Reading Essentials

Cooler weather is here – and in our home, that means it’s time to crack out the books and sit by the fire place. Need some suggestions on what to read? The JBF Corporate Blog has a few that could easily rocket to the top of your list! Happy Reading!


BooksFall is officially in full swing and there are no complaints here! There’s finally time for things like washing my hair more than once a week and getting some personal time. Unfortunately, between school and sports, free time is still limited. However, I take what I can get and try to enjoy every extra minute I have. There are tons of things to do to help yourself relax and unwind, but fall reading should be at the top of your list. My favorite time to catch up with my favorite authors is during the fall. The cold, cloudy weather is the perfect time to curl up in your happy place with your favorite book. So grab your favorite latte and enjoy our fall reading list!

Sing, Unburied, Sing: In this novel, author Jesmyn Ward discusses the ugly truth in the heart of the American story, the struggle, love, and determination between families. It’s a road trip story, a ghost story, and an inspirational story. Jump in the story of JoJo, and the struggles of hope in the contemporary South and with his family.

Little Fires Everywhere: This is a truly heart-wrenching book. The story starts in a town called Shaker Heights, a town where everyone plays by the rules and everything goes according to plan. This is a story of two families colliding, two very different families, and how they all impact each other’s lives.

Turtles All The Way Down: We all know and love John Green. If you aren’t familiar with the name, he’s the author of the bestseller “The Fault in Our Stars”. And this novel is a serious comeback! In this novel, he centers the story on a sixteen-year-old named Aza, who goes through the struggles of teenagers all over the world. While it’s a fictional story, Green describes this story as a window into the mental illness that has affected his life severely. It’s a beautiful story of love and the power of friendship.

Uncommon Type: While this story definitely isn’t as serious as the others, there’s no shame in a lighthearted book! This book is written by Tom Hanks, and a good enough reason to crack it open. But seriously, Tom Hanks is wonderful, and this book is proof that there’s nothing he can’t do! In Uncommon Type, Hanks writes a series of short stories that are just as charming as he is. The stories range from sweet to funny and are sure to brighten up any afternoon.

Home Fire: Deeply rooted in the ideas of self-devotion and balance, Home Fire is a book for everyone. The main character, Isma struggles with her devotion to herself, her family, and her boyfriend. Although she loves her boyfriend, she faces some moral struggles with his family, and especially with how they impact her family. This is a truly captivating novel that will change your outlook on your relationships throughout life.

There’s no doubt in the world that fall weather is reading weather. Whether you’re looking for a light pick me up or looking for 300 pages of pure inspiration, we’ve got you covered. Luckily, you can pick up one of these books and jump right in. You can even queue them up next on your fall reading list. Either way, you’re in for a serious treat.

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Treats!

The JBF Corporate Blog might be coming out of Dallas, but that doesn’t mean at this time of the year they don’t like to cozy on down with some yummy goodness. This particular post got my mouth watering…so why not share.

Happy Thanks-Giving-Gratitude Month…love this time of the year. Love our consignors and shoppers. Just love it all.

Happiness and good eats from us to you.


Desserts Made From Scratch: Peanut Butter Blossoms

PB BlossomsDesserts Made From Scratch: Peanut Butter Blossoms

I love the fall season! Leaves are changing colors, cooler nights, and I love to spend more time in the kitchen. Since it’s getting colder outside, it gives me more time to spend around the house, specifically baking up goodies for the upcoming holidays. The best part of fall desserts? The flavors! I love pumpkin, sweet potato, apple, and especially peanut butter. So what’s my favorite? I love a recipe that’s delicious and easy to make. This recipe is one of my absolute FAVORITE fall desserts I look forward to every year, and I hope your family enjoys them as much as mine does!

