by Melanie

Toffee Cheesecake Bars

November 28, 2014 in Kitchen by Melanie

Now that Thanksgiving is over, it’s time to think about Christmas treats! But before we get started let me remind you about The 12 Days of Christmas Wish Lists to help you find the perfect gifts for everyone on your list. Find the first day’s wish list HERE and follow the links to find the rest. I love finding the perfect gift for everyone I love.

Now on to the treats. Every Christmas when I was a kid, we would put together plates of treats to give the neighbors. I have fond memories of piling everyone into the car with our hands full of plates, running up to doors and delivering our favorite holiday treats.

christmas-plate

As soon as Steve and I had a family of our own, it seemed only right to carry on the tradition, but of course I couldn’t just fill the plates with the same things year after year. It’s too much fun to try new things and find new family favorites.

Toffee has been and always will be my favorite holiday treat. My dad makes it just like my grandma, and it’s a true labor of love as he singes his eyebrows getting it just right. After the almond-filled toffee sets up, he melts a huge Hershey bar over each side and sprinkles chopped almonds over the whole thing to finish it off. Mm, mmm. My absolute fave.

I always have to have some toffee at Christmas. I don’t live close enough to get some from my dad every Christmas, so on the years I decide to keep my eyebrows and don’t make my own I need another toffee fix. These Toffee Cheesecake bars are just the thing. Not only do I get my toffee fix, but… cheesecake.

Mmm, cheesecake.

toffee-cheesecake-bars


Toffee Cheesecake Bars

Crust:

  • 1 1/4 c flour
  • 1 c powdered sugar
  • 1/2 c cocoa
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 c butter

Filling:

  • 1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 pkg (8 oz) toffee bits, divided

Start with the crust. Combine the flour, powdered sugar, cocoa and baking soda. Cut in the butter until it gets crumbly. Press into a 9×13 baking pan. You don’t need to worry about greasing the pan because 3/4 c butter. Seriously. Toss that in the oven and bake at 350 for 15 minutes.

While your crust is cooking, it’s time to make the filling. In a bowl, beat the cream cheese until it’s fluffy. Then add the milk, eggs, and vanilla. Beat that all together until it’s smooth. Stir in 1 cup of the toffee bits and pour it all over the hot crust. Toss it back in the oven and bake for another 25 minutes, still at 350, until it’s set and the edges just begin to brown.

It’s starting to look amazing, right? Pull it out of the oven and let it cool for 15 minutes. Then sprinkle the rest of the toffee bits (1/2 c) evenly over the top. Let it cool completely and toss it in the fridge for a few hours until it’s cold. Then serve it up or slice it up for your neighbor treat plates.

This is a great treat to make ahead for parties since you can just keep it cold in the fridge and pull it out when you’re ready to wow your guests. And really, what could be better than cheesecake and toffee?? Yum!

What is your favorite Christmas treat? If you’re looking for some new ones to try, I have joined with some fabulous bloggers to share some Christmas goodness today. I see a few I definitely need to try this year. If you find a new favorite, let me know!


by Melanie

The 12 Days of Christmas Wish Lists: Grandparents

November 22, 2014 in Mailbox by Melanie

Today brings us to Day THREE of The 12 Days of Christmas Wish Lists. Don’t forget to check out all 12 Days of Christmas Wish Lists for more help finding the perfect gifts for the ones you love.

  1. Geeks and Gamers
  2. Bloggers
  3. Grandparents

Today is all about Grandparents. Whether you’re looking for a gift for your grandparents or your kids’ grandparents, you can find something they will love on this list.

grandparents


1. e-Reader cover

grandparents_amazoncover

Steve’s parents love their e-readers. I really love real books with real paper pages and that one-of-a-kind book smell. I’m a huge fan of this e-reader cover that combines the look of an old leather-bound book with a high tech e-reader.

