Riley Heruska
Pin on Pinterest

'Tis the season for non-stop baking! Gingerbread houses, cookies for Santa, pies, fudge, peanut brittle... The list of seasonal treats goes on and on. In search of a few ideas to spice up your usual dessert showcase? Here are a few recipes that play on traditional sweets while adding a fun holiday twist. 

Slow Cooker Hot Chocolate 

Hot chocolate is a staple during December, but have you ever tried to make it with a slow cooker? This recipe from Sally's Baking Addiction will help you create the most decadent, soul-warming hot chocolate ever. Dump some whole milk, heavy cream, sugar, chocolate, cocoa powder, and vanilla into your Crock Pot, then leave everything to simmer. Approximately six hours later, you'll have a delectable liquid treat that can keep the whole family toasty. Who wants to stir in a packet of premade hot cocoa when you can have a batch of thick, homemade goodness? 

Christmas Cookie Dough Dip 

If you really want to take your gingerbread house party to the next level, consider serving this dip. Fluffy and wonderfully creamy, the dip by Dinner at the Zoo goes perfectly with cookies, fruits, pretzels, and other easy snacks. All you'll need is some yogurt, cream cheese, flour, sugar, vanilla, sprinkles, and butter. However, heed this warning: once you start dunking a few gingerbread men into this delicious concoction, you might not be able to stop. 

Gingerbread Cheesecake 

Speaking of gingerbread, let's add a little to an amazing cheesecake recipe! Lindsay from Life, Love and Sugar whipped up a cheesecake that comes with a delicious shortbread crust, gingerbread filling, and a molasses mouse topping. You really couldn't ask for a better holiday twist. Although cheesecakes can be a little difficult to make on your first try, Linday's easy-to-follow recipe will walk you through the process smoothly. 

Candy Cane Crescent Roll

If you want to wow your overnight guests in the morning or plan something special for early Christmas day, this crescent roll breakfast pastry is the way to go. The recipe from 3 Yummy Tummies is full of gooey cream cheese and cherry pie filling, and the festive shape makes the breakfast even more festive. The best part? You can use refrigerated crescent rolls as the base, so this dish only takes fifteen minutes to prepare! 

Eggnog Snickerdoodles 

Snickerdoodles are a common cookie favorite, but why not make them a little more special by adding a splash of a traditional Christmas drink? The added eggnog flavor makes these perfectly chewy snickerdoodles even better, and the recipe from Amy's Healthy Baking is incredibly simple to follow. An added bonus: each cookie is less than 100 calories, so you can indulge without feeling guilty.

Reindeer Rice Krispies 

Rice Krispie Treats are hardly a unique idea, but you can make them a little more Christmas-themed by adding some cute antlers, eyes, and a button nose. Mique from Thirty Handmade Days turned an ordinary batch of plain Rice Krispie Treats into adorable reindeer. Simple, but downright cute and delicious. 

Grinch Popcorn 

Little kids gobble up popcorn on a regular basis, but they'll get a real kick out of this lime-green treat mixed with red M&Ms and marshmallows. The popcorn looks like something straight out of Whoville, and it's the perfect companion for a family viewing of Dr. Suess' How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Nancy from Two Sisters Crafting can show you to mix a bowl quickly and easily. 

Salted Caramel Chocolate Fudge 

Sure, everyone loves a classic chocolate fudge, but why not add an extra layer of mouth-watering salted caramel? The Recipe Critic can show you how to bake a batch quickly, and the yummy fudge squares are sure to win the hearts of all your holiday guests. Stick some in a sealed container and gift it to your neighbors or your children's teachers. Trust me, no one will turn down this addictive treat. 

Riley Heruska
Pin on Pinterest

As cold weather brings us all inside, it's the perfect time to cuddle up with some novels full of holiday cheer. We did a round-up of great seasonal novels for adults recently, and now we want to give you a few ideas for the younger readers in your family. Here are five of the best Christmas-themed novels for young adults: 

Let It Snow: Three Holiday Romances
 by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle 

Three bestselling YA authors have teamed up to weave a few tales of Christmas magic and holiday romance. Each of the tales in Let It Snow is full of heart and charm, and you'll immediately want to cozy up by a fire to devour all of them. The stories are only about 100 pages each, so any young adult reader will gobble up this sweet anthology in no time. 

