Archive for the ‘My Work’ Category

Back-to-School Meal Prep Ideas

Tuesday, August 14th, 2018

Back to School Meal Prep Ideas from MomAdvice.com

It’s time to bring on those meal prep ideas for packing lunches for back-to-school. I’m sharing 7 tips to nail your meal prep game for your kids and YOU. I’m excited to be partnering again with the Florida Department of Citrus for the back-to-school season and showing you some fun new strategies for lunch preparation.

It seems surreal to me that we are already talking about back-to-school, but we are just one week away from sending our kids off to school again. It is with this big occasion in mind that I look forward to getting back into our healthy eating routines and finding new ways to minimize stress during our busy weeks.

One of the ways I do that is through our meal prep routines.

back-to-school lunch meal prep ideas from momadvice.com

back-to-school lunch meal prep ideas from momadvice.com

Let’s talk about 5 really great strategies for meal prepping that can help you this year.

back-to-school lunch prep ideas from momadvice.com

back-to-school lunch prep ideas from momadvice.com

 

back-to-school lunch prep ideas from momadvice.com

Find New Ways to Use Up What’s Already in Your Fridge

Meal planning can save you tons of money at the grocery store, but I have the tendency to get excited about new meals without using up what we already have in our fridge.

Make a plan, but acknowledge ways that you can use up items that may be nearing their expiration date. I love frittatas, for example, because they can be whipped up from whatever you have lurking in your crisper drawer and from your weeknight meal leftovers. Today’s frittata, for example, was made from cherry tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms, and feta…all items leftover our salad nights this week. Ask your kids to help you come up with combos and give them the opportunity to brunch it up at school.

If you are looking for a great recipe, check out my Chicken Pesto Frittata or my Dairy-Free Sausage & Vegetable Frittata for two great options. Either of these can omit the meat for a fun vegetarian option too.

I paired this frittata with orange juice to round out the meal. Keep in mind that the recommended daily intake of Florida OJ is eight ounces for adults and four to six ounces for kids! The best part is that every glass of Florida Orange Juice provides the amazing 5. In fact, you have taste, vitamin C, folate, potassium and no added sugar in just one glass.

back-to-school meal prep ideas from momadvice.com

back-to-school lunch prep ideas from momadvice.com Consider the Snack Pack Trend

We caught a commercial for, “protein packs,” that you could purchase for your lunches that had meat, cheese, and nuts in them.  Even though my husband can’t cook, even he was laughing at how ridiculous it was that people couldn’t put these together themselves.

Snacks packs aren’t a new concept, but they ARE a perfect concept if you have a kid that is a snacker or if you happen to be a snacker yourself.

Utilizing toothpicks, stack a slice of lunch meat, a grape tomato, and a cube of cheese for a delicious bite that is easy enough that your kids can do it (and make their own dang lunch!)

I paired these with fresh veggies, a little ranch, and roasted salted almonds.

Want to add some fruit? Consider an apple! Using an apple slicer like this, slice the apples and then pull them back together in their original shape around the core with a rubber band.

Did you know that for additional insurance you can brush the apple with some orange juice to really help your apple retain its crisp appearance and cut down on browning? Now that’s a #lunchhack

prep peanut butter & jelly

Kids Keeping it Basic? Prep That Too!

I had one child who refused to eat anything except a good old-fashioned PB&J. I admired that she knew what she liked and that she kept it simple for her mom. That said, even those simple tasks rob us of precious time to get ready in the morning so I started meal prepping even these simple sandwiches.

If your child’s favorite is this sandwich too, simply spread peanut butter on both slices of bread to create a wall to prevent the jelly from making your bread soggy. Smear your jelly on in the center of one slice of bread and then put the two slices together. By creating an assembly line of sandwiches for your week you only dirty up the kitchen once and get back a little more time to enjoy your morning cup of coffee.

back to school meal prep ideas from momadvice.com

 

orange chicken meatballs recipe from momadvice.com

Plan Around Your Own Guilty Pleasures

Have you thought about packing yourself a lunch? I have the tendency to get out of the habit of caring for myself when the back-to-school rush happens and find myself grabbing takeout or “forgetting to eat,” when I don’t have something convenient to grab.

Jot down what your takeout weaknesses are and start searching Pinterest for some great alternatives for your meal prep day.

For me, Chinese is my weakness so these Make-Ahead Baked Orange Chicken Meatballs were just the ticket for my meal prep day. The sauce, of course, gets all of its orange goodness from a little Florida OJ!

Don’t Have Time To Make Separate Lunches? Double Up on Those Dinners!

Life gets chaotic this time of year so if you can’t devote a day to making lunches, consider doubling up on dinner ideas instead. For some great cold options, here are a few of my own recommendations!

Quinoa-Salad-In-A-Jar-7 quinoa salad in a jar with spinach & tomatoes

chicken caesar pasta salad chicken caesar pasta salad

Berry Pecan Salad

berry & candied pecan salad with a homemade raspberry vinaigrette (make with or without chicken)

Caprese Pasta Salad #recipe via MomAdvice.com caprese pasta salad

Roast Frozen Chicken in Bulk roasted chicken (perfect for salads & wraps)

Don’t forget those sides!

make-ahead hard boiled eggs make-ahead baked hard boiled eggs

Smoothie Bowl Recipe smoothie bowl recipes

roasted garlic hummus roasted garlic hummus

No-Bake Gluten-Free Granola Bars no-bake gluten-free granola bars

  trail mix energy bites trail mix energy bites

I hope that today’s ideas inspire you to try something new this year with your meal prep. Self-care is just as important so be sure to take some time out for YOU too with a few of my favorite self-care tips. Thank you to the Florida Department of Citrus for letting me share about these tips with you! Be sure to make Florida OJ a part of your daily routines to help boost your immune system during this challenging mom season.

This blog was sponsored by Florida Department of Citrus. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site!

 

Pin It

7 Tips for Hosting a Successful Book Club

Tuesday, June 19th, 2018

7 tips for a Successful Book Club from MomAdvice.com Thanks to my sponsor St Martin’s Press, I’m sharing about Kristin Hannah’s newest page-turner!

I joined my first book club when my children were small and I remember both how rewarding it felt to use my brain again and the challenges of carving time out to read. The beauty in being a part of that group though was that it pushed me to read books that were outside of my typical genre.

Historical fiction, for example, had never been on my radar until I joined a club.

Ironically, it is now my favorite genre.

