Monday, December 31, 2012

Looking Back and Looking Forward, Happy New Year's Eve

Tape balloons in all sizes to the wall. Perfect for a celebration or New Year's Eve party. Bubbles that never go flat.  #greatgatherings 

 By Patricia

If you are like me and most people I know, 2012 was a mix of the good and the bad, the everyday and the far from ordinary day.
I have come so far emotionally in this year, and I am proud of myself for growing wiser, growing a heart that is no longer broken, and finally seeing a future that I am looking forward to.
It is very hard to know how much one should put out there on your blog, how much to share about your personal life and how it effects your family, but this post feels right to me.

I have mentioned here before that my very long marriage ended eighteen months ago, and it was as painful and traumatic as one could imagine. And the holidays do bring up memories of the happy years that we all shared as a family.
But you can also drown in those memories if you are not careful. One of my New Year's resolutions is to remember that my children and grandchildren need to maintain a relationship with their father/grandfather, and it is really none of my business. That despite whatever I may feel, I need to support and encourage this. Not that this is easy by any means for me to do, but it is the right thing to do, and so I will try harder.

There is so much to be thankful for that came out of the end of my marriage, and I try to see what those things are every day. I look forward to making 2013 a better year for myself in so many ways, including some changes here on this blog.

Thank you for reading here at Popcorn and Pearls, and may you have a happy and safe New Year with the ones you love.

Photo via Everything Fabulous

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Making An Easy and Delicious Dinner of Orange Picante Chicken

By Patricia

I am a big chicken lover. Roast chicken, chicken tacos, chicken chili, and more are all some of the dishes I really love to cook and eat.
I am always interested in finding new ways to cook chicken. Although I do buy whole chickens and cut-up chickens, I really like the boneless chicken breasts the best. They are so versatile to use, and when I can get them on sale, I like to stock up on them and keep them in the freezer for easy use.

I came across this recipe for Orange Picante Chicken and made it for dinner last night. It's a delicious blend of sweet and spicy flavors, that tasted really wonderful.
It is so easy to make, requires simple ingredients, and only requires about thirty minutes from start to finish.

The majority of the time required for this recipe is to cook and slightly brown the chicken breasts. The sauce that you make to go on top of it has ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry or refrigerator, such as orange juice, brown sugar and picante sauce.

The only thing I recommend changing in this recipe is to use three tablespoons of brown sugar instead of one, which the recipe calls for. I thought the sauce needed to be sweeter and the additional brown sugar did the trick.

Curiously, this recipe for Orange Picante Chicken comes from the Campbell's Soup Kitchen website, but doesn't use any of their soup in this recipe.

This super easy and delicious chicken dish is perfect for everyday dinners, and goes with just about any side dishes like rice, potatoes, and vegetables. But I really think it would be great to serve to dinner guests too, especially if you are like me and try to keep entertaining easy but fun.


Friday, December 28, 2012

Fabulous Friday and the Book, Happier At Home

By Patricia

It is a pretty well known fact in my family that I love reading self-help books. If you look at my book shelves, you will see everything from The Secret to the Dalai Lama's How To Practice, The Way To A Meaningful Life.
And awhile back, one of my kids asked me during a particularly painful time in my life if any of these books had really helped me. And I said "Yes, because what if I hadn't read them? Maybe I would be a bigger mess than I am right now".

Thankfully, I am in a much better place than I was back then. I am a big believer in taking help and comfort where you can get it. Whether it is from family and friends, or church or your work, or a book, take what is offered and heal yourself.
So here is a great new book by Gretchen Rubin called Happier At Home. Wouldn't that be a great thing, if we all could be happier at home with our spouses, our children, the things in our house, and increase the love and joy there?

Happier At Home shows how to increase our happiness, and also how to learn to appreciate the happiness that already exits there. With chapters about family, neighborhood, marriage, interior design and more, the author shows us the art of practicing happiness in our lives every single day.

And the truth is, if we are not happy at home, we are not happy out in the world, and we are not making a positive contribution to others. I liked this book very much, and it did open my eyes to see how I can make myself happier, more fulfilled, and more content at home.

