Our Fave Books For Boys

 

Our Fave Books For Boys.pngBeing a boy mom is definitely a different type of motherhood, I know it sounds silly, but its true!

I think boys  (mostly) are not super interested in reading naturally so I always am in search of books that are fun to read together at night or independently to help their reading fluency.

I will preface by saying my older (9 year old) couldn’t care less about reading and thats a struggle to find books (and now chapter books) that he loves to read.

Below I will post our faves that can either be read TO your kiddos, or they can attempt on their own depending on their abilities.

Boy moms will for sure appreciate the recommendations, and I’m sure girls would enjoy these as well.

** MOM TIPS**

  • Utilize your library. I request books on an app straight from my phone and I go to the library and pick up the physical books I requested.
  • You can get physical books, digital books, or even audio books through your library- ALL FREE! No more clutter and books you have to store and manage (thats a struggle in my house)

     Links for my local moms-

           Library App to request, renew and manage books.

         App for digital books too. I have both on my phone.

  • If you’re big into buying books, check out the used option on Amazon when checking out, or thriftbooks.com for cheaper options.

 

 

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1-Dragon Masters 2- How To Train Your Dragon 3- Galaxy Zack 4- Haggis And Tank 5- Unicorn and Yeti 6- Princess Pink  7- Eerie Elementary 8- Press Start! 9-The Notebook of Doom 10- The Last Kids On Earth 11- Hardy Boys 12- Ben Braver 

 

Look for Scholastic Acorn & Branches books

They are great books as your kids get  into chapter books, and there are great comprehension questions at the end of every book. I love that even for older kiddos, there are still pictures on every page- thats KEY for my older one.

Look for the logo in the top right corner- Acorn books are aimed at children who are learning to read. With easy-to-read text, a short-story format, plenty of humor, and full-color artwork on every page, these books will boost reading confidence and fluency. Acorn books plant a love of reading and help readers grow!

Branches are aimed at newly independent readers. With easy-to-read text, high-interest content, fast-paced plots, and illustrations on every page, these books will boost reading confidence and stamina. Branches books help readers grow!


 

Dragon Masters- There are over 10 books in this series, each under 100 pages and pictures on each page. The story is a fun magical ride for the younger kids.

How To Train Your Dragon Series- Keeping with the dragon theme, we love How to Train Your Dragon! There are 11 of these books, and I loved the fact that the books DO NOT follow the same plot line as the movies. Same characters, different stories. They are about a 5th grade reading level, they don’t have a lot of pictures, but my younger one is really into listening to me read them to him at night.

 Galaxy Zack- There are SO many of these books, I believe over 15! This series is fun, its about a boy named Zack (who is 8 years old, right up our alley here) who has to go with his family and live on a new planet called Nebulon. He loves pizza, like my oldest and I think its a really fun story. I’m looking forward to reading more of these this summer.

Haggis And Tank- This is an acorn scholastic book, and there are more in the series. It follows a Scottish terrier (Haggis) and a Great Dane (Tank) as they go on make believe adventures. There are questions at the end of the book to go back over and pick up on different parts of the story, like the use of homophones and key points in that story.

Yeti And Unicorn- Another acorn scholastic book with questions and some drawing directions at the back. This follows the friendship between Yeti and Unicorn and its so cute!

Princess Pink- Now this is a deceiving title. It is a book with the name PRINCESS in it, but I love how these stories create a fun spin on classic fairytales like the Three Little Pigs, Jack and the Beanstalk, and the Little Red Riding Hood. Even though it says Princess- its still a fun twist on stories for the boys.

A Friend For Dragon Another Acorn book I forgot to picture, was written by the author of DogMan and Captain Underpants (Dav Pilkey) and the few books he wrote surround Dragon and him finding a friend (which is an apple) having a fat  cat (it was super funny) and problem solving. They were really cute and funny.

Eerie Elementary- My oldest really got into these, they are not my favorite but if he is engaged and interested I’ll help facilitate that interest. The plot line in this series follows a group of kids as they protect the school “Eerie Elementary” and its students from different things that come to life and haunts it;  like the swingset or the science experiments.