Have you thought about hosting a book club? I have had the pleasure of hosting a local group and an online group and today I wanted to share 7 tips and strategies I’ve found for hosting a successful book club.

7 Tips for Hosting a Successful Book Club

1. Create Your Book Club Circle

Book clubs can be an opportunity to cultivate existing friendships or an opportunity to widen your net. If you don’t have an existing set of close friends, this can be a great way to get to know people from other contexts of your life.  Consider starting a group through your church, with your neighborhood friends, a mom’s group, with your coworkers,  your gym buddies, or as a way to get to know other moms at your child’s school.

Keep in mind, this club does not need to be just women either because men can add another dynamic to your book club discussions. If you have couples that you love to spend time with, for example, consider asking if they might like to meet up monthly for dinner and a book chat. I know that some of my best book discussions have happened when enjoying an evening with friends.

2.  Have an Organized Kickoff Meeting

The quickest way for a book club to fizzle out is to not have a plan and get your members involved.  With everyone’s busy schedules, it can be difficult to get a committed group and keep them committed for an entire year (or more).

In the past, our mimosa kickoff usually starts in September, once the kids have headed back to school. With a little more time in our schedules (sort of), it gives us a chance to regroup and make book selections. I ask each member to come with a book in mind and a month that they would like to host our chat. Allowing each person to make a selection and host gives everyone a chance to feel a part of things and allows the group leader to just micromanage the logistics.

7 Tips for Hosting a Success Book Club from MomAdvice.com

7 Tips for Hosting a Success Book Club from MomAdvice.com

3. Pick Books That Can Sustain a Discussion

The best books that we have talked about have meat to them and naturally cultivate an incredible discussion. Books with shallow plots are probably better for your beach bag than your book club discussion.

Stumped for a book selection this year?

Can I make a great recommendation for you?

As I disclosed earlier, I am partnering with St. Martin’s Press to share about Kristin Hannah’s latest novel and I TRULY believe this is a perfect pick for your book club reading.

I , honestly, would read anything Kristin Hannah writes, but her last few books have been among my favorite. The Great Alone is a contemporary coming-of-age story that is set in the seventies in rural Alaska.  In this story, a former POW father comes home from the Vietnam War completely mentally changed from his experiences there. His behavior and decision-making is wildly erratic and when a property becomes available in rural Alaska, he decides that they should seize the opportunity to live off the grid and make a different life for themselves.

Braving harrowing and life-threatening conditions is what it is all about and thirteen-year-old Leni is caught in the middle of it all as they attempt to carve a new life in the wild frontier.

Living off the grid is not all it is cracked up to be and neither is surviving the difficult Alaska winters.  Hannah writes so eloquently about this impossible marriage and the honest struggle of a Vietnam veteran.

As you can see, from my description alone, this has so many elements for discussion. The plot brings on the challenges of PTSD in veterans, what it is like to live with a mentally ill family member, homesteading (and if YOU could survive it), and if you would stay with your partner if they were putting your family through a potentially life-threatening lifestyle.

When I say that books have to have meat for discussion, you can be assured that there would be MUCH to talk about with, The Great Alone.

Look for books like these where the description alone showcases what kinds of ideas you could discuss in your book chats.

4. Don’t Be Afraid of Controversial Plots

One thing I have worried about is picking books that have controversial plots that might make people feel uncomfortable. What has surprised me though is that these are usually our very best discussions and that it is, truly, okay to have different viewpoints.

The way I lead these discussions though is that I ask that things are said with kindness and love, even if you don’t necessarily agree with one another. In an online discussion, I can swiftly delete comments that aren’t said with kindness, but that is a bit more tricky in an in-person book club.

Even in these tricky moments though, leading by asking everyone to be kind has always been a successful way to start a thoughtful conversation and I have never had any issues after stressing this importance.

It can be scary leading a controversial discussion, but I was surprised how it changed people’s viewpoints or hearing about someone’s personal story and why it made them feel differently than me. A recent discussion of a story on immigration, for example, lead to people sharing how it completely changed their viewpoint on the deportation process.

It makes me wish we had more kind and honest talks and how they could bring compassion to our discussions.

5. Prepare For Your Discussion

Discussion questions are so helpful to have, especially when first beginning your chats. I have found that selecting books with discussion questions already in place can be extremely helpful and relieve a lot of stress on leading a talk. The Great Alone, for example, already has a great discussion outlined for you.

I try to not limit our discussions to just outlined questions though. If it is a historical fiction book, for example, it helps to look up the true stories and images from that time in history. Reading or finding author interviews that explain why the author decided to write a book can also add a lot to a discussion.

6.  Have Each Host/Hostess Decide How They Want to Host

7 Tips for a Successful Book Club from MomAdvice.com

7 Tips for a Successful Book Club from MomAdvice.com

7 Tips for a Successful Book Club from MomAdvice.com

7 Tips for a Successful Book Club from MomAdvice.com

I am happiest when I am entertaining our friends and family. It brings me great joy to share my table with them and feed them my food. Since this book is set mostly outdoors, I set up our outdoor table for a discussion.

It doesn’t have to be complicated though. This meat and cheese board, for example, is a fun way to share food with your book club friends without even cooking.

Sharing book club in the morning? Change the charcuterie board to a bagel board and load it with bagels and toppings.

The truth is, most people don’t love entertaining. It may bring them great stress, they may hate cooking, or they may be juggling a huge plate of craziness and can’t possibly add one more thing to their plates.

I GET IT.

Let each host/hostess decide how, where, and when works for them.

Food is not required to have a gathering.

Cooking is not required to have a gathering.

Opening YOUR home up is not required to have a gathering.

Allow each person to choose their style of hosting however or wherever they want to do it.

Book club should be fun and not stressful!

7. It’s All Too Much? Try an Online Club!

Painfully introverted? Haven’t found your people? Working full-time? New to town? Homeschooling? Single mom? Full plate?

Adding one more thing to your agenda can be an impossible task when you already have so much going on. Online book clubs can be an incredible option for someone that desires a book club, but just can’t make that happen in their day-to-day life.

You can join the free MomAdvice Book Club and be a part of a monthly discussion all year long!

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

The Great Alone is available in stores now and is highly recommended for your next book club chat!

To learn more:

Visit Macmillan.com

Like Kristin Hannah on Facebook

Follow St. Martin’s Press on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram

Do you have a tip for hosting a successful book club? Let me know in the comments below!

