Halloween 2016!

Since Halloween is on a Monday this year, I hope you’re having a weekend full of fun so you can enjoy the mystery and magic of the holiday.

Here’s what we’ll be up to in the Andersen house…


My girls and their friends will be decked out like emojis. They saw this idea pic on Pinterest, so we made our own.

We took a plain yellow tee from Hobby Lobby and used fabric glue to add the details of the emoji face. We used felt, since it was easy to cut and glue.

Tip: Use a piece of chalk to draw the details of your face on the felt before cutting. It’s easier (and less permanent) than pencil or pen!

This was our Pinspiration. We plan to add black leggings and tutus. We’ll also add big yellow bows to their hair. Cute and super easy!!

I don’t usually get super dressed up, unless we’re going to a themed party. But I do like to wear a little something festive when we take the kids out to trick-or-treat. So I found a cool spider at Walmart, and I plan to turn it into a headband with some hot glue and a bow made out of black tulle. Here’s some inspiration I found online.


I’ll pair this with a poncho, which is another easy DIY project. I found a black poncho at Walmart. (They have tons of them in stock right now!) And I’ll add strips of glittery tape to make “webs.” My goals is to have it look similar to one I saw on Grandin Road. Wish me luck!

Playful food

We plan to head over to a friend’s house for dinner tomorrow, and I’m bringing my favorite pumpkin-shaped cheese ball served with purple tortilla chips.

I’m also going to whip up some cinnamon bats (which take less than 15 min…promise they’re that easy) and I’ll serve it with this fruit salsa.


{Cinnamon bat recipe} > PS. I’ve also made these bats brushed with olive oil and sea salt (instead of the cinnamon sugar). Then I served it with something more savory – like hummus or salsa.

Check the list

Y’all know how much I love lists. Well, I made a Halloween checklist a year or so ago – and I still like to glance at it to make sure I have everything covered. Feel free to check it out.

I also have an easy Halloween menu if you’re having company over or want to serve a fun meal for the fam.

No matter what, I hope you have a goulishly good time, my friends.




Friday Wrap: A Lovely Laguna Beach Break


Thanks to my husband, Brandon, we were able to experience a four-day stay in Southern California this week. It was beyond incredible. Even with the rain we encountered, which apparently hasn’t happened in quite some time, we loved every split second of this vacation.

Brandon earned the trip through work, so most of the details were planned for us – including reservations at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Nigel. Whaaat? This palatial resort is perched on top of a cliff in Dana Point.

There was so much to explore, I’ll try my best to summarize our trip in five “buckets.”

I’ll include lots of photos, so you can feel just like you were there with us. And if you ever get a chance to visit this lovely part of the world, by all means, these are definitely things worth checking out.

{ONE} The Destination: Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel


This is the entrance of our hotel. The colorful vinca and juicy succulents that surrounded the grand entrance provided a little foreshadowing…


As you stepped inside, you were greeted with a visual display of flowers arranged in incredibly tall vases. Apparently there’s also a signature fragrance at the hotel. It’s a light floral scent and is piped through the vent system. So all of your senses are engaged the moment you walk through the door.


Gigantic bunches of roses are lined along the main hallways.


This is a view of the hotel from the back side. See all of those adirondack chairs down on the right? B and I spent as much time as we could there soaking up some sun – and maybe enjoying a drink or two.


This was the best mojito to ever hit my mouth. It was from one of the hotel bars called 180blu. The drink was bright green and had cucumbers. I didn’t ask questions. I just enjoyed every delicious sip.


Look at this gorgeous pool! It rained the first couple of days, so we didn’t get as much pool time as we would have liked. I guess we’ll just have to go back. Darn. 😉

{TWO} The Sights and Sounds


The moment I heard the waves and smelled the salt air, I knew I had arrived…welcome to the Pacific Ocean!!


Remember those adirondack chairs I was telling you about a moment ago? This was the view from that spot. It was the perfect place for watching waves – and even hummingbirds! They loved the Bird of Paradise flowers that were planted all around the resort. I was pretty much in Kate-heaven.


Every morning Brandon and I hiked down the hill and walked along the shore. I loved how different it looked each time. This particular day the water had created a shelf of sand. See it on the right? I could stand here for days…just watching and listening to the waves crash.