"The authors share an ironic, idiosyncratic sense of humor that helps bind their stories, each with a slightly different tone and take on love, into one interconnected volume brimming with romance and holiday spirit." - Horn Book 

What Light
 by Jay Asher 

Does the author's name sound familiar? That's because he wrote the famous Thirteen Reasons Why. Now, he tells the story of a young girl, Sierra, whose family runs a Christmas tree farm. When Sierra meets a young man who's made some terrible mistakes in his past, she must learn to forgive what seems unforgivable. Moving and memorable, this romance will leave your heart changed. 

"Charming and sweet, Sierra and Caleb’s budding relationship should suit readers looking for a wintertime romance that’s as cozy (and familiar) as candy canes and gingerbread during the holidays." - Publishers Weekly

Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan 

Lily left a red notebook of challenges in a bookstore in hopes that her perfect boy would eventually pick it up and complete it. When Dash stumbles across the book, he decides to play his own game with Lily. The two teens embark on a journey of self-discovery, friendship, and maybe even a little romance. Their adventures throughout snowy New York will instantly have you dreaming of a white Christmas. 

"The spirit of the season amplifies Dash and Lily’s loneliness and heightens the connection between them, in another surefire hit from the creators of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (2006)." - Courtney Jones from Booklist 

My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by Stephanie Perkins and Others

Bestseller Stephanie Perkins teamed up with twelve other amazing authors to bring you this anthology of holiday specials. Full of romance and heart, these stories celebrate many kinds of winter holidays, from Hannukkah to the Winter Solstice. You'll fall head-over-heels for the cute short tales, and they'll 100 percent leave any young adult reader in the holiday spirit. 

“There's no shortage of cozy setups for holiday romance in this captivating collection of short stories…a rare seasonal treat.” - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

My New Crush Gave to Me by Shani Petroff 

All Charlotte wants for Christmas is to earn the attention of Teo Ortiz, her school's most popular athlete and student. She knows they are meant to be together, but he barely even acknowledges her existence. So, she comes up with a plan, which involves working with Teo's annoying cousin, J.D. Charlie knows she's meant to go to the Christmas ball with Teo, but she can't seem to stop getting stuck with J.D. Cute and sweet as Christmas cookies, this teen novel is the perfect holiday companion. 

"Petroff (Romeo and What’s Her Name, 2017) offers up a frothy, Christmas-themed romance where what’s perfect on paper may not always be what’s right... It’s light as powdered sugar and just as sweet." - Booklist

Do you have other holiday book suggestions for teen readers? Leave suggestions in the comments below!  

Riley Heruska
Pin on Pinterest

So, you got assigned a name for your workplace's Secret Santa party, and you've put shopping off until the last minute. You don't want to resign yourself to another easy but boring gift like a Christmas mug or a gift card, but you're not sure what else to go for. No worries! Here are some great gift ideas that won't cost you much but that will bring a smile to anyone's face, regardless of how well you know them. 

Package of Unique Socks
. Who won't enjoy some Harry Potter or Christmas-themed socks, especially with all of the cold weather hitting Texas lately? 

Cheap Bluetooth Speaker. Ever noticed the $5 ones in the front section of Target? Friends of all ages will find a use for one, especially if they love jamming out to music at their desks or on the go. 

Table-Top Game: 
There's some sort of cheap game for everyone. Look into Prosecco Pong, a small pool table, or a miniature foosball table. 

Cute Little Plant:
 Give your friend a chance to embrace their green thumb with a cactus or succulent. They can survive with fairly small amounts of water, so they'll stay alive for a long time, even if the giftee isn't great with plants. 

Mini-Waffle Maker:
 Did you know you can score one of these cute little appliances for just $18? It's pretty much a no-brainer.

Cozy Blanket:
 Right now plenty of stores are offering great deals on fuzzy blankets, and they're the perfect kind of gift for a cold December party.  

Calendar With a Fun Theme:
 2018 is almost here, and you know what that means: time to open a brand new calendar! 

Quality Waterbottle:
 This might sound boring, but anyone will appreciate an insulated bottle that keeps their drinks icy and refreshing all day. 

Lip Balm:
 I'm not talking about some fruity Smuckers. I'm talking about high-end stuff that will keep both women and men's lips from cracking during this chilly weather. 

Leather Journal:
 The written word isn't dead yet! Give your person a lovely place to jot down important thoughts and lists. 

Luggage Tag Set:
 If you're shopping for an avid traveler, they can never have enough colorful luggage tags to use. Bonus points if you get it personalized for them! 

Pair of Bluetooth Headphones:
 No more tangled cords in their bag, and you won't have to hear them play their tunes on their desktop speakers. 