Press Start! I will say this is my FAVORITE find for boys so far. These books take place inside a video game that a boy in the story plays. There are 12 books, and each has a different obstacle to overcome. The villian wanting to (like all video games) destroy the innocent. It reminded me of Bowser in all of the Mario Bros. games. My oldest loved these!! They are at an almost 3rd grade reading level, and he was able to and interested in reading them ALL ALONE!

The Notebook Of Doom- We checked this out from the library, there were multiple books in the series, and from what I saw it reminded me of Eerie Elementary, but we didn’t read it yet. It seemed great for my older reader.

The Last Kids On Earth- This book was another good pick for my oldest. It follows some kids as they navigate their way through a post apocalyptic (without being overly mature or graphic) Earth. There are multiple in the series, and it was a good read. This is a realistic chapter book, with very little pictures, and was a good one to read TO them at night.

Hardy Boys- Another pick for the older readers. This is an obvious remake on the classic Hardy Boys books, but with a modern spin on their missions. The first in the series was kind of flat, but this (book #6) was much more appealing to both my son and husband. They reported back that this was better than #1.

Ben Braver- This was a favorite of my oldest as well. There are two books in the series, and we read the first. The second is on its way to our library. It follows a boy (Ben Braver) as he attends a school for kids with super powers and he tries to find his own, but ends up not having “super powers”. He was still able to save the school and make a difference without them. It had a good message.

 

 

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I hope this helps you select some fun books for your kiddos!

-XoXo

Hannah

Amazing Avocado Dip

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I ran across this recipe on Pinterest and read the full recipe on the Listotic blog.  It will definitely be something I make often! The best thing, its only a few ingredients! 

It was a hit for Bachelorette viewing night too. Its so simple and can be made quickly! I tweaked her recipe, by adding real red onion vs. onion powder, and I used cilantro instead of parsley to give it more of a guac feel.

 

Amazing Avocado Dip

Ingredients

  • 3 large avocados (chopped into small chunks)
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes (chopped into small chunks)
  • 4 ounces plain crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 small bunch of fresh cilantro (chopped fine)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1.5 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp or more of garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh onion or 1 tsp onion powder (I used red onion)
  • 1 bag tortilla chips for serving

 

Directions:

  1.  Combine all of the ingredients together in a bowl, except for the avocados.
  2. Our recipes differed here- I then added the avocados and I mashed them to a chunky but still semi solid consistency with the rest of the ingredients. I refrigerated for maybe 2 hours before serving.

Her Step 2- Refrigerate for a few hours or overnight, and then chop the avocados and gently stir them in just before serving.

Your choice, it feels like a tomato/tomatoe situation, with either result being a delicious dip!

 

Enjoy!!

XoXo

-Hannah

What The Wind Knows by Amy Harmon

FullSizeRender.jpegMy book read for May was What The Wind Knows by Amy Harmon, this hit on all the characteristics of books that I love to read.

It is no secret that I am a BIG Outlander fanatic, and I feel like this is why this book resonated so much with me. There is romance, sci-fi elements, and a historical theme.

What The Wind Knows takes place mostly in Ireland, and it involves the main character Anne, accidentally going back in time. Seriously, I love anything with time travel for some reason and have no idea why.

She is catapulted into a world of 1921 and she was from 2001! She goes back to a place she only had heard about from her grandfather Owen, or read about.

She has to try to figure out what the heck happened, because she wasn’t intending to time travel and she has to have a good alibi otherwise she will seem like she is a spy for the British.

She meets people that her grandfather had told her about, she saw pictures of important people in his life and is now face-to-face with them! I couldn’t even imagine!

I really loved Anne’s character because of the fact that she resembled her grandmother so much she was able to be mistaken for her.  I should mention that they have the same name, Anne! So when she found herself in a place and time she didn’t recognize, they were calling her by her name and she of course responded thinking they were referring to her real self!