Thanks to my sponsor St Martin’s Press. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Pin It

Baked Sweet Potato Fries With Lemon Meringue Dipping Sauce

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018

Sweet Potato Fries With Lemon Meringue Dipping Sauce from MomAdvice.com This post is sponsored by Honeysuckle White. All thoughts and opinions are my own!

If you want to switch up your burger and fries game, today’s post is one you can’t miss, especially with a weekend of holiday grilling on the horizon.  Today I’m partnering with Honeysuckle White to share their fun new burger combos AND I have a fun baked sweet potato fries recipe with a lemon-filled dipping sauce that I know you will flip for.

Honeysuckle White Turkey Burger Flavors

Honeysuckle White is now offering two fun and flavorful new turkey burger combos that are already prepared and ready to be thrown on your grill.  Our family sampled them both and absolutely fell in love with them.

The first one is a Cranberry & Jalapeño that offers a fun combo of sweet and spicy that seem to really balance each other. They have kick to them, but a kick that was mild enough to be called a favorite by my daughter.  The white cheddar cheese sprinkled throughout add a little bit of unexpected creaminess to the patty and helps cut down on the spicy factor.

Honeysuckle White Turkey Burgers

Here is a close-up shot of all that cheese for you- YUM!

The other combo they offer are their Spinach & Kale turkey patties and these also pack another fun flavorful punch, with the greens folded right into the patty. If you struggle to get your kids to eat their veggies, this is the perfect patty for them. Pairing it with today’s sweet potato fries recipe (see below), you are sure to get a couple of servings in your child without them even noticing just how healthy they are eating.

Definitely, swing by your store and pick some of these delicious patties up for your next grilling weekend! I think they would be a fun surprise for your guests and Honeysuckle White has done all the work for you in the preparation of these delicious ingredient combos.

Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Lemon Meringue Sauce from MomAdvice.com baked-sweet-potato-fries-with-lemon-meringue-dipping-sauce (5 of 7)

Sweet potato fries are my absolute favorite and one of our local burger joints inspired the dipping sauce to accompany them that I decided to recreate in my kitchen. This creamy lemon dipping sauce is tart and a fun match to the sweetness of the potatoes and is one of my favorite ways to indulge in a little fry dipping.

Not a big sweet potato fan?

I think this would be just as delicious with carrots as it is with the potatoes.

To make these fries ahead, before your guests arrive, peel and cut the potatoes into matchsticks and place in a bowl. Once you have cut all your potatoes, cover them with water and store in the fridge. Placed in a water bath, these cut potatoes can be stored up to twenty-four hours in the water. 

This simple dipping sauce is made out of several pantry staples- mayo, garlic, salt, and the juice and zest from a lemon. I guarantee that this unexpected sauce will be a huge hit at your barbecue just because it is such an unexpected flavor pairing.

Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Lemon Meringue Sauce from MomAdvice.com

I can’t wait until our next cookout so we can share these delicious Cranberry & Jalapeño Turkey Burgers and  Spinach & Kale Turkey Burgers with our guests. With all these new flavor combos, you are sure to wow your guests this year!  Best of all? Although the flavor profile is elevated, the price is quite affordable to have a high-end burger night right in your own backyard.

Baked Sweet Potato Fries With Lemon Meringue Dipping Sauce
Author: 
Recipe type: Side
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
These baked sweet potato fries are served with a lemon dip that brings together the sweetness of the potato with the tartness of the lemon.
Ingredients
  • 3 large sweet potatoes cut into matchsticks
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • ¾ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • zest from one lemon
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees and line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Peel sweet potatoes and slice into matchsticks, roughly the same size. Place in a large bowl.
  3. If storing for the next day, fill the bowl with water, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate (up to 24-hours).
  4. If preparing immediately, toss with olive oil and salt.
  5. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, on parchment paper lined cookie sheet, tossing once halfway through to crisp up both sides.
  6. While they are baking, mix together the mayo, garlic, lemon juice, lemon zest, and a pinch of salt.
  7. Once fries are done, garnish with parsley and serve with the lemon meringue dipping sauce.

 

Looking for more ways to enjoy turkey? Here are a few of my favorites!

Caprese Quinoa & Meatball Casserole

Asian Turkey & Green Bean Saute

Ground Turkey Gyro Burgers

Slow Cooker Thanksgiving Turkey

Instant Pot Indian Vegetable Rice (served with turkey meatloaf)

Spinach & Turkey Bacon Skillet Dish

This post is sponsored by Honeysuckle White. All thoughts and opinions are my own!

Bringing Back the Art of Storytelling: Circle Round

Tuesday, May 1st, 2018

Circle Round Storytelling Podcast from MomAdvice.com

This blog was sponsored by WBUR’s Circle Round.  Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site!

It’s been no secret that I have a mad love affair with my record player. Although I have many beautiful and distinct memories of listening to music on it, my plastic record player was my original love.

record player

record player

The reason it held my heart was simple…it read me stories.

I had piles of books, complete with matching records, that I would flip through and listen to over and over again. The magical chime to turn the page conjures up so many memories of sprawling on my shag carpet and closing my eyes to imagine those stories coming to life. Even before I was able to master reading, I knew a good story when I heard one.

As you know, MomAdvice is ALL about books and storytelling. This is why it brings me immense pleasure to share with you about a new storytelling podcast that your kids will flip for.

In fact, I listened to a few when I heard about it because of the captivating storytellers that they secured to read these beautiful stories.

Have I intrigued you yet?

3 Wishes source: Circle Round

Circle Round is a storytelling podcast for kids ages 4-10, and comes from the WBUR producing team behind the popular podcasts Modern Love, Dear Sugars, and Kind World. 

These episodes are narrated by Rebecca Sheir and the original music is composed and performed by Eric Shimelonis (he introduces a different instrument for each episode!). This dynamic duo also happen to be a husband and wife creative team and the two partnered together to share their storytelling gifts with the world.

I know, as a parent on-the-go, it can be difficult to squeeze in a story hour, but these stories have been tailored to a length that works for a busy family’s lifestyle. Each episode is around 10-20 minutes in length, with a strong focus on offering global perspective by using voices that represent cultures from all over the world.

It’s such a fun way to share a different part of the world with them.

Even as an adult, I am thankful for books and their ability to transport and expose me to different parts of the world or cultures that I didn’t know about!

I also love that these podcasts focus on topics like kindness, persistence, and generosity.

In today’s world, I can’t imagine better themes for our kids.

lion source: Circle Round

The reason I was so intrigued to hear these stories for myself though are because of the amazing talent that they were able to secure for their shows. Circle Round stars some of today’s most exciting theater, film, and TV actors (e.g., Jason Alexander from Seinfeld, Kathryn Hahn from Transparent and Bad Moms!).  These familiar voices make these stories even more fun and a joy to listen to as a parent.

