Holiday Baking – Chanukah House

We love making holiday houses and this Chanukah House was no exception!

Made by Manischewitz, this product checks off all the holiday boxes: sweet treats, imagination, family fun, and meaningful giving.

The do-it-yourself Chanukah House cookie decorating kit (MSRP $12.99 – 15.99; 2 lbs., 14.9 oz.) comes with everything children need – from cookies and icing to a sanding sugar and a candy menorah – to build their own edible holiday cottage.

Best of all, when you give this charming gift to a young one, you’re also giving the gift of books to kids the world over. Because, the kit is at the center of a special promotion by Manischewitz to drive consumer sales and raise awareness for PJ Library, an organization that sends more than 225,000 free Jewish children’s books every month to households in the U.S. and Canada.

I’m always excited about organizations that provide books for kids! Every Chanukah House box features a callout encouraging consumers to sign up for free storybooks of their own from PJ Library.

While the Chanukah House kit is designed for Jewish families, and we’re not Jewish, I love things that add to my children’s cultural experiences. This was a fun and educational discussion starter. While building (and eating) the house, we talked about the monorah and the blue and white colors of the house and how in Jewish culture they celebrate Chanukah around the same time that we celebrate Christmas – so the holidays always overlap their items in stores.

It was fascinating to see my kids think through how not everyone celebrates the winter holidays the same way, and I loved how excited they were to discover how Jewish families celebrate this time of year.

The Chanukah House cookie decorating kit will be available at Ralph’s, ShopRite, Stop & Shop, and Walmart, and on Amazon, among other outlets.

We had some elf cookies and the kids just had to have one of them visiting the Chanukah House. I love how they got into the spirit of celebrating another culture’s holiday!

About Manischewitz

The Manischewitz Company has been making traditional Jewish foods since Rabbi Dov Behr Manischewitz first opened a small matzo bakery in Cincinnati, OH in the late 1800s. For more than 130 years, the company’s goal has been to provide quality kosher products that bring families together and celebrate the traditions of Jewish heritage. Today, Manischewitz sells hundreds of delicious products to communities across the globe.

About PJ Library

Part of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, PJ Library is a free program that sends families expertly curated, age-appropriate Jewish children’s books each month. At reading time, parents and kids can explore Jewish values and traditions together through engaging stories. The PJ Library experience changes at age 9 when kids can move up to PJ Our Way and choose their own middle grade book or graphic novel every month.  To learn more and to sign up to start receiving free monthly books, visit

Many thanks to Manischewitz for sending over this amazing Chanukah House Kit for me (and the kids) to review!

Rentailor – Rent That Fits


I’ve been on both sides of the rental process. Both as renter and as landlord. And many of the frustrations in this process can be solved by making it easier for renters to find my property and submit an application to view or rent.

Being a landlord is frustrating. But, let’s face it. I hate being a renter even more. My husband and I have been discussing purchasing a new home, and top of the discussion list is how we avoid having to rent during this process. So many of our friends have had to rent for a month or so while they were between houses. Or they sell their house, rent, and then start looking for a new home. The one thing we really want to avoid is renting. Why? Because it’s so frustrating.

I have to call each apartment complex for details, fill out their application, have my credit run a gazillion times, and eventually finally get to look at apartments (or houses).

I know as a landlord, people looking at my houses really don’t want to fill out and pay for ANOTHER credit check, because they’re getting tired of filling out all that paperwork. Plus, paying for application after application is just expensive.

So, here’s where Rentailor comes in, and solves this problem:

  1. Run your credit once. You only have to fill out a credit and rental application once. Once approved, you enter what you’re looking for and look at available rental properties on their site. If you see something you want, you click a button to contact them and submit your application, which has already been processed. No need to fill out more paperwork for every single place you might want to rent. You can submit your application to multiple properties with just a few clicks.
  2. Properties bid for you. Property managers can see your application, and if they have a property that they think you’ll like they can make you an offer. Not only are you looking for something to rent. Property managers are looking to rent to you. Rentailor is all about helping you find what you want for the price you want.
  3. Pay rent online. Once you find your property, Rentailor has a secure online system that you can use to pay your rent online. So even if you’re renting from a private owner or smaller company that doesn’t have an online system, Rentailor has you covered.
  4. Don’t see anything you want, you can ask Rentailor to help you out. They already have your application and can help you find the property that you want to rent.

Rentailor takes the frustration out of renting.

Check them out on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and YouTube as well!