Being from Arkansas, I’m more accustomed to the beaches along the Gulf Coast, which are covered in sea shells. So I enjoyed looking at all of the treasures that the Pacific Ocean pulled onto her shores – like this sea stone.


Dana Point must be a hot spot for surfers, because there were TONS of surfers in the water. All day, every day. It was cool.


Okay, so The Ritz-Carlton isn’t the only fancy-pants destination on “the hill”. Check out this mansion. In fact, there were many more like this dotted along the upper ridge. Apparently many of them are owned by stars. Anyone know who this belongs to?! I’d love to know.


We heard this one belongs to Tom Cruise. It was literally right next door to our hotel. Hey, T-Cruise!



Other than hummingbirds, there were flocks of blackbirds always passing through. This guy was perched on the ledge of an outdoor restaurant at the hotel. I think he wanted my chips. Sorry, dude.


Speaking of birds…here’s a closeup of a Bird of Paradise that was growing next to the pool. I remember the first time I ever saw one of these was in the flower shop where I worked in college. When I unpacked them for the first time, I felt like I had just released a rare bird. And I remember thinking it had the most perfect name.


This photo also reminds me of the flower shop from college. We used seeded eucalyptus all of the time as greenery. And this, my friends, is how it grows. Tall on a tree like this! It smelled so clean and medicinal. I could feel my head clear as I stood in her shade.

{THREE} The Extras: Yoga, Cooking Classes and Parties


Part of the perks of a four-diamond hotel are things like complimentary yoga classes every day. #truestory I got up pretty much every morning and enjoyed my yoga practice – with this view.


The fitness center had a rows of ellipticals and other machines that faced the ocean. I told B that if I had this view, I’d easily workout every day. No questions asked.


B’s company offered one free activity, and we chose a Cooking with The Masters class. This is Chef Anthony from EnoSteak, which is one of the featured restaurants on the property. He walked us through how to make a rustic rendition of bruschetta using heirloom tomatoes, followed by a sherry dijon vinaigrette that was drizzled over greens and grilled vegetables. Then the main course was chimichurri marinade flank steak that was grilled outside over coals. Talk about de-lish.


This was a picture of our table as we enjoyed the full menu that was prepared by Chef Anthony, who was such a kind and soft-spoken man with a deep passion for food.


This was our view for the final dinner. Brandon’s company invited everyone to dine out on the lawn under the stars. We enjoyed a buffet of pretty much anything you can imagine: steaks, grilled swordfish, lobster risotto, a taco bar, etc. There was also a coffee station next to a full spread of desserts, which included s’mores. You could roast your own handcrafted marshmallow squares over an open fire pit. #todiefor

The people at this event came from all over the country, but we did know one other couple from Arkansas. This is us grabbing a quick pic before I ran over to stuff my face with some lobster risotto. (B and I are on the right, and our friends, Kurt and Leann, are on the left.)

{FOUR} Shopping in Downtown Laguna


We squeezed in a tiny bit of shopping. Much like the pool situation, we didn’t give ourselves nearly enough time to enjoy this. Another reason we must go back.


Downtown Laguna is adorable, quaint and perfect for pretty much any kind of shopper. You don’t have to be loaded to shop at many of these stores, which made it super fun. This was one of my favorites called Tuvalu. It had a friendly vibe and reminded me of a beach-themed Anthropologie.


A market-style flower shop. I mean…beauty served on a sidewalk right there.


If you ever head to Laguna Beach, you must eat here. Trust me. We ate here for dinner one night and I’m still dreaming about that chilean sea bass.


This will be your view. Look at those ocean waves.


Our table was on the far left. I used this pic from the restaurant, which is way better than mine – since it was full of people. The restaurant is surrounded in glass, so there really isn’t a bad view – or seat – in the house.


We caught the sunset just as we arrived. Talk about taking your breath away.