I hope everyone has a Fabulous Friday and a wonderful weekend shared with people you love, whether you are at home or someplace else.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Campus Book Rentals

As the mother of college age kids, I know all about the high prices of college textbooks. Buying textbooks is a very large part of a college student's budget. Sometimes it can really be a struggle for parents and their students to pay for all the textbooks required in their classes.

But now there is a great alternative to purchasing high priced textbooks. Campus Book Rentals lets you rent your books at a fraction of the price you would normally pay to buy them.


Renting books at Campus Book Rentals is easy, fast and efficient. All you do is enter the ISBN#, or title, or author, or even the book's subject into the search field and you can find the book. Super easy! The books are then delivered right to your door, with free shipping both ways.

Campus Book Rentals also offers:

- Savings of 40 - 90 % off of bookstore prices

-Largest selection in the nation

- Students can highlight in the textbooks

- Offers flexible renting periods on books

- Includes free shipping both ways

-Live customer support

- A donation is made to Operation Smile with every textbook rented

The savings you get from renting textbooks from Campus Book Rentals is amazing. As an example, go check out this textbook, Basic Teachings of the Great Philosophers.

So if you are a parent of college age children and helping them to purchase their textbooks, or are a student yourself, looking to ease the financial burden, go to Campus Book Rentals.
You will be so glad you did!

* This is a sponsored post.


The Day After Christmas

Freeze whipped cream on a cookie sheet, use cookie cutter to cut out hearts or other shapes and serve with hot cocoa.... 

By Patricia

I always love the day after Christmas. Everything you had to do is done, or not done, and you can sit back and reflect on what the day was like.
Today is cold and wet, and I am writing this from my warm and toasty bed, that I am reluctant to get out of.  Another cup of coffee or maybe some yummy cocoa is just what I need. And maybe I just might hit up an after Christmas sale or two.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas, and you are enjoying this day after.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

My Holiday Sweeties

By Patricia

It's just three days before Christmas, and if you are like me, you are busy trying to finish last minute shopping and holiday preparations. We are blessed if we have family and friends to shop for, and cook for and enjoy.
I went to the mall with two of my daughters to get my grand children's picture taken with Santa. Two of the children cried as they were put on Santa's lap. But that really didn't matter because nothing made me feel more blessed than to know I have four beautiful grandchildren, and five wonderful grown children.

I guess the holiday is making me feel grateful for all that I do have, and I'm not thinking about what I lack.
That is a blessing in itself.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Being Security Conscious At Home During The Holidays

With Christmas and New Year's upon us, for many families, this is the busiest time of year.
Our homes can take on special meaning at this time, as they are often the place we invite friends and family to share the holidays with.
Unfortunately, because we are so busy, we don't realize that during the holiday season burglars and thieves can target our homes more easily.

Burglars know that inside many homes there are hundreds or thousands of dollars worth of Christmas presents under the tree. And though we may be busy, taking the time to become more security conscious about your house can prevent you and your home from becoming a victim of crime.

There are simple and obvious things that you can do to make your home more safe and secure. Making sure that all doors and windows are locked is the best safety precaution, but I know that I have sometimes forgotten to do this. This also includes locking your garage doors, as this is often an easy way for a thief to enter a house.
Keep your blinds closed when you are not home so that burglars cannot see what is inside your home. Make sure to keep your porch light on at night, and have motion sensitive lights installed outdoors.
One of my favorite tips is to leave your second car parked in your driveway, or ask a neighbor to park in your driveway so that it looks like someone is home if you are away on a trip.

Home security is somethings that concerns us all, and by simply taking a look at how to improve ours, we can keep our homes and families safer during the holidays and everyday.

It is often worth investing in a home security system to keep our property safe and give us peace of mind. And here is an article with a twist on home security, Christmas, and that jolly old elf himself, Santa Claus.

Have a safe and happy holiday season.

This is a sponsored post. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

How About A Holiday Cocktail?