Seriously, share this fun storytelling podcast with your kids and be sure to subscribe to get the updates. Circle Round already happens to be wrapping up its first season, offering thirty stories for you to share with your kids, so there is PLENTY to listen to!

Circle Round Storytelling Podcast from MomAdvice.com

Subscribe to Circle Round via iTunes, Stitcher, or your favorite podcast app and download episodes!

This blog was sponsored by WBUR’s Circle Round.  Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site!

Pin It

Trends You Really CAN Do at the 2018 HGTV Smart Home (With SimpliSafe)

Monday, April 9th, 2018

Affordable Spring Decorating Ideas from MomAdvice.com

I had the opportunity to head to Palmetto Bluff, South Carolina to tour the 2018 HGTV Smart Home last month. It has been one of those bucket list items that I have always wanted to do so when SimpliSafe asked if I would like to go, I couldn’t have been more excited.

Today I wanted to share with you the 2018 home decorating ideas that I spotted at the HGTV Smart Home and share a little bit about what SimpliSafe is all about.

SimpliSafe

If you haven’t heard of SimpliSafe before, you aren’t alone! It was, actually, new to me too. This is a smartly designed security system that is meant to integrate seamlessly in your home and offer smart technology protection to keep your home and family safe. It is so seamless, in fact, that SimpliSafe was integrated through the entire Smart Home to showcase just how seamless in design it could be.

Before accepting the trip offer,  I went through the materials about their security system and just knew that I would need to pass on the opportunity to come to this event. I do my best to only feature budget-friendly buys here so when I finally dove into the prices on their units, I was surprised to discover they were incredibly affordable and a perfect fit for a MomAdvice reader. Even as they continued to make improvements to the designs, the costs have remained low for their customers.

In fact, the security subscription service is half of their competitors and they pride themselves on keeping the costs for these home security systems low!

Since we live in a small home, I love the options that are available to customize these to your own space and your own personal needs. Many packages are hard to match with our square footage and what we REALLY need so I loved the build-your-own option choices. Of course, they have conveniently bundled a great starter pack (priced as low as $229) or you have the option to choose your own security adventure and build a package that fits your needs.

2018 HGTV Smart Home

Often when I think of security, I am only thinking about keeping the doors locked and watching for intruders. Security systems are about so much more than that though and one item, in particular, caught my eye. We have had issues with water in our basement, after a few brutal storms, and this very unobtrusive water sensor on the floor, would be an incredible investment for our family. They also offer a Freeze Sensor that can alert you when temperatures drop below 41 degrees to protect your pipes from bursting.

Yeah, that never happens in Indiana.

Cassie and Amy

I can’t rave enough about these smart products and the amazing team that introduced me to them (you can see one of my favorite team members, Cassie, above)! Who knew all of this could be so affordable? Definitely, check them out!

Speaking of affordable, let’s take a tour of some of the other affordable trends that I spotted while touring the 2018 HGTV Smart Home.

2018 HGTV Smart Home

2018 HGTV Smart Home

2018-hgtv-smart-home (3 of 28)

I thought we could start with the exterior of the home. I loved the simplicity of the window box in the front and the beautiful greenery in the beds.

Around the back of the home is an absolutely stunning patio. These tall plant stands with ferns were such a beautiful addition without taking up as much space as flower pots would on the floor and added a little color to this area.

I am a big fan of these statement chairs that have been placed at the end of the table,  paired with the simplicity of these wooden folding chairs. While I don’t know the price tag on these statement chairs, I did spy some beautiful ones over here that I have my eye on that could replicate a more affordable look. We also, typically, have bought our dining chairs from this affordable shop, but now you can find gorgeous chairs just about anywhere and add two beautiful chairs at the end to have that mismatched look for less!

The styling with brown paper covered books and candle lanterns are beautiful (and also so doable!)

2018 HGTV Smart Home Tour

2018-hgtv-smart-home (33 of 7)

2018 HGTV Smart Home Tour

2018-hgtv-smart-home (34 of 7)

This house was filled to the brim with greenery. Plants, plants, plants EVERYWHERE. It was absolutely dreamy. Houseplants can be pricey, but I try to justify it by reminding myself how long a bouquet of flowers last. Even with my black thumb, I can usually get more longevity out of a plant than a bouquet and greenery makes such a beautiful statement in a home.

The mix and match of greenery in this house really caught my eye in every room. If you can believe it, all the greenery (in the vases),  had been purchased from a local Kroger (!!!) so this look is definitely on a budget. I will be referencing these pictures for a great how-to on beautiful mixing because I think that was key with these green displays.

Again, a pair of chairs adds visual interest and I loved the matching blanket and velvet pillow combo that adorned both of them.
2018 HGTV Smart Home Tour

2018 HGTV Smart Home Tour

2018 HGTV Smart Home Tour

2018 HGTV Smart Home Tour

These industrial shelves framed the kitchen sink and I loved the styling they did with them.  I, genuinely, have a hard time styling shelves so I wanted to be sure to snap pictures in here too. Jars of dried beans and colored rice make a lovely display (that can be eaten) and books really made the house.

OF COURSE.

BOOKS ARE AWESOME.

I did find it interesting that this heavy shelving was built in front of the windows.

Once again, they are KILLING IT with their greenery. This big glass vase was a beautiful statement piece on the kitchen island.

2018 HGTV Smart Home Tour

2018 HGTV Smart Home Tour

2018 HGTV Smart Home Tour

2018 HGTV Smart Home Tour

2018 HGTV Smart Home Tour

2018 HGTV Smart Home Tour

2018 HGTV Smart Home Tour

2018 HGTV Smart Home Tour

Here are a few of the details that I loved in the bedrooms.

Suitcases for Storage- This would be such a smart place to tuck an extra set of sheets or blankets for guests.

Floor to Ceiling Curtains- We raised our curtains in our bedroom, but not as high as this. Moving them up to the tippy top made the room feel dramatically bigger and taller.

Wooden Beads- Must invest in millions of strands of wooden beads for decorating. They add such beautiful natural tones and they added these in almost every room.

More Books- Wrapping them in paper is such a beautiful touch and I loved how they are paired with a colored glass vase for a simple pop of color.

Styling Around a Wall-Mounted Television- I loved that the frames were incorporated around this television so it made it blend in more and made the framing of the television more natural.