Hands down, the best part of the day – and maybe even trip – was catching up with Ryan and his girlfriend Jamie. Ryan was the best man in our wedding and lives near Los Angeles. Needless to say, we don’t get to see him very often. We were honored he drove down the coast to see us. We spent hours talking, laughing, swapping stories and learning about various forms of healing. He’s one fascinating dude. And I loved getting the chance to meet Jamie. She’s such a beautiful and warm person. She’s also smart and has her own business making orgonite pieces, which I’ll need to feature in an upcoming post. They’re really beautiful.

{FIVE} Togetherness with Brandon


Okay, so as I wrap up this photo journey of our time in Laguna Beach, I have to say “thank you” to my sweet B for working so hard and making this trip possible for us. I loved every step we took, every meal we ate, every sound we soaked in, and every new experience we had…together. #buddiesforlife

And we’re home…


While B and I were off splashing in the ocean, my awesome niece stayed at our house with the kids. We couldn’t have made this trip without her, so big kisses to our Sarah!!

XoXo and blessings for a beautiful weekend,



Friday Wrap: Busy Like A Bee

Yay! It’s another happy Friday! Although, most Fridays are. This one kind of snuck up on me, though. The week was so jam packed, that it flew right by.

I was a busy bee trying to make things happen at work, around the house, for the family, and even for myself. Somehow I managed to squeeze in some time to shop for a few necessities. It didn’t all go as planned, but the things that needed to happen got done – for the most part.


PS. Isn’t this a darling design? It was created by my talented friend, Stacie. She has an Etsy store where you can buy this (and many others) as a download to print and frame.

Now that I’ve scurried through the week, I plan to take the advice of this piece of art. I’m gonna rest my weary wings and just be! First, let’s have a mini sharing sesh.

Here are a few {of the more exciting} things that happened:

{ONE} Ordered My 2017 Day Designer


Check out all of the pretty 2017 Day Designers here! {affiliate}

Talk about time flying…can you believe we’re already thinking about 2017 day planners?! The new Day Designers by Whitney English went on sale this week, so I went ahead and ordered one while they were still available. Those suckers sell so fast!

This is the pattern I ordered this year – from the Flagship Collection. I can’t wait for it to arrive so I can start plugging in some goals and dates for the coming year.

{TWO} Corsages by Kate: Part Two



So…Evan was invited to the Sadie Hawkins dance at his school, which was super cute. When we were talking about what he was going to wear and how formal it was, he said that no matter what, he wanted me to make corsages for his date – and his best friend’s date. I guess he liked the ones I made for him last year?

Melt my heart.

It’s not every day your 13-year-old son asks for something sweet like this – and that requires flowers, beads and ribbons. {Pretty much my dream team of all craft supplies.} Of course I said, “Heck, yeah!” And I quickly got to work on these creations. P.S. Floral glue is my new BFF.

{THREE} Created Monster Cupcakes



I can’t take credit for this adorable project. These monster cupcakes were the creation of my twin girls – and our rock star sitter. I decided to spend some time with friends, and I came home to these sweet treats looking right at me from the kitchen counter.

They made multi-colored frosting, which was store-bought vanilla divided into several bowls – then they added gel food coloring to make a variety of colors. The candy eyes were from Walmart. So simple, but so fun. I’ll take two, please. 😉

{FOUR} Made Home-cooked Happy Meals 

One of my readers mentioned she wanted more recipes, so I thought I’d share this delicious number from Pioneer Woman. It’s called Sour Cream Noodle Bake.


Get the full recipe and instructions here.

As you probably know by now, I’m a fan of simplicity. So any recipe that involves fixing and forgetting it, or making ahead and freezing, are high on my happy list. And when it tastes so good you could eat leftovers for a week and still not get tired of it, that’s just plain magical.

This is one of those recipes, which I whipped up this week. Mmmm…

Note: I like to double the recipe and freeze half of it for a rainy day. It’s also a great dish to take to someone’s house who needs a little home-cooked-pick-me-up.

{FIVE} Purchased Travel Essentials

Travel?! Yes, Brandon and I are headed to Laguna Beach this weekend!! B earned the trip through work, so we’re staying in a fancy hotel. I’m super excited – even if I don’t know what “resort wear” means and I still haven’t packed. At least I’ve shopped for my beauty essentials >>


These masks are ah-mazing. My face tends to get greasy, so I like the Green Tea Mattifying* mask. You wear it for 15 min before bed. Once you take it off, you don’t rinse. Just head to bed and wake up with super soft, dreamy skin. I think this will feel good after a long day of flying.