Christmas cranberry margaritas
Christmas Cranberry Margarita

By Patricia
I am not much of a drinker, but during the holidays I do love a cheery Christmas cocktail.
I remember my father always making hot buttered rum at Christmas, and the year I was finally old enough to drink one is a happy memory for me. I finally felt like I was one of the grown-ups.
Pinterest is filled with tons of holiday ideas, of course, cocktail ideas included. I am inspired to make one of these on Christmas Eve.
 Maybe more then one. Cheers!!!
Vanilla Pear Cocktail
Vanilla Pear Cocktail
Baileys Chocolate Martini
Baileys Chocolate Martini
christmas cranberry ginger fizz cocktail
Christmas Cranberry Ginger Fizz Cocktail
Holiday cocktail: Spicy GingerMan
Spicy Ginger Man
Christmas Rum Punch  !
And here is a wonderful Christmas Rum Punch

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Pretty Holiday Wreaths

Love the idea of hanging a fun colored glass ornament wreath to a display case.
Images from Better Homes and Gardens
By Patricia
One of my absolute favorite ways to decorate for Christmas is with wreaths. I love a fresh, simple green wreath tied with a ribbon, but these certainly caught my eye.
I love the beauty and creativity of these wreaths, and would love to hang any of them on my door.

Use a pack of dollar store snowflakes for this... 
 Decorating: Holiday Wreaths - Traditional Home®

Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas Shopping, I'm Getting It Done!!

By Patricia

I am not really the kind of person who gets things done early. I don't usually sit back in happy satisfaction and cross things off my list with plenty of time to spare. But this year I am really on top of things having to do with Christmas, and it does feel great!!

The packages I have shipped out of state are on their way and will arrive in plenty of time. This is a first for me, as usually I have to pay more and still worry about them arriving in time for Christmas.
I am almost done with my other shopping as well. And I have already made two batches of fudge that I put in my Christmas packages.
Forgive me for bragging, but this is truly a first for me!! Hopefully I can carry this into the New Year and become more efficient all the way around. That would be the best present I could give to myself.

So how is your Christmas shopping going? Do tell, I would love to know any tips or suggestions you might have to pass along.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Huggies Pull-Ups Training Pants Help Make Potty Training Easier #HuggiesWalmart #Cbias

After raising my five children and getting them all through potty training, I am now helping one of my daughters potty train her two and a half year old son, Liam. I am a very involved grandparent, and I love being able to be with my grandchildren much of the time.

I had really forgotten how challenging potty training can be, and it is a different experience with each child. Parents today are so lucky to have Huggies Pull-Ups Training Pants to help make potty training easier.
I went to Walmart to buy a few packs for my grandson, and loved how they are designed for boys, and for girls. I found super cute Huggies Pull-Ups for boys with The Cars characters on them. Liam loves Cars, and I knew he would love wearing these.

I was very happy to see Walmart's low prices were even lower on these pull-ups because of their great rollback prices. The rollback prices are available in the store, or online at

Potty training is never easy, but I have found that it helps a lot to talk about it with your child and it gets them to cooperate more. This is certainly true for my grandson, and if we ask him if he wants to go potty like it is the most fun thing in the whole world, he usually says yes, and then does.

We keep everything very positive about potty training, even accidents, because there is just no reason to make this a negative experience for him or ourselves.

Not only does my grandson love wearing these Huggies as training pants, he thinks they make pretty cool hats, too!!

They fit nicely on him and don't sag or fall down even when wet. We also like the convenience of tossing them in the trash if he has an accident, and not having to deal with the mess of cloth training pants.
The Cars characters printed on the training pants have definitely made my grandson more interested in wearing them and add an element of fun for him.

Huggies Pull-Ups come in three different sizes, from 2T - 5T, so whatever size or weight your child is, there is a size available for them. There is also a cute design for girls, too.

Liam has been potty training for about three months now, and has had a few successful days, and days where he isn't interested in going to the potty at all. Of course, we realize this is a long process and don't want to pressure him, and sooner or later he will be completely potty trained.

We have tried using stickers as a reward and he does seem to like that, and it does help. On days when he doesn't want to use the potty at all, M&Ms can make him change him mind. But bribery really isn't something we want to start as an everyday occurrence. The thing he does love most of all is the praise and hugs he gets, and we are more than happy to give to him.

With Walmart's great rollback prices, buying Huggies Pull-Ups Training Pants really is a smart choice for potty training your child.

The easy-open sides that allow for quick on and off, plus the fun designs that children like, encourage success in this very important stage of your child's life.

You can find out more about Huggies Pull-Ups and other Huggies products by going here. You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.

