A Season of Giving | Balsam Hill Donates to Point Hope

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Christmas is one of the best times of year to lend a helping hand to those in need. In keeping with the spirit of the season, and on behalf of Point Hope, I'm thrilled to partner with Balsam Hill, a company that is not only the leading provider of premium realistic artificial trees, but also one that places high value on giving back to the community.

This December 7 through January 8, Balsam Hill will be launching its annual “A Season of Giving” philanthropic campaign. For each engagement on campaign-related posts social media, they will be matching with a donation for five participating charitable organizations while encouraging others to help spread awareness about each worthy cause.

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The participating charities include; the Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Idaho, JDRF of Minnesota, Enchanted Makeovers, Point Hope, and Reba’s Ranch House, with each to be featured on the Balsam Hill Facebook page, blog, and Philanthropy page.

Every share, comment, or Facebook reaction is equivalent to a dollar amount, and Balsam Hill will tally all the engagements and donate corresponding funds to each organization.

This is not the first giving campaign where Balsam Hill has made Point Hope a benefactor of their philanthropic work. I can't express my gratitude to Balsam Hill, and all the really beautiful and giving people within the organization for inviting us to participate in their "A Season of Giving" campaign.

Please help spread the word and join us in supporting Point Hope and their mission to be a voice for forgotten children.

Visit the Point Hope page, and Balsam Hill's blog and Facebook page to learn more!

Recipes | Better with Borden® Cheese

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Get all the delicious recipes from Borden® Cheese HERE

My awesome sponsor, Borden® Cheese, is THE place to go for the most incredible, cheesy recipes! They generously send me selections to share with you in my newsletter, and here on my web page, and have dozens more on their site www.BordenCheese.com.

Take a look and see how these might fit into your winter meal planning and make sure to visit Borden® Cheese for more gooey goodness!


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Cheesy Sausage Vegetable Soup

This hearty meat,vegetable and cheeeeezy soup, looks especially satisfying for a cold and crisp, (or more likely wet and dreary,) day. I'll try it if you will!

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 lb. sausage links, cut into ½ inch-thick slices
  • 2 large yellow onions, chopped
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 lbs. zucchini, diced
  • 4 to 5 large carrots, cut into thin slices
  • 2 tbsp. Borden® Butter
  • 3 tbsp. flour
  • 2 cans (12 oz. each) chicken or beef broth
  • 1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk
  • 1½ cups Borden® Cheese Finely Shredded Mild Cheddar Shreds

Directions:

  1. HEAT oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add sausage; cook and stir until browned. Remove sausage from skillet and keep warm. Add onions and garlic to skillet and cook until onions are tender. Stir in zucchini and carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, until the carrots are crisp-tender; set aside.
  2. MELT butter in a large saucepan. Whisk in flour until it forms a paste. Add the broth a little at a time, whisking after each addition until the mixture is smooth. Bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and stir in the evaporated milk and 1 cup cheese. Continue cooking, stirring continuously, until the cheese has melted. Stir in the reserved sausage and vegetable mixture.  
  3. TOP with remaining ½ cup cheese before serving.
  4. VARIATIONS:
    Add 1 head of chopped cabbage; or add 2 bunches of torn Swiss chard, torn spinach into the soup when you stir in the cheese.

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Cheesy Flatbread Pizza

MmMm! I'm all about this recipe! Perfect for every holiday get-together, there won't be a cheesy slice left! Visit Borden® Cheese for more fantasically cheesy recipes and ideas!

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil, plus a small amount for brushing
  • 1 pkg. (8 oz.) Borden® Cheese Mild Cheddar Shreds
  • 8 strips thick sliced bacon, cooked crisp and broken into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 whole garlic cloves, sliced
  • 4 plum tomatoes, sliced
  • ½ red onion, cut in strips
  • ¼ cup chopped Italian parsley

Directions:

  1. PREHEAT oven to 400°F.
  2. BRUSH the bread with a small amount of olive oil and place on cookie sheet. Spread 1½ cups cheese evenly around the bread. Top evenly with bacon pieces.
  3. HEAT 1 tbsp. olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat until hot. Add the sliced garlic cloves and sauté until lightly browned. Sprinkle onto the pizza. Arrange sliced tomatoes and red onions over the pizza.
  4. ADD parsley to the remaining ½ cup cheese and spread over other ingredients.
  5. BAKE for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted. Cut into squares and serve immediately.  Garnish with fresh basil leaves, if desired.

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Elsie's Mac and Cheese

Oh my word has it been windy at the farm! The kids are blowing in from school, cold and hungry! Absolutely nothing does the trick this time of year better than (my) original comfort food, mac'n cheese!