*According to Sephora, the Rose mask is the best selling of them all. Since I’m a sucker for marketing, of course I had to buy one of those, too. I’ll let you know my thoughts once I try it.


Any time I travel, I feel like my hair gets limp and greasy. Not pretty. So Living Proof Dry Shampoo to the rescue!! I love this brand, which was created by Jennifer Aniston. It doesn’t leave a weird white residue in your hair and it smells awesome. If you’re looking for a really good dry shampoo, I’d recommend this one any day.


This product was something I read about in an issue of Real Simple magazine. It was “road tested” as one of the better facial “mists” that mattifies and refreshes. It’s called Grease Relief Facial Water.

By now you can probably see a theme with my products. I’m super oily 🙁 This product works best sprayed onto a cotton pad and then dabbed on your trouble spots. I like to use it after a workout or even in the afternoon when my skin needs a pick-me-up. Ahh.

Okay, friends…that’s pretty much a wrap! Thanks for visiting today. I hope you have a wonderful weekend. I’ll be sure to share a few pics on Facebook or Insta as we travel into the Pacific Time Zone.

In the meantime, bless you and your sweet home!




And the Winners Are…

Congrats and high fives to Megan Bristow and Fern Hummert for winning a $25 Visa Gift Card!! I appreciate both of you playing along in the blogiversary giveaway. You’ll have to let us know how you end up spending your prize. 😉


I also want to offer a huge thanks to each and every one of you who has taken time to read, share, comment and just simply encourage this little blog that could over the past two years.

This has been such a fun experience. And as I think about all of the possibilities for future posts, I feel confident this can continue being a spot you’ll want to bookmark and visit often. #bloggoals

Here’s to at least two more years for The Neat Nook! Haha. That’s my way of hoping for more, while simply wanting to put one foot in front of the other.

Blessings to you and your home!



Friday Wrap: Celebration Edition

With the blog officially turning two years old this week, I’m in celebration mode.

I thought it would be fun to share a few party ideas. And if you’re throwing a fall party any time soon, or just want to celebrate because it’s the weekend, here are five super easy ideas. Hurrah!

{ONE} Candy Corn Centerpieces

It’s not an official party at my house until there are fresh flowers on the table. And I love this playful and colorful centerpiece for fall. The candy corn makes it feel like Halloween, so it’s like a fall-oween decoration.


It was super simple to pull together, too. Here’s what you need:

  • Two vases (one smaller than the other)
  • One bag of candy corn
  • Flowers of your choice

To assemble, place the smaller vase inside the larger vase. Next, fill the outer edge with candy. Once that’s done, fill the middle vase with water and your fresh cut flowers. Easy, right?!

See the steps in more detail below >>


You’ll notice I used a large mason jar for the outside. My smaller vase was actually a little taller. (You can see it sticking up in the upper right and lower left pics.) Not to worry. I tied a pretty ribbon around the center vase where it was “exposed” and you can’t even tell!

{TWO} No-Bake Pumpkin Pie Bites

Okay, so the secret to this “no-bake” pie is to purchase it from the store – like from Sam’s Club. Lol! That’s actually where I saw this brilliant idea. Check it out >>


What just happened? Well, you take a pie (that you personally did not bake), cut it into smaller circles with a cookie cutter, and then top each with fresh whip cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon before serving.

They’re so pretty, not to mention much easier to eat at a party. And for all of the delicious scraps that didn’t quite make it into a mini pie? Well, consider those your reward for working so hard on these desserts.

{THREE} Bushels of Snacks

Okay, so here’s a fun idea for serving snacks on a seasonally themed table. Put your chips and popcorn in these adorable apple baskets. I could even see mini pumpkins arranged around the base.


{FOUR} Beautiful Blanket Scarves

Now that we have a few ideas for the food and decorations, here’s something cute to dress up a plain tee and jeans.

I’m so in love with these blanket scarves from Target. They’re only $25 and have such pretty choices of plaid. These are my two faves. I can’t decide which one I like better. What do you think?

