Archive for the ‘Home’ Category

Painting Pumpkins With Acrylic Paints

Thursday, September 12th, 2019

How to Paint Pumpkins With Acrylic Paint from MomAdvice.com

Have you ever decorated for fall with acrylic paint pumpkins? This tutorial shows you what kind of paint to paint pumpkins with and how to paint those faux pumpkins to match your home decor.  You’ll love these creative ways to paint a pumpkin.

This post was created in partnership with Waverly Inspirations. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site! 

Who could use a pumpkin decorating craft for fall?

I decided to decorate fake pumpkins this year and am showing how you can do the same thing with supplies from your local craft store or even dollar store.

This was my first time painting our pumpkins this way and it could not be easier. I wanted to create a pumpkin display that would be perfect for the entire fall season and wanted to show you a cute way to display your pumpkins this year!

I am not big on decorating for Halloween and would prefer to skip right over that part of the fall decorating.

This month’s challenge was to create a Halloween decorations so I wanted to create a minimalistic display that would give a nod to the season, but complement our decor until it is time to deck the halls.

The best part is that these pumpkins can be used year after year and the painting is a lot less messy than carving pumpkins or using spray paint.

How to Paint Pumpkins With Acrylic Paint

Painting Pumpkins With Acrylic Paints with MomAdvice.com


How to Paint Pumpkins With Acrylic Paint from MomAdvice.com

Supplies Needed (all of these supplies can be found at Walmart!)

Any size you like of their faux pumpkins- the small ones are just $.98!! (you could also do real pumpkins!)- try Etsy for supplies.

Waverly Inspirations Acrylic Paints in Elephant, Plaster, Pool, & White

Waverly Inspirations 4-piece wide brush set

Cup with water, paper towels, and something to cover the surface while painting

Wooden Crate 

How to Paint Pumpkins With Acrylic Paint from MomAdvice.com

Remove the labels from the pumpkins and protect your surface with cardboard while painting.

With a clean wide brush, begin painting your pumpkins, using the stalk of the pumpkin as a handle to work around the surface.

If you find the area around the stem to be difficult to decorate, you can pull the stems off carefully and use hot glue to reattach after they dry.

Paint the entire pumpkin and then set it aside to dry. Don’t feel limited by painting them all one color though. Feel free to add designs on your pumpkin for Halloween too or decorate your pumpkins with an autumn-theme. The possibilities are endless on the pumpkins you can create. Personally, I love polka dots and think that would be fun AND easy.

 Drying time can take anywhere between 15 minutes to one hour, depending on how thickly you applied the paint.

Repeat this process as many times as you like to achieve the hue you are going for.

I found the gray pumpkins only required a single coat, while the white pumpkins required two coats.

Once dry, sprinkle these pumpkins throughout your house or create a crate display like I have done.

I love how these pumpkins spill out onto some of my favorite childhood reads.

The chalkboard side on this crate gives me the chance to make this display feel a little more Halloween and then can be replaced with a different label later in the fall.  I added my knitted leaf centerpiece to the side of the table- I can’t believe how well these branches have held up over the years!

For a corner in our home that used to have nothing, this has quickly become my favorite focal point in our living room.

 

How to Paint Pumpkins With Acrylic Paint from MomAdvice.com

How to Paint Pumpkins With Acrylic Paint from MomAdvice.com

How to Paint Pumpkins With Acrylic Paint from MomAdvice.com

How to Paint Pumpkins With Acrylic Paint from MomAdvice.com

 

I love how these pumpkins spill out onto some of my favorite childhood reads.

The chalkboard side on this crate gives me the chance to make this display feel a little more Halloween and then can be replaced with a different label later in the fall.  I added my knitted leaf centerpiece to the side of the table- I can’t believe how well these branches have held up over the years!

For a corner in our home that used to have nothing, this has quickly become my favorite focal point in our living room.

Do you prefer to paint your pumpkins with chalk paint? I think you will get a kick out of the pumpkins we created for the season when our kids were small.  We really have some of the best pumpkin painting ideas on here so please stick around!

What is the Best Way To Clean Up After Painting With Acrylic Paints?

Acrylic paint crafts can get pretty messy, especially if you are involving your kids in on the fun. I use a simple formula for removing paint from little hands that you should definitely try.

Whether you are dying eggs for the Easter season or painting pumpkins for Halloween, this formula is a great one to keep in your back pocket.

The best way to remove acrylic paint from your hands is to squirt a small amount of whitening toothpaste, add a squirt of facial exfoliant (or body exfoliant), and a squirt of baby oil.  Just rub this combination on your hands until you have removed all the paint. 

The best part is that you will have baby soft hands after you are done! 

This post contains affiliate links. I receive a commission if you make a purchase through our links.

Love this project? Check out these additional craft projects!

dollar store thumbtack pumpkins

autumn burlap wreath

slow cooker pumpkin spice candles

diy game day bar cart

no-sew blanket scarves

Do you want more craft inspiration from Waverly? Try these!

DIY No-Sew Reversible Chair Cushions

Fabric Wreath & Matching Garland

Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial

This post was created in partnership with Waverly Inspirations and contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site! 

How to Paint Pumpkins With Acrylic Paint from MomAdvice.com

 

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Handmade Autumn Burlap Wreath Tutorial

Thursday, September 5th, 2019

http://www.momadvice.com/post/easy-burlap-wreath-tutorial

This diy burlap wreath is eye-catching and oh-so-easy to make. Let me show you how to make an autumn burlap wreath for your door with this simple tutorial and just a few craft supplies items!

Have you made a burlap wreath before? If you can believe it, our most popular craft on our website is this simple burlap wreath that can be used for just about any holiday. It was with that in mind that I decided to explore some new ways to play with burlap in our craft room. 