Ingredients

  • 48 Chocolate Kisses
  • 1/2 Cup of Shortening
  • 3/4 Cup Creamy Peanut Butter
  • 1/3 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1/3 Brown Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Tablespoons Milk
  • 1 1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/3 Cup Additional Granulated Sugar for rolling

Directions

  1. First, heat the oven to 375°F. Then, remove all chocolates from the wrapper.
  2. Second, beat shortening and peanut butter in large bowl until well blended. Add in 1/3 cup granulated sugar and brown sugar and beat until mixture is fluffy.
  3. Then, add egg, milk, and vanilla and beat well. Next, stir together flour, baking soda, salt.
  4. Gradually beat into peanut butter mixture. Make sure to mix constantly while doing so!
  5. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll into granulated sugar and place on ungreased cookie sheet.
  6. Finally, bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned.
  7. After removing from the oven, immediately press a chocolate into center of each cookie. If the cookie cracks around the edges, this is normal and to be expected!
  8. After all chocolates are placed, remove from cookie sheet to a wire rack. Allow cookies to cool completely before enjoying them!

Fall is one of my favorite times of the year for so many reasons, but I think the food and desserts are definitely at the top of the list. This recipe is perfect for kids or even hosting a party and feeding a crowd. This recipe is quick, easy, and most importantly delicious. What are some of your favorite peanut butter fall desserts? Leave your comments below!

Yam Pumpkin Garland

Such a cute, quick craft to make your home festive – thanks to the JBF Corporate Blog!


Pumpkin garlandReady or not, fall will be in full-force in a just a few weeks. I cannot wait until it gets cool enough to pull out my favorite pair of boots and my flannel button-ups! However, to pass the time I’ve started switching out my summer decor with my favorite fall pieces. Shopping for home decor is so much fun, but there’s nothing quite like creating your favorite decor staple all on your own! The ideal DIY project is simple enough to make but is also something that doesn’t necessarily look homemade. A great addition to any mantel, staircase, or even a fireplace, here’s my favorite DIY project for October!

DIY Yarn Pumpkin Garland

Supplies Needed: 

  • Orange yarn
  • Green pipe cleaner
  • Twine
  • Scissors

Directions:

  1. First, wrap yarn around four fingers about 120 or so, until the bundle is thick and full.
  2. Then, cut a 10-inch piece of yarn and stick it between your fingers to wrap it around the big yarn loop. Make sure it wraps all the way around the yarn bundle.
  3. Line up the piece of yarn in the middle of the yarn loop, and tie it into a knot. Make sure you pull the knot tight, and it covers the back of the loop also.
  4. After you have your basic pumpkin shape, cut a 2-inch piece of pipe cleaner. Tie the pipe cleaner on the top of the pumpkin using the two loose strands of yarn from step 3. Don’t trim loose strands yet!
  5. Wrap the pipe cleaner around itself to form the stem. Do this by folding both ends towards each other, to create the stem straight above the pumpkin.
  6. In addition to folding the pipe cleaner, twist both ends of the pipe cleaner in a spiral, to create an intertwined stem.
  7. Following after steps 1-6, it’s time to fluff up your pumpkin!
  8. Also, tuck in any loose loops and make sure your pumpkin is fully rounded.
  9. After you make enough pumpkins, you’re ready to assemble your garland.
  10. Finally, use the loose strings on the pumpkin to tie the pumpkin to the twine. Make sure the pumpkins are easily secured to the twine, and your garland is ready to hang!

With just a few short steps and a little patience, you have a cute pumpkin garland perfect for any space! You can even switch up the colors for a more fun home, or go all white for a more simplistic look. This garland on a mantel or even draped along a fireplace with some candles and votives. What are some of your favorite fall DIY decor projects?

DIY Pumpkin Mask

Just a little fun – and time for you – a DYI pumpkin mask for when you can finally get the kids to school or bed – and take a moment to just breathe. Thanks to the JBF Corporate Blog for the post!