Funny Flask:
 Whether they enjoy the occasional alcoholic beverage or not, most people will get a kick out of a decorated flask with a witty statement on it. 

Set of Fashionable Coasters:
 No one likes a coffee table with stains on it. 

Phone Mount for a Car:
 With the new no texting while driving law in Texas, everyone should be using one of these so they keep their eyes on the road instead of on their phone in their lap. 

What other great Secret Santa ideas do you have? Let us know in the comments! 

Riley Heruska
Pin on Pinterest

The holidays can take a real toll on your wallet, so sometimes it's nice to engage in a few festivities that don't cost much. Need a few ideas? Here's a list of holiday-themed activities that will hardly cost you anything but that will leave your family with plenty of heartwarming memories. 

1. Take a drive around a beautifully lit neighborhood. No Christmas is complete without witnessing some twinkling holiday lights. Ask around and find out which nearby neighborhood has the most impressive displays to check out. Bring along some hot cocoa and Christmas tunes to really make the night special. 

2. Craft your own ornaments. Little kids love arts and crafts, especially when they get to see their finished masterpieces hanging from a gorgeous tree. Get out the glue, glitter, popsicle sticks, and any other materials you can find lying around the house. Encourage everybody to get creative! Not only will you spend a few hours having fun together, but you'll also build memories to treasure for years to come. 

3. Host a Christmas cookie decorating contest. A few tubs of frosting, some sprinkles, and candy will go a long way in this activity. Challenge all of the participants to create the best-looking cookies for Santa, then decide on a winner. Oh, and don't forget to gobble a few up once the contest ends. 

4. Write and decorate some letters to Santa. Although this concept seems like a timeless tradition to some, fewer and fewer families seem to actually carry it out. Get out some pretty stationary and stickers, then get to work creating the perfect note for the jolly old man. Remember, it's kind to say thank you as well as list your secret Christmas wishes! 

5. Go to the library and check out a stack of holiday books. Holiday bedtime stories are a great way to spend some quality time together, and luckily most libraries have more than a few holiday picture books available. Make an event out of going to pick a few out, then snuggle up to enjoy them before going to sleep one night. 

6. Cut out paper snowflakes and hang them in your windows. It's such a simple task, but it's a great way to deck the halls and get a little creative. Plus, we don't get much snow here in Texas, so someone's got to sprinkle a few snowflakes around the place! 

7. Gather up your gently used toys and clothes to donate to a nearby shelter. It's always nice to clear out some clutter as the new year comes around, and it's a great way to give back to those in need at this special time of year. 

8. Host a holiday movie night, complete with candy canes and festive popcorn flavors. Vote on the best holiday movie available, then cozy up for a simple family movie night. Bonus points if everyone wears their most festive holiday pajamas. 

9. Road marshmallows over an open fire. Sticky, gooey hands are totally acceptable during this winter activity, and the addition of chocolate bars and graham crackers is definitely encouraged. 

10. Make gingerbread houses from scratch. Anyone can go buy one of those expensive gingerbread kits from the store, but this year, try baking the gingerbread pieces at home then assembling a house that is uniquely you're own. It might be messy and your house might end up looking a little lopsided, but it's a more unique and engaging experience. 

11. Attend a local holiday parade. There are many throughout the area, so take to your local news sites and keep your eyes peeled. Parades are usually free to attend, and they're a great way to soak up some holiday cheer and spend an afternoon with the family. 

12. Send out holiday cards to friends and family. It might be expensive to get professional cards printed, but you can always make your own at home. No loved one is going to object to receiving a handmade card wishing them a happy holiday, especially if it's covered in handmade drawings and festive colors. 

13. Volunteer your time at a local homeless shelter, soup kitchen, or hospital. After all, it is the season of giving, and what better way is there to spread the holiday spirit than by donating your time to a worthy cause? A simple Google search will let you know what organizations near you are searching for Christmas volunteers. 

14. Watch The Nutcracker on television. Tickets to see the famous ballet might come at a steep price, but anyone can view a lovely production from home. Do some research and figure out when a local production airs, then gather round and enjoy a Tchaikovsky Christmas tradition. 

15. Have everyone dress up for a special Christmas dinner. Even if you're just having a simple meal of spaghetti and meatballs, it's always fun to add a little luxury when the holidays roll around. Pick a meal with family and have every look their best. Don't forget to snap a few photos while everyone's in their fancy outfits!