Honestly, I can’t begin to tell you how happy this autumn wreath makes me hanging our front door and the pop of color this fall wreath brings to our home decor. This orange hue is just what our door needs for the holidays and this wreath is perfect for all fall through Halloween and Thanksgiving.

If you haven’t made a burlap wreath before, this tutorial is for you! It outlines step-by-step how to recreate this wreath with my picture tutorial.

Handmade Autumn Burlap Wreath Tutorial

The crisp coolness of fall is moving in here in the Midwest and with it comes the urge to decorate every square inch of my home to honor it. 

Dare I say that we do more fall decorating than we do Christmas decorating? 

With simplifying as our goal, though, instead of decorating for Halloween and decorating for Thanksgiving, I am trying to create pieces that can double for both holidays and be appreciated until it’s time to break out the Christmas decorations.

The best part is that this burlap wreath requires no crafting skills, no cutting, and is very inexpensive to create.

The one thing I will say with making burlap wreaths is that you need to have a little patience with yourself in the beginning. My first wreath, I took apart three times before I got the hang of it.

Once you get the bubbling of the burlap down though, this really is a quick and easy craft and such a great way to dress up a door. 

If you are feeling inspired, I highly recommend making a craft date with a good friend. My best friend and I got together to make our holiday crafts and she was quite amused when I stood up her chair to take photos of my process to make my first wreath.

The thing was, NO ONE showed you how to actually start a burlap wreath and how you were supposed to be even feeding this burlap ribbon into the wire wreath frame.

I told her that I just knew that this was going to be a popular post and just in the last 30 days, that image has been viewed over 322,000 times and pinned countless times.

Do I know my audience OR WHAT?

Let’s get started with this super easy craft that would be fun for your door or to share as a holiday gift with someone you love!

How to Make an Autumn Burlap Wreath

Fall-Burlap-Wreath-Tutorial-Supplies Supplies Needed:

Autumn Burlap Wreath Tutorial from MomAdvice.com

Directions:

Begin by folding your burlap in half, like I have shown above, and keep the fold going as we go along. 

Select one section of the wire wreath to start in. 

Feed the beginning end through the wreath as shown above: over the outer ring, under the next, over the next, and under to finish. 

Leave a little loose end to tuck in or you can wire it to the wreath with a little floral wire in the back. Now you have started your wreath- super easy!  This is the technique we are using throughout.

Note: I am showing it to you tightly so you can see how this will work, when you do this, you will actually be pulling out the burlap a bit to give it to that bubble effect that we are going for. 

Using the working end of the burlap (the working end is the side that isn’t the final end of the burlap, but in the end you are working with), we are going to begin making the bubbled burlap right next to this row, within the same section of that metal wreath, but we will begin weaving in the opposite direction, continuing to pull out and bubble the burlap as we go, moving the working burlap into each section, weaving one direction than weaving the other direction. 

If you are still confused, this is the most pinned article on our website that shows you how to get this wreath started easily.

When you run out of burlap (it should be when you are about halfway through covering the wreath), tuck the end towards the back and pick up where you left off. Again, you can wire these ends with a little floral wire on the back.

Once the entire wreath is covered, secure the final end with floral wire on the back of the wreath to make sure everything is held into place, twisted around one of the metal strands of the wreath.

Now you can fluff your burlap out to create that bubbly effect and to cover any of the metal you can see peeking out..

Clip small stems of your greenery to weave into your wreath. Starting with the front, add bits here and there, but not in a pattern, to make it look natural. Repeat this process with the middle layer and then finally attach a few towards the back to add texture to this wreath.

Handmade Autumn Burlap Wreath Tutorial

I don’t want to brag, but doesn’t this look like something out of a magazine?

Weaving in the texture of the greenery really makes this wreath pop and looks professional.

Thanks to catching some half-off sales at our local craft store, I was able to make this beauty for less than $20 which also makes me very happy!

Handmade Autumn Burlap Wreath Tutorial

I hope you can dress your home up simply and beautifully for the fall holidays with this fun idea!

Are you looking for more wreath ideas? Check out these fun craft ideas below for fall or visit our entire crafts section for more inspiration!

how to make a yarn pom-pom wreath

How to Make a Fabric Wreath and Garland how to make a fabric wreath and garland (you could use your favorite Fall prints for this one!)

DIY Thumbtack Pumpkins from MomAdvice.com dollar store diy thumbtack pumpkins

Knitted Leaves Centerpiece knitted leaves centerpiece

Happy crafting!

This post contains affiliate links.

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Simplifying Your Holiday Gatherings

Thursday, November 1st, 2018

You will love these strategies for hosting memorable gatherings without the stress.

I’ve got everything from cooking shortcuts to decorations that transition through the seasons to your perfect playlist! 

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

Now that Halloween is behind us, it is time to start thinking about all of those upcoming holiday gatherings. Hostess duties can often feel stressful and overwhelming, don’t they? That is why I’m excited to be partnering today with Honeysuckle White to share some fresh ideas for hosting your next gathering without the stress.

I learned that if I wanted to connect with my friends and family that I often had to be the one to step up to bat and offer to host. I have discovered, over the years, that so many people feel intimidated by hosting and are often self-conscious of things like undone house projects, their limited cooking abilities, or not feeling like they have that perfectly sized space for the ideal gathering.

The thing is, our own intimidations rob us of precious moments with those we love and the people that REALLY and GENUINELY love us will always, always be thankful to you for creating space in your home and day for them.

That is, truly, why I am excited to share that Honeysuckle White recognizes how precious our time is and wanted to take out that intimidation factor by providing a brilliantly easy turkey product that will make gatherings so much easier on busy moms.

Even better?

You can order it right through Amazon.

