Easy Cake Mix Christmas Cookies

It’s almost Christmas and the excitement is in the air. As I write this my husband is putting our Christmas lights in the front windows, Christmas music is blaring from Pandora, and Chance is staring at the miniature Santa we have in the dining room. I can’t wait to see Dereon’s face when he comes in from school to see that Christmas is in full effect in the Pyles’ home officially.

Tonight I plan on watching a good Holiday movie while eating some cookies and milk with the family. Last night I made 3 patches of some Cake Mix Christmas Cookies! If you know me then you know I’m not a baker, but my Blogger Boo Natasha from Houseful Of Nicholes had a wonderful idea to do a Cookie Blog hop titled #HousefulOfCookies it’s like 25 days of cookie recipes! This is my second year being a part of the fun. You can check out the cookies I made last year here.


This year I wanted something that wouldn’t break the break and wouldn’t give me a headache either. These cookies are easy, cheap, kid friendly and tasty! I’m all for easy and cheap. Lol. Being a mom of 2 makes you look at your budget a little differently. Who doesn’t want to do a Christmas themed project with the kids for only a few bucks while creating priceless memories. This was the perfect thing to do!


Dereon helped add the ingredients and lick the spoon afterwards to confirm the cookie dough was actually tasty. Dennis helped whip up the batter with the mixer and Chance was sleep thank heavens! Lol. Overall it was fun and once the Cookies came out we decided to make these a staple in our home. 

Make a batch and let me know your thoughts. Also the Cookie Blog Hop has just started so check out the hashtag #HousefulOfCookies to see what other bloggers are baking! 


Cake Mix Christmas Cookies

Prep time: 15 mins

Cook time: 10 mins

Makes 3 batches 

Ingredients:

1 box of Vanilla Cake Mix

1 stick of Unsalted Butter, softened at room temperature

3 Eggs

2 tsp of Vanilla Extract

2 Tbsp of Confetti Sprinkles

The Instructions 

1) Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

2) In a mixing bowl add the cake mix, butter, eggs and vanilla extract, and mix well with a hand mixer. Add your Christmas colored sprinkles and gently fold those in.

3) Using a small ice cream scoop, scoop the dough onto your cookie sheet which you should spray with a nonstick spray.

4) Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown around the edges. 

5) Let them cool for about 5 minutes and enjoy with a cup of cold milk!

What to tell your kid about the 2016 Election 


I voted. Instagramed my voting sticker. Facebooked a few inspiring posts to get my peers to participate in the election as well. I smiled so big when I picked my 9 year old son up from school and told him that I “rocked the vote!” He was upset I went without him, but I told him he can stay up just a little later that evening to watch the election numbers come in. That worked for him and we darted home to sit in front of the TV to watch Hilary Clinton take the position of the new Commander in Chief!

As the hours rolled by the coverage on CNN began to bother me. My 9 year old had to color in the color of which party won which state for his homework and I began seeing red (literally). He began asking “what’s going on mom?” All I could do was sit in silence because I was thinking the same thing. How was Donald Trump really taking the lead from a woman that has committed most of her adult life to public service and had experience in the White House. How could we have gone from 8 amazing years with President Obama to electing a racist ? How could this bully and womanizer be anybody’s choice for President?

Another hour passed by and my 9 year old son began to fall asleep. I told him to pray and go lay down and that things would be better in the morning, but now that the numbers are in and I see that Trump has won. Things won’t be better in the morning. What do I tell my son when he wakes up in the morning looking for information on who the next President will be? 

I’m clueless on what to tell my black boy living on the West Side of Chicago with a set of “working class” parents. I can’t lie and say Hilary won. I can’t lie and tell him that everything will be okay because I don’t know if that’s true…since Donald has became the President elect our stock market has already began to drop. Trump has already showed us his temper so war with another country is almost a given.

Black America is on pins and needles to see how “Making America great again” is going to work for us as a whole because it doesn’t seem like we were included in the plan. Parents are battling with the same thoughts I have. How do you explain to your child that sometimes life doesn’t seem fair and you’ve got to just roll with the punches? We as a people have to be honest and upfront with ourselves and our children. We don’t know what the future may hold, but we know who holds the future. Keep praying and trusting God and taking life one day at a time because there is no way we can change America’s vote. But we can change how we view America and our communities. The next 4 years won’t be easy but if our Ancestors made it so can we.
Be strong. 

The best place to go in Chicago for last minute Halloween costumes!

Can you believe how close Halloween is? It’s right around the corner and so many of my friends are complaining that they still don’t have their costumes yet. All I had to say was Fantasy costumes

Chicago’s largest costume megastore, will be open 24 hours/day until Halloween for last minute Halloween shopping! Fantasy Costumes offers customers a city block long store with over 1,000,000 selections including costumes, accessories, makeup and more. Fantasy Costumes carries 2016’s most popular costumes.