PumpkinWhen you think of fall, you think of all things pumpkin. Whether you count down the days to the release of pumpkin lattes, pumpkin pie, or dressing up your porch decor, pumpkins are everywhere. Believe it or not, you can add even more pumpkin spice to your life with this DIY face mask. As a matter of fact, pumpkin is actually great for your skin! It’s not only full of vitamins A, C, and E but also has potassium and antioxidants perfect for skin discoloration. This mask is refreshing and has a little tingle, but leaves your skin super fresh and gives you that perfect glow. The best part of this mask is that it’s not only effective but super easy to make! Here’s all you need for the perfect addition to your beauty routine.

Pumpkin Face Mask

Ingredients: 

  • 2 tbsp canned pumpkin puree or 1 small pumpkin
  • 1/2 tsp organic honey
  • 1/2 tsp milk

Directions:

  1.  Make sure you apply this mask to a fresh, clean face. Remove all makeup and wash your face with your favorite cleanser.
  2. Next, combine pumpkin puree, honey, and milk in a small bowl and mix well. If you decide to use a fresh pumpkin, make sure to scrape the insides and remove all seeds. Beat the insides to a creamy texture, and mix with your honey and milk.
  3. Then, apply the mask using your fingers or a brush. Avoid areas around your eyes during application. If you’d like to apply to your neck and the area below your chin, make a separate mixture and double the ingredients.
  4. Allow your mask to set for about 25 minutes.
  5. After setting, gently wash your face with a warm, damp cloth and make sure to follow with your favorite moisturizer!

This recipe can always be doubled or tripled to make a larger batch, perfect for patches of skin that need a little R&R! A little goes a long way, and you want to make sure you use your mask when it’s fresh. Not to mention, the best part about making your own mask is that you can revise the recipe to what best suits you. As well as this being a great face mask, you can even make a daily cleanser by altering the ingredients! As always, do a spot test if you have sensitive skin. What are some of your favorite DIY pumpkin masks and exfoliants? Leave your comments below!

DIY Meal Prep

You’re either 1, 2 or 3 weeks out from the start of school – and it’s going to get here fast – just like our sale in a few short weeks!!

To keep your sanity, how about a little meal prep for busy parents? Check out this week’s post from the JBF Corporate Blog!


meal prepThere’s no doubt how overwhelming meal prep can be. Sometimes trying to figure out what you want to eat for your next meal is hard enough, let alone an entire week! But with just a few tips, meal prep can become a breeze. Not only does it help you become more organized, there’s no debate over what’s for dinner and you save time on prep. Here are a few tips to help you meal prep like a pro!

Deciding What Will Be On The Menu

Before you start writing a grocery list, planning what you want to serve every night is key. The best time to do this is over the weekend, where you have time to concentrate and even get some input if you don’t want to do this part alone. You’ll start with deciding on one food category per week. There are a few foods categories – heavy protein, heavy carb, and specialty cuisine. Heavy protein will mostly consist of burgers, steak, chicken, pork, etc. Heavy carb will be pasta, rice, potatoes, chilis, and bread. Specialty cuisines are Italian food, pizza, Mexican, Asia, or anything else your family loves. Once you pick out a category, you can narrow down which meals you want to cook within that category. This helps cut down on time when deciding what to eat and helps narrow down your choices. Make sure to write down things you know your family will enjoy and you’ll enjoy making.

Meal Planning

After you’ve decided what meals you want to make, it’s time to put them on a calendar so you can schedule accordingly. Make sure to double check what events may be going on that week. If you have any appointments, meetings, or even birthdays it may have an effect on your meal plans. Meals that may take a little bit more time and effort should be scheduled for days that are lighter, versus a busy day. After you decide how you want to schedule your meals, don’t forget to add in sides or any family favorites! Once you have everything mapped out, you’re ready to start your grocery list. Tip: when making your grocery list for popular meals, try to save it or make an extra copy. That way when you make this meal again in the future, you don’t have to go back and look at recipes, and your list is ready to go! 