And, ladies, I KNOW we all have Amazon ordering down pat! (*ahem*)

Say hello to the world’s easiest holiday dish, the NEWS Honeysuckle White Bacon Wrapped Turkey Breast “Turketta”, inspired by the flavor profile of porchetta!

I gave ordering one of these a spin and really was surprised how well-seasoned and easy this was to execute for my Friendsgiving gathering this week.

In your package (that arrives right on your doorstep!)  you will get one of these beautiful roasts that serve approximately 4-6 people.  The packages arrive frozen and you can thaw it for an ASAP gathering or you can tuck this in the freezer for a future meal.

The bird is perfectly seasoned, boneless (no carving- woot, woot!), and requires just a simple quick sear on the bottom and baking.

This isn’t the only option you can have delivered. They also are offering Hickory Smoked Turkey Breast, a Honeysuckle White Fresh Traceable Whole Bird Turkey, & the Honest Turkey Whole Turkey.

Even better, for a limited time offer, MomAdvice readers can get 15% off using my coupon code 15MOMADVICE.

I can really get behind this company and the work they do with farmers, especially after having the opportunity to tour one of the farms.

The company is committed to raising their turkeys without growth-promoting antibiotics and no added hormones or steroids.

They also are committed to supporting independent family farmers to provide family farm-raised turkeys.

I don’t know if you know this, but my great-grandpa was a farmer and that is why that commitment and their true love for these families really warms my heart.

Now that you have the turkey covered, here are a few other ideas for a simple gathering of great friends and great food!

Send Out a Small Invite

I have done loads of large gatherings, but I find the best gatherings are often the intimate ones with just a couple of close friends so you can really catch up.

A friendsgiving need not be a large gathering and the invitation does not need to be a formal one.

Text invitations are perfectly acceptable, especially during such a busy season.

Also, allowing mamas to bring kids is a blessing to the mom (who won’t have to cook) and to you (to get to love on your friend’s beautiful kiddos especially since your kids are tweens/teens and you now have to FORCE YOUR LOVE on them).

 

Keep the Sides Simple

Roasted vegetables are an easy side that can be prepared a day in advance.

In fact, storing your carrots and potatoes in water overnight will yield a much crisper roast than if you cut them up immediately.

Toss your prepared vegetables in olive oil, kosher salt, and your favorite dried seasoning (I’m a thyme girl!) and roast them at 450 degrees for 25 minutes.

Love perfectly roasted potatoes?

Cut baby potatoes in half and put the cut side down on a cookie sheet that’s been lined with aluminum foil and is lightly greased. You will get a perfect roast every time AND they are so good that my kids call them mom’s french fries.

It goes without saying, but lining the cookie sheets with tin foil or parchment paper squares is also an excellent way to cut down on dishes!

Skip the Baking

Thankfully, there is no need to bake since we have so many delicious options for desserts that are already made and available for purchase at our local markets.

You can still make these purchased desserts feel really special though with quick homemade touches.

Spicing up your whipped cream, adding crunchy toppings, or adding details with pie cutters or an embossing rolling pin (made from refrigerated pie dough) are all fun ways to make pies feel special and more homemade.

This post offers 5 strategies for making store-bought pies feel special that I think you will find REALLY helpful for the holidays and even an idea for packaging up mini pies as a parting gift at the end of the night.

replicate my table with this easy tutorial

Think Evergreen When It Comes to Home Decorating

In the blog world, evergreen content is king. It means that we really focus on creating timeless pieces that can be shared over and over again and always feel relevant.

This is the SAME WAY we can approach our decorating. Purchase or DIY things that are neutral and can be used over and over again throughout the seasons. A bit of faux greenery, a roll of kraft paper (DO buy this– it’s such a affordable investment for decorating and gift wrapping), white plates, and loads of candles are perfect for ANY occasion.

Adding simple seasonal touches, like the small bundles of sage I gathered with cotton twine feel very Martha-y, but cost only a couple of bucks to pull off.

Stop pulling out and storing seasonal bins and buy a few items that you can use over and over and over again.

You can’t imagine the stress you will relieve yourself of!

Set the Mood

Before I go, I have one more fun fact for you…I used to be a glorified D.J. for my college’s radio station.

Music is essential to me like breathing and food.

Growing up, I played the violin, sang in the choir, did musical theater, and had parents who were crazy about music too.

I am also the one that hogs the microphone if you karaoke with me.

To me, a solid playlist for special occasions is oh-so-necessary.

Don’t have time to make one?

How about if I shared mine with you!

Also, as a thoughtful introvert, I have included three goodbye songs at the end that you can feel free to boot those up after the meal when you just need to retreat to your Snuggie and Netflix.

Hopefully they catch on..I know, “CLOSING TIME,” is a very, very subtle exit song!

I have embedded it here for you so be sure to bookmark this awesome post and give me a follow for more fabulous dinner music.

Now hurry on over to order your turkey and don’t forget to use my coupon code 15MOMADVICE to snag your 15% off!

this post contains affiliate links

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

DIY Table Runner for All Seasons

Tuesday, October 30th, 2018

Transform your table with this easy DIY table runner that you can use for any occasion. Who knew cardstock could look so beautiful?

Today’s tutorial is for a diy table runner made from humble cardstock, glue, and twine.  As a minimalist, I’m a big fan of any decorations that can be used for multiple seasons and I fully admit that I am REALLY proud when I craft something that is so very uniquely me.

As you guys know, I have really been on the struggle bus with my hand pain and I started thinking how I might need to start broadening my horizons with my crafting. It has been a dream of mine to own a Cricut so, after doing a ridiculous amount of research and price investigation, I settled on a Cricut Explore Air as the best option for what I needed.

Please note, they do offer a brand new Cricut Explore Air 2, but the price difference is $70 and the only real difference is that it can cut faster.

I can wait a few extra minutes if I can save $70!

Today’s craft is a great way to break in your Cricut since paper crafting is so darn affordable.