And Elsie's Mac and Cheese from Borden® Cheese is THE best! Warm, and smooth, and oh-so-cheesy, it's like a big, delicious hug!


Ingredients:

  • 1½ cups Borden® Cheese Triple Cheddar Shreds
  • 1 cup Borden® Cheese Colby & Monterey Jack Shreds
  • 2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni noodles
  • 2 tbsp. Borden® butter
  • 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup Borden® Vitamin D Milk
  • 1 cup Borden® Half & Half
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper (or to taste)
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • Salt to taste

Directions:

  1. PREHEAT oven to 350°F.  Spray a 1½-quart casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray. Combine cheeses in a medium bowl and set aside.
  2. COOK macaroni in boiling salted water according to package directions; drain well and set aside.
  3. MEANWHILE, melt butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Blend in flour, stirring constantly, until smooth and bubbly. Gradually whisk in milk and half & half. Stir constantly, until mixture boils and thickens (about 2 to 3 minutes). Remove from heat and add cayenne and black peppers, and 2 cups of the reserved cheese mixture; stir until cheese is melted and sauce is smooth.
  4. STIR cooked macaroni into the sauce and season to taste. Place in the prepared casserole dish. Top with remaining ½ cup of cheese and dot with additional butter, if desired. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until heated through and lightly browned.

And don't feed it all to the kids, us parents need some cheesy comfort too!

Get more delicious recipes from Borden® Cheese HERE

A SIMPLIFIED LIFE | DECEMBER BOOK CLUB

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I speak to you about finding your serenity often. The holidays are the most trying of times to do this, and yet, if you are to "survive" them, or at least come out in the New Year relatively unscathed by the craziness of the months preceding, serenity (sanity!) is exactly what you must find!

Enter my December Book Club pick, A Simplified Life: Tactical Tools for Intentional Living, by Emily Ley.

For those of you longing to simplify the demands on your time, energy, and resources, those with complicated responsibilities, overwhelming to-do lists, and endless clutter that leaves you feeling overwhelmed, THIS is the resource you've been looking for.

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Busy wife, mom, entrepreneur, and bestselling author Emily Ley knows how you feel. With a growing family, increased work demands, and more, she understands the struggle it is to keep the plates spinning.

In A Simplified Life, you’ll find Emily’s strategies, systems, and methods for permanently clearing the clutter, organizing your priorities, and living intentionally in 10 key areas—from your home and meal planning, to style and finances, parenting, faith life, and moreEmily will show you how to truly make the most of your days with realistic, achievable, and tactical tools.

If you can’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of anyone else!

Walk alongside Emily through each page of the book, working through her simple strategies toward your own goals as you simplify and make space for what matters most.

Know other busy, hassled, and harried folks striving to "do it all?" What a nice little gift for company, book club, coffee klatch, or church group gift exchanges! A great stocking stuffer... might I suggest the PERFECT gift to give oneself? The gift of A Simplified Life!

A Few of My Favorite Things | New Christmas Music!

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Here comes Santa Claus with his sleigh full of musical gifts!

There are so many great Christmas albums out this year, and I'll be playing selections from each on the air.  Here's a sampling of some of my favorites:

 

Five For Fighting | Christmas Where You Are

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Five For Fighting's new single, Christmas Where You Are, ft. Jim Brickman is special. Very special. Exceptionally special. Why? It honors our troops. Those whom I am so dearly fond of, who stand up and say "I will" protect our country, protect our people, protect our freedoms. These are the same men and women who very often find themselves separated from family and loved ones at Christmas and other holidays. 

Listen to Christmas Where You Are.
(But grab a tissue before you do!)

BUY THE SINGLE


for King & Country | Christmas, LIVE from Phoenix. 

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If you don't know about for KING & COUNTRY, you should! This incredibly famous Christian pop duo, who credit U2, OneRepublic, the Beatles and Goo Goo Dolls as influences, have an awesome sound. Their version of The Little Drummer Boy is unique and amazing! A great stocking stuffer for music lovers on your list.  Available now everywhere.

LISTEN to Little Drummer Boy

BUY THE ALBUM


Holidays Rule | Volume 2  

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Collaboration is a beautiful thing. Especially so when it comes to great artists and lovely music! A new album from Capitol records, Holidays Rule, Volume 2, is today’s artists with wonderfully fresh takes on holiday classics. A joyful and diverse collection of seasonal music featuring an array of superstars including Paul McCartney with his spirited new version of Wonderful Christmastime featuring, Jimmy Fallon and The Roots! Interested now, aren't you?! 