Planning Prep Schedules

This part is kind of scary if you’ve never done prep for future meals, but it’s actually pretty simple! Once you get the hang of it, you’ll wonder why you never did it before. Not only does is help you plan out your week, it saves a huge amount of time if done right. You don’t need to be a professional, and it doesn’t have to be a chore. Make sure to pick a time where you’ll have a few hours to focus on what you need to do, what needs to be portioned, cut, or seasoned. If you know you need to make dough for a pizza, make it the night before. When it’s time for dinner, your prep time will be short and sweet. When trying to figure out what meals to make on busy days, think about leftovers. If you make double servings of dinner the night before, there’s no need to worry about what’s for dinner.

Veggie Prep

As soon as you get home from the store, try to start on some of the meal prep. Even if you can’t plan out meals right now, taking care of your produce all at once is a huge time saver. Slice and portion all of your veggies and fruits that you can. If you know you’re making something in the next few days that requires diced peppers, do it now and you won’t have to worry later. Make sure to use sealed bags and Tupperware, because moisture is not your friend. Portioning is a huge part of produce prep, too. If you cut fruit and have it portioned and ready to go, you have a healthy snack ready! Make sure to rinse all of your veggies and fruits before anything else.

Portioning Snacks

Whatever dry snacks you buy, try to portion them after you prep your produce. Portioning snacks really helps with portion control for the whole family! Additionally, when packing school lunches or snacks for sporting events, it super easy. Can you imagine reaching in the pantry, grabbing a Ziploc and throwing it in a bag? You may not be able to do this with all of your snacks, but you won’t regret portioning the rest.

And that’s about it! It may sound detailed or over-complicated, but it can really come in handy when time is not on your side. If you’re not super organized, don’t worry. The plans aren’t set in stone and you can’t plan everything! Look at the calendar as a guideline to make cooking a little more stress-free. Start out with just planning dinners, and if you come to love meal prep, add in breakfast and lunch too! There’s not really a wrong way to meal prep, but it can be a learning process. How do you feel about meal prep? Leave your comments for us below!

Healthy Snacks

It’s funny that the JBF Corporate Blog had a post about granola this week – just as we did our trip around the world to Australia and their love of the stuff.

If your kids are like my kids, they need to be involved in creating healthy food (if I am ever going to have a chance that they’ll eat it!).  So here’s a fun way to get your kids channeling their inner “down under” and have a little fun while they do it.

Enjoy!


granolaGranola bars are a staple in every pantry, but during the summer you can never have enough. But instead of store bought granola bars, how fun are homemade granola bars? Not only are they delicious but they’re even healthy! We’ve finally found the perfect recipe that your whole family can’t get enough of. The best part is, they’re no-bake and take only ten minutes to make.

Healthy Granola Bars

Ingredients:

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Heaping 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups quick-cooking/instant oats, such as Quaker Quick 1-Minute Oats 
  • 1-3/4 cups crispy rice cereal
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/4 cup flax meal or wheat germ
  • 1/3 cup mini chocolate chips (or to taste)

Directions: 

  1. Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with aluminum foil. Spray the foil lightly with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a large pot, combine the butter, brown sugar and honey. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Lower the heat and simmer until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is slightly thickened about 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla and salt.
  3. Add the oats, rice cereal, almonds, and flax meal to the pan and fold with a rubber spatula until well combined.
  4. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and press down lightly with a rubber spatula to even out. Sprinkle the miniature chocolate chips over top, adding more or less to taste, and press down firmly with the spatula so the chips stick.The mixture should be tightly compacted in the pan. Place the pan in the refrigerator for 1-1/2 – 2 hours to cool.
  5. Use the foil overhang to transfer the uncut bars to a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, cut into rectangles. Store the bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator. If you have to stack them, be sure to use parchment paper or foil in between the layers, otherwise, they’ll stick together and fall apart.

And there you have it! A delicious recipe, that’s easy to make and super fun to eat. Your whole family will love them and you’ll never have to buy store-bought granola bars again! What’s your favorite sweet summer snack? Leave your comments below!

