Mini Pumpkin Muffin Recipe

This recipe may be a fan favorite for the fall but I am 100% addicted to pumpkin muffins and enjoy them all year around. They are easy to grab for breakfast on your way out the door. I used to pack a bag of 3 mini muffins in my backpack as a snack throughout the day at school. If you are wondering if they taste very much like pumpkin, they do not really! The flavor of the pumpkin is very subtle in these muffins but it is the secret ingredient that keeps the muffins from drying out for a long time after baking them. Another tip, if the batch is too large for you to eat alone, you can freeze half of them for later and they will taste just as great!

Here is what you will need for this recipe:

  • 2 mini muffin baking sheets and liners
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 3 cups of flour
  • 2 tsp of baking soda
  • 2 tsp of baking powder
  • 1 tsp of ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 16 oz can of pumpkin
  • 1 cup of oil
  • 4 eggs

Step 1

In a large mixing bowl combine your dry ingredients. This includes the sugar, flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.

Step 2

In the same bowl, add your pumpkin, oil and eggs. Mix with a hand mixer until smooth.

Step 3

Fold in your chocolate chips with a spatula or large spoon.

Step 4

Line your mini muffin baking sheet with paper liners. Then scoop the pumpkin muffin batter into the tray. I use a small cookie scoop to keep my muffins about the same size and because the scoop removes the batter very smoothly.

Step 5

Bay at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until the tops of the muffins have begun to turn golden brown.

Now you can enjoy your muffins! We store them in plastic snack bags. 3 little muffins fit in each snack bag. This packaging prevents me from eating a whole tub of muffins in one sitting.

Cowboy Caviar Recipe – Party Appetizer

The name of this dish scared me away from it for many years but I am officially hooked on Cowboy Caviar (don’t worry there are no fish involved in this recipe)! The dish is easy to make, but you should prepare it 1 day in advance if you plan to bring it to a party or munch on it all day at a tailgate because the flavor of the dip is absorbed over night. It keeps well in the fridge for over a week and is a protein filled snack to have around the house and enjoy with chips.

Here are the ingredients you will need:

  1. ½ cup of Oil (Olive oil, vegetable or canola oil will work)
  2. 1 ½ cup of Apple Cider Vinegar
  3. 1 tsp of Black Pepper
  4. 2 cups of Sugar
  5. 1 Tbsp of water
  6. 1 can of Black Beans
  7. 1 can of Garbanzo Beans (ChickPeas)
  8. 1 can of Shoepeg Corn
  9. 1 can of Blackeyed Peas
  10. 1 small jar of diced Pimiento Peppers
  11. ½  Red Bell Pepper
  12. 1 Green Bell Pepper
  13. ½ Large Red Onion or 1 Small Red Onion

Step 1:

Make your dressing/base. To do this you will need to combine the oil, vinegar, black pepper, sugar and water in a large saucepan. Bring the sauce to a boil. When you first turn on the burner, you should stir the ingredients until the sugar has mostly dissolved. Once the sugar has dissolved you can decrease your stirring to every minute or two and bring the sauce to a boil. It should boil for a minute and a half and then you remove the pan from the heat to cool. In Iowa, we place the pan on our snowy deck to speed up the cooling process, haha!

Step 2: 

Chop your veggies. Finely chop the onion and bell peppers (red and green).

Step 3: 

Combine beans and veggies in a large bowl. You should drain and rinse all of the canned beans and peas. Then add these items to a large bowl with your diced veggies. The bowl will now include the black beans, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), shoepeg corn, blackeyed peas, pimento peppers, red bell pepper, green bell pepper, and red onion. Mix together with a large spoon.

Step 4:

Once your dressing/base has cooled, pour it over your mixture of beans and veggies. The dressing should fill just above ingredients, this will add the flavor to them overnight in the fridge. It is important to note that the dip should be drained before being served. When I store this in my fridge for a week, I just scoop out my serving with a spoon that has holes in it so that I do not collect the excess dressing. Storing the dip in the fridge overnight ensures it will taste top notch for your party or gathering! Serve with tortilla chips or Fritos.

If you don’t drain your dip before serving you are going to think “What the hell is this recipe?!” so don’t forget this step. I promise it is delicious! Enjoy this dip throughout the week on your own or use Cowboy Caviar as your secret recipe that gets you invited to every party because of your awesome appetizer!