Without giving away any plot spoilers away, she eventually finds herself in a romantic situation and has a choice to make. She either allows herself to fall in love back in 1921 and potentially risk exposing herself for who she really is, or she tries to get back to her life in 2001 and leave that all behind.

Its such a good story. I really loved it! You feel the love between the main characters and the plot really picks up towards the end of the book and it ends on such a sweet note that only leaves me hoping for a sequel!

 

If you love time travel, romance, and historical books, then this one is for you!

Check it out on Audible or in physical form. You can read it for free on Kindle Unlimited too.

-XoXo

Hannah

Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple

Where'd You Go, Bernadette: A Novel by [Semple, Maria]

In April I read, well listened on Audible to Where’d You Go Bernadette.

I love reading, and even though there is nothing like reading a physical book with pages, sometimes life is too busy and I still want to read. That is why I love audio books so much!  I can utilize my time, mostly when I drive in the car, fold laundry, or take a bath, I get to listen to a book!

Back to my book review.

Where’d You Go Bernadette was a fun read (well, listen).  I liked the story and how it wrapped up at the end especially.

The story surrounded the main character Bernadette Fox and all of her quirky attributes. She seems like a really uppity person to most of the onlookers in the story, but as it evolves and you learn more about her you begin to understand her and even empathize with her. She has a daughter Bee, who also has a really interesting backstory that is revealed, and Microsoft genius husband Elgin. The story takes place in Seattle where they relocated from California. Bernadette’s life was certainly not how she planned it to be, and as the story progresses you learn more and more about her and why she chooses to seclude herself.

I really enjoyed listening and hearing all of her remarks she made about being around people and what other school moms were like. It makes you laugh out loud a little… well, I laughed out loud a lot. There were lots of funny moments, and interesting twists.

Eventually, this is not a real spoiler, she goes missing ( I mean, Where’d You Go IS in the title) and I loved finding out how that was all going to unfold.

I feel like I kept guessing the whole time, and kind of like that when I listen to or read books.

It was a really cute story about family, personal struggles, and how we change as life moves along.

I really enjoyed this book and will definitely will be watching the movie! Here is a clip of the trailer. Cate Blanchett is the perfect person to play Bernadette!

Check out this fun read on Audible or get it in physical form

 

 

Watch the movie trailer

-XoXo
Hannah

Pistachio Children

Parenting is complicated, the roads it takes us on are never straight, the journey is relentless, and sometimes (lets be honest, most times) we don’t see an end in sight that is comforting.

After momming for nearly a decade, I can safely say with complete certainty that parenting will be the hardest battle I ever fight. There will be days when there is great joy, huge sorrow, tears, laughter, doors slamming, hurt feelings, timeouts, and lots of other emotions as this life we live changes with our phases of life.

I wanted to talk about an analogy that I heard that blew my mind a little bit. It hit home for several reasons, one of them being that we are a farming family, and the other just the simple fact that I am a mom who works tirelessly for her children; like all moms!

So here is the big mind-blowing analogy- the pistachio tree. Thats right, a pistachio tree. When you are a farmer, you are aware of all sorts of scenarios that affect your bottom line and being “profitable” like any other business. I can relate to this because, this our life. So as I sat and listened to this analogy it made total sense to me because we are literal farmers.

Lets imagine you go from being an almond farmer (and we are almond growers) to growing  pistachios.

When you grow pistachios, you hopefully are aware that this is not a typical crop that yields harvestable nuts like new almonds do  in a matter or 2-3 years. Pistachio trees are harvestable in about 7-10 years, thats quite a bit longer!

If you were once a farmer, who saw almost immediate fruits of your labor and now switch gears to now having to wait 7 years longer than expected, if you’re not prepared, or have unrealistic expectations this could be catastrophic!

You will have to PLAN to be patient, persistent, and diligent about your crop year after year, after year, after year, and still you may start to feel impatient, or discouraged. It will take constant work to maintain the new crop you planted to not see any nuts for almost a decade! That is some hard work and determination!