Before we begin, I decided to get a Cricut Access membership (I’m on the $7.99 monthly plan) so I could have unlimited access to patterns and get the discounts for the holidays. You can also pay individually for patterns, but so far the cost has been worth it for gift-making.

Do what makes sense for you and your budget though!

How to DIY a Paper Leaf Table Runner

Supplies

12-15 sheets Gray Cardstock (I used 4 different shades of gray)

Hopeless Romantic Garland Pattern– you will need to create a Cricut profile to access this

Hot Glue Gun (this is the one I use and love)

Glue Sticks

Cotton Twine

A pencil, pen, or end of a small paint brush for shaping your petals

Cricut

Cricut 12×12 Standard Grip Adhesive Cutting Mats

Kraft Paper (I bought this roll and use it for wrapping our gifts too)- this is optional, but helps the garland stand out!

Tutorial

Following the pattern listed above, begin by cutting all of the leaves for this project using a different shade of gray each time you load it.

Make sure that the dial on your Cricut is set to CARDSTOCK and make sure that the blade you have loaded is the FINE-POINT BLADE.

If you have not cut cardstock before, here is a tutorial and here is also a tutorial to switching your blade (if you haven’t done that before).

Begin by creating a gathering of four to five leaves that will look good layered together.

To make this look more natural, try to avoid making each of these gatherings identical and make sure to weave in those different subtle hues that you have cut.

Using the end of a pencil, end of a paintbrush, or scissors, gently begin curling these petals to add depth and shape.

If you have not curled paper before, I found this advice very helpful (and her patterns are just gorgeous too!).

Now we can begin gluing our stack together. Keep in mind how you had them originally stacked and replicate that.

You will also want to figure out how you want these to trail and be linked together. Once again, avoid your perfectionistic nature and don’t be afraid to have these going in different directions. If it looks too matchy-matchy, it won’t have a natural feel.

Along the back, you will then add a thin line of hot glue and attach your twine to help hold the garland together and that can also act as a tool for hanging, if you decide this one is better suited to your mantle or bar.

You can see the layer of brown paper has been laid underneath it.  To add a little more dimension to this table, I added two sets of these inexpensive votive candle holder sets (I’m pointing you in the general direction so you can pick out your favorite finish). You can get them in a variety of shades and I love that these sit low so you don’t have to try to talk around a tall arrangement.

Here are just a few other details on this table, in case you were interested in replicating this further.

I tied tiny bundles of sage to nestle on top of our cloth napkins with a little more of the cotton twine. It added a natural element to the tablescape which felt really necessary with the paper display. It also smelled divine which is always a wonderful bonus.

I have had a hard time finding cloth napkins that wash really well, but can’t recommend these beauties enough. I picked a dark gray to eliminate needing to bleach out stains, but they come in a zillion colors that can match your own table runner.

The dishes were such a steal and came with such thoughtful storage racks. I am in love with how everything nests together so well especially these bowls which are the perfect size.

I found the glasses on clearance and can’t tell you how beautiful they are. I have been dying to have some ornate glasses for our fancier occasions. Of course, these already sold out (boooo!!!), but here and here and here are a few gorgeous options.

Once again, thankful for this smart tool I bought for our water bottles because it gets things clean, but doesn’t scratch the pattern or gold rim on these.

I hope this spread inspires you to embrace decorations you can use for all the seasons.

I’m also excited to share with you about the Friendsgiving gathering I had to make use of this lovely display. Stay tuned for all the details on that!

Looking for some more great craft ideas? Check these out!

How to make a Yarn Pom Pom Wreath how to make a yarn pom-pom wreath

how to make a yarn pom-pom garland

how to make an autumn burlap wreath

easy burlap wreath tutorial

how to diy a no-sew blanket scarf

Happy crafting, friends!

This post contains affiliate links.

DIY Game Day Bar Cart

Tuesday, September 18th, 2018

Entertaining is my thing. There’s nothing I love more than getting friends and family together for a great time.

And with a certain important game day party coming up, I knew just what I wanted to assemble to show off for my guests — a game day bar cart!

My favorite bar cart in our home is actually a tool cart transformed into this super functional and fun bar cart, so you can make your own too!

For my cart design, I decided to keep parts of the original surface paired with a metallic shade, but you can personalize this to your own taste and color scheme.

Just follow along with step two on the inside of your bar cart and apply your choice of paint if you so choose.

DIY Bar Cart Made from a Tool Cart Tutorial



Supplies Needed

Metal Tool Cart (check here or here or here to pick your favorite)
2 cans Krylon Colormaster in Metallic Gold (indoor) Spray Paint
1 can Rust-Oleum Hammered Brown Spray Paint
1 Spray Paint Trigger (should be in the same aisle as the spray paint)
Sandpaper
Painter’s Tape (to tape off your wheels)
Gloves

Directions

1. Begin by removing all of the parts and lining them up on cardboard or a drop cloth for painting. You will want the trays on this piece to be upside down since we are only spray painting the exterior of the tray. This will not only save you time spray painting, but the cart already has a nice finish on it that is easy to wipe and clean.

2. Rough up the exterior with medium-grit sandpaper. This will help our gold paint adhere to this smooth surface better.

3. Apply the trigger handle to your spray paint can. If you haven’t used one of these before it is a life-changing spray painting tool that offers even coverage and saves your poor trigger finger for long projects.

Begin by shaking your can for 1-2 minutes and periodically during use. Hold the can 10” – 12” from your surface, and spray in sweeping motions from side to side with a slight overlap.

Apply multiple thin coats, wait one minute between each.

You can add a top coat, if you like, with a clear topcoat, but it does dull the metallic sheen from this paint.

I chose to leave it without the clear coat, because I like the roughness and loveliness of the sheen of this paint.