Christmas Gift List for Men

Gifts Under $20

Sphere Ice Mold for Whiskey ($10)

Dad Jokes Box Calendar for Desk ($13)

What Happened in History Box Calendar ($13)

CodeNames Strategy Game ($15)

Carhartt Winter Gloves ($20)

Beer Chiller Sticks ($20)

Gifts Under $40

Memory Foam House Slippers ($22)

Comfortable Bike Seat ($22)

Noise Cancelling Gaming Headset ($27)

Yeti 30 Oz Tumbler ($30)

JBL Clip 3 Portable Bluetooth Speaker ($30)

Travel Backpack with Charging Port ($30)

Under Armour Gym Shorts ($30)

Practice Putting Green ($33)

Dynamite Hot Sauce Sample Pack ($35)

Dewalt Tool Bag ($35)

Lap Desk for Work from Home ($35)

Genuine Leather Men’s Toiletry Travel Bag ($35)

Secret Hitler a Strategy Game ($35) – 5+ Players

Gifts Above $60

Tailgating Professional Table ($45)

SpikeBall Outdoor Game Set ($59)

Quadcopter Drone With Video and Phone Controller ($65)

Smartphone Sanitizer ($80)

Patagonia Men’s Better Sweater ($82)

More Gift Ideas on my previous Fathers Day Gift Guide Check it out!

Amazon Christmas Gifts for Women

Gifts Under $20

Makeup Brush Set ($9) 

Women’s Beanie ($11) 

Bath Bombs Fun Shapes ($13)

Multilayer Necklace ($15)

Facial Mask Variety Pack ($15)

Inflatable Travel Pillow ($16)

Bluelight Glasses 3-Pack ($17)

Cross Slippers ($18)

Daily Quote Card Deck ($18) 

Panini Maker ($18)

Gifts Under $30

Electric Wine Bottle Opener ($20)

Makeup Eraser WashCloth ($20) 

Lightweight Robe ($26)

Exercise/Yoga Mat ($24)

Silk Satin Pajama Set ($24)

3 Piece Makeup Organizer ($29)

Cupboard/Fridge Organization Bins ($27) 

Cute Mug Set ($27)

Desk Lamp ($26)

Faux Leather Pouf Ottoman ($29)

Gifts Under $50

Capri Blue Candle ($30)

3 Barrel Hair Waver ($31) 

CleverMade Snap Up Basket ($35)

Moscow Mule Mug Set ($40)

3-Piece Purse Set ($42)

Adidas CloudFoam Tennis Shoe ($47)

OXO Pop Containers 5-Piece Set ($50)

Tile 2-Pack ($50)

Instant Pot ($50)

Keurig K-Mini ($50)

Gifts Under $100

Charcuterie Serving Platter ($55)

2021 Planner – Erin Condren ($58)

Fossil Wallet ($58)

Carry on Luggage ($59)

Full Size Weighted Blanket ($61)

Genuine Leather Women’s Backpack Bag ($70) 

Cast Iron Dutch Oven ($70)

Quilt Bedding Set ($81)

Sperry Top Sider Boots ($82)

Apple Airpods ($99)

5-Minute Delicious Asian Salad

I am so excited for you to try this easy to make recipe! It is one of my absolute favorite salads! I cannot take credit for the recipe, this one was passed onto me from my mom and I am now sharing it with you!

Another awesome thing about this salad is because it is cabbage-based, it stores well and doesn’t get soggy for a few days. Typically, I will make this salad for lunch and then later in the night add a chinese chicken to it for a bit of a heavier dinner. Then I will use any leftovers for lunch the next day and it is just as delicious as day-1!

This salad is also delicious as a side with burgers if you are going to a cookout and you were asked to bring a side dish.

Here are the ingredients you will need:

  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 cup salted roasted sunflower seeds
  • 1 package of ramen noodles
  • ⅓ cup of oil
  • ⅓ cup white vinegar
  • ⅓ cup of cane sugar
  • Chopped cabbage (mostly green, some red if you would like). Here are your cabbage options:
    • 1 head green cabbage chopped (I don’t use the core/middle of the cabbage head)
    • ¾ head of green cabbage and ¼ head of red cabbage chopped
    • 1 large bag of shredded cabbage or 2 small bags of shredded cabbage (buying it shredded makes this recipe even easier if you’re looking for a quick lunch option) 

Instructions:

Step 1: Before opening the package, mash your ramen noodles. You will want to break the ramen noodles up very small but do not do this too aggressively or you will pop the bag and your crushed pasta will spill out. You can wrap the package in another ziplock bag if you are worried about it breaking while you crush the noodles.

Step 2: Prepare your dressing. In a small bowl, combine ⅓ cup of sugar, ⅓ cup of oil, and ⅓ cup of white vinegar along with the ramen noodles seasoning packet. Stir well until sugar starts to dissolve. Allow your dressing to sit while you prepare the rest of the salad, this will give the sugar a bit more time to dissolve. 

Step 3: In a large bowl (good for mixing) add your chopped cabbage, 1 cup of salted roasted sunflower seeds, the package of crushed ramen noodles, and 1 cup of sliced almonds.

Step 4: Return to your dressing, give it a few more stirs to make sure the sugar has dissolved then pour the dressing over your large salad bowl and mix until the cabbage is well-coated in dressing.