Smart Touches Above the Beds- In particular, the use of two frames and then the cow OVER the frames made for beautiful visual interest without looking cluttered.

Candlestick Holders- A collection of three was perfect for an ottoman display and added a touch of metal to the room.

2018 HGTV Smart Home Tour

2018 HGTV Smart Home Tour

Heading into the bathroom… This was a SMART home so you can see that the mirrors are also allowing you to surf the web or watch the news while you get ready. You could swipe on them to browse just like you would your phone.

If you have the space, this was such an adorable display for a robe. Also, that painting in the corner is adorable and I loved that it was on an easel display to add some interest around the tub.

2018 HGTV Smart Home Tour

2018 HGTV Smart Home Tour

2018 HGTV Smart Home Tour

Gallery walls make me so happy and I loved the use of mismatched frames and different styles of artwork that helped to achieve this stunning wall. As a perfectionist, I get hung up on the placement and the matchy-matching, but this shows you that they don’t need to match and staggering them adds more beauty to this wall.

2018 HGTV Smart Home Tour

2018 HGTV Smart Home Tour

2018 HGTV Smart Home Tour

2018 HGTV Smart Home Tour

I love when a home uses every nook and cranny and I do think this house did that. This little room has a bookcase with a hidden gaming room tucked behind for the kiddos. A window seat adds a little perch for reading books too.

Once again, I’m in awe of the gorgeous styling on these shelves. The use of just one color of book throughout the bookcase is just stunning.

2018 HGTV Smart Home Tour

2018 HGTV Smart Home Tour

Truly, no corner went to waste in this beautiful space, even in the trickier corners. I loved every inch of this space!

Me

 

Group Shot

Group Shot 2 Mom Trends * Family Focus Blog * Well-Connected Mom * Christine Koh

The bonus to this beautiful weekend was getting to spend time with some really wonderful friends.

Another huge thank you to SimpliSafe for giving me the opportunity to sneak peek the HGTV Smart Home. It was, truly, a dream come true.

I was provided travel accommodations to attend this event by SimpliSafe

Pin It

Instant Pot Indian Vegetable Rice

Thursday, January 4th, 2018

Instant Pot Indian Vegetable Rice from MomAdvice.com This post is sponsored by Honeysuckle White. All thoughts and opinions are my own!

Happy New Year, everyone! I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to 2018 and getting a fresh page in our lives. Today I’m partnering with Honeysuckle White to talk about my New Year’s resolutions and share about their fun new line of ready-to-go products to help you with your dinner hour.

In 2018, my resolutions are:

– Read 100 books
– Set business hours so I have more time for my kids in the evenings.
– Be serious about strength training again at the gym
– Get a book proposal done and sold
– Get back to smart budgeting and tracking of our money to save more.
– Eat at home more and dine out less.
– Write & photograph an Instant Pot ebook
– Get back to crafting again (for the pleasure of it, not for work)

I like to think of myself as a bit of a go-getter (just in case that doesn’t always come through) and last year I had to sideline many of these goals to make a commitment to my physical health. Having an unproductive year definitely drives me a lot to do better this year and I’m hopeful that I can tackle everything on this list if I work on being more disciplined with my free time.

I’m giving you the side eye, Facebook & Instagram.

If you are looking for new ways to tackle resolutions too, I loved this piece that offered different strategies for starting the year well.  It doesn’t always need to be a list of goals, it could be as simple as a word commitment or writing a, “Dear Future Me,” letter.

The thing about good intentions is that life gets in the way of all the good that we want to establish, doesn’t it?  For example, I’m escaping for a girl’s trip for my big 4-0 and that means that I’m abandoning my kitchen duties and leaving them to my husband.

Which usually means a lot of eating out for the family and gets us ALL off track from saving and eating at home more.

Lucky for him, Honeysuckle White came out with this awesome line of products that make getting dinner on the table so much easier. This year  they launched a new line of flavored meatballs, burger patties, and cutlets to help make the dinner hour easier and more affordable for busy families. Today I’m showing you how to dress up their DELICIOUS HomeStyle Turkey Meatloaf. YUM!

Honeysuckle Farms Turkey Meatloaf Honeysuckle Farms Turkey Meatloaf

Since we eat gluten-free, I am LOVING that these are gluten-free and a much healthier alternative to ditching it all for a bowl of cereal for dinner. Just like the package states, there are no added hormones, steroids, or growth-promoting antibiotics.

Best of all, they support independent farmers and YOU support independent farmers when you make a purchase.

Instant Pot Indian Vegetable Rice from MomAdvice.com

Top your meatloaf up anyway you like, but today I thought I’d show you the fun spin that we decided to do with this one.  Since we love eating Indian food, I usually have some type of simmering sauce in our pantry to put to work for an easy weeknight meal. Save just a little of those jars in your fridge and use these fun simmering sauce (like Tikka Masala, Butter Masala, or Korma sauce) to dress your turkey meatloaf.

How easy is that?

I wanted to create a delicious side today that would complement these amazing flavors so I’m sharing this OH-SO-EASY Instant Pot Indian Vegetable Rice that I just can’t get enough of. This rice is FRUGAL (which fits right in line with my resolutions) and DELICIOUS. I guarantee that you won’t make this recipe just once!

instant-pot-indian-vegetable-rice-3

If you got an Instant Pot for Christmas, this is a great beginner recipe to get you started.

Just as a reminder, when making rice, it is a good idea to give the rice a good rinse before placing it in your pressure cooker to get that beautiful fluffy consistency.

I hope you love this recipe as much as our family and can keep these Honeysuckle White products in mind when you are doing your grocery shopping!

Instant Pot Indian Vegetable Rice from MomAdvice.com

Instant Pot Indian Vegetable Rice
Recipe type: Side
Cuisine: Indian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6 servings
 
This gluten-free side is so easy to create and happens to be easy on the wallet too! If you prefer your dish spicier, add an additional teaspoon of curry to bring on the heat!
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1½ cups basmati rice
  • ½ cup diced carrots
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Turn your Instant Pot on the saute function.
  2. Rinse your basmati rice well in a colander
  3. Once your Instant Pot has warmed up, add the garlic and rice and saute for 30 seconds.
  4. Add the carrots, curry powder, vegetable broth, and salt. Stir well.
  5. Secure the lid to the top of your Instant Pot and cook on HIGH pressure for 22 minutes.
  6. Once the rice is finished cooking, turn off your Instant Pot and wait ten minutes before releasing the pressure.
  7. Release the pressure, open lid, add the frozen peas, and fluff your rice. Add additional salt to taste.

