mailbox to manage their incoming and outgoing mail. This way, they don’t have to worry about surprise bills coming into the house that confuse them further. Your elderly relative may not need to go into a care home, but that doesn't mean that they don't need your support.

You could arrange for home caring by a care assistant who can go into the house and look after them in their own surroundings. This service can be a happy medium between avoiding a care home and giving your family members the extra care and support that they need. Ensuring that you can manage their care, pay attention to their finances and pay their bills for them is vital for their health and wellbeing. The best thing that you could do is to ensure that they don't have to worry about the paperwork while they feel supported physically.

A comprehensive care plan - even for social care, such as home visits for companionship - can make a huge difference in the life of someone who lives far away from you. You may not be able to get there all the time and even just having someone to talk to can change the way they feel. It also prevents isolation, which is one of the worst things that could happen to an elderly relative. You may feel guilty for not being able to be there yourself, but it’s not how you should feel. Your parents and family raised you to spread your wings and fly, and they’ll still be happy and proud of you if you still lived far away. You may not have been born to care for elderly relatives, but that doesn't mean that you can’t help where you can.

Keeping their affairs managed keeps them healthy, so help where you can and don’t panic if you can’t be there yourself!

Thursday, October 10, 2019

12 Must-Haves for Your Next Beach Trip with Kids

This is a guest post.  I only share items I think my readers will enjoy.  I hope you like it as much as I do,

Whether you live in a state of travel doers or dreamers, chances are, you’ll make a trip to the beach. There are great beaches along both coasts, and if you’re thinking about Virginia Beach, you should check out this post on why it’s such a great beach.

If you live near the ocean, you’ll probably go often, but if you live in a land-locked state, you probably won’t have as many opportunities. Either way, you’ll want to make sure you’re prepared. Get your car tuned up so it’ll run well for the trip, check that you haven’t missed any important recalls, and finally, make sure and have everything you need at the beach. Here are the 12 essentials you don’t want to forget.

#1 - Sandcastle Building Supplies

No matter how old your kids are, they can get into building a sandcastle. Your whole family can work together to build a masterpiece. This kit has everything you need to get started and is just right for little kids. A couple of extra shovels would be a good idea to bring as shovels are a hot item, and if everyone has their own, there may be less bickering.

#2 - Sand Proof Blanket

Once you use one of these blankets, you will never use an ordinary blanket at the beach again. Instead of being limited to the width of a towel, you will basically get your own small “room” to set up and spread out on with these blankets. The sand won’t stick to it, so it’s your best bet for keeping snacktime grit-free.

#3 - Umbrella

Even those most sun-loving among you will be thankful for the shade of the umbrella on a hot day. If you have little ones, you’ll definitely need that shade to protect their fresh skin from burning.

Things to look for in a beach umbrella are UV protection, wind resistance (beaches are notoriously breezy), and ease of carrying.

#4 - Sun Protection (Sunscreen, Hats, Sunglasses)

This seems obvious, but you’d be surprised by how many people unload from their vehicle excited to feel the sand beneath their feet and then realize they forgot the sunscreen. It’s just not worth it to skip the sunscreen because your family could end up with a week’s worth of agony if they get burned.

Zinc-based sunscreens are effective and provide good protection from the UV rays but won’t load your child’s system up with chemicals.

The sun can burn your skin, but it can also burn your eyes and do long term damage. A hat will shade your eyes, scalp, and face to prevent burning. Remember, though, the beach is often windy, so a chin strap under the hat will help it not to blow away.

Sunglasses will protect your eyes. Your eyes are important, and UV rays can do some major harm, so make sure your sunglasses block out UV rays.

#5 - Water

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! If you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. Make sure each child has a water bottle, and bring another gallon to refill when their bottles are empty.

#6 - Snacks

Have you ever noticed that spending time in water makes you hungry? If you think you have enough snacks packed, throw a few more in just in case!

Some great beach snacks include the following:

  • Pretzels
  • Clementines
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Cookies
  • Carrots
  • Grapes
  • Peanuts

#7 - Chairs

Sure, you could sit on the sand, but you’ll appreciate some back support as the hours fly. Beach chairs are the perfect place to soak up the summer sun, listen to the waves, and keep an eye on your kids.

#8 - Cooler

A cooler tote is lighter and easier to pack, so it makes for a good beach option. If you’re trying to push hydration on your kids, you won’t have much luck if everything is warm. You can keep drinks and snacks cool in it. Make sure you throw some ice in because even the best cooler won’t keep stuff cold on their own after roasting in the sun for a while.

#9 - Music

A waterproof and thus sand-proof speaker is perfect for a day at the beach. Have your kids help you choose a playlist. Then, as they build sandcastles, eat their snacks, and bury each other in the sand, they can sing along to their favorite songs.

#10 - Boogie Board

Riding the waves on a boogie board is one of the best activities to do at the beach. Your kids can learn to catch the waves with the perfect timing to ride them all the way back to the shore. They will be so proud of themselves and want to do it for hours.

#11 - Stand-up Activities (Frisbee, Ball, Kite)

                                                                                                                                                                    Frisbee is a lot of fun at the beach if it’s not too windy. There are lots of air currents, and the frisbee will rise and fall with them. If it is too windy, a softball or baseball will be easier to keep track of.

Running after a ball or a frisbee is a great way to get your heart pumping and let your kids burn off some energy. And, the beach is the perfect location to fly a kite thanks to the steady breeze. Your children will be amazed as they watch it soar high above them.

#12 - Wagon

We’re highlighting 12 things you need to bring to the beach for your family day. If you want to avoid taking 12 trips back and forth to your car (which may be blocks away if it’s the peak season) you need a good beach wagon.

A folding, all-terrain wagon will fit nicely in your trunk and will roll across the sand easily.

There’s something magical about being on the beach and enjoying the long days of summer. Family beach trips will likely be the highlight of your summer. A little planning ahead to get prepared with everything your family will need allows you to stay longer and fully enjoy the adventure!

Melanie Musson is a writer for She lives in the beautiful, landlocked state of Montana, but makes sure her four children get to the ocean for a beach vacation every year.