2. Family Multi Canvas Prints

iconI love to decorate with family photos, so I love this canvas print photo collage. Family photos full of smiling grandkids filling grandma’s wall = perfect gift. You can use this code PBLS02CANVAS50 to get 50% off all canvas prints through the end of the year.

icon3. Personalized Photo Calendar

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What do grandparents love more than loving on those cute grandkids? Pictures of those cute grandkids! So why not fill a calendar full of family photos and give those grandparents something sweet to look at all year round.

4. Grandma’s cookie jar

grandparents_targetjar

I’m pretty sure it’s a law that grandmas have to have cookies for their grandkids. My grandma always had a huge jar of Oreos on her kitchen counters. As a kid, I just thought that’s what grandmas do. As an adult I realized she kept Oreos on her counter because she didn’t like Oreos. Haha! I love that she chose a cookie she didn’t like so she wasn’t tempted by them all day. I do the same thing with treats for my kids. In fact, I do the same thing with Oreos because I don’t love them and my kids do. Grandma’s cookies need a cute cookie jar like this one!

5. Custom throw

grandparents_personalizedthrow

Turn your favorite family photo into a custom throw. It’s like snuggling up with the grandkids when they can’t be there.

6. USB Turntable

icon
iconBring grandma and grandpa’s record collection into the digital age. Plug this Sony USB Turntableicon into your computer to turn LPs into MP3s. My dad had a record with a song by Ed Ames that was my favorite Christmas song when I was a kid. It’s not your typical radio Christmas song. I have searched everywhere I can think of for a CD or an MP3 of that song and can’t find it anywhere! So my dad pulled out his handy dandy USB turntable and burned me a CD. Now I get to listen to the Ballad of the Christmas Donkey every Christmas. I know, I know. A song about a donkey was my favorite Christmas song? Yep, it sure was. And now that it’s on YouTube, you can enjoy it, too. You’re welcome. :) What was your favorite Christmas song as a kid?

7. Water Wand

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No more bending over and crouching in the dirt to water the garden when you have this telescopic water wandicon. It extends from 36″ to 55″ and has 7 different spray patterns so you can control the flow and water everything just right. And the best part? You turn it on and off with your thumb! I think this is going on my wish list, too…

8. Photo Art

grandparents_minted

Turn your family photos into stunning works of art. To get started, simply click on this link. Find the design you like, mouse over it, and click “shop now.” Select your size, then click “personalize” to add your photos. The hardest part is choosing your favorite design from so many gorgeous choices.

9. Grandkid Mugs

grandparents_personalmug1 grandparents_personalmug2

Personalize these mugs with smiling faces to represent each and every grandchild. That will put an early morning smile on any grandparent’s face. Which mug design to you love? You can click on that image to find it.

10. Book

grandparents_bnbook

I like to imagine I will have all the time in the world to read my growing must-read-books list when I’m a Grandma. It may not be true, but a girl can dream. In the meantime, I share my must-read books with the grandparents. I love stories of goodness no matter the circumstances like this WWII Book.

11. Rules Doormat

icon
iconThis doormaticon cracks me up, mostly because it’s true. Grandparents have their own rules where spoiling the grandkids is completely acceptable. Why not point out exactly where the rules change.

12. Keepsake Journal

grandparents_amazonjournal

Grandparents love to tell their stories, and we love to treasure those stories. Imagine the memories you will create when you work on this keepsake journal together.

What are you getting for your grandparents or your kids’ grandparents this year? Remember you can check out the rest of the wish lists for help finding the gifts you need.

by Melanie

Holiday Gift Guide Giveaway

November 20, 2014 in Mailbox by Melanie

holiday gift guide giveaway

The Holidays are about giving, and this holiday season Bargains with Brittanie, Addicted 2 Savings 4 U, and The Budget Bandit have teamed up with an amazing group of bloggers to put you into the holiday spirit by offering a fantastic Holiday Gift Guide Giveaway! With over $1,800 in prizes and 21 winners, this is a giveaway event you do not want to miss!

