The holidays are such a magical time of the year for so many.  As I shop for my family and loved ones in the month leading up to Christmas,  I’m often reminded that many people aren’t as fortunate as we are.  While I don’t have lots of extra money to buy fancy, expensive gifts, I also don’t have to choose between buying a gift for my child and buying groceries.  For some families, this time of year is really a struggle; I’m sure every family wants to give their child what they dream of, but some people just aren’t able to.

As my girls were growing up, I wanted to make sure that they understood that they really had it good.  They didn’t always have name brand shoes or clothes or the latest gadgets, but they always had a place to live, plenty to eat, and clothes to wear.   So we have always tried to give back in whatever way we could, even if it seemed small.  Sometimes what seems small to us is huge to the other person.  And hopefully some day, if they are able, they will pay it forward to someone else that needs help.

Another thing that I often think about during the holidays are the people that don’t get to spend those special days with their families.  I think about all of the service men and women stationed in other parts of the world, away from their own families, protecting our country.  That’s a huge sacrifice!  And what about the men and women that protect us locally?  Firefighters and police officers don’t get to take those days off to spend with their families either.  But it’s easy to take a few minutes to say thank you to these people for their sacrifices to keep us safe!

I’ve always told my girls that helping out in the community and world was easy.  There is likely an organization that could use your time or money for whatever cause you are passionate about.  Whether you love children, pets, running, or nature, there is an organization that could use your talents!

My daughter and I sat down with some Apple Pie milkshakes that we whipped up (keep reading for the recipe) and brainstormed a list of 20 ways that our family (and your family) can volunteer this holiday season.  Many of these ideas are great for the rest of the year too!  I think we could have gone on and on once we started talking about it and the ideas started flowing!  I  created a fun printable that you can look over with your family and see what activities appeal most to you!  We’re excited about getting out in the community and doing some good! (Click here for printable).

Download the printable here.

Your family may find several suggestions on this list that appeal to you, but if not, it’s a great time to sit down together and talk about what is meaningful to you.  If your kids are old enough, have them sit down and make a list of 5 things they would like to do.  Then decide as a family what you want to do to make a difference.  The possibilities are endless and the time spent together as a family is priceless!

Since this week is Thanksgiving, we decided to kick the season off with delivering a pie to the fire station on Thanksgiving morning.  We’ll be heading out of town for the day, so it will be easy to bake one while we’re packing and drop it by the station on our way to visit my daughter.  To be honest though, I haven’t really baked many pies so I think I’m better off leaving that to the experts.  So I picked up a couple of Marie Callender’s® Dessert Pies and some Reddi-wip® when I was at Walmart.  Pecan pie is a Thanksgiving tradition with a generous portion of Reddi-wip® so that was a must.  I also grabbed the lattice apple pie because it’s hands-down the best apple pie ever (sorry, Grandma) and we love pie-cycling it into milkshakes (the recipe is coming, I promise!).  A pie is the perfect way to say thank you and deliver that taste of home, even when you can’t be home to enjoy it.  It’s a great way to share the joy of pie!

Ok, so now on to the recipe.  As with most of my inspiration, this idea started with Pinterest.  The beginning of fall brought with it all things apple.  I kept seeing so many recipes for apple pie milkshakes and knew I had to make one.  As I browsed through the recipes, I quickly realized that these were just apple pie flavored recipes.  There was no actual apple pie in them.  Isn’t that a lot like false advertising?  Seems like it to me.  So I decided to make a 100% genuine apple pie milkshake.  Although I haven’t tried any of the imposter apple pie milkshakes, I think I can safely say there is no substitute for the real thing!

This is seriously one of the easiest and best milkshakes you can ever make, especially if you’ve ever found yourself debating if you should have pie or ice cream.  I simplified that decision for you!  No need to thank me

I used the lattice apple pie with my recipe but I am certain that any of the other pies would be just as amazing – like the southern pecan pie, lattice cherry pie, or even pumpkin pie.  After you’ve selected your pie, bake it according to the package directions.  Cut a slice and add to your blender with 2-3 scoops of quality vanilla ice cream and a little milk to thin it some.  Blend until the pie chunks are gone, adding a little more milk if you want to thin it more.  Next, pour it into glasses, add Reddi-wip and a straw and enjoy!

Fajita Street Tacos

Ingredients

For Pico de gallo:
4 roma tomatoes, chopped
1 small white onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, chopped (more if you like it hotter)
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
juice from 1/2 a lime

For tacos:
2 lbs marinated beef fajita meat (we get our’s already marinated from a local Mexican meat market)
16 corn tortillas
avocado
pico de gallo
cheese (I used Mexican crumble cheese but you’re favorite cheese will work)

Instructions

To make pico de gallo:
Chop tomatoes, onions, jalapeno, cilantro and add to small dish.
Add a squeeze of lemon juice.
Refrigerate while beef is cooking.
To make tacos:
On a hot grill, add fajita meat and cook until no longer pink inside.
Slice fajita meat or cut into cubes.
Add fajita meat to corn tortilla.
Top with avocado, pico de gallo, cheese, and cilantro and enjoy.

Does your family volunteer during the holidays or throughout the year?  I’d love to hear how you make the world a better place!  

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