Step 5 (Optional): Refrigerate for 30+ minutes, stir when you remove. I like to do this step to give the noodles a little time to soften and absorb the dressing, however, you can skip this step if you would like and your ramen noodles will be similar to the texture of a crouton. This is a rare salad that gets better when it has had a little time to sit.

I hope you enjoy this recipe, it takes me about 5 minutes to prepare if I am using pre-chopped cabbage and 10 minutes if I am preparing the cabbage myself so I love to have the ingredients on hand for this recipe!

Yum!

6 Fun Reads – Fall Book Review

I have been so obsessed with my books lately that I haven’t taken a break to share them on Hey Soul Sisters but this week I was talking to a friend about books I have been reading and I realized I had to stop and write about them! I know you’ll find your next fun read in this post. If you are looking for more motivational business books for women rather than non-fiction reads, you could check out my post on Women Empowerment Reads. The books I review below were the ones I loved to take to the pool to relax but also found myself binge-reading them at 1 AM. 

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

I will start with my favorite read of the month, The Rosie Project. The main character of this book, Don, researches genetics and is a peculiar scientist who struggles with social interaction. He resembles Sheldon Cooper from the show ‘Big Bang Theory’ and his unique quirks made me laugh throughout the book. Don is on a mission to find his perfect woman, one who checks all the boxes on a list he has made as part of an experiment. He meets Rosie at the University where he does research. Rosie doesn’t check any of the boxes but needs help with a genetics project of her own! She accepts Don for who he is and helps him loosen up a bit to enjoy life! If you are a sucker for a dorky main character looking for love, this is the book for you!

The Overdue Life of Amy Byler by Kelly Harms

Amy is a mom of two and a librarian at the local high school. She is passionate about her work and never gives herself a break because she is a single mom. That changes when her ex returns unexpectedly for a summer with the kids. Amy’s hilarious best friend (A nun) convinces her to spend her summer in New York and let her husband tend to the kids. She calls this trip her momspringa and has hilarious stories of her adventures in the city. Over the summer she is given the chance to find herself and regain her happiness! If you are looking to live vicariously through Amy as she escapes her normal routine and regains her individuality, then this should be next on your reading list!

One Day in December by Josie Silver

Laurie, the main character of this book, experiences love at first sight through her bus window on her ride home for Christmas. She and her best friend, Sarah, spend a whole year searching the city for the young man she locked eyes with that December day. Laurie is growing lonely and watches Sarah fall in love while she remains single. Their friendship is unshakeable and fun to read their stories throughout this book. They are the type of characters that you can picture yourself enjoying a glass of wine with! When she finally finds the bus stop boy, her timing is extremely unfortunate and there the story unfolds. Everyone would love this book, especially the hopeless romantic!

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

This book was so interesting! Evelyn is depicted as the Marilyn Monroe of her era. A beautiful Hollywood star known for stealing the hearts of men. She is now old and retired and finally ready to share the juicy details of her many relationships to a reporter, Monique, for a big story that will make or break Monique’s career!

I thought this book would be repetitive but it wasn’t at all! It was steamy and kept me itching to read the next chapter! It is fun to read about the movie star life from Evelyn’s perspective. If you like books with a bit of steamy drama, I would highly recommend this book!

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens 

I do not think I have ever seen a book with such amazing Amazon reviews, so I had to read it. It got off to a slow start but the picture that the author had painted of the characters and the marsh while laying out the story had me hooked. This is the story of a young girl, Kya, who was raised in a small shack in the middle of a Marsh, her family was seen as mysterious outcasts by the members of a small town nearby. A few of the locals give Kya a chance and get to know her after much of her family leaves. Kya finds ways to be entrepreneurial and support herself through her unique lifestyle. She even has a few men consider her marsh lifestyle.

The end of this story takes huge twists and turns. The last ¼ of this book you will not be able to put the book down and you are in for a WORLD of surprises. My jaw remained dropped for about 24 hours after finishing this book.

If you like writers who paint pictures with words and throw you for unexpected twists and turns. This would be a fun book for you to read.

The Restaurant by Pamela Kelley

This book was a feel-good read about 3 sisters who inherit an unexpected gift from their grandmother, a restaurant! The only stipulation is that all 3 girls must come together and work in the restaurant for 1 year after living in different cities for most of their adult life. None of them have the skill set needed to manage a restaurant, but with an awesome staff they have a fun time tackling the project together to keep the restaurant in the family name. As a girl who has had the joy of working in the restaurant industry myself, this book caught my attention and kept me smiling.

I hope that you find your next book to read in this post! Please let me know your review if you decide to read one!