I am always grateful for a little extra help with holiday gift ideas, so this year I am excited to be able to share some ideas to help out my fellow holiday shoppers. My 12 Days of Christmas Wish Lists series will help you find gifts for even the trickiest names on your list. You can find the Day One Wish List HERE. In the meantime, enjoy today’s awesome giveaway and great gift guide!

With the holidays in full swing, chances are you are already on the lookout for this year’s most wanted gifts. But what are you going to get for the person who seems to have everything? No matter who you are shopping for this holiday season, this Holiday Gift Guide has great gift ideas for you! Naughty or Nice, you will find the perfect gift at the right price! Many of the products featured are actually being given away below, but first let’s give a huge thanks to our sponsors who helped make this giveaway happen:

| RC Willey | Mohu | Erin Condren | Ninja | Zenni Optical | KISS | Cosmos Creations | Gordmans | Berkshire Blanket | Neater Feeder | Liquidation.com | Aqua Bed Warmer | Pick Your Plum | Tarn-X | Baby Sign Language | 3D Light FX | Lapgear | SportsChocolates.com | iLeesh | Carmex |

Enter the Giveaway!

Giveaway ends December 4th at 11:59pm. It is open to United States Residents only. Winners will be chosen via random.org. All Entries Will Be Verified. Winners will be contacted via email and will have 24 hours to claim prize or a new winner will be chosen. Enter using the widget below. Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I did not receive compensation for participating in this event. This giveaway is sponsored by the companies mentioned above. This blog is not responsible for prize fulfillment or shipment.

 

Check out all 12 Days of Christmas Wish Lists for more help finding the perfect gifts for the ones you love.

  1. Geeks and Gamers
  2. Bloggers
by Melanie

The 12 Days of Christmas Wish Lists: Bloggers

November 20, 2014 in Mailbox by Melanie

On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me… the greatest gifts for bloggers!

I consider myself somewhat of an expert on what bloggers want… or at least what this particular blogger wants. Hopefully Steve will sneak a peek at this list… ;)

This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own.

bloggers


1. Canon PowerShot

blogger_canon

Of course we all want fancy DSLR with a whole arsenal of amazing lenses, but sometimes it’s just not practical to carry around that huge fancy camera. Number one on my wish list this year is a compact camera with awesome features, and the Canon PowerShot SX600 has everything I’m looking for. It even has WiFi so you can share your images straight from your camera! Of course I want it in red, but it’s available in more traditional colors, too. This may just become my new favorite camera. It’s even on sale right now if you hurry! Save $50 Off a PowerShot SX600 HS in Black. Valid til 11/27/14 | or while supplies last. Shop now!

 

2. Jackery Bar

blogger_amazonjackery

There are days when it feels like my phone is permanently welded to my hand. All of that work we do on our phones really drains the battery. A few months ago my mother-in-law bought me this Jackery bar for my birthday, and I am totally in l0ve. This handy little portable charger is even faster than my wall charger when it comes to charging my phone, especially while I’m still using it. I have taken it on vacation, to blogger conferences, and while I’m running around town on errands or picking up the kids. My Jackery has become a must-have item for me.

 

3. Fitbit Flex

blogger_targetfit

As a blogger, I spend a LOT of time sitting – I mean way. too. much. time. sitting – and not nearly enough time sleeping. I love this Fitbit Flex Wireless Tracker for tracking activity and sleeping. During the day, it tracks steps, distance, and calories. At night, it monitors your sleep cycle and wakes you in the morning. The lights indicate how you’re doing at reaching your personal goal. While it’s kind of sad that I need a reminder to get up and move or stop working and go to sleep, it’s just reality.

 

4. Craft Table

blogger_walmartdesk

Creating a perfect office work space is something I’m still working on, and this craft table is going on my list of things I want in my office. I love all the nooks and crannies to hold all the stuff I need daily, along with the HUGE work space that isn’t cluttered because everything is stored away in the nooks and crannies. Love, love, love.