I did find that this does adhere a bit unevenly to the surface, but creates more of the hammered metal look that I was going for.

4. Remove the trigger handle and now place it on your hammered metal spray paint that we are using for the handles and wheels on our bar cart.

Using the same technique, hold the can 10” – 12” from your surface, and spray in sweeping motions from side to side with a slight overlap.

Allow these to dry fully and then flip to the other side to spray paint the flip-side of these.

5. Tape off your wheels as best as you can and spray paint these with the same spray paint.

Allow them to dry and then flip to the other side and spray paint the flip-side.

When you remove the tape, if any of the paint has gotten on the wheel, just use your sandpaper to rough up the wheel to remove the paint.

6. Assemble after your cart, and all of its parts, are fully dry.

Keep your spray paint handy for final touch-ups and use a piece of cardboard to block and protect the areas around where you need to touch-up.

Allow this to fully dry before loading it with your drinks.

DIY Game Day Bar Cart from MomAdvice.com

DIY Game Day Bar Cart from MomAdvice.com

Once everything is assembled and dried, you can add your beverages of choice!

I decided to add my favorite beers to the top shelf for easy access, along with garnishes and drink tools.

On the bottom shelf I have glasses and liquors that can be wheeled around as needed.

Feel free to add any additional decorations like small treats, a chalkboard sign to message for guests or paper creations sporting the colors of your favorite team. Most of all, have fun!

Need More Game Day Party Tips?

Keep decorations simple for your game day party

Faux grass can act as a tablecloth for your table and a simple pennant banner can be created with your team’s favorite colors.

Add some fun football trophies to decorate around the food to pull your table theme together.

Have guests make their own food

Make creating your own food fun for your guests by creating a sub or Panini sandwich station from an assortment breads, cheeses, cold cuts, and a variety of toppings for your guests.

Each person can customize their own sandwich with their favorite additions.

Don’t forget to add a few gourmet flavors like pesto, Gouda cheese, apple slices, smoked bacon or prosciutto, & brie to your toppings bar.

These gourmet toppings will take your ordinary sandwiches into extraordinary ones and each guest can create their own unique combination.

The same idea can be applied to a fun slider bar, soup topping bar, hot dog bar, or baked potato bar.

snag my slow cooker pumpkin chili recipe

Host a soup cookoff

Have guests bring a pot of their favorite soup to share for a soup cook-off.

Have guests place votes on their favorite and present the winner with one of your fun football trophies from your table display to take home as the champion.

Not only will this be a fun way to sample some new soup recipes, but it will also relieve you of having to create as many dishes for your big game day party.

Round out the meal

Round out your soup & sandwich menu with an easy cheese platter, dips, a vegetable tray, and a fruit tray. Make the easy dips to go with your favorite crackers, but save some time in the kitchen and visit the deli in your store to pick up a simple fruit or vegetable platter to add on the side to save time spent chopping in the kitchen.

Invest in some inexpensive plastic containers for game day leftovers and send goodie bags home with your guests so they can enjoy the leftovers all weekend long.

Don’t forget to give the guests that stick around to help clean up afterwards a Most Valuable Player award for their assistance with the kitchen clean-up.

Love this DIY project? Here are a few others I think you will enjoy!

rosé strawberry wine pops recipe

slow cooker pumpkin candles

diy thumbtack pumpkins

diy ottoman serving tray

fall burlap wreath

painting pumpkins with acrylic paints

How do you celebrate game days at your house? I’d love to hear your tips for entertaining!

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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!

 

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DIY Reusable Floor Pads For Your Swiffer Mop

Monday, April 23rd, 2018

DIY Wet and Dry Swiffer Pads Tutorial from MomAdvice.com

This Indiana girl could not be happier to know that Spring has finally sprung! I am so excited to throw open those windows and to get my home ready for this warmer season. In honor of all the Spring cleaning today I wanted to share with you an easy 5-minute craft to create wet and dry Swiffer pads for your mop. This idea couldn’t be easier and will cost you less than $20 in supplies that you can use over and over again.

If you visit our house, you will find a Swiffer behind almost every door in our rooms. I find that these are such a great way to tidy up quickly before guests arrive or to swipe a room after getting ready in the morning. Pairing these with these DIY Swiffer Pads make this an environmentally-friendly investment that you can use over and over again in your home.

Let’s get started by first making our DIY Wet Swiffer Pads with this easy tutorial.

DIY Wet Swiffer Pads from MomAdvice.com

How to Make DIY Wet Swiffer Pads

DIY Wet Swiffer Pads from MomAdvice.com

DIY Wet Swiffer Pads from MomAdvice.com

Supplies Needed for the Wet Swiffer Pads

4 cups of vinegar

6 cups water

1 tablespoon dish soap (I chose a Mrs. Meyers in a fresh lemon scent)- PSST- Use this coupon from Grove for a Mrs. Meyer’s five-piece set for FREE with your first purchase.

1 gallon size freezer bag

11×11 utility dishcloths (This is the EXACT match to what I purchased- as you can see in the picture below, these are ALMOST the same exact size as our purchased pads, but you won’t have to do any sewing to achieve it!

Measuring cup & spoon

Swiffer mop

Directions

DIY Wet Swiffer Pads from MomAdvice.com

In a gallon size freezer bag, mix together your vinegar, water, and dish soap. I used a measuring cup to help hold the bag in place as I filled it and then sealed and swished the bag to mix the ingredients. DIY Wet Swiffer Pads from MomAdvice.com
Insert your utility cloths into the solution until they are submerged. DIY Wet Swiffer Pads from MomAdvice.com

When you are ready to use them, simply wring out a little of the solution and then place on your Swiffer as you would the purchased pads. Clean your floors and then shake any debris into the trash can and throw them in the wash when you are done. DIY Wet Swiffer Pads from MomAdvice.com

As you can see, these do a great job of gathering crumbs from our floor.  These would also be great for swiping down surfaces in lieu of those throw away wipes that you might be using to clean your home.  The best part though is that these do not streak my laminate flooring like the purchased pads did. My floors have no residue and the vinegar smell dissipates quickly, leaving a clean and natural shine.