Fall Recipe: Creamy Chicken Enchilada Soup

Fall has officially arrived. The weather is cooling off, sweaters are coming out and weekends are spent watching football. There is one other great thing that returns with fall: soup. I love making soup. Soup is filling and full of flavor. It warms you up and it is relatively low calorie. Today I am going to share with you my Creamy Chicken Enchilada Soup recipe. This is a household favorite for us and I will teach you how you can make it mild or spicy based on the ingredients you will use.

Here is what you will need to make 6 servings of the soup:

  • 2 cooked chicken breasts – shredded and lightly seasoned
  • 2 green bell peppers
  • 1 white onion
  • Sliced green onion
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 can of whole black beans
  • 1 can of canned corn (niblets)
  • 1 can of Rotel tomatoes (mild, medium or hot based on your spice preference)
  • 1 can of red enchilada sauce (mild, medium or hot based on your spice preference)
  • ½ cup of cheddar jack cheese
  • 8 oz block or jar of cream cheese (choose the light version if you are trying to make this dish healthy, you can’t really taste a difference)
  • 1 can of chicken broth

Step 1:

Cook, shred and season 2 chicken breasts. Sometimes I cook my chicken in a crock pot throughout the day with chicken broth or if I am in more of a hurry I boil them in a pan until cooked through. To season the chicken I typically use Tony’s seasoning but anything with Mexican flavors will work! 

Step 2:

Dice your white onion and bell peppers. Also slice your green onions and set them aside in a dish.

Step 3:

In a large soup pot add green peppers and white onion along with oil. Mix up these veggies until they are well-coated in oil. Saute on medium until onions are starting to turn clear. Stir occasionally (this should take about 3-5 minutes)

Step 4:

While the onions and peppers are sauteeing you should open all of your cans so they are ready to be added when needed. Drain the corn and black beans of extra liquids. Additionally, measure out 1 ½ cups of chicken broth. You can also open up your cream cheese block packaging.

Step 5:

Add the enchilada sauce and cream cheese to your pot of peppers and onions. Keeping the stove on medium stir until cream cheese melts. It should look something like the following picture (Warning: this photo is not going to look crazy delicious but we are just getting started)

Step 6:

Once the cream cheese has melted you are going to add your black beans, the rotel, the corn and 1 ½ cups of chicken broth.

Step 7:

Stir well and add your ½ cup of cheddar jack cheese. So this is a very dense soup with lots of veggies and beans (it will kind of resemble the thickness of chili) but if the soup seems too thick, keep adding chicken broth ½ cup at a time until it is at a consistency you like.

Step 8:

Now you can  set the stove to medium/low and let your soup cook for 15 minutes. Stir the soup often and continue to add chicken broth if your soup is too thick.

Step 9:

Serve and enjoy! Top your bowl with extra cheddar-jack cheese and the sliced green onions. This recipe should make 6 good-size bowls of soup.

As I mentioned in the ingredients section, you can change the spice level in this soup by choosing the right Rotel and enchilada sauces. I typically use a medium enchilada sauce (must be red) and a hot Rotel can of tomatoes.

I hope you enjoy this soup as much as I do! If I am really hungry, I will eat the soup with a side of tortilla chips and guacomole. It makes for one of my absolute favorite meals! Happy Fall Y’all 🙂

Bedtime Items for Better Sleep

Hello my name is Melanie and I am a pajamaholic. COVID-19 has only enhanced my ability to live in pajamas for the majority of the week. I have more pairs of pajamas than there are days in the week. So I am here to share the wealth and spread the joy. Below are my favorite sleep essentials:

Soma Pajamas – Colder Months – $75 full Set

So a full-set of these pajamas is typically around $75 like the ones I have linked here. This is wayyy out of my pajama budget so my tip for you is to go into the store when the seasons change and they typically have large sale racks. Find the softest pair of jammies you can find and snatch those babies up! I typically find them out 50% off on the sale rack. I have ones that say “Cheers to the New Year” that I bought on January 3rd and those babies were a BARGAIN! I love the ones that have lace along the ankles. I think the lace makes my jammies look a little feminine and not so grandma-style.

Target Summer Pajama Sets – Summer Months – $22 Full Set

Target has awesome pajama sets that are super cute and extremely comfy for the summer months and very cost-friendly. I haven’t tried their full-length version of these pajamas but I plan to this year and will update my post. So far I have never had a long pair of pajamas beat the Soma ones so Target has some tough competition.

Sleep mask (Amazon $10 for 3)

These masks are so soft! The strap is adjustable so it can’t be too tight or loose for your head. The best part is the way the mask lifts up around your eyes. I typically cannot sleep in eye masks but with this bubble around my eyelid, it gives my eyes a little breathing room and I sleep like a baby.