How do you and your family celebrate the holidays without breaking your budget? Leave other ideas in the comments! 

Riley Heruska
Pin on Pinterest

With hundreds of books hitting the shelves every month, it can be difficult to sift through new releases for the best finds. There are only so many hours in a day, and you want to spend your evenings curled up with a book that's worth your time. That’s why we’ve done the heavy lifting for you! Here are ten of the most popular novels that were published in November. 

The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty 

Young Nahri doesn't believe in magic, but she is a master of tricks. Her skills as a performer earn her a living on the streets of eighteenth-century Cairo, but she knows her power comes only from herself. When she accidentally summons a sly djinn warrior, she's forced accept a magical world she never knew existed. Full of deadly political intrigue, dangerous wishes, and tempting magic, The City of Brass is a wild fantasy from start to finish.

“It’s hard to describe just how gorgeous and intricate this fantasy novel is.” - SYFY Wire 

Renegades by Marissa Meyer 

Bestselling YA author Marissa Meyer returns to the world of literature with this action-packed novel. Renegades, humans with unbelievable abilities, overthrew the villains that ruled their world, and now the losing side wants vengeance. Nova hates the Renegades for what they did, but her new friend Adrian believes in justice. Will she side with the villains she knows or adopt Adrian's love for the Renegades? 

"A fully realized new world with compelling characters and just enough edge-of-your-seat action to rival the biggest on-screen adaptation." - Bustle

Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson 

Many readers have anxiously awaited this sequel from Sanderson, and the bestselling fantasy author brings his A-game. This third book has it all: a monumental evil force, impending war, ancient kingdoms, and knights who hope to save their crumbling world. If you haven't checked this series out, do so now because it just got better. 

"It's rare for a fiction writer to have much understanding of how leadership works and how love really takes root in the human heart. Sanderson is astonishingly wise." - Orson Scott Card

A Tangled Mercy by Joy Jordan-Lake 

When Kate Drayton's mother suddenly dies, she abandons her life as a Harvard graduate student and flees in search of answers to her many questions. She returns to South Carolina, where her parents met many years ago, in hopes of understanding her dysfunctional family. While there, she becomes intrigued by her mother's unfinished research on a failed slave result that occurred in 1822. Told in two separate tales separated by hundreds of years, A Tangle Mercy addresses what makes humans forgive and hope. 

“A novel of secrets, racial tensions, family, and a love that withstands the passage of time, A Tangled Mercy is truly enthralling.” - Historical Novel Society (Editor’s Choice)

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang 

Raised by wolves, the orphan Weylyn Grey always knew he was strange, but when he discovers that he has hidden powers, his life is turned completely upside down. He struggles to control his newfound abilities, and the story introduces the many people in Weylyn's life who love him despite his strange story, and his character quickly blooms. Original and full of heart, this book will make you believe in the magic of everyday life. 

"This enchanting title mixes magical realism with romance, humor, and adventure, delighting readers who enjoy strong fantasy populated with quirky characters and events." - Library Journal

Almost Midnight by Rainbow Rowell 

Known for her quirky tales of self-discovery and lovable characters, Rowell introduces two short stories that are perfect for a wintery evening. Accompanied by gorgeous illustrations, the stories will earn your heart and leave you believing in the magic of New Year's Eve. 

This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada 

In the future, humans can change their bodies at the touch of a button. Genetic advancements have made it possible to cure diseases and alter anyone's DNA. When one of the renown geneticists is kidnapped by an organization called Cartaxxus, his daughter is left to fend for herself in a world becoming overrun by a dangerous disease. However, things start to change when she receives a message that contains information on a life-saving vaccine. Can she trust her father's kidnappers in order to save thousands of lives? 

"This Mortal Coil redefines 'unputdownable.' A thrilling, exhilarating read that's crackling with intelligence. Compelling characters and incredible twists come together perfectly—I loved this book. This is brilliant science fiction." - Amie Kaufman, New York Times bestselling author of Illuminae 

The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg

After his wife died, Arthur's days all began to look the same: he'd tend his rose garden, care for his cat, and visit his wife's grave. When he meets an 18-year-old girl in the cemetery, a surprising friendship begins to blossom. Together, they begin to work through their heartbreaks and start new lives. Beautifully written and full of deep themes, The Story of Arthur Truluv will move you. 