B is for Books

If you’re looking for curriculum advice, check out my 4 favorite curriculums. Here, I’m going to share some of my favorite kids books.

I love books. I love a good fiction. Right now I’m working on The Water Witch by James Fenmore Cooper. (which is free on Kindle right now). I don’t have a ton of time for reading these days, but I still manage to read a fun book now and then. It’s a great way for me to escape, relax, and grab a few minutes of “me time”.

Reading is something I want my children to enjoy as well so I try to collect my favorite childhood books and find some new ones for them as well.

51cWgYwwKNL._SX396_BO1,204,203,200_Little House on the Prairie

This is a classic. I read and re-read this entire set many many times as a child. This is next on my list of books to buy my 2nd grader. I can’t wait to see what she thinks of them!

I never can decide if Little House in the Big Woods or Farmer Boy is my favorite. Maybe I’ll have to read them again!


612DdPHZGCL._SX395_BO1,204,203,200_Finley Flowers

I just discovered this set. There’s four books in this series and a craft book. They’re super cute and all about a little girl who loves to bake. My 2nd grader loves these – they’re a 3rd to 5th grade reading level so right at the upper edge of her reading ability. Perfect for her to enjoy while learning some new words!


51VpdeMukDL._SY345_BO1,204,203,200_A Series of Unfortunate Events

There’s 13 books in this series. The author truly thought of everything! I love this series. It’s fun to read because it’s just funny. There’s no way 3 kids end up in all of these situations. And the author loves to use and define rarely used words like Ersatz in Ersatz Elevator.  These books are fun to read and great for improving vocabulary.


41S6NRoXYvL._SX279_BO1,204,203,200_Grandma’s Attic

This is a book of short stories. Perfect for a bedtime stories. These stores are fun, funny, and have a good morale at the end. Themes like “Pride comes before a fall”, and “beauty is as beauty does”. These stories are fun to read as a family and after you’ve read all these in this book. There’s a whole bunch of other Grandma’s Attic books available.


61xA9sZttmL._SX469_BO1,204,203,200_Llama Llama

It all started with Llama Llama Red Pajama. After we read this one, we were hooked! This is a favorite with my 2yr old and since the older kids still love it he gets it read to him as often as he wants. There’s a whole set of Llama Llama books and we love every one of them.

Tell me in the comments, what’s your favorite children’s book?

This post does contain affiliate links.

Graham Cracker Houses

Instead of gingerbread houses – which are way too much work with kids – we make graham cracker houses.

We invite a bunch of friends over and make graham cracker houses. I usually build a bunch of houses the morning before the party so they’re dry and ready for candy when the kids arrive.


Graham crackers
Powdered Sugar
Candy or other toppings of your choice

Small candy’s are best. Red hots, mini pretzels, mini candy canes, grated coconut, mini chocolate chips, sprinkles, etc.

For the icing/cement I mix two cups of powdered sugar, and 1 Tbsp of water. Add more powdered sugar or water as needed to get a thick spreading consistency. I like to put my icing in a plastic sandwich bag, cut a tiny hole in one corner, and then pipe the icing out. The kids prefer to mix it in a bowl and then use a spoon to spread the icing everywhere – including their houses.

Graham cracker houses are really easy, and a great holiday party idea if you have kids (or if you just like playing with candy and icing)

Here’s my house.

Side of my house

One of the kids houses. It looks like a tent to me. They made many other houses as well. The party is always so much fun. Just warn parents ahead of time that there will be lots and lots of sugar! I always make a couple crockpots of chili and meat balls so there is protein to balance out some of the sugar.

And, a melting house. This batch of icing was a tad thin and ended up slipping but I think it looks pretty cool!

And, as a plus, these houses are just as much fun to eat as they are to make!

Totally Random

Wow, so, I missed my usual Tuesday post by three days! And I just remembered today! Of course, with my crazy busy summer, I’m not totally surprised. I even has a post planned, it just didn’t get typed up. So, be watching for my post on Tuesday about our experience with our first pagent.

Some weeks, like this week, I’m grateful that I like to plan. For the past two weeks I’ve been running back and forth from my house to our rental house (with the kids) showing the house to all kinds of people – and I really mean, all kinds of people… Anyways, hopefully we have a family signing a lease tomorrow. So all my running around will pay off!

Back to planning. We’re starting some school on Monday – my plan is to do school on the days we aren’t busy (until our local public school year starts and then we’ll do all 5 days a week) which will create some extra days we can take off for fun things like the water park with the family. I sent in my registration weeks before the deadline (which was yesterday) and I ordered all my school books weeks ago (received the last one yesterday). Because if I had to order them this week, it never would have happened.