Fuzzy Slippers – $20 on Amazon

I love these slippers and will re-buy these slippers the minute mine wear out because this product is awesome. They are incredibly soft and the fur doesn’t get beaded up or worn down (I have had my pair for a whole year). The bottom of the slipper has a slightly more firm texture so you feel like you can even slip them on for a morning car ride to Starbucks or to take the trash out/grab the mail. They don’t cause you to slip across the floor. These slippers keep my feet warm enough without causing them to overheat or sweat. The best part is they are so cute!

Olay Regenerist Face Lotion – $49 for 2 on Amazon

I have a great mom who started investing in keeping my skin young when I was about 16 years old. For 8 years now I have been regularly using this product and I still love it! If you have a Sam’s Club or Costco membership, you can sometimes find this product for $5-10 cheaper than it is listed here on Amazon. This lotion helps me go to sleep with my skin feeling hydrated. I know that I am investing in long-term skincare results without spending hundreds of dollars on products. One jar lasts me about 2-3 months.

Pillows – $40 for 2 on Amazon

I am not sure that I have ever seen a product with 33,000 reviews on Amazon. My old pillows were horrible so I recently upgraded to the Beckham Pillows and they are awesome! They stay cool. They are plush but the mold to your head when you lay down instead of staying stiff. These pillows have seriously upgraded the quality of my sleep.

Best Bedtime Undies – $14 for 6 on Amazon

I cannot fall asleep with my undies riding up my rear. Maybe that is too much information but you’ve made it almost to the bottom of this post so if I lose you now, oh well. I have talked to women with multiple body types and we all love these undies! They are an amazon essentials product and they feel so great that I love to sleep in them! You should really give these underwear a chance, they are a great price for the value!

I hope that you give some of these great items a chance to change the quality of your sleep! Bedtime products are a form of self-care for me. It is important to help your body get comfortable sleep and I would be happy if my post helps you achieve this in any way!

August Book Review – Women Empowerment Reads

You may not know, but August 26th is National Women’s Equality Day which celebrates the passing of the 19th Amendment (the one where Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and their crew of badass women won our right to vote as females). Perfect timing for this holiday as I just wrapped up my 3rd book written to empower women to establish more equality in the business world. I am excited to share my thoughts on each of the books below and hope it encourages you to read the one that sounds like it would have the largest impact on you today.

Own It by Sallie Krawcheck

Own it by Sallie Krawchek was my absolute favorite read of this month. Sallie’s was known as one of the most powerful women on Wall Street before she started her own company, Ellevest, an investing platform tailored to women. Her deep knowledge of finance and entrepreneurship shine through her stories. Not to mention that Wall Street is incredibly male-dominated so she has overcome her fair share of ridiculous inappropriate workplace behaviors. She uses a huge amount of data-backed statistics in her book which leave you baffled throughout the entire book. For example, I learned that studies show a 63% better investment performance from companies with a female founder, however, companies with female founders still only receive 7% of venture capital dollars. Wow. 

My favorite thing about Sallie’s book is that it is written for women who already feel confident in their abilities but are seeking out more power in the workplace. She points out strengths that are specific to women and how we can use them to create a more equal opportunity world. She also shows us ways to pay it forward for the next generation of women who will succeed us in our workplaces.

Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis

Girl, Stop Apologizing came highly recommended by many friends because I am in the process of starting my own business. Rachel Hollis is a great motivational speaker and writer. This book is perfect for someone who is lacking the motivation to take a leap in their careers or in their health. It is also great for someone battling shame for prioritizing themselves and their own dreams over what others think is right for you. This book was a fun read to me but I didn’t find it very relatable because I don’t feel shame for chasing my own dreams, I am actually proud of it. I also don’t have a husband or children that I need to take into consideration when making large changes in my life. It is perfect for a mom who is looking to pick up her torch and march fearlessly towards her professional dreams that she’s been hesitant to commit to for years.

After reading it, I did feel motivated to clean up some sloppy habits such as my shortage of water intake and waking up feeling behind in the mornings. I also felt more willing to encourage and support other female entrepreneurs who might be facing the challenges addressed in this book. Girl, Stop Apologizing was an easy read and I don’t regret picking it out so I could at least know what all the hype is about. 

#GirlBoss by Sophia Amoruso 

So what is really funny about #GirlBoss is that right after I finished reading it, I moved onto Girl, Stop Apologizing where Rachel Hollis chastised women for using terms like “Girlboss” because it calls out our difference when we are trying to be treated the same as men. I don’t necessarily agree with Rachel Hollis on that point and #GirlBoss’s branding had exploded so much that I was excited to read it. 

Unfortunately, I did not love the book and I felt like most of the lessons it included were things that came as common sense to me after attending business school. I do think that Sophia Amoruso is pretty awesome though because she has remained true to herself through all of her endeavors. I strive to know myself and be as true to my individuality as Sophia is. If you can’t see that through her book, you can certainly see it through the Netflix series Girlboss which is the story of how she launched her first company NastyGal into a major success with absolutely no business experience.