If you are farming with expectations of almond trees while farming your pistachios you may give up completely, or go bankrupt if you didn’t prepare well in advance.

Don’t compare your pistachios to your former almond crop, because you will be disappointed. Even though they are both trees, they have completely different maturity rates.

Parenting is like the pistachio farmer. You work diligently, tirelessly, day in and day out, and while you may EXPECT to see fruits of your labor, you may have a pistachio child not yielding any visible fruit. Heck you may have several pistachio children!

We need to realize that this may be a season that we are in that DOESN’T yield any fruit. It may take YEARS of our quiet maintenance to our children, which are like the pistachio farmer’s crop, before we ever feel like we see the true fruits of our labor.

Even though we may not SEE anything remarkable happening, changes are happening behind the scenes. Just like a tree growing, roots are taking hold underground in the dark quiet places that we will never see. Roots that will make the tree strong, and one day fruitful.

Yet we still persevere. We show up. We tend to our crop, we stand back and admire its beauty, its imperfectness. One day God willing, we will admire a beautiful tree, a tree full of good fruit, and we can breathe easy knowing that our labor and prayers didn’t go unnoticed or unanswered. 

In different seasons of our live, we will feel like the new pistachio farmer who worked and worked to grow a healthy crop. We may feel discouraged, upset, tired and want to give up. If we didn’t have faith that we would one day see the fruits of our labor in tangible and intangible ways we would surely crumble.

I’m so thankful for that analogy, it opened my eyes to the season of life that we are in. I need to not think of my children as an almond trees, when they may actually be a pistachio tree quietly growing and taking root as we pour into them. 

 

John 20:29 ESV  “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

 

-XoXo

Hannah 

Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes

I read a whole spectrum of books, it keeps life interesting.

I just finished Hidden Bodies, which is the sequel to the Book and Netflix series YOU.

You (2018)

If you love a good suspenseful psycho-thriller book/ show then you need to give the book and show a shot. (Assuming you haven’t already).

If you have not read or watched it, don’t read on if you’re touchy about spoilers.

Hidden bodies picks up where the show leaves off, and follows Joe Goldberg on his interesting life after Beck. As Joe tries to move on from Beck, he finds himself in a new relationship, that fell into his lap.

He has a new love in his life Amy, who shocked me somewhat with her role in the book. Read to see how that all goes!

He finds himself, in L.A. instead of New York and that was a location change I didn’t see coming.

Now, in Hollywood Joe leads a totally different life from his east coast New York vibe. He meets typical California people who are struggling/ aspiring actors and uber rich people. He befriends the most unlikely people and you see his character changing and yet remaining the same all at once.

This book has all sorts of twists and turns and takes you places you didn’t see coming.

I love Hidden Bodies’ contrast to YOU as well as the familiar scenarios Joe  finds himself.

Chapters 48 until the end are REAL game changers. I won’t divulge any spoilers, but it literally kept me on the edge of my seat and makes you root for Joe.

Its bizarre when you watch a show or read a book from a serial killer’s perspective (I’m reminded of Dexter), and those main characters are somewhat “normal” people. You find yourself rooting for that them in spite of their crimes! Even though Joe has his flaws, you kind of want life to work out for him, but the possibility of him being caught for his previous crimes is suspenseful and exciting. You feel a little bit like you are rooting for two teams, good and bad and somehow it all makes sense.

Anyway, I really can’t summarize this book without giving away the cool aspects of it. I would hate to make it unreadable for anyone.

So give it a shot, Its totally addicting.  I hear that Caroline Kepnes is writing a third book about Joe Goldberg, but that one is not out yet. So stay tuned and let me know if you read this, or have read it and if you love it too!

XoXo

Hannah 

See Me by Nicholas Sparks

Reading has been one of my passions, for as long as I can remember.

Becoming a mom, ultimately put that hobby on the back-burner for a little while. Busy with naps, diapers, and making sure my house didn’t look like a disaster zone filled most of my time.

One of my “goals” for 2019 was to get back to what brings me joy, one of those things is reading!