I only wish I could preemptively do housework and then my house would be clean today. Today we have a day at home, and aside from going stir-crazy, it’s been a good day. My kitchen is clean, the baby’s room is clean, my bedroom is clean (well almost, the roomba is finishing up for me), laundry is going, and I can’t decide, do I tackle the girl’s room or the rec room next? I’m not sure which one is more daunting. Maybe I’ll do the rec room while the girls clean their room and then help them finish up – but, who am I kidding, if I’m downstairs, they probably won’t do any cleaning!

I need to go finish a few things before baby boy wakes up from his nap.

My crazy busy week

Sometimes, I think I have it all worked out. I like to plan, so the occasional feeling of having everything under control is really nice. And then, that’s just now how it works out. Oh well, at least I had a plan, that I added to, and rearranged into next week, so I can continue to add to it and rearrange. You get the idea. I’m thinking sometime next month I may actually have it all worked out again…just in time for school to start…Or not.

By the end of last week I was down to laundry, clean bathrooms, and some shopping for my oldest’s pagent this weekend – and then things happened. I had a new project come in for work (I freelance from home so if I have lots of projects, my house looks like I have lots of projects), actually 3 projects, but they’re related to each other so it’s technically 1 project with 3 items.

Anyways…then I was joining a friend at her yardsale this weekend and I had about 10 small boxes of stuff (mostly clothing and toys) to take over. Well…our tenants moved out of our rental and left a trailer full of furniture, so I spent two days cleaning out the house and carting everything over to the yardsale. (thankfully, KARM is picking up any yardsale leftovers so I don’t have to cart things away) And a few more days cleaning the house. Plus in the middle of all this, my car is locking into 4wheel drive when I’m only in 2, a SUV with a terrible turn radius isn’t fun to drive at all! Right now, It’s my second day without my car – I “should” have it back tonight. Not holding my breath though.

I so desperately need to go grocery shopping that I mentioned something about it last night and my husband just agreed with me – there was no “oh, it’s not that bad.” He just agreed that “yes, you need to go grocery shopping”. I have food (like beef in the freezer) but some of our favorites are missing – like eggs, rice, cheese, peanut butter – I’ve been so busy cleaning a house I haven’t had time for it. On the bright side, the rental is now clean, the lawn mowed, and I just need to run over and stick the “for rent” sign in the yard.

I’m without a car today, which is kind of a blessing in disguise, I’m forced to stay home and do things like write blog posts, finish my laundry (which I am somehow almost done with…), and a few other small things that I need to get done around the house.

Baby boy just woke up so I need to go feed him, and then work on laundry…what happened to my summer plans of hanging out at the pool and water park all summer?!

Graham Cracker Houses

My husband had a great Christmas idea four years ago. This is the fourth year we’ve done it and we always have a blast! Instead of gingerbread houses – which are a lot of work – we make graham cracker houses.

We invite a bunch of friends over and make graham cracker houses. This year, I assembled the houses earlier in the day so they were set before the party and kids trying to put candy on them. It worked out really well.

Graham cracker houses are really easy, and a great holiday party idea if you have kids (or if you just like playing with candy and icing)

My house. I actually did this the day after the party before I cleaned everything up. The trick to a good house (in my opinion) is the icing. It’s just powdered sugar and water, and you want it to be thick enough that it doesn’t run but thin enough that you can pipe it. I put my icing in a plastic bag, cut a hole in the end, (a very tiny hole) and pipe the icing out so I have good control over where it goes.

Side of my house

My 3yr old’s “house”. It looks like a tent to me. She made two other houses as well. The party this year was so much fun for her and her little friends! I just handed them bowls of icing with spoons in them, piles of candy, and let them have at it.

And, a melting house. This batch of icing was a tad thin and ended up slipping but I think it looks pretty cool!

And, as a plus, these houses are just as much fun to eat as they are to make!

House Party!

If you’re not familiar with House Party, you should check it out!

I’ve done several parties and I love the great stuff I receive in my party packs. My latest party, which I’m hosting in a couple of weeks – you invite friends over for a party – is for Philadelphia Cooking Creme.

I received 4 coupons for free Cooking Creme, an oven mitt, and a really nice skillet. And for my guests, I have coupons for Cooking Creme, wooden spoons, magnets, and scratch pads.

I can’t wait to try out the Cooking Creme, and my new pan!