I would recommend this book to creatives who do not have a business background. Otherwise, you likely won’t enjoy #Girlboss but I would still recommend following Sophia Amoruso on LinkedIn and potentially watching Girlboss on Netflix on your Friday night.

Feel-Good Shows to Watch on Netflix

I am all about shows that have 30-minute episodes and leave me feeling happy. I like to laugh at and with the characters while I am on the couch with my popcorn. If you’re looking for a new series to dive into on Netflix, I have shared some of my latest recommendations below.

New Girl – Jess is a Zany teacher who moves into an apartment in LA with three single men. The characters are unconventional and offbeat but after a few episodes you will love the characters of New Girl and their weird adventures. This is a great show you can turn on in the background when you are cooking dinner or cleaning the house and still laugh along with the plot.

Image from: https://www.fox.com/new-girl/

Sweet Magnolias – The only bad thing about this show is that there is only 1 season. This is the story of 3 best friends who are each facing struggles of their own in life but overcome them together and never miss margarita night. The ladies run businesses of their own in a southern small town.

Image from: https://www.glamour.com/story/fun-facts-about-sweet-magnolias

The Good Place – The good place is an interesting show about a young lady who dies and ends up in The Good Place. She soon realizes however that she must’ve gotten off at the wrong train stop because she doesn’t fit in with the nice people in The Good Place and things start going very wrong. It is a funny fantasy show and I love Kristen Bell who plays the main actress.

Image from: https://screenrant.com/good-place-season-5-release-date-story-updates/

Hart of Dixie – Hart of Dixie is about an adorable young Surgeon who’s boss sends her from NYC to Alabama to gain some experience connecting with her patients as a friend. Zoe fits in better than she expected in the small town and slowly builds great relationships.Schitt’s Creek – This is the story of an incredibly wealthy family who loses everything except a beat up old town their dad bought as a prank because of its name, Schitt’s Creek. At the start of the series, the characters seriously struggle to adapt and some of it can be unbelievable but about 3-4 episodes in, they start to adjust and I couldn’t stop laughing about how they make Schitt’s Creek their home and break their expensive habits.

Image from: http://www.popbopshopblog.com/2016/10/stream-hart-dixie-seasons-1-4

Schitt’s Creek – This is the story of an incredibly wealthy family who loses everything except a beat up old town their dad bought as a prank because of its name, Schitt’s Creek. At the start of the series, the characters seriously struggle to adapt and some of it can be unbelievable but about 3-4 episodes in, they start to adjust and I couldn’t stop laughing about how they make Schitt’s Creek their home and break their expensive habits.

Image from: https://www.amny.com/entertainment/schitts-creek-star-dan-levy-ali-forney-center-leaders-among-virtual-lgbtq-pride-march-honorees/

Fun Baby Shower Games – Minute to Win it

Showering an expecting mother with all she needs to be prepared for her new baby’s arrival is a great joy. Planning the shower can be a lot of work and coming up with unique and fun games is always the most challenging task. I recently planned my sister’s baby shower, she is soon to have a little baby boy! We decided to make the games minute-to-win-it style and it was a real hit! I will be sharing the 4 games we played below.

Before I start on the games I wanted to mention the steps we took to make the baby shower more COVID friendly, the expecting mother was especially nervous about the safety of herself and the guests. We made separated bags of chex mix sitting on the tables prior to the food being served. Guests went through a line to get their food but we made dishes that were easy to grab. Slider sandwiches, cheesy potatoes that we pre-portioned in dishes, fruit on skewers, and cupcakes. 

Nothing in the line required serving spoons and the guests were able to move through quickly. We put hand sanitizer on every table. We also asked the guests to wear masks when they were not eating and everyone felt comfortable with that because we had a few guests over the age of 80.

Game 1: Diaper Pong

Each team steps up to the table and has 1 minute to bounce ping pong balls into the diapers to collect points. Then rotate and the team with the highest points is the winner of this game. What you will need: 2 poster boards or 1 tri fold board, wrapping paper, prong pins, ping pong balls (We bought 12), diapers, and points labels

Game 2: Baby Rattle

In this game two teams face off the shake as many gumballs through the rattle as they can in one minute. The host announces the time on the clock in 15 second increments so the team can pass the bottle to their next team member and take a rest. At the end of one minute the two teams set down the bottle to see who has shaken more gumballs through. You can also extend this game past a minute and have the two teams race to move all the gumballs through the rattle. Here is a YouTube video where they race to get all gumballs through the rattle. What you will need: 4 empty two liter bottles, a bag of small gumballs, duck tape. 