This post is sponsored by Honeysuckle White. All thoughts and opinions are my own!

Pin It

5 Ways to Make Self-Care a Priority Around the Holidays

Monday, December 18th, 2017

5 Ways to Make Self-Care a Priority Around the Holidays

This blog was sponsored by Florida Department of Citrus. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site!

The holidays, while lovely, can be a stressful time of year. I don’t know about you, but each day has been filled with a running to-do list, a million activities, and a lot of food preparation.

Oh, and science fair.

For the love.

I will confess that I have NEVER had an issue with self-care, but I will also confess that my idea of self-care has evolved so much over the years.

Today I wanted to share with you 5 ways I make self-care a priority around the holidays and I would love to hear how you make self-care a priority in your life.

Take a “Sick Day” Once a Week

An epiphany came to me the last time I got sick. I spent an entire day at home sleeping, but wished that I was able to have a day like that when I was well and could really enjoy it. I decided to implement a once-a-week “sick day,” where I allow myself to enjoy a day just for me.

On this day, I rarely get out of my pajamas, I read all day, watch my favorite shows, don’t check email, take a nap, and indulge in crafty classes to allow space for creativity. In the evening, I do not do housework or make dinner (thank you, loads of leftovers!).

It is my FAVORITE day of the week and, believe me, if anyone interferes with mom’s “sick day,” it has to be moved to another day. I crave this day to myself.

5 Ways to Make Self-Care a Priority Around the Holidays 5 Ways to Make Self-Care a Priority Around the Holidays

Indulge in a Rewarding Soak

Is anybody else crazy about magnesium and all of its benefits on the body? Adding an Epsom soak to my daily routines has been incredibly beneficial to my body AND to my mental health. Did you know that stress can be a cause of magnesium deficiency, and a lack of magnesium tends to magnify the stress reaction, worsening the problem?

The holidays can be a particularly stressful time on our bodies and contribute towards deficiencies.

In studies, adrenaline and cortisol, byproducts of the “fight or flight” reaction associated with stress and anxiety, were associated with decreased magnesium (source).

I don’t know about you, but that sounds a lot like me around the holidays!

To get the benefits add two cups of Epsom salts to your bath and soak for 15-20 minutes in warm water. While you are doing this, combine it with other healthy habits:

Meditate- Add an app like Headspace to your phone and use this time to deeply breathe and meditate. They have a ten-day free beginner program that you can use to give meditation a try. This is the perfect time to give it a spin!

Add a Smart Beverage to Your Routine- Coffee can dehydrate the body so try replenishing it with a glass of Florida Orange Juice. While you soaking in your magnesium, you can also be enjoying a glass of Florida Orange Juice. Every glass (the recommended daily intake of Florida OJ is eight ounces for adults) of Florida Orange Juice has the Amazing Five. In just one glass you have Taste, Vitamin C, Folate, Potassium and No Added Sugar. Fancy it up with a slice of orange and serve in a pretty glass to add to the experience.

Read a Book- When people ask me how I’m able to read so many books, I have to say that these soaks have been where I have done some of my best reading. A book tray has been a smart investment for this bookworm and it feels like I’m really escaping when I can dive into a little fiction.

5 Ways to Make Self-Care a Priority Around the Holidays

Add Small Indulgences to Your Daily Routines

Wrapping, cooking, organizing, and cleaning are things we are all doing to prepare for the holidays. There is no reason that these routines can’t be coupled with small indulgences though, that can make the experience a little more pleasurable. I love to upgrade my boring routine to-do list items with something that brings me joy.

Wrapping gifts?

Why not belly-laugh to ELF while you are wrapping!

DIY Orange Sugar Scrub

Doing dishes?

Add a jar of this diy orange scrub (recipe below) to your agenda and give your hands a little pampering.

Cleaning the house?

Snag an audiobook from your library, strap on some wireless headphones and your fanny pack (this is TOTALLY what I do) and listen to a great book while you clean.

Pairing something that’s pleasurable with something that is not makes tasks like these much more bearable!

Marco Polo App

Make Time for People

This is the season where we can get really swept away with spending and shopping. It has a tendency to pull us away from the heart of what the season is about and into a frenzy of bad spending. In fact, an alarming number of shoppers are still trying to pay off their debt from holiday shopping last year. Instead of giving so much, what if we all just spent more time on each other.

Don’t have time? I have the perfect solution!

The Marco Polo app, shared with me by my sister, is my new favorite way to communicate with the people I love. It’s essentially a video walkie talkie that allows you to send a video back and forth to talk to each other, but doesn’t require you to hop on FaceTime or Skype at the same time. When schedules are impossible to coordinate, this can be an amazing solution for a busy mom.

I now talk and see my sister and best friend every day and even have virtual wine dates with my girlfriends in town. You can even do big group video chats if you can’t schedule a coffee together! How cool is that?

I consider time with good friends and family to be an essential part of my self-care, especially as a work-at-home mom.

Focus on people, not presents!

Rethink Your Idea of Self-Care

The last thing that I want to say is that self-care is much more than these acts.  I linked to this article in my notebook and I still am thinking about it. Self-care is setting healthy limitations that require self-discipline, setting healthy boundaries in relationships, not loading our calendar up so we get run down, and ridding our life of things that are negative or drain us.
Self-care means going to bed on time, giving yourself unscheduled spaces during the day, not going overboard on the food and drinks of the season, and saying no (even if we have to experience FOMO).

Did you notice that everything in this list is FREE? Self-care isn’t a treat yo’self experience that costs a lot, it is making time and space for things that help you feel emotionally and physically balanced! 

Thank you to the Florida Department of Citrus for letting me share about these tips with you! Be sure to make Florida OJ a part of your daily routines to help boost your immune system during this fun season!
DIY Orange Sugar Scrub from MomAdvice.com

DIY Orange Sugar Scrub
Recipe type: Beauty
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
This DIY Orange Sugar Scrub is a wonderful self-care treat for your hands and body! Thank you to Florida Department of Citrus for sponsoring this fun DIY!
Ingredients
  • 1 cup of Sugar
  • ½ cup of Coconut Oil
  • 1 teaspoon Orange Essential Oil (like this)
Instructions
  1. In a saucepan, heat the coconut oil over low heat, until it is melted.
  2. In a large bowl, mix sugar, melted coconut oil, and a teaspoon of orange essential oil until fully combined.
  3. Scoop into a mason jar (the one in the picture has been doubled) and store with an airtight lid.
  4. When using, scoop a small amount into your hands, scrub gently (allowing the sugar to exfoliate), rinse, and pat dry.