The family and I headed over to find some costumes with all the the cute bells and whistles and we lucked up when we stopped at Fantasy Costumes! Wall to wall full of costumes, accessories, and wigs to complete any and every look you could think of. From babies to adults Fantasy Costumes has you covered.


For my plus size girls they have you in mind and to my big and tall men you aren’t forgotten about either. Shopping for costumes can be hard, but I think the hardest part for us was picking from the millions of costumes right in front of us. If you are still searching for the perfect costume check them out! I will say since my husband birthday is on Halloween we celebrate a little more than most, but it’s always pure fun. Can’t wait to show you our costumes! 

This is No Trick – IHOP Offers Free Scary Face Pancakes This Halloween

If you follow my Snapchat then you already know I’m addicted to IHOP! It’s super kid friendly and the prices aren’t overwhelming which is important to me as a mom. Chance is eating his own “Kid’s Meals” now and Dereon is eating from the adult menu so when a place boasts about “Free” anything I’m interested.

Well good news for other moms, dads, and grandparents like me. This Halloween, IHOP Restaurants will transform into the “International Haunted House of Pancakes” with their frighteningly delicious Scary Face Pancakes! Little ones will get to enjoy this customizable treat for FREE for kids 12 and under from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Monday, October 31st! 

Children can let their imaginations run wild by decorating their own Scary Face Pancake at IHOP! Scary Face Pancakes come with a world-famous Buttermilk Pancake topped with whipped cream, a strawberry nose and served with a side of OREO® cookies and candy corn so your kids can let their silliness shine through with their monster creations. 

The kiddos will enjoy being creative and eating what they made while mom and dad can rest knowing this family date night won’t break the bank!

Ferrara Candy Company is sharing goodness: Boo! At the Zoo

Kids love candy and if it’s gummy or sour they love it even more! This past weekend my family and I headed out to Brookfield Zoo to explore “Boo! At the Zoo”. We were greeted by super friendly and fun candy booths full of treats for the zoo goers. The kids faces instantly lit up when they received a treat. This was going on at 5 different spots around the zoo. 


We were able to have a VIP animal encounter with a cool Zoo keeper and a pretty cool wild cat. Ferrara Candy Company invited more than 100 kids out to experience this one on one time and boy did they enjoy themselves. When it was time for questions even the adults chimed in. 


Ferrara Candy Company is definitely sharing goodness with the community by sponsoring 400 plus neighbors with complimentary admission and transportation to Boo! at the Zoo. They sent buses to gather kids from their schools to enjoy the fun at the zoo! They are also donating more than 10,000 lbs. of candy and providing more than 300 volunteers to make this Halloween super special and spooktacular for the community. I know for a fact they donated tons of candy because I grabbed a few pieces of candy myself. Lol.

It really warms my heart to see a company five back and really do it where the community can definitely benefit from it. Just seeing the kids in their costumes smiling ear to ear with their candy just made my day.


UniverSoul Circus brings Soul to Chicago

Last week me and the kiddos ventured to Washington Park to check out the UniverSoul Circus and boy let me tell you…we had a blast! This was baby Chance’s first time at the circus and I couldn’t be happier with the show. We danced and laughed as we became a part of the  most interactive circus ever.


I remember being a young adult and taking my little sister to the “Soul Circus” it was always a treat for me too (even though I never told her that lol). The music would always be up to date and she knew all the dance moves they were doing. Well fast forward 10 years later and guess what? We are back atthe circus this time and now she’s a college student home for her Fall break. We also have now added my 2 kids and our little sister Dionne. My mom even tagged along this time. LaToya from The Fat Girl of Fashion who happens to be one of my Blogger boos invited us to check out the show with her.


The show kept us ooohing and aahing the whole night. It was so interesting that it kept the attention of my 1 year old (which is a hard thing to do!)


Dereon and Dionne couldn’t stay seated, they danced on every song!


I don’t believe in spoilers so I won’t tell you everything that happened at the UniverSoul Circus, but be prepared to be amazed. Tricks, illusions, and entertainment for days.


The Circus will be in town until October 30, 2016. You can grab your tickets online or at the box office outside of the Big Top located at Washington Park


The kiddos had a blast as we created priceless memories with the help of the Soul Circus! Definitely check them out when they come to your city and if you are in Chicago grab your tickets today because time is winding down. 

Free family fun at a Chicago Museum?

If you are anything like me you love going out and having a good time and it’s even better if you have your family with you. What if you could take the whole family to a Chicagoland museum for free? Pretty awesome right?  Well you can. The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum is now offering free entry on Thursdays (9 a.m. To 5 p.m.) for Illinois residents.