Glitter Slime

Summer is in full swing – and we’re alllllllmost to the point where I am counting down the days until they go back. But ideas like this from the JBF Corporate Blog keep the fun in summer, even when “Momma Weary” sets in!

Enjoy!


GLitter slimeWith fireworks, good food, and the red white and blue, the month of July is one of the best times of the year. Whether it’s the parades, parties, or a good time with our loved ones, summer is always a good time. However, keeping the kids entertained isn’t always easy, with the excitement surrounding your those summer days. We’ve got an awesome glitter slime recipe for families of all ages, sure to make your summer special.

Glitter Slime

What You’ll Need:

  • 5 oz of white glue
  • Liquid starch
  • Food coloring – pink, blue, green and yellow
  • Glitter
  • Cups and craft sticks for mixing

Directions:

  1. First, mix 1/2 cup of white glue, 1 tbsp of water, food coloring, and glitter in a red solo cup.
  2. Use 3 different cups for each color. Use a craft stick to mix completely.
  3. After mixture is combined, add 1/4 cup of liquid starch.
  4. Keep stirring and slime will form. When slime forms, take the slime and begin kneading.
  5. If the slime starts to stick, add some more liquid starch. Be careful not to add more than 1 tsp at a time.
  6. Braid the three colors of slime for a marbled appearance.
  7. Store in a sealed container until you’re ready to put this colorful slime to good use!

And there you have it! A fun AND pretty way to display your creative side. This slime is perfect for kids, parents, and everyone in between. We hope you try making this slime to make this summer extra fun. What’s your favorite summer craft? Leave your comments below!

Snack Time!

It’s blueberry time in West Michigan – WOOHOO!! If you’re not already loaded up on cherries and strawberries – or if you just bleed blue – it’s your time to shine! Thanks to the JBF Corporate Blog for this cute post on summer snacks. Happy Munching!


BlueberriesJuly is here, which means tons of family fun and full-time demand for hungry kiddos! If you’re tired of hearing “Mom, I’m hungry”, this one’s for you ladies! Whether you prefer fresh fruit and vegetables or prefer to go for something a little more exciting, we’re here to help with some summer snack hacks for all appetites. Not only do we have some great ideas that will make your summer go smoothly, they’ll also keep your kids happy!

Fruit and Cheese Kabobs

What You’ll Need:

  • Colby-Jack Cheese Snacks
  • 30 Seedless Grapes
  • 1/2 lb fresh strawberries
  • 4 oz low-fat vanilla yogurt
  • Honey
  • Skewers

Directions

  1. Before cutting your fruit, cut cheese into rectangles or cubes – whichever you prefer.
  2. Then cut strawberries into thirds, or keep them whole if you prefer. However, make sure they still fit on your skewers!
  3. Following chopping the fruit and cheese, place ingredients on the skewers. Start with alternating cheese, grapes, and strawberries on skewers.
  4. Finally, drizzle honey over the vanilla yogurt and serve as a dip for fruit kabobs. Enjoy!

Apple Nachos

What You’ll Need:

  •  1 crisp, sweet apple
  • 1 tbsp dark chocolate
  • 1/4 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp coconut flakes
  • 1/2 tbsp chopped almonds

Directions:

  1. Before melting your drizzle, core your apple and slice completely. Arrange in a single layer on a plate.
  2. Then, put chocolate and coconut oil in the microwave for 15-20 seconds at a time, until completely melted and smooth. Mix between heating.
  3. Following step two, in a separate bowl, melt the peanut butter for 20-30 seconds, until soft. You’ll use this to drizzle over the apples with a spoon.
  4. Finally, Drizzle chocolate and peanut butter over the apples. Sprinkle coconut and almonds over the drizzle and enjoy!