"Redemptive without being maudlin, this story of two misfits lucky to have found one another will tug at readers’ heartstrings.” -Booklist

Whichwood by Tahereh Mafi 

Young Laylee spends her days cleaning dead bodies and preparing the souls for the afterlife. Her work is lonely, and it takes a toll on her body and social life. When a pair of familiar strangers appear, Laylee's world becomes a little brighter as she embraces magic and a powerful friendship. Bestselling YA author Tahereh Mafi is known for her gorgeous writing style, and she doesn't disappoint in her newest novel. 

“Brimming with color and magic… [Mafi’s] prose is as fresh and fragrant as the flowers her characters eat, the descriptions so vibrant that at times one can practically smell the words on the page." - New York Times Book Review

Insurrection by Sherrilyn Kenyon 

In Kenyon's dangerous world, the air has become diseased and killed most of Earth's population. Almost everyone is gone, except those under the age of twenty. The young people are still alive, but their bodies are changing. They have abilities that are dangerous, and they're ready to fight for the planet that was invaded by an unseen foe. 

"Kenyon boldly goes where no author has gone before and claims yet another genre as her own. With her League series, she has created a new, addictive universe and proven herself the undisputed master of the cross-genre novel." - Publishers Weekly

Riley Heruska
Pin on Pinterest

Starting to feel a little underwhelmed by your options on Netflix? Never fear, the company will be adding a large selection of new shows, movies, and documentaries over the course of the following month. Which December additions are you most excited to binge-watch?

Netflix Original Films and Shows

December 1
All Hail King Julien: Season 5
A StoryBots Christmas 
Dark: Season 1 
DreamWorks Home: For the Holidays 
Easy: Season 2 
My Happy Family

December 5
Craig Ferguson: Tickle Fight

December 8 
El Camino Christmas 
The Crown: Season 2 

December 12 
Judd Apatow: The Return

December 15 
Christmas Inheritance
Erased: Season 1
The Ranch: Part 4 
Trollhunters: Part 2 
Ultimate Beastmaster 

December 18
Hello, My Twenties!: Season 2

December 19 
Russell Howard: Recalibrate 
The Indian Detective: Season 1

December 20 
La Casa de Papel: Season 1

December 21 
Peaky Blinders: Season 4

December 22
72 Dangerous Animals: Latin America: Season 1 
Dope: Season 1
Fuller House: Season 3, New Episodes 
The Toys That Made Us: Season 1

December 25
Cable Girls: Season 2

December 26 
Todd Barry: Spicy Honey (Netflix Original)
Travelers: Season 2 

December 29 
Bill Nye Saves the World: Season 2: Part 1
La Mante: Season 1 
The Climb

December 31 
Dave Chappelle: Equanimity

Television Shows 

December 1 
Chef & My Fridge: 2017
TURN: Washington's Spies: Season 4

December 4
When Calls the Heart: Season 4

December 11
The Magicians: Season 2

December 14 
A&E: When Patients Attack
Ainsley Eats the Streets: Season 1
Halt and Catch Fire: Season 4

December 15 
Señor de los Cielos: Season 5
Reggie Yates Outside Man: Volume 2

December 22
Rosario Tijeras: Season 1

December 23 
Myths & Monsters: Season 1

December 26
All Hail King Julien: New Year's Eve Countdown 2018
Beat Bugs: New Year's Eve Countdown 2018
Larva: New Year's Eve Countdown 2018
Pororo: New Year's Eve Countdown 2018
Puffin Rock: New Year's Eve Countdown 2018
Skylanders Academy: New Year's Eve Countdown 2018
Trollhunters: New Year's Eve Countdown 2018
True and The Rainbow Kingdom: New Year's Eve Countdown 2018
Word Party: New Year's Eve Countdown 2018

Documentaries and Biographies 

December 1
Diana: In Her Own Words
Forbidden Games: The Justin Fashanu Story
41 Dogs in My Home

December 15
Freeway: Crack In The System
Discovering Bigfoot

December 25
Planet Earth II


December 1
8 Mile
Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls
August Rush
Diana: In Her Own Words
Exporting Raymond
Forbidden Games: The Justin Fashanu Story
Full Metal Jacket
Nacho Libre
The Farthest - Voyager in Space
The Little Rascals
The Wackness
The Young Victoria
V for Vendetta
While You Were Sleeping

December 5
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

December 6
Trolls Holiday Special

December 11

December 12
Disney's The Santa Clause
Disney's The Santa Clause 2
Disney's The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause
Reggie Yates Outside Man: Volume 2
The Haunting of Helena
The Mafia Kills Only in Summer

December 19 
Miss Me This Christmas
You Can’t Fight Christmas

December 23 
Creep 2

December 17

December 29 
Killer Legends

December 31 
Fun Mom Dinner

So what additions are you the most excited about? Let us know in the comments below!