 

5. Mixing Bowls

blogger_wayfairbowls

Is it weird that I’m totally addicted to mixing bowls? As a blogger who often posts recipes, I love to have cute dishes to use in my posts, but I also just love to buy any cute bowl I see, regardless of whether it will have a place or a purpose. These retro mixing bowls may just end up under my tree this year – To: Melanie, From: Melanie.

 

6. Laptop Tote

blogger_ebags

I’m also a sucker for a great bag. I have been known to buy things I don’t really need just for the free tote that comes with it. I know, I know… I’m a sucker. This adorable laptop tote, however, does not make me a sucker because it really is a great bag for a blogger. It has plenty of space for a laptop, camera (especially if you get that awesome compact Canon), phone, charger (I never leave home without my Jackery), and more! It’s sturdy, cute, and gets great reviews.

 

7. Smart Pen

icon

I am a paper and pen girl at heart, but I love the convenience and portability of fancy tech. I feel like I carry my entire brain around in my smart phone. This Livescribe Smart Pen combines the best of both worlds for me. I can scribble my lists on paper and this pen makes them magically appear on my apple device screen. Ok, it’s not exactly magic, but it is some awesome tech. And no more silly auto-correct nonsense.

 

8. Olloclip

blogger_thinkgeekclip

 

So many times we wish we could do more with our smartphone cameras. The Olloclip is the answer for iPhone users! Just slide it over your camera’s lens and you’ve got a fisheye, wide-angle, and 2 macro lenses to help you take amazing photos and videos. The storage bag even doubles as a cleaning cloth. How’s that for convenience?

 

9. Light Box

blogger_wayfairlightbox

One of the biggest issues for bloggers is finding the perfect light to take amazing photos. Natural light is the best, but when that’s not an option, a light box is a great solution. You can find tutorials online to make your own, but this light box cube from Wayfair is all ready to go and a great price!

 

10. Cake Stands

474645_474646_474647_SCALLOPED_MTL_PDSTL_ST_IVORY_FAMILY_V1

I love cute props to showcase my recipes, and I absolutely love cake stands. I would love these Ivory Scalloped Cake Stands. I’m picturing a chocolate silk pie sitting on that stand right now….  mmmmm.

 

11. Reclaimed Pallet

blogger_homedepotpallet

From photo backdrops and crafts to DIY furniture and storage solutions, there are so many uses for reclaimed pallets. I have so many things I want to do with reclaimed wood, but I’ve never know where to find some when I don’t have an old barn or wood fence falling apart on my property. Who knew The Home Depot was the answer? Order a few and get free shipping, too!

 

12. Hobby to Hot Bundle

blogger_hobbybundle

I blog because I love what I do. Forty Eighteen is all about home and nurturing family whether through food, service, work, teaching values, or spending time together. That’s my whole life, and I am passionate about it. I love to write all about it and share that passion. But it’s also nice to be able to help support my family and make all that nurturing possible. Bonnie at Hobby to Hot teaches bloggers how to take their blog from a hobby to a business. If your blogger wants to learn how to take their blog to the next level with this amazing course – that really works – at an amazing price, you won’t want to miss this Hobby to Hot Black Friday Bundle.

 

Check out all 12 Days of Christmas Wish Lists for more help finding the perfect gifts for the ones you love.

  1. Geeks and Gamers
  2. Bloggers
  3. Grandparents
by Melanie

The 12 Days of Christmas Wish Lists: geeks and gamers

November 18, 2014 in Mailbox by Melanie

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me…. doesn’t it seem like that song never ends? And who gives their true love drummers, dancers, and birds anyway? How about we make that song a little more useful??? Turn it into The 12 Days of Christmas Wish Lists, and it’s a good thing it seems to go on forever.

Welcome to day one of The 12 Days of Christmas Wish Lists! Today is all about geeks and gamers. We’re starting here because some of my very favorite people are geeks and gamers – including my true love – and I know what they love.

This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own.

geeksandgamers


1. Once Upon a Tee

geek_onceuponatee

You can find the ultimate geek shirts at Once Upon a Tee. They have so many fun designs! In fact, most of Beth’s Christmas wish list was made up of her favorite fandom shirts. We especially love the creative designs that combine several of our favorite fandoms. My favorite geeks drool over these shirts.