Now that we have made our DIY Wet Swiffer Pads, let’s start whipping up our Dry Swiffer Pads for our rooms. Again, this tutorial couldn’t be easier!

DIY Wet Swiffer Pads from MomAdvice.com

How to Make DIY Dry Swiffer Pads

DIY Dry Swiffer Pads from MomAdvice.com

Supplies Needed for the Dry Swiffer Pads

1 yard of fleece (this site has very affordable prices)

Scissors

A dry Swiffer Pad to use as a template or you can use the 11×11 utility dishcloths for a template for your pads

Swiffer mop

Directions

DIY Dry Swiffer Pads from MomAdvice.com

Using a dry Swiffer pad or your 11×11 dishcloth as a template, cut your fleece to the same size. Repeat, making as many as you like. DIY Dry Swiffer Pads from MomAdvice.com

Place on your Swiffer just as you would do with your purchased pads. Do a dry dusting of your floors with your reusable pads to gather dust, debris, and hair. Shake off any loose debris in the trash when you are done. Wash and reuse. DIY Dry Swiffer Pads from MomAdvice.com

As you can see, these also do a great job of gathering hair and dust.  I love to use these in my bathroom where it can be difficult to trap the dust and hair.

I love my shiny floors and look forward to replacing all of those pads with these easy DIY alternatives. Since these just take about 5-minutes to create, you have no time to lose and will have a beautiful home in no time flat!

  DIY Wet Swiffer Pads from MomAdvice.com

I hope you found today’s project inspiring! Have you ever created your own DIY Swiffer Pads? Feel free to leave your ideas below!

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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

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DIY No-Sew Reversible Cloth Napkins

Tuesday, March 20th, 2018

DIY No-Sew Reversible Cloth Napkins from MomAdvice.com

The queen of no-sew projects is back and I’m excited to share this EASY DIY No-Sew Reversible Cloth Napkin tutorial with you today.

That’s right, even if you can’t sew, it’s no biggie!

Can’t cut a straight line?

Me either!

No need to even have a skill in that!

Each diy no-sew napkin should take a mere ten minutes to make and can be used for many a dinner with your family and friends. Not to mention, these would make a gorgeous gift for a newlywed or the holidays.

DIY No-Sew Reversible Cloth Napkins from MomAdvice.com

I had a set of cloth napkins that got a lot of love in our house because of their easy-to-wash material and their perfect size. I was never a fan of the colors though and so I measured my current set and headed to the fabric store where I discovered (GLORY BE!) that the fabric bundles, at our local fabric shop, just so happened to be the EXACT same size.

What luck for someone who can’t cut a straight line.

I have always loved the beauty of these color-coordinating fabric bundles (just so perfect for quilters) and thanks to their prepackaged coordination, it makes creating a reversible set of napkins oh-so-easy for those of us born without the gift of pattern-matching.

Here’s my quick tutorial AND scroll down for my system for washing and storing these beauties!

DIY No-Sew Reversible Cloth Napkins Tutorial

DIY No-Sew Reversible Cloth Napkins

diy-no-sew-reversible-cloth-napkins (2 of 23)

 

Supplies

18×21 inch fabric bundle in coordinating colors- I LOVE these options or you can check here too for a more affordable option (the bundle I purchased had 5 pieces so to create an even number of cloth napkins you will need to purchase two bundles. You will need 2 pieces for each napkin you would like to make). I chose Cotton & Flannel materials for my napkins.

Stitch Witchery or similar fusible bonding web (I swear by Stitch Witchery for the majority of my no-sew projects- it really washes well!)

Chopstick or pointy object to push out your corners

Iron & ironing board

Scissors

DIY No-Sew Reversible Cloth Napkins from MomAdvice.com

Directions

1. Select two coordinating colors and place the first one with the pattern up, facing you, and then flip the other one with the wrong side of the fabric out. Basically, you want the two patterns to be BFF’s and be facing each other.

DIY No-Sew Reversible Cloth Napkins from MomAdvice.com

2. Going all the way across the fabric, lay down your Stitch Witchery all the way across, leaving a little room on each side of the edges, as pictured.

DIY No-Sew Reversible Cloth Napkins from MomAdvice.com

3. Grab you iron (I crank mine to the highest setting on that dial) and iron over the tape until the two fabrics are fused together. This will take several passes and you can additionally spray the fabric with a little water to produce steam and help the tape bond to each side of the fabric. Repeat this process on two more sides.

Leave one side without tape and follow the next steps to finish the cloth napkin.

DIY No-Sew Reversible Cloth Napkins from MomAdvice.com

4. On the final side, we are going to run the tape along like the other sides, but stop to leave a pocket so we can turn this napkin right side out.

DIY No-Sew Reversible Cloth Napkins from MomAdvice.com

DIY No-Sew Reversible Cloth Napkins from MomAdvice.com

DIY No-Sew Reversible Cloth Napkins from MomAdvice.com

5. Using your scissors, cut all four corners so we don’t have excess fabric in the corners. CAREFULLY, turn the napkin right side out and use your chopstick to CAREFULLY poke out those corners. If the tape comes loose while turning this right side out, don’t worry! You can easily reseal that tape again when finishing that edge!

DIY No-Sew Reversible Cloth Napkins from MomAdvice.com

DIY No-Sew Reversible Cloth Napkins from MomAdvice.com

DIY No-Sew Reversible Cloth Napkins from MomAdvice.com

6. Tuck the last of the ends under, to match the rest of the side that has been fused.  Finish with another round of Stitch Witchery and a final press. Once the ends are all sealed, finish with a spray of water to take out any final wrinkles and to give it a good press on all four sides to make sure they are secure.