{FIVE} Visa Gift Card Giveaway!!

Finally, how about a party favor? Woot! Woot!

Enter to win one of two $25 Visa Gift Cards in honor of The Neat Nook’s second blogiversary. Winners will be announced on Monday, 10/17/16, so click away today.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck and here’s to a celebratory weekend all around!



P.S. I’m linking up with all of these fabulous bloggers today, so be sure to check them out!




What You’ll Find Here



I decided to reintroduce myself to anyone who’s new to The Neat Nook. I’m now in my second year of blogging and realize I may not have officially introduced myself to many of you. If you’d like to know more about me and my background, I created a little spot for that.

What I love most is the fact that you’re here right now reading this post, and I hope you’ll take away tons of helpful ideas from this blog. I use this space for many reasons and have a handful of topics that I like to explore and write about.

In fact, here’s a quick rundown of the categories and what you’ll discover:

  • Organized Living: Need tips on organizing all of the nooks in your life? Make this your go-to resource.
  • Decorating DIY Projects: For those times you want to jazz up the house without spending tons of money or time.
  • Perfectly Packaged: This little spot has all kinds of ideas to wrap gifts with style and grace.
  • Garden Goodies: Get tons of gardening tips and ideas to enjoy your harvested goodies. Yum!
  • A Meaningful Life: Sometimes I like to journal about my family life. I also love to explore new ways of becoming a better version of myself each day. This is a vulnerable place where I share some of that journey with you.

I also have a few semi-weekly series:

  • Creative Tip Tuesdays: This is a spot full of tips and exercises that encourage us to find and express our authentic selves.
  • Thankful Thursdays: Occasionally I’ll share a few things I’m grateful for. I especially love doing this series in November.
  • Friday Wrap: I share more about my personal life and usually list “five things” from the week.

Thanks for joining me. If I haven’t already met you, I hope you’ll reach out at some point to introduce yourself. I love connecting with my readers and seeing what more I can offer.

Here’s to a beautiful day!




The Neat Nook Turns Two!!

October marks the second full year of blogging on The Neat Nook. Whoa. Two years?!

Like many things in life, it feels like time has taken flight. Seriously. Where did it go? What I do know is that I’m still enjoying this creative outlet, and I hope you are, too.

Whether you’ve been with me from the beginning or are just now tuning in, I’d like to thank you for joining me on this adventure…one that’s full of navigating a messy, yet beautiful life. In fact, this is still one of my most favorite quotes >>

A look back…

This time last year, I decided to reflect on the things I learned in my first year of blogging in this post.  It was inspiring to go back and read through those observations and tips. It reminds me that I haven’t mastered this skill, but it’s fun to keep trying.

While I’m settled in this nostalgic mood for a moment, I decided to look back at this year’s posts. As I combed through month by month, I noticed a few themes. And I love how this blog serves as a journal for my family, as well as a go-to resource (and virtual filing cabinet) for some fun and creative ideas.

Here are some of the highlights. Links to each post are included!

{ONE} We Organized the House: Home Office Makeover, Pet Supplies, Getting Ready for Guests, and a Few Fall Decorations

{TWO} We Played in the Garden: A Fairy Garden, Spring TipsCleaning Your Tools, and Arranging Flowers

{THREE} We Explored the Country: An Oregon Experience, Relaxing Beach Visit, and a South Dakota Road Trip

{FOUR} We Hosted Fun Parties: A Bearthday Party, a Teen Birthday, and July 4th Fun

{FIVE} We Learned Some Important Lessons: Family Camping, and What My Parents Taught me About Marriage

What an amazing year! I’m excited to keep the blog rollin’ and hope you’ll stick with me on this journey.

In honor of the special occasion, I’d like to host a giveaway.

That’s right. You can enter to win a $25 gift card. There will be two winners for this two-year blogiversary. Did you catch the “two” theme?

All you need to do is get your name in the mix by entering below. Follow me on Pinterest, visit the Neat Nook on Facebook, and leave a blog comment to get your name entered four times!!

The drawing will be held next Sunday night at 9pm CST. So you have more than a week to enter. Winners will be announced on Monday, 10/17/16 on the blog – and also on Facebook.