Game 4: Snot Bottle

The name may not sound very appealing but this game is a crowd pleaser. Each team nominates two players who race to pick up marshmallows and move them into a baby bottle with just a snot sucker. They have 1 minute to see how many marshmallows they can suck up and drop into the bottle. At the end of 1 minute count how many marshmallows were moved into the bottle and pass the snot suckers onto the next team. The team with the most marshmallows in the bottle is the ultimate winner. What you will need: 2 snot suckers, 1 baby bottle, marshmallows.

Game 3: Diaper Blowout

To play this game you need a couple of diapers and baby onesies. Each team has 3 minutes in this game to change the bear as many times as possible out of their dirty diaper and onesie and into a new one. What you will need: 1 Teddy bear or baby doll, at least 2 diapers and 2 onesies.

Finally, I was able to put a fun twist on the games by coming up with funny team names such as team “Lactating Nipples” or team “Stretch Marks”. The guests found their team on a board I set on our welcome table.

We had 5 teams and 4 minute-to-win-it games which gave us about 40 minutes of game time once you include time to explain the games and rotate the teams through the games. We also had small prize bags for the winning team that included chapstick, a pack of gum and a bath bomb.

Lastly, I wanted to share our party invitations. I purchased them through a site called Zazzle. It was so easy to customize their cards and they often run promotions making the invitations very cost friendly. 

Good luck with your shower planning! Please message me if you have any questions about building these games for your upcoming party. Thank you for reading!

Visiting Manhattan, Kansas

Maybe you are making a trip to Manhattan, Kansas to see your Alma Mater take on K-State. Perhaps, you are hosting a booth at their career fair. Maybe you have heard of the amazing Fake Patty’s Day party and are traveling for a fun weekend of dirties. Whatever your reason may be, I would love to share with you the best spots to eat and drink when visiting MHK. Most of the spots I mention here will be located in Aggieville (Right off the edge of campus this is the college pub central) or downtown (picturesque small-town downtown strip about 7 minutes from campus). At the end of this post I suggest the perfect itinerary for a weekend visit to MHK in case you are looking for me to take the hassle out of your planning.

Rock-A-Belly Deli

I couldn’t start this article with any restaurant besides Rock-A-Belly Deli. I am slightly biased because I worked here for two years but also, Rock-A-Belly has been around for 33 years now and the place is always full of people coming back to visit their favorite bar and have a summer beer on the patio. Rock-A-Belly serves steamed deli sandwiches and chips in a sit-down fashion. Their spinach artichoke dip, homemade hummus and potato salad should not be skipped. Everyone I have ever met loves summer beer, even if you are not a huge beer drinker. Summer beer is beer, vodka, and lemonade and you can add strawberry or pomegranate for some extra refreshing sweetness if you’d like. There is nothing better than a sunny afternoon on the Rock-A-Belly patio with a summer beer. This is also a fun spot for light night drinks with friends. It isn’t set up to be a wild bar with a dance floor but rather, a place where friends sit around a table drinking, chatting and laughing into the late hours of the night. They are famous for their shots called mind-erasers which are made with vodka and coffee liquor.

Taco Lucha (Aggieville)

Taco Lucha is often crowded because of its delicious food and amazing tacos. So you may see people lined up waiting for a seat, but they move the line quickly and it is well-worth the wait. Taco Lucha has a great patio and it has plenty of heaters and there are blankets on every chair which makes the patio an awesome cozy experience for spring, summer or fall. Taco Lucha shares a kitchen with So Long Saloon which shares ownership so both restaurants have the amazing raspberry bean dip appetizer. It might sound gross, and I am a very picky eater, but this bean dip is MHK famous and I am counting down the days until I can have another. Both restaurants are also home to their famous Nancy’s. Nancy’s are beer and pineapple juice mixed together for a light refreshing drink. You can order your Nancy “dirty” if you’d like them to add a shot of vodka” or “pirate” will add a shot of rum. My favorite taco here is the steak slayer, I add guacamole to cool down the spicy peppers, but it is a hot one! Their tacos are served a la carte which is great because you can order based on how hungry you are.

So Long Saloon (Aggieville)

So Long Saloon is on the other side of the Taco Lucha Kitchen but has a totally different menu (besides the bean dip and the Nancy’s). They are known for their peanut butter burger. This is the place in town to get thick juicy burgers, great sandwiches, fried tacos, sliders or my favorite, grilled cheese (with grilled chicken and buffalo sauce). But of course, pair your meal with a Nancy and a Bean dip just as I recommended for Lucha because you will want more than one bean dip during your trip. If you have to put your name in for a short bit at So Long, walk over to Acme gifts or Threads for a quick browse.

The Chef (Downtown)

The Chef in downtown Manhattan is by far the best breakfast in MHK and the perfect place to rejuvenate yourself after a night on the town! This restaurant has a cute diner feel and like most places in Manhattan, the service is great. Everyone can order their favorite breakfast fixings and their Bloody Mary’s are really popular too!