What I plan on doing, is sharing my book reviews here!

I will give you my thoughts on a book I just read and I’d love for you to let me know if you have read it or what you like to read in the comments section. I’m always looking for new books to read!

I want to start off by saying that Nicholas Sparks is one of my favorite authors, I have read all but a couple of his books. I picked up Nicholas Spark’s See Me at our local library (yes I’m old school like that sometimes) and realized this was where I was going to pickup my reading hobby I missed so much.

This book, like all of Nicholas Spark’s books was FANTASTIC. I seriously couldn’t put it down!

It satisfied all the elements on my usual checklist and had suspense, mystery, a little bit of romance.

The main character Colin has a chance meeting with a girl named Maria. They are both from totally different backgrounds and cultures and yet they are still drawn together. This isn’t your typical romance story. Yes, opposites often attract, but it turned out to be so much more! This story, follows Colin’s life as he moves forward from his checkered past. He constantly tries to keep old habits at bay while striving to change his life. From being sent off to military school, being arrested, to living in his old friend’s attached apartment, to being in college, and pursuing his hobby of MMA fighting. He is a character you grow to love as his story unfolds.

Maria is from an immigrant background, as the eldest daughter of a hardworking family who values their family and hard work. She becomes a lawyer and realizes it may not be all that she expected it to be. Her life (like so many of us) is not what she pictured it would be like. She was a workaholic, and often found herself preferring to be alone rather than out meeting other people or having a social life like other 28 year old women.

Colin was hardly her type, and yet she found herself appreciating his honesty as he admits his past openly to her. She was intrigued and couldn’t put her finger on exactly what or why she was interested in him at all.

As the story goes on, you will see, she was lucky she gave him a chance and that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Colin, as much as she didn’t think was possible, saved her in ways she didn’t think she would ever need. Maria ultimately does the same for him.

There comes a twist you don’t see coming, where everyone and everything Maria loves is in jeopardy, even her own life. It gets so suspenseful and leaves you turning the pages and guessing what will happen until the very end!

This story is so great! I hope that this is made into a movie, because it would seriously be a great one! Lets face it, most of Nicholas Spark’s books ARE made into movies and this will be epic if it does get made.

I highly recommend this book, and you have to check it out whether its on audio book,  or in physical form.

If you have read this let me know, or any other books you love tell me in the comment section below.

XoXo

-Hannah

 

DIY Vintage Love Blocks

Valentine’s Day is coming up soon, if you are looking for a cute gift to make someone, or just would like to make something cute for your home- this is the post for you!!

Vintage Love Blocks

I was inspired by this blog, and got to thinking about what I wanted the blocks to have as background text paper- and the bible came to mind. Love, to me isn’t just love between a couple; its about God’s love for us. So I thought it would be SO cool, to use scriptures from the bible that talked about love!! Before anyone hyperventilates, I did NOT use an actual bible. I typed out the verses I liked, and then formatted it to fit my blocks and aged the paper! (no bibles were harmed in the making of these blocks)

You could always use book pages, newspaper etc. if you don’t necessarily care about what is printed on the background of the blocks too.

Here is how you do this & what you will need:

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– 4 blocks that have been sanded, and cut to be 4″ squares. I used a 2×4

– paper for your background, you can use my scriptures if you want ->Love Blocks

– mod podge, glossy or matte and foam brush

– tea bag steeped in water (if you want to age printed paper)

– fine tip black sharpie, red and black regular point sharpie

Directions:

1. If you are printing paper (not using book paper) print that out and age it if you want with tea bags. You steep a tea bag in water for a few minutes for it to get to a darker color, then take the tea bag out of the water and lightly rub it over the pages so the color transfers onto the sheets of paper.

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2. You are going to take a thin layer of mod podge and cover the front of your block, and place and smooth out your first sheet of paper. Leave it to dry face down and stack them so they will adhere well.

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3. Once dry, you can sand the excess edges of the paper off to get a distressed look to the blocks. Its ok for it to have an uneven texture and look messy.