 

2. Video Game Bundle

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icon

More games = more fun. Cheap games = more awesome! I love these video game bundles at Walmart. You can get 2 or 3 or even 4 games for less than $25! Of course, most of the cheap games are a little older and not the hottest new releases, but we have found some fun family favorites in these collections. Free shipping is available for orders over $50.

 

3. Classic Nintendo shirt

geek_amazonnesshirt

Old school gamers will love this Classically Trained shirt, remembering the days of blowing in the cartridge when it wouldn’t play just right and the ultimate triumph of rescusing the princess only to find out the real princess was in another castle! My big brother’s best friend always let me play Super Mario Bros with them. I thought he was the nicest guy ever, but looking back I realize it was probably because I always managed to run right into the first goomba and die. My turn lasted about 2 seconds, and then they went on to win the game.

 

4. Gaming Headphones

geek_headphones

Every serious gamer needs a great pair of headphones. According to Steve, he plays so much better when he has some serious headphones because he can hear enemies coming up behind him that he can’t hear otherwise. Apparently good headphones like these PLYR2 from Skullcandy can save your life. And you can get free shipping with no minimum and no code!

 

5. Gamer Chair

geek_target

 

Everybody needs a little place to call their own, right? This Boom Chair A44 gamer chair puts your gamer right in the middle of the games, music, and movies they love. With interactive vibration motors, 2-way speakers, adjustable headrest, and storage pockets, this comfy chair will make your gamer feel right at home. And it even folds for storage! It easily hooks up to any video game system, DVD or DVD players, or any portable MP3 device.

 

6. Game Over Mug

geek_thinkgeekmug

There’s nothing like a heat activated mug to tell you when it’s time for a refill. Right now you can get free shipping with no minimum order  at Think Geek when you use this code: USPACK.

 

7. SQL query shirt

geek_sqlshirt

Everyone I know who works in IT loves these programming shirts from Think Geek. It’s always fun for us non-IT types to figure out what they mean… and that’s so much of what makes it fun for the IT geeks. Remember to use your free shipping code: USPACK.

8. Superhero Socks

geek_amazonsocks

Dress up your feet like your favorite superheroes with these superhero socks. And they have capes. ‘Nuff said.

 

9. Light Saber Chopsticks

geek_thinkgeeksabers

What makes Asian food even better? Eating with light sabers: an elegant utensil for a more civilized age. “Don’t play with your food” simply does not apply here. Another chance to use the free shipping code: USPACK.

I’m a geek who loves to cook, so trying to choose just one kitchen geek gadget was not easy. Tardis apron? R2-D2 measuring cups? Spock oven mits? What would you choose? You can see the whole kitchen collection at Think Geek here.

 

10. Rock Paper Scissors Lizzard Spock Game

geek_thinkgeekgame

Watching Sheldon explain Rock Paper Scissors Lizzard Spock has to be one of my favorite Big Bang Theory scenes of all time. Now there’s a dice version! This set includes 7 dice in your favorite colors – like grape-ity purple – and a handy dandy bag that not only holds the dice but also draws out the order of things in a handy diagram. This Big Bang Theory Clue game looks like a hoot, to0. And you can use the free shipping code USPACK. I love free shipping.

 

11. XBox One Controller Charger
icon

icon

iconI get so tired of buying package after package of batteries. I love using chargers for game controllers. This Insignia Charge and Play icon even charges your XBox One controller while you’re playing. What gamer doesn’t love an endless supply of power?

 

12. Steven Spielberg: A Retrospective

geeks_spielberg

Geeks love Steven Spielberg. That’s just a fact. So this coffee table book would be a hit with any Spielberg-loving geek.

 

Check out all 12 Days of Christmas Wish Lists for more help finding the perfect gifts for the ones you love.

  1. Geeks and Gamers
  2. Bloggers
  3. Grandparents
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