TA-DA!  That’s it, folks!

DIY No-Sew Reversible Cloth Napkins from MomAdvice.com

DIY No-Sew Reversible Cloth Napkins from MomAdvice.com

DIY No-Sew Reversible Cloth Napkins from MomAdvice.com

I had already received some questions, when I posted these beauties on IG, on how I planned to implement these in our home. I got a container for these and have them on our hutch, next to our silverware. Underneath the sink is a container for tossing the dirty napkins.

I got a small napkin holder that perfectly holds four of these (something like this) for the tabletop and each person gets one napkin per day.

I did request darker colors for messier meals and lighter colors for meals that less messy.

Each person is responsible for tossing their napkin in at the end of the day.

All of this feels REALLY doable to me.

DIY No-Sew Reversible Cloth Napkins from MomAdvice.com

DIY No-Sew Reversible Cloth Napkins from MomAdvice.com

DIY No-Sew Reversible Cloth Napkins from MomAdvice.com

DIY No-Sew Reversible Cloth Napkins from MomAdvice.com

Obviously, I am IN LOVE with these feminine patterns, but I wanted to make some that were more masculine too.

DIY No-Sew Reversible Cloth Napkins from MomAdvice.com

I found some flannel and did some of our napkins in this fabric too.

The best part was that the print was on both sides so the warmer side of the flannel would be perfect for the winter months while the flipside of the flannel was perfect for all seasons (and, honestly, I had less worries about lint issues). I can picture just how beautiful these would be to dress up the table for the holidays.

The best part?

You can’t buy this at Target. You get to be totally unique.

Go ahead and gloat!

Do you love NO-SEW projects? You hit the lottery over here! Check out a few of my favorite no-sew tutorials!

Fabric Flower Wreath Fabric Flower Wreath for Spring

No-Sew Kitchen Cushions DIY No-Sew Reversible Chair Cushions

Fabric Wreath & Garland Fabric Wreath & Matching Garland

Fabric Bulletin Board Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial

Painted Pumpkins Painting Pumpkins With Acrylic Paints

diy-no-sew-pocket-warmers-10 DIY No-Sew Hand Warmers

Diy Ottoman Serving Tray DIY Ottoman Serving Tray

Scrappy Fabric Trees 15-Minute Scrappy Fabric Trees

DIY Jigsaw Puzzle Mat DIY Roll-Up Jigsaw Puzzle Mat

Told ya, queen of the no-sew life!

DIY No-Sew Reversible Cloth Napkins from MomAdvice.com

Have you made the switch to cloth in your home? I’d love to hear what systems work best for your family?

This post contains affiliate links!

 

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7 Things I’ve Learned That Save Us Serious Money

Tuesday, January 16th, 2018

Amy Clark

Hey, hey! Today is my big 4-0 and I keep wondering how I got to this milestone so quickly. In many ways, I wonder when I will feel like an adult. In other ways, I can see how much better I feel in my own skin and the wisdom that has been gained, especially in this last decade of years.

Before I launch into my list, I’d love to share that I am doing a birthday fundraiser on Facebook. I’m asking for donations to Ehlers-Danlos National Foundation. The diagnosis of myself and my children has made the research from this organization an important one for us. I am donating this occasion in hopes that more funding can help provide those needed answers we are in search of.

If you have a buck or two to spare, I’d be thrilled to share this with the Ehlers-Danlos National Foundation

In honor of this day, I wanted to share 7 things that I’ve learned that save us some serious money. As we continue to embrace our simplified path, I can see how being open to learning new skills and continuing to research new strategies has really paid off for us. As I get older, I find more and more joy in the life we have chosen and I’d love to share some of my favorite strategies today. 

birthday reflections

7 Things I’ve Learned That Save Us Serious Money

Restaurant-Style-Steak-Recipe-3

I Nailed a Restaurant-Worthy Steak

Steak dinners and fancy date nights were hard on our budget and learning to master making a perfectly restaurant-worthy steak has saved our family oodles of money. I’m not pro enough that I can touch it and distinguish its degree of doneness, but I do know how to work my digital meat thermometer like a boss and that’s almost the same thing. Our cast iron skillet (another frugal and wise investment) really sears our steaks so beautifully and the butter finish is a decadent treat.

Instead of paying over a hundred dollars for a filet dinner out, my hubby and I take trips to the supermarket and purchase a couple of steaks and a bottle of wine for less than the price of one meal at a restaurant. This recipe has been a go-to for our dates and for special occasions when we are celebrating our kids. It takes about ten minutes to pull this off (with a little roasted asparagus on the side) and everyone gets so excited about this meal.

My secret?

Loads of Kosher Salt, baby, and a screaming hot pan.

Let me know if you can give this technique a spin in your kitchen!

flipster

I Gave Up My Magazine Subscriptions

Magazines have been a weakness of mine and discovering our library has the Flipster app has made me SO incredibly happy this year. Basically, you can get a digital subscription to just about every magazine, check them out digitally, and read your magazines on your tablet or phone.

The best part has been being able to take screenshots of recipes and ideas for myself and as inspiration for our site as I page through them (soooo handy!!)

So far the only catch has been the length of time that you are allowed to check them out (it varies per magazine), but usually I can plow through one in a day and it costs ZERO bucks.

brunch

I Brunch Like a Boss…At Home

Brunch used to be a big weakness for me, but we rarely go out to brunch anymore now that I finally have a few smart brunch recipes up my sleeve.

I call this year the year of the egg because mastering a few techniques was on my cooking bucket list. The omelette, for example, was something that I just couldn’t get the hang of. It usually ended up into messy scrambled eggs over here.

brunch

Not anymore though.