Fresh Fruit Pizza

What You’ll Need: 

  • 1 seedless watermelon
  • 1 cup sliced strawberries
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 2 whole bananas

Directions:

  1. Start by cutting watermelon into circular slices, then cut into quarter slices.
  2. However, before you begin topping your slices make sure all other fruit is chopped. When toppings are ready, start with some strawberries, bananas, and blueberries. Add or remove whatever fruit you prefer!
  3. Lastly, trim the rind of the watermelon if you wish, if not your snack is ready to eat and enjoy.

And there you have it, folks! After all, who doesn’t love a summer snack that tastes good AND is guilt free? Even if you love the classics like celery and peanut butter, trying out a new snack this summer is always a good idea. What are some of your favorite snacks that your family loves? Leave your comments below!

Fun Poolside Activities

Thanks to the JBF Corporate Blog for some fun, creative ideas for your doodlebugs by the pool this summer. Here’s an inexpensive one that’s got some staying power. Enjoy!


Going to the pool with your kids is probably one of your go-to activities over the summer. Your kids probably love soaking in the sunshine and playing with their friends at your local pool and hanging out poolside. But how many times do you see your kids getting bored of just swimming around? Switch up your summer days by introducing some fun poolside arts and crafts! Your kids will have so much fun making these and will love playing with them in the water. Now you can relax and read a book by the poolside while your kids are entertained. One less worry for mom!

Pool Noodle Boats

Materials

Pool noodle
Plastic Straw
Hole puncher
Foam sheet
Directions

  1. Cut the pool noodle into 1- 3 inch pieces. You can use scissors or a knife to do so
  2. Cut the foam into triangles to be the “sail” of the boat. Punch holes on the top and bottom of the foam.
  3. If you have creative little ones they can decorate the foam sail. Bring some sharpies to the pool and your kids can doodle their favorite pictures and write their names on them! Or bring some stickers and decorate the foam with them as well. But be careful, these decorations may come off when wet.
  4. Fit the straw through each of the holes in the foam, and place the straw into the pool noodle.

 

These pool noodle boats take two minutes to make and your kids will love playing with them. They can put their toys inside of the boat and swim with their favorite toys! Your kids will also love playing with the boats with all their friends. They can have boat races in the water, play pretend games, you may even see them wanting to play with the boats once they’re out of the pool as well. The possibilities are endless!

Tips for a Great Summer with the Kids

Thanks to the JBF Corporate Blog for this great post!


Photo-Apr-24-4-45-34-PM.pngSummer fun. A phrase we all love to hear, but often causes parents excess stress. Yet, this stress does not come from work, it comes from making plans every day for their children. Keeping them busy and enjoying the summer sun is something we should all learn to enjoy.

Tips for a great summer

1. Look for locals. There are plenty of young, fun teenagers in neighborhoods throughout the US who want part-time or full-time summer babysitting opportunities. Reach out to them and set up a weekly schedule, even if it is just two or three days a week for some free time for yourself.

2. Plan a weekly activity. Each week map out a plan. Whether that be dropping the kids off at Grandma’s for a day or taking them to the local park, having something to look forward to will make it a lot easier for all of you.

3. Do not be afraid to ask for help. Often times, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, etc. complain about how little time they get to spend with their younger relatives. Explain to them your busy schedule for the week and see if they are willing to take the kids for a while once or twice a week. It doesn’t have to be every week, just a monthly visit that will sure to bring smiles to your kids!

4. Read. Read. Read. This does not get emphasized enough, but setting aside time to read, especially in young children and teens, does a lot of good. Make sure they are completing one decently sized book every two weeks. This will keep them busy, smart, and ahead of the game!

5. Assign Chores. A task that makes life easier for you, what a joy! Each week create a chore to do list and assign each child a few duties or errands a couple days of the week. Again, this does not have to be every day, but make sure your kid knows they still need to be doing SOME work during the summer. This will also provide them with a good work ethic for later on in life.

Summer is supposed to be fun for all! So sit back and relax. Do your work, but also help your kids out by using a few of these tips and tricks. You sure will be happy you did!