*I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and Huggies. #HuggiesWalmart #CBias #SocialFabric All opinions expressed in this post are my own.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Hot Kitchen Trends Apron Review and Giveaway - Holiday Gift Guide.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Easy Christmas Crafting With A Two Year old.

By Patricia

My six year old grandson is in Kindergarten, where doing crafts is practically a law. But his two year old brother doesn't get to do nearly as many, and I thought he would enjoy spending time with me while we did our own craft together.
I have always enjoyed making paper chains at Christmas with my own children, they are super quick and easy, so this is the project I chose for us. Red and green paper, glue sticks, glitter, and scissors are all you need.

It was a little messy with the glitter and glue but Liam was very proud of himself after I hung this up in the kitchen. This really is a great fun Christmas project for preschoolers, or anyone who wants to put together something quick and easy.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Making A Yummy Winter Supper

By Patricia

When I was a kid, my family had breakfast for dinner a couple of times a month. I always somehow found it comforting to see my mother at the stove making us sausage, eggs, and french toast.
I did the same thing when my own children were growing up, and they loved it, too. So now I still cook breakfast for dinner once in awhile for my grown children and grandchildren. It is a wonderful opportunity for us to have a cozy dinner together on a cold night.

This is a recipe for a yummy dish called Farmers Casserole. It is easy to fix and is hearty enough to make a filling dinner. You don't have to use sausage, you can also use Canadian Bacon or ham, it's delicious with any kind of meat. And any leftovers heat up to taste great. Delicious!!

Farmers Casserole

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 3
    cups frozen shredded hash brown potatoes
  • 3/4
    cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese with jalapeno peppers or shredded cheddar cheese (3 ounces)
  • 1
    cup diced cooked ham, cooked breakfast sausage or Canadian-style bacon
  • 1/4
    cup sliced green onions (2)
  • 4
    beaten eggs or 1 cup refrigerated or frozen egg product, thawed
  • 1 1/2
    cups milk or one 12-ounce can evaporated milk or evaporated fat-free milk
  • 1/8
    teaspoon salt
  • 1/8
    teaspoon black pepper


    1. Coat a 2-quart baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Arrange potatoes evenly in the bottom of the dish. sprinkle with cheese, sausage, and green onions. 

    2. In a bowl, combine eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Pour egg mixture over potato mixture in dish.

    3. Bake, uncovered, in a 350 degree oven for 40-45 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
    Makes 6 servings. 






Friday, December 7, 2012

Seattle Christmas Family Fun For The Holidays

Snowglobe 770px 

By Patricia

If you are in the Seattle area, you must come visit Winterfest at the Seattle Center. Every year the Space Needle grounds are turned into a winter wonderland.
Generations  of families come every year to ice skate, visit the Train Village, listen to live musical performances, eat holiday foods and more. Winterfest continues for six weeks, and kicks off with a performance by the Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra.

Christmas in Seattle

So whether you are in Seattle for a visit, or you live here, the holidays are always a spectacular time of year.
The Argosy Christmas Ship Festival, The Gingerbread Children's Village  and watching Elf, The Musical at the 5th Ave Theater, are just some of the great, family-friendly activities you will find. Here is also a great reference guide of Holiday happenings in Seattle and it's surrounding areas.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Simple Reindeer Ornaments

Our supplies: Ornaments, Paint, Permanent Marker (not picture was the red glitter glue I used for the nose)

Let the kids dip their thumb in the paint!

Stamp their finger on the ornament, I had them do it twice for 2 reindeer.

After the paint dried I drew the eyes and antlers, their name and the year, followed up by a red nose :)

The reindeer are not perfect, but that's what happens with small children and projects!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

All The Things On My Christmas List, But They Aren't For Me


By Patricia

One of the greatest things about being a grandmother is that I can buy my four grandchildren presents without consulting their mothers (my daughters). So silly hats, ridiculous outfits, and way too many toys have been the norm.
The worries, exhaustion, and  responsibilities are mostly gone. And you are just able to love them, even on the days that watching them feels like you are inside the wackiest zoo on earth.
I was just looking through my Pinterest boards and seeing all the darling things available for kids, and thought I would share a few.

Red Coat and Toque by Sarah Louise

christopher fischer fox sweater



So stinkin cute

baby hunters