This blog was sponsored by Florida Department of Citrus. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site!

Pin It

Caprese Quinoa and Meatball Casserole

Tuesday, November 28th, 2017

Caprese Quinoa and Meatball Casserole This post is sponsored by Honeysuckle White. All thoughts and opinions are my own! 

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving season with your families!  I don’t know about you, but after hosting a Thanksgiving, I felt a bit uninspired trying to put together meals for these next busy upcoming weeks. There is nothing that makes me feel worse than dining out night after night so I tried to put together an easy dish that our whole family will love.

Did you think turkey season was behind us? The good news is that turkey season doesn’t need to wind down after the holidays thanks to a few new ready-to-go products that are on store shelves now.

The even better news? These items help to eliminate a little of the prep work for your meal so you can spend more time unwinding.

I have gotten the opportunity to partner with Honeysuckle White again this year as they launched a new line of flavored meatballs, burger patties, and cutlets to help make the dinner hour easier and more affordable for busy families.

Did someone say easier AND more affordable?

I’m in!

Caprese Quinoa and Meatball Casserole

As a gluten-free girl, I’m thrilled that these meatballs are gluten-free and stuffed with one of my favorite foods…cheese! I wanted to create a dish that would really compliment these, while also continuing my gluten-free theme, so I made these into a Caprese Quinoa and Meatball Casserole that can be topped with additional fresh mozzarella cheese and a little fresh basil (and an optional balsamic drizzle), to finish.

If you haven’t tried quinoa, you are in for a treat! It was one of the first foods that I added to my diet, when making my own dietary switches, and it has become something I now eat almost weekly now. It is a fun switch from rice and stands up well to a reheat in the microwave.  Be sure to read this article so you can learn more about this ingredient and how you can prepare quinoa in your rice cooker.

caprese-quinoa-and-meatball-casserole-recipe-6 caprese-quinoa-and-meatball-casserole-recipe-3 Caprese Quinoa and Meatball Casserole

Everyone in our family REALLY enjoyed this casserole and I can see us adding this one into our weekly rotation. The meatballs were light and the topping of mozzarella added a little indulgence to this, otherwise, entirely healthy dish. The quinoa was delicious and cooked in spaghetti sauce and chicken broth, my favorite combo for cooking consistency for quinoa and pasta dishes.

Also, if you haven’t reduced a little balsamic for drizzling, I know you will find this extra step to be worth the flavor it brings to the completed dish. It is something that only takes a couple of minutes, but certainly brings the WOW factor!

The best part about this dish is that it is quick to prepare, will probably leave you some leftovers (if you are lucky), and feels like a rich comfort food dish to this gluten-free eater!

Be sure to give these new dinner options a spin in your house! I hope you love this recipe as much as I do!

Caprese Quinoa and Meatball Casserole
Author: 
Recipe type: Gluten-Free
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Italian comfort food receives a healthy weeknight spin with prepared meatballs and quinoa for our base. Add a balsamic reduction drizzle and basil for an elegant touch.
Ingredients
  • 2 cups uncooked quinoa (rinse this really well with water- read more here)
  • 1- 16 ounce jar spaghetti sauce
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 pounds Honeysuckle White Cheese Stuffed Italian Style Meatballs
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced thinly
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • Handful of thinly sliced basil
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven for 375 degrees.
  2. Begin by rinsing your quinoa thoroughly (read instructions in the ingredient list if you have not prepared quinoa before).
  3. In a greased 9x13 pan, add the rinsed quinoa to the bottom of the pan.
  4. In a sauce pan, heat the spaghetti sauce and chicken broth until hot. Remove from the stovetop and pour the liquid over the quinoa, until it is fully covered.
  5. Sprinkle meatballs on top of the quinoa and finish with thin slices of mozzarella (you can put them over the meatball or just dabble on top of the dish). Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake for 35-40 minutes. During the last 5-10 minutes, remove the foil to melt the cheese fully.
  6. While the dish is baking, our balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan. Turn heat to medium high and bring vinegar to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to simmer and let simmer for about 10 minutes until vinegar has reduced down. Stir occasionally. When it begins to coat the back of a spoon, you will know that it is fully reduced. Set aside to cool while the casserole bakes.
  7. Once your dish is done, finish servings with thinly sliced basil and your balsamic reduction.

Caprese Quinoa and Meatball Casserole

Honeysuckle White turkey products are available in select states. For those on the East Coast (CT, DE, ME, MD, MA, NH, NJ, NY, NC, RI, SC, VT, VA, WV), look for Honeysuckle White’s sister brand, Shady Brook Farms!

This post is sponsored by Honeysuckle White. All thoughts and opinions are my own!

Pin It

DIY Tween Self-Confidence Kit

Thursday, November 9th, 2017

DIY Tween Self-Confidence Kit from MomAdvice.com

This blog was sponsored by Simon & Schuster. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site!

It feels so strange to be talking about our baby hitting the tween years, but we recently hit this milestone age and all that comes with it. Today I am partnering with Simon & Schuster to celebrate girl power with the launch of the incredible series, “The Littlest Bigfoot,” written by Jennifer Weiner. If you are an avid reader like me, you may know Weiner from her fun chick lit novels and now she is penning a trilogy for girls that encourage self-love, positive body image, and friendship between girls.

DIY Self-Confidence Kit from MomAdvice.com

“The Littlest Bigfoot,” and “Little Bigfoot, Big City,” are the first two books that are out in the planned trilogy. These books explore the good old-fashioned themes of friendship and belonging through this modern day fairytale.

The lead character, Alice Mayfair, twelve years old, is ignored by her family and is being shipped off to her eighth boarding school. She longs to have a friend and when she rescues Millie Maximus from drowning in the lake one day, she finds the friend she has always been looking for.

Millie happens to be a Bigfoot though, a part of a clan who dwells deep in the woods. Most Bigfoots believe that people—NoFurs—are dangerous, but Millie is fascinated with this human world and feels that they understand her own dreams and aspirations better. Alice protects Millie’s secret, but they must face a league of Bigfoot hunters who are trailing them.

DIY Tween Self-Confidence Kit from MomAdvice.com

The story then continues into the next novel where the friends sneak off to the Big Apple in search of Millie’s stardom. Unfortunately, they end up getting trailed by a shadowy government organization and are finding cryptic clues that force them to confront their history, choices, and find out what it means to be a true hero and friend.