Riley Heruska
Pin on Pinterest

Most kids spend the majority of their week in close quarters with hundreds of other children. That means germs and illnesses can spread quickly and easily. Nothing puts more of a damper on your holiday festivities than a plague that starts working its way through your entire family. To avoid exposing your home to disease, encourage your children to adopt some healthy habits in the classroom. The healthier your children stay, the healthier your whole family remains. 

Here are a few simple tricks you can tell your children about so that they'll stay sniffle and cough-free as winter approaches. 

Teach Children to Wash Their Hands Properly 

Although every child knows that washing their hands can kill germs, most don't truly understand how often and thoroughly they should be washing. Take some time to show them how long to soap up their hands and how to clean the more difficult parts, like under their nails. If your child continuously rushes through their hand washing, tell them to sing the alphabet song once or twice while they're doing it so they know how long to keep soaping up. Encourage them to start washing their hands as soon as they come home from school, before eating, and after using the restroom. Clean hands are the first line of defense against nasty germs, so make sure your children understand the importance of keeping up with their sanitation. 

Pack a Mini Bottle of Hand Sanitizer in Their Lunch Bags or Backpack 

Hopefully your children will wash their hand frequently while they're at school, but chances are they won't. Give them a little extra push by providing them with a non-alcohol based hand sanitizer they can keep with them at snack time and lunch. If they can easily access the sanitizer, they'll be more likely to use it before grabbing their food and chowing down. 

Discourage Them From Sharing Food and Drink With Others

We might teach kids that sharing is caring, but when it comes to sharing diseases, it's better to keep them to yourself. Tell your children to avoid sharing their food and drink and to refuse offers from other friends, no matter how sweet they might be. If your child needs to bring a shareable treat to the classroom, try to send them off with individually wrapped snacks. That will hinder the rapid spread of germs throughout the school. 
Keep Them Home When They're Under the Weather 

If your child seems to be feeling run down, don't force them to get over it and head out the door. Going to school when you're getting sick is one of the most effective ways to spread the disease, and it might even make it worse. Instead, let your kid stay home and rest. Their body will recover quicker and they won't be exposed to other icky viruses while their immune system is vulnerable. 

Buy Them a Reusable Water Bottle to Take to School 

Guess where the number one germiest place in your kid's school is? Nope, it's not the toilet or their computer keyboard. It's the water fountain. According to recent studies, public water fountains can be covered in festering bacteria colonies. To keep your child hydrated, pack them a large reusable water bottle they can sip from throughout the day. This will discourage them from heading to the water fountain frequently and probably keep them healthier in the long run. 

Make Sure the Kids Are Getting Enough Sleep 

Sleep plays an enormous role in any person's ability to stay healthy, but children require even more rest than older people in order to fight off colds and the flu. Kids and teens need an average of nine to ten hours of solid sleep every night in order to have a strong immune system. If you think your child is coming down with something or you know that there's a nasty bug going around their school, tuck them into bed extra early. Chances are, you'll see them perform better in school and stay healthy for longer periods of time. 

Get Them Vaccinated ASAP 

Although the Centers for Disease Control issued a statement encouraging everyone to get vaccinated against the influenza virus before October, it's always better to act late than never. You can still get your kids immunized at local drug stores or doctor offices during November, and you should. Flu season is here and the shot is by far the best way to reduce your family's risk of coming down with the seasonal illness. It can take up to two weeks for the vaccine to start protecting your body, so get your entire family vaccinated as soon as you can. 

Riley Heruska
Pin on Pinterest

Bargain hunters across the country have been waiting to pounce on amazing deals as soon as Thanksgiving ends. Black Friday is known for its huge retail discounts, as well as freebies and unbelievable promotions. Shopping during the week leading up to the big day can save you a pretty penny, but there are some things you should know about this highly-anticipated shopping period. 

Browse the Current Deals Now, But Be Willing to Wait for the Weekend After Turkey Day 

There are already dozens of Black Friday promotions plastered across storefronts and the Internet, but don't let them fool you. Keep an eye open for deals that you simply can't pass up, but otherwise, wait to see if prices will drop even more as Black Friday draws near. Chances are, your favorite retailers haven't started their best discounts yet, so it can pay to be patient. 