This month is your last chance to get on stage to see if you have what it takes to become a meteorologist with their functioning green screen in Weather to Climate: Our Changing World, which closes Oct. 23. As the weather cools down, it’s always summer in the Judy Istock Butterfly Haven where newly emerged butterflies take their first flight every Thursday at 2 p.m. Starting November 5, get eyeball-to-eyeball with 70 exotic frogs and play on a mini zip line for the opening of Frogs: A Chorus of Colors, an immersive temporary exhibit. 

This October, there’s always something special to see on Thursdays!

· Oct. 13: Enter to win a lifetime membership and take advantage of our discounted new membership offers to kick off Chicago Museum Week 2016

· Oct. 20: WeDigBio- Birds (2-5 p.m.) and Plants (6-8 p.m.) Join us for this worldwide event where we help digitize our natural history collections

· Oct. 27: Visit 131 newborn endangered Blanding’s turtles that are living at the Nature Museum temporarily to grow in a predator-free zone

There is no excuse on why you can’t swing a family fun day at the Nature museum. 

Preparing for Christmas in the Fall! 

I know Fall just got here, but I’m mentally already in the Winter season preparing for Christmas. Since Dereon is 9 and pretty mature his Christmas list has slowly started to change and he started asking for less items, but now the few things he does list is pretty expensive And since Baby Chance is only 1 we will get him a few little things for him to open up on Christmas morning, but nothing too major. So to be proactive this year I told him to write his Christmas list a little earlier than the traditional November time frame. He came up with 10 things and half of them were very inexpensive so I smiled with glee, but then as the list continued I saw more tech savvy items like a Drone which isn’t cheap. I sighed. A drone? Really? The wheels in my head started to turn and I realized that I could get the Drone and the few other items he requested if I started knocking them out now. No reason in waiting until December to shop when you already know what you are getting.

I made a few calls and found out that Walmart’s Christmas layaway is in full force and that I can start shopping now and making payments to pay my total off. How awesome is that? But wait it gets better! Kmart has a layaway too and it’s active throughout the year. 

Not only is Layaway a good way to prepare early for Christmas, but here are a few other tips to get you ready for the season to be jolly.

1. Make a list of everyone you are buying a gift for and come up with a budget.

2. Stick to your budget! 

3. Look online for the items on your list. I’ve seen huge price differences from online prices and instore prices. 

4. If you shop at a certain store for your Christmas shopping then start buying gift cards for that store now. $5 here…$10 there…adds up. If you do this a few times in October alone you could have a $100 gift card balance by November to help tackle Santa’s long list.

5. Be realistic! If it’s something on your list that you can’t afford, don’t fret. For example your hubby wants a 50″ 3D TV and it’s not in your budget try to see if you can get him a pair of those virtual reality glasses & game bundle packs. Or give him some cash or a gift card on that big ticket item in a cool card. Don’t stress or go into debt for a Christmas gift because then you are missing the real reason for the season!
Happy Shopping guys! I’ll be back with more money saving tips, holiday gift guides, and giveaways for this Christmas season.

Turning The Page & SAIC: Art fun Saturday!

Today was a lot of fun! Hung out with the oldest kiddo today and joined a group we are a part of through his school Turning The Page. This program offers really cool, cultured, & free field trips for the members of the school that they partner with. They also host great family events at the schools every month to get families engaged with their student’s learning, meet other parents, etc. 

The adventure today was creating art work with recycled materials! I love being creative and trying new things out so this was lots of fun. Dereon enjoyed getting messy with the paint and exploring painting with different types of objects.


While we created masterpieces I took a break to observed the amazing view from the art room. 


The art class was held at SAIC at Homan Square. They offer so many different programs so definitely check them out if you or your children are into art and exploring. 

Today was a priceless moment for Dereon and I. He didn’t have to hear me say not to make a mess or have to create what everyone else was creating. He was able to be free and creative and let his artistic side out.


A huge thank you to Turning The Page for giving parents these opportunities to connect with their children.


Oh and I know you want to see some of our masterpieces so I’ll post a few pics below. Make sure you follow me on Snapchat so you can see all the behind the scenes of my daily random life. ❤️

Free Movie tickets? Cheap family date!

Movie-lovers are welcomed to visit any Cinemark theatre on Saturday, August 20, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. local time to view free select DreamWorks Animation movies, including Shrek, Kung Fu Panda 3, Home, How to Train Your Dragon 2 and Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted: the ideal indoor getaway to beat the late summer heat and provide fun for the whole family! 


Select concession items will be specially priced at $2, including small popcorn, 16-ounce soft drinks and all packaged candy. Exclusive ME to WE Rafiki bracelets will also be available for $3 each. Proceeds from the promoted concession items and Rafiki bracelets will be donated to benefit WE Charity, a charitable division of WE. WE is a unique family of organizations that brings people together and gives them the tools to change the world, locally and globally.

School has started back for some and is around the corner for others enjoy a cheap family movie date while giving back! Click here to find the closet location to you.