Coco Bolos (Aggieville)

Coco Bolos isn’t your traditional Mexican meal, but you are sure to get the amazing flavors packed into unique dishes. Every Thursday night during college me and my girlfriends would go to Coco Bolos for their $5 Margarita pitchers. On Wednesdays they also do $5 Sangria pitchers if that happens to be the day you are visiting. Their chips and salsa appetizers are very cheap so it is easy to get munching right when you sit down. My favorite thing to order is their soup, they have an amazing pork chili verde that is served with tortillas for dipping. Austin loves their fajita steak sandwich with a side of their tasty taters. Another popular dish are the stacked enchiladas that come loaded in a hot skillet. You are going to want to order everything on their menu. On Sunday mornings they do a special brunch menu which is important to note if you are planning this for your Sunday lunch that you will get a different experience.

Bourbon and Baker (Downtown)

This is a great spot for a cute date night in downtown Manhattan. This Whiskey and Tapas restaurant has amazing food that will have you spending 2-3 hours grazing on their awesome dishes because you order as you go! At Bourbon and Baker, you sit down, order a drink and decide which 1-2 plates you would like to try first. I recommend their chicken and biscuit or chicken and waffles as well as their asparagus and truffle fries. Once you have enjoyed the first two order a few more and keep the drinks coming. It will be sure to be a memorable night with unique food and drink! Another great thing about Bourbon and Baker is because they are not in Aggieville, they often have much shorter wait times for dinner. I certainly recommend this restaurant for dinner over lunch and if you come a bit early you can catch their happy hour.

Yard Bar (Aggieville)

Yard Bar does not serve food to my knowledge, but it is a really fun bar for a group of friends. As their name suggests, Yard Bar is full of yard games such as giant Jenga, bean bags, ladder ball etc. and the games are always on TV. It is a bar that gets full, but not too crazy or trashy which is my favorite kind of place. It is a spot to have fun with friends and enjoy the nice weather.

The Varsity Donut Shop and Varsity Truck (Aggieville)

You can’t write a blog about MHK food and leave out the Varsity Donut truck. On Thursday-Saturday night the donut truck is parked out back of the varsity donut truck in a parking lot. It is the spot to experience a grilled cheese mac n cheese. Oh my gosh, these things cannot be good for you, but they are the BEST way to end an evening of drinking in the Ville. You can add bacon to your grilled cheese if you’d like. They also serve fried donuts, but I would go for the grilled cheese mac n cheese every single time. When my parents would come to town, I took them to the Varsity food truck even if we hadn’t hit the bars and they loved it! If you are trying to locate the truck, direct yourself to coco bolos and you will see it in the parking lot towards the bars. There is also a Varsity Donut shop in Aggieville which is a fun spot to grab a donut in the morning if you are not wanting to plan a full breakfast like the Chef.

The following is the schedule I follow when visiting MHK to maximize my ability to hit all the best spots:

Friday Night – arrive in town and get dinner at So Long Saloon, order a bean dip for an appetizer and a Nancy to drink. Then head over to Yard Bar for some drinks and games with friends. Finish the night drinking on the Rock A Belly Patio if you’re staying out for a bit but I wouldn’t burn yourself out on the first night

Saturday – Wake up early to get breakfast at The Chef downtown. Walk through a few shops like Gatherings at 3 Thirteen which has cute home décor. Most often, visitors are in town for a game or some Saturday event so you may be tailgating this day but if not, head to lunch at Coco Bolos or Rock A Belly Deli based on your mood and see my suggestions above on what to order at each. After lunch take a walk around campus, K-State is an awesome campus and the business building, library and college of architecture have recently been remodeled. You may want to take a brief afternoon rest to gear up for a fun night. For dinner I suggest going to Taco Lucha, expect to have to put your name in and stroll over to Threads or Acme gifts to kill time but don’t be gone too long because the restaurant wait times move fast. I also would suggest going to dinner a little later (7:30 or 8 PM) so that when you are done eating you can move right into enjoying Aggieville. Kites and Tanners are fun places to have drinks with a group if you already tried Yard Bar and of course, I recommend spending your Saturday night drinking at Rock A Belly. The patio is heated, and it is so fun to watch the crowds on Saturday nights while sipping Summer Beers and taking Mind Erasers if you’re feeling more adventurous. Once you have been out for quite a fun night. Stop by the Varsity truck which is right out the patio entrance at Rock A Belly and order a grilled cheese mac n cheese for the perfect end to your fun night.

Sunday Morning – Sunday morning grab a donut from Varsity donut shop in Aggieville and a coffee from Radina’s before you head out of town for the day. You can also rent tandem bicycles from the Varsity Donut shop and ride them around town which is a great Sunday morning adventure.