Do Your Homework and Be Prepared 

As you see advertisements for various Black Friday bargains, take note. Start to keep track of what stores you want to check out and how much you can save at each. By formulating a game plane in advance, you can figure out what retailers are worth visiting in person and which you should simply browse online. Speaking of shopping online, make sure that your payment information is already saved on websites like Amazon that have lightning deals so you can act quickly. There's nothing more frustrating than losing a great purchase because you couldn't snag one in time. Also, make sure to check products' price histories before getting too excited about any discount. Sometimes stores make it seem like you're saving big bucks when their merchandise was actually overpriced to begin with. It pays to know what you're shopping for and what discounts are really worthwhile. 

Arrive at Stores Early If You Want to Snag In-Person Doorbusters 

Should you decide to set foot outside and brave the rampant chaos that is Black Friday on November 24, be prepared to wake up at the crack of dawn. Doorbusters are the best sales you can find, and they usually come in limited quantities that sell out early on in the day. If you're hoping to be one of the lucky shoppers who claims a cheap 4K TV, you'll probably need to arrive before the store even opens. Early bird gets the worm and all that. 

Opt for Online Steals When You Can 

There's a reason 59 percent of consumers plan to do their shopping over the Internet: it's much less stressful to browse deals from the comfort of your own home instead of battling insane crowds in stores. Plus, many stores offer free shipping during the Thanksgiving period, so it's even more cost-effective to shop online than usual. You can also monitor several different retailers at once instead of dashing from place to place in a frenzied panic. 

Make Sure You Aren't Falling Prey to Inflated Discounts 

According to NerdWallet, retailers sometimes inflate the original price of a product so that it looks like you're getting a better deal than you really are. It's easy to feel skeptical about deals when stores might be trying to trick you, so do your own research before stumbling into a pricey trap. You really can save big on the day after Thanksgiving, so don't disregard a great discount if it seems to check out with other sources. 

Always Read the Fine Print 

Many retailers will place limitations on a sale, as well as exclusions or other sneaky tricks. Before you make a plan to purchase something, make sure you read all the details and know what's really going on so you aren't blindsided when Black Friday rolls around. Pay especially close attention to sales' start and end times. 

Have tips for other Black Friday shoppers? Share them in the comments below! 

Riley Heruska
Pin on Pinterest

Already binged on all the Netflix classics like Breaking Bad and House of Cards? Don't worry, your days of hitting "play next episode" aren't over yet. Here are five shows you can currently stream on Netflix that aren't quite as popular as others but that are totally addicting. What's your favorite show that usually flies under the radar? Leave other suggestions in the comments! 

If You Like Comical Discussions About Morals, Watch The Good Place

When Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) dies, she's sent to the Good Place, but what the utopia's creator doesn't know is that Eleanor wasn't a great person when she was alive. Eleanor desperately wants to avoid being sent to the Bad Place when her less than stellar past is revealed, so she begins working on herself to become a better person. Her new neighbors are seemingly perfect, but will she drive them up the wall with her secrets and shenanigans? 

"The quirky comedy breaks the mold of most sit-coms in that it's serialized with each episode ending on a curious note, clearly meant to raise every viewer's desire to see the next installment - and it works." - Anne Easton, New York Observer 

If You're in the Mood for a Creepy Murder Investigation, Watch The Killing

Homicide detective Sarah Linden is assigned to the murder case of a teenage girl, and as she begins to unravel the twisted mystery of the young woman's death, she is forced to face the extensive grief felt by the victim's family. Her street-wise partner and mentee, Holder, isn't quite as by-the-book as Linden would like, but together they help the eerie story start to unfold. Based partly on a Danish TV series, this drama focuses on deep character development and emotion. 

"The Killing marks another bulls-eye for AMC in presenting complex, literate, well-crafted television." - David Hinckley, New York Daily News 

If You Love Musicals and Crude Satire, Watch Crazy Ex Girlfriend

Rebecca Bunch graduated from Harvard, attended Yale Law School, and has an impressive position at a New York law firm, yet she can't seem to find happiness. When she bumps into her ex-boyfriend from a summer camp long ago, she decides to make a change and move across the country in pursuit of a new life (and perhaps a new love interest). Full of catchy and well-written songs, witty banter, and lovable characters, this show is one you won't soon forget. 