BUY THE ALBUM


Lindsey Stirling | Warmer in the Winter

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Do you remember when dancer/performance artist/violinist, Lindsey Stirling, visited the farm earlier this year? She was so delightful and while she was there, became a 'mother' to a brand new baby goat we named "Stirling" in her honor! Lindsey has a new holiday CD, Warmer In The Winter.

The album features renditions of holiday classics like Jingle Bells, the gorgeous Angels We Have Heard On High, and a playful You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch. And, on her newly penned original, Christmas C'Mon she teams up with guest vocalist, Becky G!!

You can catch Lindsey on tour by following this link:  TOUR

BUY THE ALBUM


Pentatonix | A Pentatonix Christmas Deluxe

Take one listen to Away in a Manger and you'll know that Pentatonix has done it yet again. The incredible harmonies and sound effects that define this group is still hauntingly beautiful. I could listen to them all day and all night! The new Deluxe album features Jennifer Hudson on How Great Thou Art.

Don't miss their holiday special, Monday, November 27th at 10pm ET/PT on NBC! 

BUY THE ALBUM


SIA | Every Day is Christmas

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The fun and talented Sia gifts us with her brand new holiday album, Every Day is Christmas! For those who crave a little new with all the old classics, this is the album for you. SIA has written and composed  modern-day holiday songs that will be the next generations classics like Santa’s Coming For Us, Candy Cane Lane, Sunshine, and the so-adorable-it-can’t-be-real, Puppies Are Forever. 

BUY THE ALBUM


Train | Christmas in Tahoe DELUXE

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One of my favorite bands is back this year with a DELUXE version of their holiday album Christmas in Tahoe. With 17 tracks on the album, there are old and new favorites.

Run Run Rudolph and Blue Christmas, This Christmas, and Shake up Christmas are all included as well as bonus tracks like, Please Come Home for Christmas.

Put a little Christmas Train under your tree!

BUY THE ALBUM

 


Trolls | Trolls Holiday  

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Troll lo lo lo lo, lo lo, lo lo... Trolls are back this sparkling season with a brand new holiday album and TV show, Trolls Holiday. The seven-track album features musical performances from the entire cast. The gang is all back including Anna Kendrick as Poppy, Justin Timberlake as Branch, and Zooey Deschanel as Bridget. Trolls Holiday is available everywhere right now!

LISTEN TO CLIPS &
BUY THE ALUBM

Trolls Holiday, the showwill premiere Friday, November 24th, on NBC.

WONDER | November Book Club

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WONDER | November Book Club
by R.J. Palacio
Now a major motion picture

WATCH THE TRAILER

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If they are going to start making movies like this, we are going to have to replace our definition of Real - vs - Hollywood.

WONDER, the movie, is based on the New York Times bestseller of the same name by R.J. Palacio. It is the story of an ordinary boy born into an unordinary body; one with facial differences that required multiple surgeries and kept him out of mainstream school settings until now.

When Auggie enters the %th grade at Beacher Prep, he becomes the most unlikely of heroes as his new classmates, and the community at large, struggle to find their compassion and acceptance. Auggie's extraordinary journey unites the community and proves that,

“You can’t blend in when you were born to stand out.”

WONDER will be in theaters on November 17th. It has a fantastic cast starring many of my favorites; Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, Jacob Tremblay, Mandy Patinkin, Daveed Diggs and Izabela Vidovic. 

Hollywood just got real.  

BUY THE BOOK

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From Tricks to Tinsel, Mantle Makeover Giveaway with Balsam Hill

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Balsam Hill approached me this year with the idea of giving away some quality, realistic foliage that will take your mantle from Halloween through New Year's by swapping out a variety of accessories and timely seasonal pieces. Wreath, garland, candles and candle sticks can remain in place looking splendid throughout.

We paired up on "From Tricks to Tinsel, Mantle Make-Over Sweepstakes" where you can enter to win:

A White Berry Cypress Wreath and Garland (pre-lit,)
Set of 3 Faux Bois candle sticks in walnut, and
Three Miracle Flame Wax Pillar Candles.
Arms Full of Love, book by Delilah
Autographed photo of Delilah

Check out the inspiration photos at top to see how you might integrate your win with other fabulous Balsam Hill items to create a mantle that says WOW (or meow - your choice!)

Balsam Hill is the leader in realistic artificial Christmas Trees, beautiful spring florals and fall decor. Be sure to check out all their quality offerings at BalsamHill.com.

ENTER THE SWEEPSTAKES NOW

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