Good luck and here’s to another crazy year together!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Much love,



3 Tips for a More Enjoyable Laundry Room

Depending on how you feel about the chore of cleaning clothes, the laundry room might not be your most cherished spot in the house. I totally get it. I’d much rather spend my time in a craft room than a chore room. But laundry must get done, as the funny quote above explains.

And laundry rooms are those places in our homes that are never quite big enough or have enough storage. In fact, for many of us it’s more of a closet than an actual room. So how do we learn to love this little spot?!

Here are three things we can do right now.

{ONE} Keep it simple


{via} This is pretty much my dream laundry room. I love the simplicity, soft colors, open space and no sign of dirty clothes. Lol

How do we get remotely close to this beautiful image? Start by taking a picture of your own room. Whether that’s a mental picture or an actual “before” picture, that’s your call. But take a snapshot as-is. Find all of the things that don’t belong.

Are there piles of shoes, stacks of towels, lingering pieces of mail or anything else that makes the space feel cluttered? If so, you can actually feel pretty good, because this is an easy fix.

Help the shoes find their closets, the towels find the bathroom, and the mail find your desk. Have a place for everything, and put everything in it’s place. I’m a big fan of that philosophy. It might not always look perfect, but at least there’s a plan.

Once you’ve cleaned out all of the non-essentials, you’re already on your way to a much happier space!

{TWO} Make it productive

Understanding that this room isn’t always the most ideal (too small, not enough storage, also the dog’s room and mud room)…it’s important to make it as productive as possible. Assign every square inch to a specific task.

For example, can the space between your washer and dryer be used for storage? Can the top of the dog crate also serve as shelving?

This is where some Pinspiration can come in handy. Here are a few of my favorite ways to make your laundry space more productive.

Use all of your horizontal surfaces. In this picture, the top of the washer/dryer is used for folding and sorting. They also added a shelf between the cabinets to create room for pretty storage baskets. Even the top of the sink offers a spot to store detergent.

Add standing shelves. If you don’t have built-ins or room on the walls for shelves, think about adding bookshelves with baskets to gain some extra storage.

Play hide-and-seek. Here’s another great way to think about storage. Look for hidden places, like the space between your washer/dryer. These are great spots to stash dirty clothes or even laundry supplies.

While we’re on the topic of hiding spots…

I thought this was a smart way to handle an ironing board. It’s attached to the bottom of a drawer so it slides in and out of a cabinet. That way it doesn’t have to be out in the open when not in use. I also like the boards that fold down from the wall.

Double down on your space. If you have to share your laundry room with your pet or even your craft supplies, here are some lovely ways to handle the mission.

In this house, the dog bed is perfectly color coordinated with the walls, so it fits right in. The cabinets can hold all of the pet supplies, too!

Here’s a cool basement that’s one part laundry room, one part craft room. I love the open shelves that allow for baskets and any other odd-shaped supplies that need to be stashed. Keeping the walls white makes the room feel cleaner. Don’t you think?

{THREE} Let it be personal

Finally, I think it’s helpful to add a touch of your personality to the room. If you can’t make yourself fall in love with the act of cleaning clothes, at least you can make it a place you enjoy looking at.

In the picture above, I love how they added a pretty curtain to cover the sink and a stylish rug to warm up the room. There’s also a personal touch hanging on the wall.

How do you create a personal space for yourself?

Think of three things you love the most. Your kids? Your playful pup? The beach? Yoga? A bucket-list item, like spending a summer in Paris? Now find a photo or object that reminds you of these things, and put it in this space.

No room on the walls? Place a picture frame on the shelf next to your detergent. So you give yourself a reason to smile each time you reach for the soap.

Other ideas to make your room a little happier:

  • Paint the room your favorite color
  • Add a rug to make it feel more cozy
  • Display your detergent in a pretty jar – instead of its store-bought boxes
  • Place a jar of fresh flowers next to the sink
  • Light a candle in your favorite seasonal scent
  • Buy nice hangers so you’re more likely to use them
  • Place a dry erase board on the wall for inspirational quotes or love notes from the kids

I hope that was helpful and that you have a lovely day!!