"Beyond its off-putting title, this is the freshest, wackiest romantic comedy/musical fantasy hybrid of this or any recent season." - Gail Pennington, St. Louis Post-Dispatch 

If You're in the Mood for to Cheer for the Bad Guy, Watch Ozark

Starring Jason Bateman, this thrilling drama tells the story of a financial planner, Marty, 
who relocates with his family to a resort community filled with dirty money and even worse characters. Marty is on the run after his illegal money laundering scheme went bad, and now the fate of his children and wife rests in his guilty hands. Complex and disarming, the show mimics the Walter White, lovable bad-guy trope while presenting well-crafted plot points and characters.

"Now that's how you make a thriller." - Ben Travers, indieWire

If You Miss Game of Thrones and Need a Medieval Fix, Watch Reign

Although this CW show can rub some viewers the wrong way with its teenage characters and over-the-top drama, it definitely has its high points in its portrayal of Mary Queen of Scots and the battle for her crown. Mary (Adelaide Kane) and her ladies journey to France, where her fiance and a world of danger await. The show's beautiful costumes, elaborate sets, and ever-present political schemes make up for the historical fact stretching that may occur.

"This is also a show that's unafraid to directly examine power, which is one of the reasons it's succeeded as more than a compendium of ridiculous moments." - Genevieve Valentine, AV Club

Riley Heruska
Pin on Pinterest

Although pumpkin pie is a time-tested classic that will always be appreciated at this time of year, sometimes it's nice to shake up your traditional Turkey Day dessert. November is the month of pies, and there are dozens of different kinds to try if you're willing to branch out a little. However, you don't want to whip up a dessert for the big dinner only to find that it's not up to par, and trying new recipes is always risky. 

That's why we've rounded up some of the best pie recipes floating around the baking blogosphere. These popular creations have earned numerous positive reviews and are sure to impress everyone at your Thanksgiving gathering. 

Have a pie recipe you want to share with BubbleLife? Contribute to our Thanksgiving recipe survey for a chance to be featured in our round-up! 

Triple Berry Pie 

Can't decide on one pie flavor? Then don't! Lauren at Tastes Better From Scratch concocted a recipe that calls for three kinds of berries (blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries), and it's incredibly easy to make. Her post will walk you through the process and leave you with a restaurant-quality dessert. The filling is bursting with fruity flavor, and the crust is Lauren's original creation. 

Brown Sugar Peach Crumble Pie 

This pie is a beautiful assortment of cinnamon, peach, and brown sugar flavors. The recipe from Sally's Baking Addiction calls for chunks of fresh peaches drizzled with a specially-made mixture of sweet and sour ingredients. The yummy filling sits atop her homemade pie crust and pairs perfectly with a dollop of vanilla ice cream. 

Lauren Conrad's Wedding Apple Pie 

This blogger decided to serve apple pie at her wedding instead of cake, and it's truly one of the most impressive pie recipes you can find. Lauren's recipe calls for plenty of apples, a mouth-watering caramel cinnamon glaze, and a homemade pie crust. Give her popular dessert a try and you might start opting for pie over cake, too. 

Heavenly Cinnamon Pie 

With a creamy filling that has just the right amount of spice, this holiday pie is the perfect way to top off a family feast. Sommer from A Spicy Perspective worked hard to create a recipe that balances the intensity of pure cinnamon with nutmeg and other fall flavors. An added bonus? You can whip it up in under an hour, so you'll have plenty of time to work on the rest of your Thanksgiving dinner. 

Easy Eggnog Pie 

In just ten minutes, you can have this delightfully simple pie by Meatloaf and Melodrama ready to serve. All you'll need is some vanilla pudding mix, eggnog, whipped topping, and nutmeg. Mix it together and plop it in a pre-made pie crust, then voila! You've got yourself a dessert that's refreshingly light after a heavy turkey dinner. 

Apple Cranberry Pie

Sally's Baking Addiction strikes again with this delectable autumn dessert. November is the best month to bake with fresh cranberries, and the apples blend well with the seasonal fruit. The pie will have to cool for a solid three hours before serving, so you'll probably want to bake the dessert in advance to make sure you have enough time. If you can't mimic Sally's impressive lattice top and braid, don't worry: the pie will still impress your diners. 

Mini Pecan Pies  

Sometimes it's more fun to hand out mini-desserts for everyone than to spend time cutting several slices from one large pie. This recipe from Live Well Bake Often can show you how to prepare a dozen scrumptious but small pecan pies the night before your big dinner. You can use storebought dough or your own recipe to create the mini pie crusts, then fill each with a gooey mixture of brown sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla, and pecans. The best part? You can go back for seconds and thirds without feeling guilty!