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and after they will look like this

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4. NOW, you have a choice. You can either trace the letters on if you want with a sharpie (by a stencil, freehand if you’re that gifted, or by printing if off of your computer and using an exacto knife to cut out the letters and be left with a stencil letter to use on the blocks) or you can use a cricut, silhouette or any other kind of crazy vinyl device I may not know about to adhere your letters onto the blocks.

I chose to trace my letters on, so I took the fine tipped sharpie and outlined the letters, and then filled them in with the thicker (regular point) sharpie.

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5. If you want to leave them natural, go right ahead and your done! If you want to seal the blocks go ahead and put another layer of mod podge over all of the sides of the blocks. I did this in a gloss finish and it didnt distract or take away from the distressed look of the blocks, and I know they are all sealed and will last a long time.

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press.com/2015/01/img_6071.jpg”> I love that the words show through the red heart.

I loved the result- and the

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I loved the result- and the possibilities of how you can make these your own! Stack them to have a cute effect as well.

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2015/01/img_6076.jpg”> far away shot, on my mantle.

Now, every time I look at these I am

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Now, every time I look at these I am reminded of His love. Its perfect!

Entryway Revamp

 

One of the things I love about home decor and design, is that you can always change it up.

I don’t mean collect frivolous clutter, but repurpose and reuse things in different ways or places in your home for your needs as they change.

Our entry way was one of my favorite things to change.

For my family, it serves as a hub for shoes as we enter and exit the home. We don’t wear shoes in the house, so it’s a good way to store them and grab them as we leave.

With that being said, I had gotten this bench from Kirkland’s on sale to replace the console table that was calling me. Truly, is serves a better purpose then the console table which was in a totally different place in our old house before we remodeled and moved to the farm. This table was moved into our master bedroom, I of course chalk painted it to match the dressers and end table. So I didn’t waste it! I’ll link the post that’s coming with how that looks there and how I painted it when I write it.

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It ended up leaving me with the dilemma that my faux boxwoods had less room in the space. The plastic pots I had gotten from Amazon didn’t fit anymore.

So I removed the pots and was left with an exposed black base, it was clearly not decorative. That may not bother some people, it wasn’t exactly hideous but I didn’t like seeing the exposed black pot that was really meant to be covered.

I was at Hobby Lobby, and got some burlap fabric that was on sale, it literally cost me under $5. We cut it in half, gathered it up around the base and tied it with twine we had here and voila- fancy and easy!

Paleo Ranch Seasoning Mix

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This is a go-to recipe in our house. I love using this mix to put with cashews, or almonds. It also is AMAZING on fresh popped popcorn, and will turn your favorite snack into a gourmet one!

This recipe makes more than one recipe’s worth- so you will have leftover. Store in an airtight container and use it over and over again until it’s gone!

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Paleo Ranch Seasoning Mix Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2C raw cashews or nut of your choice (omit if just making seasoning)
  • 1T Avocado Oil
  • 1 1/2T of seasoning mix (directions below) for cashews

Seasoning Mix Ingredients: 

  • 2T dried parsley
  • 2T dried chives
  • 1T dill weed
  • 1T garlic powder
  • 1T onion flakes
  • 1T celery salt
  • 1tsp pepper

Mix well and store in airtight container

Directions:

To use seasoning with nuts, preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Put cashews in large bowl, drizzle with avocado oil, and sprinkle seasoning mix (1 1/2T) and mix well.

Line baking sheet with parchment paper

Place cashews on baking sheet and spread out evenly.

Bake for 8 minutes.

Stir

Bake for another 8 minutes. Watch them closely to make sure they don’t burn. If they are getting too brown, remove early from oven.

Remove and allow to cool. Store in airtight container.

For popcorn

Melt 1T or so of butter, then make or pop a bag of popcorn. Drizzle butter over to coat the freshly popped popcorn, and then add about 1T (or to taste) of seasoning mix to the popcorn and toss. This is SO delicious!

Recipe Taken from realsimplegood.com