Here’s a little picture proof because I know you don’t believe me!

I watched a YouTube video tutorial, found the perfect skillet for the job, and discovered how awesome coconut oil is for creating a nonstick surface for my omelette making. This has become a go-to for busy nights when I don’t feel like making dinner and is the new tried-and-true for a satisfying weekend brunch at home. It’s also a fantastic way to use up the odds and ends in your refrigerator.

If we aren’t in the mood for an omelette, this Chicken Pesto Frittata, Sausage & Vegetable Frittata, Gluten-Free Overnight Waffles, or these Light & Fluffy Pumpkin Pancakes (I just sub with this flour now to make them gluten-free) are all in our brunch rotation.  Don’t forget this diy drink mix recipe for a delicious drink (with or without alcohol!)

Movie Pass

I Go to the Movies All the Time For Cheap-As-Heck

I’m wondering how long this offer will last, but this girl got on the Movie Pass train really early and it has been a highlight of the year. A membership is $9.95 a month and you can see a movie EVERY SINGLE DAY of the month at a REAL theater (should you so choose!) by only paying the membership fee.

If you haven’t heard of it, I’ll try to explain it as briefly as I can. You sign up, they mail a card that looks like a debit card (can take awhile, fyi!), you download the app, head to your theater to check-in on the app, and it says something like, “enjoy the show!” When you head to the counter, you just use the pass instead of your debit card and that’s it.

Obviously, the big catch is being at the theater to check-in and the availability of seats. I aim for the weird times (like 1 PM in the afternoon) and don’t see the movies as soon as they come out. You also can’t see 3D flicks, but that’s NBD because I’m not into action films.

My goal this year is to start feeling brave enough to go to movies ALONE since my work schedule is so quirky.

It is accepted all the theaters near me and I bribed my sister and neighbor to get a pass too so we could have movie dates together for cheap-as-heck.

Capsule Wardrobe

Honey, I Really Did Shrink My Wardrobe

If you would have told me five years ago that I would embrace a minimalist wardrobe, I would have laughed until I cried. Seriously, I was a dedicated fashionista that loved a good deal. What I’ve learned though is that shrinking my wardrobe has brought me a lot of peace and calmness to my mornings. It feels so good to have everything working together and to look in my closet and have it make absolute sense.

Was this hard? Absolutely!

Was it worth it? Absolutely!

One of my biggest inspirations is this lady and her beautiful book just might be the ticket for you to whittle down your wardrobe (and a few other things!) in your life this year.

I have been documenting my journey on the blog and you can see where I started and where I’m at now over here.

My one smart investment has been Rent the Runway for special occasions. This girl isn’t into one-trick-ponies anymore so I enjoyed their Unlimited services for the holidays and it was a blast, without taking up a lot of closet space as a commitment.

blue-apron

I Learned to Cook New Things For My People

If you think bloggers don’t get into meal plan ruts, you are quite mistaken. I think burnout happens a lot with this job and we often ended up repeating the same meals over and over again so we don’t have to invent one more thing for the day. I got a subscription for the summer to Blue Apron and it has widened my perspective on so many things and brought me a ton of joy.

How does spending money on a meal subscription service pay off, right? I know! I didn’t think it was a good use of money either.

I *may* have made fun of people who did these.

The thing is,  it REALLY broadened my perspective on fruits and vegetables we had been neglecting at the grocery store and taught me some valuable cooking techniques that I would have NEVER tried or figured out on my own.

Blue Apron

The night that my kids and hubby were raving about eggplant about knocked me out of my chair. I was like, “WE ARE DOING THIS FOREVER.”

The biggest lesson I learned is how invaluable high heat is for roasting our veggies. I am now cranking my stove up to 450 degrees to roast everything and it has made everything taste like it is roasted and not steamed.

We have taken a break until next summer on this subscription so that I have the time and slowed down day that I need to get my most enjoyment out of this, but I enjoyed almost every minute of it.

Tackling the challenge that I’m showing you, in the picture above, nearly did me in while they were doing the Master Chef challenges promo for their customers to try at home. This TEAM challenge was pulled off by ONE sweaty mom, but was declared the best meal of the bunch.

I’m not sure if that was true or everyone felt sorry for me after I tackled a TEAM challenge SOLO. I did that challenge though, LIKE A BOSS.

By the way, if you use this link, it should give you $30 off your first box and you can pick all the quick meals so you don’t look crazy like me.

It is almost like it’s your birthday too, amiright?

family

I had coffee with a friend and she shared such a valuable piece of wisdom with me that I wanted to share it with YOU too, as I wrap up my birthday post today. She said that 40 is where you are easing into the second half of your life and you realize who and what is important as you move into this second phase of your life. Who wants to spend the second half of their life keeping up with the Joneses, investing time into shallow relationships, making small talk, and living a life of overcommitment?

Nope, not this girl.

I want all the good stuff- the deep and the meaningful stuff. I want to savor these moments with my kids. I want to be present in this lucky partnership I have with my hubby. I want my friendships to be real and not flighty. I want to continue to give myself grace that life has looked differently, in many sobering ways, but I still have the ability to transform lives by sharing our story. I want to allow people in to see the cracks and brokenness, both online and offline. I want to work on my commitment to believe in God’s plan and timing… even though it looks nothing like the timeline I’ve drawn up.

My word this year is MINDFUL- mindful of my time, mindful of my words, mindful in my role as a mom and wife, mindful of where I invest my time (in my personal life AND business), mindful of our money, and mindfully being my authentic self.

I hope you’ll stick around because having you here has given me purpose in my steps MANY, MANY days!

Can you celebrate with me and share what’s one way you have learned to save your family money or a fun tip that has changed a routine? It would be a fantastic present today!

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