At this in-between stage of life, I love finding books like this that are filled with positive messaging and heartwarming dialogue about inclusion and belonging. Definitely pick up these two books for your tween and keep your eyes peeled for the third book, coming in 2018! This series is just perfect for your middle grade readers, between the ages of 8-12!

DIY Tween Self-Confidence Kit from MomAdvice.com

I remember how much I struggled with self-confidence at this age and also remember all the new territory that came with all of these changes. My parents wanted to encourage me to embrace good hygiene habits and to help me understand all the upcoming changes that would be happening in my body. As the oldest of three children, I felt that I had to share everything with my siblings so anything that I got that was just for me (not for them!) was really special. It could have been something as simple as not sharing my french fries or as grand as getting a date with just one of my parents, these simple moments made me feel special because they were mine alone.

Instead of just talking about good hygiene and caring for my body, my mom put together a pail of items that I would need to start implementing good habits of self-care and explained why and how to use these items. This pink pail housed my new face washes, a loofah with body soap, and deodorant. All I could think about though was that all this stuff was JUST FOR ME and I didn’t have to share it.

DIY Tween Self-Confidence Kit from MomAdvice.com

DIY Tween Self-Confidence Kit from MomAdvice.com

This week I gave my daughter a Tween Confidence Kit of her own and I could see that sheer delight she had to have items that were just for her. Truth be told, many of my own items were starting to magically disappear from our bathroom, and after this came up, she explained how she wanted to wear or add some of these things to her own routines.

This kit of supplies had everything she needed to get started implementing her own big girl routines! We talked about implementing a good skincare routine (daily wash and moisturizer, weekly exfoliation scrub), the importance of washing our body and deodorant, and dry shampoo for days when we need fresh locks, but don’t have the time. A few things to make the routines more fun included her own little scrubber, a shower cap for busy days, and a quick absorbing towel to wrap her hair in after she hopped out of the shower.

We also dipped our toes into some of the things that might be coming up and how to prepare for those circumstances too. She had lots of great questions and this was a great way to open up the dialogue about what we might need to know for the future.

She also expressed a desire to start wearing makeup and I gave her a set of her own blush, lip gloss, and a little concealer as her first starter kit into that. I worked with her to apply the makeup and shared the importance of keeping her face natural and just enhancing the beautiful girl she already is. I loved working with her on this together and hope that she feels confident coming to me in the future because it means a lot to me to get to be a part of these new stages with her.

I hope that these ideas to help build tween self-confidence too. Each stage has been such a gift and I love being a part of the process with her.

To learn more about these incredible books, follow Simon Kids on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram or visit them on their website!

DIY Tween Self-Confidence Kit from MomAdvice.com

This blog was sponsored by Simon & Schuster. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site!

 

DIY Apple Wreath Tutorial for Fall

Monday, August 21st, 2017

DIY Apple Wreath Tutorial from MomAdvice.com

This blog was sponsored by Westcott. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site!

I’m back to crafting today (all the jazz hands!) and I’m SO excited to share a fun apple wreath tutorial to freshen up your front door for fall, but I’m even more excited to share with you a secret that I’ve been keeping for the past couple of months.

Westcott, our sponsor today, has launched a new Mini Hot Glue Gun and Hot Glue Pen.

A  hot glue pen, you say?

Yes!

Westcott Hot Glue Gun Pen

Let’s talk about the Mini Hot Glue Guns first. The Mini Hot Glue Gun comes in two versions, high temp (this baby reached up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit) and low temp (that can reach up to 170 degrees Fahrenheit).  What makes these a little different are the smart features that I’ve always wished my glue gun had and I know you will appreciate too.

This has a non-stick tip (!!!) and the nozzle changes color from blue to red so you know when it is ready to use. No guessing and burning yourself checking it anymore! It also has been ergonomically designed to help your hands stay comfortable for all your crafting time.

Westcott Hot Glue Gun Pen

Since I have so much joint pain, I haven’t been crafting as much as I used to. This new Hot Glue Pen though is incredible and helps with your precision and accuracy when you are doing detailed projects. This one also turns colors to indicate when it is ready and it offers a finger trigger right on top to help you dispense glue in a more controlled way.

I have joked that our entire house is held together with a glue gun so I was MORE THAN HAPPY to spread the good news about these new products! You can read more over here and also check out their new site for Westcott Creativators.

How about we take these for a test drive and craft up a beautiful diy apple wreath for your home, to share with a teacher, or a fun wreath to hang to celebrate back to school?

DIY Apple Wreath Tutorial from MomAdvice.com

Supplies Needed

14″ styrofoam wreath form (or your own preferred size)

60-80 mini foam apples (I used 80 on mine to make it full)

24-30 feet of Mesh Burlap

Westcott Hot Glue Gun Pen or Mini Hot Glue Gun (low temp is great for gluing together plastic and styrofoam)

Hot glue sticks

1-2 Pins to secure on the back

DIY Apple Wreath Tutorial from MomAdvice.com

 Directions to Make an Apple Wreath

1. Begin by wrapping burlap around the styrofoam wreath form. Once the entire wreath is wrapped in burlap, secure with a couple of pins to keep the burlap tight.

DIY Apple Wreath Tutorial from MomAdvice.com

DIY Apple Wreath Tutorial from MomAdvice.com

DIY Apple Wreath Tutorial from MomAdvice.com

2. Heat up your Westcott Hot Glue Gun Pen and wait for the tip to turn red, to indicate that it is hot and ready. Begin securing these foam apples all around your burlap wreath, taking your time holding each of these to the burlap until they are secure. Be sure to tilt them in different directions, covering the entire top of the wreath. You can then leave the wreath as is or you can add another layer on top in between the first layer apples. I loved the dimension of two levels on this wreath so I added an extra round of apples to finish my wreath.

DIY Apple Wreath Tutorial from MomAdvice.com

3. Finish by hanging your wreath on a door. I looped a little twine on the back through the holes in the burlap to finish this wreath!

DIY Apple Wreath Tutorial from MomAdvice.com

DIY Apple Wreath Tutorial from MomAdvice.com

I hope you have fun making a wreath of your own, for yourself or for your favorite teacher! This is such an easy craft to make and can be enjoyed throughout the fall season. Thank you to Westcott for all the hot glue gun fun! I’m so excited to work on future projects with this smartly designed craft tool!

 

This blog was sponsored by Westcott. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site!